Monday, March 09, 2009

great expectations (verse 2)

One of the greatest struggles in my life is with setting high expectations for myself.

The post that I originally published last night was out of fatigue.

I've been grappling with a lot of different things and unfortunately, I put them in to words and hit publish. And if there is one thing I've learned it's that if you are going to have a public blog, you have got to carefully filter what you write.

If there are people reading your thoughts, you want to appear positive. Upbeat. Totally in control of everything and managing it all well. The absolute last thing you want to do is discuss how your grandiose expectations aren't being met.

Even if they are written in jest.

Do I set expectations for my husband and children that aren't met and cause me frustration? Absolutely. But then again, I'm not heavily medicated.

Did I have expectations that I would receive a positive response from one of the famous bloggers and/or companies that I contacted regarding fundraising efforts? Yes. But then again, just because this is a priority for me, doesn't mean it's a priority for them.

I know this. I was born at night. But I wasn't born last night.

Am I alone with feeling disappointment for expectations that aren't met? Absolutely not. If I didn't feel compelled to protect the innocent, I could write at length about what other people consider to be our overwhelming shortfalls and insensitivities.

We forget birthdays.

We back out of playdates and dinner parties.

We don't attend important family functions.

We don't do what someone might want for us to do.

Sometimes, thank you notes take too long to write and phone calls and e-mails aren't promptly returned.

One of the greatest things that I've been struggling with for a long while, has to do with this blog. What is it's purpose? Is it just a means to keep track of this time in our life? Is it to connect with family and friends? Share tips and tricks that I've discovered? Or is it to encourage people?

What is the purpose of this blog?

This morning I received a comment in response to my post last night that read, "Get real! Your kids are 4 years old. They forget things, just like must (?) have. Your husband seems great and seems to loves you. Not everyone can get on Facebook. People have real problems with finances today. Not everyone works for a successful company and has 2 great jobs in their house hold. Lots of people would love nothing but to give and give all day but they are tired from swimming against the current and near drowning of a fallen economy. They have problems like how are we going to keep our house, feed our children or God for bid an Illness. The cancer cause is wonderful! You’re doing a great thing. But who are you doing it for? Is all this for the cause or for you to look good in the eyes of everyone. Remember you are offering people a piece of candy. Not everyone needs candy. Not everyone likes candy. Not everyone can have candy. Think about it. It is not personal - It is just the way it is."

This made me think.

I have been devoting a tremendous amount of time to the computer. It has taken me away from my work, my children, my spouse, my sleep, my exercise routine. When I read this article last night, I questioned the amount of time I've been spending in this very chair looking at this very screen.

Is the purpose of this blog to make me rich and famous? To date, I haven't collected a single penny in income from this blog. Yet in the past few weeks, I've devoted more time to it than a career that supports my family. That seems unwise and unhealthy.

And now, we are devoting a lot of our time and resources to cancer research that I am writing about here. Charlie and I have taken a portion of our tax return to fund giveaways and we are training to run a marathon. We could just spend this on a vacation for ourselves. We could just donate this directly to the cause. But if there is a chance that we could generate some enthusiasm and donations by funding contests, why wouldn't we?

Is it because we want to look good in the eyes of people we know and many more that we don't? Is it because we are looking for accolades, glory and fame? Or is it because we are trying to contribute to a cause greater than us and we know that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?

I hope people can see that we're trying to do this for a good cause. I hope that people don't think that we have some hidden objective. I have carefully weighed reaching out to bloggers and companies because this isn't about me. It's about raising awareness and raising funds.

Ultimately, as important as this blog and finding a cure for cancer are, I cannot forget that the most important part of my life are the small children that are sitting behind me watching "The Fox and The Hound 2" so I can finish yet another computer task.

Although I can easily lower my expectations for a lot that I might be capable of accomplishing in my life, the expectation to be the best mom I can be on any given day, isn't one of them.


  1. I loved your last post. There was honesty, humor and desperation and I appreciate those things. I love that you guys are including your readers (and trying to reach even further into the internet) in your fund raising. What you are doing is important and URGENT. If I'm not mistaken, much of the time you've put into this blog lately has been about the fund raising. While you might be feeling like you are expending too much energy and time here, it's probably temporary. Reflection is good and reordering your priorities is good but too much of either can leave you worse off than when you started. So I hope I'm not turning into one of those commentors who believe every post is a request for advice. I just like what you do here!

  2. I read the first entry - and want to commend you for all you do. I didn't read it like the other reader - everytime you put yourself out there - there's someone to question your motives. Sometimes this helps us get a better or different perspective - sometimes it makes us question ourselves - and not always in a good way. Just from reading your blog everyday - I can tell you love your family and are a great mother - you are caring and trying to help others and get others to come along side of you - thank you for this - it helps motivate me - sometimes when I'm not too motivated. So, whatever it's worth - you get applause from me!

