I Admit it. I’m a Pluviophile.

Are you satisfied now? I finally admitted I’m a pluviophile. I suppose all the years I commented negatively about rainy days, were the years prior to my epiphanous moment of “hey, I’m a writer”. I’ve observed that rainy days are my best days…the days I have the most creative thoughts…the days my fingertips are drawn intensely to the keyboard. And for a beach lover like me, non-rainy days are a must, or are they?

Collinsdictionary.com defines pluviophile as “a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days”. Yep. Sounds a lot like me.

Working as a Social Worker in Hospice and Home Health requires me immersed in the elements daily. Sunny days, rainy days, cloudy days, humid days, snowy days, hot days, cold days, just-right days. I’m one of the weirdos who gets much satisfaction from doing my job on rainy days. Why? I truly have no answer. It’s the weirdest thing.

What about rain gets the creativity flowing? I feel the same creative feelings when I’m at the beach. The roar of the waves and the roar of a heavy downpour absolutely irrevocably calms my soul and quietens my mind, making a clear path for good thoughts to take over and reign. Just the phrase roar of the waves or heavy downpour can jump start my mind to clarity. Maybe the recipe which creates a rainy day at the beach with a covered balcony on which to sit and observe is my absolute salvation, my holy grail, the utopia for my soul. That may have been a little too deep…it’s basically my happy place folks. Ha!

But I have gotten to a place in life where I want to truly know me. I want to know what makes me tick…what keeps my hamster wheel turning. Ha! I think that until a person truly knows themselves, they simply can not know true contentment. If you don’t understand you, how can you make decisions wisely and effectively of who you spend your time with and how or where you spend your time? You should spend some time with you this week! It’s your challenge, your homework if you will, from Coffee with Paula. You might be nicely surprised with who you find.

Sipping coffee this morning, wondering which Coffee with Paula fans are also pluviophiles and considering a move to Seattle…all while soaking in the sound of the rain. What have you learned about yourself lately? ~paula

Shut the “bleep” up and Reroute Already!

Has google maps ever sent you on the quickest route? But that “quicker route” required you to do 6 u-ey’s and 3 loop-de-loops into approximately 42 lanes of oncoming traffic? As in, it’s definitely going to get you there quicker…assuming you’re not killed in the process…but it may not be the simplest, least stressful route.

Often in my workday (Social Work) I find myself driving to crazy locations and needing some navigational assistance to get there. I don’t always want to follow the specific route google plans, so I may take a side street over to another side street to get back onto the specific path google has laid out. During that time, my google lady is repeatedly saying “make a u-turn”…”make a u-turn”…”make a u-turn”. I find myself saying so often during the work day, “Would you just shut the hell up and reroute already?!” (I say other things in traffic as well, but I’ll leave it at that for now as all of my other “traffic related” sayings are for another entry…another day…another more adult rating. Ha!)

But why is it necessary for us to always follow the directions to a T? Aren’t there always a few different ways to arrive at a specific destination? Some routes are more simple, more direct, more carefree, while others are more stressful, more lengthy, more difficult. You still arrive at the same destination. Right?

I must admit though that different days call for different paths. For instance, if I have only 3 patients for the day, I want to take the path of least resistance, the path that takes me down two lane roads where I can enjoy the scenery through open windows, radio blasting and hair whipping. (And quite possibly the occasional cigarette if the mood strikes, but I swear to God if you tell anyone I’ll deny it. Ha!) But for a day when I really need to see 62 patients, I want the interstate, 26.7 u-ey’s and a couple loop-de-loops to get to each patient in a super quick manner.

But as I ponder trips, routes and destinations, I can’t help but think of the many road trips I’ve taken since I was a child. Some with parents and grandparents, some with my parents and baby brother. As I got older, some with friends, some with the hubby and some with my hubby and kids. (I have a lot of trips under my belt folks because I quite literally always sit on ready.)

But what was most important about all of those trips…the destination or the journey? Some, like my husband, might assume the destination is the highlight. He can literally only see two things on a road trip: point A and point B. Nothing, I repeat, nothing in between those points are important to him…so unimportant that I suspect he would be quick to debate their actual existence. He tends to be a stickler for departure times, arrival times and sticking to the discussed and pre-approved itinerary. Now don’t get me wrong, Disney World is phenomenal, the beach is divine, the mountains so majestic. But the most cherished part to me is the journey itself.

