Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers

  • I'm working like a mad woman today so I can take off with Fudge until April 10th. Regardless of public opinion of my employer, my own opinion, or the financial services industry as a whole, my leave time and flexibility is top-notch, which I greatly appreciate. Too many parents have to choose between "employee" or "parent" during school breaks and I am thankful that I don't have to make that choice. If only we could get the majority of employers in this country to value the parent-child connection. Or the having-a-life connection, regardless of parental status. Hmph!

  • This amendment 1 in NC is so bass-ackwards. I'd say thank goodness I kissed NC goodbye years ago, but I'm still in the South and in a pretty bass-ackwards state myself.

  • Lately, I'm having crazy vivid dreams- what's that about? Last night, I was back in Germany, speaking French. ???

  • Need a good book for the weekend/next week- suggestions?

  • Why don't Christians celebrate Passover? Jesus observed it- what's the deal? The church I grew up in could never satisfactorily answer the question. Any takers?

Want to join the FNL? Be sure to visit Danifred to play along.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fudge Makes Dinner

Fudge decided to serve me dinner the other night...what a pleasant surprise that I had fish, milk, yogurt, and lots of fresh fruits and veggies! Maybe all of those Saturday mornings at the farmer's market, in search of fresh fruits, veggies, and seafood, are paying off?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What Are You Doing Right?

Social media can be a fabulous tool for communication and runs the realm of being a collaboration tool and a time suck, inspiring and damaging, thought-provoking and ignorant...all at the same web with many outcomes. As I consider my own use of social media, I find the newsworthy, the celebratory, the information sharing, and the quick connection to those I care about to be the most gratifying. What will not get me to bite is the "vague-booking" status updates, not-so-vague-give-me-constant-and-unwarranted-attention updates and the look-at-my-perfect-life updates (what insecurities are you hiding, not so well I might add?). I'm sure I'm guilty of the latter too; a girl's got to be able to celebrate with friends and family when something is going well. I do celebrate the good times, but I'm also here to be real about what is not going as planned (on-fire tread mills, mis-steps in my new role, Fudge's stunts and ER visits)'s life right? And to quote Dr. Seuss (yes, I've been part of Read Across America too):

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.”Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Lately, I find it's easy to fall into the trap of trying to live up to "supermom" status, or even "superstar at work" status. Most of you who just read that sentence had THAT mom come to mind- perfect kids, perfect house, perfect figure, perfect spouse, perfect income...perfect, perfect, perfect. The first question I ask is why are we comparing? I'm here to tell you that if I compare, it's a lost battle from the start. My house right now- total mess and chaos (which drives me nuts). If you came to the front door today, we'd be standing on the porch to converse, with the front door firmly shut (how ungracious, I know). Toys are everywhere, laundry is piling up, the floors need to be mopped, toilets scrubbed, showers get the picture. I still haven't mailed thank you notes from Fudge's party last month, or from the PTA fundraiser. My child downed a piece of pizza and red velvet cake for dinner on the run last night- not our typical fare, but that was his veggies, no fruit, no "eating the rainbow." I'd have to ask Fudge when he last washed his hair, Dax needs a good brushing, Salem needs to get back for a check-in with the vet, taxes are looming, summer camp rosters are filling, piano didn't get practiced thoroughly and I feel behind most days. I'm in a new role at work, drinking from a fire hose, and the issues can seem worse when compounded.

For this day, despite the dirty floors and sticky doornobs, the crazy Excel formulas and constant meetings, I am giving myself permission to focus (actually requiring myself to focus on small wins) on what I am doing well...what I am thankful for...sometimes we just need a reminder:

  • My team and I pulled off a very successful quarterly meeting for 800+ participants worldwide and with an internationally recognized speaker. WHEW!

  • I made it to the market, so we've got fresh, healthy choices stocking the fridge and freezer.

  • The laundry mountain is slowly, but surely, eroding.

  • I'm learning new skills in the workplace and establishing valuable and meaningful connections.

  • My child is usually easy going and happy, healthy, well-adjusted and a blossoming voracious reader...I could learn from him- not to sweat the small stuff.

  • I can laugh at myself, even when I am the unintended entertainment...nothing like singing Happy Birthday while unintentionally back-flipping over a couch and taking the whole damn thing with you. Classicly me! And we wonder why Fudge is so accident prone?