  3. I have been incredibly inspired by what you are doing for Deana, and for the cause. That commenter was having a bad day, seriously. Just wash your hands of it and move on. Surfing the web and keeping a blog are fun. Clearly and obviously FOUR small children are going to let you know when their needs aren't being met (I know this because I have 3 of them). It's not like it's even AT ALL possible to just ignore them (believe me I try daily and never succeed ;)

    I think you are doing a fantastic thing. I do feel enthusiastic about the cause because of all the excitement you are generating. I keep thinking that maybe someday I'll do something like what you are doing.

    Don't stop and p-l-e-a-s-e don't let one comment (or even many comments) make you second guess your heart.

    Oh please, it's so obvious you are a good mother. Oh please ;)

  4. We've been thinking about the same things lately, for many of the same reasons, huh?

    I'm sorry you got a comment like that. You're doing a good thing, a really good thing.

  5. P.S. It is clear that you're doing it for the right reasons. It doesn't take a pair of eyes to see that, just one heart.

  6. I read your post last night/this morning, and I have to say you didn't come across as whiny, just telling it like it is.

    There was no censure, just a chagrined admission that you expect a lot, and sometimes you get disappointed. I read no admonishment of others, only humorous examination of yourself.

    As for your blog, I imagine it evolves. You started (I think) as a way to weather trips and a baby, and now you're growing just as they are. Your focus isn't the same as it was when they were smaller, so of course your blog focus wouldn't be the same.

    Keep up the fight, do it for your own reasons, and roll with the punches, numbers be damned. You will touch someone in a way you'll never understand. You already have.

  7. I'm confused! I must have missed last night's post because all I can see is the cute picture of Henry in the sand and then the O'Henry bar post from Friday (which I am trying to avoid re-reading because I am trying to lose weight:). But I see that people commented about your numbers and google reader so there must have been a post I missed. I also read your blog through google reader.

    You're doing a great thing with this blog, both by educating people on things (hazwoper training safety info, good steam mop to buy, recipes, etc...) and by raising money for cancer research. And the pics of your adorable kids are awesome.

  8. Wow. How offensive. Obviously that person doesn't read your blog often or well enough to know how you feel about the goal you're working towards.

    There's always a nay-sayer in the crowd and I hope you don't let this one get to you. You're one of the most open and honest bloggers out there and many people appreciate your sharing your time and lives with us.

  9. You look good to me, Jen. If fact, you look like an O'Henry bar. You are doing a wonderful thing and I would have never in a million years thought you were doing it to "look good". That's just stupid.

    Someday, God forbid, Austin's brain tumor could start growing. It CAN become malignant, as much as I try to pretend that it's going to be fine. I sure hope to have someone like you, who is trying to LOOK GOOD, on our side.

    The world needs thousands of more people like you. Don't let the downers get you down. They suck. You don't. And you look good! Which is my personal goal at all times. :)

  10. sorry i missed your whiny post. we all have our moments, thanks for sharing!

    isn't it a bit cathartic to put all those thoughts to paper. and we can and should allow ourselves to feel down even though someone always has it worse. you are very appreciative too.

    as for purpose, i think the writing is a creative outlet and a chance to get your thoughts together. the blog acts as a baby book of sorts.

    gotta run, i'm going on a mini vacation tomorrow to your town san diego. i'm tagging along on a business trip with my husband and staying at tower 23. i'm bringing the baby and leaving the trips with our nanny. so i won't necessarily get to lounge around and read or go jogging but it will still be a bit of a break.

    gotta run pack before the gang wakes up. i think i hear them already. oh, and i will contribute soon. i need to make the time.

  11. Jennifer PM3/9/09, 5:22 PM

    You absolutely are an inspiration. Don't doubt it for a moment. But this is your blog and therefore your space to express whatever you want/need to. Big hugs, JPM

  12. I think your blog is awesome. I think all blogs are awesome. The blogging universe is a way to just get out what's inside us. Making friends on the internet is a byproduct of writing down our thoughts and feelings. Some people just blabber on about day to day issues that don't necessarily mean anything. Others blog about their beautiful children that they are so proud of. Some people really do blog about things they're doing just for the attention.

    Your blog is a mix of all these things, only you don't blog for attention. You blog about what you're passionate about and the cancer fundraising is one of those things. You're getting information out to people that might otherwise be uneducated about them. You're getting people to donate to a cause that they might not otherwise know about or have anything to do with. You're helping us be less ambivalent about finding a cure for cancer.

