Friday, July 30, 2010

Another Dirty Window

I did something new today - I cleaned some windows inside and out. For the most part, it was a reasonably satisfying experience (other than the fact that I murdered some mother spiders and their young, causing me MAJOR Charlotte's Web angst...but that's a topic for another post). The cleaned windows look lovely - which one would expect since (as mentioned above) I've never done them before.

But...and here's the rub... the undone windows suddenly look crummy. They stick out like sore thumbs against the shiny, sparkly windows. So was it worth it for me to do all that work if the improvements made the faults all the more obvious?

That's a question for the ages, ain't it?

It applies to more in my life than just windows, by the way. I've been doing a lot better as a mom and wife lately but the new, more positive attitude simply emphasizes (in my mind) the prior years when my attitude just plain sucked. Ditto for my new running regimen. I'm building myself up (slowly but surely) for my first 5K in September. Although my "running" is really a rather ungraceful jog, it's a lot more than I've ever accomplished before and I'm starting to believe it's entirely possible that I'll pull off a 5K without walking. I'm already eyeing a 10K and half marathon a year from now. For anyone who is reasonably familiar with me - you know that's just crazy talk.

I suppose that's why a lot of us avoid self-improvement of any kind. We sometimes fear really going after our goals, because if we're able to do it (whatever "it" is) without too much strain, we've proven we could have been doing it all along.

And don't we hate it when our convenient excuses fly out the window like birds from a....well...I've got nothin'. I was hunting for an artistic and apropos metaphor but it wasn't meant to be.

Even without the perfect metaphor, I've decided that it was TOTALLY worth it for me to tackle some, but not all, of my windows.  If I don't start somewhere, I'll never get anywhere. And...truth be told...I'm rather proud of my small but significant steps. Granted, I was compelled to get credit for the darn windows. (Not only did I blog about it and post it as my Facebook status, but I made a point to tell my husband I washed them. News flash: I'm overly needy.)

It's probably the same analysis when it comes to me as a wife and mom. Do I wish I'd had my act together before now? Yes. But my past history of wandering aimlessly in circles doesn't negate the fact that I'm on the right path now.

Ah. There's my metaphor. I knew I'd find it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sweet Hugs to Remember

Tonight my daughter had a kickball game and my husband captured this sweet picture when my son came up behind me to give me a hug. Whenever he's 16 years old, someone needs to remind me to come back and look at this picture.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Understanding Family Dynamics Through Pottery

One Saturday in May, all four of us went to a local pottery studio for a family class. It dawned on me yesterday evening that each of our creations says a lot about the family member whose hands shaped the piece.

My seven-year-old son crafted this toad house. You don't get the full effect of the details from this snapshot. The back is covered in extra layers and various appendages which are, I strongly suspect, machine gun turrets. Because, of course, one never knows when a toad might be attacked in his or her own home.

This is my daughter's toad house. I think the big open doorway and skylight reflect her open personality (ok, ok - maybe I'm projecting) and it's hard to tell but there are these cute little traditional four-pane windows on the side. She also wrote "occupied" on the door frame.
I could go on and on with the psychoanalysis of my husband's bowl, but I'll try to control myself. He spent a lot of time cutting perfect strips of clay - all of them exactly the same width. I love the way it's perfectly straight on the outside but the inside seems to flow like water. Note that the stronger statement is on the outside and the softer statement is on the inside of the piece...hmmm....shall we take a look at mine now?

You're going to have to take my word on this (because it's not obvious from the picture) but my pottery is sort of inside out. The studio had these nifty stamps and I was drawn to one resembling a Native American sunburst design. I originally planned to stamp all around the outside of my planter but I couldn't get enough pressure. My stamp marks looked weak and unimpressive on the outside. So....I started stamping on the inside. That worked a lot better because I was able to get more pressure that way. The stronger statement of my piece is, therefore, on the INSIDE - the outside needs more strength and definition. (I won't even discuss the notable distinction that my creation is all white. That's one for the philosophers. Or not.)

 Perhaps I'm over-thinking our pottery just a wee bit...but then again, maybe not.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Will The Real Jenn Please Stand Up?

Something pretty cool happened about 24 hours ago, right after I finally got to see Sex and the City 2 (although I can't imagine it had anything to do with the film - I really think it was the talk I had with my friend on the way back home). I've got some really great opportunities in front of me right now and am surrounded by a great cheering squad, but I'd been plagued with my very typical self-doubt for days.

I've got the kind of support most people crave and if I allow myself, I could really blossom. The only problem, and it's been a big one, is my own psyche. I've got the old tapes playing about how I'm not really smart enough or good enough...and if anyone knew the truth about me, they wouldn't like me anymore. some point late yesterday evening, I realized that the voice I've been hearing in my head isn't really me. I'm not sure why it happened, but I felt the "real" Jennifer come out of the shadows and she was strong and determined and even (dare I say it??) ambitious. I literally felt as if she was looking at me with raised eyebrows, waiting to see if I was going to take a chance on a new and better life.

