Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The hands of time

Is it just me, or does it seem like time flies? I was going through my spices the other day-and canned goods, and some of the expiration dates made me seriously question my housekeeping skills. Time is really a fleeting thing. I sometimes feel all 40 of the years I have aged. And other times, it seems like the past was just a minute ago. I can remember being a little girl with pig tails, I remember random details from high school and college. I remember early days of marriage and my boys as newborn babies like no time has passed.

Christmas time is a big reminder of how time can change things for me. I loved it as a kid. I loved Christmas lights and the smell of fresh trees. I loved the anticipation of gifts and time off from school. As an adult, I enjoy my kids and I enjoy the spirit of giving and kindness, but honestly, I also feel a ton of anxiety. I worry about paying for everything-about meeting all these deadlines and commitments, about letting people down. I wish it wasn't so commercial. I wish I didn't feel so much pressure.

At its core, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our savior. I never knew how much I needed a savior when I was a kid. I just thought Jesus was someone who was very nice to people-especially children-for no reason. I learned early on that people can be terribly unkind for no particular reason so Jesus seemed that much more intriguing to me. I didn't even have to earn His love and kindness. I wasn't raised Christian but every chance I got, I took the opportunity to learn about it. I always felt comfortable praying and at most of the churches I went to. It's as if we all had cloaks on that hid all our imperfections. No one seemed to care about the things I battled daily at school or at home. Everyone was just there to connect with Christ. I liked that, and I still do. And back then, my sins were much more simple.

This Christmas in particular, as I look over a troubled year in my life, and I think about what Christ is trying to say to me. My life has been such a shambles this year. I have screwed things up in about every way a person can. My first reaction is that I am just a failure-and that He is getting sick of bailing me out. But I have been thinking more on it, and what He is really saying is that I am worth the fight. I am worth saving. We all are, but I am hearing it loud and clear personally. I think years like this represent the true meaning of the sacrifice He made. It gives me some perspective. It tells me to keep going. And I don't always want to. Some days I just want to concede. I am not worth the trouble, I am a lost cause. But then I look at all the blessings in my life and I just know He is up there pulling for me.

I read a quote walking through a bookstore last month. It said,
"When you are going through hell......keep going"

And I liked it. I think it says a lot with very few words. It is what Jesus would say if He was standing here, and I know. He really wants me to keep going-not to give up on myself. And I am trying so hard.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Yes, it really IS greener

I was laid off earlier this year in May. Now it's been almost six months. Paul was certain that I would be miserable in no time-rightfully so, I worried I would be too. I can't think of how many times my perception of something I didn't have being better has not panned out (classic grass is greener). But you know what? This grass really is greener. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being a stay at home mom. I have never been busier, and I am completely stressed out about money, but I wouldn't change a thing.



It is not nearly as I had envisioned it would be. I thought my house would be cleaner, my days would be more predictable and that I might just be on top of things. I thought I would catch up on all those closets and rooms full of junk that need sorting out. I thought for sure I would blog all the time. I was going to get on top of the millions of pieces of paper and pictures I have from the kids. I was going to cook wholesome, nutritious meals all the time....the list just goes on and on. I will say, that during the summer months, I did get quite a bit of stuff done around the house. But since school has started, I have been completely stymied by the over-commitment and under-delivery that accompanies my new status of a mom who "doesn't work". Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it. But I see total irony in the concept of not working, when I feel like I never sit still-and I am never done with anything.



My life is a constant work in progress:

My house never looks like I want it to.

My kids always have something I need to be doing for/with them: playdates, sports, school work of one kind of another, outings, etc

I work in their rooms, I go on field trips, I serve on committees, I play with my kids

I signed up for Bible Study (which I have really enjoyed);

I still teach all my classes (5 times a week)and the gym and sub whenever I can at the kids' school

I do cook a ton more than I used to but the beautiful, delicious gourmet meals have taken a back seat to the things I can squeeze in along with what my kids will actually eat (which is whatever most closely resembles junk food from a fast food restaurant)

My kids have a lot of friends over, and do as much socializing as is possible-this is largley because I always said they would if I could be at home with them.





As I look back at some of the blogs I have written about balance in my life and the feeling of being so very unfullfilled and just an underachiever, I find that being home instead of working full time at a meaningless job has made all the difference in the world. Sure there are tough days and times when I feel utterly useless, but overall, I have never been happier in my whole life-or more grateful for the chance to watch my kids grow up. Let's just hope I can make it last.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Yellow Leaf


This is the Mangrove Tree. I was recently in Key West, Florida, and I learned that this is the only plant that is indigenous to the area. Everything else was imported. The reason this tree was the lone life form prior to inhabitants of this lush, beautiful place, is because there is no fresh water source here. The only source of water (prior to the commercialization) was salt water. And this magical tree had a unique way of turning that salt water into fresh water: the yellow leaf. These designated leaves soak up all the salt water, allowing the rest of the tree to have fresh water. As the leaf gets saturated with salt, it turns yellow, then dies; and is replaced by another one. What an interesting concept.....


The plant kingdom isn't the only example of this type of sacrifice. Military, fireman, policeman, and many types of volunteers come to mind. It is a very special quality to be sacrificial. Jesus is the largest example of this very selfless act. And like any martyr, there are always people who do not appreciate it.





Thursday, June 3, 2010

Exfoliate

  • spread by opening the leaves of
  • cast off in scales, laminae, or splinters
  • remove the surface, in scales or laminae
  • come off in a very thin piece
  • grow by producing or unfolding leaves; "plants exfoliate"

  • In my ripe old age of 40 (I am still getting used to that), I have gotten a little carried away with this whole exfoliating process. I had my first "microderm" abrasion treatment last month. The technician told me that as we age-our skin doesn't turnover the dead flakes as quickly so it is important that we exfoliate. And I have been doing just that-senselessly and relentlessly.


