Thursday, December 30, 2010

True Confession

Hello. My name is Mari, and I stalk my own blog. There. I said it. Out loud. If you pay any attention to the Live Traffic Feed widget on my blog (under Peekers) you may have noticed that the majority of visitors come from Smithville. Uh... that would be me. I love to check in on my blog to see if anyone is reading. (It also logs my time if I'm just previewing a post.) It's fun to see the various locations of passersby. Does that make me egocentric? Narcissistic? Creepy? Maybe. But I ain't gonna stop.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Case of Stolen Identity

Well, it's happened. My identity was stolen.

Not in the computer hacking, credit card stealing kind of way. More in the giving birth, having kids, becoming a mom kind of way. This wasn't supposed to happen to me. I was going to be the mom who kept her own identity while raising well-adjusted children whom I encouraged to develop their own identities.

Perhaps the most distressing part of this is that I made the realization while standing in Barnes & Noble last Thursday. To make matters worse, my husband confirmed my frightening discovery. Here's how it went down:

My sister gave me a $25 BN gift card as a graduation gift. After spending an hour or so soaking up my kid-free time in one of my Top 5 favorite places (a bookstore), I headed to the checkout counter. On the way, I glanced down to review my selections.

ME: Is it sad that I'm spending my graduation gift card on books for the girls?
HUSBAND: Yes.
ME:  What does that say about me?
HUSBAND: That you no longer have an identity or any interests of your own.

Ow-ie. Brutal. Ow-ie. Brutal.

True.

The conversation reminded me of that Julia Roberts movie, Runaway Bride.  In the movie, Richard Gere accuses Julia's character of following the whims and ideas of everyone in her life instead of figuring out what she really enjoys and thinks. My situation is kind of similar ... except I'm not Julia Roberts. But I do worry that I've gone from being an independent, intelligent, opinionated woman to .... someone ... who ... is ... not. And I hate it. And I'm going to fix it. And I might have just found my goal for 2011.

In the short term, to remedy the B&N situation, I marched back to the escalator, glided up to the fiction section, and selected a Steve Martin book that I recently added to my "Books To Read After December 18" spreadsheet. Yes, I said spreadsheet. Wanna make sumthin' of it? Right now there are about 100 books/authors in that Excel file, which I compiled throughout 2010. My plan is to join the Centurions Group on Facebook and read 100 books in 2011. Ah, my first step to recovering/rediscovering/reinventing ME.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh! Christmas Tree?

Merry Christmas! I hope this post finds you and your family full of holiday cheer and merry mischief!

One of the things I love about having my own peeps is the discovery of new family traditions. And a discovery it is. I know people who make their own traditions, and I think that is lovely, I truly do. But after several failed attempts at making traditions (my ideal reality), I decided to let traditions find me (my real reality). One of those traditions is making salt dough ornaments. We made our first set last year and our second set just a few days ago. Of course, I forgot to take pictures. But we make a lot, and every single one goes on the tree. Speaking of which ...

Another emerging tradition is the decorating of our Christmas tree. In my ideal reality, I have one of those magazine-perfect trees. You know what I'm talking about: Glistening with white lights, every ornament strategically placed. In my real reality, I have this ...


Yes, you can believe your eyes. The tree is adorned with two plastic firemen's helmets and a rubber snake. If you look even closer, you will see a construction paper chain, a handmade popsicle stick snowman, and some odd strips of ribbon that were not so strategically placed. And you know what? I LOVE it. LOVE IT! LOVE IT! Because it reflects who the peeps are at this moment in time. This is my reality. This is our tradition. This is our family in December 2010.

As for the tree with the glistening white lights and perfectly placed ornaments? I confess: I have one upstairs. And it's quite lovely. This is the first year that I've had two trees. But it's just for appearances sake. The peeps' tree is the one I'll always cherish and remember.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Turning Nothing Into Something

Holy Smokes! I can't believe it's been more than a month since I've checked in! At this rate, I will never be the uber-blogger of my ideal reality. Sigh.

