Jan 20, 2014

Thirty Day....Shred?

Think about thirty days. Have you ever done anything for thirty days? Yeah, I know you have brushed your teeth for thirty days. But have you ever been determined to do something that you do not normally do for thirty days? Just to see if you can? And just to see if the promise attached to the thirty days comes true?

 I am a little embarrassed when I realize I have never done anything for thirty days. Yes, I have brushed my teeth for thirty days....and yes, I have gotten out of bed for thirty days...and yes, I have breathed air for thirty days.....hopefully those things go without saying. But I have never done Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. There I said it. I think I have owned the thirty day shred dvd for at least three years which is way more than thirty days. I remember when my most darling hair cutting lady Adreana first told me all about the Thirty Day Shred and how I listened to her testimony about it with rapt attention. I was so sure this dvd would change my life it sounded so do-able. I went and purchased it immediately. I love the excitement I feel when I start a new exercise dvd. The endless possibilities. The way my imagination runs away with me as you start the dvd and all of a sudden I can see the end and I see myself definitely looking like Gwyneth Paltrow when the thirty days are up. But then for some reason I only do the thirty day shred for 6 days and then stop.

There was another time that I started the Thirty Day Shred with a friend and yet again I never got close to thirty days. I found myself secretly thinking the thought, "this thirty day shred does not work" but I don't really know that because I have never done it for the recommended thirty days.

Well guess what? I have started the thirty day shred...again. But this time I am determined to do the thirty days. I have to know if this really works. I am on day 7 and I am not going to quit. Jillian says in the dvd that if I want results in just thirty days I have to do exactly what she says and I have to know if for a mom of seven who needs to lose ten lbs before March 27th if she is right.

Just out of curiosity I checked out the reviews for her dvd on Amazon. I was surprised to see 4,414 reviews. I read through about twenty of them and they were very motivating and inspiring :) Real people, that were all able to do something for thirty days. So wish me luck as I attempt to join them. And when I am done maybe I will attempt to do something else for thirty days like.....her Ripped in Thirty dvd :)

Jan 17, 2014

Writing a Book Anyone?

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about writing. Throughout the last few years there has been a small amount of people who see something that I do not see and because of what they see they have urged me to write something more substantial than a blog post or a facebook status. They are talking about a magazine article or even...gasp..a book. I am not even sure how to wrap my mind around this idea. Do not get me wrong I dearly love writing but I have always just done it because I will burst if I don't. I did not even know I liked writing until about six years ago.

There are a few obstacles that come up in my mind when I think about me making money writing. One is punctuation. (yeah, you thought I didn't know didn't you? ) We all know I am miserable at punctuation and I have always figured that because of my need to end every sentence with a smiley face I would never make it as a writer. I also have a beautiful talent for long run on sentences which I imagine J.K or Stephenie have never had to struggle with. I also have always have had some notion in my mind that to write well you need to write about something you know about. That does not really explain Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, vampires, and Bilbo does it? Unless? :) So when people tell me I should write a book I wonder to myself about what? It would have to be about something I know and what do I know? Well, thanks for asking......I know about;

a cat that knocks anything that may roll off of the counter including eggs
how to have children who will marry people whose first language is not english
owning a big white van
how sad it feels to have six cd's stuck in the car cd player
how to find courage ( hello...lord of the rings trilogy already covered this)
how it feels to have people think you are 15 years old...all the time
the piano
having Jillian Michaels thirty day shred dvd haunt you ( would it have killed her to make it a 5 day shred? :)
being under five feet tall
unfolded socks
having a longing to wear empire waist dress all day and talk with an english accent (it's already been done :)
having everyone think you made a wrong decision
setting a goal and not following through

So I can see a best seller coming out of that list for sure...can't you?

