Thursday, April 30, 2009

Simplify and Focus

It’s a message I’ve been trying to get through to my husband for months (dare I say, years?)…Simplify and focus. I keep saying our interests are too diverse. Our energies are expended too widely, our resources (time, money, etc.) are spread too thin and our attentions need to be focused. We need to cut back, reign in, and hone our extracurricular activities. It’s a basic principle. We camp, we hunt, we boat, we fish, we hike, we bike, we walk, we stalk (OK, so we don’t STALK…but I was on a roll there) – basically, we LOVE the outdoors, period. However, all of our interests are fair weather activities. Our life is chaotic and our hobbies all fall within the same time frame. The inevitable consequence is that nothing is done well - nothing has our entire focus, complete devotion, 100% commitment, or our full investment.

It makes perfect logical sense. We should downsize, pick an interest or two - simplify and focus.

Why am I rambling on about this, you may wonder? What is the magical epiphany in all this? In going through this exercise in my head, I came to the conclusion that I should really be listening to myself a little more. I am completely guilty of this in my own life - in my head, in my hobbies, in my priorities. I need to stop. Look. Listen. I need to rewind. Reevaluate. Re prioritize. After all, I am always complaining that there are not enough hours in the day. I have the basics to accomplish - parenting, cleaning, laundry, dishes, bills. Then there are my sanity savers - photos, blogging, reality TV.

A horoscope I received in a recent fortune cookie spells it out perfectly for me. It reads: You cannot be anything if you want to be everything.

Profound, no?

So in saying this and coming to this realization, I hereby vow to simplify and focus. I will pick one or two things that mean the most. I'll focus on my family, a few basics (so as to avoid CPS from knocking at the door when a roach infestation takes over my disaster of a house) and simplify my diverse interests to a passion or two. As a result, I hope to perfect these priorities and excel at that which is most important. Everything else will just have to give (for now). Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

One of the blogs I follow religiously (seen here):

posts a weekly activity she calls 'Wordless Wednesdays'.

The object is to post a photo that requires no words (thus WORDLESS) and try to do so without any background story, explanation, or description of the who, what, where, when, and why. They say a photo is worth a thousand words so it shouldn't need any additional details, right? At the very least, without an explanation, the story being told is open for interpretation and that's always fun...So I thought I'd give this exercise a go. It'll be a fun way to share photos with you each week, which makes me happy! Let me know what you think!

(Obviously THIS week isn't "wordless" but I promise to follow the rules next Wednesday!)

Here is my inaugural Wordless Wednesday:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Oh yeah...Me!

I realized shortly after "publishing" my last post that the idea behind "Hi, My Name Is..." was to introduce myself and it turns out, instead, that I rambled on and on about my boys - which is never a bad thing (to me!). What I think that really means is that I am defined by those that I love the boys.

With that said, however, I realize that I am a person outside of them, as well. And that person is who I shall try to talk briefly about in this post.

Who is Shana? That's a good question, really. One that I've been trying to figure out for 32 years. (And one that could get entirely too complicated if I allowed it to, so I'll (try to) keep it simple.)

Obviously first and foremost I am a MOTHER. Above and beyond all the other roles I "play" in life and the titles I have been given, "Mother/Momma/Mommy/Mom" is my favorite. It is also, by far, the most difficult role I have to fill.

Being a Mom is my number one passion. I have dreamt about being a mother my whole life, hoped and longed for it, and take massive pride in the blessings I've been given and the "job" that's been entrusted to me. Being a Mom is definitely a roller coaster ride. With high, steep inclines, unexpected sharp drops and a loop-t-loop thrown in from time to time to keep things interesting. However, being a Mom has proven to be an internal energy source for me. Just when I don't think I can go on, one of my children smiles at me or asks, "Where'd the monster go?", and a second wind comes puffing by. For someone who has struggled with self esteem and inadequacy issues for as long as I can remember, there is a lot of pride and self-worth that comes with raising well behaved, polite, empathic children. (That's my goal, anyway - it's a little early to make the call on most of those!) Being a Mom is also the biggest challenge I've ever been charged with. To be honest, I'm not always sure I'm any good at it - who is sure of that, really? But I'm doing the best I can with the skills the good Lord gave me and for those other areas where I'm lacking, I hope against hope that it either doesn't matter in the bigger picture, or at the very least that my shortcomings don't hurt my boys too much in the long run.

Outside of my role as a Mom of two, I am a SISTER and a DAUGHTER. I have an amazing family with two loving parents who are as much a testament to true love, dedication, compromise, and commitment as any two people can be. I have a "little" big brother (he's bigger than me, but just "little" compared to most guys) and a "big" little sister (she's taller than me but younger) who are two of my best friends. When it comes to them, I waffle between laughing, scheming, venting, and thoroughly enjoying the friendship and history we share....and wanting to strangle them or smack them for being frustrating, or dense, or just plain aggravating. I wouldn't trade them for the world though. We've been partners in crime, best friends, and worst enemies (sometimes all in the span of 24 hours) but at the end of the day, they're family and they're are always there, unconditionally.

