Sunday, April 21, 2013

Compelling Courage

There are so many ways to be safe and stay inside the lines. But the stories that draw us in are the ones in which the protaganists exhibit true courage. Sometimes true courage is obvious and worthy of a History Channel special all on its own. The amazing volunteer firefighters in West, Texas who rushed towards the burning fertilizer facility this week right before it blew apart come to mind.

And, yet...true courage isn't always obvious. We usually have to look past initial disappointment or pain to be able to recognize that what we're really seeing is true, compelling courage.

Here's the courage I've seen lately:
1. One of my gay friends told me the story about how he came out to his dad. Church is hugely important to both him and his family. He refused to let go of his family, his faith or himself. Amazing.
2. The local pottery store is going out of business. My son and I will miss going there and I hate it that the business venture didn't work out, but more than anything I'm inspired (and even a bit envious) that the owners put their dreams on the line and lived their art for a while.
3.  Someone is leaving her steady job to start her own business, helping high school students find their best college match. Right now she makes a good living with great benefits, but every day she feels more drained than the day before. She wants the same thing we all want - a job that brings joy and meaning into her life - but she's willing to take major risks to find it.

There are more stories, but some seem too private to share. And, really, I want my own story now.

I feel as if I've discovered a beautiful book full of brave tales and I'm looking at a blank page, wondering what mine will be. "Jenn's Courage" - that's the title. And it begins this way - "Once there was a woman who spent her whole life hiding in the shadows, trying to help other people. Then one Spring, right as the first green tomatoes sprouted in her garden, she decided it was time to be brave..."

Monday, April 15, 2013

If I Were To Let Go....

My life is so much better and so much calmer than most of the other moms I know. I can take a little bit of credit but for the most part, it's just pure luck.

  • First of all, my husband does at least an equal amount of work in the house and outside of the house. In certain areas, I do most of the work (i.e. dr appnts) and in other areas he does most of the work (i.e. keeping up with car stuff). In a bunch of areas, we split it - which sometimes creates confusion but generally works pretty well.
  • My kids aren't compelled to do a bunch of activities and that's perfectly fine with us. We spend a lot more "down" time at home than might be typical for other families.
  • Both sets of grandparents are very involved and my husband's parents now live 15 minutes from our house. When I need someone to help with kid stuff, they are right there.
  • My husband and two kids not only love me and support me but they encourage me to do things that would make me happy. (Zumba classes, writing, going to a movie)
This is all great...but the deal is that I am still completely and totally overwhelmed. I'm forgetting things unless I write them down, but even that doesn't help because I keep losing my lists. You'd think this would be impossible because my lists are the size of a Tolstoy novel and yet...lose them I do.

Philosophically, I wonder if I just have an abnormally low tolerance for "stuff." I know it's unhealthy to compare myself to others but I can't help it. Other moms are certainly keeping up with more than I am, often on their own.

I think it's time to simplify. I've done it before but this time I want to do it without the guilt. If anyone has any suggestions in that regard, I'm all ears.

Monday, April 1, 2013 I don't fit into a box. Now what?

I see that my most recent entry was an October 2012 post in which I berated my husband for pigging out on the Halloween candy. It's ironic to note that I'm writing this post the day after I pigged out on Easter candy. There seems to be a chocolate theme to my decision to return to my oh-so-neglected blog.

I've been pondering why I stopped writing and it really comes down to my urge to figure out "who I am" so that I'll have a theme and a focus...if not for my life, then at least for my writing. Am I a funny and sassy mom? (Maybe, sometimes...but not nearly so much as The Bloggess and Jen at PIWTPITT). Am I a poet? (Man...I wish, and maybe someday I will be but I'm not now. I leave that to my sister-in-law and best friend - those two poets are incredible.) I love to cook and I've posted about some of my adventures in the kitchen, but I'll never be Chocolate Covered Katie (my vegan heroine) and I wouldn't want to try. I'm totally satisfied with the accolades I get from my family when I feed them her recipes.

When I put myself out there for the Friday Fictioneers, it was an awesome experience. There's no question about the fact that all I really want to be is a writer. The more I've tried to search for the "real me" over the last year, the more lost and lonely I've felt. Sometimes I feel funny, sometimes I'm pensive, sometimes I'm self-righteously infuriated - but when I put metaphorical pen to paper, I start to feel like Jenn again.

I just realized it's April 1st...this isn't a joke, but maybe April Fool's Day is the perfect day for me to realize the absurdity of my efforts to pick a theme and stick with it. I'm theme-less and proud of it, baby.