Friday, July 31, 2009

My New Adventure

I know, I know. Long time no blog.

But today was something special so here I am...it was my first board meeting. I think I mentioned that I joined the board of a small non-profit here in town? I was very excited beforehand and even MORE excited after I left...I was just brimming with ideas - which is a good thing since I volunteered to be the Treasurer.

Yup. Me.

It's WAY out of my comfort zone but I think this is going to be a good adventure for me. For one thing, I'm not afraid to ask for help when I need it and there's really not a better way for me to get some good finance and fundraising experience. The icing on the cake is that HOPEFULLY I'll make a positive difference in my community in the process.

So if you keep a running prayer list of people who might need a little extra support - put me near the top, please. And try not to snicker the next time you see me.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Learning My Lessons

Today at church, our pastor quoted from a book in which the author was encouraging people to try to figure out what they were supposed to be learning from a situation when they found themselves in a negative one - or in one which wasn't progressing as they hoped. It's very apropos for me at this point of my life (ok....well...It's probably always been something I should have been considering...). I don't see this as a victim attitude (i.e. - this is where God wants me so I'd better just suck it up and deal with it) - rather, I see it as a way of empowering myself and not allowing myself to take a victim attitude (i.e. - this is where I am, what good can I can bring out of this situation?).

A few hours later, I received a work-related e-mail from someone who has given me quite a few gray hairs in the last year. My initial reaction was pure cortisone-driven stress and grief. But then those words returned and I really was able to consider what I was supposed to be taking from this situation. It might only be that I'm supposed to be learning how to deal with difficult people - but no one could argue with the fact that I need to improve that particular skill set. I also need to learn to repress my urge to run away from difficult situations.

I'm about 99.6% sure that this is what I'm supposed to be learning:
1. resist the urge to run away when I get scared or intimidated, and
2. refuse to allow the fact that some people don't respect me to color my own self-image.

The next time any of you guys hear me moan, you have my permission to remind me about these lessons.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rather Disturbing

So, I'm driving home (creeping home) down I-35 this afternoon - and I pass by this Hooters-ish type restaurant called Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill (I'm not linking to their website because I don't feel like supporting them).

I know these boob bars are all over the place and, honestly, I don't really care.

But here's what I found "rather disturbing." The big sign out front said "Welcome Texas High School Coaches." The idea of a bunch of h.s. coaches sitting in a bikini bar just made me shudder.

Granted, that could be because I've heard some stories from my school lawyer friends....but all I could think was ICK.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

All I Need to Know I Learned from My Kids at the Beach...

1. There's nothing like seeing something (like the ocean) through a child's eyes for the first time.

2. Those UV-resistant sun shirts are great. Too bad my husband and I let our tummy's get a wee bit lobster-ish....but our kids were ok!

3. Teach your children in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. Tonight as I took my son out one last time, he spent the first 5 minutes picking trash off the beach, without any prompting on my part.

4. Nothing is as fulfilling and entertaining as nature is...specifically, little bitty hermit crabs that you put into little temporary swimming pools dug out of the sand.

5. When you see your two children cuddling on the couch, or spending hours playing games on the beach or in the condo - you know you are seeing the biggest success of your entire life.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm home!!

And by home...I mean I was in the ocean tonight. I walked out into the waves and was more fulfilled than I have been in years. It was probably a good thing that I needed to stay close to the shore to keep an eye on my kids. My natural instinct, for some bizarre reason, is to throw caution to the wind and go out SO FAR into the surf that it becomes doubtful whether I'll make it back under my own power. (Thank goodness for those boys that were my high school friends and could always help me get back in if needed - although I was a pretty strong swimmer.)

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It was a great day. We saw dolphins up close.

watching dolphins

And I saw my best friends. I know that most people don't like seagulls. ("Mine!! Mine!! Mine!!") However, MOST PEOPLE did not move to Corpus Christi the summer before their 7th grade year, a year which is often lonely for most bookworms - let alone a girl who came to a town with no friends and entered a Jr. High where she heard cuss words for the first time and saw fights on at least a weekly basis. The seagulls always brought me peace and joy - I know that sounds crazy...but they did. So I was very happy to see them again today.

seagulls

But the coolest thing was that my daughter decided to get a temporary tattoo - so I thought I'd follow in her footsteps. It was a very beachy, hippie, Corpus Christie-y kind of thing to do.

