Friday, April 30, 2010

My Gulf

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are concerned about the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico and I've certainly tried to be as environmentally conscious as I can be during my adult life...but I'm truly shocked by how much this disaster is affecting me. Maybe it's because I've always been a Texan and spent my formative teenage years in Corpus Christi, but I really feel like somebody's screwing around with my Gulf.

It's personal.

Maybe it's because for at least a year after moving to Corpus Christi, I was extraordinarily lonely.  (This isn't so surprising since we moved there about a month before seventh grade - just a fabulous time to be a shy, new girl in Jr. High.) During this lonely time, I spent a crazy amount of time watching the sea gulls. Most people think of them as airborne varmits, and I suppose they can be a bit annoying, but I loved them. I loved their freedom and the fact that they weren't scared of anything. I loved how graceful they seemed and I guess I also just loved the fact that I was suddenly surrounded by a species of birds I'd never really seen before.

So I watched the gulls and the waves. I loved the water even more than I loved the birds. It was powerful and consistent - but also full of surprises because each day its color was slightly different than the day before.

Now the birds and water are at risk. For a few days I haven't been able to identify the feelings I've had as I read the stories on CNN but I truly think it's as if someone is taking away my security blanket. Those birds and waves kept me going during a very lonely time of my life. I just can't believe they're being taken away. I know it probably won't affect Corpus, but it's my Gulf. And for all I know, there's a girl who just moved to Louisiana and is having trouble fitting in at school. Maybe she spends hours watching the waves and the birds too.

And now they're about to be covered in oil.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Second Decade

I've been neglecting my blog lately, but I promise I have good reason to do so. It just might be a while before I write much about it. Today, however, is an important day. My eldest is 11 years old today, which means (of course) that today is the beginning of my second decade as a mother. And that, my dear friends, makes it a blog-worthy day.

As I look back on my first decade, there are pieces of it that seem as if they happened to another person but then again - even some of those early baby months are so fresh in my mind that I can almost feel her in my arms as an infant, while I rocked her to sleep and imagined her as a teenager leaving for her first date. (Strange to admit it, but I was aware even then that my job was to help her grow up.)

Ironically, I'm going through a period right now of (finally....) growing up myself. It's been a long time coming and perhaps I'm very inspired to do so as my daughter prepares to enter middle school. She needs a strong and certain mom now more than she ever has in the past. I'm determined to be that kind of mom.

Right now I'm emotionally exhausted and just putting one foot in front of the other. So it really was a joy to look at my lovely daughter today and take a moment to appreciate who she is and what it took to successfully navigate our first decade. By the time we make it through the second decade, she'll be out from under my roof and figuring out her place in the world. In the meantime, I'll hold her hand as long as she'll allow it and be honest about the struggles I face in life - in hopes that she'll learn there's a way to tackle any obstacle in her path.

And, really - sometimes you always need your mom to hold your hand. During my commute home this afternoon, I spent 45 minutes on the phone with my own mom, talking through all my feelings and frustrations. She'll be entering her fourth decade of motherhood in a few years and is still pretty patient with my rambling emotions. I stood on her shoulders to reach higher in life and now I want to be a firm foundation for my daughter as she reaches for her own stars.

One decade behind me and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

During this next decade, I'll take care of myself, laugh as much as I can, and resist letting my mind go to the future and the past. The present is pretty awesome and I'd like to stay right here with it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Two Steps Forward

To my handful of loyal readers:
You have my permission to skip this posting if you so desire. I will probably sound rather polemic and, perhaps, even judgmental - but that's not my intent. As always, the real point of this posting is self-discovery and self-acknowledgment of my own foibles. Since this entire blog is really just therapy for me, you are obviously under no obligation to ponder my musings.

Having said's what I now know...

When we think others are screwing up our lives - we are wrong.

External stuff sometimes sucks. To be fair, it sometimes sucks in a very serious way and - because of our situation - we might have to put up with it for what seems to be an interminable period of time. As I've previously mentioned, people are sometimes complete...well...________s. (I think we all have our own special word for those people who relish cruelty and anger. Feel free to fill in the blank with the word of your choice.)

As I've wandered through life, I've tried to either avoid or charm these ______s. Neither approach works on an ongoing basis and I've learned the hard way that running away from painful situations does me no good whatsoever. To the contrary, I'm even less prepared when I come across the next ______. And there's always another______.

We strive for so many things in life: love, successful careers, freedom, financial independence...and when one of these turns out to be less than we imagined, we think that something else must be our magic elixir. We're wrong. I hate to be the one to put it in writing, but none of these things is the key to our happiness or sadness.

I wish the stuff on the outside would fix it all - but what I've learned during the last few months is that unless I've got some sense of inner peace, nothing on the outside is going to make a bit of difference in how I really feel. It's a real bummer because it would be so much easier to just tweak a relationship or job than it is to tweak myself.

