Enough … Enough Now

I bought a new car today.

Well, technically, I didn’t buy it. I leased it. And, I didn’t actually drive away in it today, but I signed all the key papers. All that’s left to do is set up the insurance, payoff the old and turn in the keys. Then, a new Oxford White 2017 Ford Escape SE will be mine.

My new car to-be doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. But it has the ones most important to me … sunroof, 9-speaker sound system, large touch Sync screen and oh, a backseat cupholder — very important to my daughter. It doesn’t have leather, heated seats. But, it does have a super cool remote start that works from my iPhone. Bottom line, I gave up a few niceties to get myself into a vehicle that suits me better.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. A push button start would have been nice. Platinum White would be have been cool too … just that hint of shimmer. But, it’s not necessary. It’s a car. It takes me from here to there, and I’ll get there in style. But, I’ll also get there able to enjoy life along the way. I sacrificed the push button start for the joy of a manicure or spa day, night out with friends, vacation, college payments, and adventures, experiences and outings that a higher car payment might have curtailed.

Before I made this change, I walked on the Dark Side. Took my Edge in for a repair and was handed the keys to a 2017 Escape Titanium that had all the bells and whistles. Have to admit that I was dazzled and enjoyed the seduction. Opened the sunroof wide, cranked the stereo, and thrilled at the ease of that push button start. Glorious! Yet, that trip helped me to discover what I really wanted and what I could live without.

You can’t always get what you want, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones sang. But you can get what you need. What I needed was a car that better suited who I am. And today, I made that happen.

I’d driven the same car for 13 years before I made my last change to a 2013 Ford Edge. In preparation, I did research. I took test drives. I looked around. Then, only after much discussion, I went to the dealer, got the car and features I wanted, and drove it home.

But, it never truly fit me. It was always a little too big. I pulled in and out of parking spaces, adjusting to find center. Backing up and turning was awkward. And even on the road, I found myself a little closer to center than I should be. It was a great car — is a great car. And I will miss the heated leather seats and larger trunk. I’m glad I had the chance to drive it. To learn from it. That car and I had some great times, and I made many memories during our miles together. Laughter. Travels. Outings. Conversations sitting in it. A wrong turn on the way to Fisherman’s Island. Anyway, lots of great times took place in our 4 years/49,121 miles together.

A random rental helped me discover what was truly important to me for the next chapter in my travels. This car decision happened fast. I trusted my instincts, though. And I’m so very glad I did. The 2017 Escape is similar to my 1999 CR-V. The style and size fit me. Sitting behind the wheel feels right. And I look amazing driving it ūüôā

Yeah, I gave up a few options at this time in my life. But the way I figure it you can’t always have Dom Perignon or Jameson Irish Whiskey. Heck, sometimes don’t always need a Blue Moon. It’s okay to drink Tea with a friend … as long as the company is good. As long as you feel you truly fit where you are. Connected and Authentic. You don’t have to have all the trappings to enjoy time. Life is only as complicated as we choose to make it.

We all have wants, desires, hopes and dreams. We fight and adapt, explore and adjust in our efforts to survive and find our truth. I wouldn’t trade a mile of my journey. This experience gelled that for me. And though I’ve had to give up some things I truly enjoyed and wanted along my road, sometimes it is Enough to have had them for a time … and Enough Now to drive with a few fewer options.

So on Friday at Noon, I’ll begin a new adventure. Not sure where it will take me. I’m curious. But in those famous Love Actually words: “Enough … Enough Now.”

Let’s see where I Escape to next …

— Jenni

 

 

 

 

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18 Going on College

Baby 1When my son was born, my mom gave me a poem which I placed in a photo album that I carried in my purse. It held all my favorite photos of him during his “early days.” The first photo displayed was the very first picture of Jarod and me taken. The photo where I met him and held him for the very first time.

Eighteen years ago.

In preparing for his Graduation Party, I pulled out this little album, along with photos I’d set aside of him during the years before digital — you know, the days when you printed photos and duplicates and kept negatives? You might even say that Type AA me has been planning his Grad Party since he was born.

I’ve had fun looking back at the photos and pulling out artwork, stories, paper plate awards and items I’ve saved over the years. But, I keep returning to this poem.

IF I HAD MY CHILD TO RAISE OVER AGAIN

If I had my child to raise over again, 

I’d finger paint more, and point the finger less.

I’d do less correcting, and more connecting,

I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less, and know to care more.

I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.

I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.

I’d run through more fields, and gaze at more stars.

I’d do more hugging, and less tugging.

I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.

I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.

I’d teach less about the love of power,

And more about the Power of Love.