I am a WIFE and while I know that sometimes takes an unfortunate back seat to being a Mom, I try to remember the importance of focusing on that role as often as possible. Keeping the foundation of my family strong is very important to me. Without that foundation, everything would crumble. I try to remember to show my gratitude, appreciation, compassion, understanding, patience, compromise, sacrifice, and most of all love. And I hope never to take my husband for granted.

For 35 hours a week I play EMPLOYEE and while it's admittedly not my favorite place to be, it's undeniably important to my checkbook, my lifestyle, and my sanity. I enjoy the majority of what I do and realize that the rest comes with the territory of inevitable personality differences, administrative nuances, and plan old personal inadequacies. Obviously I don't like the parts of my job I either don't know very well or feel I'm not very good at. I'd be lying if I said it was 100% fabulous! At least it's a job I can feel good at contributing to. My work helps people somewhere, somehow.

And of course, I am a FRIEND. I have many friends. I've been very blessed in the friend arena. My friends are from all over, varied in background and interests, gathered and tendered from various schools, jobs, and places along the way. Some of them I've known forever. Some I've met only recently. Some I see rarely and others I am lucky enough to be able to see more often. I have friends I can shop with, friends I can laugh with, friends I can be silly with, friends I cry with, friends I openly complain to without judgement and friends who remind me to tweak my perspective or adjust my attitude when it's needed. All of them are absolutely wonderful and each one has a unique role in my life and a special place in my heart.

As you can see, my life is whole. I have been lucky enough to travel through life with magnificent company. I am never alone, nor am I ever lonely. I am truly blessed with a myriad of wonderful people surrounding me and supporting me. Each person brings something a little different to the table. I guess you could say my life is like a pot luck dinner. Everyone is invited and each person has their personal specialty to offer. So bring a dish to pass and prepare to pull up a chair!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hi, My Name is...

I realize those of you reading this already know who I am, or you wouldn't be "following" me, but I still feel like I should introduce myself for any other unlucky fool who stumbles in to check me out.  

So, please allow me to go on for a minute about that which makes my grey skies blue - My boys.
There are many of them.  5 of them, to be exact.  Starting with my husband, Dave.  He is my reason, my level head, my grounding when I'm stuck in dreamland, being unrealistic with my head in the clouds.  He's cranky, cynical, pessimistic, and tough as nails on the outside.  But I see another side of him that the rest of the world isn't allowed to see.  I see the side that turns into a goofball when wrestling with our 3-year-old on the floor.  The side that handles pee and poop and spit-up better than any nanny or grandmother ever could for 8-hours a day (with minor complaints) and then heads off to work another 8 hours dealing with other people's drama and emergencies in a high stress environment...all because "it's what is best for our family".  

Then there is Adam.  My 24-year-old step son.  He's a tough nut to crack but once you get through, he's just like his father.  A tough guy, generally misunderstood, struggling to find his place, but loving and giving.  He's a good kid who has paid his dues and is trying to learn from his mistakes (which is more than you can say for most people!).  

Nick is next in line - my 18-year-old step-son.  Nick is aloof, chatty, funny, and sweet.  He'd do anything for you (or at least tell you he couldn't do it as nicely as possible and then feel really guilty about it!).  I've spent a lot of late nights talking to him about music, girls and typical teenager stuff (which is much different than it was back in my day!).  We've watched trash TV together and made up spoofs about movies we've watched or turned two words into a new word (like Blog Groupie = Blogpie or if someone is happy and silly he'd say they're "Hilly") - it's goofy and juvenile but it makes me laugh.   I worry about Nick as he tries to figure out his path in life, but I know with time and some motivation, he'll do just fine.  He and his brother have just gone through firefighter academy and are full fledged members of the fire department.  It gives them both a healthy outlet and a real sense of belonging.  They have really flourished!  

On to my other two boys:  Nathaniel (Nate) and Alexander (Alex).  My heart and soul.  You'll hear a lot about them, I assure you! 

Nathaniel (a.k.a. Bug) is 3 (going on 20) and is the funniest, most energetic, and independent child you'll ever meet.  He has an imagination that can't be harnessed, an activity level that is hard to keep up with, and he is completely fearless.  There isn't anything he can't do, won't figure out with time, or hasn't at least tried (except vegetables, maybe!)!  He feels comfortable in a room full of strangers, has no shame about parading around in public wearing a cowboy outfit, a pirate hat, sunglasses, mardi gras beads, and carrying a fishing pole or purse (much to Dave's horror!), and he makes me laugh at least a hundred times a day.  I spend a good portion of every day looking for ghosts, hiding from monsters, or riding runaway horses in pursuit of the "mailmen" (or bad guys, as the rest of us call them!)  I consider myself very blessed.  Of course, with his energy and independence comes an inevitable stubborn side that leads to plenty of head butting but he helps to keep me honest, open minded, flexible, and patient!  

