Monday, May 30, 2011

Gratitude Journal #92

Today, I am grateful for each and every patriot who has died in service to our great country.

"Perform, then, this one act of remembrance before this Day passes - Remember there is an army of defense and advance that never dies and never surrenders, but is increasingly recruited from the eternal sources of the American spirit and from the generations of American youth." ~W.J. Cameron

As George and I watched the televised Memorial Day concert in Washington last night, he said, "Watching this makes me feel bad." I asked why, and he said, "I don't feel like I did enough."

"I don't feel like I did enough." Think about the kind of person who feels this way about his twenty years of service. And realize that George is not alone. Millions have felt--and feel--just as he does.

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

You did enough, honey. And so has every single person who was "recruited from the eternal sources of the American spirit." The men and women in uniform--from the American Revolution to the war in Afghanistan--signed up to serve, signed away their own personal freedom to choose what they do, where they live, and how they live to serve their country. Those whom we particularly honor today also signed away their lives. They gave more than enough, and their graves are watered by our grateful tears.

The True Meaning of Memorial Day

Friday, May 27, 2011

Words, Words, Words about the End

"Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents ... and the end of the world is evidently approaching." --Assyrian clay tablet, c. 2800 B.C.

Everything changes and nothing changes.

What do you see as a "sign" of the coming apocalypse? For me, it's e-readers like the Nook and Kindle. Yeah, verily, the world must be coming to an end.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Things on Thursday: Fountain Pens

The collectibles craze has never taken over my brain. Beanie Babies, Lladro or Precious Moments figurines, Tom Clark gnomes, Thomas Kinkade prints...I've watched friends and family enjoy the art of collecting for the simple pleasure of it, but never felt the urge myself.

My collections have been more practical in nature. I collected clothes when I worked outside the home. Clothes were more important to me then than they are now, as I sit typing in my jammies. These days, I practice the minimalist closet and actually dread shopping for clothes.

I still collect books, however, and have since my teens. My book collection, combined with George's, has taken over our house. But the vast majority of our books have been read. They are not for show. When Nick recently needed to do a report on Saturn, we had real print books for him to look at...not just Wikipedia.

I collect rubber stamps, too. These have all seen ink; I don't have them just to have them.

My mother gave me my first fountain pen: a broken, leaky Parker 51 that my grandfather used for decades. This pen gave me the itch to get my own, so in the early 1990s, I bought my first, a Waterman Laureat. I loved writing with it, how it felt in my hand, the character of the ink it laid down which was nothing like the ink you get from any throw-away pen. And so I started collecting fountain pens, like the Parker Sonnet pictured above.

I have Watermans, Parkers (including a reproduction of my grandfather's 51 that I carry in my purse and use to write checks), and Shaeffers. No Montblancs, though. The one I bought leaked so I sent it back. I also sent back a truly beautiful Argento that just didn't feel right in my hand. What matters to me isn't the impressive brand name or the indulgent cost...what matters is how a pen writes, how it feels in my hand, how it functions. It helps if it's pretty, too.

My friends at Micron gave me a gorgeously functional Parker Duofold before we moved to Rapid City in 2000, and it was my last acquisition. Once my storage case was full (it holds 12 pens), I stopped collecting. Now, at any given time, three spots in the storage case are empty. I found keeping ink in more than three pens simply wasn't practical and resulted in leaks and dried-out cartridges. I keep the reproduction Parker 51 in my purse, the Parker Sonnet by my computer, and the Waterman Executive on my craft desk. As one dries up, I'll clean it, put it back in the case, and choose another pen to fill with ink.

Using fountain pens is my one writerly affectation. I love them.

Do you have a favorite pen? Is there some other functional item that you collect with joy? Do you prefer collecting items that are simply beautiful or cute or funny? What about collecting as an investment? Please share your thoughts on collecting in the comments!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mandatory Fun and the Little Black Velvet Dress: A Social Experiment

Last weekend, tragically, George broke his favorite wine glass, the one commemorating the U.S. Air Force’s 50th anniversary. His sadness reminded me of the night he acquired that wine glass, which reminded me about the little black velvet dress I wore the night he acquired that wine glass, which reminded me how, when I wore the little black velvet dress on the night he acquired that wine glass, men noticeably talked to my boobs instead of to me.

George had to attend a dining out for the 50th anniversary and of course he wanted me to tag along. Military parties come in two varieties: fun and "mandatory fun." Dining outs, or military formal banquets, are usually fun occasions, at least when flying squadrons get together to party with rituals, toasts, and lots and lots of alcohol. This dining out, however, was “mandatory fun.” Few of George’s friends were going, and not one of mine.