  • And finally, drumroll please, I've been consistent with my work-outs and I'm down four pounds this week. That was a hard-won victory!
What are you doing well in the midst of demands, stress, and/or chaos? What do you need to give yourself a pat on the back for, despite the mountain in front of you?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers- Get Outta That Funk Edition

It's been a seriously funky week that I am looking forward to putting behind me. Drumroll please, the not so exciting edition of Friday Night Leftovers rolling around in my mind:

  • Anyone else out there politically exhausted? I've spent the last 15+ years identifying as "conservative" and with the slim Republican options these days, I am over it. Seriously, it is causing me to re-think so many things that my head spins. There, I said it- I'm having a political identity crisis...

  • ...which brings me to the news- same drivel, different day. I've taken to getting any world news from the BBC since we cannot seem to cover world events in this country. I also benefit from one of my friends regularly posting (on FB) thought-provoking, debate and essay-ensuing news links. Thanks for keeping the intellectual dialogue alive RK! And thanks to my childhood buddy at River Mud for keeping it real on the environmental front. From the water crisis in India, to the Chesapeake Bay and poaching in MD, he's got you covered.

  • Time to feel human again- cut and color at my favorite salon this afternoon. For locals, you know this means laughing hysterically with Kelley and her non-stop entertainment.

  • Fudge's loft and bottom bunk are finally delivered and set up (that only took 6 weeks : /). Now taking bets on the next ER visit. What's that you say? "Shhhh, don't jinx him!" No chance- Fudge is Fudge. Although, Mitchell, he does take way too keen of an interest in the story of you jumping for the ceiling fan from the top bunk and breaking your arm.

  • I've created a monster- Fudge has visited 17 states, 27 major cities, and 1 foreign country before he turned 7, so I guess it should not surprise me that he's requested returning to Aruba this summer. When I told him no to the happy island this summer, he came back with his next offer: "Oh, ok- I guess you can book Brazil." Where does he get this stuff? Why Brazil? Because one of the little friends he made in Aruba was from Brazil. The fantastic part was watching these kids play and neither shared a common language.

  • We are not going to Brazil, but I did agree to the boy's request for a sunny, warm island. I welcome (read: crave) more international travel as Fudge grows/matures. And how old do they have to be to dive? ;)

  • Spring Break is coming and we're going to create our own "Weird Virginia" tour...Foamhenge, Zebras in the car, George Washington's graffiti. Also planning a day trip to climb Jockey's Ridge if any local friends are interested, but know Fudge will deny it is Jockey's Ridge and inform you he is climbing the Great Pyramids at Giza- just go with it.

Ok, enough randomness. Send some good juju my way to eliminate this feeling of funk...and if you are playing along with FNL, visit Danifred for all of the latest.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Running is ON FIRE!

I'm a firm believer that you've got to be able to laugh at yourself, and I certainly had one of those moments this morning. Over the years I've gone from fit to flab and while it has been frustrating as hell, I'm dragging my body along on this "get fit" quest of mine...which is a whole other post, so let's just go with the short version this morning.

Get up early, decide to go for a run/walk...decide to use the treadmill at my parents so I can get the exact distance, time, etc. So, I'm jamming along to We Found Love and I think I'm smelling smoke...but I don't see any smoke...and I keep going. My parents are building a sunroom off the back porch, saws are whizzing, cement is being mixed, etc. and I keep going, thinking the smell must be from all of the work, since I am running right near an open window.

Nope. 23 minutes into my run, right in the middle of the Glee mash up of Start Me Up/Living on a Prayer, the treadmill DEAD stops, I go flying forward, bounce off the front panel, pitch backward and bounced off the treadmill and onto the floor, where I was laughing hysterically. Nicely played. No appliances are safe around me these days.

Even better was the text I received from my brother a short while later- "Congrats, Tank!" Ah, brotherly love. And now I hear firetrucks in the neighborhood, so let's hope they're not headed to my parents' place.

Are you there God? It's me, Chubby.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thankful for the Basics

There's nothing quite like being shocked back into reality by coming home from a fantastic four days away to a blown Jeep engine, a washing machine that died with a full load in it, and furniture that was not delivered...and now my Keurig is flashing that it needs to be de-scaled (really?). We all have crap we deal with daily, right? So in the spirit of my various travels and trying to see the positive (somewhat difficult in the midst of annoyances)..I am thankful...

- For the ability and resources to purchase a new washer (even if it is on backorder) and that I'm not washing my clothes against a rock in a creek...I repeat this mantra each time I must make a trip to go do laundry, tonight included, after Fudge spilled milk all over the tablecloth. : /

-For my wonderful, eco-friendly Honda Pilot...may Darth Vader have many, many years and joyous miles of adventures ahead. So many do not have shoes, let alone a vehicle, so we'll get past a blown engine. And while I am thinking of it, if you are spring cleaning, please consider taking your shoes to a drop off site for Soles for Souls.

