Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When I Grow Up

Hi everyone!

     I have a feeling that my thoughts in this piece could be thoughts that many of you may also share, but are often afraid to say out loud, but if one is going to live a bold and authentic life, then one has to be willing to take chances.  While I haven't posted as frequently in the past year on my site, I have been writing pretty much nonstop, a welcome problem to have when you are a writer.  In the process I guess I have found peace with myself and my life and I think guess it's time now share these things with the world.  So welcome to my world!

     “Jen, have you decided what you want to be when you grow up?” An unusual question for a 52 year old woman, but never the less, an honest attempt by one of my dearest friends to help me on my quest for clarity in my life.  It’s not that I have been wandering aimlessly for all this time, it’s just that my life has seen its share of bumps and detours in the road.  I joked when I turned 50 and would tell people “Life began at 50” and indeed it actually seemed like it did. 

For whatever reason, with my “coming of age” I found that I was finally comfortable in my own skin.  Like the bumble bee, who technically shouldn’t be able to fly, I have beaten the odds on several occasions.  So to celebrate, I had my friend Jordan Wade create a beautiful bumble bee so that I could embrace this milestone in my life.  Armed with a photo of the design and my best friend by my side off we went and at 50 years young I got my first tattoo.  It was THE coolest and most invigorating thing I have EVER done!  My two oldest kids embraced their creative, crazy, writing mom’s new carefree spirit…my youngest son, at 15, decided he needed to take on the role of my parent.  Awe, now it’s my time to drive my kids crazy!!  But with this new sense of adventure, I have also found a sense of acceptance for myself.  I have raised three incredible kids, but now it is time for me to settle into the quiet that comes as the empty nest grows near and really examine what I want to do for me. 

What exactly do I want to be when I grow up?

     The funny thing about all of this is that I have spent the past 17 years as a college professor helping young adults find their way, and yet I still have not quite aligned the compass of my life with my North Star.  As I went through my first draft of this assignment I thought it was good enough, but on careful examination what I discovered is that I hadn’t identified what I wanted to be when I grew up, but rather the type of person or bashert or soulmate I wished to have in my life.  Yes, at 52 years young, a girl can still dream of a happily ever after.  And so I stilled my mind and surroundings.  I sat in my peaceful writing cottage and I let my quaint statuary wrap itself around the question. 

     Finally, after all this time I gave myself permission to answer what seemed to be tucked away in my soul.  Isn’t it funny how often times as moms we don’t allow ourselves to dream?  Well, I guess this isn’t limited to just moms.  Maybe it’s more of a “chronic people pleaser” “looking out for everyone else in the world” “always putting others first” kind of thing. As I took a deep breath and looked around me at the quite place of escape and source of inspiration that I have created I also came to realize that I have settled into life.  This of course is not the same as “settling” for less than we deserve or hope for, but rather reaching a place of comfort and acceptance with where our journey has led us.  I see my North Star, that place where I know God is calling me, my compass is pointing in the right direction now.  A place where I can offer this second half of my life every ounce of my being.  I have discovered that what I want to be when I grow up has been at the very center of my being my whole life.  While most people my age dream of retiring, I dream of teaching and publishing my books and opening my own shop.  While some people are gearing down, I feel like I am just getting started. 

     I have spent a life time creating beautiful things, cooking for family and friends, writing and dancing and singing through the good times and the not so good moments.  The difference now is I want to take this cornucopia of things that have molded me into the woman I am today and use my gifts of creativity and compassion and encouragement to help others who are also trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.  I hope as I blaze down these new trails that my documentation of my own journey will allow others to lighten their load.  I want to bring light and joy and hope to those in my little corner of the world. 

     What I came to realize as I allowed myself the opportunity to complete this homework that my friend bestowed upon me is that what I wanted to be when I grew up was really a place where I have always been, but have never stopped to write it on my life map.  Or maybe I was so busy trying to figure out what the world thought I should be that I never took the time to give myself permission to just be me. 

