Change Your Mind

Something I have really been grateful lately is the opportunity to change my mind. I have changed my mind so many times, about so  many things. Sometimes I start to get embarrassed that I change my  mind so much. But is it really such a bad thing to do?

When I was in college, I knew I wanted to major in English. I also wanted to get a teaching license and minor in math, because I thought it would make me more marketable as a graduate. My sophomore year, I did a semester of watching other teachers at two schools. One of the schools was a huge high school. The other school was a remedial high school where kids who struggled at mainstream high schools attended.

I was so discouraged when I watched a group of eighth graders sit in a reading circle and realized that many of them were functionally illiterate. My heart absolutely went out to them, but the helplessness I felt in the face of their situation overwhelmed me. Looking at the amount of classes I would have to take to get a teaching license doubled that sinking feeling. It would take me a “super senior” fifth year of college to get through unless I wanted to study all through the summer every year. I dropped out of the teaching program at the end of the semester.

My math minor ended when I started to take a second year math theory class, and the class was so hard that I was afraid I would lose my scholarship if I finished. I dropped out.  Through my college experience I also started minors in Spanish and Communications, dropping both of them when I realized they would make me take 5 years, too, and I could only have a scholarship for four years.

I started to have a complex that I quit everything. I worried and worried that I am weak, and that I just don’t have what it takes to succeed. When I struggled to get my real estate license, and to decide to keep practicing as a realtor, the dragon of this fear reared its ugly head and blew fire in my face. “You are a quitter,” it hissed in my ear. For awhile, I listened, and wallowed in self pity.

Later, I questioned. Am I really a quitter? I thought about all of the quilts I have made. I thought about my caregiver project. I still have plans and dreams to work on both of those things. I thought about my marriage, which so far has lasted 15 years, and my kids, who are  13 and younger. I haven’t quit on any of those things, even when they got hard.

Just because I have stopped some things, doesn’t make me a quitter. It’s called changing your mind, and it’s one of the best things you can do when you are trying to move forward with your life.

I once received a wedding invitation that was followed a week later by a notice that the wedding was canceled. When I received that cancellation, I thought, “Thank goodness they changed their minds now instead of after the wedding!” It’s so much better to change course early than far down a road that is the wrong way.

I recently had to tell the senior members of my team that I had changed my mind about some decisions I had made at work. They were so gracious, and accepted my apology for changing my mind so often.

I like being reliable, and relying on other people. I think this is why it has been hard for me to let myself change my mind. But it’s also nice to be fully honest. Letting yourself change your mind allows for a happier and more authentic existence.

I once decided never to speak to a close friend again, because I kept hurting his feelings and feeling bad about it. Later, I changed my mind. Now we have been pretty happily married for 15 years.

If you are not sure if it’s okay to change your mind, let me just say that I highly recommend it.

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You Are Just as Smart as You Ever Were

IMG_5444Lately I have had a mighty struggle about what I want to do with my life. I got my realtor’s license last fall after coordinating a team of realtors for about a year and a half. I loved what I did as a coordinator, and I am learning to love the new things I am doing, too.

The truth is, I’m a little introverted, so some of the things realtors do are harder for me than I wish they were. I’ve wondered if this is the right path. I worked so hard to get here. School took almost a year of studying at night, weekends, and any time I could tightly squeeze it in between my four kids, work, and church stuff. At one point I gave up, thinking I’d never be able to finish my realtor schooling because of the health problems I was facing.

Then I got my health managed, and by early last fall found myself taking the real estate exam. I got my license, and began practicing real estate. My first year has been a challenge, with ups and downs. I haven’t been sure if this is what I want to do with my life.

I have unloaded on my dear partner more times than I care to admit. I love my team and office so much. I have had terrific clients so far, and the more experience I get, the more capable I feel of helping people through whatever happens in a transaction.

I’m pushing 40, and maybe it’s a mid life crisis, but I kept questioning if this is the right path for me. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to change careers again. I have worked in a building supply store, a doctor’s office, a youth treatment facility, and as a writer and photographer, and I’m just starting to feel old. I feel like I can’t keep jumping around like this anymore.

One night a few weeks ago, Alex said something profound to me. He had said this to me in different ways, but he looked at me, put his hands on my shoulders and said, “You are just as smart as you ever were.” He waited for it to sink in. For months I had been questioning if I could do anything else, if I could do this, or if I had lost the possibilities I always believed in when I was younger. For months he had reassured me that I can do anything I set my mind to do.

Finally, his words sank in. I realized that just because I’m older, just because my life is more complicated with work, children, and health issues, doesn’t mean I’m not still me. Someone inside of me needs to write, and I had shut her down for a long time.  When Alex said that, something switched, and I decided that I’m going to make room for writer Jenny to be part of my life.

Does this mean I have to stop being a real estate agent? For a long time I thought it might. But when I started looking into copywriting as a trade, I immediately knew that specific path was wrong. I think that Realtor Jenny and Writer Jenny are going to have to work together. And I think that because I am as smart as I ever was, I will be able to make that happen somehow.

