#15 PART I – There are AMAZING people out there and I want to talk about them

Here are two of my favorite to start…

Jamie Crockett – a young woman who once went on a Quest. She wrote about it, and I hung on every single word of it. I already had a huge amount of respect for who Jamie and her accomplishments to date, but this one blew me out of the water. She and I have a cosmic connection. By that I mean that I always feel her with me, even though we physically live about 11 hours apart and only talk once a month, if we’re lucky. We met in high school, freshman year, maybe even day one… it was Spanish class and she made fun of me. I returned the favor, not believing that she could actually change her nail polish color every single day. For neither of us was high school that great. I, myself am happy with it firmly more than a decade behind me. We lived just about a 1/2 mile from one another and spent a pretty good amount of time together, often accompanied by Courtney, Devin and Ariel. We went to college very separately, but we maintained our friendship through the phone and occasional visits. College had it’s challenges for Jamie, of which I honestly don’t remember much of the details, just the broad stuff. I was too busy having my own college challenges, with boys of course. Our cosmic connection kept us abreast of one another’s lives and nearing the end of college I started hearing about her and my friend Jared spending a great deal of time together. It took me by surprise at first, but he too is one of my most favorite people in the entire world, and I was really fond of the idea of them being together. They are happily married now.

Jamie is an artist. A quite talented and accomplished artist. Inspiring doesn’t quite do her justice. She is also a Certified Therapeutic Breathwork Facilitator, and working on her PhD at University of North Carolina. What is also amazing is that Jared too is working on his PhD, but he’s back in Boston, and they are spending the first couple of years of their programs apart. Strong and confident. I couldn’t believe after a few years together how her and Jared truly became one. They seemed so different to me apart, yet together they became none other but each other’s soul mate.

Jamie has a beautiful smile, heart and soul. You can feel her soul touch yours when you speak to her and she looks into your eyes. She genuinely cares and fervently listens. She was my maid of honor at my wedding and her words made me cry when she toasted us. She is bubbly, yet deep. A beautifully aged champagne.

Sophia Nakis – our beautiful real estate agent turned confidant, play-date partner and good friend. Casey and I met her at Starbucks one afternoon. Casey found her name somewhere when we decided that we wanted to buy a house. She was the absolute best (so good that we never even talked to one other real estate agent… which means we actually have nothing to compare her to, but who needs to when you’ve got her?). She told us that she was big on education. We were eager to learn. She seriously took care of business and we bought a house within 30 days of meeting her. We might not have continued a relationship with her if she hadn’t invited us out for a cocktail a month or so later to “catch up” and kept in constant contact with us through her monthly newsletters and seasonal trinkets on our doorstep. Don’t get me wrong – we loved her, so we would have initiated the friendship, but we figured she was too busy to become friends with all of her clients. And she probably doesn’t, but we just hit it off with her. Not to mention her kick-ass husband, and a year or so later, her beautiful baby girl who is just a couple months younger than Parker. They make a complete family of awesome-ness!

Sophia is so confident, so motivated, so lively and so much more. Her smile lights up the room and in the past 3 years, I’ve taken every opportunity to get together with her. She just brings such great energy with her. She, like Jamie, has traits that I aspire to attain myself. I don’t know Sophia nearly as well as I know Jamie, simply because I’ve been connected to Jamie for more than 15 years. But what I know is that she just brings happiness and life to a room. She brings knowledge and vigor to a conversation. And she brings inspiration to many people both professionally and personally, myself included.

Well done ladies! You are A-Ok in my book!

More amazing people coming soon to a blog near you…

#13 – I’m in the middle of reading Eat Pray Love and it makes me want to “get in touch”

I’m no longer “in the middle of”, I am now done reading (actually listening) to “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I bought the audiobook because I was making a trek alone up to Jamie and Jared’s house in North Carolina, and it was about 22 hours of driving.  Turned out my iPod shuffle was not the appropriate device to listen to a 16-hour audio book on because you could not get back to where you were if you hit a wrong button, which I did.  You cannot fast-forward an iPod Shuffle.  I know it’s just a silly little shuffle, it has it’s place in the world, but shame on you Apple!  How disappointed was I?  Well it turned out okay, I talked to everyone under the sun during that drive, and spent the subsequent months finding alone time to continue listening to my book.

