Wednesday, October 07, 2009

what's in you wednesday

In my mind, I wake up at dawn and exercise until my body burns. In reality, I wake up at dawn and lay in bed for an hour, watching the ceiling fan, while thinking, "I should get up. I should really get up."

In my mind, once I've worked out, I come home and have a light lunch of grilled chicken and organic arugula, before doing an hour of yoga. In reality, once I've worked out, I come home and eat a plate of chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered peanuts, a handful of inorganic grapes, and participate in a conference call about the fate and transport of petroleum hydrocarbons in fractured bedrock.

In my mind, I have such inner strength and peace, I float down the river of life like a delicate leaf, going where ever the current takes me and possessing absolute confidence in my place in the Universe and in the energy that surrounds and propels me. In reality, I flail down the river of life like a wet mangy dog that fights every bend and current, with it's head barely above water, howling as if it is going to drown.

Yesterday, my company offered me a new job. But unlike previous offers, this is the first time I haven't turned them down. I'm currently mulling it over with Charlie. At this very moment, we're actually considering selling the little house that we've lived in for the past 12 years and moving to some place new, outside of San Diego. And while we do complain about things from time to time and say that we would WELCOME change, suddenly, I love our neighborhood more than I ever have and the thought of moving makes me nauseous.

We are both fearful about what the future holds.

Or rather, I am fearful.

It seems "Jen of little faith" is also "Jen of great fear." Charlie is the beautiful leaf serenely floating down the river of life - ready to welcome anything that comes his way - and open to whatever it is that I want to do. Meanwhile, I am the wet stinky dog that is thrashing against the water and barking at it's own shadow. What I really need is for someone to take me by the hand and confidently say, "THIS WAY."

Because what I want to do is severely offset by what is responsible to do.

What I want to do is stay home with our children, teach them, nurture them as they grow and write about it all. The responsible thing to do is work and provide a steady income, benefits and security for my family.

The drawback of one is that there is no income which is important for such things as ... oh I don't know ... food and shelter. The drawback of the other is that I will miss out on a substantial portion of my children's lives because I'm gone all the bloody time.

Of course there is a third option. I could quit and Charlie could work. But everything is so unstable right now, I don't think I could handle the uncertainty.

Does this blog read like a broken record?

Broken record?

Broken eh, you get the point.

Despite so many things that have been happening in and around my life, I'm happy to report that I managed to work out a few times this week. In addition to going to my own YMCA, I went to the YMCA twice with my mother while I was in South Carolina and on one of those days, I participated in a water aerobics class and was put to shame by a group of seniors.

While water aerobics are difficult, they aren't nearly as difficult as trying to decide what I'll do with the rest of my life. Stay or go. Flourish or flounder. Is it possible to give yourself an aneurysm? Because I've got a head ache that just won't quit.

Life is short. Too short. And I can see - so clearly at the moment - that things can change at any moment. Which is why I want to live my life, as much as possible, with no regrets.

So while I try to grapple with my own future, I'll ask you: If you could do anything with your life, what would you do? Would you keep things status quo because you're happy as a clam in mud? Would you sell everything and travel around the world? Would you become a professional photographer - writer - astronaut - or homemaker?

For instance: This is my sister Janet's life dream. She has wanted this ALL OF HER LIFE and now, she has it. Her own little shop with a wood burning stove where she sells wool from her sheep, apple cider and crafts made by local artisans. If I could, I'd move next door and make soap and candles that I'd sell in her shop. Because it sounds fun. Doesn't it?

Leave your comment anonymously, if need be. But please, spill it.

What is your passion?

And how do you plan to accomplish that in your lifetime?


  1. I am retired so I am mostly happy just need more money. But who doesn't. As far as your job, consider the likely hood of selling the old house. That might be the answer to your problem.

  2. Jen,

    Didn't we already discuss this until 3am in SC?? When you find out the answer.........let me know, will you? Because after what we've all been through this past week, the only words that I have for you right now are what we've already discussed.

    Life. Is. Short.