So in this post, I am grateful that although I usually have the words, when I needed them most, Alex had the right words for me.

And just for an inspirational boost for anyone feeling like me, here is a great article from the Wall Street Journal letting us know that It’s Never Too Late to Start a Brilliant Career.

Summer Solstice

Yesterday was the longest day of the year, and so many good things happened.

I had a good day at work, plowing through lots of things that needed to be done, managing mischief, as they say.

Then, after work I went to dinner with my best friend and husband Alex. We ate at River Rock Roasting Company, and sat enjoying this view:

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Could my boyfriend get any cuter? Love him. And then there was this life changing salad. I really love the Amarrakesh (sp?) at Red Rock because it has this heavenly yellow lime dressing. I don’t know what else is in it, but it has just enough heat, possibly some turmeric? Whatever it is, it is exotic. The only thing I don’t love about that salad is that it is all spinach. So last night I ordered the Cobb Salad with no bleu cheese and no ranch (I can’t eat dairy – one of the greater tragedies of my life), and the lime dressing from the other salad.

Shortly thereafter, this salad came, and it was heaven on a plate. It had so many good things. Romaine lettuce, tender chicken breast, bacon – just the right level of crisp. The cucumber and eggs were sliced to thin perfection. I left the tomatoes, because I’m experimenting with avoiding nightshades for my RA diet, but even that meant a pretty red pop on the plate when I was done.

Whoever that chef is takes true pride in his or her work, and I thank them for it. It was a solstice dinner long to be remembered. I wanted to go order another one after we had left because I kept thinking about this salad.

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Just look at it. I wish you could smell it and taste it. I made Alex taste it twice. It was magnificent.

Afterward, we went to Best Buy to shop for laptops for me, because it’s getting to be time I had my own.  On the way out, there was a gorgeous sunset. The pink gold clouds stopped us in our tracks, and we stood leaning against our car to enjoy it while it bloomed. iPhone pictures never do things justice, so you’ll just have to trust me. Yesterday was definitely a solstice to remember.

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Horrible Children

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See those feet sticking out from under the blanket? I’m pretty sure they are about 18″ farther away from the head on the other end than they were yesterday. Today I am grateful for my healthy youngest child. He had a serious illness this winter that also taught me gratitude for modern medicine.

He is our baby, and he is lucky because I figured out mindfulness better by the time I had him. I enjoyed his infancy so much, because I knew what I was doing. He was my fourth practice, and I wasn’t perfect, but I was much better than each previous one.

I think he is going through a growth spurt, because he put himself to bed at about 8 pm yesterday, and fell asleep on the couch today in the late afternoon. For a little while I would get upset at growth spurts, because we think he is our last child. Growth spurts meant the baby falls away even faster into a little, and then a not-so-little boy. Today, I will be grateful just to watch.

I’ll listen to him ask for his “white blue blanket” and enjoy the mystery of not knowing whether he means that the blanket (his favorite) is light blue, or that the blanket is white and blue. Someday he will say all of his L’s properly. Not this day, and for that I’m grateful.

Notice the X wing he and his brothers made. He has to have it next to him always, whether he is napping on the couch, or in his regular bed. At night he rests it in the window sill.

I always jokingly call my children horrible, but what I really mean is that it’s horrible how quickly they disappear from babies to toddlers, to big kids, to teenagers. Soon enough, they’ll be off adulting. It’s absolutely horrible. Still, I’m so grateful for the joy of standing over this child, relishing the stillness of his nap.

My Dad

Today I am grateful for my dad. I have too many reasons to make a thorough list, so I just wanted to share a recent story that illustrates who he is.

My dad is the mayor of his town. I went to a city council meeting to represent him on a property thing he is doing. I’m a realtor, and since he’s the mayor he wanted someone else to be there due to his conflict of interest. At the beginning of the agenda, the city recognized a couple of employees for their outstanding work.

Someone got up and read a letter to all of us from a man who had moved to town as his wife was sick and passing. He talked about how comforting it was in his time of grief to work with the two city employees who manage the cemetery. The letter described the city employee’s services in glowing terms, and stated how comforting it was to have these great professionals help him lay his beloved wife to rest.  It was a long letter, and by the time it was read I had tears flowing down my face. I don’t even know that guy, or the two employees, but I was moved.

I looked up and my dad was crying. The mayor! Crying openly in a city council meeting.

Then the city honored a couple of teens from one of the local youth homes as well, and Dad’s voice cracked when he congratulated them, too. My dad’s love and compassion for his fellow humans is profound. He has so much love for other people that it spills, wet, out of his face on a regular basis. It spilled into his children, too, and many of us are crybabies just like him. I wouldn’t change that.

So while I celebrate my dad for many reasons, today I choose to celebrate his compassion. Thanks for creating a safe space for me, and for all the people you help in your church and community, Dad. You’re a keeper.