I would have enjoyed reading the book with my own two eyes, no doubt.  But I really enjoyed listening.  You know how you never really know if you are pronouncing things or using the right intonation when reading to yourself, when it’s the voice in your head speaking the words to you?  Well it was a total bonus to not have to question myself the whole time.  But the even bigger bonus was that the narration was done by Elizabeth Gilbert herself (that’s the author if you haven’t been following along).  The part that made this all so exciting to me was not just that she was reading it how it was meant to be read, but the book is her memoirs.  It’s her telling her story to you, right into your ears and into your heart.

Now, I have to admit, no sooner than I finished the  book did I rent the movie.  I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as the actual book, you never do.  Everyone told me I would not enjoy it, and that Julia Roberts just doesn’t cut it.  She’s just not the real Liz Gilbert, especially after Liz reading the story to you herself.  I felt like I knew Liz, and that Julia Roberts… gotta love her, you do, but she just didn’t stack up.  Not even close.  I know it’s a totally different ball game trying to sell movies than it is to sell books.  I get that.  But what made the book – her life – so utterly amazing was that it was toilsome.  This movie brought a tear to my eye at one point, but I don’t think that part was even in the book.  I know… gotta sell Hollywood.  Enough said.

So this woman: early 30s, accomplished writer, marriage, hopes, dreams, all that jazz.  She wants out of her marriage.  She wants out so bad that it brings her to her knees repeatedly in the deepest darkest part of the night on the bathroom floor.  So what does she do?  She gets out.  But it costs her every piece of her and her life… all her money, belongings, dignity.  A 2-year long divorce, with a jagged love story smack dab in the middle of that horrible drama (which the movie did absolutely NOTHING to portray… sorry, I’m done), leaving her so undone that she needs to pack up and leave to accomplish 3 things: to learn Italian and stuff her face with Italian food; to find peace and divinity; and to return to Bali, where a prophetic medicine man told her she would return to one day to help him learn English.

Those three things bring her to 3 parts of the world and she goes through so much transformation, so much soul-searching, soul-finding.  She’s searching for peace and forgiveness within.  She’s up, she’s down, but she finds what she’s looking for and more.  And it all hits home for me because I wonder how could this woman be going through so much pain and heartache at her age (I’m much, much younger… but still…)?  Don’t horrendous divorces come much later in life?  But I guess when you are accomplished and have money, that those types of battles can come at any time.  If she didn’t have so many assets, I’m sure he would have found some other way to draw out the proceedings and make her miserable.  But I find that it’s getting scary to be getting closer to that “mid-life” place.  That place where so many people get divorced, are unhappy with the path they are on, and don’t know what they want.

I have a friend who is exactly my age, with 2 kids right about the same ages as mine, homeowner, doing well in her career.  She tells me casually one day that she’s getting a divorce.  Right in the middle of a conversation about our preferred bed size (king or queen?)!  And it’s been bubbling below the surface for 2 whole years.  TWO YEARS!  How does that happen?  Her kids are so young, their marriage is so young.  What a direct hit of reality.

I think my mom was somewhere around 30 when her and my dad got divorced.  I never thought about that until this very moment as I am typing about this point in life, this age… back to “it really IS a big deal to turn 30“.

But, the point I’d like to make about all this, and the book, and why I enjoyed it so much is that these women all made a choice.  They made a choice to give themselves a second chance at happiness.  They recognized what was wrong in their lives and they did what they needed to do to fix it, to be whole.  Now, Liz Gilbert was a bit of an extreme case, but of course, that’s why it was on the New York Times Bestseller list.  If we all had experiences like hers, combined with her amazing writing ability, then we too would be on the Bestseller list!

This blog is about exploring me, about going deep.  And it’s about being inspired.  I am totally inspired by Liz Gilbert’s Bestseller.  Eat Pray Love was beautiful.  It was a lot about finding God, whatever version of God you choose.  I’ve started to talk about my views about the universe and faith, and I’ll probably continue at some point.

The last point I’d like to make is that extreme stories like Eat Pray Love aren’t everyone’s answer.  There are many ways to become and stay grounded, to find peace and forgiveness within.  Life is about maintenance.  Keeping up with yourself, externally and more importantly internally.  Not letting your problems, fears, and angers get out of control.  Dealing with them without delay.  Marriage maintenance can totally feel burdensome, especially when we just want it to be easy and fun.  But it’s absolutely necessary.

Love yourself, love others and most importantly, let others love you.  Well done Elizabeth Gilbert.  I now fully intend to go buy your follow up memoir “Committed”!!