  3. I think if I was you I'd step out of the river and shake the mud off your fur and get where you need to be. You've been praying for a bigger house haven't you? This might be your opportunity. You might be a little uncomfortable until your fur dries (Your settled into a new place) but the change might just be WONDERFUL! Kids are good at accepting change too once the mud dries on their fur and by the sounds of him Charlie won't even be a bit muddy. You may find new neighbors to love and a new home that will meet the needs of your family. Perhaps there will be new work opportunities for Charlie too. Remember the expression "Nothing ventured - nothing gained" or the one that goes something like this "If your in a rut - the best thing to do is jump out".
    Also I think you are your own worst critic because as I see it you are doing a really really great job. Polish up the lenses of those self appraising glasses you're wearing because they are showing your mind a false picture of perfection and you, like the rest of us are just a human being. (I'd have been carted off by the guys with white coats in a straight jacket by now if I were raising 4 as young as yours are all at once.) Time to pat yourself on the back and say to yourself "I AM STRONG - I CAN DO THIS!" Jackie

  4. I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was about 12. I didn't have the marks to get into the one place in Canada that you want to, to study law... now as an adult, to get admitted into the faculty of law, you need a degree in something and write the LSAT...

    SO.. my goal is that I will have my degree and have written the LSAT by the time I am 50. I am 39, with a 3 year old. So that gives me time to get thru the "need my mom" phase and into puberty, which I should be able to accomplish my goal by 50!

  5. My passion was to live in the mountains in a small cabin surrounded by meadows and trails and about 20+ horses which I would ride every day. When I wasn't riding, I would bake, read, enjoy the kids home from school and build a lot of snowmen with them. Am I even close to my dream? NO. I live in Washington DC (well nearby anyway), I haven't ridden a horse in years, and the kids have never built a snowman because it just really doesn't snow here. But am I worried that I will never have that dream of the horses in the mountain tops? Not really. A dream doesn't mean reality. In my reality, I will probably own a house in the suburbs and ride a borrowed horse at the stables down the road. And I'm okay with that. Because right now I am able to help my children find their own dreams and push them towards it. Until then, my own dream can wait. After all, I'll have to do something once they are out of the house right?! Good luck trying to decide what you're going to do.

  6. I'm pretty happy right now. I suppose we could live somewhere else, and I suppose I have to start thinking about getting a job again, but I'm not going to right now. Right this very second, I'm floating along.

    I think you should do it. Your kids aren't in school yet. You have nothing to lose. GO FOR IT.

    Okay, that was a little hasty. Can you tell us where you are going so we can make an informed decision? If you are moving to Omaha, I'll have to say NO.

  7. I am a stay-at-home expectant mom and I still feel like I'm missing out on my 16-month-old's childhood. Even when you spend all of your time with them, kids still grow up too fast. It's not the full-time job, it's the fleeting nature of childhood that's upsetting.

  8. I am the SAHM right now and most days, can't get enough of it. But sometimes, I really wish I was back in the classroom teaching and worry that we won't be able to support our retirements if I don't go back. But if I go back now, I miss out on the daughter's growing up and she gets 2 parents working all the time. Hmmm...this sounds familiar.

    I think my dream is to simply figure out how to do the "need to" and still manage to do as much of the "want to" as I can.

    Which I think is the whole trouble right there. Finding the balance. Right now, I am learning to be content and find some happiness even on the "off" days.

    I guess there just isn't really an answer to give. But I would suggest this--if moving, stressful as it can be, means the chance for more time at home w/the kids (ie-less work travel), then from what I've read lately on your lovely blog, it might be the answer.

    As anonymous said, step out of the river and shake off the mud. Once your fur dries out, you'll feel better.

  9. All my life people have expected big things from me because I was "smart." School came easy peasy for me. I didn't even have to try for the straight A's and scholarship opportunities... but all my life.. all I wanted to be was a mom.

    I spent 3 years in college trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and then I tried out various full time jobs, and I was perpetually unhappy. All I wanted was to be home with my daughter.