                                                                                  — Diane Loomans 

grad-1.jpgLooking back on the 18 years of motherhood that took us to the “Grad Party,” I know there have been good moments, exceptional moments, challenging moments, fun moments, tearful moments, triumphant moments, devastating moments and thoughtful, reflective moments. And all of those moments have taken us right here.

I didn’t spend a lot of time finger painting, but I spent a lot of time with Jarod reading and playing at Barnes and Noble, traveling with him on his fire truck up and down streets and playing trash truck at the park. He helped me learn my Chicago choreography, dancing right in our driveway. And, we played together to draw and write his first story about Jack the Caveman. The Santa visits with Starbucks, Opera Theatre outings and Royal Oak Brewery dinners when dad went fishing were our playtime.

I know I did my share of correcting. All kids need boundaries and guidelines. But I like to think that it was the moments of Connecting “In The Park” during the “best two weeks of the summer” (his words) with Water Works, collaborating for the Community Awards, planning his first film showing at Emagine, rehearsing together in GPT’s Joseph and watching Bones side by side on the couch with “grapes” will stand out in his mind.

I worked from home for the first 10 years of his life, so a watch wasn’t needed much. But I watched him a lot. The 50 scrapbooks and stacks of photos will retain his story, whether he looks at them or not, and show how much I watched him with my heart and eyes.

Oh, I wanted to know what was going on in his life. Still do. But I know caring about him and his goals, dreams and hopes is more important than knowing every detail. He’s earned my trust and my respect on the path he’s chosen, my Thinker and Pretender, even during time he ventured off-road a bit in navigating his way. He’s writing his own story. I’m reading it. It’s suspenseful and comedic, and I’m fascinated.

We took a lot of hikes, especially in DC, Disney and Asheville. A lot of walks too. We flew kites on the beach and in the park. We jumped in the leaves and he danced on the stage at B & N, spending my birthday there at a Harry Potter book release party. It’s a night I will never forget. Pretending. Exploring. Experiencing.

We gazed at the stars, especially in Traverse City at the Pinestead Reef, his favorite vacation place in the world. I think he still gazes at the stars, though not with me as much as with other special people in his life. So, something about my showing him the power of the little moments stuck.

I still hug him. I tug a bit too, I’ll admit. I like to know what’s going on and where he is. But, he’s patient with me. This year’s Mother’s Day I worked with him and the special young woman in his life in the wee hours of the morning. He gave me this card … it told me how well he understands me and that losing my little boy isn’t easy for me. And it also told me that though change happens and little boys grow up, they still need and treasure their moms. That was a priceless message and brought tears to my eyes. So, a little tugging is okay as long as the hugs are more frequent.

Firm … well, I’m a bit like a brick wall at times. I believe in a firm hand, rules, honoring others, giving 100% and not phoning it in (“If you’re going to do it half-assed, don’t do it at all,” as my father-in-law said once) and mutual respect. But from the very beginning, I told Jarod he could be anything he wanted to be, if he worked hard enough. Anything was possible — is possible — for my Pretender. I was there for every play, every home swim meet and a few away ones, every soccer game (even in the pouring rain), every concert and film event. Every moment important to him, I was there. And, I’ve believed in him even in darker, more challenging times. You don’t Bury those. Those are part of what makes us. Every Mile Mattered, as Nicole Nordman sings. Every mile he’s gone through has brought him to the place he is now. The man he is today. And I love him for who he is today. If that isn’t affirmation, I don’t know what is. A firm hand with a gentle heart.

In terms of the house, well, I’ve definitely built self-esteem more. My kitchen craves a makeover and new counters. I pray my oven makes it through the party since the 7 and 8 on the electric keypad haven’t functioned in years. But, a job with flexible work hours, movie outings, vacations, cameras and film “stuff, suit and random clothes shopping — not to mention the Taco Bell lunches — are definitely the better investment.

As for the Power of Love, well, I’ve created 8 – 24″ x 36” photo boards (finding and printing over 500 photos in the process), gathered mementos and awards, sorted through drawers and closets seeking all the elements of his story so far, baked 3 batches of his favorite cookies (oatmeal scotchies with my secret ingredient) and prepped 14lbs of ground beef for the walking tacos. Plus, I have a surprise up my sleeve as well! My predominant love language is Acts of Service … so I’m pretty sure the Power of my Love is pretty clear. Over the years, I’ve shown it. I’ve acted it. I’ve spoken the words.

Oh, there are things I would do differently if I had to raise my child over again. I’d make some modifications and corrections. Select different words or make another choice for a few moments. I’m flawed and far, far from perfect. But, in looking at the man he is today, I’d say we did a pretty good job affirming and loving, playing and gazing, hugging and connecting.

