My Wish Came True

My wish came true. On my annual trip to Destin, Florida for a human resources conference, I learned at hotel check-in that my guest room would be in the Emerald Tower on the 14th floor.

I smiled.

This would be my third stay at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort Hotel and Spa. My first time with a room that high that looked out towards Florida’s Emerald Coast.

I nodded along as the receptionist explained where the elevator was located.

Once in the room, I did my usual hotel check: looking behind the shower curtain, opening the closet door that held the ironing board, kicking under the bed to hear the thud of the base, and glancing behind the couch and chair.

I slid my patio door open and stepped out. I studied the brick wall to my left and right. A person would have to rappel up to get inside my room. Who would do that?

Kids’ laughter floated up to me. I viewed the white sand, the people walking on the beach, and the boogieboarders. I leaned back breathing in the sun’s warmth. I closed my eyes to bring even closer to my core the sound of the ocean waves. Ah, this was lovely.

For a moment, I held my breath. Could I leave my patio door open and fall asleep to the ocean waves?

Looking at my hotel from the beach. My room is on the 14th floor.

It took me years to feel safe enough in my own home to fall asleep while napping on the couch. I had to work hard to not chastise myself for relinquishing my watchful eye. Growing up, it had been my job to be vigilant. Being on alert sleeping or awake was my natural way of being. I had to teach my body that it was okay to rest. I did this by using an eye mask and earplugs. My signals to my body that it was time to sleep.

Even so, it was me who woke a moment before one of the babies did. I must have heard their rustling in the crib before they started whimpering. Later, it was me who woke Jody before one of our toddlers fell out of their bed in the hotel room. I reached across from my bed where Juan Jose’ and I were sleeping to theirs. I nudged Jody, “Crystel’s falling out of bed.” She quickly scooped the child up.

I have grown to be most comfortable with Jody sleeping beside me. She is a source of comfort. I have my deepest sleep in her presence.

I travel to Grand Forks, North Dakota, one week a month for work. I can’t take Jody with me. It helps to request the same hotel room. One that doesn’t have a connecting room. I continue to use earplugs and eye shades. I take the ironing board out of the closet and set it up against the hotel door. I push the rolling chair next to the ironing board. I figure, I’ll wake before the door opens.

All of my senses told me that I was safe in my guest room at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort Hotel and Spa on the 14th floor. Could I leave my patio door open and fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves? I took a deep breath. If not now, when?

That evening after our Welcome Gathering and dinner on the Sunside deck, I retreated to my room. After completing my hotel room check, I took the ironing board out of the closet and set it up against the door, pushed the rolling chair up next to it, and put another chair against the connecting door.

I walked out to the patio, listened to the rolling ocean waves. Even in the darkness you knew the ocean was there, splashing against the shore.

In bed, I imagined the universe holding me, embracing me. A mother and her child.

For the next four nights, I slept to the sound of waves breaking against the shore. When I’d wake in the night, I’d let it lull me to sleep again.

 

 

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It’s A Different World

A few weeks ago, my job was expanded to include another plant under my human resources umbrella. I introduced myself to the General Manager and the office and production employees. I started with the personal.

“My partner and I have two children. They are 14 years old. We adopted them from Guatemala as infants.”

I shared my philosophy of human resources. I view my human resources department as a service to employees. I explained how they would see me on the manufacturing floor. I welcomed them to stop me and ask for a W2 form, address change form, vacation slip, etc.

Their eyes lit up when they understood that I would come to them instead of them having to come to me.

I marveled that I could bring me to them. The all of me. Specifically, having a partner.

It wasn’t that long ago that I never mentioned the word ‘partner’ at work. I kept the personal to myself. I wanted people to judge my human resources style not my personal life.

What changed for me was that same sex marriage became legal in Minnesota on August 1, 2013.

I am legitimate. I don’t need to hide behind unspoken words. I don’t need to say anything about my personal life. Or, I can.

This past January, Jody accompanied me to a work outing. I introduced her to the President, Vice President and others as my partner.

It’s been 4 years of living in a different world.

It’s a good thing for all of us.

Welcome to WordSisters!

We are Elizabeth and Ellen—sisters in writing—in it together from inspiration to publication. We’ve been part of the same Twin Cities writers’ group for close to 10 years and admire each other’s work. We love to write, and we both have memoir manuscripts that we want to publish. Although our lives have taken different paths, we share similar values.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth recently experienced the Mudder—10+ miles of mud, freezing cold water, climbing walls, and electric shocks. She was team captain until being fired for bringing two left running shoes to the race. She ended up running the hilly muddy obstacle course in her Sketchers. The Mudder is a team race, which is not Elizabeth’s forte. She is mostly known for getting in fights with the “real” captain on a team. “I just kind of always disagree with the leader,” Elizabeth explains. She is not known for following rules either. Her team “We Be Slow,” would have started before their assigned start time but fortunately, a team member’s father hadn’t arrived, so the team had to abide by the rules.

Elizabeth continues to evolve. She started the race with four teammates and ended the race with the same people . . . though it took her the first two miles to understand there is no “I” in team. Her spiritual growth was assisted by the real possibility that the 67-year-old member of the team might go into cardiac arrest. Plus, another team member threatened bodily harm if Elizabeth didn’t stick with the group. Most days, she can be found working as a Human Resource Manager for a foundry in Minneapolis. Always liking the heat, the unknown, the adventurous, she hopes she’ll grab your attention and keep it.

Ellen

Ellen is decidedly NOT adventurous and certainly not athletic. The only reason she’d ever be running is if someone were chasing her. And even then, she’d probably try to talk the thug into giving up the chase and getting something good to eat instead. Cooking and eating good food are a big focus in her life. That’s why both her 20-something sons are into food (they’re downstairs making Cuban pork right now, while her husband John is making strawberry shortcake from scratch).

Her version of “mudder” involves dirt. And flowers. Lots of them. She haunts the St. Paul Farmers’ market and garden stores this time of year, dreaming of wonderful color combinations—the red marguerite daisy. No, the yellow one. No, the orange zinnias. She’ll calm down by August. But until then, a knockout garden still seems possible.

The rest of the time, she writes marketing communications for a small children’s hospital and does the occasional freelance copywriting project. After having her own copywriting business for 18 years, she still likes working with a handful of fun clients.

WordSisters will appear weekly and focus on topics such as work and motherhood. Ellen’s blogs may also include observations about politics, women’s rights, and middle age. Elizabeth’s may include her outlook on spirituality, adoption, Tae Kwon Do sparring, Guatemala, being part of a two-Mom partnership, and being in a relationship with that same woman. Occasionally, other members of our six-person writers’ group may also contribute.  Ellen & Elizabeth