    I've spent the last year home with my daughter and now I have a new little one. I wouldn't trade a minute of the last year for all the money and big houses in the world. I wouldn't even trade it to do the year over with less stress and worry about money. If I had my say, I'd still spend it at home with my kids.

    But that's just me. And I'm lucky enough that the hubs and I are in a situation where it's okay for me to be home. Would be better off if I was working? Sure. But we don't NEED for me to. We are comfortable and taken care of and happy.

    For now.

    I pray I never HAVE to go back.

    In the end, you will make one decision or the other. But as long as you make it with the best intentions for your family: Be it spending more time with them, or making sure they are well provided for... whichever way you go, you are making the RIGHT decision. Because you are making it, either way, out of love.

    Hang in there

    You'll figure it out.

  10. Maybe part of what you're struggling with is that you really don't want to choose between two things you really care about?

    I'm a single, working mom, and yes, it's hard. But it's forced me to choose what I care most about. For me, engaging with ideas and adults at work is important. So is being fully there with my child on evenings and weekends. Other people clean my house and prep my food and educate my child while I work. They don't do everything as well as I would, but it's good enough. So I've made my choices--yours may be different. Whatever you decide, together, it will be OK.

    One more thing: Transitions are hard. You're thinking of changing your work or your home - both big deals. But I've found that transitioning is scarier than being there.

  11. Hi Jenny, I used to live in San Diego and 4 years ago, my husband, daughter (then 6) and I sold everything, and moved to Egypt - we came here for a specific purpose about which I have to be discreet, but the bottom line is although life is incredibly tough at times, I don't regret moving here, due to the flexibility of my schedule, the flexibility of my husband's work and schedule and the opportunity to be home when my daughter's home from school. I have been given opportunities to do stuff I never dreamed of or imagined would happen to me, and again, despite the fact that we sold our beautiful 3000 square foot home, with a pool, jacuzzi and waterfall, and sold our 2 cars, and now we live in an apartment on the 6th floor, no grass in sight, and no car, it was the right thing to do. The main thing I can say is TRUST GOD! He loves you and He will guide you. I will be praying for you and your family. By the way, the reason I started reading your blog was because I also suffered from infertility, and finally, after 7 years, we had a beautiful little girl. We recently celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary and although it hasn't always been bliss, I wouldn't trade my life for anything. God bless you and your family.

    Debbie Nell

  12. I always wanted to be a teacher and I always wanted to be a mommy. I wanted to have 100 children. Seriously!

    Obviously, I didn't go on to have 100 children but I did have three. And before I had those three children, I taught.

    For the past fourteen and a half years, I have been home with them. Have I loved every minute of it. No, absolutely not. Have there been times when the grass would seem greener elsewhere? Yep, and occasionally I've ventured out and tried it. But, I keep coming back to the fact that there is no where else that I would rather be than right here. Sending my kids off to school, being here when they get home to hear about their day (it is surprising me that they need me MORE as they get older. Who knew?) and all the day to day schlepping that is involved with kids. My daughter will be off to college in less than four years now. It will be the blink of an eye. Never will I regret the time that I was here at home with her. Not for one moment. I will probably regret that I didn't enjoy it more and that I didn't just relax and let some things go.

    But, that's ME. I think some people are meant to work. I also believe some people are meant to stay home and nothing in the world, money or a larger house or whatever, will quell that need.

    I don't know who you are but you do. Stop fighting the answer and just answer it-

    Who are you?


  13. I want my family back.

    I live in a country where homeschooling is illegal. I miss my kids (5, 9 & 12--the 3 m.o. is obviously at home!). I crave them. During school holidays life is relaxed and enjoyable. We do our chores, make meals, take walks and play games. No morning rush or evening stress.

    I miss dh and family time. His job requires evening and weekend hours in addition to regular hours.

    Our dream is to homeschool and be relatively self-sufficient. To make more from scratch, more for ourselves. Live simply, live conscientiously and lessen our footprint.

    In essence, I want to live more deliberately rather than allowing work, school and the outside world to dictate how our family lives--when, where and what we do.

