Tag Archives: life choices

Pulling weeds.

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I’m not sure what it is about pulling on gardening gloves and getting out in the dirt that invites philosophical introspection for me… but it does. Sometimes, it’s just a great quiet time to not have to think about anything except getting rid of weeds and cut worms. Other times, there is a great metaphor in the work that settles down over my shoulders and wraps me in a gnat infested, dappled-shade-colored hug. Today was one of the latter.

The last few years have been a struggle for me. I may have been depressed, but I never pursued any professional opinion on the matter so I can’t say that’s technically true. I was working, I had a kid that was having difficulty in school, a kid starting college and joining the Army, another kid who was having difficulty accepting adulthood and was still living with us, and a grand-kid who was living with her mom in our house. It was busy… I didn’t have time to be depressed, or even just really sad and frustrated, if that’s all it was.

But this summer started off with me leaving my job, and since that unexpected move, things have changed. We were fortunate enough to have a good financial cushion in the bank, although it was intended for things like a deck and maybe new floors – not food and gasoline. But at least it was there – I didn’t have to go get a job at the local gentlemen’s club. Gentlemen everywhere are relieved. 🙂  I spent the summer hanging out with my son, helping my sister move to Oregon, helping my daughter move into her own place, and cleaning out closets. There are more closets waiting, but the work has begun on getting the weeds out of my life.

This feels sooooo good!

This feels sooooo good!

Metaphorical weeds are just like regular old weeds. They suck up all the nutrients and sunshine and water, and leave the herbs and flowers we wanted to see struggling to mature. We spend years cultivating an education, make the proper choice in a spouse, provide music lessons for the kids, and have a stack of great cookbooks on the counter. But our “weeds” grow up and choke out the beauty that can grow from the seeds we have planted. When we fill our lives with clutter – physical and psychological – the creative moments, and the moments of sincere enjoyment of the life we are living, are buried. I have begun to pull weeds in my life, and I believe it’s going to help me focus on the things that truly make me happiest; being creative and enjoying my family.

This summer, as I organized closets, and decorated the newly-vacant guest room, and cleaned the guest bathroom, I realized the things that had been cluttering my head and my daily schedule were going away. As those weeds were pulled,  the creative part of me began to peek out again. Or, I guess it’s more accurate to say that it began to bloom. It had remained there the whole time – it just wasn’t thriving.

See what you find when you clear the weeds?

See what you find when you clear the weeds?

Aside from the psychological weeds, I had also let a lot of physical weeds grow up around me over the last few years. I spent time and money stockpiling materials that I was sure I would use eventually… things that would be great once I had time to come up with an idea. And of course, those ideas would need to be followed by time to actually act on the idea. The end result is that I have a Large Amount of stuff that I am now finally ready to thin. I think I have a handle on the time and inclination I have and can fairly judge what piles to keep, and what I can let go. My husband will be thrilled. 🙂

So, today, as I pulled weeds and contemplated the creative projects I had waiting for me in my workspace, I felt good knowing that things were headed in the right direction. Eventually, I’ll stop lying in bed worrying about money. Eventually, my hair will stop thinning from stress (why can’t I lose weight when I’m stressed instead of hair!!??). And eventually, I’ll look back on the last few years and feel confident that they were incubation years; that the things I was learning and the people I was meeting were nurturing me, even as I was unable to act on their help. There will be more weeds, of course, but I’m hoping that they’re only in the garden.

Being a Grown Up

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“When adult life becomes so overwhelmingly frustrating, I almost feel like I want to be able to remove the skin I’m in and step out of it, taking on a new reality just as I change duvet covers when the seasons change. I don’t itch, not in a physical sense… it’s like a psychological itch; a discomfort that almost, but not quite, allows me to understand why some women simply walk out the door and leave their home and family behind when the challenges of life are piled on top of them.”

I wrote this paragraph a couple of weeks ago. For the life of me, I can’t remember the precise details of what was stressing me so much that I needed to capture these feelings. Obviously, it was intense. And, just as obviously, it worked itself out and I’m still happily married and devoted to my children and husband. I think sometimes the collision of Things I Can’t Control and Things That Don’t Go As Planned just creates the perfect emotional storm, you know?

Do you ever experience these feelings of wanting to just lock the door behind you and walk away? What makes you stay? I think I may need to investigate a little deeper and pull a book idea out of this…

Sha-ZAYUM!

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Do you remember that show from the 1960s called Gomer Pyle? It was about the mis-adventures of a young man in the Army, and his favorite exclamation for anything that was surprising, or shocking, or just out of the ordinary and unexpected was “Shazaam!” But he pronounced it sha-zayum because he was from North Carolina, where people are even more hick than they are here in Northwest Arkansas. That might be an sweeping generalization.

