Twenty-Two

I became a mom twenty-two years ago today. I could wax poetic about what an amazing and beautiful young woman my daughter has become. I could share with you the mixed fear and pride I felt when she traveled (with great excitement) to a Central American country to serve in missions. I could tell you how smart she is and that the creative gene is stronfullsizeoutput_8522g in her. We could chuckle over how she curls up on the sofa in comfy clothes and teaches herself new embroidery stitches while watching episodes of Doctor Who, like she’s a really cool granny. I could rattle off her literary accomplishments — completing NANOWRIMO four times, having her poem published in the college literary magazine, rocking it like Noah Webster in the writing department.

 

But then I’d just be bragging.

 

 

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My girl is twenty-two today and I love her very much.

 

Happy birthday, Jami-girl!

A Tuesday Reunion

Yesterday I spent some time filling out my planner for the week. One of my goals is to be more diligent about scheduling my time. That encompasses responsibilities and fun! So when I sat down yesterday and entered appointments and to-do’s in my Agenda 52 Planner, tomorrow’s entry was especially exciting.

Years ago when I worked at the law firm, I had the pleasure of working for a legal assistant named Sallie. We were a good match and I enjoyed working for her until life took us in different directions. We lost touch for many years, and then one day I decided to see if I could reconnect with her through Facebook, and was happily successful!

Tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this) we are meeting for lunch and I think we both are as excited as little kids. It will be so nice to catch up with each other after such a long time. She is a wordsmith, in addition to many other things (a lawyer, a realtor, a homeless animal advocate), and I look forward to hearing all about life since we worked together back in the day.

I’m not sure lunch is going to be long enough.

One Foot in Front of the Other

The list of hats I wear is pretty lengthy and I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never had one fall off my head. Right now, in addition to running the blind business and working on stories for the magazine, I’m trying to continue making progress in several areas — organizing my work and personal space, getting our ducks in a row for home projects that we will finally be able to do when our mortgage is paid off this spring. Making sure my guy and our girl aren’t ignored, neglected, or forgotten in the hurry scurry of all the rest of it. Working on keeping my priorities in the correct order. One thing I am striving to become more diligent at is looking at my calendar and making lists. The other is to remember to have fun and not make this journey all about checkmarks (unless they are the fun kind one marks off bucket lists).

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Ready to fuse glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. (Remembering Norm Abrams of The New Yankee Workshop: “And remember this. There is no other more important safety rule than to wear THESE safety glasses…”)

I’d love to hear if any of you have tips on how you keep putting one foot in front of the other!

Be joyful, y’all!

Laura

Someone

I’ve been needing to write this for quite a while now. Until today, the words just wouldn’t come. The events described below occurred over the course of roughly eight years.

Have you ever been acquainted with, or even friends with, Someone who is obliviously careless in the way he or she treats people? For all intents and purposes, Someone is great — professing a love for God and people, and usually getting it right.

Until Someone gets it wrong. Repeatedly. And there seems to be no going back. No chance of recovery. Because Someone is completely oblivious to what he or she has done.

In the beginning, I thought I was at fault because I was putting too much value on things. It started with a table that I’d donated to a cause — a piece of furniture that had been in my family for decades, but for which I had no room. All seemed well, until one day I noticed the table sitting outside the building, the mid-century formica curled up by the recent rainstorm, ruined beyond repair. It made me so angry to see the table misused and cast aside — wasted. I regretted donating it, but then I told myself, “You don’t know who did this. And it’s just a THING. It’s not worth getting so angry.”

And so I tried to let it go.

A couple of years later, Someone asked if they could borrow my “old” camera to take some family portraits. It was not my primary camera any longer, but it was still a good camera, one my daughter was beginning to use. I took joy in passing it down to her, and I asked her before loaning it out, since it officially belonged to her. When the camera was returned, I didn’t think to inspect it, but the next time my daughter tried to remove the memory card, the eject button was broken and I had to pry the card out with my fingers. Upon closer inspection, I discovered the contact pins for the memory card were damaged. The camera was ruined. And Someone didn’t say anything. Again, I stifled my anger and reminded myself, “It’s just a THING. Maybe it was an accident.”

And so I tried to let it go.

Most recently, though, the carelessness has had nothing to do with things, and everything to do with people. Someone promised to be there for one of MY people. To fill a parental void left by an absentee parent. Someone made promises. Promises to go visit my person at college and to stay in touch. To step in where the absentee dad had left a void. Someone broke those promises. And my person was left yet again with a wounded heart.

It was getting harder to let it go.

Another one of MY people went through difficult times a couple of years ago. I’m glad to say my person is on the backside of those difficult times and joy fills her face more often than sorrow. But in the dark days she sought counsel from Someone she should have been able to trust. Someone broke her trust because she did not follow Someone’s timeline — she did not heal in the way, or as fast, as Someone wanted.