My long absence is not without reason. From my last post until December 8, I was immersed in my master's research project. Immersed is nice way of saying the project sucked every bit of my time, energy, and life. But I'm done. And I got an A. And my professor said my research was of publishable quality. And I earned a 4.0 in my program. And I will continue to pay myself on the back for a job well done for quite a long while.

And since December 8, I have done nothing productive. Well, almost nothing. I picked up a little freelance work from a former employer. But for the most part, I've done nothing.

Yet, if you ask my peeps, they will tell you that I've been very busy. In their eyes, I've done something. I've done lots of somethings. We've baked German Chocolate cookies. We've snuggled on the couch for hours, letting all of the Christmas shows on ABC Family rot our brains. We've played Candyland and cars and puzzles and Rudolph and Toy Story. We've read books and boogied to Mr. Stinky Feet. We've belted Rudolph the Red Nosed-Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town from the tops of our lungs. We've laughed and giggled. All of the stuff that I consider "nothing" is the stuff my peeps consider "something."

All of a sudden, I find myself looking forward to doing a whole bunch more of nothing, because I know it means something to my someones.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Should Be ...

Below is a list of all of the things I should be doing instead of blogging. But I haven't blog in awhile, and all the advice I've read on blogging (okay, I've read two articles on blogging) say I should update at least every week, but probably more than that. Yeah. Right. It's not that I don't want to, I do. But I go through periods of time where I'm not inspired. Writer's Block. I know, I know. I'm supposed to power through the Writer's Block. And maybe I will. In December. December 19 at noon, to be exact. Because that is when my last, last, last classes for my master's degree and my special reading certification will be done, done, DONE. And then, I'm going to sit on my ass and eat bon bons (okay, left over Halloween candy). And read books of the non-textbook variety. And watch TV.

Here's that list ... It is actually my written TO DO list. I don't cross things off; I just keep adding.

Clean something
Research ADHD, write two peer response and a lesson learned for EDUC285
Transcribe interviews and observations, edit my Methodology, send Dr. C. my weekly reflection for ED651
Blog (Hey! I CAN cross something off!)
Meal Plan (BWAHAHAHAHA!)
Buy the peeps new pajamas
Send Thank You notes to all the teachers and admins who helped with my master's research.
Create Behavior Charts for the peeps (Yeah, it's getting THAT bad.)
Find low-fat pumpkin recipes
Christmas List
Use Groupons
Make a doctor's appt.
Make a hair appt.
Make a dentist appt. for the peeps.
Decide which mac n cheese to make for Thanksgiving: Pioneer Woman (yummy full fat or Rocco Dispirito (healthy low fat)
Start reading Forge
Keep reading Hatchet

Monday, October 18, 2010

LBK (Life Before Kids): My New Ideal Reality

You know those women who swear that the nanosecond their kids arrived on the scene they forgot about their LBK (Life Before Kids)? Well, I'm not one of them. Almost four years after the peeps made their big debut, I can still remember my LBK. And I'm no longer ashamed to admit it. Nor am I ashamed to admit that some days I want my LBK back, if only for a nanosecond. It's strange ... my former real reality is now my ideal reality, and sometimes I just want to indulge myself in fantasies about the days gone by.

I've been thinking about my LBK quite a bit lately. The freedom. The sleep. The spur-of-the-moment fun. The way the world revolved around ME.  Maybe it's because I'm halfway between 39 and 40, and I'm not handling that as well as I thought I would. Maybe it's because I've struggled a bit with this whole mommy thing the past month. Maybe it's because I don't feel a sense of purpose right now.  And Mari without a sense of purpose is like ... well, I don't know what it's like, but it's not good.

So, I've been taking a few deep breaths, gulping a few stiff drinks, and listening to a few good friends who are smart enough to tell me that what I'm feeling is normal. In my head and in my heart, I know that these struggles will pass and I will realize I'm where I belong. I will once again find my place(s) in this world. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lisa Kogan Gets It

Most passport pictures are good likenesses, and it is time we faced it.  ~Katharine Brush

I ran across that quote the other day and think it sums up ideal reality versus real reality nicely. It also gave me a chuckle, and I could use a few more of those these days. I have no idea who Katharine Brush is/was. Must Google her.

