It's my life and I love it...most of the time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh for the days when life was simple...

Unfortunately, we are not created wise. Wisdom comes with experience, trials, and tribulations. Those are the times that grow us into who we become. The good, the bad, and the ugly. As a parent of 4 teenagers and one 21 year old, I can attest that it is good to remember those times. I know you will find this hard to believe, but I was not born perfect. I made A LOT of mistakes growing up. While I would like to make things easier for my kids, and just jump them through to the wiser stages in life, it would only be detrimental to their character, to their wisdom. It is good for me to be there when asked, not bail them out at the drop of a hat, but allow them to go through their own experiences. And it is good for me to remember making mistakes, and understanding what they are going through.

It wasn't that many years ago when I thought I was so old, had to get married, and wanted to set up house. (Ok, maybe it has been a few more than "not that many years ago".) My husband was 22 and I was 25 when we got married, we had dated for 3 1/2 years, and I thought I was surely going to be an old maid before he decided to take the plunge. Looking back you would have thought we were in our 40's! (In case you don't know, we are now in our 40's!) Of course I recognize now how young we really were. Roger was (wait for it) a teenager when we started dating. A mere 19, the same age as son #2. Hindsight tells me I would have done things differently had I been wiser. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret that time, I would have just handled a few things differently. But if I could change things I wouldn't; those decisions grew us into the people we have become and developed our relationship into what it is.

I don't have any regrets, but I do miss many things about those early years. I miss being alone. At the same time I miss having the house full of my husband's friends on the weekends, tuning race cars, and feeding them all. I miss driving around on a cool, fall night with the sun roof open and the radio cranked. How excited we were to get a built in CD player! I miss having a house full on Friday nights for bible study, then dinner out and maybe a dollar movie at The Palace. I miss only having to worry about myself and my husband. Life was simple.

Twenty years later, I can see things shifting again. Many more evenings are spent in a quiet house, as the kids are running around with friends. The rumble of a race car once again permeates the house, as an engine is tuned to perfection. And sometimes we find our way out into a cool, fall night; the windows are rolled down, music is playing, and stops at red lights are filled with stolen kisses.

Maybe 20 years from now I will still be blogging. There is a chance that I will be telling you about plans for retirement and travel. I may speak about quiet evenings spent reading the latest novel at the top of the best seller list. In reality, I will probably reflect about when days were so full I couldn't find a moment to myself...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The times, they are a changin'...

I have a confession, (I seem to be doing that a lot!), I am a Facebook junkie. It's true, I need to check my Facebook to see what is going on in the world around me. Who would have thought 20 years ago that their would be something called a social network? Who thought 5 years ago that an online site called Facebook would bring so many people together?

I currently have just over 300 friends on Facebook. I have known some my whole life, some since I was 5, friends from college, and new friends that I have known a short time. I find it amazing that I am able to share my life with my grandma, keep up with friends from Kindergarten, and hear about what is going on in the lives of my children's friends. I am also able to connect with distant relatives on a level I would never have been able to otherwise. This is perhaps my favorite type of friend.

Recently I noticed a difference in the age groups that I Facebook with. I find that several of my older friends still use a greeting and/or a complimentary closing (love, sincerely) in their status updates. My young friends on the other hand use texteese (my word for texting language, c wht I mne). I often wonder what my grandma thinks of things my kids post, and if she can read their language. What a blessing that they are able to have this type of connection.

A few weeks ago I spent some time sorting through some old letters I had kept. The majority were from high school, but there were some from college and when I was much younger. What possessed me to save some of them I do not know. There were stories of boys, boys, and did I mention boys? But there were also letters from my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother. I find tears in my eyes as I hold the paper that was held by my grandmother, and goosebumps at the site of her hand writing. They are all treasured.

I worry about what my children will have in this age of technology and the keyboarded word. They definitely will not have as many handwritten letters as I do. Fortunately there have been some teachers in their lives that still understand the importance of the written word, specifically letters. As assignments, they have been asked to write to a relative. I have made sure to save them for their scrapbooks. One special letter was from my grandmother to my youngest son. I also have the letter he wrote to her first, that my grandmother had saved. It is wonderful reading both sides of the story. She tells him about when her brother died at a very young age, his senior year in high school. More recently my youngest son came home from church camp. He pulled some paper from his pocket. It was a letter from my mom he had received that week. It had survived camp, and made its way home. It was something treasured. It is tucked away safe until I can put it in his scrapbook.

