Learning as We Go

Last year I got married. When I moved back from Germany the big question was what I would do. I wanted to go back to school, and I didn’t. I knew it would be an adjustment to go back in my thirties, but also knew that unless I did, many doors would remain closed to me.

So I enrolled, as most of you know. The first semester was comedic and exciting. Great professors with great quirks. It had challenging moments, but for the most part was a breeze. I nannied for a family with a newborn and though the newborn was fussy it was an easy way to spend my time and LOW stress. THEN Christmas came. I need to say that we stayed here for Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the extensive use of our vacation time for our honeymoon. Lady A invited me to come to the wholesale show in Atlanta with her and I was so excited to escape for a few days, but a blizzard came and she literally got the last plane out of town. I should have known then the Spring would be a long, cold one.

I took 5 classes this semester. I have no idea why. No idea. The mom of the baby I was nannying for made the decision to stay home. I was scrambling for a job in February. I found a job nannying for two boys… in Arlington. So I drive to Charlestown for school, Sommerville to pick up A from pre-school, Waltham to pick up E from homeschool co-op, back to Arlington to their house and then to Brighton to go home. Shoot me. I feel like I should drive a mini-van. I don’t want one. But I feel like I should. Did I mention that my car has some sort of nominal issue about every 6 weeks? The total amount of that work exceeds the amount we agreed to buy the car for (currently still paying for it) and the check engine light came on again today… A great feeling when you are carting kids all over the green earth. Somewhere in there the lady that I worked for last year that I am pretty sure thought she was paying me too much for nothing, called me and begged me to take her kids on Wednesday. I agreed, I only had the boys two days a week. Until their other caregiver quit, then I had them three days a week. That’s right. 15 hours of school. 2 hours of driving. And 20+ hours of work a week. I had over-committed. I was maxed. I stopped exercising and sleeping. Our house lived in cycles of chaos between school holidays or blizzards. And the winter just ended this week. Not. Even. Kidding.

I basically melted down about three weeks ago and explained to Justin that I had the capacity to study, sleep and work, that was it. He stepped up in a real way, and we made it. I managed all As and one A-. I am still negotiating on that A-. The class that I deserved it in I didn’t get it in and the class that I did not deserve it in, I got it in. Figures.

In the midst of this I was told that the big girl school I applied for could not really look at my application until I took STEM, Cal and Trig. Um. OK. They also conspicuously encouraged me to beef up on my science classes. Um. WHY??????? So I am. Then my English professor recommended me for a program at Vassar. In June I am moving there for 5 weeks. Yep. In the dorm. With a roomie. Like when I was 18. Then I am coming back and cramming that STEM class into the 6 weeks before school starts so that I can take Cal in the fall. I know. I know. I NEVER LEARN.

Can I tell you some of the amazing things that happened. We found some of the friends of our life in Lady A and Architect A. Our dear and old friends kept in touch with us and loved us well. My dad came for his first slumber party and it was drama free while he was here. I completed my first semester back at school with all As. The extra work brought extra money, which we were able to use for the various things that arose. For the most part there was enough, and that was a HUGE gift. I was accepted to an ENDOWED program at VASSAR! I had an incredible trip to New York over spring break. I found a friend and mentor and ally in the wife of one of J’s co-workers who went to the big girl school I applied to. She has become one of my absolute favorite humans of all time. She has a daughter named Magnolia. I find this magical. We have seen what we are made of, and feel encouraged. I had an incredible math professor who is willing to teach me STEM in 6 weeks at the end of this summer, you guys have NO idea how huge that is. I realized how DESPERATELY I need to work on my perspective and attitude, it is the most significant thing steering how fantastic or difficult our life is. I consider one monumental step when I realized that this semester had not been hard, hard was my time in Berlin, this was challenging, something difficult and intense but not emotionally threatening.