Intentionally driving through small towns off the beaten path just to try a quaint little locally owned restaurant with savory dishes that have never before graced your taste buds. Spending an afternoon walking the streets of a huge city you’re passing through to experience sub-cultures not your own that open your mind to thinking outside your comfortable little box. Gazing through car windows at scenery you’ve seen only in print. Laughing at jokes told by friends to pass the time until the next stop. Ragging whoever missed that last turn while determining whose fault…the navigator or the driver. Singing to the top of your lungs while an old favorite plays on the radio, taking you back in time to some other road trip…another set of shenanigans. And last but not least, the perfection of bladders syncing and all who are along for the ride needing to stop at the same time…the journey.

Make time to intentionally enjoy the moments given; force google maps to chill out and redirect already…it’s simply a must. We are each given one life on this earth. I choose to use each moment to savor the goodness…especially sips of this steaming nighttime cup…or am I cheating and drinking ice cold sweet tea? I’ll let you decide.

Til the next pot…or pitcher. ~paula

He said ‘Our Girl’

As I intently stared at the dusty diamond covered with sweaty, fatigued warriors, while my flattened, aching behind shifted from side to side on cold metal bleachers; my husband of 25 years (26 when June arrives) texted my phone and asked the question “has our girl played”? This happens to be baby girl’s first Varsity season and she has had her share of paying bench dues this season. She had actually played some tonight but I couldn’t text back right away. I was stuck in time sitting there as I tried to get my heart to calm to a slower beat. He said our girl.

I finally answered his question and shared of her getting hit by the ball and taking a base, but I was quick to also tell him I liked how he said our girl. He was of course baffled at what I meant because men can sometimes be oblivious to things of the heart. (No offense guys, you just aren’t as mushy as us ladies and we’re okay with that, trust me!)

But it took me only one quarter of a second to formulate my answer. “It’s endearing toward me and toward her and it made me smile”.

Why did my mushy female heart see that as endearing? Well, the phrase our girl was indicative of a relationship that was loving enough to share babies but also indicative of the deep love between a daddy and his girl. He acknowledged all of that in its entirety with that one simple text.

Marriages that have held firm for 25 years, (or 2 for that matter) are guaranteed to have rocky patches, moments when feelings are no longer mushy or exciting and it becomes imperative that the focus be centered on making the choice to love rather than to rely on “feelings of love” that are untrustworthy and flighty.

There is often confusion over love being a noun or love being an action. If you consider love a noun, what does that make love? It makes love the warm fuzzies of a first kiss, butterflies when you remember a shared and heated embrace, the increased patter of your heart when you see your love walk in the room. How long can all of that possibly last? This person you’ve vowed to love, burps and farts…sometimes at the same time; has morning breath; eats garlic bread; pisses you off; let’s you down; gets toothpaste all over the sink; forgets to start the dishwasher; doesn’t notice your new hair cut and accidentally on purpose forgets that you really wanted to see that new movie at the theatre. How can the warm fuzzies continue after all that?

It’s simple. They can’t; they won’t and you newly weds and young adults who are about to enter into wedded bliss, don’t need to think they will.

But when you view love as a choice, the possibility of this thing called marriage making it for the long haul, increases tremendously. Choosing to love this person that you vowed to love is the bare minimum of what is required. Choosing to keep on keeping on; even when things are less than stellar, don’t smell as sweet as you remember and emotions trick you into believing what isn’t real. Keep on keeping on.

The warm fuzzies aren’t gone for ever. They simply come and go for seasons. I certainly wasn’t looking for warm fuzzies tonight after 25 years of marriage, the last 3 of those filled with enormous struggles; but I received one. My husband; who can be into his own world, his own things, his own to-do list, his own struggles; had a moment when he thought of me as his and wanted to know everything was right with our girl.