    I have also found that there are some other areas of my life that could use some exfoliation. I suppose it is time I started thinking about what I am eating. In general, things that I crave are probably things I should not eat. I need to pay more attention to my caloric intake-and start eating the right foods. Ugh! As much as I exercise, there is no getting around this.


    I also carry around some dead layers in my professional life. I have to find a way to remove that layer and get a fresh perspective-either do something new, or get a new attitude about what I am currently doing and do a better job. The only way to grow here is to remove those pieces. There is probably some scar tissue there from previous failures in my career, but I need to brush that off just like a skin treatment.


    I have some friendships that have been exfoliated as well. Ever think someone is such a good friend and then it turns out that really wasn't the case? I have been on both sides of that lately. I let someone down who I thought was a great friend and in my search as to how I could do that, I realized she really wasn't a great friend. In fact, it was a very one sided relationship. I was always trying to gain her approval and acceptance, and she always kept me "at a distance" as she put it. She kept her guard up. I suppose on some level, I always knew that, and it really didn't feel that good. I noticed how I never got invited to anything with her, my calls/emails were always low on the priority list of being returned-if they ever were. I look back now and find that the only time I was even an option for her was if there wasn't a better one. And yet, I would have done anything for her. It is still every bit as sad that the friendship is a total loss. It does not make it better that I let her down, but it does make me see things a little clearer. People are not always what they seem.


    And in my home life, there are lots of layers. After all, 19 of my 40 years have been with this man-my spouse, my friend, my critic, my fan, my playmate, my lover, my soul mate, my confidant, my nemesis, my other half, my co-parent, my partner, my everything... In those many years, lots of things have built up-and it's time to start working at clearing those. Oh we have been here before, and we have worked very hard at it, so I know it can be done. But, just like my 40 year old skin, it doesn't just stay done. You have to keep doing it. That can be so hard-especially with all the other demands on us from outside places. And I know he just wants to throw up a white flag sometimes in fear that it will never be done. And he is right, it won't. There will always be layers to exfoliate. Some worse than others. But that is just the process of aging-in chronology and in relationships. Really, in everything. It's the only way to grow and move forward. Neither of us is the person we met in May of 1991. We won't be the same in 19 more years. But with the same level of effort-successes and failures, I want to believe we will still be together. I don't know where I am going with this actually, I just seem to be in the mode to clear away dead layers that make me feel old and ugly.





    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Don't Let Me Go

    There's some things we don't talk about



    Rather do without



    And just hold the smile



    Falling in and out of love



    Ashamed and proud of



    Together all the while







    You can never say never



    Why we don't know when



    Time and time again



    Younger now than we were before







    Don't let me go



    Don't let me go



    Don't let me go







    Picture you're the queen of everything



    As far as the eye can see



    Under your command



    I will be your guardian



    When all is crumbling



    Steady your hand







    You can never say never



    Why we don't know when



    Time time and time again



    Younger now then we were before







    Don't let me go



    Don't let me go



    Don't let me go







    We're pulling apart and coming



    together again and again



    We're growing apart but we pull it together



    pull it together together again







    Don't let me go



    Don't let me go



    Don't let me go





    I am not sure what this song really means. I feel like if I read it at different times, it changes for me-and I am sure for anyone else too.

    For today, I am thinking it talks about relationships such as a marriage. They can have lots of bumps and bruises. Some that involve embarrassment and shame. I know about these. They can also be a source of great pride; I know about these too. Younger now means we are continually learning new lessons. We get these ah-a moments. I don't believe any long term relationship exists without it. They all have moments when it is falling apart. Sometimes, we pull it together, sometimes we don't. The plea I hear in this song is the one I believe in. Don't give up. Pull it together. That seems to be the hard road. I know there are days when it would just be easier to let it go. I can see how that happens. I just don't want that to be me.

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    And the truth shall set you free




    Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it......Mark Twain

    What makes good people do bad things? I have done things I am ashamed of. As I search within myself to figure out why and how to pick up the pieces from here, I am reminded that I have to be courageous and brave. I have to own my actions and accept my consequences. And that is so hard. I realize that being at rock bottom is not something that has never happened before, and maybe it will happen again. I do believe that people are not defined by the wrong doings in their lives, but how we react to them. Am I going to be a coward and run from it? Am I going to be strong and fight for those that I love? It is impossible to know the outcome right now but I do believe that what comes of my mistakes will ultimately lead to the right place. I cannot hide from it anymore.

    Love is a curious thing. I have loved the same person almost half of my life. I expect to for the rest of my life. And I believe he loves me. However, the fact that we love each other does not secure that our actions will always be consistent with that love. Sadly, it does not guarantee that we will remain together. Compatibility and love do not always go hand in hand. While you can work together to find it, you both have to want it. And so it goes. Maybe you come through and it can be fixed; or maybe it won't. I don't believe that changes the love you have for one another. I am not sure there is a cure for that.

    And being sorry does not bring forgiveness. In time, maybe the hurt fades. In time, maybe it gets easier. I have a lot more unknowns today than certainties. I wish so badly I could fast forward and see that everyone I love will be okay. My greatest hurt came from someone I loved deeply, and it was so hard to overcome. But what I am finding is that in hurting someone I love-it is not even in the same universe of pain. I feel so much worse than I did as the one who was hurt.