#7 – I also secretly want to be a teacher so I can buy office supplies ALL the time

What is not to love about office supplies?  Fresh, untouched notebooks, pens, pencils and erasers.  Piles of shiny, unbent paperclips.  Unlimited supply of binder clips in all sizes.  Extra sticky Post-It Notes!   Sharpies!

I absolutely love going to Office Depot. I slowly roam the aisles trying to come up with bona fide uses for the assorted products previously mentioned, even though I am generally stocked up already.  I have to use a great deal of will power to not buy things that I did not go there for in the first place.  Usually I go there to pick up supplies for work and most often leave there disappointed that I couldn’t buy more than just one package of labels.

Sometimes it’s even worse when I go to Sam’s Club.  They have huge packages of legal pads, sticky notes and sharpies.  I am always tempted to buy a stack of 20 legal pads… but really, it will take so long to go through them all, that I would miss out on the pleasure of going to Office Depot to re-stock.

Generally my obsession with office supplies is practical.  Products that I use for work to assist with my efficiency and organization.  And once a year I will go shopping for a new notebook, one with a hard cover, pretty design and nice paper inside.  This is what I use for the whole year to take notes at meetings, while on the phone, doing research and making lists.  Boy do I love making lists.  But this practicality could totally be blown out the door if I became a teacher.

Now we’re talking really fun stuff… construction paper, mass quantities of number 2 pencils, markers, rulers, colored pencils, storage containers to keep all this stuff in and lots and lots of college ruled paper!  I always hear about teachers not really having a budget to buy these supplies, and generally if they want to have fun stuff in their classroom, they have to buy it themselves.  I think I might have to actually start saving to become a teacher so I could indulge.  Never mind my own kids’ college education fund, or a retirement fund. No, I’m actually considering a school supplies fund.  I would have the most exciting classroom ever!  Well that’s if any of the kids shared my passion for paper…

I don’t know if I would be a good teacher, despite being stocked up.  I suspect that I would probably do a good job, but it would have to be elementary education.  I can’t handle the crappy little blue composition notebooks (or even worse the black and white Rorschach-print notebooks that don’t allow you to write close to the spine) that you are required to use in middle and high school.  Total creativity-suppression. Plus, I have enough hormones to go around, I don’t want to be forced into a hormone-infested classroom everyday of the week to really put me over the edge.

Sweet little kids that don’t know everything yet, and love to cut paper are probably my speed.  They like school at that age too.  The tweens and teens that like school are generally smarter than their teachers and are just as much of a pain in the ass as the kids who hate or pretend to hate school because they think that’s the cool way to be.

Now that I’ve thought this all through so well, I’m beginning to think that I might be stuck in the 20th century.  In fact my husband just text-messaged me from the Apple store saying that he wants to spend $200 on a brand new iPhone 4S for me so he can bring me into the 21st century.  Is that what it takes?  Do kids even use pencils and paper any more?  Do the first graders get iPads in their classrooms now?  Are there even teachers anymore or just LCD screens with the day’s lessons and two-way mirrors in case anyone loses their focus and needs to be put in line?

I’ll have to think of another savings fund…

#6 – I Secretly Want to Be A Psychologist

I’ve learned a lot about people the past few years.  I’ve learned a lot about what motivates them, what makes them tick.  I’ve met too many that are ego-driven and attention-starved.  I’ve also met many many kind-hearted people.  People that would do a lot for me, that have done a lot of me.  I get along best with like-minded people that are honest, straight-forward and strong-at-heart.  Many people can be strong-at-mind, I’m one of them.  But without those other attributes, I don’t find that I am attracted to them.  My favorite people in the world exhibit these qualities and they exhibit them with ease… and they smile a lot!

But that’s all warm and fuzzy.  What I’ve explored as of late are a few key character types of which I will describe one at a time.

Here is the first… this personality-type is someone who will do anything to know, to be the keeper and distributor of information.  For these people, they love to tell others how much they know and how important it makes them for knowing, for being a source, and even better to be THE source.  It makes people feel important to know.  As the saying goes… “knowledge is power”.  But I’ve met some people that just go so far our of their way to share proprietary information or confidential information just to get a short-term boost of ego juice.  They want to be The Source so badly that their actions become obvious and the people around them cease to speak to them about ANYTHING of importance.  This person will be referred to as “The Source.”