The old, familiar personality (too sweet for her own good, self-deprecating, not wanting to look better than anyone else) tried to push Real Jennifer back down - but for once I made a conscious decision to keep the stronger one out in the open. I figured, what the heck? I'll live with her for a while and see how it goes.

Here's an interesting takes A LOT of effort to keep Real Jennifer around because habits are comfortable and comforting - but it's worth it. I worked so hard at letting her take the lead today that I felt as if I'd run a marathon by the end of the day. I could barely stay awake and crashed on the couch for an hour once I got home from work. And yet, I can already tell that it's a new habit I want to keep. When she's out, I focus on what I'm thinking and what I want instead of what other people (presumably) want. That is just crazy talk (according to my traditional modus operandi) but it feels wonderful and I want to stick with it.

So I guess I've seen the person, the Real Jennifer, who can do some great things. That's the person I want to get to know over the next year.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lemme Hold Your Crown, Babe

My favorite singer...and I do mean my FAVORITE Sara Bareilles. Don't get me wrong, I love all kinds of music and like all kinds of singers but I don't have the entire repertoire of anyone else completely memorized, backwards and forwards. Objectively speaking, I think that qualifies as "favorite."

I suppose what's cool about singers who "click" is that you feel like they're reading your mind, then you find out about all these other people who feel exactly the same way. Seems to me it's proof that the human experience is pretty universal. In other words, I'm not as big of a freak as I originally thought.

Maybe it's the fact that so many of her songs have the perfect combination of anger and angst, and she directs them at someone. So...all you have to do is picture your personal nemesis and sing "Who died and made you king of anything?"

Plus, she throws in just enough cuss words to make me LOVE it. They're like seasoning, in my opinion....too many of them can ruin the dish but you've got to have a few in life or...really...what's the *^%*-ing point?

I still think she's got some secret hidden camera pointed at me so I'll go hunt for it. In the meantime, click below to enjoy her latest video...King of Anything. No cussing in this one, but you've gotta love the funky fashion evolution which illustrates (I can only assume) a transition from weak pushover to strong, happy, dancing woman. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Top 5 Odd Things I've Learned About Myself

The last few weeks have been the beginning of a new type of life. I'm not exactly sure where this life will take me, but I'm enjoying the ride and discovering new things about Jenn. In the spirit of Letterman's Top 10 lists, I created my own list of odd things I've learned about myself recently. It's just a "Top 5" list because, to be honest, the other five odd things weren't things I wanted to share in a public blog.

5. I'm literally incapable of working in the kitchen unless I'm wearing an apron and I've pulled my hair back into a ponytail. It occurred to me yesterday that this means there's a whole "cafeteria lady" aspect to my personality which I have yet to explore. Not sure I want to explore it.

4.  I'm beginning to fantasize about ways that I can drop funny Liz Lemon sayings into conversations and am trying to figure out who at work might be a 30 Rock fan so I can impress them with my Tina Fey impressions.

3. Cleaning the bathrooms really isn't too bad. I don't mind it. Trying to create a system to organize our ENORMOUS collection of children's books, on the other hand, positively gives me hives. (Shudder...)

2. It's more difficult to find time to get to an exercise class than I would have expected, even when I'm working part-time. Turns out the best way to exercise, no matter when you work, is to get your butt out of bed early in the morning and take care of it.

1. I look a lot better when I'm happy, extra 10 pounds notwithstanding. Apparently a "happy aura" is a good fashion accessory.

So there you go. Nothing beats self-discovery, even if the process reveals that a girl's got even more odd quirks than she originally suspected.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Today I Slept

During my drive home from work today (which is now, blessedly, three minutes long - five if I hit a light or two), I pondered what my exercise regimen would be today. I exercised 19 days during June and, although I'm rather proud of myself about that, I'd like to do even better in July. Once I got home, I decided that tonight I'd be best served with an old school workout on the treadmill so I suited up and hit the "exercise room." (A loose could just as easily be called the "junk-waiting-for-the-garage-sale-that-will-never-come room.")

My plans were all for naught, however, because the treadmill was covered in some of that JWFTGSTWNC. We had overnight guests, which necessitated the temporary rearranging of the room. In the back of my mind, my "you should" voice pointed out that there were a couple of loads of laundry to be folded, but I decided to lie on the couch and read my book. Pretty quickly I found myself getting sleepy. That voice started to tell me that I "shouldn't" be sleepy but my body insisted that sleep was the order of the day.

It was that funny half-sleep you end up in when your son is playing XBox360 in the same room and your daughter is wondering around until she decides sleep sounds lovely and crashes in the oversized armchair. I barely squinted at my husband with one eye when he came home and muttered to him that it would be great if he'd wake me up in time to meet my friends for dinner. Then I continued with my half-dozing while he and my son played their first game of Risk (the old-fashioned board game, not an electronic version).

I'm about to leave for my girlfriends' dinner. Not only do I feel quite rested, but I also feel as if I accomplished something significant by ignoring my "should" voice for just an hour or two.

I can't ignore it forever, though. I really should get that laundry folded.