My Simply Complicated Life

Welcome to the blog of an ordinary mother who sometimes just might have something extraordinary to say

Monday, February 28, 2011

Like Sands Thru the Hourglass...

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.  The ticking of my life's clock is exceptionally loud today.  Not for any particular reason (don't worry, I'm not on my death bed or anything); simply because I am dwelling on it.  I may not remember much about my early youth but I do recall the rush to grow up.  Becoming an adult had such a sense of urgency when I was an adolescent.  For me, it meant freedom and everything I wished for in life becoming a reality.  Little did I know that you're never really free nor do you get everything you dream of. 

Ultimately, we have freedom in several aspects such as "freedom of speech" or "freedom of religion" (thankfully) as well as other choices we are each entitled to.  Sure, we have the choice as to whether to work (unlike school, where it is a requirement to attend either public, private or home school); however, as adults, if we were to choose not to work, we would subsequently be destitute (unless we had gullible parents who allowed us to mooch on them forever).  For most of us, we cannot afford the luxury of being unemployed (and if you're married, I am referring to both parties being unemployed as I know many families who are able to live comfortably  or at least survive off of one income).  Therefore, we technically do not have freedom to come and go as we please unless of course we sacrifice a stable home and many of our daily staple of necessities.  As a student, I felt trapped but in reality, your education at least culminates with graduation after 13 or so years; whereas, employment only ends with retirement which sadly can take 50 years to achieve. 

As for reaching all of your dreams, that too is something that can be accomplished either by setting realistic expectations or working so hard that once again you are making sacrifices.  I had two dreams that I was extremely passionate about: 1) becoming a mother and 2) living in Manhattan as a magazine editor.  Although there are likely many magazine editors that juggle their career with a family of their own, it was not ideal for me to mesh my two dreams together.  I sacrificed my dream job for the dream that held much higher value and weight which was to start a family.  I have absolutely NO regrets!  However, I am guilty of skimming through the pages of Cosmo and daydreaming about what my life could have been like had I pursued that pathway but then I look at two of the most beautiful faces I've ever seen (R and P) and in an instant, I know I am right where I should be! 

As I watch time slip through my fingers with my oldest daughter approaching four and my youngest on the verge of one, I cannot help but fall into a fog.  Where has the time gone?  I feel like I literally laid down for a nap after school one day, only to wake up as a wife and mother of two creeping towards thirty.  My friend Tanya telling me "you're only 12" when I desperately wished to be 18 still rings in my ears as if I'm a pre-teen with a push-up bra all over again.  I guess I got what I wanted - I blinked my way into adulthood.  Yay for me! 

Now, I can only hope and pray that my girls relish in the days of their youth.  They will never have that innocence or carefree spirit again.  In a few short years, they will be crying on my shoulder about feeling so limited or sheltered and wanting to explore the world.  If only my words and experience were enough to assure them that they will have plenty of time to be all grown up and instead to enjoy every passing moment of their precious younger years.  Before they know it, they too will be mommies cringing at the thought of how time flies.  I wish there were a bottle that could contain my favorite things about each of them.  I wish R would say "tookies" instead of "cookies" forever and make up her own words to all of her favorite songs instead of singing the actual lyrics.  I want P to always laugh like Beavis (or Butthead - I'm not quite sure which one it is) and to put the dishrag over her face for an impromptu game of "Where's the baby?" until she's 85.  Sadly, there is no way to hold onto those amazing quirks that I cherish so deeply.  In fact, in a few years, I may have to look back at this blog to be reminded of them.

Thankfully, barring any unforeseen occurence, my lifespan currently consists of more time.  Time I plan to use towards soaking up my beautiful family, as they are, each second of the day.  If my daughter wants me to carry her in my arms even though she is a bonafide "big girl," I will do so because before I know it - she will be a teenager pushing me away or locking me out of her room.  And if my 11 month old refuses to show interest in walking, I am not going to rush her because in the snap of a finger - she will be a blushing bride walking down the aisle. 

I am hanging on to one more dream - that my babies never take their childhood for granted.  There is no counter-clockwise in life...

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Glass is 3/8 Full...

