Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why Don't We?

If we know that, really, each person is in control of whether or not he or she is happy - then why don't we all choose to be happy?

If we know that we need to exercise and eat a healthy diet to prevent disease and look good - then why don't we do that?

And on that note, if we know that we feel pretty darn good after eating tasty, well prepared vegetables and pretty crappy after eating onion rings...then why do we go towards the onion rings almost every time?

If we believe in God, why don't we invite God into our know, for real?

If we love our kids and know that we only have them for a very short time, why don't we appreciate every moment we have with them?

If we love to do something (art, music, skydiving, macrame  -- ok, I've never done that last one but surely it's a huge deal for someone out there) then why do we make excuses to keep from following our passions?

If we know that money doesn't make us happy then why do we allow it to control our lives?

The more I grow, the more I realize that the answers are right in front of me. I absolutely know how I'm supposed to live and it's not that hard. For some reason, I have to keep reminding myself of the truth over...and over....and over....

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Post From My "Secret Blog"

For some reason, I've decided to go ahead and re-post the second post from my "secret blog" which I kept when I wasn't doing this one for a while. I feel the need to post this so that I will have a chance of being more accountable to myself to do the things in my life that I know I need to do, which I'm resisting terribly at the present time.

I called it: What I Learned From Meditation

The other day I tried what Yoga Journal refers to as the "I Want It So Bad Meditation." I think that's a pretty self-explanatory title.

It's relatively obvious to me that one of the things I want really badly is a new job. But for some reason, I decided to tackle the fact that I need to get in shape and (specifically) increase my muscle mass. (Notice that I didn't say I WANT to do that...because I'm not sure I do...) I fully expected to spend quite a while in meditation, waiting for insight about what was holding me back from obtaining what I wanted. Within moments of beginning my meditation, however, Iknew what the problem was. You see, I sort of asked myself what was holding me back from getting in shape and I was suddenly aware that I am afraid of being powerful.

That completely pissed me off.

That's not how I want to be. I'm a professional woman, I consider myself a feminist, and yet I'm afraid of gaining power in my life? This opens all sorts of doors. If I'm honest with myself, I don't believe this is limited to a fear of physical power. I believe I also have a significant fear of having power in my relationships.

I can only hope that awareness is the first step towards addressing this issue. And yet, since I can only assume that I've had this issue for most of my 38 years of life....I'm afraid I have a bit of a long road ahead of me.

In case you're curious, I've made absolutely no progress in sticking with an exercise routine. I know I'm in a cast, but there's nothing stopping me from making sure I do sit ups EACH night and doing some arm strengthening exercises also. Nothing, that is, except my feelings of intimidation with the idea of doing what I need to do.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No Social Security For Me

This isn't really news to anyone in my generation, but now I know for sure that I won't ever get social security. Bill Ratliff told me.

Today I attended a surprisingly awesome conference. It was entitled Ethics in Government but, really, it was about much more than that. Every speaker was exciting and gave me tons to think about - as a matter of fact, I even came away with some plans to talk to my kids about ethics at the dinner table tomorrow night.

Former Lieutenant Governor Ratliff had an hour to speak, but he only chose to speak for about 20 or 30 minutes and left the rest of the time for questions/conversation. It took me a while to figure out how to phrase my question and I must admit that once I spoke up - I rambled much more than I'd hoped...especially in front of such a prestigious political figure.

I asked (in my own particular, stumbling way) for his opinion about the fact that we seem to hold politicians up to high standards of morality and put them on pedestals to such an extent that important issues such as the fact that social security will run out of money in eight years (which he'd mentioned himself as a critical emergency that no one in Washington would even discuss) are left completely out of the picture. I said it took me a while to figure out how to phrase the question without making it sound like I don't think ethics matters (I do) or without making it sound like I don't think fidelity in marriage matters (I do) - but those issues seem like such a distraction from what really needs to get done in this country. And isn't it possible that someone would actually be MORE ethical if he was allowed to just be human, and not be expected to be a god?

Or something like that. You see .... I do ramble on at times.

To his credit, Lieutenant Governor Ratliff really seemed to ponder it for a minute and thought hard. He said that it's clearly much easier for a politician to give a quick soundbite about the moral issues he knows his constituents care about than it is for him to talk about problems that don't have solutions - or at least don't have easy solutions. He then looked up at me, acknowledged that my reference to social security was exactly such a problem politicians want to avoid and then he said something along the lines of: "I can tell just by looking at you that you don't have a chance of ever seeing a dime of social security." I laughed, agreed and told him that I was putting as much as I could into my 401k.

Then he said that he knew he hadn't answered my question and apologized. I told him I supposed that the only real answer was for the constituency to demand that politicians face the real issues and not get sidetracked with figuring out who is holier. He said that's what it has to come down to and he hopes to see it in his lifetime.

I hope it happens that quickly. It took some guts for me to ask him a question in a room full of people and it took even more for me to take a position which could be mis-interpreted as supporting immoral actions. But I'm very glad I did and I feel honored to have had a conversation, even if it was just for a few moments. The best part of the whole experience is that it took me out of my Gen-X cynicism, at least for a little bit.

