Tuesday, December 18

Bucket List 2013

Every time the year rolls around, my thoughts always drift to the direction of things I would like to accomplish some day. I never really think "new year's resolutions" because to me, they are too short term and everything that I would like to accomplish in a given year are either out of my control or I'm already doing. Or they are things that I ought to do, but don't want to do badly enough. I would like to get pregnant this year, but I can't control that. I ought to quit smoking, but I don't want to at all. I'm already in shape and I'm not going to get more in shape just because I've put it on a to-do list.

So I think about things I aspire to someday. Maybe they'll happen. Maybe they won't. But one can dream, right?

Here's my most recent "bucket list":

  • Have 5 children before I'm 40 years old. More is fine. Less is ok, I guess. 5 seems a reasonable number for a person of my health, personality, and vanity.
  • Become a fitness model and a personal trainer. I would dearly love some pay off for how much time I spend working out and for the shape I've gotten myself in. 
  • Be a lead singer and guitar player in a bluegrass/country band. As a subheading, it would be lovely to have an awesome voice some day. I mean, a really good voice!
  • Travel and backpack in Europe for an extensive period of time. You know, stay in hostels, camp outside, stay in one place for awhile if I want, pass through if I don't. 
  • Live on one of those calender-picture ranches in Wyoming or Montana for a long time, own horses, be alone, be quiet, be far away from everything.
  • Live in a quaint New England town on a hobby farm near the ocean. 
  • Write amusingly and thought-provokingly, a la Simcha Fischer. 
  • Paint again... something evocative worth seeing. 
  • Have a friend I could tell anything to, and be such a friend to someone. 
  • Be loved by and be friends with all my children when they are grown up and I am old.
  • Read the Bible front to back.
  • Read enough philosophy, political writings, and literature to be able to discuss them and bring them up pertinently in random conversations. 
  • Sleep out in the desert, see all the stars, wake up and hear the birds (are there birds in the desert?).
 As I reread this, it seems a rather self-centered list of heart's-desires. Well, so be it. I've already crossed off "wife," "mother,"which are two pretty people-serving goals. So I think I'm justified in dreaming dreams.

How about you? What's on your bucket list?

Friday, December 7

"Professional Development" and motherhood

When I was a kid, I used to envision myself as this perfectly happy, self-contained, self-confident, self-sacrificing mother, who devoted herself to her children and husband 24/7 and never uttered a word of complaint. My mom was like that (minus the perfectly happy part. I knew enough to see that she wasn't, and not until I was older did I realize that no one is), so I assumed I would be all she was and more. The "more" was that I wouldn't fight with my spouse and I would always take time to dress up and look lovely (think '50's housewife ;) ). Oh, and I would be completely patient with and understanding to my children. Conceited little cuss, wasn't I?

Immature, more likely. One thing that can't be avoided is getting older, and as one gets older, one lives longer, experiences more, and hopefully, learns more and modifies ones ideals and ideas accordingly. To me, maturity means the ability to understand and sympathize with other people because you've experienced something similar to their experiences, and if you haven't, you know that nothing is completely black and white.

So the point of this rambling introduction was that I've unconsciously found myself modifying one of my original visions of myself as a wife and mother. I used to be completely adamant that I was going to be a 100% stay at home. This was before I had kids. :) After I had kids, I started to think, "man, it's nice to get out of the house and dress up to go... to the grocery store." Over the course of having kids for 3 and a half years (yup, quite the ol' timer with this... ha!), my thinking has evolved to being such that in order to be a loving, patient, disciplined mother, I need an outlet of my own. I felt badly about this at first. Most of the mothers I aspired to be were always with their kids, so involved in their kids' activities, so dedicated, etc. Well, I now think that how you mother your children is as personal and individual as the things that make you happy. It's clique to say that everyone is different, but when it comes to being a mother, you have the freedom to do things as suits you and still fosters your children's well-being. One can't separate the fact that a happy, content mother is going to be more patient, more loving to her children. Sometimes, doing what is best for your kids simply means admitting your own weaknesses and doing what you can to assuage them. Think of the adjectives I used to describe my previous aspirations... "self-sacrificing," "self-confident," "self-contained," "self-effacing." It's self, self, and more self. It was about me giving and giving and disregarding my own needs and my personality. There is a place for the "self" virtues, but to a lesser person (such as myself), the temptation is to make yourself into some sort of victim. After awhile, the victim starts taking too much pride in her supposed virtue. I find it personally better to admit your weaknesses, be honest, and do your best to keep yourself happy so that you can better make the people around you happy. Happiness begets happiness.

So in the past years, I've held a few part-time, from home jobs. They were fun for the fact that they kept the intellectual, research-based, mental juices flowing, but didn't involve me leaving the house.

Until recently.... Within the past few months, I found myself presented with the opportunity to open an equestrian therapeutic riding center here in town. Totally out of the blue, so unexpected, and yet, in some funny way, providential. I've always had a heart for teaching. I don't care that I'm not the smartest, most well-read, most scholarly person. To be a good teacher, it's more important to know basics, be able to apply them logically, care about your students, and love what you are teaching. It also helps to have motivated students. This was why I had pursued an advanced English degree... if circumstances so permitted, I wanted to teach English at the college level. If there is one thing I enjoy more than reading, it is riding. I owned and rode horses all through my teenage and young adult years. I gave it up when I got married because there was no way to fit it into our semi-nomadic lifestyle... or lack of finances.

However, in this scenario, I'll be acquiring horses, training them, giving lessons to adults and children with behavioral health issues, and directing a program... and starting it entirely from scratch. There is nothing like it in this town, nor is there any ready-made facility to buy. My most recent activities have been finding suitable land and studying for the riding therapy certification. Between now and May when we open, we need to build a stable, find horses, get supplies, train volunteers, be in compliance with God-knows-what-yet, and complete the certification process.

I may rant in the next few months about being stressed, overworked, tired, a bad mother, a poor manager, but I certainly don't expect to write about being bored. :)