Oh, joy. Get dressed up and go to the Officers’ Club; eat cold, bad food; converse with strangers; and wait until given permission to go pee after some boring speech about blah, blah, blah.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t convey my deep and sincere respect for the awesome work of the Air Force over its first half century.

For once in my life, I didn’t have a formal dress to wear, having donated the old ones I’d worn for years to Goodwill some months earlier. At first, I didn’t expect to have trouble finding a suitable dress for a reasonable price, but after much fruitless shopping, I realized a reasonably-priced, attractive dress that fit me did not exist in Boise, Idaho, in 1997. The only acceptable dress I could find was almost $400.

Um, no. Just no. I didn’t pay that much for my wedding dress.

So I dug through my closet and found a little black velvet slip dress that George bought at Victoria’s Secret a few years before. I’d never had the guts to wear it out in public because the v-neck plunged rather alarmingly, but it was at least a semi-formal cocktail dress with a pretty—if short—swirly skirt. It seemed the best option at the time.

In 1997, I was in pretty good shape. The dress was a size 4, my boobs were perky but not terribly large (I wore a barely B cup size), and other than my cankles, I rather liked my body.

Still, I wasn’t in the habit of wearing plunge necklines and showing that much leg. I even had to buy a new bra for the dress as my old, strapless bra peeked unattractively out the top of the dress’s neckline. I tried on at least twenty different bras at five or six different stores before finding a skimpy black push-up that wouldn’t show.

Standing alone in the dressing room, I didn’t mind the d├ęcolletage. After all, I was saving big bucks by wearing this little black dress.

This very little black dress.

The night of the dining out, George saw the results of my frugality. He was not amused. He asked if I could put on a sweater. I said no. He asked if I had a scarf. I said no.

On the hour-long drive to the base, he kept glancing nervously at my boobs. I decided this was the perfect social experiment: what, indeed, is the effect of cleavage on social interactions with both a spouse and strangers at a formal event?

The answer, which did not surprise me and I’m sure will not surprise you, is complete and total distraction. Even my smallish boobs were enough to distract pretty much every man I encountered. None of them could maintain an interesting line of thought for conversation, and when they could form words at all, they spoke those words to my boobs, which, to my knowledge, completely lack ears.

As you might imagine, I had a blast with my little social experiment because the circumstances were completely safe and secure, and it was particularly entertaining to watch George squirm. He didn’t leave my side the entire night and tried repeatedly to tie his napkin around my neck. Also, he didn’t flinch when, later that year, I purchased a $120 evening dress on sale at Macy’s that had a modest neckline and did not require a skimpy push-up bra. Never again has any man, other than my properly wedded husband, addressed my boobs in conversation.

On the whole, I rather prefer it that way.

Here's a picture from the Christmas party later that year, for which I bought the dress with the modest neckline. As you can see, this party was definitely fun, and not at all of the mandatory type. Also, note how I look boobless. George really liked this dress.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gratitude Journal #91

Today, I am grateful for long, thoughtful emails from smart people.

Today, I am grateful for impromptu parties at neighbor's houses.

Today, I am grateful for teachers, therapists, and school aides who accept children for who they are and push them to learn, for nice kids who are kind and helpful to their differently abled peers, and for mommy bloggers who share their experiences with the world of special needs.

Today, I am grateful for George.

Today, I am grateful for this billboard, which made me laugh out loud.

Today, I am grateful for faith that doesn't see the end of the staircase but keeps climbing up anyway.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Words, Words, Words about Politics

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies." --Anonymous

“The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they're organized for.” --Laura Ingalls Wilder

"Incompetents invariably make trouble for people other than themselves."
--Larry McMurtry

Can you tell I'm feeling particularly cynical about politics today? It's all because I read something on the Lowering the Bar blog that reminded me that next year is an election year. (Yes, I've been ignoring the news lately. You caught me. I didn't even know that the world is going to end on Saturday until a friend posted about it on FB....)

I simply don't know if I have the energy to hope beyond hope that a) I'll be voting for someone with whom I agree rather than against someone with whom I don't, and b) I'll have a relatively easy time agreeing with someone.

And is there any way we can fire the Donald before he runs? Please, someone, tell me he has pulled out. I can't bear the thought of living in a country with a president who wears such an appallingly bad rug.