So this is what we ARE learning. That I am a door slammer. That Justin does well with detailed instructions. That I continue to be bad at saying no. That we are not making rational decisions about the car, time to do something extreme. That I need to leave for some place warm at some point in the Winter/Spring or I am attacked by seasonal depression. That we really do need to be up at 5:45 and asleep by 11 for our lives to work. That we absolutely love being together no matter what we are doing. That family is incredibly supportive, even when they are in the midst of some of the greatest battles of their lives. That part makes me cry. That we are going to be an Aunt and an Uncle and that is such a precious honor. That marriage takes work, and different kind of work than we thought. That large public schools are cheaper, but more frustrating. That buying text books is the black hole of money. That we want to start our own business. That we love to wander. Anywhere. Anytime. We are wanderers. That I am even more of an introvert and perfectionist than we ever really thought. Who knew people people could be so wildly introverted. That I love my professors whether I love their classes or not. That for the most part I really love class. That Justin is very ambitious and a sponge like learner.

We are learning as we go. We are trying. We are doing our best to love each other well, and be ourselves. I am learning to be supportive and kind. Justin is learning to help me draw healthy life boundaries. We both know nothing about long-term money and need help to figure out how to not just live to meet our budget and basically save. That we like the underdog (our car.) We are learning that we need dear friends (so thankful to have a small circle of dear friends here), that we have a much smaller capacity than we realized. We love to have people here and we love to entertain, together. We love and miss our families more than they could ever know. We are learning. I am learning. We are in process. We know less at the one year mark than we did the day we got married. I am still learning how to learn, and I need a lot of help there also.

There is no point where we arrive. As I am learning from AM, the most important thing we can do is call a spade a spade, look it directly in the face and then have the best and most honest attitude that you can. I am learning from her to give yourself a minute, or an hour or a day and then chin up and move on. We are never trapped, there is always a place where we can improve our attitude or our circumstance and we are victims of nothing. I know these things, but I am learning to live them. As I go. In process. Hoping that I learned a lot from the last few months. Here are some future goals:

October 2, Marathon.
August, Launch some small portion of the business.
Attempt a debt free life other than school loans.
POSITIVE POSITIVE POSITIVE perspective and attitude.
Quiet and Still time every morning to read, meditate and get our focus right.
Exercise before we start our day.
6 week break bad habits/focus on health from July 18-September 13th. thinking about going raw.
DE-CLUTTER!!! Minimize, minimize, minimize. Beginning with a garage sale in two weeks.
Make a rational decision about cars in our house, we need one, but maybe not two.
Make the best use of our CSA and meat share.
Attend church regularly.

I’ll keep you posted. This is quite a journey that we are on. Goals are crucial and attitude is everything. I realize that as this semester progressed it was easier to focus on the difficult than the good.

So now you are up to date. And we are moving forward from here. Looking forward to the best that is yet to come. And experiencing the great benefit from all the big life lessons that I learned during the challenge that was this Spring semester!

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One Year Ago Tomorrow

When I was a little girl I watched Princess Diana’s wedding and dreamed of growing up and having a big beautiful wedding and riding off in a carriage.

As I got older I found myself less sure of the institution of marriage. Less sure of if I ever wanted to ‘settle” down, tie myself in to one thing, FOREVER. I saw lives crumble around me as things went wrong and I feared that kind of loss. I cannot even tell you why, just that I didn’t know if it was for me. I got older and older and found and myself single and I thought, well, it may be decided for me.

And then I fell in love.

Deeply, madly and wholly in love. I remember going home and telling AM&UK that I didn’t know what it was, I just knew. And UK says, that’s when you know it’s love, when it can’t be explained.

One year later, the thought of walking through the grass to that man still makes me cry. I love him more than I have ever loved anything in my life and I feel more loved than I thought was possible. It’s been the fastest year of my life, it’s been challenging, not being married, but the mix of our life. He’s so patient, responsive and kind.

I did not deserve what I got, but I got it.

I saw an interview with The Ralph Lauren family yesterday and I loved in talking about their daughter’s wedding that the Laurens said we’re not giving her away we are taking him in. The absolute sweetest part of this gift has been that. Our family just expanded. Like Zelda Fitzgerald so beautifully said,

“No one could measure, even poets, how much the human heart can hold.”

Here’s to the years ahead and an ever increasing expanse in our hearts.