It was getting much harder to let it go.

Someone else claiming to be her kindred spirit, her soulmate, told her with all seriousness she was going to hell for things done in the dark days, and then turned around and did similar things, if not worse. All the while, Someone else pretended to be one thing around one group and another thing around another group. My person struggled to be transparent, to stop being all things to all people — she finally sought to discover who she is in Jesus Christ. In the discovery of who that is, she opened up her heart to forgiveness and reconciliation. Someone else gave her hope, and then snatched it away, telling her their friendship was ended, that they would never be friends again.

Suddenly all the pieces began to fit together for me. The carelessness with the things. The carelessness with the promises. The carelessness with the confidences. The carelessness with the “rules” — “it’s okay for me, but not for thee.” The carelessness with relationships.

And in that moment, it became easy to let go. To leave those someones behind, to realize that maybe these things happened for a reason because that place, those someones, were not where I (or we) belonged.

Each and every time I think of those someones, I try to ask God to help me forgive the hurts inflicted, however obliviously, on my loved ones and myself. I try to remind myself that those someones probably have no clue how their actions hurt me and mine. And I remember that I am someone, also — to make every effort to treat others with care and loving kindness.

 

The Gift of Lifetime Friends

My guy and I, along with our girl, spent years 1997 – 1999 living in Huntsville, Texas. We moved there, where we’d originally met in college in 1985, when AJ accepted a position in the Human Resources department with the state prison system. Though short, those were good years for us, in large part because we became friends with another married couple who would prove to be more like family than friends.

We visited a church called Family Faith one Sunday and really liked it. The worship was powerful and the sermon series on family was spot on for what we needed at the time. I don’t think it was very long at all, maybe two or three weeks, that one of the ladies there, Lucy Arnold, told me, “You need to meet Alena. I just know you will be great friends.”

I am so grateful for Lucy’s intuition, because she was 100% right regarding Alena. I was 33 years old, Alena was 24 — we immediately hit it off and became fast friends. We both loved to read, we were both relatively new mothers since we had toddlers and she had another baby while we lived in Huntsville. I loved how easy it was to talk with Alena — about anything and everything. She always took her life experiences and turned them around to what God had done for her, what He had taught her. Even though she was younger than me, I learned so much from her!

The bonus of our developing friendship was the friendship that grew between our husbands, too. When two married women become close friends, friendship between their spouses is not always a given. The fact that the four of us enjoy each others’ company so much is a real gift and one we do not take for granted, and it was Clyde who officiated at our wedding vow renewal a few weeks ago. A two hour drive now separates us, but when the opportunity to fellowship presents itself, we are delighted to rearrange schedules, whatever is needed to be able to spend that time together!

Today is Clyde’s 60th birthday and with his characteristic spontaneity he decided to take a day trip to his favorite place, the beach. Alena contacted us to see if we could meet them and their kids out there and, of course, the answer was “yes!” We made it out to Peregrine, going toward San Luis Pass, and the guys got the little portable grill going for hot dogs while Alena and I took a walk down the beach. Such a sweet visit catching up with each other! Upon our return, a fire pit had been dug and a small wood fire was burning in preparation for s’mores. We sat around the fire and talked, and then Clyde wrapped up our evening by leading us in a couple of worship songs.

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Friends and sisters by choice. ❤

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Lots to smile about – we’re together!
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Alena & Clyde, with their kids, plus a few “extras” along for the ride!

How I miss having these people nearby! I love you, Tauriainens! You are the best! ❤

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Alena & Clyde Tauriainen, AJ & Laura Jinkins

 

Encouraged & Reassured; Joy is a Choice

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My beautiful, strong, independent daughter.

 

After seeing so many posts online regarding the “Day Without a Woman” protest, I honestly thought the world had gone stark raving bonkers. Seriously, who would have thought we’d see women walking around a few weeks ago in pornographic craft projects gone bad in protest?

Then my daughter, Jami, posted a link to this article on her FB page, and I was encouraged and reassured that there are still intelligent, responsible women walking this planet.

via ‘A Day Without a Woman’ Protest Is Challenged by Women Who Say #WeShowUp to Work

The article and the numerous responses of levelheaded women it documents give me great comfort in knowing there ARE strong women out there who don’t whine and complain about perceived injustices. They know they are strong and capable of taking charge of their own destinies, choosing their own paths. It makes me incredibly proud to know that my daughter recognizes what a truly strong woman does and is making her own path in this world without expecting accommodations, but by doing the work needed to achieve her dreams.