    Once the truth is out, then the healing process can begin. For that I am free. I take some comfort in that as odd as it is. I don't know what happens from here. I just have to rebuild my integrity and my character. I am not sure how to even do that. I don't think there is a clear roadmap. I just know I have to do it. I have to stay strong and be thankful that God will forgive me even if no one else can.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    The Joy of Cooking









    This is my birthday present this year. There was a time in my life when this might have offended me-a kitchen item. But today, it thrills me. I know it's just a pot but it's cast iron-it will likely outlive us all, it cooks everything and it is RED.


    I do not consider myself a great cook...yet. I am just in training. I figure by the time my kids go to college, I will be-and it will be wasted on meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But I am a pretty good cook most of the time. I have a few recipes that I have really gotten down. I have learned a ton over the 17 years of being married and cooking for someone. I learned that fresh ingredients make a giant difference. I only use kosher salt and table grind pepper. Some short-cuts are fine but when it comes to grated cheese-always grate your own, it is a ton better. I love kitchen tools-especially my mixer and my food processor. Drinking wine and listening to my Ipod while cooking is therapeutic. And, a sous chef would be very nice!
    I have also learned that my husband will eat ANYTHING, and rarely complains. At first it annoyed me that he expected me to cook-I thought it was rather degrading. I figured out after all these years though, it is how he feels loved. That is the only expression of love I have seen in the home he grew up in. I have never actually heard his parents tell him they love him-or each other for that matter. They just do things (acts of service) to show it. He is so very thankful to have a meal cooked for him-partly because the man just loves to eat, but also in part because I believe it makes him feel loved.


    As a result, it has motivated me to get better and better at cooking for him. How do you get better? No magic pan, no magic cookbook-just plain ole practice. His mom told me that a long time ago. I am no longer in a hurry to be this great cook-just trying to open my mind to methods and techniques. And along with that attitude, I am slowly improving. Oh, and I have been adding great kitchen tools along the way. I don't plan to win any cooking contests or go on a cooking show (I am no Pioneer Woman); I just want to show my husband love the way he understands it.


    I come from a place where we were very vocal and expressive so it did not come natural to me to express love through acts of service. But I am getting the hang of it, and it works! My husband is a different man when I make him something yummy for dinner. It lifts his spirits the way only someone loving you can. And I do love him.


    I have a similar theory about cooking as I do with skiing. If you are a good cook/skier, then using the best of the best cookware/ski equipment will only make you better. However, if you suck at it, using the best stuff really won't help you. So, had I gotten this very fancy pan for a gift some 15 years ago-I might have been annoyed-and it probably wouldn't do me a bit of good in the kitchen either. I got married not knowing how to boil and egg. I also thought of cooking as sort of demeaning "woman's work". And as a working wife and mother, I did not embrace it right away. However, now I do. I don't find it demeaning at all. In fact, sometimes I hear my husband tell someone what a great cook I am, and it makes me feel so good. I had no idea how something so simple could make people so happy. I love it! And it has made a world of difference in my life.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Self medication

    Last week I visited my doctor. I went in there seeking immediate medication for what I thought was surely pre-menopause because of inexplicable mood swings and insomnia. He said it was depression-which took me by complete surprise as I have been a pretty good mood for a very long time until just this last few weeks. I thought it was just my job wearing on me (I still think it may be the root). I did not have a lot of the common symptoms like not being able to get out of bed or sleeping all the time; or going on shopping sprees (that' s just because Paul would kill me). He concluded that I have been self medicating with all my gym jobs-which is why I have energy. As far as self medicating, it's not a bad one (better than smoking, drinking, drugs, etc) but it was only masking the fact that I need to try and regulate my serotonin levels. That being said, I don't' really have to give up my gym obsession as long as I can keep it in check.....
    As a new instructor (relatively new); the way to get your own classes is to sub for other instructors. I don't mind being a sub in general but it does get old. Oh, it has its perks-like you can do it on your own terms, you can pick and chose times and places; you are helping someone out and he/she is always very grateful, and I have always won the crowd over by the end of class. But what I hate most is that first few minutes when people make the connection that you are the teacher-and not whomever it is they expected. It can be rather awkward. Now, as I have gotten more experienced, and sub'd for the same people over and over, it has gotten easier, but it is still much nicer to be the regular girl.




    I teach now at 4 different gyms:



    Highlands Ranch Rec Center-the first place I got hired. I feel so beholden to this place-even though it is not the best place to teach. This is not the same as a gym that people join voluntarily like the other places I teach. As a resident of Highlands Ranch, you have to pay dues, and as a dues paying resident, you are able to use the rec centers. The other places I teach-people are choosing to come and be members. Also, they pay the least (by a lot) per hour, the bikes are old, (although well maintained) the residents have to pay extra to take group x classes, and the classes are not well communicated. Lots of people I talk to don't even know where the spin room is (I was one of them before I started working there). It's hard to get a following at a place like this. It would cost someone about the same amount to get a pass for group x as it would to join a gym like 24 hour fitness. Still, though, there about a good 20 or so people I have seen over and over again-which makes me feel very good. My boss wrote in my review that she had gotten tons of great comment cards filled out about me. So, overall, I love teaching here.



    Village Fitness-the second place I got hired. I love the social interaction with the members here and the other instructors (one of which is a very good friend of mine). But it is not a well run group x department-or gym for that matter. A new girl just took over the group x dept so maybe it will improve. I don't really think it will because it comes from the top. I doubt Teia (the previous group x manager) could have done much more. The owner is really only concerned with making money-which is fine; I realize he needs to make money, but it is to the detriment of the club. The equipment is in terrible condition-getting things maintained or even repaired is an act of congress; the group x program is more of an afterthought to him. He just cut the pay of all the instructors across the board. If he had a choice, I think he would axe it all and just have personal trainers charging $300 an hour. My class there got cancelled after 2 weeks of no one coming-largely because the time was 6:30 pm in a community of families and stay at home moms. The 5:30 classes do just fine. I tried to get them to move it since there isn't one that night but they just said wait until Jan-and now it's April and the summer schedule is going to be even leaner. So, now I just sub there, and that has been great because I love the other instructors and I generally sub for the same people so I have gotten to know them. I like the location too-it's about 9 or 10 minutes from my front door.





