Idea gardener. Mom to 2009 infant heart transplant recipient, Bean. Girl scout troop leader. Communication Studies college instructor. PTO member. Sometimes full of life and fury, sometimes only fury. I'm not just tired. I'm mom-tired! Since 2009.
I am back and joining Five Minute Friday for the first time in a long time. I am rejoining the blogging world after some time away and thought FMF is a great way to begin. I was always more consistent with this weekly writing than any other. This week’s prompt isworld. Here we go:
The world is such a vast place. I often lose sight of just how large it is because I am here, in my own little corner of the world and it seems to be all there is most of the time. But, then I might see something online or on TV or even looking at the ocean and it reminds me of just how small this little corner is and how much more there is out there. And a few things strike me about that.
First, I have seen so little of this world. I consider myself to be relatively educated, but it is mostly via books and viewing documentaries and movies and such. I have only been abroad twice. Once on a cruise to Mexico and once to Glasgow. In neither place did I do a lot of exploring (I went to Edinburgh while staying in Glasgow and saw quite a few things in those two cities, but again, small corner. I have been too many states, but mostly for Speech and Debate tournaments where I see an airport, a hotel and a college campus.
Second, I wonder whether we think too small or too large about all of this. One could look at the small corner we are in and think that we don’t really impact much. But, I think that I look at the small corner and think if we just could get out and see and do more and experience more than our view of this small corner would be better. It would be more in context and less distorted by our relatively limited sight.
So, I am feeling the need to get out and explore the world. To become better educated about other places and people. To be better aware of how my experience fits into the world context. And, I feel like I both need to wonder about and wander about the world and make sure my daughter does the same.
Well, I’ve certainly said that before on this blog. Here and here and here just to link to a few. So, I am surely saying that with a bit of doubt in the back of my mind. But, I think I have figured out a few things and reading What to Expect from KEF this morning clarified a few of them for me as well. I hope to follow along with her own return to her blog with my return to my blog. I’m going to go through and choose the things I really loved to do on this blog and leave the rest behind. I’m not going to be focused on “monetizing” the blog as everyone seems so focused on telling me to do on the web. If I don’t make any money on it, it still gives me a space to write and hopefully commune with others who have similar interests, challenges and lives. I’m not going to be focused so much on finding all the right things to write about, but instead am just going to be focused on writing. Hopefully, I can find some things worth saying without having to worry about what those things are. I love going back and reading the past posts (and will be cleaning up my categories and tags to make it easier for others to do that as well) and I know that every once in a while, writing here has given me something that I needed.
So, just to give everyone an update on my life. It is summer. I am teaching a summer session that has one more week. I still struggle with lesson planning, grading (I’m behind in this right now) and managing all the classes I teach. But, I love it. Teaching is definitely my jam and always will be. So, I’m working this summer on simplifying my classes and assignments and making it all easier to manage, while also meaningful to both my students and me. My theme for next year is “Teach less. Better.” I am really trying to apply to that to all of my life. “Live with less. Better.” I am still a Girl Scout leader and excited to go into my second year of Juniors with my troop. Unfortunately, I think that I may lose my co-leader from the last two years who was awesome. She is moving. But, I trust that someone else will come along if she decides not to commute in from 20-25 minutes away twice a month for meetings. We shall see. My 10 year old is still going strong. We will celebrate the 10th anniversary of her receiving her heart transplant in exactly two weeks. I’m trying to figure out the best way to mark that monumental date. We shall see. But, shortly after we are going to see Hamilton (her favorite musical) in San Francisco and that will be a great gift to both of us! I will be teaching at both my four-year University and 2-year Community College and coaching the Speech and Debate team at the University. My daughter is also going into her second year of 4-H. Last year, we barely dipped our toes in with that, but this year, I hope she gets more active and involved in those activities.
So, bottom line is, I’m living a busy life. Too busy at times. And although I would like to simplify large portions of it, I don’t want to give up the fun things we do and all of the benefits of my two jobs. So, I have to work on simplifying what I can, managing what I can’t/don’t want to get rid of and finally being a more present person to my daughter, my husband and myself.
Hope you’ll join me for what I hope will be the second half (100 won’t be a bad age to live to) of this crazy life of mine.
Joining up at Five Minute Friday again this week. March has been a rough month for me and I can honestly say I’m glad to see it come to an end, but I’m also recognizing that April may not be much better. Today’s prompt for FMF is Measure. So, here goes:
How do we measure our lives. It is such an overwhelming task. We live for years and years and years if we are lucky and during that time, so much comes to pass. Good things, bad things, difficult things, impossible things, easy things, fun things, joyful things. But, how do we truly measure our lives? I started this blog ten years ago and my focus was getting “more” out of life. Having something “more” to show for my forty years. But, ten years later, I’m not even sure what that would look like. I’m not sure I would know if there was “more” to show. Because I don’t know what should be showing up, what I should be measuring.
We use a lot of measurements in our society. What do you own? What have you accomplished? How much money do you have in the bank? How many friends do you have? What awards have you won? But, do those really measure anything meaningful. I mean, some things measure meaningful things. Accomplishing things that help others or make the world a better place are good. Money is good if you use it the right way. Friends are valuable. But, how do you truly measure any of those things? Accomplishing one really meaningful thing may be better than accomplishing numerous less meaningful things. A small amount of money used well may be more meaningful than a ton of money used poorly or left in the bank. Friends can be deep and truly inspirational, but they can also be surface-level and actually decrease our self-awareness or self-acceptance.
I guess I will probably never have an answer to this question. But, I do know that God has set forward a meaningful life that can be measured in a meaningful way. We just don’t always have the tools to do that and we need to trust as we move through life. We need to look for opportunities to do meaningful things.
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!
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.
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.
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…