Okay, yes, I'm framing the election in a negative way. Bad Susan. Instead, I should be grateful for living in a country that doesn't censor my internet, that is carefully engineered to allow me to express myself in whatever way I want without fear or oppression, that (with the exception of the TSA) allows me my dignity, freedom, and pursuit of happiness on a daily basis, and that has a Starbucks on every corner to allow my pursuit of happiness to be happily caffeinated.

There. I'm feeling better already.

Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Random in May

Aside from the Thanksgiving to Christmas holiday season, May is my busiest time of year. School activities with the boys really do wreck my routine in some wonderful ways. Here are random observations from my life at the moment because I'm incapable of coherent, well-developed thoughts.

1. Jack wants to be a window washer when he grows up, which makes sense because when he returned to school after spring break, he told his teachers that his favorite part of the break was washing our windows. I felt compelled to assure the teachers that we did fun stuff on break: we ate lunch at McD's and bought toys at Toys Backward-R Us and saw a movie at the theater and visited a children's museum with his best friend forever. But the window washing won Jack's heart. Go figure.

2. Nick wants to be a soldier when he grows up. This is the child who does not want to die. In fact, he has stated in the past that he didn't want to be anything dangerous when he grew up. Now, he wants to be a soldier. As a patriotic American, I would be proud to have a son serve our country. As a mom, all I have to say is, "I hate testosterone."

3. I'm scheduled for a sleep study in early June and had the initial consult this week. The sleep doctor asked why I was there, and I told him about my joint pain...because that's the biggest symptom bothering me that could, possibly, be from sleep problems. He was puzzled by this and said so, especially since my sleep patterns and hygiene are good. Then, I remembered that my doctor ordered the sleep study not for my joint pain but because I probably have SVT (racing heartbeat not caused by stress or activity). That cleared everything up for the sleep doctor, who suddenly acted all "Yes, you DO need a sleep study!" His reaction made me realize that what is important to a patient is often not important to a doctor...and what is important to the doctor isn't always the first thing to pop into a patient's mind. This made me feel sorry for doctors, especially when their patients are doofuses. Like me. (And lest you feel concerned for my health, SVT isn't life-threatening. It's just annoying, especially since my symptoms are mild.)

4. Daisy's breeder is married to a veterinary orthopedic surgeon. Dang, that's convenient since she may very well need surgery on both knees.

5. Orville Redenbacher has changed the bags on microwave popcorn to a special pop-up serving box...a change that is touted quite vividly on the packaging. At the same time, however, he has secretly decreased the amount of popcorn in the bag. Mr. Redenbacher, I am not fooled.

6. "I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues." --Duke Ellington There's a huge essay in that one sentence, don't you think?

7. I won the Mommy of the Year award today. Jack won't eat muffins, but the school sponsored Muffins with Mom this morning. I bought Krispie Kreme chocoate glazed donuts with sprinkles for the event and am now his favorite parent. I also need insulin.

8. After cleaning out my bookshelves and organizing my books, I discovered that I own 43 books I have not read. In fairness I didn't buy a lot of them...many were either given or loaned to me. But rather than read any of them now, I'm re-reading the Harry Potter books because my brain is so overloaded with May stuff that it can't handle anything new. How sad is that?

9. I love rubber stamping. I heartily wish everyone in the world had a hobby that gave them as much pleasure as mine gives me.

10. This week, we watched Top Gun for the first time in many, many years. The opening scene of sailors launching fighters from the deck of a naval carrier makes me proud to be an American. George aimed high with the Air Force, and seeing Top Gun takes me back to his navigator training days and all the rampant testosterone associated with it. George actually used the following line from the movie on me several times in the early days of his career: "That's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." This always made me pull a muscle in my eye from rolling it. On a happier note, he and some of his ROTC buddies serenaded me with You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'. It didn't work so well for Maverick in the movie, but George got lucky because we were already married. I think that's what they call stacking the odds in your favor.

Top Gun She's Lost That Lovin' Feelin'

Is there a movie that represents the ethos of your life at some point like Top Gun evokes aspects of our military life? Please share!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gratitude Journal #90

Today, I am grateful for those in law enforcement who face risks and dangers daily. Last week, our county lost Sgt. Dulle in the line of duty. He leaves behind a wife and three young children. May they feel the love and support of our community during this terrible time.

Today, I am grateful that our grill didn't explode. George discovered the burners are disintegrating and have giant holes corroded through them. I have no idea if this is as dangerous as it looks, but it scared me just to look at it.