Next we have the type of person that stores up information to use at just the perfect moment.  The intent? To strike!  They want to strike against someone or multiple people that they want to or already have conflict with.  They have a point to prove.  They are rarely right within their circles, which causes conflict for them.  Instead of moving on to other circles they continue forth and formulate a plan to catch you with your proverbial pants down.  Rarely can they because the people they desire conflict with are generally smarter, quicker, wittier and braver.  When they have a plan of attack or a verbal weapon in hand, they are generally so eager they prematurely erupt, making a fool of themselves.  We’ll call this person “The Striker.”

Then we have the person who generally tells tales so tall that they can’t keep them all straight.  A web of fibs so thick that over time the stories change, growing horns and beards.  They create excuses, make up stories and get this… they are never wrong!  They are so good at continuing down the path of deceit  that they just can’t be called out for their fabrications and just continue to get away with it.  Only a person with not a care in the world, or maybe a soul, could nail this person to the wall.  Therefore, you have “The Escapee.”

There is a very common thread among The Source, The Striker and The Escapee… their ego needs attention.  They need attention  They stop at nothing to receive it, be it good, bad or ugly.  Some may refer to any of these characters as the drama queen/king.  I’ve often used that term myself.  The bottom line is they are seeking attention, acceptance and esteem.  Don’t we all at one point or another?

I’ve been The Source at times.  But it has only led to frustration, for me and the people that want the information more than me.  Holding onto the info is false power.  We are the human race, we crave knowledge.  Feeling uninformed can be painful, hurtful and can leave you feeling powerless.

Being able to recognize why people act the way they do IS powerful.  You can choose how to manage The Source, The Striker and The Escapee if you recognize their deficiencies and inefficiencies, we’ve all got ’em.  You can chose to selectively inform The Source, you can stroke The Striker to keep them happy and subdued by including them in the inner-circle.  And you can choose to just listen to and believe The Escapee, no matter how badly you want to challenge “the facts”.  If you are a strong, stable individual, you don’t have to indulge yourself in the drama.  You just have to understand that everyone comes from somewhere, everyone has a place in the world and everyone chooses the path they are on, sometimes even if unknowingly.

Dealing with people, all people, requires patience.  I didn’t have much of that a few years ago, but I’ve since learned where to demonstrate patience, kindness and compassion.  I’ve been told that I can be a bitch.  Good for me right?  Isn’t that really where the “strong-minded” comes into play?  Well either way, no matter what you call it, I’ve found more appropriate use for my bitch-power.  I’ve channeled it into a hobby of analyzing why people act and react the way they do.  I’ve learned how to deal with crazy characters, and same-sex colleagues.  I’ve somehow wizened beyond my 30 years through this hobby.  It gives me real power.  Power to be myself, to be respected, to be a force.

#4 – Part Two

I wasn’t done with this one either I guess…

Sometimes I just stare at a picture of one or both of the boys when I’m at work, or when they are asleep at night, or when they are sitting right next to me.  I can’t get enough of them.  Looking at a picture of them or even better – while they are sleeping – is the best, because they are peaceful and quiet.

Right after Parker was born, Casey and I would go in and watch him sleep all the time, night after night.  We both still do it occasionally.  As much as we can’t wait for the magical hour of bedtime some nights, most nights we still will sit on the couch and wish they were next to us.  So we quietly sneak into their bedrooms, sometimes cover them with a blanket, but most often just look at them.

We never put our kids into bed with us, even when they were brand new out-of-the-box babies.  We were too afraid of creating a habit, and we also cherish our bed for all the reasons one should cherish their bed.  But because we created the habit of never sleeping in bed with Mom and Dad, they will NOT sleep in bed with Mom and Dad.  And I know for parents that created “co-sleepers” with habits all throughout the spectrum, the snuggling with their sleeping kids in bed is the good part of that not-so-good habit.  We try to snuggle with Parker in his bed after reading him a book before lights out and he actually says “go away”.  He’s so polite.

He was just as polite to me this afternoon while picking him up from daycare.  I buckled him into his carseat and affectionately plucked his nose off with my knuckles.  He didn’t even look up from whatever toy animal he found tucked away in his carseat when he returned to it, he just said “go away.”  I told him that wasn’t very nice to say.  His response?  “Drive.”  No emotion, just direction.  A little taken aback by his effrontery, I told him not to be mean to me and quietly obeyed his command and… drove.

