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My Broken Spring Break

Today has been great. It is my first official day of Spring Break and my husband and I dropped my DD off at Art Camp this morning at 9 a.m. and went to a leisurely breakfast at one of our favorite places in town. We then came home and did some catch up work we both had and then I went to pick up my DD at Noon from Art Camp. She wanted to eat downtown and get a book at our local used bookstore, so we did. It is a beautiful day after many weeks of rain and clouds and cold, so we ate outside and enjoyed the sunshine. We then came home and her friend came over and they have been playing independently and I’ve got a few projects done around the house and for work.

But, I am feeling a little sad because tomorrow morning I am driving away from town with a bunch of college students and going to New York for the remainder of my Spring “break”. My daughter will spend the week with my husband and his parents are coming up at the end of the week to go to a family friend’s funeral on Friday. I would love to be here spending every day in a leisurely way and seeing my in-laws and being there for my husband at the funeral of his good family friend. But, instead I am traveling and spending approximately 10 hour days at Hofstra University while many students compete in Speech and Debate. And I love Speech and Debate and the opportunities for travel it provides to me and my students, but when it cuts into my family time in such a big way, I start to feel the pull of home. Such is life. No one’s job is perfect and no one’s life is perfectly balanced. But, it still feels a little disappointing.

I am trying to approach it as a bit of a working retreat to get my life on track. I am not judging, so I have the days relatively open to getting things done (around providing my students meals, rides and advice, of course). But, it is always harder to get things done at tournaments than it would be at home. And every week I don’t spend with my DD feels like one I may live to regret. I don’t like to think about things that way, but I almost have to. I am trying to view it as my husband’s gain because he doesn’t get to spend time with her nearly as much I do, so this is good for them. I won’t be here to interfere with them spending time together.

My other goal while I am gone is to figure out what I can possibly do differently moving forward to make my life what I want it to be. It isn’t easy for me to figure out what I can do to make things change because I often feel kind of trapped in what I’ve become. But, I have to view myself as more of a caterpillar rather than a fully formed butterfly. Or maybe I’m a chryssalis since I’ve already lived my earlier life and hopefully I can figure out how to break out of where I’ve been and do a little more with what I’ve been given.

Life is a series of challenges. I am finally feeling ready to take some of them on before they come barreling down the road at me. I am ready to approach them first and preemptively deal with them!

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Place

Well, another week has gone by and is history instead of present or future. I sometimes wonder as I begin each week how I am gong to get through it, then suddenly, it is over and I feel like I’ve missed half of it in the chaos that is my life. But, I look back and things have been done, people have been met, fun has happened, sometimes suffering has occurred. It just doesn’t seem like I am present for much of it. And that is what is bothering me right now, so I will begin my Five Minute Friday there this week since the prompt is “place”…here goes:

I think of “place” and I immediately think of a feeling rather than an actual location. Feeling in “place” or like you are part of a “place” or in the “right place” has much less to do with the actual physical space you are inhabiting and much more with the feeling that place gives to you. I notice that I don’t often think of myself in those terms in my current state of life. I only really pay attention when I feel the opposite. When I feel out of “place” or like I’m in the “wrong place,” I notice, but comfort makes me lazy in my perceptions. So, today, I want to spend a bit of time talking about a place that has been a source of comfort and security for me lately.

Girl Scouts! My daughter joined Girl Scouts as a first grader. She was late to the troop since I didn’t hear about it at first and I can definitely say that at first, I felt a little out of place. I didn’t know any of the other moms and they all seemed to know each other. Some of the little girls had gone to preschool together and we barely knew any of them. But, my daughter felt right at home almost immediately. I felt like it was a good experience for her and might lessen her anxiety about school, so I was along for the ride and fully committed. When that year ended, the leader was pregnant and told us she wasn’t planning on leading again the next year since she would have a newborn and all the other moms said okay and that they just probably wouldn’t do Girl Scouts then. My heart sank. So, I decided I would become the leader to keep the troop together and make sure my DD had a full Girl Scouts experience. I’ve been a leader now for two and a half years and I love it. When I go to Girl Scout meetings, whether with our girls or the other troop leaders, I always feel like I belong there. I don’t feel out of place or not good enough.

