Monday, November 12, 2018

Crying On The Way Home From LAX

I have cried three times leaving work at LAX, and I have only worked there for seven days.

The first cry was day one when I was overwhelmed, but the other two cries were very different.

Cry number two happened on day four. A woman came up to check in and was bravely holding her tears back with every ounce of courage she had. She was checking in her dad and grandfather. They both needed a lot of assistance. I could tell she didn't have the strength.

Finally, a moment of clarity came when she said, "I have one more question." and she stood there trying to find the words, but instead just stood there. Slowly she continued, "My brother died unexpectedly..." Her next words burst out along with her tears, "My father is carrying my brother's ashes, is that ok?" And she cried and cried.

I put my hand on her arm as she cried. I tried with everything inside of me not to cry with her, to stay professional. "It's fine. Let me help you."  I got a wheelchair for her grandfather; and noted that her dad was hard of hearing. I let her escort the ashes as far as she could. As I did these things she calmed. I'm not sure anyone had been taking care of her.

She composed herself, thanked me sincerely and walked away. I turned around and pulled the tears in my eyes back into my head and pulled all my courage together to help the next person.

Cry number three was yesterday. I was working at the self check in kiosks and an older woman walked through the door. She stopped suddenly and gasped as she covered her mouth. I thought maybe she had forgotten her license or suddenly remembered she was in the wrong airport, so I walked up with a smile, "Everything ok?" She stood with her hand on her mouth shaking her head quickly.

I took the smile off my face, "What's going on?"

She moved her hand to her heart and whispered, "My daughter has cancer and has just dropped me off. I wonder if I will see her again." And she pursed her lips together not wanting to cry. I put one hand under one of her arms and put my hand her back and helped her away from the door. She told me of her daughters chemo and the things she had gone through.  She told me how hard it was to watch her go down hill and I listened.  Finally, after she had calmed down, she pulled out a piece of paper and said, "I think my daughter already checked me in."

I said, "Let's take a look." Surprising myself, my voice cracked as I said it. The woman saw my kindness and said, "What is your name?" and I said, "Liz."  She started crying. "That is my granddaughter's name. I think that is a good sign."

I'm glad that even my name can help someone feel a little stronger.  One thing that I never expected with this job was being a source of comfort.  I was sure people would disrespectfully rushed by.  I expected people to yell at me when I couldn't let them on the flight, but I never expected people to cry; to need me to more than just to check them in.

I sometimes wonder if I will get callused to it.  I sure hope not.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The dark or the light?

There is a dark spot and a light spot in every situation.

Today I find myself sitting calmly at a coffee shop, sipping a chai latte and slowly eating a cheese roll.  And it is wonderful.

This is happening because baseball season ended a couple days ago and I will no longer have to work 14 hour days for a week a time.  I get to go to cross country meets and see friends.  I get to work on my house and build a new apartment.  (Yes, you heard me. I'm building myself an apartment with my own two hands. More to come.)

Now that all sounds really wonderful, but that's because that's how I choose to look at it.

It could be this instead:

Today I find myself sitting at a coffee shop, drinking a chai wondering where my life is going.  Baseball season has ended and I don't get to see my work friends for another six months and the paychecks will be missing.  The lack of community and money brings stress that sits in the back of my head and I wonder, "What am I going to do with my life?"

Both of these are true, but which one do I choose to focus on? The first one of course because I'm Liz Hetzel, it's what I do.  But honestly, it's harder somedays than others. Sometimes I just need to sit in the stress and say "WHAT IS HAPPENING?!"  But other times, I just need to remember that there is light and dark in every situation.  I choose the light.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Surrounded by Incredible

I was standing in a kitchen with about 30 other people.  We were making a friendship salad.  Everyone brought one ingredient and then we all threw it together in this huge bowl. It was tossed and eaten.  Having a salad with over 30 ingredients is incredibly delicious.