As obvious as it is for us to realize that we have so much to be thankful for and optimistic about, it is also just as easy (if not easier) for us to focus on what we don’t have, what we don’t like and what could go wrong.   I, for one, have the philosophy that if you expect the worst, you can only be pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than anticipated. 
For example, many moons ago, my now husband and I were dating long-distance for a year.  One winter Friday evening, he called to say he was leaving work to head home.  His commute was approximately an hour so when a few hours went by without hearing from him, I naturally panicked.  I called him back to back for at least an hour or two until he finally called me to explain that he had gotten a flat and had been out in the snow trying to change the tire.  Being the Girlfriend of Gloom (and now Wife of Worry) that I am, I assumed he was dead in a ditch (or perhaps cheating on me which would have ultimately led to him being dead in a ditch anyways).   Hearing his voice after what seemed like an eternity was so reassuring.  Even more traumatic was the night of my husband’s heart attack three and a half years ago.  Long story short, after a botched catheterization, he was rushed into open heart surgery for fear of an aortic rupture.  As you can imagine, that was the longest four or five hours of my life.  Time felt literally frozen.  It was the middle of the night and I was exhausted but it was no time to sleep.  Those doctors had my husband’s life in their hands.  Being a “Negative Nelly,” each time a doctor walked past the waiting room, I expected them to slowly come in (like you see in the movies) with their head hanging low as they pull off their surgical mask or cap to deliver the bad news.  “There was nothing we could do” or “it was too late – we tried everything we could.”  Thankfully, the doctor entered the room to tell me how the surgery went (successfully, if you didn’t already know) and to let me know when I could go see my husband in the cardiac ICU.  I could have kissed the surgeon for washing away my worst fears in that instant.  In both cases, knowing my hubby was safe, in one piece, ALIVE was like being zapped with a defibrillator myself – my lifeless heart was beating once again!
 It’s not healthy to live that way – always presuming anything out of the ordinary is the result of something horrible or tragic happening.  I am guilty of this to the hundredth degree.  In fact, I might be somewhat of a hypochondriac.  The second I experience a weird cramp in my leg or a headache with a side of dizziness, I am on my phone’s “WebMD” app to run a symptom checker to see whether I have a migraine or an aneurysm.  This is an especially fun game I play with myself right before bed.  As you can imagine, I sleep real well after discovering that I potentially have a life-threatening illness (or the common cold – it’s a tossup really).  My twisted mind runs all night, partly because I am making a list of things I need to do before I croak and also so that I can cheat the system and avoid passing away in my sleep.  You can’t die in your sleep if you don’t sleep, right!?  Demented, I KNOW!   Yet, here I am, awake, alive and kickin’ which leads me to an article I recently read.
The piece was on changing our perspective from negative to positive.  Instead of moaning and groaning about the lousy night’s sleep we got, why not raise and praise that we are living to see another day!  There are books about the power of positive thinking and the more I think about it, the more positive I am that this is effective.  It feels so good to see things through eyes of graciousness and calmness versus the high blood pressure inducing approach of angst and anger. 
Yes, it is easy to be overcome with road rage when you are stuck driving behind the world’s slowest driver -who apparently has no where important to be and is out for a rush-hour cruise – however, it is just as easy to crank up the radio, sing like no one is watching and enjoy the extra few minutes you get to jam to your favorite song!  Besides, if you’re in that much of a hurry to get to where you are going, perhaps you should’ve left earlier.  (Note to self: practice what you preach, Jessica!)  There is no sense in getting worked up about things we have no control over.  I am learning this lesson more and more.
This is not to say that if one of my daughter’s were ailing that I would brush it off because of my newfound optimism.  I will continue to use any “mother’s intuition” I might have as needed; however, I will do my utmost to abandon my first instinct which is to fear or dread (until I have to).
I saw a movie last night where the husband and wife made it a habit of telling each other the things they loved most about their partner whenever they departed from one another.  I thought this was a quite beautiful thing.  I have always felt it was important to tell the ones you love how you feel about them because time and unforeseen occurrences can befall us all and it may have been the last thing we said to that person.  Now I see that I can take it to the next level – if I follow the idea from the movie – I can tell the person not only how I feel but why I feel that way!  I may be overly optimistic but I’d like to think that could really make someone’s day including your own.  Does it not feel just as good to give a compliment as it does to receive one?!   I try to make it a point to “show and tell” my love to my family and friends every day.  I love them and will tell them so all 365 days (or 366 on leap years) of the year without rhyme or reason.
Looking at everything from a more affirmative light is still a work in progress.  My hypothetical glass may not be quite half full just yet but it’s certainly not half empty...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer

If you know me, you know how much I love photos.  Actually, love is probably an understatement.  I am borderline fanatical (bah, borderline - good one, Jessica).  This obsession really spun out of control after my girls were born especially since the birth of my youngest, likely because she is the baby (the last and final creature to inhabit my uterus) and the full-circle completion of our family.  Capturing each stage and step on film (or memory card these days) means that I’ll forever hold onto those moments that otherwise slip through my fingers.  Call me crazy but if I could, I would cover every blank space of wall in my home with pictures of the ones I love.

Before discovering my dear photographer friend Jessica and prior to another great friend, Kristin, starting her own business, I spent close to a mortgage payment on packages and frames from Picture People.  You would have thought I was a company shareholder!  But no more!  Now I am heavily invested in the unbelievably ridiculous (ridiculous in a good way) talent of these ladies as well as another amazing superstar (Lori) who is unfortunately not local to Orlando.  I can’t leave out Ashley, Brie or Henna, other good friends who also take incredible pictures.  All of these women exude talent – it radiates through them.  Their natural creativity is inspiring!  It’s also a little dangerous for someone with an indulgence like mine (wink).  I am very proud of them and wish everyone could see how special they are and what they are capable of!

Why so “interested” (to put it lightly) in photography, you may ask? 