Smiling as I plan to partake from a fresh pot of coffee after these beautiful warriors are done defending their diamond; choosing to wait for the next warm fuzzy; ain’t giving up. ~paula

They will Never Forget

Branch Ed, short for Branch Education, is provided monthly at my place of employment. We sit through anywhere from one to two hours of necessary information that must be conveyed for us to continue doing what we do. (Effective and efficient is the name of the healthcare game.) A portion of this education can involve being given audit scores so that we have an idea where we rank against our previous scores as well as against other home health and hospice agencies; super important in the health care world. But for one specific meeting, my former Branch Director began stating that we have the best Social Worker in the entire company and we don’t know what we would do without her, her documentation is relevant and she always strives to do the best for our patients. Now, understand, I’m the only social worker in the building and I’m still sitting there wondering who she’s talking about. She can’t be talking about me, I was currently like fifteen charts behind on documentation (not really) but struggling to maintain my head above water. Once I realized that it was for certain me that she was talking about, the room erupted into applause as my cheeks warmed to a rosy blush and tears formed in my eyes. That room was giving me support and love and applause. And honestly, I would do anything for them as do I for our patients. But in that specific moment in time, all I could think was that I want to do my best for these people, my work family, my friends, my partners in crime. All I could think about was “what areas could I improve so that I will never let these people down”? Funny. I actually wanted to seek out my own flaws and fix them!

This made me start thinking. Let’s scroll back a few years to a previous employer. I never heard from my supervisor unless something was a mess. Never a word of thanks on a job well done, never a kind word when days were tough, never a feeling of “belonging” or of being valued as a team member. Let one audit score be slightly lower than a previous month and a meeting with the supervisor and their supervisor was conducted wanting to know what was the plan put in place as to improving said score. No discussion of the previous day staying with a family for four hours while they coped with the pending loss of their mom, teaching them how to comfort and show support to a mama that had loved and care for them their whole life, teaching them to say goodbye in an appropriate manner. No discussion of the hard work put into a recent abuse and neglect case where DHR was involved; where myself and the DHR case worker were in court by that afternoon due to some fancy footwork to insure our patient was removed and placed into a safe environment. Nothing but grief over the lowered audit scores. After leaving that employer for greener pastures I did some soul searching. What made me leave? The exhausting business of constant self validation. I constantly had to defend my actions, my documentation, my skills. I was constantly on the defensive defending my every move. Never once did I say to myself what are my flaws and how can I make them better? I never actually wanted to do better for them. I was too busy being on the defensive about what I thought was right.

What is the difference in these two scenarios? I’m human, so in both situations, there were certainly things that needed fixing on my end. But the difference was how I viewed myself in either situation. I was made to want to do better by a Branch Director who knew to provide encouragement.

While researching this particular topic, I came upon an article by Vicki Hoefle, The Difference Between Praise and Encouragement. Vicki Hoefle is a parent educator, author, speaker and coach and when I read her article…on went the light bulb! Such wonderful information and so spot on. She explains that “praise focuses on perfection rather than progress and improvement; a right or wrong outcome rather than a meaningful experience; good or bad decisions rather than the decision-making process; pride or disappointment rather than acceptance and support.” Man, did I say this was spot on?

How does this relate to us in our everyday life? Well, relationships in parenting and coaching and supervising and spouses and friends and the guy at the “parts house” (as my husband calls it)…should I go on? How we talk to and approach every single person in this life matters. It brings to mind the phrase “fair weather friend”. As long as things are going well, those fair weather friends or parents or coaches or spouses or supervisors are, as my sweet Mom would have said, “hunky dory”; but, when things are more difficult, when there’s not a word of praise that can be uttered because there is no perfection to be found…then what? Then what.

“They may not remember what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Carl W. Buehner

Man, that was a refreshing cup today! ~paula

I also believe…

If I’ve ever published an entry and immediately knew I had more to say, it was this time! Feel free to comment. I LOVE a good debate! If you agree or disagree, I would love to hear!

I also believe…

…there’s nothing more cleansing than an ugly, snot bubble cry or a fat roll jiggling, belly laugh with tears included.

…grief has it’s own timeline that you don’t get to dictate.

…the happiest sad moment of your life is when your baby is grown, lands their first “real” job and you realize they really are moving out.

…it’s okay to walk away from your cell phone on your personal time for as long as you want; they are not mandatory.

…you can say “no” without guilt when your sanity is in question.

…visiting with an elderly person is the most fulfilling history lesson you will ever receive.

…the low carb and Keto diets are my only ways to eat AND stick with a diet. Yum!

…that as you sing in the choir, your face should not look pained.

…that if you’re a Social Worker, you are destined to have some crude, rude, tasteless humor floating around in your brain. Know your audience before sharing!

…not everyone uses the talent they were given.

…a hot fudge Sunday can be supper every now and then.

…just because you’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean they’re your soulmate, it might just mean you’re attracted to them.

…if you can tell your social worker what the programs are, you can apply for them yourself. I’m here to empower, not give handouts.