Today is the day that my baby daughter goes off to basic training for her career (at least for the next six  years or so) in the U.S. Army. She hasn’t decided if she’ll go regular or reserve or National Guard, and won’t have to make that choice until she’s about to graduate from college. And I have been assured by several people in uniform that she WILL get to graduate from college before she is sent off anywhere with a loaded weapon. I won’t say I was hard to convince, but I will share that her recruiter told her that the meeting with me “Wasn’t as bad as [he’d} expected.” Yeah, I’m that mom.

But I’m that mom because she’s this baby…

ImageYes, it’s true, I make adorable babies. She inherited that giant dome from me… bless it.

But those adorable babies grow up to have their own babies while still in high school… or they join the Army. I’m still waiting to see what level of Dante’s hell the Boychild will put me through as a teen. Lord help me.

Today we are driving the sweet baby daughter to Little Rock for her intake requirements at the MEPS center. Now, I joined the Army Reserves when I was younger too… but I was 24. I was already way past cute. My mother isn’t here to argue, so I’ll just state that as fact. One day I will have to go back and read her journals around that time and find out what she thought about all that… I made the decision and signed up without discussing it with her first. Yeah, I was that kid.

Side note: Given all that I and my siblings put mom through here on earth (not to mention 11 months of cancer treatment) I’m sure she’s somewhere unbelievably posh in the afterlife. 🙂

At least the Army is putting the baby girl up in a nice hotel (The Peabody!), before they ship her off to North Carolina for six months of 4 a.m. roll calls and 10 minute meals and snot fests at the gas chambers and communal showers. Good times.

So, here are the images I’ll be keeping in my head today. I know they won’t be there for long, and I’ll have to accept that the baby girl has grown up. But today – TODAY, this is what I see.

“Sha-ZAYUM!”

Baby Girl in Crocheted Dress

The Bug at 1-year-old. Her dress was worn by her sister, me and my mother in our 1-year-old pictures as well.

Baby Girl on the Fayetteville Square

At the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market in 1996 or 1997. When her hair finally started growing, it was a sight to behold!

Choose the Tequila

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I guess if there is a week to be thankful, all out in public and everything, this is it. So I guess this is also the week to write the obligatory thankfulness blog post. I’ve been posting statuses to Facebook about things I’m thankful for… so I will start there.

Okay, here we go: I’m thankful for the employees of the NWA Mall AT&T store, my office Thanksgiving lunch (including The Best Banana Pudding in the Universe), friends who stop by the coffee shop on the way to work, paychecks for my kids, good friends, a large dinner table, more coffee shops, books in the hands of my kids, books in my own hands, friends who write books, people who serve our country, good sense, vintage buttons, amateur art, free chicken sandwiches, paintbrushes, the opportunity to vote in an election, my health, second chances in life, and this kid…

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I have a lot to be thankful for. That half-serious list doesn’t even scratch the surface. Throughout the year, every year, there are numerous reasons popping up here and there for me to express my thankfulness… my gratefulness for the life that I live. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still hold on to a little envy or a pocketful of regret. I silently ask the universe “what if…?” from time to time.

This year I have rejoiced in the thrill of feeling like my tires are all-weather and my internal gps is fully charged. I have celebrated milestones and made memories with my family and friends. I have also mourned the loss of a dear friend, and I have been at sixes and sevens with my inability to comfort a loved-one who was disappointed when their own gps was off-course. I have been blessed with a sweet grand-daughter in my home, while hanging by a thin thread at the end of my rope as I dealt with her mother’s challenges.

But in the end, the thankfulness always wins. The challenges that I have faced in my life have led me to the blessings in the end. The good things are always so much sweeter – like the taste of sweet tequila on the tongue mixed with the salt around the glass.

I will continue to wish that I had learned some lessons in my 20s that I had to wait for my 30s (or 40s) to get right. I will continue to wonder what might have been had I gone to college right after high school. Or, had I moved to New York when I was 21. Or, had I loaded my Toyota and headed for Colorado to become a ski bum when I was 22. Or, had I not become pregnant the first time… or the second time.