And here's the other complication. My search for inner peace is a journey that will never end. As a matter of fact, the title of this blog sums it up rather well - "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back." Some days I'm a lot closer to it than I am on other days. I finally understand that sometimes I have a day when I'm further away from peace and security - but that doesn't mean I'm a just means I'm having a rough day. Maybe the ______s got to me. Maybe my allergies are bad. Maybe I'm just not in the mood. But it's a day. It's just 24 hours - and all the external stuff will float on by like dandelion seeds. (Admit it. You still blow dandelion flowers. So do I.) At the end of the day, I'm still here. Maybe a relationship is gone, maybe a job is gone, maybe it even feels as if my sanity is gone - but I'm here.

Sometimes I think life/God/Allah/destiny takes our security blankets away just to prove that we don't need them. Then once we get them back, we can smile and enjoy them but not cling to them.

So that's what I've learned. I promise that my next posting will be more lighthearted.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Family Videos

Tonight the four of us sat around and watched old family videos. Some from when my eldest was about 18 months - 2 years old and some from when my son was that age. It was wonderful for all four of us.

My kids saw how much we've always adored them and they also oohed and ahhed about how cute their sibling was as a baby.

My husband and I were reminded about what a great family we have and we also had the joy of watching our children's personalities shining through even as a baby. We all talked about how fun it was to see that my dramatic daughter was dramatic and expressive and bubbling over with life even as a little toddler and how my detailed, intelligent son was full of seriousness and concentration even at a young age as he spent hours playing with his train or putting blocks together.

In other words, we all remembered how much we appreciate and love each other. I suppose that's the real beauty of history - appreciating where we come from. Families need history just as much as countries do. Thank goodness for video cameras and our obsessive tendency as parents to record every detail.

Not to mention that these videos will be solid gold when it's time for my kids to start dating. They'd better be nice to me!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Not So Deep.....

I just had a very wonderful weekend of personal growth by attending the Power Pipeline 2010 class. I thought I'd be blogging all about the great things I learned about myself and the inspiration I found.

As it turns out, however, I really need to process all this stuff for a few weeks before I'll be able to write about it. So there will be no deep and thoughtful writing for a while.'s the topic for this evening...

I SAW THE TRAILER FOR SEX AND THE CITY 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And...may I just say that it was about the best therapy ever. Carrie and girls can fix anything for me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So Close

I am so close to finding a new level of psychological security and mature self-confidence. It's really cool and I've made tons of progress over the last week. I'm rather proud of myself, to tell you the truth.

The down side, however, is that I have to go through a LOT of pain to get there and the effort of staying healthy and reasonably sane just wears me out. I guess it shouldn't really surprise me that growing up takes so much effort. If it was easy, there would (in theory) probably be a ton of kind and mature people all over the place.

There are quite a few kind people (I was one of those and want to retain that quality) and there are some mature people (I haven't been that but I'm reaching for it). I'm beginning to think that those two characteristics are not often found in the same package.

What's really keeping me going towards my goal is the message that Lyra received at the end of the His Dark Materials trilogy - that the only way we can really experience the Kingdom of Heaven is to do all we can to bring it to Earth. We do that by being strong and kind and standing up for what is right.

So that's exactly what I'm trying to do. I like the idea that Heaven exists now if I will just open myself to it and share it with others. But the new key factor is that I recognize I must stand up for myself also - not just other people. I guess I still have Pollyanna in me but I'm also getting tougher.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Is there a gene for weak ankles? I'm guessing there is. My mom always seemed to have trouble with hers and - although I'm out of my cast, anytime I try to take a walk around the block I end up hurting again.

Plus...also....(as Junie B. Jones might say) - my daughter's been complaining of a sore ankle off and on for a good month now and for the last two days my son has been limping significantly. Of course that's because he and his cousin (BOYS!!!!) decided to jump off the top bunk of the bunk beds at my parents' house. He therefore injured himself. Go figure.

Maybe it's not so much a genetic mutation involving weak ankles but one related to a complete failure to use our feet in a useful and efficient manner. Clearly we won't be performing amazing ice skating jumps as a family any time in the near future. Now, if you'll pardon me, we all need to limp downstairs so we can watch cheesy TV.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cooler Than I Thought

We're at my parents' house for Easter and my husband started scanning old pictures - thank goodness because they're all in those nasty sticky photo albums from the 70's.

We saw this sweet picture of me and I figured that my mom had made the outfit - because she was quite the amazing homemaker. I was right about that fact. She'd made the hat and bonnet. What I didn't know, until my parents told me during the slideshow, was that this picture was taken at one of the very first Kerrville Folk Festivals. How freakin' cool is that?

The very first one, according to Wikipedia, was in 1972. I'm guessing this must have been the second festival - in 1973 - because I'm walking and it looks like I'm about 2 years old - not 9 months old. I have always wanted to go to the Kerrville Folk Festival...but I didn't realize that I'd already been! Looks like I'm having a heck of a time, too. My dad said: "See, Jenn? I told you we were hippies! We took you to a folk music festival." Well, I knew I was raised by hippies. And as I told him, I'm glad I was. Makes me wonder what famous singer I may have heard that day. I tried to find a program from '73 online but had no luck in the six minutes I was willing to dedicate to that project.

If any of you were there and remember the headliners, be sure to let me know.