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Being Patient 

Being a writer has taught me patience, a virtue that I’ve been sorely lacking my entire life. 

 I’ve always been a driven person getting results through hard work and determination. Moving quickly, taking risks, and being decisive have served me well in life. 

Yet having patience has always taken a back seat and been sorely underrated. 

Then I had children and patience began to rear its elusive head and j have learned to stop, breathe, and then proceed. Now as a writer, I find it encompassing me even more. 

With a life that is consumed by a full-time career, two active boys, sports schedules, marriage, and family, the stories that are begging to be written often take a back seat. Days will go by without a written word until I’m ready to implode, but instead, I am patient. 

The writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I wrote Leaving Eva and self-published it in2013 (later republished by Booktrope Publishing in 2015). Even when I first began, I was impatient with myself when I started to write a book. I wanted to finish it as quickly as possible so I could get on to the next one but over time but I’ve learned not to rush the process and to allow myself to experience it, instead. Three books later, as I prepare to finish my fifth, Saving Eva,  I know that I could write so much more if only I had more time. I would be able to refine my skill, sharpen my prose, and perfect my craft. When I pick up a story that I haven’t worked on in weeks, much of the time is spent reacquainting myself with it, much like an old friend I having seen in a long time. 

Through this process, I have grown patient. 

I’m patient because I love my family and I have the luxury of loving my job and the people I work with. I’m patient because I’m not well-known and there isn’t a lot of pressure, and I’m not in great demand. I’m patient because my characters don’t always speak to me and sometimes I have to give them time to breathe so we can figure out what they’ll do next. Much like me, they need time, and I’ve learned to be patient with them and with myself. 

This journey of book writing, blogging, and authoring has only just begun for me even though I’m a lot older than I would’ve liked to be when it began. But I’ve learned that I can learn experience new things, challenge myself in ways I’ve never imagined, and that I’m not nearly complete. 

Time flies entirely too quickly and if I’m at too much of a hurry to get to the destination because I know that I’ll just miss too much a long the way. So I’m happy with where I am and the path that I’m on. As a writer, I’m challenged but not yet complete. 

And I am thankful that I have become a great deal more patient and am far happier.

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Being Perfectly Imperfect 

Recently Author Harper Sloan posted a challenge on Facebook to share pictures of a time when we have felt perfectly imperfect. This challenge came at just the right time when I’m already on a journey to feel better about myself through exercise and eating better. I posted  a picture that was taken six months after having my youngest son, though there are hundreds of pictures I  could’ve could’ve chosen from. I’ve spent years hiding from the camera because I hated how I looked. I was always afraid that I would I look too fat or have a double chin. They are all the pictures I hide from my timeline on Facebook or untagged myself in, with the hope that nobody would recognize me.

The truth is that I’ve felt horribly imperfect my entire life. Even when I was in high school and a size nothing, I still never felt good about myself. As a younger woman in my 20s and in the prime of life, I never saw myself for who I was. Even when I didn’t need to, I went to Weight Watchers because I thought that would help me feel better about myself. It reflected the fact that I wasn’t comfortable in my  own skin even at such a young age.

When I got to my 30s, which were my childbearing years, I felt even worse about myself than ever. Even though my body had created the beauty of life, I was miserable. This is evident in the numerous videos that my husband took when I was running away from the camera, and yelling at him to put it  down. I didn’t want to see myself and what I looked like and I didn’t want it preserved on film, forever. Even in my latter 30s when faced with personal trauma, I lost a lot of weight but even though I wore smaller clothes,  I still couldn’t find happiness with myself or the person that I had become. 

Now that I am deeply rooted in my 40s, for the first time in my life, I feel more comfortable with who I am and what I look like. I’ve decided to come to terms with embracing my imperfections. I know that if I want to be healthier it’s completely my choice. 

Physically, I know that I have a lot of work to do but for the first time it’s more for health reasons then for aesthetics. Vanity has been replaced by necessity, and the necessity is to feel good and be around for my children for a long time. I simply want to be stronger and healthier which is more important than anything else. 
I don’t blame anyone else for my insecurities or make excuses anymore . I don’t fault society,  magazines, movies, or television. I don’t blame anyone although it’s tempting to pass the buck, and blame the generation before, or the world around me. But instead I choose to own it and change it. If I don’t, where will the cycle of insecurity end of it doesn’t end with me? 
As I get older I understand that the best that I can do is to be the best person that can be. I’m short and I’m stocky, built more like a gymnast than a Barbie Doll, but when I was younger I didn’t see that I was built like an athlete. I only saw that I didn’t have a tiny waist and slender shoulders and I only saw the things about myself that I didn’t like, and didn’t see anything that I could like. I’m learning that the key is to be happy with who I am and to look for reasons to love myself. I know there are things about myself that are what they are. There are parts of my body that no matter how much I work out, how little I weigh, or how small my clothes are, that will never change. I will always be built the way that I am  with big calves and broad shoulders and there’s nothing I can do about that.  
But I can be healthy and better toned with lower blood pressure and better cholesterol. I may never be the size I was in high school, but that doesn’t matter now, because I didnt even appreciate it then.