Pictures tell a story.  To the people that are in the photo or who were there when it was taken, they recreate the emotions and the situation that was taking place when the flash went off.  To someone viewing the picture in a frame on your wall or in an album, it puts their imagination to work trying to figure out what someone said to make you laugh or what the weather was like at the beach that day.  This tale-telling aspect of photography makes any expense involved priceless.  And it is an expense but one that I’ve created a “fund” for because it’s so important to me.

It deserves a spot in my budget because I will never have those moments back.  My girls will never be as young and innocent again nor will I remember them so small and pure.  As hard as I try to hold on to those memories, my imperfect brain will fail me.  A picture, as they say, will certainly outlast my fading recollection.  Some people are blessed with a photographic memory but sadly I can barely recall the day of the week majority of the time.  For those of you like me, a photo whether printed or stored on your hard drive, is a memory incarnate – a tangible instant. 

Often someone will reminisce of a time from our past.  They will narrate the story down to the song that was playing in the background yet I am completely at a loss because of my dulled memory bank.  It’s like hearing the account for the first time which is bizarre when I am an actual “character” in the story!  It’s those situations that really put into perspective the value of pictures, as they truly help me to jump back in and live the moment in a way that hearing the words cannot.

What is funny about pictures, especially ones of me, is that as unhappy as I may be at first with how I look (whether it's the dissatisfaction of my weight or a funny face I might have made) - I am eventually grateful for that photograph.  I am able to recognize the beauty of having been caught "as is" at that point of my life.

There you have it – a snapshot of one of my passions.  And if you’re wondering, I don’t always have photos taken professionally.  I do take some myself but of course, the caliber is incomparable to that of the ladies mentioned above.  It’s similar to the old saying “those who can’t, teach” - except for me it would be “those who can’t, pay others to!” 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If It Ain’t Broke...

Change – it can be exciting…or scary.  For me, in most cases, it’s frightening.  I am a creature of comfort.  I like knowing what comes next, what to expect.  I am the girl who wants to know what happens at the end of a movie or what I’m getting for an anniversary gift. 
This blog is about a side of me I have not yet spoken to – my career.  My employer recently merged with another organization.  So far, the pros are outweighing the cons which has made for a very smooth transition.  There have not really been any noticeable changes so it’s been business as usual.  The tides seem to be turning however and changes are rolling in.  As someone who loves my job, my role and my manager, I cannot help but feel a little uneasy.  The impending changes may be as discreet as a new person signing the checks (so to speak) or they could mean restructuring or department shifts.  I really have no certainty as to what is in store but can only hope that the waves of change feel more like a splash than a tsunami.  I know how to swim so I am confident I can weather through whatever may come but I am quite anxious to see which “shore” I wash upon!  Hoping I don’t end up as a castaway…
Being a fan of routine and habit, I have a hard time jumping on board with the vision that our new leadership team has in the works.  I like to think that they have everyone’s best interest at heart but being the worry wart that I am, I naturally fear the worst.  It almost feels like what military “brats” might experience when they are suddenly uprooted from their home and friends.  Thankfully, they usually bounce back by making new friends and discovering new cultures.  The change brings a newfound appreciation for diversity as well as adaptability, well-roundedness and worldliness.  Similarly, I may not understand or even like the looming changes but who’s to say I may not come out on the other side with stronger skills, more business savvy and experience that I might not have otherwise encountered.  As intimidating as change might be, I choose to embrace it.
A friend of mine shared a quote that I thought was quite insightful (mind you, it’s from a rap song which makes the line both amazing and puzzling):  “A chance is like a picture – it would be nice if you just take it!”  Isn’t that true?  You’ll never know unless you go for it.  You may look back and hate the outcome, wishing you had never done it…or you might not.  You might look back and wonder what took you so long to take the leap!  I am really in no rush to make any sudden movements anywhere, as I am truly content where I am especially with the amazing manager and coworkers I have.   Yet if everyone else is moving forward and the train is leaving the station, I do not want to be left alone on the platform waving goodbye.  I certainly have no desire to be stagnant, so instead I will be eager and enthusiastic!
On an intertwined side note, I want to take a few brief moments to sing my manager’s praises.  She is a leader but to me, she is much more.  She is a mentor, an inspiration, a sounding board, a dose of reality when my head is in the clouds, a great judge of character and a sympathetic (or empathetic) nurturer.  She is wise but humble, determined but diplomatic, kind but defensive (especially for those she cares about).  She is strong in her convictions and gratefully, she believes in me so I can always count on her relentless support.  I am blessed to have worked with her for the last (almost) four years and hope we’ll continue to work together for many years to come.  However, if things are to change, I am at least comforted knowing that I will have a friend for a lifetime!
Finally, change can often be an amazingly wonderful thing.  For example, changing from a family of three to a family of four was perfect for us.  It makes our family whole.  Baby P completes our lives and fills any empty space in our hearts that may have existed.  Her sister R, too, created a new and invigorating dynamic for us.  Those two small individuals have forever changed me and in this case, I can honestly say, change is good!