Grateful for the Book Tour

I knew I’d be writing a post like this.  I knew I’d feel changed and ever-grateful for my time with Lissa last week.  But to tell you the truth I thought it would be for totally different reasons than it is.

You see, Lissa is a Goddess.  She is a Rockstar.  She is a Rockstar Goddess!  She is grace under pressure with enough energy to light up a big city.  I was in awe of the way she moved through each day, accomplishing everything on the agenda, answering her hundreds of emails, and being loving and open enough to sit and talk with individuals after events about their very personal female problems.  She has made her way to the stage and it’s going to be so much fun to watch it all unfold and know I had a small part in it.

When the opportunity to serve as “roadie” was first brought to me I told Mark I needed to do it so I’d know if my career goals were right for me.  Since I started writing again in 2007, I have dreamed of a career like Lissa’s.  I wanted to write books and travel, speaking to crowds and doing book signings.  I’ve thought so much about this dream that in ways it has disrupted my creative writing.  As time passes and I see myself no closer to “the goal” it has really brought me down.  So getting to experience the “Rockstar Author” life vicariously through Lissa was just what I needed.

I assumed that I’d get there and think “YES!! THIS IS THE LIFE FOR ME!”  Instead, it didn’t take long for me to realize I thrive on the simple, quiet life I have.  I reserve the right to change my mind (which is something I am told Charles Fillmore, founder of Unity, used to say), but that high-demand-everybody-wants-a-piece-of-you  life is not for me.  I love that I can sit on the couch and read a book for an hour without feeling like there is something else I need to be doing.  It’s nice knowing I get to pick the girls up from school everyday and schedule playdates for them.  I don’t need to be anyone else’s Rockstar because I am one to the people it matters to the most.

During her presentations, Lissa often mentioned how you can leave your job but you can’t leave your calling.  Her calling as an OBGYN was to take care of women.  As the author of What’s Up Down There? and creator of Owning Pink, she is still answering that call.  This was something that flashed like a red light across my imagination every time she said it.   THE CALLING!  I’m not 100% sure of my calling but the trip definitely gave me some ideas.  Although I’m resisting it like you wouldn’t believe, I think it has something to do with teaching!  Just like Lissa, I left that traditional job yet I still feel called to help educate people (though I’m not exactly sure on the subject).

This Thanksgiving week, I am so grateful for the chance I had to test-drive the car before I plunked down the money to buy it.  Now I’m one step closer to the me I’m meant to be!

In honor of the holiday week the next 4 days on the blog will be low-key!  I am still in need of “click stories” if you have an “aha” moment you’d like to write about!

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Ask Yourself This (3)

Last week in my book group, we discussed chapter three in this book.  It was the “Ask yourself this to grow personally” chapter.  The last question in that chapter was:

Am I willing to let go of the size of the life I’ve known to have a bigger life?

I grew up in a very average middle class family.  My father was a mail carrier and my mom worked for years at a place that prepared movie reels to be shown in the theatres.  We lived in a 3-bedroom house with 3 kids.  I shared a room with my sister up until I was 10, when my oldest sister got married and moved out of our house.  When I was little we went on one vacation a year, almost always to Myrtle Beach.  By the time I was a teen, we had a little trailer in Garden City (outside of Myrtle Beach) and were able to go for weekend get-a-ways more often.  I had everything I needed and wanted.  The size of my life was perfect.

So when I went to college, I imagined my life just as I’d always known it.  I got a degree in Elementary Education because teaching children was something I knew I would be able to do quite easily.  I didn’t care about the money, I liked the idea of the schedule and busyness involved in that career.  I also went in with the mindset that I would get married and my teacher’s salary would ultimately be the supplementary salary in my family.

Mark and I have been married now for 11 years.  Despite how much has changed over the years, I still live a life that is the same size as I’ve always known.  In a lot of areas, this is good.  We live very simply and I appreciate that.  What I don’t appreciate is that for too long I have categorized myself as “average.”  I put myself into a mold that doesn’t exactly match with my progressive mind set.  In a lot of ways you could call me a feminist, yet all my life I only ever imagined myself in stereotypical roles that women are famous for.  Wife, teacher, mother.  Of service to my students and my family, but unable to make a difference beyond that small world.

Over the past few years I have learned so much about what we humans are capable of.  I’ve learned a lot about what I am capable of.  I’ve expanded from a college student to an unemployed wife, from a wife to a daycare employee, from a daycare employee to an elementary school teacher, from a teacher to a stay-at-home-mother, from a mother to a writer, from a writer to a novelist, from a novelist to a blogger.  I am still expanding and as I grow, all those roles remain within me and in some cases are a huge part of my daily routine.  My life is getting bigger and I am willing to let it.  I am willing to go with the flow and see where inspiration leads me.  I am willing to scale the walls, face the dragons, and overcome the challenges.  Believing is seeing and I can do anything I set my mind to.  So YES God, Universe, Spirit, and friends, I AM WILLING to let go of the size of the life I have always known to have a bigger life!!!

What about you??