You know who else does a fantastic job analyzing ideal reality and real reality? Lisa Kogan. She's an O The Oprah Magazine columnist and an author. I just finished her book Someone Will Be With You Shortly. I laughed, sighed, and chuckled through the pages as Lisa wrote about her ideal realities colliding with her real realities. The interesting thing is that by the end of each chapter, after pontificating on her ideal realities, Lisa usually decides she prefers her real reality. And she states this in such a charming way.



Monday, September 27, 2010

I Think I'm in Love ...

... with The Pioneer Woman. For the past two years, I've heard almost every woman I have come in contact with sing the praises of Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman. To hear others talk, this chick could do no wrong. I refused to jump on the bandwagon. It's one of my quirks. I don't do bandwagons. After all, can any one person really be ALL THAT? Um ... yeah. Apparently, they can, and, apparently, she is.

I finally broke down and checked out PW's (she refers to herself as PW, so I can, too, right?) cookbook from the local library. Not only is the cookbook visually stunning, it's a fun read, AND her recipes are amazingly yummy and EASY, which in my book, is an easy score. In the past week, I have made Angel Sugar Cookies, Penne alla Betsy, and pico de gallo. And they were visually pleasing (not stunning, but pleasing) and edible. Holy Guacamole! (Haven't tried that recipe yet.) This gal has made me, ME of "I ruined the taco meat" fame, think I stand a chance in the kitchen. Did I mention that PW is also visually stunning (not pleasing, but stunning)? Oh, and she put the entire book together - photos and storyline - herself. Excuse me while I squeegee the drool from my laptop.

Sorry, Giada.You've been replaced. I have a new foodie crush.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rockin' the Pink Gear

In my last post, I shared my excitement and terror at getting back on the bike after a four-year hiatus. Silly Mari. The instant I swung my leg over the passenger seat and slid in behind Mark, I knew I was in the right place for that moment in time.  The world looks and feels so different on a motorcycle, and I needed that different view desperately.  I am so glad I didn't let fear get the best of me. I also needed a "date day" with my man.

The only snafus - and really, what's an adventure without snafus? -  were a cold start to the ride and a dead battery. Yep, another dead battery. For those of you familiar with our August escapade to Colorado, you'll remember that the battery died on the Escape during that adventure. Well, the battery died on the Triumph after we got to the Kansas Speedway. Fortuntately, Bikers for Babies is so well organized that it had a mechanic on-site who charged the battery. We were good to go, and go we did!

I was a little bummed because this year's route didn't take us by the prison. However, all along the 100-mile ride people lined the road, cheering and waving. I felt a bit like a rock star. Or a movie star.

A pre-helmet-hair shot ... not that it really mattered. UGH!
 
Mark removing the dead battery.
 
Mark taking the battery to be resuscitated.

A wheel chair accessible bike. Very cool!
 
A 100% unflattering pic of moi.
   
Some of the 7,000  or so bikes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Fear or How to Rock Pink Motorcycle Gear

Personal Commandment No. 3: NO FEAR

That's me a little over four years ago, May 2006. I tooled around Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, and the surrounding mountain roads on the back of Mark's motorcycle. It was an amazing weekend! It was also the last time I felt no fear. About two weeks after this picture was taken, I found out I was pregnant with the peeps. I haven't been on the back of the motorcycle since. It was my decision. Damn that whole responsible parent thing.

That's about to change. Not the whole responsible parent thing, but the whole not riding on the back of the motorcyle thing. This Sunday, Mark and I are participating in Bikers for Babies at the Kansas Speedway. I've been once before, many years ago, and it was a blast!. One of the highlights for me was riding by the medium-security prison in Leavenworth and waving at the convicts in the prison yard. Yeah, I'm like that.

Before the peeps rocked my world, I knew no fear. Well, not no fear, but not a lot of fear. The point is, I tried stuff without considering the consequences to life, limb, or mental health. I climbed mountains. I rapelled down a tower upside down. I bought my own house in a not-so-great part of town. I explored parts of Europe alone. I drove a Segway, for goodness sakes!