Finals Week & A Newly Discovered Love of Math

I spent the morning studying and trying to catch up on administrative details that would not wait for finals to be over. I have twenty minutes before I need to leave to pick the boys up and I am trying to scarf down some potatoes and shift my mind to the next five hours of needing to entertain children. I spend a good portion of my life doing this. In terms of ratios this is what my day looks like:

25% sleep – on a good night
21% school, literally, like at school
21% children
12% preparing food for myself or little mouths
8% driving

That’s right, that leaves 3 waking hours (or 12% of my day) left to study or do something else, like say shower, exercise, reply to email, check messages etc. Needless to say these things don’t happen often. Generally sleeping and eating are the first things sacrificed as the others are less negotiable. Though on days like today I want to give up. I am still really tired from yesterdays final, and it’s rainy and cold. And I think I could sleep for a year and still be tired at this point. This is what every finals week I have ever lived through felt like. Why?

I got a 91 on my Algebra final. If you remember I got a 94 on last semester’s final, so this was a digression, but I consider this work much more difficult, so I am fine with the grade and I keep a high A in the class so I am fine with it. Also, as I started studying for marketing and management this morning I realized I like math better than any other subject. I know. I know. You think someone stole my computer and is typing this for me. Nope. It’s me. This is what is great about math. It’s a sure thing. Nothing in life is a sure thing, but Math is. Seriously. you know it or you don’t. There’s no cramming, there is no studying, you do the work, you get it and then you build on it. You don’t forget it, once you learn it, you learn it and you can do all sorts of things with it. I cannot say the same thing about the communication process. Or the product life cycle. I have studied this crap multiple times this semester and though I clearly remember it (encode, transmit, receive, decode, filter, feedback) (introduction, growth, maturity, decline) it is not the same. There are so many variables. I have a teacher that says he knows that his students understand the information but for some reason it’s not translating on his tests and he seems to be a real depressor on his student’s GPAs. Ummm. Maybe change your test. There is no such variable in math. Problem, show work, correct or incorrect (well, in my current class if the professor doesn’t like ANY part of your process he’ll take points off. Jerk.) What you see is what you get, steady eddy, a sure thing. It’s official. I love Math. I need a bumper sticker. I think it would be good for Arkansas for my car to have both and Arkansas license and an I love Math bumper sticker, perhaps the visitors bureau would pay me for it.

I also want to say that I am married to the most incredible man in the world. I have thought so many times this week that I could not and would not do this without him. He keeps me going, he holds me up, he endures my stress, he feeds me and hugs me and sends me on my way. He makes me smile and laugh at myself and he has been keeping our house clean for the last two weeks. Such a gem. It makes me cry. Honestly.

I may be a shell of the woman that I was when this semester started… I am in desperate need of a healthy diet, some consistent exercise, alone time, and time for reflection and meditation… Also, some sun. But I am still better, stronger, braver, more sure. All of this because of the incredible support of my husband and family, the providential goodness bestowed on my life and a lot of redbull and 5 hour energy.

The Last Two Days of the Semester

Two more classes before finals week. I am sleep deprived, cranky and sick of studying. Which is obviously why I am blogging instead of studying the four chapters of Marketing next to me.

This has been the most challenging six months of my life. Not difficult, not depressing, challenging. I am not sure if I am just getting older and handling stress better in that sense, but I don’t equate life stress with emotional/spiritual stress anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I cry easily, I feel overwhelmed, I am tyrannical at home, but I also realize that I did this to myself by over-committing and not using healthy boundaries. Also by procrastinating right now instead of using my time well.

There is so much to say and no energy to say it, but I promise that when I get on the other side of this semester I will be more active. Also. I wanted to announce that I will spend 5 weeks blogging from Vassar this summer. That’s right. I got into a program there that I am thrilled to be a part of. It will however lead nowhere in my life if I don’t hit the books now.

Grace and peace to all of us. We all need it.

Motherhood Post

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebool, Tumblr or Twitter. I guest posted today. Read and laugh.

http://www.larkandbloom.blogspot.com/

So When You Have Surgery on Your Nose You Need Soft Food…

Who knew?