Today, I am grateful for everyone contributing to cancer research and treatment across the whole planet. This disease in its many forms touches all of our lives over and over again in so many challenging and sometimes tragic ways. If you're like me and useless in research and treatment, please consider a donation to the fight. If that's not possible, why not send a friend or family member with cancer a card to let them know you're thinking of them.

Today, I am grateful for furry friends and silly boys.

Entirely Unnecessary Yet Adorable Dog Picture

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Words, Words, Words from Margaret Atwood

I found this on Pinterest yesterday, and it dovetailed so nicely with my Metacognitive Funk essay I just had to share.

Have a wonderful, safe, and child-like weekend!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Things on Thursday: Toad Butt

Due to Blogger's recent problems, this post from Thursday was deleted. Hopefully, Blogger has it all straightened out, but I had to recreate this post. Sorry if you're seeing it a second time.

After yesterday's serious post, a little levity is in order. Here's a picture of a toad butt I took a few weeks ago when the family optimistically drove half an hour to a hiking trail with the expectation of, well, hiking. (Click on the picture to see it bigger.)

Turns out Ohio's record-breaking rain fall in April had muddied the trail, so we hiked just long enough for me to take a picture of a toad butt as a memento of the event.Which reminds me of a story that has nothing to do with toad butts.

George and I went backpacking in the Rockies several times before having our precious bundles of energy-draining goodness. Yes, I once went five days without shaving, and let me tell you, I'd never be a good hippy because I'm thoroughly obsessed with pit hair and mine got so long I was tempted to braid it.

Anyway, on another trip, we planned to backpack for three nights so my pit hair wouldn't get quite so bad. Seriously. I told you I obsess about it. The first day of this trip had even George (Mr. Who-Cares-About-Pit-Hair-Let's-Get-Eaten-by-a-Mountain-Lion) grumbling. The guidebook described the trail as having "gentle grades." The spring snow melt and horses had churned up a muddy mess, so as George and I climbed up steep hills by taking one step up and sliding two steps back--with about five pounds of mud caking each boot--I muttered, "Gentle grade my ass."

George found that hysterically funny, which just shows how miserable we were.

We crossed a creek running deep with snowmelt and spring rain four times that first day. Each time, we would remove our boots and socks and cross barefoot through water so cold it hurt. After we pitched camp, we pulled out the trail map and realized if we forged ahead, we'd have to cross the creek another five or six times. If we went back, however, we'd only have four crossings to repeat. We went back the next day, got a hotel for the night, took hot showers and shaved, ate a lovely dinner in a restaurant, and didn't worry once about mountain lions.

The moral of this story: I love civilization.

The end.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Negative Self Talk

This blog isn't a place for negative self talk. In fact, while I occasionally use my stupidity and poor situational awareness for comic effect, the central thesis of Questioning my Intelligence has three parts: nobody is perfect, we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously, and choosing a healthy, positive, and hopeful perspective on life does more for your happiness than anyone or anything else can.

A few weeks ago, when I picked up the lawn mower at the repair shop, I approached the service desk cheerfully. What a beautiful day! My thoughts were full of gratitude for the repair person who had the skill to fix our mower and for George who does the mowing. Two people stood behind the counter: a woman on the phone and a man standing a few feet from her. I aimed for him.

He gave me a sheepish smile and said, "You want to talk to her."

I smiled back and said, "Oh?"

"Yeah," he said, still sheepish. "I'm just a dumb truck driver."

How do you respond to that? I searched my brain for some way to spin his words that would help him feel better about himself...or at least let him know that I don't see truck drivers as dumb. Nothing came in the moment that didn't sound pretentious or condescending.

The difficulty, you see, is that I know how life has treated him to get him to the point where he would say something like this to a total stranger. Not specifics, of course. I don't know when or from whom his self-esteem took such a beating. I do know the type of negative words he's heard from others that wore him down and gave him the body language of a beaten puppy. I know the feelings of shame, inadequacy, and self-loathing. I know exactly what it feels like to hate yourself.

And no stranger on the other side of the counter can change those feelings. All a stranger can do is say a few words that contradict the feelings and point in another, more positive direction. These words will likely be ignored, like a single drop of rain in the desert. Just perhaps, they will fall on ground lightly seeded with hope and will eventually sprout and grow. In the moment, however, I was simply overwhelmed by the arid climate of this man's heart, smiled at him as compassionately as I could, and moved down the counter to the woman.