You see, sometimes, I feel like our house is not very nice (it isn’t – we rent a condo and it isn’t in great shape due to animals and children and us). I feel like I don’t value the same things as other moms. I don’t get my hair done at fancy places or go to get pedicures on a regular basis. I am not on a diet most of the time. I don’t go to the gym to workout. I don’t drink wine. I am older than most of the other moms. But, at Girl Scouts, I feel like the leaders are moms like me (probably for a reason in all honesty). They don’t have perfect hair. They don’t go to the gym. I went to pick up cookies from another leader and she lived in a trailer park here in town. She wasn’t ashamed (at least she didn’t seem to be) and I felt better knowing there were others who don’t live in fancy houses with big yards and playrooms (my best mom friends mostly have these things and I always feel a little less than). In addition, these moms are doing things with their girls. They are planning activities, selling cookies, camping out. They are not getting pedicures (I’m sure some of them do that as well, but that isn’t what I experience with them).

I am sure that this is mostly just my own insecurities, but those insecurities are real all the same. And I’m glad I’ve found some “place” where I can feel myself and feel confident and enjoy myself without thinking I’m doing things wrong. Everyone should have such a place. I’m glad that I’ve found my place where I can share things with my daughter as well.

My troop at World Thinking Day this year – they represented Hong Kong!
movies

Nancy Drew is Back and Reminding Me Who I Am

There is a new Nancy Drew movie coming out in five days. It is based on the first book, The Hidden Staircase, and it looks like a winner from the trailer. I am also hopeful because Ellen is in on the production level.

Nancy Drew has always held a special place in my head and my heart. I’ve watched all the old TV episodes (cheesy to be sure), all the movies (including the old black and white ones), and read all the books multiple times. I have even read a few of the early reader ones with my daughter. Nancy Drew represents all that I wanted to be as an elementary school student. I wanted to be confident and adventurous and independent. When it came right down to it, I was not very confident, I was only a little adventurous and I was not at all independent. But, I could dream through Nancy Drew.

As I grew older, I never let go of all the memories tied up in Nancy Drew. I never owned the books. My mom and I would walk or drive to the library once a week and half the time or more I would check out Nancy Drew books. I moved from Nancy Drew to Hardy Boys because they were next to each other in the library, but the boys never measured up to Nancy. I watched the TV show where they joined the two together. My friends and I often pretended we were in a Nancy Drew plot and our lives were truly adventurous, while we were simply going between each other’s houses on the wild streets (not at all wild), hiding in bushes and looking for clues along the way. We had quite the imaginations.

When I became an adult, I began collecting the books again, convinced I would read them all again with my own daughter. Alas, she has not really liked them (they are a bit outdated when you get right down to it) and we have a set of books that have gone mostly unread. But, they are there to remind me of my youthful self. They are there to remind me of my dreams. They are there just in case I feel the need to visit Nancy once again and remind myself of all that I once wanted to be.

Now, there is a movie, set in the modern day, with Nancy as the lead. She is smart and spunky and confident and adventurous. She is there to remind me who I can still be and hopefully to show my daughter all she can be. I will be in a theater on Friday seeing this movie with my own 10 year old daughter. I will think of my mom who loved the Nancy Drew series and often read the books to and with me. I will think of my elementary school friends who role played Nancy Drew plots with me so often. And I will think of all the different Nancies who have come and gone, but always signaled to girls that they could be more than some would give them credit for.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – More

I am joining Five Minute Friday a little late this week. But, better late than never, I suppose. This week’s prompt is “more”. Pretty fitting for my blog’s title, “More at Forty”. But, as you will see, maybe I chose a blog title poorly for my current condition. Here goes…

Just seeing the word “more” kind of puts me in a state of panic nowadays. I’m not sure when it suddenly became stressful to think of “more” of almost anything, but that is where I am at right now. I can’t possibly deal with any “more”. I am buried in “more”. I have “more” on my to-do list than I can do and I have “more” in my house than I can take care of and I have “more” on my wish-list than I can achieve. More is starting to feel like a burden I carry around in a bag that is overflowing and I’m constantly losing things (focus, peace, prayer, calm, etc.) because everything can’t fit in that bag.