I have a long history of faking self-confidence pretty well. But when someone I once knew saw through it, they asked me why I had such low self-esteem. They told me that I was pretty and had much to be proud of and thankful for but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t answer them. Even now for as many times as I’ve asked myself that very question I still don’t fully know the answer. Maybe it began in childhood or sometime later in life. There were a lot of things I was confident about but deep down I still struggled with myself, daily. I often feel that the mirror we look into reflects so differently for us than it should. We fail to see the beauty within us that others see. Instead  we focus on what we perceive to be our own ugliness because that’s what we choose to see. If we could only embrace what the people who love us see, and envision ourselves in the best possible light, our world would be a far more beautiful and peaceful place.

I’m raising sons and I’m finding the boys have just as many insecurities as girls do. I’m trying to teach them to see the good in themselves especially when they don’t want to.  While I don’t ignore their insecurities we talk about them with acceptance and love, and I try to help them understand that its a part of their beauty and who they are. I’m trying to teach them that there is no such thing as perfection and that we only have the best version of ourselves to live up to.

It has taken me over 40 years to realize this and accept it. While this is not the truth I live with every single day, it is the truth that I strive for. I’ve accepted that I am perfectly imperfect with my wrinkles and extra pounds, my broad shoulders, my not so tiny waist, and my huge calves that won’t fit into every pair of boots. I’m learning to love myself for who I am while still hoping to become the best version of myself that I can be.

Truly that is the best thing that I can ever do and the best gift I can ever give myself or my family. Yet in all of my perfect imperfection, it’s amazing to know that they are completely and fully in love with me. 

Even when I struggle to love myself. 

Love Letter to My Readers

Dear Love,

I’ve been writing all of my life but before I met you, that part of me was incomplete. I’ve always written for myself but never imagined there might be someone out there who would care to read my words. I never thought that anything I wrote could matter to anyone else but me. I realize now that there was a piece of me that was truly missing  before I found you. 

I wrote without direction or purpose, my thoughts chaotic and meaningless. But when I met you, there was a reason for the words that I wrote and the stories I put together. For the first time, someone else cried when I cried and felt what I did, and suddenly all of the noise in my head made sense, and there was quiet and peace.

You helped me make sense of what was once a thousand dreams running  through my head all at once. You gave me a better understanding of my place in the world and how to survive  in it. 

I can’t tell you what it means to me when you read the stories that have been bled from my heart. And when you tell me how much they mean to you, I replay every word because the joy it gives me is immeasurable and so good for my soul. 

I want you to know that I am so thankful for you. You have helped to heal me and make me whole and I will forever be grateful for your love and support. I hope we will always know one another because your honesty and friendship is something I will always treasure. 

Love.

Jennifer

“The Talk”

“They” say that you need to have “The Talk” with your children at around the age of ten these days!

Um… Eeeeeeek!

I’m pretty sure that I never had anyone give me “The Talk.” My “Talk” consisted of “Don’t do it. Until you’re married. Ever.” And that was is. What I learned about sex as an adolescent was anything that could be read in a Jackie Collins novel or learned in health class . It just wasn’t a topic that was talked about which seems to be the general consensus of most people around my age.

But as my oldest has reached that milestone of double digits, my husband and I are basically playing “rock, scissors, paper” to see who gets to have that conversation. I think he should have it because he’s the man and has the same “equipment” as my son, and he thinks I should have it because… let’s be honest, I’ll handle it better. Truthfully, neither of us want to have it and as two intelligent adults are being pretty squeamish about it. I’m not sure if it’s our own fear, awkwardness, or embarrassment or if it’s just that we want our son to remain young, sweet, and innocent forever. (I’m going with the first one)

We do know that the moment we walk through that door, there’s no turning back. Once he knows about where babies really come from, he’ll never see the world (or us) the same ever again. He may even be horrified at the mere thought of it, which would be quite fine with me.

