Thursday, April 20, 2017

musings on my 46th lap

Today is my 46th birthday, and I am taking the day off from work. Bear with me, please, as I now wax poetic because at this exact moment, I'm watching the sun rise, listening to the Beatles Pandora station, updating my blog, and sipping green tea (and honey) in a cup that Elizabeth received for Christmas during a mug exchange.  I love this little mug, it reads, "Cup of Happy" and at the bottom is an awesome little sunshine, smiling at me.


At 46-years old, I know that the simplest pleasures are often the greatest - and my perception of my circumstances dictates my attitude.  As such, I have tried to rigorously see God's Fingerprint on every situation, good - or bad - and embrace a grateful attitude.  Without question, my cup of happiness runneth over!

Earlier this week, I'd been traveling for business to Michigan, where I was fortunate enough to see my sister, Eileen.


Yesterday, we spent almost four hours together at the Detroit airport eating lunch and walking at least 7,000 steps while waiting for our flights. I was flying home to Houston, she was flying to Nashville - so she could drive to Fort Campbell and see her son, Tommy - who was just recruited and accepted in to West Point Military Academy. (!!!!!!)

Last year at this time, Tommy, a combat medic - won Soldier of the Year for the 101st Airborne, and this year, because of his outstanding Army accomplishments - he's going to West Point.  When Eileen showed me the packet of material he had received from this prestigious school welcoming her son for the Fall of 2017, I cried.  We are so proud of him - and Eileen - and I am so incredibly grateful for his service to our country.

At 46-years old, I am amazed that I am doing life with such an incredible family ... that I was so fortunate to be born to my parents - and have the siblings and cousins that I do.  We are a product of our environments and while we're not perfect nor idyllic by a long shot - my family has taught me an immeasurable amount, and have shaped and inspired me for four and a half decades. I couldn't be prouder of our next generation.


Over the past few months, Charlie and I - and the children - have been working with local shelters and homeless organizations, and it rocks me every time I talk to people who have made it their life mission to serve.   One of my quests is to surround myself - and our children - with people who are cut from this dedicated and compassionate cloth because, they truly are the lights in what may sometimes seem like a very dark world.


At 46-years old, despite the negative news, violence, pain and suffering that is happening around the world,  I am incredibly grateful for the brave, courageous, and loving people who step forward and are committed to serving and doing as much good as they can - where they can - when they can - at all the times they possibly can.

Last week, I was in a meetings with my colleagues from all over the world.  On one of the days, the new president of our company dropped in to talk with us.  Before I headed in to work, I was telling Elizabeth that I would be meeting the president later that morning and she said, and I quote, "I hope you like him."  What a surprise to my pre-teen that our new president is a woman.

After I listened to this vibrant woman speak and hear how she was offered the position of president from our former CEO, I had the opportunity to tell her - before an audience of my peers - of the exchange I'd had earlier that morning with my 12-year old daughter.   As I explained that my daughter's automatic assumption was that our new leader was a man - she threw her head back and laughed.  Continuing, I told her that I was so excited to see the inclusion and diversity of women in to senior management roles within our corporation.  Since she is only the second company president in the history of our 147-year old corporation, this is a huge step for women in the science and engineering industry.  She agreed and added, "I want you to tell your daughter that I said 'Hi.'  I also want for you to tell your daughter that in 30 years, she will be the President of Exxon Mobil."  


When I look at Elizabeth, I see so much of myself as a 12-year old.  Like Elizabeth, I struggled with a learning disability, and often felt like the dumbest kid in school who just didn't GET it.  Eventually - I did get it and I'll forever be grateful to people like my 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Parsons, who told me (and I believed), "Jenny, you have so much potential to be tapped." I worked harder and cultivated the work ethic I have because school didn't come as easily to me.  Over my life, I've seen time and again how our disabilities or challenges usually lead to our greatest strengths.

This past Saturday, I took Elizabeth shopping for an Easter dress and as she stood in the middle of a bustling store - she confidently held up two dresses, and tucking one, then the other, beneath her chin boldly asked me, "Mom, which of these do you think would look better on the President of Exxon Mobil?"

At 46-years old, I am incredibly grateful for my education, career, and the power of positive messaging that was instrumental in getting me to this place in my life. My hope is that my experiences - in conjunction with their own - will allow our children to see that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to.  Although, on the road of life - it helps if you know which direction to aim.


Updated at 11:35 PM:  I logged off this morning before I published this post to get the kids off to school - and then volunteer in Henry's classroom.  Charlie took the day off from work with me, because he knows that my love language is Quality Time, and he is a Good Man.

After we helped the third grade teachers for an hour, we checked Henry out of school and picked up lunch for the triplets, which we brought to them at their school.  Charlie and I smothered our sixth graders with attention: hugs and kisses and some cool dance moves in the middle of their crowded cafeteria, while their little brother jumped around.  We're trying to help them get over this phase of remarkably easy preteen embarrassment …. as in - I just have to look at them and they turn bright red. So I think Charlie and I doing Yo Gangnam Style in front of their peers really helped.  But we may not find out for another 20-years when they're in counseling.

We then checked the triplets out of school and the lot of us went to the 1:00 showing of Beauty and The Beast.  The teachers were surprised we were taking the children out of school because they have a math test on statistics tomorrow, but as I explained to them: not to be mean (get it?) birthdays only come once a year, and the probability is significantly greater we will remember this day spent together for the rest of our lives.  Also, the greatest gift I could give to myself is to break our normal busy schedule and spend a fun mid-week day with the ones I love more than oxygen.


After the movie - which was very good; we went out for dinner … and it just so happened that moments after we sat down - to our complete surprise, a Beatles tribute band started to play on the lawn in front of the patio where we were seated. Over the next hour, a crowd of at least 1,000 descended upon the park to hear them play; including all of the amazing triathletes who are in town for the Iron Man, this weekend.   The band was fantastic, and at intermission, I had the chance to meet John and Paul.  SQUEE!!! I was just rocking out with those guys this morning when I started this post!

What are the odds?!?!


We came home and I was smothered with cards and presents, including this outstanding apron from my husband.  Wonder Woman.  William took one look and said, "Wow, Mom! That's what you'd look like if you weighed 90 pounds!"


Yes ….  I'm Wonder Woman alright.


At 46-years old, I'm in absolute wonder that I have a life so blessed!