Now he’s off to write his own story … This new chapter outside my walls is up to him. I pray the lessons, the faith and moments we’ve shared, and the examples and imperfections in my own life show him that it’s great to fly but that a few stumbles — as long as you get up and keep the Power of Love and Faith in your sites — will take you to the heights.

So, thanks Mom for the poem and to Diane Loomans for the good advice. I’ve raised my child with the Power of Love. Now, it’s up to him to take it from here …

                                                                                                                       — Jenni

 

 

 

the only thing Constant

I’ve held this post back for a month now. But, it’s been nagging at me. Reminding me that I should post it and get these words out of my busy, racing mind. That’s one of the reasons why I write, I guess. I have to. There are days I wake up and literally see words scrolling through my mind like the Dow Jones stock screen. They race by and repeat. Sometimes they get past before I can grab them and shape them into some clearer thought. Not sure why these particular words tell me their message is so important. But, they have a story to tell. And Writing is just part of who I am. Enough said.¬†

June 2017 — Today I watched my daughter’s heart break. And it was devastating.

She’s in Middle School now — known in my day as “Junior High”¬†—¬†the time when Drama truly begins.

A few days ago, we shopped for a dress she could wear to her school’s Spring Fling. She was so excited about this event¬†and found her “dream dress.” It was sweet and lovely and she looked beautiful. We sent a photo to her two BFF’s moms so they could share it with their girls. Best Friend’s since kindergarten, they had made plans to hang out during the dance.

But last night that all changed. And what changed that? It’s middle school, can you guess?

A boy.

Both of her friends now have “dates” to hang out with, leaving my daughter on her own.

She was heart-broken. Her best-laid plans to hang out solely with her BFFs ¬†— just like they used to do and have always done — shattered with a phone call. Oh, she was happy for her friends. She’s glad they are¬†happy too. She doesn’t want them to “ship” her and find her a date. She’s not at that point yet. She just wants it to be like it’s always been.

But, the only thing constant in our lives is change.

Being honest here — Change sometimes just sucks. Especially when it comes to the people in our lives. People ebb and flow in our lives, moving in and out like the tide. Gracing us with their presence one minute and disappearing into the shadows the next. Sometimes they leave us or choose others instead and that hurts. No way around it. It just does.

The cause varies. People move away. They find other friends or choose activities that don’t resonate with you and move on. They are busy. They get different¬†jobs. They develop other interests. Relationships¬†grow apart at times. People pull away for one reason or another. Sometimes you understand; sometimes it’s a mystery. And sometimes, distance, choices or some situation simply end a friendship. Cuts it¬†on the dotted line and removes the tether that connects you.

There are relationships¬†that sputter or fade¬†out for a bit, returning rejuvenated later. Others are strong enough to weather the struggle, distance or infrequent face to face time. I personally have friends and family in other cities who I’m as close to today — if not closer — than when we were next door to (or in the same house as) each other. Thanks to “social media,” relationships can reconnect even after¬†years pass! Heck, Facebook has enabled me to find friends from Cooks Corners, TJ Junior High and VHS and renew old friendships. But some run their course and the light dims or goes out.

Doesn’t matter. The future is unclear. Right now, my daughter hurts. Change hurts sometimes. It’s uncomfortable. It shakes things up. I don’t always like it. I’m a sensitive, sentimental spirit. As curious and adventurous as I am, I settle in and develop deep bonds with those I care for … as does my daughter. We are fierce friends and would defend those we love with swords blazing. We feel deeply. And we bleed when hurt.

But relationships can change over time … over seconds. Our needs, goals and hopes evolve as we do. ¬†Change comes into our lives no matter how we may resist it.

Reminds me of this Flavia Quote …

flavia

But sometimes even footprint leavers have a time limit in your life — a limited number of pages of dialogue before their scene eventually plays out and they make a grand or quiet exit. They touch you, change you, revive you, encourage you, or influence you in a way that alters your mental, physical, spiritual or emotional state. And then they fade to black. La, the end. It’s not good or bad. It’s just what it is.

As I listened to her talk, I couldn’t help but recall moments like hers in my own life. Flashes like movies played in my mind of¬†horrible days at Cooks Corners, TJ and VHS — even instances¬†more recent. I remember times when my life encountered Change despite all my wishes that it would remain status quo. And my heart broke for her as it did when I first felt the pangs of Change rupture relationships in my life.

It’s not always bad. Change can usher in wonderful things. But, in its initial¬†disruptive moments, all you feel is confusion and loss.

So, as I held my sobbing daughter, I didn’t tell her everything would be okay. I didn’t tell her to calm down. Yes, things were changing and different. So, I just told her to Breathe and Be Strong. That it might not be easy, but to take one moment at a time. To be true to herself. To love her friends and enjoy what they did share — not what they could not.