What I really want to tell him that he’s entirely too young to think about anything other than baseball, Play Station, and sports, and then I don’t want to tell him anything else about it. I still want him to think that girls are “disgusting and stupid” and I want him to wrinkle his nose in disgust when we ask him if he likes any of the girls in school. Quite frankly, I’m not ready for him to grow up and  I don’t want to worry about those things yet.

I know that I don’t JUST want to talk to him about the sex part. I want to talk to him about love and that’s it not simply about touching a girl because he can. I want to tell him that his body is going to do weird stuff in the next couple of years, but “not to worry” and that it’s just part of growing up. Having “The Talk” means that sooner than later, I’ll have to worry about sexting, and porn, and inappropriate behavior. I’ll also have to worry about hormones, moodiness, and his sweet little voice getting deeper. I know  I’ll have to be diligent in identifying skanky little girls who want to move too fast, and be prepared to terrorize them when necessary, which I’ve been dreaming about ever since my boys were born (insert evil laugh here).

Even though it’s right around the corner I’m not ready for acne, and attitude, and being questioned about my level of intelligence by the child that I created in my own body. I’m just not ready and I’m so frustrated about it because ten years has just gone entirely too fast! It snuck up on me and I wasn’t expecting it to happen this soon.

Dang it!

I can’t consider having this conversation with him until I accept that he’s growing up, and have I already said that I’m just not ready? Does it sound like I’m throwing a temper tantrum? Because I am! I’m too emotionally attached and even though I still have another eight years to go until high school graduation. I’m so disturbed that we are well past the midway point with him and that the youngest son is following closely behind.

I feel as though by the time I truly get to know them and understand them, they’ll be off to college starting a whole new world, becoming something else entirely. Then the person I’ve been for the past ten years is going to be hopelessly lost and yes, I’m already lamenting about having Empty Nest Syndrome with nearly a decade left. But look at how rapidly this decade has flown by!

I know… I know… I’m making having “The Talk” all about me when it’s clearly not, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s really about preparing my kiddo for the next phase in his life and it’s not his fault that his mom is a wimp.

What everything boils down to, is, that I’m just not ready to have “the talk” even though I’ve been giving myself pep talks for months. I thought I would be ready by the end of the summer and that I could do it before school starts, but school starts in two weeks and I haven’t worked up enough courage yet, but I’m working on it.

Being a parent means that you have to be brave… so I’m going to stop whining, pull up my big girl pants, and look for opportunities to start teaching my kiddos about the things that make me incredibly uncomfortable. Chances are, we’ll all be uncomfortable, but at least I’ll have done my job and hopefully my child will be benefit. He’s ten for goodness sake and just told us that he only weighs fifteen pounds when he’s sitting on the toilet, because little boys do silly things like that. He doesn’t take himself too seriously yet so neither will I. I’ll explain things to him like he’s ten and not twenty, and let him know that we’re here for questions and concerns. So hopefully when he starts morphing and his body becomes one big uncontrollable hormone, at least he’ll know that the lines of communication are open.

And by then, hopefully I’ll be over my tantrum and well over myself so I can be the adult parent that I’m supposed to be guiding my children and preparing them to understand themselves and make good decisions about their sexuality and their lives, no matter how freaked out it makes me.  For now I’ll just relax, and try to figure out how a ten year-old will understand  “the Birds & the Bees.”

I probably just need to have faith that I’ve done a pretty good job of explaining life to them this far and I’ll probably do this part just fine too. 😉

Life 101

I’ve spent a big part of my life reflecting.

Whether it’s been about life, people, situations, news, or politics, I love when things get my brain thinking and churning. I’m much like my youngest son who has an inquisitive and curious mind. I’ve always wanted to know the “whys.”

But what I’ve learned about life is that sometimes there just aren’t any answers, and it used to devastate me and make me feel helpless. Questions like,”Why did my niece have a brain tumor when she was fifteen?”,”Why did my dad have to have a major and debilitating stroke at the age of 54?”, “Why did my birth parent’s abandon me when I was a small child?”, or “Why did my good friend have to die of cancer?”  There have been many questions in my life and I’ve just had to learn to let it all go and accept that sometimes there isn’t a good answer.

The alternative option of holding onto it was giving me health issues, filling me with depression, and causing a great deal of anxiety. But when I finally was able to embrace the unknown, I found that I was more at peace with myself and able to accept that for no good reason, life just sucks sometimes. It’s then up to us to figure out how to move on.

I guess that I would categorize myself as a “Student-of-Life,” ever-changing, ever-willing to learn something new, look in the mirror, and have an open mind. With a long career in management and working with people, I’ve also learned how to be a mentor and teacher at the same time. But while I’ve gained experience and knowledge, I don’t think the path of knowledge can ever be complete. The excitement that I get from learning new things and gaining new insights just never gets old.