The peeps changed all that. I think lots more about consequences. I guess it's because now I have more to lose. Those little ladies might drive me to drink some days, but they are my little ladies and life without them wouldn't be life. So, while I'm super duper excited about the adventure - especially because I get to don my hot pink gear and kickass Red Wing boots again - I'm also a little freaked out. Mark and I got our "should we die together" paperwork in order a couple of weekends ago - one of the prerequisites for me gearing up again. A necessary but creepy step.

What if ... What if ... What if ... What if ... A million what ifs have floated through my mind the past few days.

I asked Mark if such thoughts ever cross his mind. He said he doesn't think about stuff like that because if he did, he would never do anything. And I know he's right. So, as Audrey says, come Sunday I'll be ready to get my rock on! No fear.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Alone in a World Full of People

Something I find both fascinating and unsettling about life is that I experience stretches of time during which I feel very much alone despite the fact that I'm surrounded by people.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baa Baa Black Sheep or the Downside of "Being Mari" (Personal Commandment No. 1)


I'm headed to Vegas in October! I haven't been for a few years and I'm so looking forward to the trip. A group of gals will celebrate my BFF's 40th birthday! For me, the trip is a little more. It's a step toward upholding my commitment to Personal Commandment No. 1: Be Mari.

Big deal, you say? In most cases, it's not. But in this case it is a VERY BIG DEAL because the Vegas soiree is happening on the same weekend as my step-mother's 80th birthday open house. GASP! My decision has solidified my role in the family as The No. 1 Black Sheep (previously held by my sister, who is now No. 2. Finally, I beat her at something!). Essentially, I am waving my slot-pulling arm (kind of like thumbing my nose) at the unspoken family expectation that I will be at every. single. solitary. family. function. forever. After all, we're all about appearances if nothing else.

For those of you who know me and my family dynamics, I can hear you cheering me on. Thanks for your support. It's been a long time coming, right?

I won't go into the gory details of my family's dysfunction that led me to make this decision. Mainly because my family dysfunction is rainbows, butterflies, and sunshine compared to the family situations that so many others face. I know this. But my family dysfunction is my family dysfunction, it feels heavy to me.

Baa Baa Baa (translation: Mama needs a new pair of shoes! Hellooooooooo Vegas!)

Hey Good Lookin'! Whatcha Got Cookin'?


Those of you who know me well know I don't really like to cook. Or bake. Really. At all. In my ideal reality, I'm a super chef. But put that ideal reality into practice, and well, it's not pretty. It's not that I can't cook or bake. With the exception of a few minor hiccops, I'm pretty decent in the kitchen. I just don't like all that is involved: meal planning, ingredient shopping, prep time, bake time. Blech. Too much trouble for something that is going to be obsolete in 30 minutes.

So, imagine my surprise when I got the urge to bake a chocolate cake from scratch this week! I had my "we must save more money" panties on and decided that we needed to use more of the food spilling out of our pantry. Typically, when I get this urge and start foraging through the kitchen I quickly discover I can't make one single meal/snack/crumb with what I have on hand. I give up and get over it. But not this time. This time, I had all the ingredients for a chocolate cake. And I went for it. And the cake is FABULOUS! The peeps helped me out, which renders the cake inedible for consumption by anyone outside of our four-person family, namely for sanitary reasons, but that's the beauty of family, right?

Still floating from my 100%-from-scratch trophy cake, I attempted a second recipe using only ingredients that we had on hand: Chicken and Biscuits using a recipe from a Jiffy cookbook I ordered years ago in one of my "I should really cook more often" phases. Instead of buying the Jiffy biscuit mix as suggested, I whipped up a cheesy biscuit batter, tossed in some home-grown carrots and corn, mixed it with some grilled chicken and cream of mushroom soup, and wah-lah: Dinner Is Served! Pretty tasty, too. By the way, yes, I have a small backyard garden, which might seem strange since I don't like to cook, but growing your own stuff rocks! We're waiting on the cantaloupes to ripen.