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All in all - I'm so glad to be at the coast again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Updates

It's rather obvious that I've neglected my blog, isn't it? Whenever one of you mentions my neglect it always surprises me that you notice. Today I realized that I had neglected to update my reading report. I began to read Three Cups of Tea - the story of how Greg Mortenson (a former mountaineer) was inspired to dedicate his life to building schools in Pakistan and Afganistan. I do feel that I keep meeting all of these social entrepreneurs who've dropped everything to follow their calling. (Some of the "meetings" are not in person, but they feel just as real to me.)

It's really rather biblical - you know - "set down your fishing nets and follow me."

For months I've said that my role is to follow someone like that - that I could never do it myself. Perhaps that's true, but mostly because I'm not certain enough about finding ONLY ONE true calling for myself. (I don't know what non-profit I'd start that doesn't already exist.) That's not the only reason, however. I'm half of our family's income, and although I plan to make less when I (FINALLY) find my true professional calling, there is a limit to how low I can go. These are the times when I do regret that when I was young and independent, I failed to go off to live in an inner city and work for the poor. I could have done it then. I didn't have kids who needed stability and a mortgage.

But is that really just a cop out? There have been many people who have followed their heart, shunning financial security, and even taking their family with them on their missions.

Right now that doesn't seem right for me but when I'm completely honest with myself, I fear that the reason it's not right is because maybe I'm STILL not listening to my true calling. I think I'm like the rich man in the New Testament parable. He asked Jesus how to get to the kingdom of heaven (i.e. - in my interpretation, find true love and joy in life) but was unable to bring himself to sell all his worldly goods and give the money to the poor. He left sadly - unable to follow his heart.

I don't want to be like that. How do I completely open myself up to the truth? The only way is to risk hearing a command that might undermine my security. If it just affected me, that would be one thing - but how can I risk the security of my family?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Carpe Diem


When my husband went to drop the kids off with his parents, I was suddenly inspired to pull together some tapas - using my new handmade plate, of course! It turned out pretty well. I even pulled out the Waterford candle which we've never used before - it added a nice bit of ambience. Considering I pulled the whole shin-dig together in about an hour and a half (that INCLUDES the time it took me to find the recipes and run over to Randall's before cooking then cleaning the kitchen...oh yeah....I was rockin'...) - I think it was a huge success. After eating our very garlic-y tapas, we watched Fanboys and laughed like crazy people.
All in all - a good evening. The only downside is that I think I'll still be tasting the garlic tomorrow morning.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Going Home

In exactly a week, my family and I will be in Port A. It's just a short little beach vacation, but I'm almost as excited as I was to go to Disney World in March. Part of it is because it's just great to get away with my kids and my husband, part of it is because there is nothing better than being in the surf and allowing the waves to lift your feet off the sand, and part of it is because I'll be going home. I lived in Corpus from 7th grade until I graduated from high school - but my parents are no longer there. So I hardly ever return home. As they always say - you don't appreciate home until you leave it.

There's a really great Facebook page that sums up some of the very "Corpus-y" things that seemed normal growing up but then you head off to college and meet people from other parts of Texas (or even Yankees from the North) and you realize that maybe you really were living in an odd little world. So...needless to say...I'm ready for the tar and seaweed-filled beaches, the ubiquitous Whataburgers, and of course the margaritas - of which I was never able to partake.

Because I was a total square in high school.

But not so much anymore.

So sometimes it's even better when you go home after you're 21.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Babies Are Home!

My kids are back home - yea! As soon as my son walked in the door, I swear that I could tell he was taller than when I saw him on Sunday. They've been at my parents' house for the last few days and they'll be gone again early next week. My husband and I really enjoy having the time together but I sure am glad to get their exhausting energy back into my life when they come back home!

While she was up in Waco, my daughter got a VERY grown up looking haircut. It's super cute. As a matter of fact, it REALLY resembles what my new haircut looked like when I first got it a few months ago.