 "Jennifer smoothed the front of her empire waist dress as she searched for her courage to tell her best friend Jillian that 30 days in a row of exercise was simply too much. She wondered if Jillian knew she had made the wrong decision to call it a thirty day shred? The word thirty caught her attention and she wondered if she had ever done anything for thirty days? Oh yes, she had missed someone for way more than thirty days. She had been under five feet tall for thirty days. Okay, she conceded maybe I could exercise for thirty days. Before she could set the goal in her mind to actually do it she was distracted by a sound coming from the kitchen she wandered past the unfolded socks and peeked around the corner to discover that the white and brown eggs she had just gathered from the simple minded chickens had been knocked to the floor by the evil cat Benzo. She decided the only way to fight the overwhelming urge she had to kill the cat was to change into her most beautiful empire waist dress and play the star wars theme on the piano until the urge to commit a crime was gone."

 Honestly, I see tons of books come in and out of the library every day. Every topic imaginable is there. The realization of just how many books there are out there is staggering. What sets one apart from another? And how did these people even start? Everyone wants something different from a book. I see it in book club all the time. I remember way way back when I lived in Kansas we did a book discussion on the book Emma by Jane Austen and I loved Emma. I loved how willing she was to accept correction and change. I loved how she had good intentions. And everyone else tore her apart. I did not understand it. What if the person reviewing my new book does not understand my incessant need to use ellipses? :)

Just know I am in the process of wrapping my head around this notion you all have planted in my head. So if you want to take it back now is the time......yes, right now :)

Jan 15, 2014

The Views.

I am pretty sure I have told you all before about my love of views. Not just "climb to the top of a mountain" type views, or "oh my, look at that sunset" views or even the "looking out the window of an airplane" views. Even though those are all magnificent and very desired by me. I also happen to love views of people. When they happen to do something they always do and you know them so well that you know it and it makes you smile and makes you realize how endearing they are and that you like your view of them. There is also the "way you see the world" views. Everyone's view of the world is different according to what they have been through. And last but not least are the views of things you see everyday and what those everyday views mean.

I thought today I would show you some of my every single day views. Things I see every day and what they mean to me :)

First, is action figure Eowyn. Eowyn sits in my window above the kitchen sink. This is a place of honor. Because I am standing at the sink looking out the window a lot. This is just a recent development. She has not always been in my window but I am pretty sure she will stay here forever. I love, love, love Eowyn. I have so many favorite quotes and stories about Eowyn that it would take paragraphs to share them all and dissect them all satisfactorily. So I will limit myself to two. In Return of The King J.R.R. Tolkien writes of Eowyn, "And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her." I was stunned how well Tolkien knew me when he wrote this :)

Then there is the exchange she has with the ringwraith as she is protecting her fallen father in Return of The King;

“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"

A cold voice answered: 'Come not between the Nazg├╗l and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."

A sword rang as it was drawn. "Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."

"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. "But no living man am I!” 

Take that ringwraith and Nazgul!! I love her courage. I love watching her grow, understand, accept what she needs to accept and change what she can change as she she experiences things. Oh, I have to go back on my promise and share one more quote. This one Eowyn says herself to Faramir after they are both healed in book three.

“I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun; and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a Shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.” 

So on to my next view. Which is of this box. Lately there is always one of these flat rate boxes from the post office sitting on my counter by the phone. I have a child in the Philippines; a child, a daughter in law, and a grand baby in Estonia; a child at BYU in Utah; and a child in California. So I am in a constant state of gathering things for a box and then mailing them. I know all about mailing overseas and filling out custom forms and such. And considering I know all of that I should be much better at getting these boxes ready and out the door than I am.