The boiling water image? My town is currently under a boil order so it doesn't matter that I don't like to cook. I'm stuck. Unless I go to the store and buy bottled water. But from my perspective, boiling water is the lesser of two evils.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Personal Commandment No. 5: Cultivate Your Swagger

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. - Alfred Lord Tennyson


I see a direct connection between cultivating my swagger and discovering - or rediscovering - my passions and interests. Here's what I've come up with so far. Details to follow ... Swagger on.

  • Helping struggling readers
  • Helping young people develop life skills
  • Wine
  • Hiking/Camping
  • Travel
  • Playing the piano?
  • Writing?
  • Reading
  • Teaching
  • Cooking and baking?
  • Organization
  • DYI Projects
  • Conducting research
  • Learning more about Buddhism
  • Mark Twain
  • Martha Gelhorn
  • Ben Franklin
  • Martin Luther

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Commandment No. 9: Recognize and appreciate love languages

As part of my Happiness Project, I wrote 10 personal commandments. Number 9 is Recognize and appreciate love languages. I gained a new perspective on love languages from my friend, Heather, who offered some sage marriage advice when she blogged about her 10th anniversary. Check it out on her blog, Battery Brains. Heather is several years younger than me, but so much wiser. She's an old soul. And she's an incredible wordsmith, so be sure to read all of her stuff!

Anyway, I took Heather's advice and began paying more attention to Mark's love language. He's not a man of many words or grand gestures. Here's how I know he loves me:

  • Last Sunday, he rode 15 hours on his motorcycle so he could arrive home one day early from a bike trip. He missed me and the peeps.
  • The day after he got home from his trip, he took the peeps for a whole day because he knew I'd been with them alone for four days.I didn't even ask him.
  • Most nights, after dinner, he plays with the peeps so I can have a little break, even though he could probably use a break himself after a stressful day at work. 
  • He brings me coffee in bed EVERY MORNING. Really. EVERY MORNING.
Recognizing and appreciating Mark's love language ... I have someone who loves me ... my ideal reality.

I found the image at Richard Wiseman Blog. Check him out, too!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Making Happiness Happen

I just finished reading This Is Not The Story You Think It Is ... A Season of Unlikely Happiness by Laura Munson. She wrote it as her 15-year marriage was unraveling as a way to work through the grief, confusion, anger, and sadness. But it's less about her marriage and more about the choice she made to put an end to self-suffering and to playing the victim. Her tough, sometimes heartbreaking, and often courageous journey made Munson realize that she was the only one responsible for her happiness, for creating her ideal reality. Relying on people, places, and things outside of her control to make her happy was a losing battle.

For me, this was one of those books where, on the surface, I didn't think it held much for me. It wasn't until a few days after I had finished reading that Munson's message began to sink in. I have spent quite a bit of time contemplating her story and reflecting on how it could impact my own life. It's a must read.

A few quotes from the book that resonated with me.
  • "Sometimes we just have to let ourselves be misunderstood."
  • "I'm just waking up to the fact that I'm in the middle of my life. This is it. I'm a forty-two-year-old who wants to be in a twenty-year-old's body, and it's not working."
  • "I'm going to get out of it what I want. I'm not waiting around for anything anymore. If I'm a garden and I need to be tended, then I'm going to do the tending."
  • "Instincts are everything, especially when it comes to crisis."
I joined The Happiness Project, and  my commandments are in writing in my Happiness Toolbox!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fourth of July: Colliding Illusions

Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces. ~Sigmund Freud

In my ideal reality, my adult Fourth of July celebrations mimic my childhood Fourth of July celebrations with the slight alteration that I now relive those days of yore vicariously through the peeps. This year, I envisioned the little ladies wide-eyed with amazement, shrieking over sparkling fountains,. savoring the acrid smell of smoke bombs, squashing black snakes with their new sneakers, chasing parachutes.

Not so much.