You know, although I've tried to keep a positive attitude, I've been pretty down for the last few days. On the drive home I was listening to my "blues" playlist on my iPod and I finally got to the song "So Small" by Carrie Underwood - those lyrics helped a lot. "Sometimes the mountain you are climbing is just a grain of sand." Man, that is completely true for me. And, although I'm not normally a big fan of country-ish music, she's absolutely right when she says that "love is what matters after all" and it makes everything else "seem so small." So as I listened to that, I thought about my kids and the fact that my frustrated ambitions really are tiny in comparison to how happy I am to have my kids back home with me tonight.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Oh, Say Can You See?

videoTonight, we were invited to view the Austin fireworks from a downtown law firm. It was a fun party with an awesome view of the show. Every once in a while, everyone would break into a patriotic song. The kids were annoyed that they had to wait so long for the fireworks to begin - but they eventually realized that good things come to those who wait! The firm had an outside patio kind of thing so we were able to enjoy the warm night air and the sounds of the fireworks.

Happy Independence Day!


July 4th means something different to me every year. This year, I've almost finished reading Team of Rivals, so I woke up remembering that a couple of significant Union victories occurred on July 4th (Antietam was one of them, I believe). Yesterday, I ate lunch by myself and worked on my list of goals - not just short term goals, but long terms goals as well (one of my VERY long term goals is writing a novel....I expect to be in my 50's before that one happens). That exercise was really my own effort to declare freedom from my tendency to feel trapped in the past and even trapped where I am.

I know I'm extremely lucky to live in a world where I can really be the person I want to be. Not too many years ago (in the big picture of human history), my gender or my ancestors' nationality would have seriously limited my options. I tend to get frustrated when I can't accomplish my goals immediately...but the truth is that national freedom and freedom from slavery (see...Team of Rivals again...) did not happen over night, or even in just a few years. I shouldn't expect that personal freedom will be a walk in the park.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to spend 15 minutes straightening my closet because a clean closet is one of my goals. I'm tackling it in 15-minute increments over the next week. (Or however long it takes...)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kids

Kids make you feel great but really old. Which is not so great.

Yesterday was a total bummer. As in...it totally sucked. My little boy realized I was sad and insisted on buying me jewelry. (Yeah...he'll be a heartbreaker someday but I'm SO not in the mood to think about that right now.) It really was sweet and I'm wearing my turquoise and silver cross necklace that he picked out for me at "Ross Dress for Less" last night. (Carrie Bradshaw, I'm NOT as much as I like to imagine that I am....)

Still bummed today so when I came across a CNN article entitled "10 Humor Sites to Make You LOL" I decided to give it a whirl.


Well...it WAS funny until I realized that I'm the mom. Not the cool h.s./college-aged/Gen Y kid. Which made the site suddenly less funny than it originally was, especially when I could TOTALLY imagine some of my status updates being listed on this site. Such as the one I recently posted about the fact that I was about to go mow the lawn but I was a little worried b/c I was really feeling the margarita I'd just downed. Now THAT is a dorky mom comment - angsting about drunk lawn mowing. But that's still better than the mom who changed her status to "single," causing her daughter to say "You and Dad divorced?" to which the mom replied "Yeah, I didn't mention that to you."

Ouch.

So I suppose this means that my kids' generation will totally SKIP Facebook if they're smart.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Work

I refuse to post much about work on my blog but it's not quite the tabboo subject that politics is for me...so I'm compelled to ponder the dynamics of the workplace today. I suppose this is rather obvious to most people, but work is such a microcosm of everything that is a part of life and families in general. I think this must be why it affects us so much. (Or at least, why it affects me so much.)

As we've all read in countless articles, we spend many more waking hours with our co-workers than we do with our own families. It seems that, because of this, all the foibles of human emotions are exacerbated in the office - we are faced with unfairness, irrational behavior, and jealousy - but if we are lucky we are also around nobility, honesty, and find some of our closest friends. All of my be friest friends (with just a very few exceptions) are current or past co-workers. In my neighborhood, I have not managed to connect with others. I feel rather isolated even though my neighborhood is very old fashioned - many families are very involved with each other and neighborhood activities. I've finally realized that this is because when I get to my neighborhood, I only care about being with my family. I don't have the energy or interest to pursue close friendships outside of work.

I probably expect way too much of my workplace - just as I tend to expect way too much from my spouse and children. I'm a very idealistic person, constantly pursuing perfection and wanting to make a huge difference in the world. But the truth is that office politics and bureaucracy seems much less "worth it" to me than it might to others. Well...and there's also the fact that I'm a complete control freak and want to run an office in a particular, friendly way!

So....as with everything else in life...I'm finally accepting that I need particular things out of work which aren't necessarily what the rest of the world needs. It's not a bad thing. It's just Jenn.