    I love reading your blog because I never know what I'm going to find day-to-day. But I do know that I'm almost always guaranteed a good laugh and I'm going to learn something.

    So thank you for having a blog for people, like me, to stumble upon and enjoy.

  13. Your Blog is so enjoyable and encouraging. There as so many lives you touch through your words - thank you. If you are feeling miserable, here is a link for your enjoyment:-)

    Keep up the great Blog.

  14. Jen - Long time reader, first time poster. Don't be discouraged. You may not be getting the exact response you want, but you are making an impact. Your posts about cancer research have made me more aware to purchase items with the Pink Ribbon. You have been an inspiration to me. As a mom of 19 month old micro-preemie triplets I was 40 pounds overweight as of October 2008. Now, I only 13 pounds from my goal weight!! You helped me do that. You inspired me. You make me capable of being a better parent, wife, and boss/employee. You've helped me get my girls to sleep through the night within 2 months of bringing them home from the NICU. You help my husband and I not go insane from the stress of raising multiples. Although I've never met you, I feel like I know you. I would hate to go through raising my girls without you and your family as roll models. Thank you for having high expectations of your husband, children, family & friends. High expectations don't have to be unrealistic, they give people something to strive for. If people like you didn't have high expectations where would research centers be? Look at the thousands of dollars you and your family have raised in an uncertain economy! High expectations did that! Congratulations!! You know, some people are lucky if they ever impact one person positively. You positively impact thousands of people by just having this blog. Imagine the impact you will have with all the good you are doing for cancer research.

    As far as balancing it all...I don't know how you do it honestly. I'm eternally greatful that you do because I rely on your knowledge and insight tremendously, but I can only imagine how hard it is to keep all the balls in the air. I am a working mom too and sometimes it's absolutely not practical to keep up with friends and family and it eats me up. But what can I do? My first responsibility is raising my children & being a good wife. Then I have to work. The rest is just icing on the stressful cake. If I remember correctly you had this same kind of dilema a year or so ago and decided to back away from the computer by 10PM-ish every night. Maybe it's time to try that again? Good luck, I hope that you continue to post to this blog but will understand if you need to take a break. Just remember there's a whole group of Iowa multiples moms rooting you on!!

  15. Jen, you are doing a great job for the cure of Cancer. It has hit our family very hardand I feel for your friends that are sick. You are so passionate in your blog not only for the run, but your whole life. You really worked hard for what you have, no one handed you anything, you worked for it, and you are appreciative of any one who did lend you a hand. Maybe, just maybe you do try to do to much, but look what you have done???? I am so proud of you, I am glad I didn't run you over with my yellow Caddy.

  16. I've known you and Charlie for almost 20 years and I must say that you two are GIVERS! You've never asked for anything... but you guys always give! Take for instance the Geology Club meetings... Charlie used to buy pizza and beer out of his own pocket... and both of you guys always had rad "surprise" birthdays for eachother that you generously paid for... you're just a bunch of awesome givers! hey... isn't Jen's birthday coming up? I have a craving for peppermint ice cream birthday cake!

  17. atta girl, chin up!u r doing a great job.remember, there r many like me who may not b able to contribute due to varoius factors(geographical distance in my case), v do read ur blog every day and r as amazed by ur life and efforts as u r.ur cause is very dear to my heart, and u r forever in my prayers!so, keep on with ur great job!

  18. Jen, Whether it is to inspire people(which you do), raise cancer awareness(which you are), share a recipe or a funny story(which you have), the bottom line is that your blog is creating a priceless collection of memories for your children as well as for you and Charlie. The rest of us are just lucky to be able to come along for the ride.


  19. wow, I never took it to be a quest for glory. I thought this charity just struck a chord with you and you were going for it. It was personal for you so you poured your energy into it. If you put yourself out there, there will always be someone criticizing you for it. Don't let it deter you from working towards a goal you believe in.

    There. My two pennies.


  20. Hi,
    I love your blog, and I love how often you update it. I think you're an amazing woman, and I can't see myself accomplishing half the things you seem to!

    As a poor student, I have never taken part in the charity fund raising efforts on your blog, but I guess there are people out there who aren't as poor as me and can donate. However, I can see that in the current state of the world the amount of people willing to donate money is diminishing.

    Maybe you could allow ads to be displayed on the blog to raise the funds? I'm sure with all the traffic you attract, you'd have your marathon money together in no time.

    Please please don't stop writing, and please please don't feel bad about yourself! You're great and I truly admire you. Take more time for your family and your work - I promise I'll be happy with reading a blog update from you even only once a week or so :)

    Wishing you all the best!