At the first wisp of deep purple smoke wafting from a smoke bomb, my ideal reality collided with, well, reality. Apparently, the peeps are afraid of all fireworks, including the innocent, seemingly harmless, smoke bomb. Wide-eyed with amazement? Try wide-eyed with terror. Fingers in ears in futile attempts to stop the noise. Oh, there was shrieking, but it wasn't of the giddy-with-excitement variety. More of the, "Why are you subjecting us to this horrible form of torture, o' evil mother figure?" variety.

We celebrated our independence early, on Friday, with Mark's family at Aunt Mary's house. After the smoke bomb incident, which sent the peeps out of their orbit and into hysterics, we (meaning me and the peeps) remained inside. All. Night. The evening consisted of me watching Alvin and the Chipmunks on FX while coming down from a two-glass high of Cupcake Chardonnay. The peeps pinballed between watching the movie, tooting toy horns (rather loudly, I might add. Or maybe that was the Chardonnay talking), and draping themselves in neon necklaces and bracelets. They had a blast.

Don't worry. Not all of my Fourth of July dreams were dashed to pieces. We had a highly successful outing to Toy Story 3, which was the peeps' first time in a movie theater. I got my wide-eyed amazement and my giddy with excitement shrieking. The peeps also walked in a neighborhood parade and snarfed down bowls of homemade ice cream ... for lunch. Our neighborhood goes nuts on the 4th, so the peeps went to bed early that night and avoided another fireworks confrontation. Mark and I spent the evening together on the porch, enjoying the chaos. He drank whiskey; I sipped some (OK, 3 glasses) of Red Bicyclette Pinor Noir. We snacked on graham crackers and mini marshmallows. The height of sophistication, yes?

I think I created a new vision of ideal reality.

BTW, how do you like my Feedjit widget? I just added it today. I stalked the idea from one of my new blog crushes, Green Acres in the City.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My 10 Commandments

I find instances of coincidence fascinating.  For example, I love that when I'm wrapped up in a particular topic, all sorts of related situations, news items, and messages pop up. I guess it could be less of a coincidence and more that I'm paying attention. Lately, I've been thinking about my own happiness (see earlier posts). Along those lines, several happiness-related items have caught my attention in the past week.

1. Examiner.com - I have my resume listed with an online career site, and I (and probably everyone else registered with the site) recently received an invitation to become a part-time freelance writer. The site is seeking "socially-conscious people in the community who desire to fulfill their inner calling and improve the lives of others." Essentially, it's an opportunity to write about the stuff I'm passionate about. Small problem: I'm not sure what that is right now. Again, see earlier posts.

2. A friend forwarded me an e-mail that included a PowerPoint presentation titled, Are You Happy? The message is that happiness is a choice. You can choose to make your own happiness, or you can spend your life relying on other people, places, and things to make you happy. Which leads me to happiness-related item No. 3 ...

3. I started reading Laura Munson's book This Is Not the Story You Think It is ... A Season of Unlikely Happiness. It's Munson's memoir about how she chose to commit herself to "The End of Suffering" and hold herself responsible for her own happiness after her husband told her he didn't love her anymore. Munson's writing style (stream of consciousness) took a little getting used to, but I'm hooked. From reading early book reviews, I know that her marriage survived and I'm curious about her journey.

I think I have finalized my Happiness Project commandments. Here they are, in no certain order. My next step to is create my Happiness Toolbox.

1. Be Mari
2. Do it now.
3. No fear.
4. Let it go.
5. Cultivate your swagger.
6. Listen with both ears.
7. It's not always about you (aka Don't take it personally).
8. Do your best always.
9. Recognize and appreciate love languages.
10. Cut yourself - and others - some slack.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Finding My Passion

I still have The Happiness Project on the brain. I ordered my own copy earlier this week. I was over the moon that Gretchen Rubin took a few minutes to post a very sweet note about my last blog! After I read her comment, I reread the quote I posted at the top of my blog, the one that gave me the idea for the title. It's from the book Edward Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. As I read the quote, a shiver ran down my spine. In her book, Gretchen writes about ideal reality when she introduces her commandment to Be Gretchen. This involves exploring what really interests her instead of trying to find happiness in things that she thinks should interest her. I, too, spend so much time trying to find happiness in people, places, and things that, truth be told, don't really make me happy.