My next view is this map. I look at this map everyday. It is on the wall in my big girls old  bedroom. I will throw myself on the bed in the room and stare and stare at this map and dream. I love traveling. Have I done much of it? No, I have not. But I hope someday that will change. My family got me a passport for my birthday and that could be trouble.
So a couple of years ago when Madeline went on her mission to El Salvador I got to take care of her i-pod shuffle while she was gone. This experience ruined me forever. Before I babysat the i-pod shuffle I was content to go on walks and even runs with my big, round cd player :) Yeah, I know :) But who could ever go back to that after the cute, adorable. clip on, sleek, teeny tiny i-pod shuffle? When Madeline got home from her mission I reluctantly handed over her i-pod shuffle and then was sad. I looked at them in the store....$46.00 seemed like so much. So I never committed. I borrowed Tatiana's Sansa music player when I was really desperate and continued to be without my very own music player for well over a year. But that all changed when for my birthday this year one friend in Utah and one sister in Pittsburgh sent me Amazon gift cards. I did not purchase right away I waited until Christmas was over just in case :) But alas just in case did not happen so after the first of the year I ordered my very own ipod shuffle using my giftcards. When it arrived I was in awe of how it arrived in this perfectly thought out box and the color of it was exactly what I had hoped it would be when I ordered it. The most perfect green ever. I called Madeline right away and she talked me through the ins and outs of Itunes and now I am supremely happy. I am so excited that this perfectly green square is now one of my views....every single day :)

My last view is so silly but honestly I see it and deal with it every single day. I have to explain to you that I am not a "curtain girl." I love to see out the windows. I love the light. I love views :) Yes, even at night when it is dark and I know that people can see in my house I still am not a big curtain fan. I only have curtains on four windows in my house and the first thing I do every morning is open them all. Actually two of them I should not have to open and this picture is of one of those. This curtain is in my kids bathroom and they untie it and let it down every single day...sometimes twice a day. I would be sort of okay with this if we lived in a neighborhood with houses all around us and possible
creepers... but the back of our house faces...woods....and more woods. Besides it is on the second floor and if you are in the backyard looking at the house you can not see into the bathroom. Yet, the children always let the curtain down and never put it back up. I know I am a crazy mom :) But this is about my views not theirs :) Here is a picture of how it is supposed to look :) Much better view...right? :)

Jan 10, 2014

The Class.

Okay, now that you have hopefully all read the last blog I wrote and now that you all know where I am in my little old life I can not let another second go by without telling you about this class I had to go to last Tuesday night at 6:00 pm eastern time. You see in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, if you happen to have kids, before you can file for a divorce both spouses have to take a special class that teaches you about dealing with your kids throughout the divorce and basically the rest of life. I have some notion that there is hardly anyone in the state of Massachusetts who is excited about this class but it may be that I was doing a wee bit of projecting my own views on everyone :) The way it works is you choose a night, a place, pay lots of money, and you go to the class. I sheepishly confess the word "racket" may have crossed my mind with regards to this class.

Anyway, I looked over the three page list of where the classes were going to be offered and put a ton of thought into which one I wanted to attend. Yeah, I know, who puts a ton of thought into which divorce class location they are going to choose? :) Just me :) I chose Northampton because I love, love,love Northampton. It is a college town through and through. Smith College is there. UMASS is just down the road. There are tons of unique shops and unique places to eat and I have so many great memories involving Northampton. Often when I want to "get away" I go to Northampton all by myself and wander aimlessly. It is a beautiful town. I really wanted going to this class to be something I looked forward to and figured if I chose Northampton that would help. Your spouse chooses a different class than you do. And I am not sure where Brian went for his.

I got a letter in the mail confirming my choice and time and it also told me I needed to go to a website and complete some assignments there. So since I HAD to I checked it out. It was extremely cheesy. Some good things were there too but the cheesy was also there...in abundance :) I stuck it out and completed the course and can definitely say that I got some good information from it. I mean it is my first time getting divorced so there are a ton of things I do not know and I honestly do appreciate any information on how to help my kids no matter if the word cheesy creeps in or not.