  21. The funny thing about becoming a semi-famous blogger is that people actually start reading what you say, judging what you say, then letting you know about it! It appears to me that you put a lot of time and energy into your blog and have created a wonderful space to share about your family, your goals, your dreams, and life in general. Upon doing that one opens themselves to the vulnerabilites of the Internet's judgment unfortunately. Perhaps it's just another way to develop a little bit of a thicker skin, and be reminded that there are many things more important than what other people (who have not had a chance to get to know you outside of your blog anyways-which I assume only reflects a part of who you are) think of you. You are doing what you do for the right reasons as far are YOUR heart, and your husband's heart is concerned and THAT is all that matters! You have raised an incredible amount of money so far, for an illness that has touched your life in many ways. It is something to be pround of. So ignore all those naysayers and hit that pavement hard! Blessings on your shins in the process... :)

  22. I started reading your original post and was pulled away... what I did get to read was just honest blogging. The compassion I sense that you and Charlie have is what I've been seeing in your recent posts and fundraising efforts. If there is something wrong with that, then society is screwed up more than I thought it was and we are doomed! Shame, shame on someone for trying to do something good? Hmmm....
    Love your blog. Keep doing what you're doing. It is all good!

    PS: You are teaching your children a valuable lesson about compassion, encouragement, good health, hoping and giving by what you are doing, too!

  23. Jen,
    This is my first time commenting, but long over due thank you for providing a glimpse into your wonderful "real" world. Thank you for all your helpful parenting tips, and photos of your adorable children. There have been many "AHah" moments of, "Oh, good, I'm not the only one!" Thank you for sharing cooking, cleaning and organizational tips, that I've utilized. You are like the "Cliff notes" to everything!! Thank you for caring about Cancer! Using your own money to raise money to HELP people. Thank you for being a shining example of the good that exists in this world. Thank you for the LOL moments when describing family excursions of children being afraid of squirrels, the many uses of a spray bottle, and husbands who can't part with speakers. Thank you for not being afraid to admit your human, and blog about it to us, your adoring fans! You rock!!
    Keep up the great work!!

    Cuz Jackie

  24. Motives, Shmotives.

    What you're doing is inspirational, no matter what your real motives are. What's so wrong with doing something good without exploring motives?

    Thanks for making the world a better place and having the guts to make it public.

    Even if your real motives are completely evil, I'm still inspired.

  25. Yes, you could just donate money from the privacy of your own home and no one would know about it. BUT! Don't you want your kids to see you active and involved and caring in the community? They're not going to see that if you just write a check after they are in bed.
    Also, there might be a lot of people for whom this cause just doesn't resonate a response. But you also might get someone who clicks here and says, "That's just exactly the cause I want to support, I just didn't know how to do it. I will do it here."
    Count me in as someone who enjoys your blog and appreciates your comments on working and parenting and participating in the community.

  26. I'm sorry I missed your "whiny" post too (sleeping ruins everything).

    Blogging is certainly a self promoting activity, but no more so than, say, talking about your kids at the water cooler. It's just a lot bigger of an audience. And people are more interested in the photos than the ones you keep in your wallet.

    Honestly, though. I've been really inspired by your continual self improvement journey. I get really motivated watching other people motivate themselves.

    Good luck!

  27. You absolutely are doing this for the RIGHT reason. I have been reading your blog since Henry was born and I admire you like crazy. Please don't question yourself. You obviously care very much about a lot of things - your family included. You are amazing in my eyes. I only wished you lived next door to me. Keep doing the GREAT things you do.


  28. Hi Jen:

    This comment is to your readers (and you)...I would rather leave it on the front page of your blog so that many could read it. But since I don't have that option and don't have a blog... I will leave it here instead...

    Unfortunatley, my writing is not as eloquent as yours but after reading your post it made me question whether people truly understand how much you have given of your time, treasure and talent.

    They read your wonderful post and many; including myself have become inspired. That's obvious thru the positive comments on your blog.

    However, I wanted to tell them a few things about who you are and your unbelievable gift of giving....

    To begin....
    Because of you...many fond memories have been made and many family members have happily reconnected.

    Because of you...I found laughter and words of encouragement when going through a difficult time many years ago. I am so thankful for the many nights that I found myself in tears and You called BECAUSE you could feel something was wrong.

    Because of you...I got a phone call with exciting news and let out a scream in the middle of Publix -- IT'S Triplets! ;-)

    Because of you...Many prayers have been answered for my Father not to mention for Deana as well as others who have been in need.

    Because of you...and your inspiration I have started to exercise again!