My husband and I watched the movie Julie & Julia the other night. Fabulous movie. At its core, the movie is about two women, a generation apart, trying to discover their passions. Julia Child tried government work, hat making, and bridge playing before she discovered her love of and talent for cooking. Julie Powell followed a similar path: government work, cooking, blogging, full-time writing.

What about me? I still haven't found what I'm looking for (U2 anyone?) I have found myself thinking more about what doesn't really interest me. I'm working at stripping away the layers of ideal reality so I can just Be Mari.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happiness

I finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. LOVE this book. I borrowed it from the library, but I must have my own this book. MUST. The Happiness Project is a memoir about the year Rubin spent discovering how she could “change [her] life without changing [her] life.” Throughout the book, Rubin emphasizes that everyone’s Happiness Project will look different. And that may be true, but I think mine would look quite a bit like hers. As I read the pages and her ideas, I kept thinking, "I could have written this ...."

I haven’t created my own Happiness Project, although I’m thinking about it. Rubin has all of the tools online, and there is an extensive virtual community with whom I could share my ideas. I’m mulling over my resolutions and my Commandments. I just haven’t taken the step of committing them to writing.

Nevertheless, I have implemented a few of Rubin's ideas. I cleared the clutter out of my closet, replaced the lithium battery in our portable DVD player, and tossed the Pampered Chef chopper that has never worked. All three items were sources of irritation, and I did get a little boost from solving the problems. I’m tackling nagging tasks such as emptying the digital camera and editing the pictures in a timely manner. In an effort to make more time for friends, I’m planning our first party in years, and I have plans to meet with some girlfriends from high school for dinner soon. I’m also trying to be more energetic and more mindful while being less critical of myself and others. Today, in particular, I’m trying to have fun with failure. Sigh.

Perhaps most importantly, though, I’m diligently seeking the answers to three related, yet slightly different, questions:

1) What makes me happy?
2) What are my interests?
3) What am I passionate about?


It's been a long while since I've allowed myself to think about these questions. I'm excited and a little nervous to discover their answers.

Whatever you are doing today, I hope you are happy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just Call Me Flo

In my ideal reality, I'm a go-with-the-flow, roll-with-the-punches, carpe diem kind of gal, with a sparkle of cliche on top, apparently.

In my real reality, I'm a planner. I relish a good plan. I plan, I schedule, I plan some more. I don't just have Plan A. I have Plan B. And C. And D. And, well, sometimes E. I've gotten better since the peeps arrived on the scene. After all, with two toddlers a person can get all the way to Plan Z and still be screwed.

That's why at this time in my life I'm itchy, fidgety, and restless. While I have a general plan mapped out for the next several months (wife, mom, grad school), there are certain elements that I have no control over, no say in. How these missing pieces fall into place will greatly alter my general plan. Even though I know everything will work out the way it is supposed to, the uncertainty and the not knowing what's around the corner make me insane.

Yet, in a strange way, I feel like every day is Christmas morning, and I'm eagerly awaiting my turn to open a present. Any day now, a piece could drop into place and I could drift toward a new path, one I might have never even considered had I concocted a plan. I just need to be open to these new gifts and recognize them as such. The best way to do that? Just call me FLO.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Life is a Caketastrophe

In my ideal reality, I live a balanced life. Mothering the peeps, spending time with Mark, working outside the home, being a good friend, running a fully-functioning household, and preparing for an advanced degree are just pieces of an evenly sliced pie. At the end of each day, all of the pieces are intact and perfect. Everyone is happy.

But in my real reality, I don't care too much for pie. Most days, especially lately, I feel like my life is one of those caketastrophes we enjoy looking at on the Internet. Everything feels mangled, mashed, smashed, and uneven. Maybe I feel this way because I've been sick for two weeks, Maybe I'm trying too hard in areas that, in the dreamy dessert tray of life, really aren't that tasty. Maybe I read too much about mothers who do seem able to do it all and have it all, forgetting that the sweet life they portray is only a crumb of the real story.