    Colorado Athletic Club-Inverness-the third place I got hired. This is my favorite of the places I teach-although I have a terrible time slot-Thursdays at noon. The lunch crowd is very hit or miss-especially when the club is full of very affluent people-most of the women are trophy wives and the men don't do a ton of group x (cycle being the exception as most of my classes are about 50/50 men and women) I think the most I have had is 8, and I typically get between 2 and 4 participants. I wonder why they even offer a noon class. To make matters worse, the most popular instructor, Dawn, whom I often sub for, teaches right before me. Ugh! It is not easy to follow her. Her time slot and popularity just fill the room. However, I figure I just need to pay my dues at a place like this and get established. One of these days (probably a long time from now), I will get my own class and following there but in the meantime, I just take what I can get. This is a very well run gym-and I LOVE working here. They actually pay 75% of your continuing ed class expenses, support you in learning new formats, encourage you to participate in each others classes and training, and going ons at the club. It's just a very put together place. The location I teach at is one of the older ones, but I still love it. There is a brand new one downtown (Tabor Center)-where I am allowed to sub as well but I haven't been able to yet. That's another one I would like to work for-the people who run the group x depts are the best at this company. I just wish I could get a better time slot-and I suppose that will come in time.





    24 Hour Fitness: the most recent place I was hired. I just got hired here a few weeks ago-and it is like working for a website. I don't know wth I am doing-everything is done on a website. I sent my manager (of which there are about 100) a note when I got my paperwork turned in to which she responded: "read your manual and pick up shifts!" You have to sub there for a long time before you can get your own class apparently. So, I read the manual-which is basically a step by step instruction guide on how to use the website. I picked up a couple of shifts. All this without speaking to a soul. I guess I will figure out the sound system and keys to the room,etc. when I get there? Who knows? I am just glad I survived the auditions for this damned gym. It was so gruelling. On my first audition, I basically got cut off-and Laura (the area manager) told me I had terrible technique-24 hour required a totally different format/training that I have not completed-Schwin's training. So, that didn't feel too good. But then, she called me the next week for some reason requesting a second audition. Hmm, interesting? But, naturally, when someone tells me I am not good enough, I just want to prove them wrong, so I went for a second one. Again, I was wondering to myself why I go through this scrutiny for a job that pays $20 an hour and gets me in trouble at work and sometimes at home. I don't even like 24 hour that much. Not surprisingly, Laura was very critical, and told me all the stuff I did wrong-albeit much improved from last time. She talked to me for a long time and told me she was torn with me because I am so green at teaching. But she said she really liked me and saw a lot of potential. In the end, she hired me. And now, I am just glad it's over with.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Balance




    I was talking to a friend of mine recently who is very much a professional. By that I mean, she is highly intellegent, educated, motivated and extremely succesful. She works for the Governor of Wyoming doing very important things like: writing laws, establishing budgets and allocating funds appropriated from the stimulus program. The Governor actually recruited her in spite of her unwillingness to move to the capital. She commutes from Jackson to Cheyenne instead. She also contracts for several Fortune 500 firms all over the country. She has a residence in the Jackson Hole, WY area as well one in an upscale part of the Bay area near San Fran. She was my college roommate. I have nothing but respect for her and her accomplishments-probably to the point of envy. She is very understated and modest; and she always makes me feel good about myself when I see her and talk to her. In short, I am blessed to have this person in my life.

    Today's conversation was about a career opportunity she had mentioned to me last time we got together. She thought it might be something I would like so I wrote a cover letter threw together a quick resume. Among many other things she noticed that I could correct/improve upon when she reviewed them was the statement, "what I am looking for is balance".

    She said "the word balance to employers means I'm not interested in working that hard or may get a lot of phone calls about needing to pick up your kids unexpectedly-neither of which is great." She also said that employers are reluctant to hire "mom's with small children because they don't make work their priority". I did not take offense with these comments; however, I do find it disappointing and sad. I understand the position of an employer-and it is not untrue that mothers with small children can be questionable in their priorities at times (on both sides). However, I also think it makes a pretty grim statement about working moms. What are we supposed to be doing anyway? Ideally, I would not have to work (nor would anyone with raising her children as her priority). But even if that was a comfortable financial option (right now it would be an uncomfortable one); I still long to have some type of fulfillment and role within the fabric of the workforce. I am a bright, intellegent person with a lot to offer. I like the idea of having a career as well as being succesful at raising a family. To me, that is balance.

    To my buddy, it is described more like "if you were an investment banker in Manhatten working 100 hours a week, that may make more sense that you are looking for balance". I suppose it's worth mentioning that my vocational rock star of a friend chose to not have a family herself. She is happily married but neither she nor her husband was interesed in having children. She is not one of those judgemental people who looks down on moms. However, I do think it's hard to understand what that would feel like unless you are there. At least it would have been for me. I can honestly state I had no idea how I feel about all this until I met my kids.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Job vs Career

    I have often wrestled with the difference between these two things. I have had jobs, and I have also considered myself career oriented. But lately, I find that I am in an in-between area. I want to have a career, but if feels more like I just have a job. To me, a career means something fulfilling, interesting, enjoyable. A job just means showing up, going through the motions until you can leave. The trouble with meeting the criteria for a career-is whether or not you get paid-and how much. I LOVE teaching group exercise-and that just does not pay the bills. I would love to stay at home with my kids more-which also does not pay. I have a job that pays (at least better than those options); and it does not even come close to matching up with my list. So, the conundrum continues.