Dear Amy (funeral)

Where to start, where to start…  Well, your funeral was last Wednesday and I must say it was beautiful.  I didn’t count them, but I’d guess there was about 20 police cars leading the funeral procession from the funeral home to the church.  They had every intersection between Raymer’s and Hopewell blocked and one whole side of the church was filled with men and women in blue.  You loved the attention you got from being married to law enforcement and, boy, they made sure you got it in the end.

I walked into the church with Chris and Jen.  Heather had gone to look for the minister about the eulogy.  I sat down and looked at the rows marked for family and I knew I was supposed to be there.  I wasn’t sure whether or not to get up but finally after they brought the coffin in, I knew I was in the wrong place.  I walked out and found my rightful place, with your family.  I sat beside Kristin and your little grandma.  She (grandma) was so cute, singing along to the songs and saying “yes, yes” to everything the ministers said.  When the vocalists sang “In The Garden,” inside my head I replaced He with She.

And She walks with me,
and She talks with me,
and She tells me I am her own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.

My guess is some might call that blasphemy, but you are a daughter of God and I know that you are now watching over me just like Jesus.  And speaking of Jesus, everything Jervis said at the service was PERFECT.  (Ok, not everything, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)  You and I had talked about Jesus on the 13th.  I had told you my thoughts and that most of all for me Jesus is a teacher.  In my life I am trying to learn from him and follow what he taught…two of those huge lessons being forgiveness and everlasting life.  The one thing Jervis said (and used scripture to back it up) was “she will live again.”  The other thing he said is that God does not punish us and God does not cause tragedies like this to happen.  You leaving us just is…  There is no one to blame and all we can do now is go to God for comfort.  He didn’t make this happen, but he can get us through it.

Now the one thing that made me cringe a bit, OK A LOT, was when Jervis talked about Puni.  In my mind I was screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and tackling him before he could say it.  But I really didn’t think you’d want me actually doing that at your funeral, so I let him speak.  For those of us closest to you, Puni (along with your other little quirks) were such big pieces of you.  And those of us who knew felt so special to be in the midst of that circle.  You only told the people you loved the most and Tim loved you so much that he had to tell Jervis the story of Puni.  I had no idea it would end up being said aloud to the hundreds of people that were there.  Kristin and I expressed to one another that we could feel your embarrassment, but it also just occurred to me now that we were probably both a little jealous.  I mean that was a part of you that belonged to a select few and we were among that few.  Maybe we wanted to keep Puni all to ourselves, so that we would know something and have something so many others didn’t.

You keep sending all these signs, it’s crazy how many we are getting.  I know you always hated country music and nearly everyone else in your life liked it.  This past week everyone has been passing along songs to each other and they are all COUNTRY songs.  We keep apologizing to you for using country songs (which you hated) to remember you by.  But I think you are sending us these songs on purpose because you knew that WE would like them and hear them and think of you.  So in honor of that I just found a version of “In The Garden” by Brad Paisley that I wanted to share.

The Journey Begins

As I am writing this it is Sunday evening, August 23, 2009.  I just began packing my first school lunch as a mom.  Sure, on occasion the girls stayed for “lunch bunch” at their preschools but this is the real deal.  Bella starts kindergarten tomorrow.  The journey begins.  As we were sitting in the cafeteria during the pizza lunch at orientation Friday afternoon, Mark brought it to my attention that now we are starting school all over again.  I didn’t much care for school as a student (or a teacher for that matter).  The first day of school always terrified me.  I was a quiet, day-dreamer, which added pressure for me.  There was always the fear that I wouldn’t be outgoing enough to make friends or that I’d get called on in class in one of those  moments when I was off in another world.  I was the happiest in school when I was given an assignment I could get lost in.  I recall that happening in Geometry, Art, Yearbook, and English.  So now I start the whole process over again, standing on a side I’ve never stood before.  I’ve been the student and the teacher, now I’m the mom.  I’m not sure at this moment what my wishes are for Bella.  I’m hoping that at least kindergarten will be blissful for her.

Bella, on the other hand, is relaxed right now.  She is easy-going in these type situations, so we haven’t done a lot of talking and preparing.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but right now the only person feeling any anxiety is me.  I was the one disappointed to find that none of her friends from preschool were in her class.  She didn’t even ask or seem to notice.  She’s open to and up for this new adventure.  And I am hanging in here, doing my best not to project my fears on to her.

So tomorrow (or today as you read this) on August 24, 2009, I embark on another journey through school that will last for at least the next 15 years.  Can you say YIKES?!?!?!

Responsible

I was at the gym recently and a woman walked in to the restroom/locker room with her personal trainer.  She looked around and commented that all the stalls were taken.  The trainer who is a gym employee said “Sometimes people close the doors and you can’t tell if anyone is really in them or not.”  So the lady proceeded to open one of the stall doors and walked in on someone.  Immediately following the embarassing moment the trainer said “I meant for you to knock.”  The woman’s reply to this was “Well, she should have locked the door.”  The whole situation reminded me about the topic of taking responsibility.