So, the question at this point, is what do I possibly get rid of out of this overflowing bag? How do I pack it in a way that what is at risk of falling out is the least valuable (instead of what is the most valuable as it often goes)? Prioritization is the key, but I feel like I need to dump the whole bag out in order to do that and it scares me to see what is down there at the bottom of the bag that I’ve forgotten. I’m afraid of finding things like lost opportunities and disappointments and even long lost joys that aren’t returning. I’m carrying around those things, thinking I will get to them, revisit them, but really they’re just weighing me down because I can’t possibly reach them with all the stuff on top of them.

I don’t have an answer for this problem. I only have fear and dread and stress. I know what I need to do, but I am afraid of doing it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Should I take out one thing at a time or should I dump it all out and start fresh? Can I possibly reach down to the bottom without clearing it all out and find somewhere to start? I just don’t know…

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Five Minute Friday – Search

Oh my, how I have searched. I feel like my last decade has been spent searching. At first, I was searching for answers. What was cardiomyopathy? Did babies really have heart transplants and lead semi-normal lives afterward? What was it like to live in a Ronald McDonald House? Were we really going to be able to do all this medical stuff when we went home? Where was home going to be? Could we go back to doing all the things we had done before? Could we work? Could we send our daughter to school? It was an endless barrage of questions, some answered, some not.

After we came home, I began a search for normal. We had a place to live now, but what was our normal going to be like? I was back at work, but how could I predict if our baby would be healthy or not? How could I get it all done? How could we commute four hours for doctor’s appointments once every three months? How would I find other moms to hang out with when we had been away for months and months and none of my friends or co-workers had babies? Could I leave her with a babysitter? They would have to give her medicines through syringes and deal with a Broviak catheter in her chest. She didn’t sleep in a crib well, so they wouldn’t be able to just “put her down” to sleep. We wouldn’t be able to “put her down” to sleep either. Should we co-sleep? Should we have her continue to sleep in her pack n play like she did at the Ronald McDonald House? She could sleep on the couch next to us in her boppy pillow. Would we ever sleep again?

Once we got through that stage and found our new normal, my search began for myself again. And that search is on-going. I am happy to be a mom. I like my job as a college instructor. I am enjoying being a Girl Scout leader. BUT. Always, the but. Do I want to do 5Ks? Do I want to do crafts? Do I want to compete in something? Am I doing all I am meant to do? Am I ever going to be a mom who can keep the house clean? I think I need to make more money, but maybe I just need to spend less. Should we be living in a house instead of a townhouse? Should I really own six animals? Will I ever get all the laundry done? Am I a writer? Should I be a speaker? Can I reach more people through consulting and maybe make some more money along the way? Am I doing too much? Am I not doing enough? How will I know?

I am in the midst of the search for myself and my goals and what is meant to be. This week, I am trying a new planner I heard about on a podcast. The Rise Up planner by Moira Kucaba. When I heard about it, it spoke to me. I am one who struggles with staying positive, keeping track, focusing on the right things and having a vision for myself. This planner seemed like it might be helpful. I feel like I have zero vision for myself other than to get through it.

Well, I forgot to start my timer. LOL. This may speak to where I am right now in the scheme of things. So, I will let you know how this planner goes!