Part of my learning has involved reading a lot about life lessons. Erma Bombeck’s “If I had to Live My Life Over” is wise and beautiful and I absolutely love it. http://www.kalimunro.com/If_I_Had_My_Life_To_Live_Over.html

42 Life Lessons by Regina Brett is also incredibly thought-provoking and honest. http://unbridledfreedom.com/42-life-lessons-by-regina-brett/

I’m not as prolific, wise, or celebrated as either of those two beautiful women, but along the way I’ve picked up some observations of my own.

  • Be Kind. It’s a simple playground truth but not one that many people remember. The funny thing is, it’s not that difficult. Hold the door open for someone,  use “Please” and  “Thank you” every single time,  give someone an unexpected compliment, say something genuinely nice to someone for no reason at all and don’t expect it in return. Be kind simply for the sake of doing it and because you can.
  • Stick up for Yourself. Don’t let people walk all over you and don’t allow people to treat you poorly. People will treat you the way you allow them to and you should only expect the best. Have courage and don’t be afraid to tell someone that the way they are treating you is unacceptable and be willing to walk away from them if they don’t get it. Sometimes they’ll come back and sometimes they won’t, but if they can’t treat you well, then do you want them in your life to begin with?
  • Laugh at yourself. A lot. Life is short and you’re not perfect. Having a sense of humor about yourself is important and healthy, as long as you’re not being mean about yourself. Often we are our own worse critic but love yourself and don’t take your flaws too seriously. Everyone has them.
  • Don’t ever put things before people.  I’ve spent time with people I’ve loved  who were sick or dying and they’ve never said  to me,”I wish I’d had more stuff.” Ever. They’d always wished they had more time with the people they loved. Period.
  • It’s not always about YOU. We all like to imagine that the world revolves around us, but… it doesn’t! Sometimes people are on their own journey and are suffering, fighting, divorcing, struggling, sometimes they are sick, or hurt, or angry about something that has nothing to do with you. Stop thinking that it does! We are a world full of narcissists who think that everything is about us when it has nothing to do with us! Sometimes you’re the main character and sometimes your just a footnote and it’s important to be able to identify which one you are and when.
  • Be willing to walk away. Not every relationship is meant to last forever. Some are and some aren’t. Some relationships teach us how to be better and some don’t teach us anything at all. Not every person we ever meet is meant to be in our lives for the duration of our lives, but they’re meant to be there for some of it. While letting go is incredibly painful and feels downright impossible, sometimes we don’t have a choice or we need to because the relationship hurts us more than it does anything else for us. The people that love us often hurt us the most and the worst. But that’s because they are fighting their own demons and that is something they have to do alone. All we can do is love them, but loving them doesn’t mean we don’t love ourselves. This means we may have to step away from them in order to survive, whether it’s temporarily or permanently.
  • Laugh at fart jokes. This is different obviously than laughing at yourself, but when children hear fart jokes they laugh, out loud, big hearty belly laughs that are honest and true. When we grow up, we don’t laugh at such things anymore, but I think that if we just let ourselves laugh at silly things like fart jokes and we can remember what its like to laugh when we were kids, we would be so much happier.  My kids will genuinely laugh every single time at the word “balls” and when they do, it’s impossible not to laugh with them. Life is too short not to find humor in silly things.
  • Be surprised. Let yourself live a life where you can still be surprised. And even if you’re not, pretend that you are. People love surprises and love to surprise others. The joy we give and receive from life’s little surprises is something that just can’t be replaced.
  • Listen more than talk. When you listen to your children with all of your attention you’ll notice that when they are talking they’re smiling the entire time (up until a certain age). When you listen well, you’re giving someone the gift of your love and attention which has more value than anything else you can give them.

My list isn’t that long and it’s not complete. I’ve learned so much but have so much more to learn. I love that life is such a beautiful maze of truth and understanding and that everyone gets there a completely different way. And I love that I’ll never get past Life 101 because life is ever-evolving and ever-changing. I love listening to and learning from other people. One of my favorite people to sit and listen to was my GiGi. She would’ve been 100 this year and when she was alive she told the best stories and was such a pleasure to talk to. I’ve thought about her so many times throughout the years and wished I could talk to her and learn from her kindness and experience and I’m always reminded of how much more there is still left to learn.

What have you learned throughout your lifetime? What have you lost and gained? What would you share with the world from your experience if you could? I’d be interested to see your comments here.