If I hide my head in the sand, then the folks who prefer pedestal politicians (you know, the ones who are having tons of affairs and taking bribes while singing hymns) are going to win.

I might be screwed out of social security for good. But if we can start paying attention to the real issues, maybe we can fix a few things by the time my own children retire.

Of course, I'm still not sure exactly what to do about it. The idea of really getting politically involved exhausts me. Seriously - it just makes me want to curl up into a ball and sleep.

And that's when I become Scarlett again. "I'll think about that tomorrow."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory...

Well...technically I'm breaking my own rule by posting a picture in which you can see faces. Except you can't. Because this picture is of a WHOLE BUNCH of fifth graders - and even if you could zoom in on a face or two, you'd never know which one is my daughter.

So there.

Tonight was the All City Honor Choir Concert. And, yes, my girl was up there. Looking all choir-y and grown up. (But still cute.) What really cracked me up was watching her before the concert began, when all the kids were visiting. She was gesticulating wildly as she conversed with the girl next to her. One of my best friends always used to say that if she wanted me to be quiet, she just had to tie my hands together and I wouldn't know how to speak. Apparently my kiddo takes after me in that regard. As a matter of fact, she was SO expressive that I could pretty much follow her conversation just by watching her hands across the gym.

The concert ended with one of my all-time favorite songs from my own high school choir days - The Battle Hymn of the Republic. I love it, love it - and am always ready to go off into battle whenever I hear it. It's very inspiring. I wish that they hadn't changed one phrase, however. It's supposed to say: "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free...." - I know that the phrase "...let us live to make men free" might be somewhat more appropriate for today's day and age but I am always moved to tears as I picture the brave union soldiers going into battle as they sing that song.

Oh. Damn.

Now I have Southern guilt for writing that. Never mind. It is a good song though.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stress Skills

I have really great stress skills. It's my particular gift to the world. Here's a picture of me and my son from this morning as we wait for the rest of our cub scout den to show up at the Austin Nature and Science Center for a field trip I'd planned.

Within a few hours this morning, I allowed myself to become super stressed because:
- no one was showing up
- then when I found out they were all waiting somewhere else, I was stressed that I'd confused people (or myself) and we had to start late (not that it seemed to matter to anyone else)
- once I got back home, I couldn't get the pictures to download the way I wanted but I got annoyed with my husband when he tried to help me (I know, that makes tons of sense, doesn't it?)
- right this very moment...I'm stressed about the fact that I'm modeling bad behavior for my kids because I'm too stressed all the time.

Nice, right? My theory is that I'm getting worse in the stress department because I haven't been able to exercise for weeks. You can't see it in the picture above, but I'm in a hideous cast from a stress fracture on my left foot.

Did I mention that my cast stresses me out too?

Friday, October 23, 2009

One more little thing....

Last night's conversion experience included me finding out that the only people who could post comments to my blog were people who had their own accounts. SO....I decided to see if I could change that and I have. Now I'm open for anonymous posting. Of course, children, if you abuse that privilege I'll take it away faster than you can write "what the heck were you thinking when you wrote yesterday's post, woman?????"

I suppose it's an interesting social experiment. Sort of like the Facebook experiment where you ask all your friends to post one word that describes you. Which I haven't done...
....for rather obvious reasons.

Alrighty then......

I'm here to tell you that when you take something out of your life, you learn how much it means to you. And....sometimes you learn how much it means to someone else!

I felt quite confident on October 4, that my classic rushed Jenn-decision to give up my blog "for good" was what should happen. Within days, however, I was in an actual state of withdrawal. I had an almost physical need to write. I'm nothing if not obstinate and proud, however, so the idea of posting again in this venue was not an option I would consider.

As it turned out, I found myself wondering how I could re-arrange my life so that I'd have time to write a novel. The problem with that is that the stories I feel called to write are NOT stories I want to share with the public. there's the added difficulty that between juggling cub scouts, girl scouts, golf lessons, and two choirs for my two kids....I just don't have the will to take on a novel at this point. (Maybe that's an option when I'm 60 and no longer give a d*%@ what anyone else thinks about me.)

So a novel was not an option, but I still needed to put myself out there. So I started a secret blog. It was more of a diary, I didn't put any identifying information on it (not that there's all that much info on this blog - to anyone who doesn't know me, I'm just Jenn in Austin - one of hundreds I'm sure). There are only two posts on that secret blog and I thought about linking to it for you but I don't think I will - when I re-read the first post, it strikes me as very vulnerable-sounding. My husband COMPLETELY freaked me out last night when he said he knew I'd started it and that he read it. What???? He then proceeded to tell me that's what I get for not erasing my browser history from the computer. Yikes. Good thing I don't visit questionable websites. Of course, that's just because I don't know how to get to them...but still.....