So Boo had surgery on his nose. We’re not totally sure what they did, but he no longer breathes like Darth Vader and we have slept in the same bed every night for a week. SUCCESS! However, it never occurred to me that he would need some special food. I found myself cooking gravy, breads and serving up milk shakes. I am pretty sure that Justin thought he had entered food heaven.

I feel bad for him. He was in a lot of pain. He bled a lot and we woke up every few hours for a few days to take pain medications. Let me just say this, that walking back into the recovery room after his surgery the sight of him post surgery brought tears to my eyes. I knew he couldn’t FEEL the pain that he was in, but I could see it. Forgive me. We’ve been married for just less than a year, and this is the first time I have ever felt love like that for someone who I haven’t been related to for egads. Suddenly I recognized what love really means. I can’t even offer words other than to say that I know that you know what I mean. The care you feel for someone you’ve chosen, or who has chosen you. It was my honor to care for him as he recovered. I worried and fussed and got mad when he overexerted. Well, I was like that for two days, by the third day I was really over being a nurse. Ugh. But that didn’t minimize the unconditional love that I felt or the ability to do things that would otherwise be beyond me, it just meant I wasn’t really doing it with the same enthusiasm, I was doing them more like myself. Hahahaha.

I have to say that in the exact same time, another person that I love was experiencing their own loss. I felt far away and helpless, and was once again reminded of what love does. It immediately empathizes from the deepest place. This person was tended to and cared for in a far better manner than I could have, but I wanted to be there cracking jokes, holding hands and offering perspective.

We went to be early on Sunday night. To be honest I go to bed early most nights now. But I have been unusually tired the farther along we get into this semester. Today I took two naps. I am so tired. I slept through the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death. As a news junkie this was a big deal to wake up to and I have been glued to the news since. I have such a strange sense of nervousness about this. I have no strong opinion about OBL’s death other than I think that we are probably safer, in the context of there is no longer a person who has both the dreams, the means and the experience to execute terrorism on a large scale. The death of one man has never been able to accomplish the world’s peace. Naturally Christians believe that the death of Jesus accomplished eternal peace for his followers, but it is arguable that much violence resulted from the cross. Cell based jihadist will not lay quiescent. Make no mistake that there will be retribution for this, and there is no possible way to know where or how it will come. I do not feel safer, I feel a little more nervous. Like we just poked a big ant pile and have turned our backs laughing. I will refrain from commenting on the vitriol that has broken out, but I don’t want to. I want to scream.

I will say this. It is easy to love the people that you like, that are like you, that sing your accolades. It is difficult to love when it requires something of you, when it comes at a cost. It is even more difficult to love your enemies. I am not saying anyone needs to weep for the man who is now dead but chanting about him burning in hell and giving God the Glory is not really the message I think you are meaning to send. I also want to say that Bill Clinton gave an incredible amount of energy to hunting down OBL, Bush made it his goal and Obama finished the job. He is not taking full credit for it, he is just the man in office that made some really tough calls and put his life on the line to do it. Bush was resting peacefully in Crawford when Obama was making these calls, and you know what, Bush was glad it was not him making the decisions. Promise. So stop bitching that Obama is getting all the credit. He is just doing what a president does, taking over where the last guy left. With Osama, as well as with the economy. You can’t pick and choose what you want to blame on the man and then keep him from getting credit for. Freely criticize, but do it intelligently and consistently.

All that being said. Just love. In this sick, hurting and broken world try a little tenderness. John Hiatt’s Have a Little Faith in Me has been playing in my head a lot today. Hang in there friends, if we all tow our load, we really can make this world a little better place than we found it.

I will be linking up this week, probably with this post. I will also be guest posting here at my dear friend Liz’s request on a VERY unexpected topic, as well Cankle has nominated me in this post for some sort of award where I need to do some posting. I am doing it because I love her and she’s leaving Texas this week for the Northeast, and as a transplant, I know that any time you are leaving Texas you deserve to get anything you want. So stay tuned. I’ll be a little more chatty than normal this week.

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