Letter writing is a dying art. I don't think it can be totally saved in the form it once had. But I definitely think it is worth a shot. Write a letter to someone you love this week. Really write it, go buy a stamp, and send it in the mail.  Slip a note onto the pillow of your spouse, or into the lunch box of your child. Create those memories that can be treasured.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August = CRAZY!

I'm back to work at the school and it has been a CRAZY week, but I survived with flying colors! I am in the middle of my third year in this position. I can see the rewards of all the work I have done re-organizing my office to suit my style. We just finished the third year with a new demographic software, and we have pretty much all of the kinks worked out. Those we don't, we are aware of and know how to fix when they pop up. All of this, along with some really great co-workers, makes for a good work environment. I am so thankful to be able to go to work and feel good about so many things.

That said, let me take you back to my first day in this position. It was the first day after Christmas Break. Although I had helped the person who had the position prior to me; she left because it was too stressful, there was an incredible amount of duties I had never touched. I mentioned earlier that this week was CRAZY-that first day was a nightmare! At the time, I do not believe I had EVER felt that overwhelmed before in my life. I cannot express to you enough how tight my chest was, how bad I wanted to throw up, and how many times the thought "what did I get myself into" popped into my head. Let's just say I did not just want to cry a good portion of the day, I wanted to BAWL!

As a young person I tended to self-sabotage myself. This happens to a person that is reacting to a stressful situation. There are many forms of self-sabotage. For me I would often ignore the situation, or even do things to take myself out of the situation. Often this was a huge mistake that showed my immaturity.

My sophomore year in college comes to mind immediately as I think about this. The prior two years had been full of changes. My parents got divorced. My mom struggled. I graduated from high school. I had a summer romance. I went off to college, away from home. My life was full of friends, classes, and all of the typical teenage drama you might remember. My sophomore year I was appointed Yearbook Editor and I was so excited. And scared. Than my mom called to tell me my dad was coming back home. Of course I didn't recognize it at the time, but I was in a stressful situation. I will spare you all of the boring details, besides some of you reading this already know them, but I was kicked out of college for drinking. Now there is more involved to this story, but those are just details. You get the idea, stress led me to subconsciously make purposeful choices that I believe I knew would remove me from some of the situations.

Being only 19, my frontal lobe had not fully developed yet. My mind was not thinking about the long term consequences of those actions. I could not psychologically deal with the situation or even the actions that resulted. Thankfully I had family support during this time, especially from my Aunt, whom I love dearly. I had closed myself off from my parents, and she stepped in. That time in my life comes to mind often as  my days are filled with the minds of teenagers in my own home, and all of the struggles that they face. I can see my mom bite her tongue to keep from reminding me of my own struggles as I deal with my children. She doesn't have to remind me, I just don't like to admit I remember.

I do remember though. Sometimes I have to remind myself to remember! Teenage years are a struggle under normal circumstances. When we remember our years, we can invoke compassion. Not something that is easy to do when facing a hormonal teen, but something that is essential. Something that I need to practice more of.

As a young person, I found myself in stressful situations that I did not handle well. Over the years I have learned to push through those moments, and make the choices that make sense. Some of this has come with the development of my frontal lobe, some has come with very conscientious practice. I have learned over the years that I have tendencies to self-sabotage. I can watch for this, and push through and make the right choice.

That first day of my position, I wanted to quit. That was the old self-sabotage person peeking out. But the older, wiser me pushed through. What do I need to do to get through this? How can I make this work out for my benefit? My first instinct was I can't. I have to let God. And that is what I did. I prayed to him that night before I left. I gave it up to him. "God, I can't do this. I need your help." I immediately felt the comfort of knowing that there were only so many hours in a day, and I could only do some much in a day. I needed to just take things one crisis, project, and phone call at a time. Let me say, this is totally against my nature! Because I allow God into my life, I am able to do this. Some days are easier than others, but this is exactly how I have gotten through the last 2 1/2 years. And now, I love my job! I love the challenge. I love the people. I love the new opportunities that I am presented with each year.