It raises the question for me - how long has he been looking at my browser history? Hmmm. I think I see a "discussion" in our future. [n.b. - I discovered that I misheard him. Apparently I just left it up on the screen - he didn't search my browser history. Good to know, I suppose!]

But all of this preliminary nonsense brings me to the reason I'm a-postin' again. You see, my husband has this great cousin. She's 10 years younger than him, so she was about my daughter's age when I married him. (wow.....) Whenever we hang, I love it - and last night we had a girls' dinner at Jasper's. Fab - u - lous. Wine, martinis, good food....and I admitted to her that I missed blogging. She's not shy and told me that she is SO annoyed I stopped. Then she appealed to my vanity and told me that two of her friends read my blog also and they miss it. (I'm still stunned about that one.)

Well I'm only human after all. Once I found out that she (and apparently two other people I don't even know) wanted me to blog again AND once she told me she wouldn't send me the name of the wine we drank (that the cute waiter wrote down for her) unless I started up again....I said "What the heck. I'll get back in the game."

I won't say I was wrong to stop blogging because the truth is I learned something from stopping. I learned that not only do I love blogging, I apparently NEED to do it. I actually missed having a running narrative going in my head as I was constantly evaluating what parts of my life were blog-worthy on any particular day. I missed the fact that when I write here, I feel more like myself than any other time of the day. And....I missed the intellectual challenge of spending some time to find the appropriate/artistic/accurate way to say what I wanted to say. I'm one of those people who enjoys proofreading my work and I get excited when I think of a better phrase. Nerd-city. That's me.

This is already a pretty lengthy post - I suppose I had some built-up linguistic stress or something and had to get it out on the screen. But to sum up - it's been an interesting few weeks. My daughter got strep, my son got flu, and I'm lying in bed at home right now at 4 p.m. on a Friday hoping I don't have either. I've seen no new movies because I don't have a life and I haven't read any new books since Catcher in the Rye. That might be because I don't have the pressure of proving what a reader I am on my could be ego...but I'm not sure.

Oh...I also had a big insight during meditation about my failure to do what I need to do to build muscle. I wrote about it on my "secret" blog. Maybe I'll copy and paste it here sometime.

So. I'm back. And I am incredibly relieved and happy to be here. Thanks, M!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last Post

Today is the one year anniversary of my very first blog post. It therefore seemed appropriate that I should finish it up today. I didn't decide that I was finished with my blog until I was up in the air, somewhere between Los Angeles and Austin - but once I realized I should make today my final posting, it just felt like the right decision.

I have a history of making spontaneous decisions. That's how I decided to become a vegetarian (6 years ago) and that's also how I decided to do a triathlon (5 years ago). As my daughter would say: "That's just how I roll." Maybe I'll write another blog in the future, maybe not.

I know I'm only speaking to 5 or 6 people who read this on a regular basis, but thanks for sticking with me this year. When I look back on my writings, I realize how much I've grown in a year. I'm a much stronger and much HAPPIER person than I was last October. I didn't realize it at the time, but I think one of the reasons I started writing was because I felt lonely and unsure of my future. I don't know what I'll be doing at this time next year, but I have a lot more confidence in myself and I certainly plan to accomplish great things. The world still needs saving, that's for sure.

So...without further ado....I'm signing off. Thanks again, guys.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Best Pizza Ever

Shianne, our segway tour guide from last night, recommended North Beach Pizza as the best pizza in San Francisco - so we gave it a try today. Boy, did she know what she's talking about - it's the best stuff I've ever eaten in my life.

This is a cool town. What's really amazing (my husband noticed it the first day) is that you don't see overweight people here. Shianne was telling us that San Francisco is the most "fit" metropolitan area in the country - because so many people walk or ride bikes here.

...and walking in SF is no stroll in the park. Man. Those hills will really get you! We ended up walking at least 7 miles yesterday (my husband google-mapped it after the fact) and, sadly, my left foot did not react well to that effort. At some point during those hours of walking very fast (I take about a step and a half for every one of his steps) I realized my foot was hurting. REALLY horribly. I'm a bit hard headed - so I haven't wanted to stop the touring, but I sort of don't have a choice anymore.

Unless a miraculous cure happens in the next 36 hours, I think I"ll be going to the doctor on Monday morning. It's a bit, if I could only figure out what the heck I did to myself! In the meantime, however, I'll find some California wine and Ghiradelli chocolate to ease the pain.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I left my heart...

Here I am in San Francisco! The two pictures are of me looking at Chinatown for the first time and me slogging up one of the numerous hills. In boots. Which my husband warned me against doing but I wanted to have some semblance of style, especially if I was going to help out by carrying our tourist-y camera bag.

So far it's a nice trip, but I think it will improve tremendously once I get to First Crush - a restaurant that carries only California wines, including wines from vineyards that are not well known. I can't wait to ask the waiter for a recommendation.

In the meantime, however, I really need a nap. The beef fried rice from Chinatown then the gelato from North Beach combined to put me into a carb stupor and I've got to sleep it off.