    I am not sure what the answer is. The go-getter in me has shifted. I am not so sure what I want to go get anymore. I used to be so eager to do anything just to prove myself and I really believed I could do anything. I am not feeling it so much lately. My husband would say to this, "stop being so pathetic-grow a backbone". And I can see that, but I have lost my way. I struggle with what I want to be when I grow up-and I am turning 40 in a few weeks! I don't expect my husband to understand-he just isn't built like I am. I guess what it comes down to is the fact that I am just plain scared. I have never been so scared of letting people down. I want to take care of my kids, hold up my end of things with my husband, do a good job at work, all that stuff.....I just haven't been able to do it.

    Spring Break in Texas

    It's no secret that I am not a Southerner. While I do appreciate it's warm-hearted and very polite people, delicious recipes and sleepy paced, small town charm, I have also been on the receiving end of the harshness of being a foreigner in the deep south=not a good experience. All that being said, it was my idea this year to visit my husband's extended family in a relatively rural part of Texas known as Port Arthur (I often refer to it as Port Armpit). It is close to where Louisiana and Texas meet-just in case Texas wasn't hillbilly enough.

    I have been there a couple of times before, once with my husband about 10 years ago, and then again in 2004 when my youngest was about 18 months old. It was EXACTLY the same this time. In fact, it resembled 1950 or 1960. The house we stayed in had one TV (no cable) with Gunsmoke, Archie Bunker and Bonanza reruns playing. There was no internet. There was one bathroom in the entire house-which of course had an ashtray in it. And speaking of ashtrays, I saw a man smoking in the bakery section of the grocery store-Bruce's. They still have stores named after people. I noticed there were no sidewalks in the town either-and lots of obesity. This probably goes hand in hand with the abundance of fried food items available at most restaurants. There was actually a fast food restaurant called, Donuts and Burgers. There were far more donut places than gyms-if there even were any gyms or rec centers. So, to say the least, it was quite a different experience than life here in the burbs of the oh-so-fit and pretentious Denver area.

    While it was culture shock to me, I must admit, there were several things I found enviable about life in a slow-paced small town in rural America. People just don't seem as stressed out-people are so friendly and pleasant-and it's geniune. I never felt rushed. Life just seems more simple. And simple can be very good. The boys and I climbed trees-real trees, not the flimsy kind we have here in Colorado. Jackson and I were both on a limb that was at least 2 stories high. It was awesome. We hunted frogs and looked for four leaf clovers. We drove accross huge bridges and saw giant barges go underneath. We went crabbing. We visited people who had my son's pictures all over there homes. I never doubted this was a good trip to make despite my own misgivings about the South. It really was a good time.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Changes

    I remember something a very wise man I worked for early in my career told me once, "Teri, the only thing that never changes around here is change". Steve Rubin was the CFO at Mortgage Plus at the time I was hired there in 1995. It was such a great job-I got to do all kinds of different things while I was there. Although I ended up getting laid off in 1997 (almost 3 years after starting); I probably learned more there than anywhere else I worked in that forsaken industry. The only other job I felt left a real mark on me was Long Beach Mortgage, where another man I respected very much (Tony Mango) said these words to me, "Well, Teri, if there is a job that is easy and pays 100k a year, please let me know because I will be first in line for it. What do you expect?" Those were years in my work life that I still had a ton of passion and excitement for what I was doing. I never really loved the mortgage business, I just liked learning new things-and it was a very dynamic industry, I liked being successful, for the longest time, I just did better and better. In fact, I never thought I could ever fail. After a terrible parting at Long Beach, I never had that feeling again at a job. I would come close at CAR. That job was more about the people than the job. I truly hated to leave that job, but I thought I had found a good opportunity at AST amidst a certain lack of a good situation in CAR. The market just could not support my salary much longer there. I am not so sure it would have mattered. In fact, the market isn't supporting mine here at AST either. I have wanted to be at home with my kids more and more as the years have gone by. Moms have told me again and again that the older the kids are, the harder it is to not be a presence in their lives. And I am seeing that.



    I had to fight tears today as my 5 year old sat in the dentist chair (like his 7 year old brother a couple of weeks ago); and we found 2 cavities. The hygienist was good enough to point out all the plaque I am missing when I brush his teeth. which I don't do every day-b/c I am tired and lazy, I don't have my priorities straight. My 2nd grader is going through some kind of thing in school where his grades are slipping, he wants to quit sports, he gets very angry-he is just a different kid than he was 6 months ago. I can't help but think a lot of these things might still be happening if I was at home with them, but at least I could focus on them. I feel spread so thin some days. I just let them sit in front of the TV while I try and shift piles around the house so I can have some semblance of order. Then, I make some dinner neither of them will eat, then try and get the dishes done (or mostly done) and start the uphill battle of getting them to bed. I often get them all the way in their beds and they are just about out before I remember that we haven't brushed their teeth-which I often let slide. I realize this is the plight of many parents, and it's not all fun and games, but I have been wondering lately if there is some way I can merge these many weights on my shoulders so that maybe I could be more productive-both at home and at work. I wish I could just work part time. I am afraid to talk to my employer about it for fear they will just let me go. I am afraid we can't afford it. I am afraid if I stop working, I will lose validity and vitality. I am afraid Paul will turn into a giant ball of stress and nerves-who scrutinize my gas and grocery purchases with a monocle. I am afraid of change.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    When did this happen?