Even more delicious than the salad were the people standing around the kitchen.  It was 30 people all in different stages of life, different religions, different genders, different sexual orientations.  Some had kids, some had spouses, some were widows, and some were single.

One thing they all had in common was that they are beautiful. Literally looking around the room, they each wore something classy and stylish. But it was even worse than that, they were beautiful inside and out. Everyone is clever and well spoken. You would think that being in a room with such wonderful humans would be intimidating and overwhelming, but they are all kind and approachable.  I honestly stood there confused how I got the privilege of being in this room.

I got there by doing one of the toughest interviews in my life which ended with my name being called in front of the Disneyland castle.  We were all Disneyland Ambassadors.  The women and men in that room were the resort representatives from 1967 - today.

We sat around and told stories that will never be told outside of that circle. We talked of embarrassing and overwhelming things we had to go through.  We talked about our worst interviews and where we failed.  I had a couple stories to tell that weren't so bad.  My stories are more funny.

Like, I was once walking out of the castle with Mickey to a stage in front of hundreds people.  I don't even remember what the event was now (there were so many). But as I walked over the draw bridge, my heel got stuck in between two boards and I walked right out of my shoe.

I had one second to decide; keep walking or stop and go get it.  Stand on stage with one shoe or jerk everything to a stop. I stopped which made Mickey look back at me.  I just said "I lost my shoe."  We walked back and Mickey knelt down as I slid my shoe on.  It was a perfect Cinderella moment and I'm not sure anyone else even remembers it.

But to me, every time I walk over that draw bridge I laugh. My life is weirdly phenomenal. It was such an amazing experience to represent the Resort and such a privilege to be a part of that group of unbelievably remarkable men and women. I hope that you find yourself surrounded by wonderful people that encourage you to be a better person.

I always thought it was cute when we both wore red.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Where Is The Blue Sky?

I was hopping from boulder to boulder trying to keep my feet out of the stream rushing below me.  It was a beautiful hike, beautiful weather and a beautiful life.

One of the reason I really liked the weather was because it was warm but over cast. I could wear just a t-shirt and a light button up.  Perfect.  I knew there wouldn't see blue skies today and that was fine.

As I got to the top of the hike, a strong wind blew through and just for a second there it was, blue sky.  As fast as it was there, it was gone.  The wind continued to blow, pushing the clouds around.  In another couple minutes the clouds parted again and there it was again, that beautiful blue sky that caught my eye and filled my heart.

Those clouds felt a lot like my life for the last year.  The clouds had moved in and settled over me and my life.  It felt like it was always going to be like that, but every now and then, the clouds would part and I would see the joy I remembered before my injury; the fun loving girl I was before fear entered my life.

I see the blue skies more often than not these days, but the one thing that really hit me was that the blue sky is always sitting back there waiting for the clouds to part and be seen. My joy is always sitting back there waiting for me.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The 12-year-old Compliment (Sort-of)

Today I waded into the ocean; flippers on my feet, boogie board in hand, and a smile plastered on my face.  Just getting into the water is a triumph.  I pushed myself into the water and started kicking.   I giggled, my body is getting back to normal.  I wave came and pushed me.  Colin grabbed me from flipping over.  We laughed.

A 12 year old girl, floated by on her surfboard.  A big smile on her face, she said, "I wish MY mom would come out in the water with me."  My heart sank.  Colin turned around and his grey hair caught her by surprise, "...or dad."

I know that's what she actually said, but what I heard was "Hey, clumsy chubby white lady. You're old and your boyfriend looks young enough to be your son."  I just wanted to sink into the water and let it pull me to shore, so I could crawl to the car and cry.

But I stopped.  I stopped beating myself up.  I stopped allowing lies to conquer my brain.  I stopped letting a 12 year old interfere with my greatness.  The truth is she was totally complimenting me.  She was telling me that it was fantastic that I was out in the water.  She loved that I was still having fun (at my real old age).  She thought my boyfriend was gorgeous. (Well, that's what I heard.)