But one of those things I learned in my 30s was to be quiet (some of you may not believe this one). I strive to appreciate the things that come along unexpectedly and briefly, and to create moments to be thankful for. During this week of thankfulness I encourage you to look for those moments in your life. No matter how large or small they may be. A sunset you happen to see as you walk to your car after a frustrating day at work… a coupon for pizza when you don’t have time to make dinner… Happy Hour at Sonic… a clean PT scan. Be thankful. Be grateful. Live this life you’ve been given with joy and laughter. You might have to choose to do it sometimes. But it will be the choosing that makes the moments even sweeter. Choose the tequila.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

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The other day my son asked what I want to be when I grow up. He then clarified that he did, in fact, know that I am already grown up. I assume that means that it looks like I am on the outside, but I have to wonder if he is tapped into the fact that mommy really doesn’t feel like she’s achieved any particular goal that she set for herself. Oh, wait… mommy has never really gone to the trouble of setting any goals for herself.

Hrmmm…

So what DO I want to be when I grow up?

When I attended the Pre-K graduation ceremony last year and watched my son shyly state that he wants to be a Monster Truck Driver, I thought – as many other parents did that day – (especially the one whose son said he wants to be a fish) “Awww, that’s so cute!” And then I thought “I wonder what he’ll really be someday?”

But perhaps I shouldn’t dismiss the dreams of a six-year-old so easily. My mother didn’t dismiss our dreams when we were kids. Mom didn’t doubt my ability in anything I was interested in. She encouraged me to move to New York to pursue my dream of the stage when I was performing in little theater productions in Dallas. She encouraged me to be a designer when I was creating my own holiday cards. She kept everything I ever wrote and told me I should take my humor on the road as a comic. She encouraged me to start a business called Junque Rethunque when I was picking junk up off the curb and talking about redesigning and repurposing.

So why am I still wondering what I am going to be when I grow up?? I think it has something to do with the number of dreams I’m trying to sort out. It’s hard to narrow down the things I want to spend my time on. What ends up happening is that I never move forward very much in any one direction. I collect notes in journals but don’t start writing any stories, I  buy the supplies to create  greeting cards but they sit in a cabinet unused, I fill my garage with “projects”,  and auditions come and go…

So, I am going to have to make some choices. Maybe I’ll get to keep a couple of dreams… maybe some dreams can become to occasional hobbies. But I seriously have to focus so that I can start making some headway and stop feeling so ineffective. So un-grownup.

I’m pretty sure the world doesn’t need another actor, so I’ll just toss that one out right off the top. I can look back fondly on my days on the stage and be okay with that. I am more and more drawn to design and creating, and I still feel compelled to write. So I am going to focus on two main goals: First, building Junque Rethunque into a viable business that I can eventually take from a flea market booth to a brick & mortar shop featuring vintage finds, repurposed “junque”, and local art and crafts. I wouldn’t mind if that went on to blossom into a part-time interior design business either… Second, I’m going to carve out time to write. Write my blogs, write short stories and essays, and perhaps write articles and guest blogs that involve the design and vintage interests I have.

So, for the record… When I grow up I want to be a shop owner and writer. What a relief that I have an answer for my son next time he delves into the depths of my unfocused soul.

lots of choices aren’t necessarily good

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For years I felt like I made choices only after options 1-4 had become un-tenable and there was only number 5 left. Easy peasy. I then decided that it was my intuition that was leading me to let those first four go by because I knew the right choice was going to be available in the end.

Right now I’m faced with some choices that are probably the toughest I’ve ever had to deal with.

My mother is dealing with a brain tumor that has reasserted itself and caused more loss of ability for her. At the same time, my employer, a non-profit organization, is merging with another organization, and my job is not solidly located on the organizational chart yet. It may not ever make it, but I won’t know that until later this month.

Mom is not able to pay for the 24-hour care she needs, and one possible solution is for me to quit working and care for her myself. This would be difficult financially, but not impossible. It would be stressful on my family, as she would have to move in with us. Again, difficult, but not impossible. It would seem like the perfect solution if my job were to fall through… but:

To cover my bases in the event that I’m handed a severance package in August, I applied for a position with another local non-profit, and have a phone interview scheduled for tomorrow. They are probably eager to get someone hired, but I’m not sure I can make a commitment immediately. I do want to find out what’s going to happen on the current org chart first… and need to know if I’m going to have to step in with mom as well.

To make matters worse, two jobs I would LOVE to apply for just got posted at other places today, and the same challenges apply… should I put in a resume for those positions knowing I might be needed with mom? Or should I let them go and wait to see what my current job does, and then decide once that’s set?

My intuition says I need to let them go, but they would be great steps in my career – one in the field of fundraising, and the other in PR and communications. Of course it’s possible that those kinds of things will come along another time, but it’s just so frustrating that they are available NOW when I don’t know if I can realistically be available for them.

It’s times like these when I wish I were 7 years old and someone else made decisions for me.