    I am like a broken record when it comes to how cute and sweet my oldest son was as a baby. He has always been tender hearted and so eager to please. But as he approaches the ripe old age of 8, he has gotten in touch with his bitter side. I wrote about how small he was last year, and he is still every bit as tiny. I wonder if that isn't playing a role in the attitude he has developed. He won't open up to me and tell me what is going on in his head, but it is clear from his actions that something has changed. This little kid who played baseball (and soccer and tennis and football and anything with a ball basically) with all his heart has recently decided he doesn't want to play sports anymore. He used to get nothing but 90 and 100% on assignments-now he is getting 60-80% on things. He used to be compliant and happy to be in our company. Now he wants to be on the couch in our basement, alone, for hours on end, watching shows that are not age appropriate. He is 8! I thought I had at least until 12 or 13 for this crap. So, now I have had to put parental controls on the DISNEY channel, yes, that's right, DISNEY. He has been watching Hannah Montanah, ICarly, Suite Life, Wizards of Waverly Place, Sonny with Chance-all are Disney or Nikelodean shows. All are about teenagers disrespecting authority-largely unsupervised and with little or no family structure. Jackson doesn't really like cartoons that much-he prefers shows that are not animated, but there just isn't much in between cartoons and this teenager garbage.



    We did have a talk with his teacher, then a follow up with him that seemed to get through, but I can tell it's going to be a tough road getting him to open up. He is a very proud kid-he doesn't want to let anyone down, and he will risk letting himself down to avoid it.

    Failure








    You always pass failure on your way to success....~Mickey Rooney














    So, this is the kind of day I am having. I have been working on this certification for 3 months now to teach a weight training class called Body Pump. I thought today would be my last round. After the initial training in December (which was really just boot camp); I was feeling pretty good about myself for having passed; only 3 or 4 of us out of 10 passed that phase. Then, after accumulating a ton of hours of practicing and co-instructing; we are to record a video of ourselves teaching this class for submission to the Body Pump Nazi's for final approval. For me, that video was this morning-at 6 am. Yes, I said 6 AM! ugh! Not my finest hour-but the very best instructor I know allowed me to teach his class which is at that time, and I know most of the people in there so it was comfortable (as comfortable as I can be at 6 AM doing something very awkward). He was a good enough friend to tell me at the end that I just didn't do good enough to pass. I didn't do horribly-I probably got a B or a C. In order to pass the assesment, though, you must get an A. I did not get an A. And I could tell it was hard for him-though I really appreciate him for it.



    I suppose it was presumptuous to think it would only take one time. I have learned that most of my peers who are crazy enought to put themselves through this scrutiny do as many as 4 or 5 of these hideous videos before submitting a final one. And this makes me wonder what on earth Les Mills (that is the outfit behind these programs)is thinking? Must you torture people this much? Honestly, the people in class today got a great work out-and no one was in harm's way. Is it not possible to just have trainers come out and do the final; much like the preliminary training? I can tell you, that would make me far more comfortable. The whole camera experience was not pleasant.
    There have been MANY times in this 3 month period that I have really questioned myself on going forward. This morning, for example, in the shower after the debacle, I really, really wanted to quit. But, like every other time I have felt that way-about a number of things, I always come back to the reality that failure is generally a necessary component of success. I should know this. I have met with failure many times. As a result, I know what success is, and I know how good it feels. I know how it is just something no one can take away-and only I can go out and get it. And I love it. Days like today, where it eludes me, I simply have to hang on to that.


    No, it's not the biggest tragedy in the world-or even in my life. There are far more important things. However, these are the lessons in life that make me a little more gratuitous and stronger for the next challenge that comes along-and there will be another one. That much is a certainty.

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Latest in irritating mysteries.....

    Sometimes I make payments over the phone, or call my cell phone carrier to ask about promotions, etc. I always have to enter my 1000 digit account number and one of the 5 million passwords I have for everything before I ever get to a person or to the transaction I am trying to execute. Every time I get to that step, they ask me for all of it again. Why the hell do I have to enter it all-then tell the customer service rep all of it again? Ugh!


    When I open those little Yoplait yogurts, is it totally necessary for them to blow up all over me? Are the contents in need of that much pressure. I hate that! And speaking of poorly packaged items, what's with juice boxes/pouches and yogurt sticks? Those things are messier than their predecessors.


    Why don't Uggs come in half sizes? Seriously! These ugly, yet comfortable and functional shoes have become such a giant hit in our culture, could they not find a way to produce them in half sizes-you know they pay about a $1 a week in labor, and charge $200 a pair. Would shifting the sizing really make it impossible to make ends meet?


    Doesn't it seem like you have a good hair day or two just as soon as you schedule an appointment for a haircut?

    Itunes is the best and the worst thing ever created. I love the Ipod concept-and I am hopelessly addicted to it. However, the devices are downright disposable-they are good for a couple of years at best. And the Itunes library is a moving target. The new versions exist simply to make my life difficult. Now I understand we cannot risk the lifestyles of rock starts-heaven forbid they made a regular living. We have to ensure they can stay gozillianaires. So, the quest to keep the music industry from losing a penny is paved with the Itunes road of "would you like to download the new version now" and have no clue what you are doing until you get the hang of this one and then we will come up with a new one?



    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Holiday Road













    We just took our boys on their first family ski trip. I have to admit, as someone who LOVES to ski, I was a little more than hopeful that we would pick them up from ski school and they would just come bouncing into our arms, dying to do it all again. Well, this was not the case. They were tired, cold, and hungry. Neither of them wanted to do it again the next day. I suppose this is to be expected. Still, sometimes you just think your own love and enthusiasm for things will be enough for your kids to embrace it as well. The jury is not out yet, they may end up loving skiing at some point in their lives-just not today. And that's okay. The real highlight of the trip was just being together as a family. I remember a ski trip like this when I was a 12 year old girl. In fact, it was also at Winter Park. I probably did not realize it at the time, but those are the kind of memories that stick with you. I hope when my kids are grown, they can reflect back on times like these and cherish them as much as their dad and I do.