I used to blame other people and circumstances for almost everything that happened to me.  When I was in college I wanted to be an English major, with the idea that I would teach and also write.  I took the first class required for that major and I started out shakily.  The professor set up a meeting with me and suggested I drop the class.  I took her advice, no questions asked and eventually chose a different major.  I always blamed her for my failure.  If it wasn’t for that professor I would have gotten an English degree.  In reality, I was the only one responsible.  That moment was a test and I could have reacted a lot of other ways.  I could have worked harder and proved myself to her, but instead I let her be the one to squash my dreams.

In my last teaching job, I taught in an open classroom setting (which means 4 teachers shared one huge classroom with shelves dividing our spaces) with veteran teachers.  I didn’t exactly mesh with the other ladies.  I wasn’t as strict or organized as they were and it made things very difficult.  I’d go home crying that if only they liked me more or didn’t expect me to be just like them I would enjoy my job.  By the end I had even decided they were plotting against me.  I never took responsibility for any of it.  I never made real changes or tried to improve.  I never even stopped to ask the real question of why teaching was such a struggle for me.  I just decided that the next job would be better because I’d be at a different school with different co-workers. It was all their fault.  (Of course, now I don’t really plan to go back to teaching.)

These days I take responsibility for everything.  When I am happy it’s because I choose to be happy and not because someone or something has made me that way.  If I am anxious or fearful I know it is because I am creating that by not being present and having faith.  When I am faced with a challenge, I have choices to make and it is my decision that creates my future, not what happens outside of me.  If I walk in on someone sitting on the toilet, it’s because I forgot to knock…not because they forgot to lock the door.  There is power in responsibility!

Lady in Wait

As I write this I am a lady in wait and I am imagining what my life will look like if what I am waiting for does not arrive.  I know you are curious, so go ahead and ask.  What will my life look like?  It will look like the life of a mother of 3.  I have always wanted children-as many of them as my life would allow.  When I was 21-years-old I told my best friend that I would have 2 kids if I was poor, 4 if I was rich, and 1 if I was single.

When Callee (my 2nd) was born I started calculating when we could start trying for number 3 (since we fall somewhere in between rich and poor).  I had decided it would be as soon as she was potty-trained.  What I did not take into consideration was what kind of baby, toddler, and child Callee would be.  Callee is beautiful, loving, and funny…but she is also a handful.  Mark’s nickname for her is “demando box” if that tells you anything.  I thought she was just this way around me, but apparently while we were in NC and my mom and sister were watching her, she threw a Titanic of a fit, eventually crying herself to sleep, because they did not watch the movie she picked out.  I know these traits (knowing what you want and making damn sure you get it) will work in her favor when she is an adult, but the battles and struggles Mark and I have had with her have been enough to make me change my mind about growing our family.

I also realized since my second daughter was born that there were other reasons I wanted a 3rd child and they weren’t necessarily good ones.  For starters, I wanted to extend my stay-at-home-mom status.  I always said that I’d go back to work when the girls were in school, one more baby would buy me a few more years.  I also desperately wanted another chance at the natural birth I tried so hard for with Callee, but ended up with a second c-section instead.  I also know that starting at a young age, I put myself into a stereotypical box that defined what I thought I was capable of successfully doing.  One of those roles was teaching little children and the other one was raising them.  After failing at the teacher role, I was banking on the mom role.  I should also add that the excitement, joy, and aliveness that comes with being pregnant and nursing your baby is enough to make you want more.

These days I am content with our family of four.  I love that the girls are at ages where we can really communicate and learn together.  I’m grateful to be done with diapers, high chairs, and pacifiers.  After nursing for 3.5 years consecutively, I’m pleased to be reacquainted with the other use for my breasts.  But all of that being said, I know that my life is being directed by something greater than myself.  I believe that everything happens for a reason.  If my “friend” doesn’t show up in the next couple of days, then I guess an even better friend will show up 9 months from now.

Organized

So today I had the thought, the one I have often.  It goes something like this “If only I could get organized then…..” and it usually ends with me thinking I need to revisit the flylady website and start” shining my sink” and “dressing to shoes.”  Somehow keeping a clean house (or a clean workplace) becomes the answer for everything.

When I used to be a teacher and was very unhappy in my job, I’d use that “get organized” idea to keep me hanging on and hanging in.  If I could clean off my desk, have beautifully detailed lesson plans, and stick to a schedule than I would be teacher of the year and I’d love every minute in that classroom.  I could never seem to do it though.  Getting organized just remained out there as some ambiguous goal that if I finally reached all would be right with my world.  The only thing that righted that world was leaving it.

These days I am walking this line between stay-at-home-mom and writer.  I feel incredibly inadequate at both of them.  So I spend a lot of time thinking about cleaning out closets and cabinets, calculating the ways I could entertain my daughters, and trying to allow time for inspiration.  I think about what that schedule might look like.  The idea of it excites me, makes me think I’m in control…but I never actually write down the schedule and I certainly don’t follow it.  Instead I drift along, hoping that I am as perfect in my girls’ eyes as my mother was in mine and that eventually I will be overwhelmed by the urge to start writing this awesome book series that is slowly inching it’s way into my brain.  What I really want is a perfect balance of an amazing career and personal life.  What I really want is to move with passion through everything in my life, instead of having the desire to organize it.