…if you’ve never had a full body massage, goodness, get one scheduled!

…if you’ve never sent your spouse a risqué text you might be boring.

…you should mix mayonnaise and ketchup together for a splendid dipping sauce for your French Fries.

…if you don’t have sauce all over your mouth and fingers, your wings aren’t as good as mine.

…you need to have that one thing you do every week with your spouse, of which you allow nothing to get in the way.

…you have to have a sense of humor in this life or you’re gonna go crazy!

There may be more later, but for now I think we’re out of coffee. Thank you so very much for joining me around the coffee pot. ~paula

I believe…

I have some things that just need to be said out loud for all to hear. No one on this planet has asked my opinion on any of this, but I have taken the liberty to share it because Paula ALWAYS has an opinion; and opinions are for sharing. I think a little outside the box occasionally and that’s okay. If you’re offended, that’s okay as well. If you smile a little while you read, then maybe we think a little bit alike. If you’re snarling by the end, maybe we’re a little different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still get along and live peacefully on the same planet. Opinions are like butt holes……so the saying goes.

I BELIEVE…

…that most people are good…and so does Luke Bryan.

…judgments rendered by others on who YOU choose to love are irrelevant.

…if someone is using the entrance ramp, you need to get the *bleep* over and be a courteous driver.

…you need to make eye contact and smile at everyone you meet.

…you need to smile at choir members while they sing, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing.

…that if you’re riding in the left lane and not actively passing someone, someone is, or is about to start, cussing at you.

…that babies are always super cute, but are much cuter when they’re quiet and sleeping.

…you should know what relaxes you and that you should do that often.

…family is more important than anything and you should love on them as often and as much as possible because one day you or they won’t be here.

…that every now and then you should just eat a King Size Kit Kat while chugging an ice cold Mountain Dew.

…it’s okay to drink a beer sometimes.

…it’s okay to have a tattoo or twelve.

…a hug can right a lot of things.

…more can be said by sitting quietly with someone while sharing a pot of coffee than a hundred red roses sent with no time shared.

…every person has a talent.

…if you’re too good to fill the toilet paper holder at work, you’ve gotten too big for your britches.

…there was a day when I thought the first drag off of a Marlboro Light was the best.

…the sound of the ocean can drowned out all of the unnecessary clutter in your brain.

…every girl should have a pair of jeans that make her butt look amazing.

…every girl should know what it feels like to have someone tell her her butt looks amazing. If you’re currently acting appalled, you’re lying to yourself.

…every girl should know their perfect shade of red lipstick.

…every person should know what it feels like to have butterflies while remembering a romantic night that went the perfect distance.

…everybody has, at one time or another, had that one person they couldn’t keep off their mind.

…music has the ability to take you anywhere you want to go, back to feelings and moments you thought were lost with time.

…parents need to focus more on their marriage than on their children; when you don’t, it does your children a great disservice.

…kids need to hear the word “no” sometimes; as well as to know what the sting of a good pop on the bottom feels like.

…that when you are married, if one partner wants sexual intimacy, it’s time for sexual intimacy.

…that when both spouses work outside the home, all chores are halfed; there’s two adults living there and both should be pulling equal weight.

…compliments should be given freely.

…compliments should be met with a simple “thank you”; not excuses of what should have been better; compliments given take courage and energy that are expensive enough to not be shortchanged by your struggling self image.

…that if someone wants to spend time with you, they will.

…if you want to spend time with someone, you will.

…handwritten cards are a thousand times better than store bought cards.

…I don’t need flowers from anyone to feel loved; their time means so much more.

…you need to kiss with your eyes open at least once.

…New Year’s Eve is made for kissing.

…some of the best moments in my life involved mud from head to toe, 4-wheelers, ice cold beer and Marlboro Lights.

…concretely that you should treat others the way you want to be treated; unless they are consistently being the south end of a northbound donkey; then they deserve whatever Karma presents. But remember, Karma isn’t from you.

…depression and anxiety, at times, can steal the joys of life from both partners in a relationship, even if only one experiences the two.

…any time you get the opportunity to do something new, you should.

…trips to new places are the best.

…true confidence doesn’t come until your mid to late thirties.

…trying new restaurants has to be one of my top ten favorite things to do with friends.

…you are probably getting tired of reading about what I believe. LOL!!!!

That’s probably enough coffee for tonight. Thank you so much for your time! ~paula