Whatever the reason, I'm out of whack. And I want my whack back. Oh, and I want some cake, too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Don't Know What to Write About OR January Recap

I've been thinking about updating the blog for awhile now. But that's all I've done, just thought about it. When I'm not at the computer, I can think of all kinds of things to write about. When I make the time to sit down and write, nothing comes to mind. I obsess about being unoriginal, boring, or a copycat. I obsess to the point where I just throw up my hands in disgust, hang my head in shame, and walk away. At least I haven't given up, right?

January has been an interesting month. Here's the recap:

1). The peeps turned three, and we celebrated with a Snow White/Mater party! The cake I attempted would've made an excellent candidate for that Cake Wreck web site. But it was just the four of us, so no one really cared.

2). I'm set to begin another long-term sub job any day. I'll be teaching 9th grade Challenge Communication Arts. I'm super excited about this opportunity because I get to revisit mythology, Homer's Odyssey, Fahrenheit 451, and Romeo & Juliet. Love that stuff!

3) I learned that it irritates some people when I refer to the peeps' daycare as "school." On a related note, I learned that the war between SAHM's and WOHM's is still waging. Why can't we all just get along? You do what's right for your family, and I'll do what's right for my family, and we'll all hold hands and sing "Kumbaya." Easier said than done, I guess.

4) I fulfilled one of my 2010 goals (to get out and about more this year) Saturday night by meeting up with some friends from high school, most of whom I hadn't seen in 20 years. I wasn't much of a social butterfly, but at least I put myself out there.

5) I plan on fulfilling another 2010 goal (to meet new people/make new friends) this coming Sunday when I attend a local mom meet up. While I will know a handful of women there, most will be lots of new faces and new personalities. At least I'm putting myself out there.

6) I started another master's class. Only six more to go. Let the countdown begin! I earn my degree in December, but by the start of the next school year, I should be eligible for a provisional Reading Specialist certificate.

Ta Da!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas 2009 - Ideal Reality Achieved

We wrapped up an extended holiday season today, just in time to start exploring the new year. Our Christmas celebrations started December 19 and were slated to wrap up on December 26. However, a blizzard of the snowed-in for days variety forced us to postpone the final celebration until today. I enjoyed each family gathering, but it's good to be done.

For the first time in many years, I eagerly anticipated Christmas. Not only are the peeps at an age where they know what's going on, but I got to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with MY family. And by "MY family," I mean it was just me, my husband, and the peeps. No one else. We didn't have to drive anywhere, bring anything, or tolerate anybody else or their holiday rules. The days were all ours. It was my ideal reality come true. A cherished event.

While I'm sure our celebration would not light the world on fire, it was the stuff my dreams are made of. Christmas Eve night we played a pre-pre-school version of Candyland by a semi-roaring fire. Each person got to do a victory dance when they won. When we tired of playing the game, we read "Twas the Night Before Christmas." The peeps sat through the entire story and loved it. Later, the peeps and I snuggled and played on the sofa, and when bedtime arrived the little ladies climbed into bed and drifted quickly off to sleep.

Cartoons in bed and Mark's homemade cinnamon rolls (a new family tradition) sparked our Christmas Day celebration. The peeps opened their presents and oohed and awed over each packaged and the surprise it contained. Hot Wheels. Thomas the Train. A saxophone. A kitchen and shopping cart. Games. Santa was kind to them. Not a lump of coal in sight.

On Saturday, we were stilled snowed in. We romped in the snow (approx. 9 inches!) and drank hot cocoa to defrost. Correction: Mark and I drank it hot. The peeps wanted "coldy" hot cocoa. I don't recommend it, but they slurped it down and wanted more. Late in the afternoon, I snuggled with the peeps under our "magic shawl" and watched "Cars" and "Snow White."

Did we squabble? If we did, I don't remember. Did cabin fever invade our cozy habitat? Yep. By Sunday we were all looking to fly the coop. Regardless, Christmas 2009 will go down in my personal history as one of the rare times that my ideal reality jived with the true reality.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, and I wish everyone the best in 2010.