     When I grow up, for as long as I have breath on this earth, I want to create beautiful things to share with the world so that when I come in contact with people, even on their darkest days, I might help them, if only for a brief moment, feel the sunshine!

Until next time...

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I Never Knew Normal

Hi everyone! 

    Isn’t it funny how out of the blue the pieces that make up the puzzle of our life just seem to fall into place?  Like things just start to make sense.  I have spent years trying to pick up the pieces of not one, but two failed marriages.  It really sucks when it reaches the point that you have to number your ex-husbands.  So over the past couple of years I have really tried to evaluate what I did wrong.  I forgot to mention that I am also a domestic violence survivor, not once but twice.  You would think I would have known better the second time around.  Unfortunately those of us who have earned this badge of survival and have lived to tell about it didn’t know at the time that we were signing up for “Survivor, Real Life Edition.”   Who, what, when, where, and why are not what is on my mind right now. What is important to me as I embrace my golden years is how to not let it happen again.  I am not just doing this for my sake, but my hope and prayer is that what I have learned I can pass on to my kids.  My hope and prayer is that I might be able to be a lighthouse for someone else in the middle of the storm. 

     There are countless books, magazines, and articles in cyberspace to point out potential pit falls.  A lot of these things we have already read, but often times when our rose colored glasses are on we don’t see the glare coming off the red warning sirens.  We don’t realize that their quest to sweep us off of our feet at lightning speed is really them just sweeping us into their web of control, lies, and deception.  We don’t realize that we are throwing away our friends and family.  We don’t realize that we are about to cause near irreparable damage to our self-esteem and sometimes bodies. 

     I have spent the last three years reading and studying and watching every chick flick known to man.  My kids call me the Queen of the Hallmark channel.  Deep down, I think I have done this so that I could picture the perfect man.  The one sent from above.  The one sent on the white horse with the flowers in hand.  But in the midst of my Hallmark coma, a funny thing happened.  A random phone call, an innocent business meeting brought someone completely unexpected into my life.  A puzzle piece that I never saw in the box.  A person whose brain clicked faster than my creative brain every hoped to.  A man that worked harder than anyone I had ever known.  A man, who may not be warming the pew of a church every Sunday, but who had a heart for people and his kids like no one I had ever known.  This rare beast that I was not familiar with was kind, considerate, and compassionate. 

     Then one day it hit me out the blue, maybe because I had been so busy working I hadn’t had time to watch Hallmark as of late.

What I realized was that I had never known normal!!

     Through this unexpected friendship, I realized that I was learning what normal looks like.  When this epiphany came to me, I had to sit down and let the full weight of this realization sink in.  It was like I had been asleep for years or like I had finally ditched the glasses.  I think the archaeological dig I had been on to save myself also allowed for me to look at the puzzle pieces that were left in the rubble of my past.  Pushing past that pain I gave myself permission to look at the remains.  I had only known the back of a hand; the blows of hateful words; the pain of lies and deceit.  I had never known normal. 

     I am a people person who has always felt the need to try and save the world.  If prince charming was a lost cause, I felt I could turn him into the king of the castle.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with helping people.  There is a huge difference between helping people and having someone who is drowning in life try to take our life vest and pull us to the bottom. 

     What I was learning about normal was that normal made you smile, normal had a loving relationship with his kids, normal put family first not his own wants and needs, normal may not understand my creative projects, but he was always willing to help me find the odds and ends I needed to create them.  Normal might not have understood why I write, but he never had a problem giving me the space to write, as long as I made sure that I left room to help him finish his projects.  Normal has always been respectful and normal was not out to have a scandalous, inappropriate relationship.  Normal will always be a man’s man with a soft heart chasing his own dreams, no different than me trying to chase my own.

     And though today is normal’s birthday, what I have come to realize is that I am the one that has indeed been given the gift because I finally know what normal looks like.  If you are fortunate enough to know a precious treasure like this man, I encourage you to tell him because they are very rare and precious gifts.  Until we meet again!


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