I wish I could tell you that this is what happens every time I'm hurt by someone.  I wish I could tell you that I'm the queen of turning hurtful things into compliments, but I'm not.  But I am good at slowly learning and changing my thoughts.  And soon, purposeful choices of how to think about myself will be easier and soon it will just be a habit.  But until then, I will try my hardest to remember that I'm awesome and the lies are just that, lies.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

At Least It's Not Hell

The other day I was resting my head on Colin's shoulder, tucked into the curve in his neck and I was thinking about how Dinsey animators are just amazing. The things they do are surprising and wonderful. I found myself wishing I could do anything half as good as those animators.

I casually whispered, "I wish I was good at something." I unexpectedly began to cry. I honestly wasn't even feeling sad when thought it, but as the words came out of my mouth I realized very suddenly how very sad and confused I am about where I am in life right now.

I'm still writing but I'm sure it can't be published. (Side note: Can some one get sued for writing about behind the scenes Disney?  Asking for a friend.) My editing skills haven't kept up with the current level of amazing editors. My dancing is... well, most of my dancing was been temporarily removed with my disc fragments.

So, what do you do when you are a girl with a whole lot of half talents?

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what they call the desert. I'm not in agony. I'm not in hell. I'm just in a dry, flat part of life. I'm not really sure if there is any water around and I'm getting pretty tired.

I really wanted to end this blog post there.  In the reality of life, but the other talent I have is optimism. It refuses to give up on me. So I guess if I was to say one last thing, it's that I still have a bottle of water with me. I believe I have a purpose. I believe in a higher power. I believe that there is a reason I walk this earth. And there is even a reason I'm in this desert.

So, I will keep walking. Looking for the next turn that will bring me to my next adventure.

(NOTE: This was written a few weeks ago and life has seemed to turn a corner.  But reading back on this I realize a lot of people probably feel like they are in this place.  Just don't stop walking because the only way to get some place new is to keep going.)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Real Pain

I don't really think about the pain I went through last year.  In fact, I work very hard to keep it at bay, holding it at arm's length hoping to never experience it again, but one of those memories decided to show up uninvited.

Today, I was sitting on the floor in the guest bathroom, sponge in one hand and cleaner in the other. The smell of bleach proved I was already done with the shower. I pulled the toilet seat cover open and before I knew it, I was transported back 9 months to the moment when I was sitting in this exact same place. Screaming.

9 months ago, I had just gone to the bathroom and I couldn't stand up.  I literally couldn't.  The excruciating pain that would run through my body when I moved in any direction made me completely unable to move. I looked around to find a solution. The only thing I could come up with was maybe if I threw myself off to the right, I could put one hand down on the edge of the bathtub, use my momentum to turn around and push off to get standing.  This sounded like the worst idea of all time, but it was all I had.

So, I counted.  1.... 2.... 3.  And like ripping off the worst band aid of all time, I threw my body off to the right, only my hand slipped off the bathtub, causing my body to shoot forward.  My ribs crashed onto the edge of the bathtub and then I slid down to sitting on the floor.  My back blazing with pain, my leg throbbing and moving uncontrollably, and my ribs shrieking.  And I just screamed; out of anger, out of pain, out of frustration.

I slithered down to floor.  I laid there on my back and cried for a long while until the pain subsided to it's usual unbelievable level. I asked all the same questions.  Why me?  Who am I now?  Will this ever end? What if I never walk normal again?

And then I remembered, these questions don't matter. Getting up matters. Finding a solution matters. So, with that, I slowly rolled to my side.  I used my foot to slide my cane into my hand.  Then I rolled over onto my hands and knees.  With one hand on my cane and one hand on the toilet, I screamed as I stood up; hunched over as usual.

I looked at that girl in the mirror; 22 pounds heavier than usual and swollen red eyes. I never would be the girl I was, but I'm so curious to find out who I will become.