The only thing constant in our lives is Change. Whether we like it or not.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — Jenni

 

Note to readers: My daughter and her friends have a solid friendship. They worked past this blip. Oh, the boys are still around. There are disruptions and disagreements. New energies that come along and they learn to deal with in their way. ¬†But, because — bottom line — they care so deeply for each other and choose to keep their connection strong, I think they will weather the storm. Time will tell. But I have faith.

Let Freedom Ring

The Battle of Yorktown. 1781. The first of many “final” battles to secure freedom for the people on these shores.

But — on this July 4, 2017 — what IS Freedom? What does it mean? What does it promise?

Janis Joplin wailed that “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose …” Well, I guess the option of feelin’ good with Bobbie Maggie is a perk of freedom. But I’m not sure that an attitude like that truly makes us free. ¬†I guess if you’re “free,” you might choose to look at it as void of all responsibilities, commitments and rules. That is a very appealing definition. You Sail through life, unencumbered … free to do what you want when you want no matter the consequence.

But wait … If you’re free, what does consequence have to do with it? What does that imply about Freedom?

Les Représentans du peuple se rendront à leur destination, investis de la plus haute confiance et de pouvoirs illimités. Ils vont déployer un grand caractère. Ils doivent envisager qu’une grande responsabilité est la suite inséparable d’un grand pouvoir. Ce sera à leur énergie, à leur courage, et sur-tout à leur prudence, qu’ils devront leur succès et leur gloire. РVoltaire

In other words …

The people’s representatives will reach their destination, invested with the highest confidence and unlimited power. They will show great character. They must consider that great responsibility follows inseparably from great power. To their energy, to their courage, and above all to their prudence, they shall owe their success and their glory.

Consequences come with Freedom. Freedom presents us with Great Power. And, with Great Power comes Great Responsibility. Therefore, if Voltaire — and Lord Melbourne, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Marvel Comic’s Uncle Ben who also spoke those words — are to be believed, you can’t truly be Free without honoring your responsiblity to others.

Freedom is a double edged sword, clearly illustrated by the history of America as we interfere (or assist) globally and even within our borders. We are Free to write, gather and speak as we choose. To march, unitedly declaring our rights and frustrations. To remove historical monuments when they offend some or their interpreted intent does not appeal to all. To hang flags — or not. To worship — or not. To love. Well, relatively these days depending on the state. But the heart wants what the heart wants, so we love.

But Freedom is not a hall pass. Freedom doesn’t mean we can do what we choose with impunity.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.¬†– Nelson Mandela

But what does that mean? If we’re free, can’t we roll with it, baby? Nope. Yes, there exists in our nature an almost animalistic Need to be free … to do what we want as we want when we want with whomever we want. Isn’t that the very base meaning of the word? Again I ask … how does Freedom connect to Consequence?

Recent Presidents — both Republican and Democrat — can offer thought …

The anchor in our world today is freedom, holding us steady in times of change, a symbol of Hope to the world. РGeorge W. Bush, State of the Union 1990

and

Because we are free, we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere.          РJimmy Carter, Inaugural Address 1977

Yes, there exists in us a desire to be completely Free — to shed our burdens and obligations and separate from those around us to Fly. I know my kids crave that kind of freedom. Come and go. Live and let live. Explore and Experience. But that is a two-dimensional definition of the word. The self-oriented one. The one that seems to offer all the fun but truly is shallow, hollow and ultimately unfulfilling.

There are two freedoms. One where we can do what we like and one where we are free to do as we ought. (Charles Kingsley) Sure, freedom offers us as Americans the opportunity to dress, worship, speak, assemble, vote, bear arms and write as we please. Heck it gives you the option to read or not read my words. But there ARE still limits. Lawlessness, self-indulgence to the point of destruction, carelessness with those in our sphere, shooting those who we don’t like or disagree with … well you CAN behave that way. But those acts of “free will” bring about heady, legal consequences. Pretty sure Alexander Hamilton and friends would tell you that while the Declaration of Independence advocated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness it also demanded responsibility. Responsibility for me to myself — and to those who walk near, beside me or even down the street a few blocks or states from me.

Freedom offers great power. And yes, Uncle Ben, with Great Power does come Great Responsibility. We do our best with that. Freedom doesn’t mean do what you want and what you please all the time. Freedom brings opportunity AND Checks and Balances.

Freedom … we keep using that word in our country, but I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Alex, TJ, George … so many of our leaders knew the Battle of Yorktown wasn’t the end of the war. It was the beginning of our ongoing struggle to maintain and secure true Freedom. To honor that Great Power with Great Responsibility with or without the slick Spidey suit and web-shooting power.

Let Freedom Ring!

¬†— Jenni