Alexander (a.k.a. Digger/Fuzz Bucket) is currently 6.5 months old.  He is my sunshine - happy no matter what.  He's an observant wall flower, happy to just sit back and quietly watch the world and then as soon as he catches someone's attention he lights up and starts flailing about in glee as if to say "They  noticed me!  Yeah!"  :)  He is already on the move and refuses to sit still for long.  Afterall, he can't observe the world very thoroughly while staying in one place!  He is desperately trying to keep up with his big brother and so far he's doing a great job!  My favorite part of Alex is by far his smile.  It lights up his whole face and makes me happy no matter what!  He thinks his brother is hilarious and his laugh is truly infectious.  I love to scoop him up and chase Nathaniel while we play "baby brother monster" - Nate runs to hide and Alex laughs uncontrollably.  It's great - I could watch him all day long and be happy. 

Anyway, I could go on and on about my boys.  As you can tell, they are my world.  I love them SO much!  Of course, I'm a bit outnumbered, but I wouldn't change a thing.  There's something to be said for being the lone girl - a queen among kings.  No on will ever steal my clothes, lose my jewelry, or fight for my shoes.  OK, so Nathaniel likes to wear my shoes, the boys will probably lose my jewelry someday, and they have both stained a shirt or two, but not in the same degree as if I had girls.  I'll take my boys any day.  

Welcome to my world.  I hope you have a strong stomach as we journey together for our world is a messy, dirty, gross, disgusting one (think bugs, worms, dirt, scraped knees, nose picking...all things BOY)!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where to start? Purpose, direction, and dreams...

As is true to my fashion, I've been drafting this next post for days now and have written, re-written, and completely over analyzed what it should say, how it should read, and what overall message I'm trying to send or what direction I'm heading in.  Ultimately, at this late hour, I realize it doesn't really matter.  That, as usual, I've overcomplicated it and in the big picture, no one is noticing and I assure you no one probably even cares.  

So, I shall talk about why I decided to start this blog.  

I've been what I will call a "Blogpie" (Blog Groupie) for some time.  I have a list of various blogs that I frequent daily and am always interested in keeping up with the news, following the updates, and stepping into these other worlds.  I am thrilled and intrigued to stumble upon a new one once in a while and slip mindlessly into someone else's perspective, drama, challenges and day-to-day existence.  It's the peeping Tom in me, I guess.  The same way people like to gawk at accidents, people watch at the Mall, and eavesdrop on strangers in restaurants.  By seeing into the lives of others, I hope to gain insight into how other people live, love, laugh, and yet, still manage to shine through it all.  So, in sharing my own random thoughts, I suppose I am hoping to find some direction, gain some clarity, improve my own perspective, or at the very least open myself up and perhaps as a result, manage to get the ball rolling towards realizing some dreams.  How, might you ask, will a simple little blog accomplish all this?  I have no idea, but anything is possible...right?

I will be honest, many of the blogs I follow are photography blogs, which for the most part leave me feeling part awestruck, and part completely and utterly inadequate.  For this, you see, is my dream.  The aforementioned dream I hope to accomplish someday?   To be a photographer.  A real photographer, not just a (heavily) practicing hobbyist.  And to have a photo blog of my own that people like me would visit, marvel over, and hold in high respect.  Why does this seem so far off?  For starters, I lack the equipment, the knowledge, the training, and most importantly, the confidence.  I do, however, have plenty of passion.  So, as I shape and mold this blog of mine, you will see it grow, I hope, into a forum through which I can share some of my favorite photos and take some leaps and bounds towards achieving this goal.  But mostly, you'll read a lot of my obscure ramblings, hear charming (and most likely redundant) stories of my precious boys, and hopefully gain some insight into who I am, what makes me tick, and where it is I'm headed in this joyride we call life!!  Buckle up and keep your hands inside the cart at all times!  I hope you enjoy the ride!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The plunge!

So, I decided if I was ever going to really DO this, I needed to just jump in feet first.  (Although, honestly, it feels like I'm jumping in head first as this is all so scary to me for some reason...)  So, as I give this blog thing a go and hesitantly navigate the culture, etiquette and nuances of the blogging world, I ask for your patience.  I will no doubt be unpredictable, unorganized, and perhaps, nonsensical as I find my rhythm, but I have to start somewhere.  

With that said, I welcome you to my world.  It's a crazy one - loud, chaotic, messy, and imperfect.  But it's mine.  And I love every nook and cranny of it.  Hopefully in time, you will see why.