Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being Me

Hello? You guys still here?
I'm just back from Atlanta area on a work trip and planning to head out again to Boston tomorrow. Travel is still fun (I love getting out of the office for a few days!) but I can tell its taking it's toll on me. There is never enough time for laundry, house-cleaning, packing [again!], studying, all the office work that piles up for me while I'm gone, or quality time with E. (If I ever had a a job that required more traveling I would hire a cleaning lady and laundress without feeling guilty!)

When I was catching up on grocery shopping yesterday the guy at the checkout asked if I was getting excited about Halloween.

Me: "No, Halloween's not really thing".

"But it's the only day of the year you can be whoever you want to be!"

Then, this just came out.
"Well, I'm pretty happy with being me."

He didn't know how to respond so I just laughed and walked out.

But it got me thinking about why that was my knee-jerk response. It's not like I never wonder what it would be like to be someone else - I've dreamed of being a movie star, a tv journalist, even a witch (a la Harry Potter). And it's not just that I'm not interested in Halloween as a holiday (although I'm not - I don't like dressing up in costumes, or anything scary.)

But I knew the response that came out was based on the fact that I really am happy with me. I generally don't struggle with insecurities or poor self-esteem.

I attribute this to two things. First, I was home-schooled for most of my life. In junior high, when many of peers were sturggling through the agony of puberty in public and trying to grow up fast, I was building tree forts with my brother and playing the piano and writing stories. I might have been fairly sheltered, but after getting to know some friends later in life who had hellish junior high and high school experiences, I am SO grateful for my relatively painless and secure early teenage years. I wasn't measuring myself up to the prettiest, most popular girls my age, and I wasn't suffering from the teasing, bullying or rejection that so many school kids face every day.

But the other and more important reason for my security is that I have grown up knowing that I am exactly who I was supposed to be. I believe that I was created in the image of God, my ultimate creator. This prevents me from trying to be someone I'm not, or just being discouraged with who I am, because it would mean I don't think God did a good job. It means my self-worth isn't based on how I look, or how good I am.

That doesn't mean I never experience self-doubt I have small issues from time to time (could my left eye stop being so droopy? why am I not more articulate/smart/popular?)

The weird thing is, I have thought about blogging about this for a while, but I felt self-conscious about it (does that negate what I just wrote? ;-). So many people blog about their struggle with self-esteem, it feels like people who don't struggle with it are either considered to be arrogant or self-deceptive. (I truly hope I'm not either.) But I want to honestly share that self-esteem isn't something I wrestle with often, and why.

So here's to being a humble, but happy, me

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy, Happy

Today is E's 26th Birthday


Today we get to celebrate your life (I might be more excited about it than you are!) Thank you for being supportive, but realistic. Thank you for washing the dishes and mowing the lawn (chores I hate!). Thank you for working hard, and leading by example. Thank you for serving me in love and gently encouraging me to do the same. Thank you for making me laugh when I need to lighten up.

I love you my strong, gentle, patient, diligent, silly, wonderful  husband.
Happy Birthday.

[ps. have a happy weekend you guys!]

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Family Traditions

Because I did a lot of thinking about it last week, I'm going to be writing a bit more about being away from home. It's taken me a couple years to start to understand how I feel about it.

Maybe some of you didn't have the same reaction I did to moving away. I grew up in a family where almost everyone lives within 30 miles of each other. One of my cousins moved a couple hours away for college and stayed there, but I'm the only one of my family members to be a plane ride away from home. I can't make it to get-togethers, sports games, or special occasions. And I regularly feel guilty about it.


At the same time, in the three holiday seasons that E and I have been engaged or married, we've spent them all in Chicago with my family. Mostly because E's extended family isn't very close, emotionally or geographically, and my family is.

This year we booked a cruise for later in the winter, and knew there would be no way to also fly out to Chicago. Besides, E hasn't been home with his family for Christmas day in three years, and I never have celebrated Christmas day with them.

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I am already feeling sad over not going back home this year. My extended family also has a guilt-inducing tendency - even though it's all in jest. I always knew the day would come when new families would be established and the extended family would naturally start to drift apart. I just didn't think I'd be contributing to it! For some reason, it is just now (over two years after I moved) feeling like its time to stop worrying about being gone. There is a lot I'll miss, but also a lot to remember.

Plus, this is the perfect opportunity to start thinking about traditions we want for our family holidays. E had resisted a Christmas tree the last two years, with the excuse that we'll be out of town on Christmas this is my year to convince him. Last year we felt really overwhelmed at the prospect of buying each other gifts so we procrastinated and ended up with unwrapped Amazon packages and empty stockings. We decided that the next year would be different.
We'll make a big dinner together on Christmas Eve for just the two of us. We'll buy affordable, thoughtful gifts and spend lots of quality time together. We'll talk about new family traditions and maybe implement a few.

It will be different, but I'm actually really looking forward to our Christmas.

(ps. It feels a bit weird for me to be writing about Christmas today. It is 100 degrees!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No longer home


I was in back in Chicago last week on business for a few days, but extended my stay to catch up with family and friends as we are going to celebrate Christmas with E's family in California this year.

Going "home" (I can hardly call it that anymore) has gotten weirder over the last two and a half years. I try to be realistic and not expect everyone and everything to be the same, but there's always an acute awareness that people have grown up, gotten older, and are moving into different stages in life (I'm the only girl from my former church who married in the last three years and doesn't already have at least one kid). Each time I'm reminded how relationships can dissolve unintentionally without the maintenance of weekly visits or chats, running into each other at family gatherings and church activities and in normal life.


I know its impossible to maintain all the relationships I had when I lived there. In a way it's probably abnormal that I've tried to keep up so many. My usual visits back home are packed to the brim with visits - coffee with a college friend, lunch with a childhood friend. Stopping by my old office to say hello to former coworkers, and dinner with yet another branch of my extended family.

This year I attempted to make make it less widely known that I was coming back, to be able to limit my visits a little more (It hasn't seemed to work for me yet). There are always people who surprise me with their interest in getting together, and others that force me to acknowledge we've moved on in our relationship.


It's easy for me to say that I don't miss back home, and for the most part that's true - . I love living in California. I love that E and I have had the opportunity to grow our marriage outside of the comfort and influence of my old circles of friends and family. I think its been healthy. But when I do go back I have to acknowledge that I'm a little sad about what I left behind. It's not just because I miss people and my former life, but because it won't ever be the same as it was. Visiting doesn't bring it back. It just serves as a reminder of what I don't and won't ever have.

So next time I visit my hometown, I won't be looking up every old friend, extended family member, coworker or mentor. I think I'll be content to remember that there are people who played a special role in my life at a specific time, and be grateful for it. And maybe it will be help me to be more present where I am, looking forward to where we'll go next. (a story for another day...)

I would love to hear from you guys who have moved away from home. What do you miss and what have you learned?

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