-For a warm bed to tuck Fudge into at night, while so many go without.

-For excellent medical care, even if I think I pay way too much for it. Fudge has ear surgery #3 on the horizon and I'm thankful he is in such caring and capable hands, while many have no access to care.

-For the lovely emails I received from friends after my last post...which surprised me since there were no comments, but lots of love sent my way nonetheless.

It's been an exhausting day, and much to do before I call it a night. Wherever you are, wishing you gratitude, especially for the basics we take for granted.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

The blog has (obviously) fallen by the wayside...I think with writing so much corporate mumbo-jumbo daily, the passion to write personally wanes, even though I enjoy it immensely. As one of my friends would say, "le sigh."

I'm back from a girls' weekend at the beach- just what I needed. You know it's bad when you don't mind sitting in bumper-to-bumper gridlock on the outer loop, because it affords you some peace and quiet...or reminds you of an old commute into the city. Either way, sick, right? This from the woman who never imagined a life in the 'burbs, driving a swagger wagon (ok, Honda Pilot because there was no way in hell that I was buying a minivan), and trying not to go insane on the soccer sidelines. Don't misunderstand, I love being a mom- love it, and at the same time, it raises some tough questions...what happens to identity when the title of mom is hitched to it? How do you successfully balance motherhood, career, and that which you wish to passionately pursue? There, sitting in traffic, I realized I don't even get to use the bathroom by myself ("Mom, are you in there?")...what identity is/was left after mom, employee, volunteer, household manager, cook, and so on? Well, if you've got to ask that question, the answer is not much. I started to wonder "where did I go?" Something's got to give.

Traffic passed and the outer loop gave way to a country road, fallow cotton fields, turf farms, vineyards, empty farm stands and finally a bridge onto the island. As I drove along, I felt the stress melt far, far away. To say I was thrilled to arrive on Thursday evening would be an understatement; it's not due to any one thing- but the sum of all of the little things..."the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Four days to be Jen, just Jen...nothing more and nothing less. How refreshing. Ok, rare, but refreshing all the same...and isn't the rarity of that just pathetic?

Time to linger over a glass of wine and great conversation...real, authentic conversation. Time to relax (what's that?), time to pamper myself (a massage therapist came out to the beach house for the day), time to read, time to think, time to just be. As I was sitting on the deserted beach Friday afternoon, listening to the waves crashing, the sun shining down on me, I realized that I could not remember the last time I was alone...just one as far as I could see. How does one get to that point, where time to sit, alone, and breath the fresh salty air, feel your hair being whipped by the balmy breeze, and enjoying the warmth of sunshine on your face with uninterrupted thoughts is a rare occurrence?

These weekends happen twice a year, but obviously, I must make way for me more than two long weekends a year. No wonder why it feels like I could go bat shit crazy some days. When the internal dialogue sounds something like- "Hi Jen, remember yourself? You know, your passions, ideas, independence, sense of adventure, goals and laughter? No???"- it's time to take action.

Of course, the weekend was fantastic. And just like Vegas, what happens at girls' weekend stays at girls' weekend...or is it like Fight Club and the first rule? And really, I hate the title "girls'" weekend (we're far from being a bunch of 10 year olds) but "ladies'" weekend sounds too prim and proper and "womens'" weekend too formal. Whatever you want to call it, it was a little slice of heaven for a few days with a fantastic group of smart, authentic, funny, accomplished women.

One conversation was so good to have, but at the same time, sticks with me, heavily. A group of us from my grad school program were recently surveyed on the value of our experiences, preparedness, academic rigor, etc., and one of my friends on the weekend adventure was also a grad school classmate of mine. We compared notes on the survey, our experiences, and how far we've developed since out grad school days and our first placements outside of grad school. You know, moving from an arrogant, headstrong, know-it-all 23 year old and developing into a better version of self. While we enjoyed a laugh over "if we knew then what we know now," I also mourn the missed opportunities- things I would have done differently, personal relationships I would have cultivated more, how I would have opened my eyes and heart wider, my ears more compassionately, and my mouth less. What does one do with that? Such a simple conversation that can stir up both good memories and regrets...not sure how to reconcile that, but it's not something I can simply let go. We'll see...I'm a processor, so I need to time to mull on it and work through it. Again, "le sigh."

There you have it- how I get by with a little help with my friends. Oh- the photo...well, I usually don't care for any photos of myself, but since this was one from the weekend (and super grainy from the iPhone), it seemed appropriate.