    Sounds easy. It's not. It's hard to accept that getting there will take patience and baby steps. But I'm not giving up.

  14. Maybe I've missed want to stay home with the kids and Charlie wouldn't mind working. Now why is he not searching for full time employment with benefits and you look to quit or get something part-time??
    I know he is starting up something now but before he did that you were still having these issues and I didn't understand why he wasn't pursuing full time work so you could back off your hours or not even worry if your job disappeared.
    Maybe there is an issue you haven't spoken about in your blog.
    Just my two cents.

  15. I am living my passion. MOST days it is the most wonderful thing in the world- I get to stay at home with the kids, I teach them and do crafts with them, read to them, go on field trips. Then in my spare time (I just have to make the spare time) I get to paint and create.

    There are some days that I want to pull my hair out and need to be away from the kids. But I always know I am exactly where I need to be. I have no regrets. I have total peace in my life.

    Dave quit his job in January and we have been both working from home this year. We barely pay our bills and we don't have $$ right now to buy extra things and he may have to take on a different job if our music and art do not make it- but we have never been happier.

    I think you would be very happy staying home with your kids. As long as you had something on the side for yourself- and short times each week to get away from the kids and do your own thing. You will never regret it. You have been doing an awesome job at homeschooling them.

    Do you feel like when you plan something fun and educational for them that you are really fulfilled? I know it is like that for me.

    I pray you will find peace in what you decide!!!!

  16. I want to be a family medicine rural physician. To know my patients well, to be a part of their lives, to deliver their babies and be there when the final moments come. To be a part of my community. But my professors tell me "No! There's no money in that." "No! That's not the way medicine is going! You have to be a specialist!" And I'm ashamed to say, sometimes I listen.

  17. when our kids were little we picked up and moved across the country - - it ended up not working out the way we had hoped, and a year later we moved back - but i wouldn't trade that for anything - because i learned some important things in my life - - i can pack up my life and move across the country - and it's ok - and coming back was ok too - i also found out it doesn't really matter where you're at - it's who you're with - you know this - - all the rest is just life - i've worked, not worked, full time, part time, - - my kids are mostly grown up now - and they are great! did i want to stay home and make paper chains? yes, and i did when i could - i think as mothers we have so much guilt - even if we want to say thats not it - we just love our families so much we want everything wonderful for them - - you are a great mother - you have awesome kids! they will do well, if you work, stay home, stay, move, whatever you decide - - it's just the details of life - it's not what's inside - where it really counts -

  18. I think you should make a plan of action on how to stay at home w/ your kids. This seems like what you really want to do. Some things to think about; where would you move if you took the position you were just offered, is it near your family? Also,will Charlie be able to run his business from there? Could he do it from where your family lives? I really think you can do this. Just sit down and try to figure out the best plan and then do it.

    My husband and I worked in a state 12 hours from my family and then I had a baby. I took my 6 months maternity leave and then went back to work. I didn't really want to and just said I was doing it temporarily and would keep saying 2 more months. I finally quit after 10 months and got our house ready to sell. We moved 6 months later to where my family was from and stayed w/ my parents for 7 weeks before going to a month to month apt for 8 weeks and then to our own house. Neither one of us had a job but my husband got one w/in two weeks and I continued to stay home w/ my kids (we added a few more). We've been here 10 years now. It was the best move ever and I will never regret staying home w/ them. I say go for it. It will work out.

  19. I am doing what I always wanted to do... raising a family. Ideally, I'd have a husband who wasn't off playing soldier and maybe a couple more kids, but... overall, this is it. We're alive and healthy and we may be broke, but (generally) we're happy. I wish I could give you some great advice, but I think this is one of those things you have to pray about and decide yourself. (Although, secretly, my vote is for you to move closer to family and stay at home with the kids!) I'm praying for you as you make this tough decision.