Even with my fairly healthy self-esteem, I suffer momentary return trips to the desert of negative self talk. I think, "You'll never be able to pull that off." Or, "What have you forgotten today, missy?" Or, "How can your house be such a mess. You're just a housewife and still can't get it right." These days, as soon as I'm conscious of these thoughts, I get out my watering can and do my best to drown them. Mostly, I succeed and am grateful. There was a time when my desert was much too big for the watering can to work.

As usual, my brain thought of something I could have said...ten minutes too late. Remember that episode of Seinfeld when George thought of the perfect comeback too late and fretted over it for the entire half-hour? When he finally said those tardy words, they sounded utterly ridiculous.

Life moves on.

Here's what I wish I had said to the man who saw himself as just a dumb truck driver: "Sir, you are not just anything. You are a beloved child of God."

Life moves on. My ill-timed comeback is useless for the truck driver, but perhaps, just perhaps, for someone reading this today, the timing is perfect.

"You are not just anything. You are a beloved child of God."

What sort of negative self-talk do you engage in? How do you fight it?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gratitude Journal #89

Today, I am grateful that my mother gave birth to me and raised me with love and compassion and kindness. Not everyone is so blessed by a wonderful mother as I am.

Today, I am grateful for my husband and boys, who made Mother's Day extra special with a great dinner, some quiet time in my craft room, and lots and lots of love all day!

Today, I am grateful for hot water...because we have none.

Today, I am grateful for people who provide services. These are the people who dry clean our clothes; who fix our lawnmowers, water heaters, computers, and cars; who drive delivery trucks and taxis and buses; who mow grass and edge drive-ways and whack weeds; who watch our pets when we are away; who sweep our chimneys; who smile and ask if we found everything we wanted as they scan our groceries; who stock the shelves at our Barnes and Noble; who fix our mochas perfectly at Starbucks and deliver hot meals to our table at Bonefish Grill; who do what we tell them to do with our money through little windows at a counter in a bank. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Words, Words, Words about Mom

Jack brought this home from school yesterday. My favorite sentence is, "My mom is as pretty as the moon and stars."

This weekend we celebrate moms...those who are raising or have raised humans. Moms are not made by the experience of giving birth. They are made by loving someone who needs them. They are made by joy and celebration over everything from first smiles to mud pies to prom night. They are made by worry and fret over fevers, the influence of peers, and the hard lessons they let their children learn. They are made by kissing boo-boos and taking away Wii time for misdeeds, feeding hungry tummies every single day, getting calls from principals and teachers about issues that make them want to sink through the floor in embarrassment, and bursting with pride the first time their little one remembers to put dirty clothes in the basket. Moms are made by making mistakes and feeling guilty, by moving forward on faith, by praying each and every day that they are doing the right things to raise an adult who can stand competently and happily on his or her own two feet.

Moms are made by holding on and by letting go, and by never, ever forgetting that this human they love was once a helpless baby with a toothless grin.

Let's celebrate our moms--those still with us and those who have passed on--by filling in the blank on one of the sentences in Jack's worksheet above, whichever one speaks to you right now in the moment.*

My mom is special to me because she loved me when I was not lovable.

Your turn!

*If you can't read them, click on the picture to enlarge it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Things on Thursday: Hail

We've had a LOT of precipitation lately, mostly in the form of rain. We've not had truly damaging weather in our corner of Ohio...just a few limbs down. How I pray it stays that way!

Yesterday, we had hail. It was tiny and cute hail...just little pellets that danced cheerily off the grill and deck and couldn't hurt a tomato plant if it tried.

In Wichita, Kansas, we saw hail as big as softballs in a storm that did millions of dollars worth of damage across the city. In Rapid City, we had so much hail--golf-ball size and smaller--in one storm that it looked like snow drifts. We've had cars dented by hail in at least three states.

Yesterday's hail, in comparison, was quite tame.

Today, I'm grateful for cheerful hail.

What's the biggest hail you've ever seen? Where was it?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Metacognitive Funk

I am in a metacognitive funk, and oddly enough, I feel pretty good about it.

I've lived long enough to realize that life is about ebb and flow, ups and downs, answers and confusion, order and chaos, concentration and distraction, process and product, focus and funk. In other words, life is dynamic, and we have to take time to process, reflect, and think before we can feel good about moving forward to do what we need to do. Funks are, in fact, natural, normal, and necessary.

Our modern lifestyle forces us to move from one crisis to the next, one appointment to the next, one duty to the next without taking time to reflect about WHY we're doing this or IF we should be doing this at all.

Perhaps we should be doing that.