    Because of you...I have embarked on a chance of a lifetime to become a proud member of the "Cancer Crusaders" and preparing to train for a triathlon in October and run a marathon in May...26.2 miles!!

    Because of you...Over $7500.00(minimum) has been raised for the Lukemia, Lymphoma Society and cancer research.

    Because of you... I have met people like Amy, Tracy, Steph, Bridgete, Michela and Ann just to name a few. All such wonderful people who have donated TWO or THREE times to ME alone. Or simply sent well wishes stating that they couldn't contribute but praying for success. All stating that they too are inspired.

    Your readers may know that you have four beautiful children and a wonderful husband whom you love. They know about the raffles, and are aware of the many 'big ticket items' YOU have put on your blog to raffle off.

    However, they may not know about the many Long distance "inspiring" phone calls to me to give faith and a belief that this was/is possible.

    They may not know how many times you have told family and friends to donate to ME and that you wouldn't except any donations because I had further to go. They may not know how many times you have said "if you send anything of monatary value I will send it right back".

    They may not know about the efforts that you have made to reach further than your blog to get attention for this cause. They may not know about the 150 + letters that have been sent out for support and many more personal e-mails.

    YES. Times are tough. Things are scary. None of us know who will lose thier jobs next, many already have. None of us know what the other is going through. Yes. It's tough.

    BUT As you've said before in your post None of us know who will be struck with cancer next. It stinks. It all stinks. Jobs can be overcome with hard work and education. Cancer can too. It's all a struggle.

    Neither You, Charlie, nor I are "attempting" to run 26.2 miles and raise funds "for the love of this sport". We are doing it with YOUR inspiration because we feel a sense of urgency and we've all had enough! It's good to be proactive and it's human nature. You have brought more attention to this cause than I ever could have imagined!

    You also have been under a tremendous amount of stress with your own job, kids, and life in general.

    Your blog is a mix of things, sometimes serious and educational, other times humorous and fun. No matter what; it's always entertaining and honest.

    I know my comment is long and therefore may not be posted.

    However, I want you and your readers to know how glad I am to call you a family member but more importantly how grateful I am to call you MY friend.

    Your Heart is Huge Jen! Please know that When I COUNT MY BLESSINGS... I COUNT YOU TWICE!

    Love, Margaret

  29. Aw, Margaret. You're so awesome. Now, I just need to print this out and put it in a frame.

    Where should I mail the check? :)

  30. What a beautiful statement from Margaret. It is all true friends, Jenny is really a winner, not a WHINNER.

  31. I feel I must say my comment was too strong. I should not have just hit send without rereading it. In my defense, if there is one; I hit send before rereading it. As I looked at the comment before it went out I thought “Oh that is to harsh’. And I tried to hit cancel. The one time my computer was to fast this would be it. What I should have said was; You are doing a great thing. I think I said that. Look at what people have given. It is tremendous! Keep your “chins” up. It will be okay and don’t forget about what is truly important. My candy analogy was just saying not everyone can give or be part of what you want them to be part of and some don’t even want to be part of it. and that has to be okay. You wrote a bad post. I wrote a bad comment. I am sorry. Just so you know, I too have been very affected by cancer and as you can tell the state of things in the economy. I guess things just to be too much for both of us. .

  32. "And if there is one thing I've learned it's that if you are going to have a public blog, you have got to carefully filter what you write.

    If there are people reading your thoughts, you want to appear positive. Upbeat. Totally in control of everything and managing it all well."

    Jen, I'm not sure you realize this, but being allowed to "read your thoughts", even the hairy-ones-with-warts, is what makes you inspirational. Reading about a real human being with real ups and downs is FAR, FAR more inspirational than reading about perfection--someone always upbeat, positive and in control. I don't know about others, but I'm far more encouraged by someone who trips and falls (or just sits down on the ground for a short sulk) and then gets back up, brushes herself off, calls a spade a spade and gets on with things, than I am by someone who never falls (or sits) down in the first place.

    I wanted to comment something along these lines recently when you posted "Now I know you didn't come here to hear me complain. Unless you enjoy seeing someone who feels like they are getting run over by the train of life." Well, actually, yes I do. Because it is encouraging to see a real human continue to pick herself up and get back in the race. If all I ever read here was enthusiasm, success, positive thinking and apparent perfecting...well, I wouldn't be able to relate to you one bit and this blog wouldn't be bookmarked.

    As to your enthusiasm for a cause you believe in, every worthy cause needs people with that sort of enthusiasm. Why apologize for that?? So you set your expectations high. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And disappointment when expectations aren't met is a very human emotion. Thank God you're not perfect. That's the last thing this world needs!