  20. my dream is to live on a plot of land large enough to have an acre-large garden and a chicken coop and a couple of dairy cows .. oh yeah, a small farm house too :)

    next spring, my spouse and i are taking a step toward that goal by moving out of the greater city area we currently are in and moving further away. my spouse will quit her job and our son will no longer be in daycare. i will continue to work.

    am i scared? of course. but the fact that my child cannot run out the back door and run and play or have a puppy even hurts my heart. my baby deserves that, even if i cannot be there every day to see it.

    we'll be "trimming the fat" of our expenses and have already begun live more simply. it's nice and refreshing. i like feeling the bond in our family strengthen.

    if you don't go for it, it will never happen. period.

  21. Something I would never trade from my childhood was the time I spent with my mother. I was always greatly appreciative of her support and love, and the moments I got to spend with her. Sure, things were hectic, and I know there were days where she wanted to run screaming and pull her hair out on her way to an asylum, but my two younger sisters and I look back now and are incredibly grateful for the example of motherhood she was in our life. She sacrificed a lot to stay home with us, and my dad picked up extra trips to help pay the bills, and I may not have appreciated it then but I do now. It is because of her example that I choose now to go without (and go without a LOT) to stay home with my son. I realize now what a privilege and awesome responsibility it is to raise children. And to place my son in a place that does not love them like me, that does not have the same hopes and dreams for him as I do, scares me. How can I better show my son love? By getting a job and giving him a bunch of cool stuff, and placing him in a sterile, uncaring institution to do it? Or to give him my time and attention and stay home with him? I choose to stay home. I choose to not miss those little moments. I'm grateful for them, even if it means I'll have to wait another 4 years until my husband is finished with law school to have any of the finer things in life, then I'll give those up so I don't give up my son. :)

  22. I'm admittedly one of those women that doesn't want to stay home with my child (hopefully children). I tried it for 6 months and the two of us were climbing the walls looking for a way out. I "retired" from a high-pressure corporate banking position and am now the Admissions and Marketing director for a small independent elementary school. Truth is, I love kids. Truth is, I love mine the most. Truth is, I don't want to be at home with her during the day.

    I work because I love what I do. I work because I want to. I don't work because I have to. I work because I want to provide financial resources to our family which will allow me to take my children to see far off places of the world. To enjoy long summer vacations where we don't have to eat in. To travel with just my husband to catch a spur of the moment U2 show in a posh European country.

    There is a slightly selfish part of my DNA makeup that tells me that I didn't work so hard in college, both for my BS and MBA, to educate my own child. I worked so hard so that I could have a professional career so that I could provide opportunities for my children that I didn't have.

    The key to me is balance and I can say that after years of searching for it, I have it.

    I adore you and your family, by the way.

  23. It sounds like in the last few months your work life has been out of control busy.
    It also sounds like you would like to spend more time with your kids and from the way it sounds here, a 9-5 job everyday with no travel would give you more time than what you have now, a possibility to move somewhere out of San Diego (where might help some of us with our comments) may answer your issues with space in your current home and having a steady income on your part allows Charlie to get his business up and running.
    You can always change your mind if things don't work out.

    I read through the comments and as much as it is easy to say quit your job, it isn't just that easy when you are the one holding things like healthcare benefits and paying the bills. Maybe moving to a new place and having a new job will be refreshing and if it isn't, you can always try the next thing. That is all life is, experimenting until you find the right situation for you. Maybe that is working, maybe that is being home all day with your kids, maybe it's traveling the country in an's all about what is right for you.

    Sometimes though doing what you want isn't always the same as doing what is best for your family and that is what you need to figure out....and when you do let me know cause I'm not sure what the answer is either.

  24. I live in Alaska. Come on...ALASKA!!! What more could you ask for?

    No Fast food places, NO movie theaters, no crime, no liquor stores (dammit), no specialty stores.

    Just eskimo's living off the land sharing their culture with people.

    I work full time plus more (the other day I was at work until 12:30 am, then back again at 7am) and my husband works part time. Lucky bastard.