But how in the world do we figure that out? The study of how we think is called metacognition, and though I'm no expert in the subject, I do spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how people think, why they think the way they do, and what a difference that makes in their happiness.

In a recent conversation, a friend confessed that she didn't feel like a grown-up. She thought she would be something easily labeled by this time in her life, most likely a professor, that would signal to the world and to herself that she was a grown-up. Instead, she feels like a youngster pretending to be a mommy, wife, teacher, lay minister, volunteer, and so forth. She feels a push toward a particular path but a part of her doesn't want to go down that road. She feels like she's moving from one obligation to the next, putting out fires, doing only what is in front of her at any given moment. Where's the focus, the career, the grown-up?

Oh, how I relate to her feelings! She and I (and perhaps you, too) need to take a little time to contemplate the choices we make and move more deliberately. Living in a state of constant distraction isn't healthy, and it's certainly NOT a recipe for happiness.

We all have to do things we don't necessarily want to do. I didn't want to be a stay-at-home mom, partly because I always saw myself as a career-oriented intellectual who could never be satisfied with diapers and laundry, but mainly because I have several examples in my life of women who are stay-at-home moms and are much better at it than I will ever be. Oh how I hate being a loser! These other mommies' houses are always neat and tidy, their floors always clean, their laudry ironed and put away, their kitchens immaculate, their basements completely lacking in cobwebs and chaos. Their children never look shaggy or disheveled, never lack for meaningful activities, and never, ever spend all day in their pajamas.

I, on the other hand, sit here in my breakfast room sipping tea and watching the morning sun as it beautifully backlights the layer of dust (artfully rearranged by some small hand) on my 54" television screen. My boys needed haircuts three weeks ago and spent all day Sunday in their jammies for no better reason than their mother wasn't paying attention. 

My grandmother would be so disappointed.

A few months ago, I started noticing the symptoms of metacognitive funk and made the conscious decision to roll with it until some new project presented itself. This funk, I believe, began toward the end of Stephen Ministry training. I had no big project to start, no new class to take its place. Of course, my SM commitment involves regular continuing education and peer supervision, but the newness of it has worn off and left me looking for the next shiny object to chase.

At first, I considered going back to teaching college English. That impulse, appealing as it was, passed rather quickly, for a number of very good reasons. Employment outside the home holds pitfalls for me as a mom. I tend to obsess about doing a good job for anyone who is paying me real money to work, and teaching holds far too many opportunities for obsessive overdrive. Know thyself. I do. In a few years, when both boys can stay at home alone, this option will be more realistic.

No, clearly I need to stay at home and keep my primary focus on the kids. Mom is my job title, and it's a 24/7 gig with a wacky schedule and unpredictable periods of down time that scream for meaningful occupation outside these four walls of domestic bliss.

You're reading one of those occupations. Questioning my Intelligence was born of a desire to write my way out of an existential crisis, and here, almost three years later, I find myself still in that same existential crisis. Instead of seeing my lack of progress as a failure, I choose to see it as a life lesson. Perhaps, if you're the sort of person who tends toward metacognitive reflection, existential crisis is a normal state of being. By embracing the crisis, owning it, and using it in positive ways, I'll figure out what I'm supposed to do next.

And then after that.

And then after that.

Frankly, this metacognitive funk feels like the healthiest thing that has ever happened in my brain, but then, crazy people always think they are perfectly sane, so perhaps I ought not to feel so confident about it.

I doubt my funk will last much longer because, between you and me, I know exactly what I'm supposed to do next. George, God, and the yearning of my heart all tell me the same thing. I'm just scared. I might fail. I'll definitely have to face down that evil voice from my childhood that tells me I'm not good enough, not smart enough, not up to standard. My house will definitely get messier. I'll have to quit doing some of the things I am doing now that I enjoy, or at least scale back on them. It feels scary and huge and weird to start a new chapter. But the next shiny thing to grab my attention is already sparkling right in front of me.

I just need to work up the courage to pick it up and run with it.

Please share stories of your own metacognitive funks...or tell how the rat race keeps you from taking time to reflect and direct your life in ways that might make you happier. What shiny, sparkling worthwhile things are you running with right now? Is there something you should run with but are afraid or reluctant to start? 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gratitude Journal #88

Today, I am grateful to those who are helping the homeless, powerless, and devastated people in the South.

Today, I am grateful for justice.

Today, I am grateful for walks in the woods.

Today, I am grateful for hugs and kisses, family togetherness, meals eaten together, and boys tucked safely into bed at night.

Today, I am grateful for a million little kindnesses.

What are you grateful for today?