The day of the class came I worked at the library from 12-4, ran home, got one paper route done, and then headed out. I always leave way too early when I am not sure where I am going. The drive to Northampton is about 25 minutes. I did not drive straight to the building where the class was but that was okay since I was way too early :) When I finally found the building and parked it was still 20 minutes before the class started. I grabbed my journal and a pen and headed in. The building where the class was held is a courthouse so when I walked in there was a "guard" that greeted me, he asked my name and checked it off a list. There was an ominous looking security "walk through thingy" which the guard assured me that I did not have to even walk through...but I felt like it so I did. After you walk through the security "thingy" there was a foyer and there were about 8 people already there all sitting in the only available seats which were placed around the edge of the room and it was silent....very silent. I mean divorce class is not a place you invite your friends to tag along with you to so it was just a bunch of random people with only divorce in common....thus an awkward silence. I found a wall to lean against and started casually surveying the scene. I must mention again how awkward the quiet was. Usually there are groups of people talking when you are out in public. I desperately wanted to crack a joke about us all standing there so quietly but I practiced restraint. Who wants to be the class clown of divorce class?? :) It was so intriguing to look at all these other people and realize they were all going through the same things I am. Our paths to this foyer in Northampton were obviously all different but we all started in a marriage that we imagined would be happy forever and ever. We all sat or stood around the edges of this room in relative silence for at least 15 minutes as more and more people arrived. I smiled to myself wondering what would happen if someone just randomly chose to stand in the middle of the room rather than the edges. I also started wondering how many were going to be in the class. I used my time to carefully and thoughtfully inspect the shoes of everyone I could see without obviously turning my head. A little afraid to raise my eyes and boldly stare. I furtively stole some glances at faces and wondered so desperately at these peoples stories. I do love to connect.

By the time someone came to take us to the classroom there were 30 people standing or sitting in that smallish foyer. I had not imagined that many people in the class...one of the drawbacks of imagining. It felt a little sad to realize there were that many failed marriages and that this was just one class out of three pages of classes offered. Multiply that by 30 and by several times a month and...wow. 

When we got in to the classroom I deliberately chose a seat on the back row so I would not have to turn around to look and see who was making comments during class :) From the back you have a good  over view :) I sat between two other women and two men were in front of me. The first thing they asked us to do was to introduce ourselves to the people sitting around us. We were supposed to tell them our name and how many kids we had. I surprised myself by quickly realizing that I did not want to tell them how many kids I have. Sometimes a girl just does not need that look and those comments that she usually gets. I have been cursed or blessed to look like I am 20 years old  and every time I say I have seven kids you see so much math and questions going through peoples heads. Usually I am ever so game to play along with all the questions that gush out but not in divorce class. So I asked these ladies next to me enough questions about themselves that I hope they did not notice I never offered the exact number of how many kids I had. I learned the woman next to me had been married 22 years and her husband just simply walked out. She was caught by surprise and was very bitter, and sad, and had definitely been recently drinking...all things I do not blame her for in any way. The man in front of me had been married 33 years and his wife had walked out on him and he was in the bitter stunned club too. The other lady next to me was not as chatty so all we got from her was that she had one ten year old girl.

I have to tell you I ended up loving this class. As the two and a half hours progressed I learned so much. We listed our losses when it came to divorce. We listed our gains. We talked about the grief cycle. We talked about reflective listening to help us communicate with our kids. We talked about statistics. I learned so much....wait I already said that :) Our teachers have been teaching the class for twenty years and they did a great job. Here was this room of thirty people...some of whom asked for the divorce, some who did not. Some who had been abused. Some who had one kid and some who...ahem...had seven :) I mused about all these people in this room and how, most likely, they all just longed to be happy and to have a meaningful connection with someone. Some of them seemed so broken and angry. Others seemed so hopeful and free.

I get to go to the class one more time next Tuesday. I wish you could all go with me and observe the different personalities in this class. I sort of....gasp.... wish the class was longer. Information is power and I love gathering it and learning and evaluating myself. I learned that night that anger is a secondary emotion and that explained so much. I learned that the kids will be all right if you are all right. I learned that I need to know myself if I have any hope of ever having a healthy relationship.