    I guess the only thing I would change is the work schedule. If he could find a job that paid as much as mine (because you DO actually have to worry about money here because we heat by stove oil only and it costs about $1300 - $200 a month to heat in the winter) and I could open a coffee shop/bakery, then I'd be set. I love my children going to public school. They both went to private schools and flourished, but I enjoy the adult time at work, and appreciate teachers. (I have a degree in child development)

    I've lived here my entire life, save for college years and the years I was married to a Navy guy (bleck.) living in Orlando. My husband is a pilot, and we get travel benefits at Alaska Airlines.

    But, I would be totally happy at our other house (fish camp) wearing long johns and wool socks to bed, getting up in the morning and starting the fire, chopping wood, emptying the honey bucket, cooking from scratch, reading, sewing, beading, cleaning a tiny tiny house, and just enjoying NO technology. (Except an airplane that is...have to get to work somehow!)

    As for now though, I'm happy. (And we're working on spending our LIFE savings on opening a coffee shop, and the hubby's just had a second interview at another airline. No more AK Air free flights, but he'll be happier and that's all that matters right?!)

  25. I'm reading this book right now -- "Have a Little Faith" by Mitch Albom. You should go get it. Tonight. It's a quick read. The murky water is clearing up as I realize what it is in life that is truly important (a bigger house ain't it, sister).

    I'm climbing onto my soapbox: It seems to me you know EXACTLY what it is you want to do. I know right now, you are the breadwinner. But, when Charlie gets more settled into this business (that was nothing short that a GIFT from God himself) why not believe that your family will be sustained on this income? It may not be to the level you are accustom, but are you willing to adjust?

    I am speaking from experience here. I had a wonderful, bread-winning job in Washington, D.C. & when my son was born, I just couldn't go back. My husband was shocked, as was I, but we agreed my staying at home was the best thing. We gave up two-thirds of our income. We left big, busy city life for suburban Midwest. We downgraded from a four bed, three bath house to a two bedroom one bath house (for the time being). Since all of this happened, we've had another baby & are expecting a third. Yeah, we are packed tight. Yeah, there are days I want to jump right back into a big pool of debt so we can upgrade to a larger house. But we are happy. I get to stay home with my kids. I'm not saying my life is perfect, but it works just fine for us. Sometimes less is more.

    I know that burning desire, that grand plan, deep within your heart would work perfectly for you as well. Not because it's your desire, but because it sounds quite possibly like a seed planted there by someone bigger than you. He has opened doors for your family. So, what's in YOU, Jen? Are you willing to have a little faith?

  26. As a homemaker and full-time mom to my 27 month old twins, I am living my dream. There are days when they drive me absolutely insane (no wait, that is every day), but I wouldn't change a thing. Well, I would like to live closer to our families, so I guess that is one thing I would change but we can't leave this area because of my husband's work. Oh well, nothing is perfect, but I must say I really do have all I need and most of what I want. I am blessed.

  27. I think the stress of this decision must be very hard for you.
    It seems to me that the opportunities are thrown at you and now you have to decide if you will take them, or reject them and go in another path. Meanwhile, are you living in today and enjoying every day? The world is your oyster and you must decide if you are looking for the Pearl or the nectar.
    My only regret of having moved 1000 miles away, is that I do not know my grandchildren---but in the end, I found myself.

  28. Have you read this blog..

  29. I realize I'm coming in on this late...

    I wish I had answers for you, but your questions are questions that I ask myself ad nauseum.

    I'm about 45% of the household income, along with the necessary health insurance for me and two small children. We are completely out of debt, outside of mortgage. If money were no object, no question...I'd be at home with the kids. But money IS an object and for the moment I have no choice. I pray daily for our circumstances to change. I have faith that my God is mighty and can work miracles. I also know that He doesn't always say yes to my desires. But scripture plainly states that it is my job to at least ask. So I boldly ask...please God, help me change my circumstances, way of thinking, budget, ANYTHING that is impeding the ability to stay with my children. He hasn't answered me yet, but I'm noticing a more peaceful Monkey Momma. Like you I'm a muddy furry dog floundering in the river. But right now I feel at least I have a log for my little paws to get a grip on. We'll see if that helps in the rough waters...