    There is a reason the movie Vacation was so funny. Anyone who has been on a family vacation knows exactly what it's like to endure tight quarters, hectic schedules, lines, over tired tempers, the constant bicker and banter over whose is whose, etc. And yet, these are the things our childhood is made up of-and we love it. Times have changed so much. Yesterday at breakfast, both my boys were on their handheld DS games, while my husband scrolled his Blackberry. I was thinking of sending him a text (from across the table) just to get his attention. And the boys got these fancy GPS systems strapped on to them at ski school. Regardless of all the changes in the world around us, some things are still the same. Family is still family.




    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Life's Irritating mysteries continued...

    The Word Astigmatism-now what kind of word is that? seriously? why not just stigmatism? or stigmata? It never sounds right in a sentence. "I have an astigmatism" actually, you sound like an idiot when you say it-so you try and drop the a and you still sound like you don't know what you are talking about, "I have astigmatism"



    Valentine's Day-I will have been married 17 years in August. I don't want to be a spoiler on romance or anything, but it is just a pain to try and get my husband a gift for Vday. So, we are boycotting the whole thing and taking the boys to the mountains for the first time. I don't care for the this holiday-we don't get time off work so it's not really a holiday. Not to mention, romantic things to me are unsolicited or necessitated by the calendar. It would be far more romantic to me for my hubby to bring home a flower/card/etc for no reason that because the calendar told him too. Of course that will never happen because I did not marry a guy like that.



    This goes along with Valentines Day-I heard a commercial this week for a TEDDY BEAR for a grown woman! I listen to sports talk radio so I hear a lots of commercials for things like Rogain, Viagra-and this time of year for Valentine's day gift ideas like flowers and spa days, etc. But this one really takes the cake-honestly, it is a stuffed animal for the "woman in your life' I can't decide which is more pathetic, the person who would buy one-or the person who would want one!



    How is it that when I park somewhere-go in for less than 10 minutes, I often come back out and cannot find my car? I do this all the time at my kids' school-I have done it at shopping malls too. I do the same thing at the gym with the locker. I think I am practicing for old age-it won't come as such a shock to me-if I can remember by then!



    Sometimes I go to the gym on off hours to practice routines, or just get a work out in without the crowds. It never fails, there could be two or three people in the entire locker room, and I find that we have the lockers right next to each other. So annoying!



    The Tiger Woods story-okay, this is a tired story-but seriously, the addiction card? No, you are addicted to infidelity. No one said it was an addiction as long as it was with your spouse. It's just a cop out for an addiction to being with someone other than your spouse. Ridiculous nonsense.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Fit to Lead



    I have had many jobs in my life, at many ranges of pay. My favorite? Teaching group exercise; and it pays about $15-25 an hour depending on the gym. It is ironic to realize that at this point in my career. At first, I was nervous to teach. Everyone is staring at you-and there is that awkward silence where they are sizing you up, etc. I have been doing group exercise for so many years that I know exactly what it's like to be on that side. Reversing roles was a bit daunting. I don't know how many times in life I have thought-oh, I could so do that... But not that many times in life have I been able to test that theory. So, last summer, I got my certification in Group X through a national organization. It was an 8-10 hour day of being tested/evaluated/judged on your skills as well as 100 question exam testing your knowledge of a bunch of crap I don't even remember now. Then I had to go pimp myself to fitness coordinators at a million gyms. Finally, one in Highlands Ranch, gave me a shot. I was so excited! All I had to do was audition in a live setting for one hour and lead the 5:30 am (ouch!) spin class. Easy enough? NOT! I had never done more than one song. In retrospect, I am glad it was at such a ridiculous hour-I might have been awake enough to realize how I nervous I was otherwise. It went well, and I started teaching on Tuesday nights. I am forever grateful to Darci Freeman for giving me that chance. I have learned that you just don't get anywhere without someone giving you a chance. I have been sub'ing wherever else I can, and I just landed my second job as a spin instructor at a posh little club on Thursdays. I have also taken on a weight training class called Body Pump. And that's a whole other blog too-some of these fitness programs take themselves a little too serious.



    So, I am wondering why it is that I love this stuff so much? Sometimes I look up during a class I am teaching and think-holy sh*t! I am actually leading these people-and they are doing it-and we are having fun. I am not even thinking about it-just going and going, and it hits me that I was just meant to be doing this. And I guess it's just the sense of accomplishment. Each one of these certifications you have to earn require studying, practicing, testing, and an outcome. It fills a void for me. As adults we don't always have that. My husband plays sports for his. School used to do that for me-there were semesters, grades, etc. My job does not provide that, in fact, I never feel like I am accomplishing a thing. I thought I was going to be involved in all these fun and excited things. What I learned is that a few people here pull the strings-and everyone else just goes through the motions. I HATE selling ads-I thought that would just be a part of my job-it's really most of my job. And in an economy where everyone is scaling back-ads are a dying breed. So, I do a whole lot of nothing and hate it. And then I feel guilty-and lucky that I even have a job, and it's just the same process everyday. So, I guess it's not surprise that leading a cycle/spin class gives me such great pleasure.