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Build

I am joining Five Minute Friday this week with a bit of a sickness hangover. I started getting congested and not feeling great last Friday and by Monday, I was fully miserable. I went to Prompt Care, where nearly everyone in the waiting room had the exact same symptoms as I did, and was told it was a bad upper respiratory virus going around and I would just have to ride it out. This is the first time I can remember in a very, very long time that I did not go to work for a whole week. I will usually “push through”. But, this virus was having none of that. I started running a fever shortly after visiting Prompt Care and was in bed from 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday until 10 a.m. on Wednesday. I then puttered around coughing and feeling generally miserable the rest of Wednesday, while the cough moved into my chest and became more pronounced. I am feeling considerably better than I was earlier in the week, but still only about 60% of all good. But, I have a Speech and Debate tournament this weekend and since we only have two drivers this year, I need to go. So, I will be picking up a 12 passenger van soon, loading up competitors and heading out for a three hour trip to our destination. The upshot is I don’t have to look at my sadly messy house all weekend, which alleviates some guilt and frustration. I am really hoping that the cough soon leaves and I can get back to feeling 80-90%. I think this illness has made me appreciate what it feels like to feel good and healthy in a whole new way! I hope all of you can skip this one!

Well, enough of that! Let’s get to the Five Minute Friday! This week’s prompt is “build”.

I have come to the conclusion in my later life that I am a dreamer more than a doer. It isn’t an easy thing for me to accept. At one time, I feel like I may have been more of a doer, but I don’t know if that is just me remembering things in a more positive way. But, I have also come to realize that doing is important because we can’t live our lives in dreams. We have to live our lives in reality. And it is there that we need to build and do.

I am struggling but succeeding in being more of a doer this year so far. But, it is always a temptation to scroll through photos, read other’s blog posts, and live in those dreams that my life could be like that too, if only. But, I know that God wants me to do with what I have. He wants me to build where I am. So, I am trying to do just that. Build stability. Build relationships. Build consistency. And all of that building requires that I DO things, not just think about them or dream about them. STOP!

Well, that went by rather quickly! I will say that I am working on re”build”ing my blog right now. Watch for those changes that will be happening over the next few weeks! And watch for a fun giveaway I’ll be doing very soon as well!

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Convenient

I am joining Five Minute Friday a day late this week. I’m trying to be as consistent as possible in posting these weekly in 2019, but I’m not yet getting them all on Friday. Improvements can be made! This week’s prompt is “convenient”.

Convenient is not just a word for me. It is a way of life! My Twitter profile reads “Cheap and easy (not me, my food and life in general).” because it is truth. I am not one for making long time investments to doing hair, makeup, making meals or anything else in my life really. I am not sure where this stems from, but it is pretty consistent. If things aren’t simple and easy, I’m probably not going to be doing them long term.

But, I realize that sometimes “convenient” is just another word for “lacking value”. This isn’t always the case of course, but at times, we have to question whether convenience is trading off with something that is of more value. For example, I struggle with finding time to read books nowadays. It seems much more convenient to listen to podcasts or read shorter articles online, etc. But, I feel like that convenience trades off with an experience that is worth having. Getting lost in a book may not be the most “convenient” of things to happen to me, but it is so worth it in the grand scheme of things. Another area where I think convenient trades off with value is food. We’ve made a commitment to trying to eat more at home in 2019. But, even in the first few weeks, it has been tempting for us to eat out because it would be “convenient”. Someone doesn’t have to cook. No dishes are dirtied. But, that convenience usually leaves us feeling bad about what we ate and bad about what we spent. I am starting to be more aware of this tradeoff, even after only a few weeks.

So, although I love for things to be convenient, I also am starting to realize that God has given us things that are more worthy of our time and attention. He has given us the ability to slow down and appreciate investing time and effort in things. We just need to figure out what those things are in our lives. We aren’t all committed to or invested in the same thing. That would be boring. God has given us our own vocations, our own gifts to share and our own challenges as well. If we can take the time to really invest in those vocations, take time to share those gifts and not back down from those challenges, we will most likely find that although it may not be the most convenient way, it is the most rewarding way.