I am not a huggy kind of girl but I almost wanted to group hug all these people I did not know. I wanted to tell them it would be okay. On the way out to the parking lot I struck up a conversation with another lady and we discovered we both felt the same about the class. And that we both really wondered what everyone's stories were. She asked how many kids I had and I was grateful for the chance to redeem myself and I told her seven.

Jan 1, 2014

Holding Up.

When you think of support what do you think of? Do you think of Spanx? Do you think of control top pantyhose? Does it remind you that you need to get a better bra? Do you think of those PBS or NPR fund drives where they relentlessly ask for your financial support? Do you think of group of cheerleaders forming a pyramid?  Or do you simply add the word tech and think of tech support? Do you think happy thoughts when you hear the word support? Or do you find yourself longing you had some? Do you think of your family? What about your friends? Don't we all long for support? Some to hold us up? Someone to endorse us? Someone to keep us from losing courage? I don't think support means that everyone agrees with me they just support me. Just like the spanx...they say nothing about the wrongness of their job to hide the shape of the body they just quietly do their job of holding everything in place :) Yes, all my adorable supportive friends  you are exactly like Spanx :)

I simply had to blog about support tonight because it has been on my mind a ton lately. I have recently made a painfully hard decision which has been to ask my husband of 25 years for a divorce. It is a long, long story why it has come to this. It is sad. No one can ever know what has happened in anyone's marriage to bring it to this point. And that is pretty much all there is to say.

The point is that after I told my kids and family about my decision I have very slowly been telling other people. Not really sure what to expect as people find out. I went through my list of Facebook friends and chose a few people out who I thought would possibly even care about my life and sent them all a tacky, but necessary, group message and the flood of supportive replies I received overwhelmed me. I basically turned around and fell backward into a group of people hoping that someone would be there to catch me and almost all of them came through. They were not supportive in a "taking a side" way, which I would never want. But just supportive in saying, in a most heartfelt way, we understand about the whole, life is hard thing, and we are so sorry that you are experiencing it too and whatever you need from us we are SO there. Offers of places to stay. Offers of help finding work. Offers of a listening ear. Offers of understanding as some have gone through the same thing. Offers of chocolate. And most precious to me have been the offering of words of confidence in my making choices skills believe me I have wondered often through this process if I really have good making choices skills?

I can not express how incredible it felt to get replies from friends from Washington.... from Indiana....from Kansas...from Princeton....from Utah....from Arizona...from North Carolina just to mention a few places. I wonder if they all thought much about the impact their words would have on me. The gratefulness I feel is so hard to put into words....which must mean something because you all know about me and words :) Not one of these people scolded me. Not one of these people judged me...well at least not to my face. All 42 of them seemed to understand about how hard marriage is and how hard life is. They all longed for me to simply have peace and be happy. And the awesome thing is I know they would all say the same exact words to the other half of this failed marriage if they had the chance. All of them understood, no matter where they lived, that there was no reason to be anything but supportive. I can not stop marveling at this and I am not sure why.

Sometimes I think we think the little things we do in life do not matter but as I go through the hardest most soul searching time in my life I have gained a huge testimony of the effect of teeny tiny seemingly insignificant things like taking the time to quickly answer a facebook message about a friends sad announcement of her divorce.

I have been slowly responding to all the offers of a phone call and it has been so amazing to talk to people I have not talked to in 26 years, or 10 years, or even 5 years and pick up like we never left off. I never imagined when I was in high school with some of these people that 28 years later we would be having these discussions. It fills my heart so much. I can not tell you how much I adore connections and how they make me feel. And how much I need them.

I promise I will never ever ignore a prompting I have to send a note to someone even if I think it will not matter to them and even if I think they may think it is silly because chances are it is just what they needed.