    Bad Mom Moments

    So, I have not taken my kids to the dentist in-well, way too long. The other night, my oldest tells me his tooth hurts. And today, we found out that he has two cavities that are so bad, they must be extracted! The worst part is, had I taken him last year like I was supposed to, a filling would have done the trick. And now I have to subject him to a lot more pain and suffering. I was sitting in a stool next to the hygienist while she did his cleaning-I felt smaller and smaller as she continued. She reminded me MANY times of my lack of deligence in getting him there more often-which is good because I wasn't feeling quite bad enough. I was expecting to have a photo at the end of the appointment so they could hang it up in the hall of shameful parents. My orthodontist did that when I was a kid-only it was actually a hall of fame-I always had my picture on it for such having such good hygiene. I brushed AND flossed even with braces every single day. Still, despite my superior hygiene, I did get a lot of cavities as a kid-I learned that it is just genes. My husband has never flossed a day in his life, and had maybe 2 cavities his entire life. So, it appears my son got in the wrong line on those genes. There might be hope for Thing #2 (my younger son); but I doubt it. He goes in a couple of weeks for an equally as long overdue a visit. I'm sure that will be wonderful. I know getting an "A" in mommy hood is not possible on all fronts, but some days you really just bomb don't you? This was definitely one of them. ugh!

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Blog Vacation

    It seems I take a blog vacation during the fall/winter months. Who knows why. I just noticed recently that the sun has been coming up just a tiny bit sooner, and setting just a tiny bit later-which is a great trend. I love when winter starts to fade, and springs comes. It just means summer is not so far! And summer is my favorite time of year. I often wonder why I don't live in a place like Florida or California. It would be so nice to have summer all year long. I would be much more productive. And speaking of winter, I bought my husband shiny new snow blower for Christmas this year. And guess what? It snowed like crazy the 23rd and 24th of December, and then not another ounce since! It's just like washing your car-it rains almost instantly afterward. Still, though, it's not a bad thing. I like the snow-but really only for skiing and the scenery. Driving in it, shoveling it, dressing for it-not so fun.



    Although I have not been talking to myself on this blog in recent months, I did do a sports blog on my fantasy football league, and I have been keeping quite busy with my little alter career as an instructor for spin classes-and the newest challenge is this Body Pump certification I am in the process of chasing down. The spin certification was a ton easier. After all, who can't ride a bike? This Body Pump thing is a bit different. It's a weight lifting class-and one I have been a participant of for years. So, naturally, I thought it would be no sweat to pick it up as something I could teach-NOT. It is a 4 month process. It's driving me crazy too. The worst part is, even after I complete this ridiculousness, there is no guarantee I will even be able to teach it. But still, the whole chasing down a goal and accomplishing it has kept me fairly fulfilled.

    I don't really have that at my primary job-mostly because selling ads in this economy is not very rewarding. And also, even if it were, I lack passion for it. I took this job thinking that would just be a part of what I do, and now it seems like it's all I do. So, that means I do a whole lot of nothing. I seem to be in a rut here, and I don't know how to break it. So, my supplemental fitness career is helping. In a perfect world, I could just quit this gig and do the teaching thing full time. Unfortunately-it does not pay the bills-or even half the bills! It pays $15-25 an hour depending on the gym you teach for. Even the most invested instructors don't teach more than 6 classes a week so the math just does not work there. I would love to just contract on the side but I don't have a clue how to do that. Perhaps that should be my next goal huh?

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    The Good Wife

    If I had read this when I was a teenager-or maybe even in my early 20's, I would have been offended. I remember thinking being a housewife was not something to aspire to. I was going to take the world by storm-you know, run companies, kick butt, take names, etc.....



    And naturally, here I am 20 years later, thinking-I would do just about everything on that list if it meant I could quit my job and raise my own kids. In the beginning, it seems that men took care of women and women took care of men-we just each had our roles. As society evolved from the hunter/gatherer phase, men became the breadwinners and women the homemakers. It always had a bit of a condescending feel to it-like the breadwinner was the superior one. As if the one who earned a living was the only one with the capacity to think for himself. Maybe that's just our culture where money rules our world. Or maybe it was just my perception-I had a father from the middle east (Iran) and a mother from the deep south (Arkansas). In any case, I always thought financial independence would keep be a great thing. It was total independence from men. No man could mistreat me.



    Then I got married, and some 18 years later, I am finally realizing that he is not going to mistreat me. My husband (though he does get on my nerves) is a very good man. He is kind and fair. He is not perfect but he is my partner, and just like it has always been intended, we are supposed to take care of each other. I never needed to ensure independence. I think I was just worried I would be in my mom's shoes but I am not. And largely thanks to her I am not. I am educated, and I picked someone from my own culture who does not degrade women or treat me like I am inferior. I guess growing up with an example like that than made me think that's just how it was. But it's not.



    Then I got in the workforce. At first, when I had tons of time and no money, it seemed reasonable to work my butt off-I had nothing else to do, and I thought I could really ascend that way. Eventually though, the work force became I place I didn't like anymore. It was a combination of events: I had babies and my industry completely fell apart (mortgage-that which must not be named). The two together made me realize I wasn't really living out a dream-it was a nightmare actually. However, the dual income lifestyle has sucked us in, and we now have a house and two cars and kids in a private Christian school. Being able to stay at home has not been a viable option. I do long for the day it is.



    The problem with working outside the home, is that all of those things on the list of the Good Wife article are still somewhat expected of moms/wives. Our roles there have not changed that much. My husband wants his meals cooked, his house orderly, his kids taken care of, etc. The only difference is that I work-well, and of course, it's not the set of "Father Knows Best" either. Some of that crap was just ridiculous. Honestly-put a bow in your hair and freshen your make up? But the overall role is still overwhelming as the woman of the house. I never feel like I am on top of things, I miss out on tons of time with my kids. I HATE my job. I am thankful my mom and mother in law have watched my kids all these years so they have been able to stay at home while their parents are at work. It has enabled us to give them a very privileged life. Still, if I could do it again (and who doesn't have a HUGE list of these); I wish I would have had to forsight to know what I did not know then!