Sometimes, I want to laugh at my off-the-cuff midget when he says some rude remark, and sometimes I do laugh at him, but I really do try not to encourage such behavior.  He doesn’t know any better.  I give him commands and demands all day long.  It’s most often followed by “please”, but just the same, it’s all learned behavior.  Similar to spilling his cereal and saying with the most serious look on his face, “Oh Shit!”

#4 – I have 2 kids and they are great inspiration for writing and entertainment

Parker is 3 years old, and Connor is 1.  They are two very special, very beautiful boys.  Some cringe when they hear their ages and say “I remember that age”.  Others smile and say “oh what a fun age!”.  I very much believe in both of those sentiments and have found that some of this parenting stuff is really mind over matter.  It’s also very much common sense, using your noggin’ and keeping one step ahead of them AT ALL TIMES!

Truly, this is a great age!  One-year-olds explore everything, begin to test their boundaries in very benevolent ways, and laugh uncontrollably at everything.  Three-year-olds also explore everything, continue to test their boundaries in more malevolent ways, and say hilarious and sometimes very perplexing things.

Parker has names confused with a number of other things that don’t make sense.  For example, when asked what Traci and Neil’s unborn child’s name is, he says “Christmas” because that’s when the baby is expected to arrive.  When you ask what his own name is, he’ll put 3 fingers up and tell you he’s 3.  Connor has the most adorable way of tilting his head to see something that isn’t quite vertical, and most often falls over.   They don’t know better at these ages, they are just off-the-cuff little midgets.

Of course, they are also sooo challenging at times, and try every last bit of patience I have.  That’s the mind over matter.  Here’s an example conversation that my mind and I had today:

Brain: Hey Christine, that kid of yours is being really irritating.  Time to boil up inside and lose your patience… go ahead, blow your top.
Christine: Thanks Brain, I know he’s being irritating.  But I’m going to take a deep breath, tune you out (and him) and not let him drive me crazy.

I’ve found that if I want to (<– key word WANT), I can use this method with a lot of things in life.  Here’s another very good example conversation that my brain and I have had in the past:

Brain: Christine – it is really starting to hurt, so you should probably start screaming or cursing or at least ask the Doc for an epidural.  Ready?  Go!
Christine: Thanks Brain, but I’d like to counter with – women have been having babies for millions of years, it’s not that bad, and it will be over soon, so I’m just going to keep my eyes closed and sweat it out.

But, it’s not always so easy to overpower your mind, and often enough I blow my top, scream out loud and let my blood pressure rise so high I can feel my ears get hot.  Sometimes I stop and think to myself about how embarrassed I would be if someone was in the room with me when I react poorly to my kids behavior.  Sometimes I don’t know why I can handle it and why other times it can just feel like too much.  Why do we have patience when other people are around and blow our top when they’re not?

It pays off to stay one step ahead of your kids.  You know your kids better than anyone.  Even if they are at school, or daycare, or with a nanny all day – you know your kids when they are at their best, their worst, and every where in between.  So, you know what you can do to save them from meltdowns and tantrums.  And of course not all the time, who’s kid is predictable 100% of the time.  I know some kids that aren’t even predictable 50% of the time.

Parker (3) is getting to the age where it is starting to bother him when Casey and I argue in front of him.  Today he told us both repeatedly to stop talking.  I told him it was ok and that Daddy and I were just having an argument.  It made me a little sad to see him feel our pain and anxiety with each other, but I know it’s normal and ok.

I will never forget the feeling I had when we found out I was pregnant with Connor.  I looked at Parker and started to cry.  I was so upset because I thought I had to take some of my love away from him and give it to a new baby.  I couldn’t stand the thought.  Soon enough I realized there was plenty where that came from, and he could keep my love.  I’m no Indian Giver.

What a trip… what     a     trip…

#14 – PART TWO

By the way… I am so proud of myself!

I spent a little bit of time last night talking with a couple friends about me… Vain? No. I was proud to talk about my accomplishments and they were eager to reinforce them.
I kept referencing my blog to them, excited about the topics that I have written and will be writing about. Finally I just said – you’ve gotta read it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Writing has been something I’ve really looked forward to each day, and I’ve realized this blog is my life’s transitional outlet.

An end to an era is coming for me, and I’m not scared. Nope, no fear for me. Everything happens just the way it’s supposed to. So while I wait it out for a bit, I’m going to… Enjoy and smile.

Smiling and laughing more is one of my goals for 2011. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I’m content. That inner contentment rises up, slips out and lands right on my lips… Causing me to smile.