To continue the protests, this came out: Some Women Are Striking From Smiling Today. Apparently, smiling is a form of “emotional labor” — and women are tired of being forced to appear pleasant and/or happy. According to the article, “emotional labor” is a term that was coined in 1983 (a year after I graduated from high school) and it refers to putting others first in order to keep things going smoothly and make others happy. Supposedly, women walking down the street are being commanded by passersby to smile, and cautioned that an unfulfilled request can escalate into something undesirable. I’m trying to remember the last time I was out walking about that someone demanded that I smile. Oh, that’s right! NEVER.

Here’s a question for you, whomever you may be, whatever you may be (male or female): Why are these people so determined to be miserable? Whatever happened to taking one’s circumstances and making the best of them? There’s a good chance that, in the process, those circumstances will improve thanks to the effort. I’ve found that when I think of others in a kindly and caring manner, it is often returned to me. Treat my husband like crap? Refuse to think about his needs? I’m pretty certain I’ll reap the harvest of what I’ve sown. But care about him, do what I can to make his day a better day? I find he returns the love.

We just celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and my husband surprised me with a wedding vow renewal at the beach in Surfside, Texas. He spent a year planning an event that was perfectly us. He had the beach as his background (as a Galveston BOI, it’s his favorite place) and with our sisters’ help, he made sure I had the “pretties” I enjoy so much. Our road to that day (and to the future ahead) has not always been smooth. There have been times that we both thought “what the hell have we done?” Thankfully, we’ve never thought it at the same time, and we’re both too stubborn to quit on each other. So here we are. And here is the blog post he wrote that proves to me success is to be found in focusing on and loving others, not whining and complaining about how life isn’t fair. He said,

When I look at Laura, this is what I see. After 25 years, I do not see a beautiful, young, sexy thing. I see a part of me that has consistently withstood the trials of life and yet remained true and has stayed the course. To me, that is more beautiful and sexy than anything else in this world, and the stories we can tell!

I cannot think of any more beautiful words than those. Of course, a third wave feminist will take umbrage at the phrase “a part of me” — the outcry will be “I am my OWN person, not a part of any man” — and for those who can’t see the forest for the trees, I feel sorry for you. You get so caught up in the minutia that you can’t see this is a man who will give his life for me, who loves me as much or more than himself — who remembers every thing he’s ever heard me express an interest in and does what he can to make sure I have the enjoyment of that thing, the fulfillment of my goals and dreams. On the flip side of that, he is a part of me — I am committed to him with equal fervor.

If I’d only focused on the negatives, and refused to see the positives, odds are great we wouldn’t have lasted and I would have missed out on a ceremony that truly means more to me than the one we experienced in 1992. The first wedding was nice, there’s no doubt. It was in a church, I had the beautiful dress, we were surrounded by friends and family, and there was a big cake and punch. But the truth? Our renewal says this:

I kept my promise, and I choose to keep it again.

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My sentimental husband created our own “unity” ceremony using sand he’d taken from the Galveston beach when he went off to college in 1985 and dirt he got from a crawfish hole in the back yard of my childhood home in Alvin. The Galveston sand and the Alvin dirt, mixed together, is now contained in a glass jar labeled “Galvinston”. ❤

So on the days that aren’t perfect, the days I roll my eyes and think, “What have I gotten myself into?” — I choose to remember he may be thinking the same thing. And then I remind myself of the good times and the promise of more. I choose joy, no matter the circumstances. Choosing misery and complaint only produces more of the same, and is rooted in selfishness. My prayer for all these confused women is that they try joy for a change. Focus on others and see if things turn around. You might be surprised.

Birthdays

It’s only been recently that I’ve begun feeling the significance of my birthdays. Up until now, they’ve been days in which my loved ones showed me their love with gifts and cake. I never really thought about the number attached to each birthday celebrated. Turning 30 was no big deal, which surprised me. I’d heard stories of people experiencing some sort of identity crisis — thinking 30 was old. Thinking I’d dodged an emotional bullet, I skipped happily along through the next decade, having a baby at 32, buying a house at 36 — doing the “grown up” thing, but never really feeling my age. In my head, I still felt like I was in my late 20s’.

I figured I’d experience that crisis when I turned 40, but surprisingly, I still felt fine. I celebrated my twelfth wedding anniversary and my daughter turned eight. These were not milestones marked by old people! Even the increasing number of grey hairs I fought with trips to the hair salon were not an indicator — I started getting grey hair at 16 years old. It meant nothing! And at 40, I figured I still hadn’t reached the halfway point of my journey on this earth. With grandparents on both sides that lived well into their 80s’, and a maternal great-grandfather who passed at the age of 103, my calculations had to be right.

Fast forward ten years to 2014. I turned 50, but I had a senior in high school — my own mother was 38 when I graduated from high school, so having a high school graduate at 50 meant I was still young, right? Right?

Yesterday my girl turned 21. Twenty-one. TWENTY-ONE. Her boyfriend (aka “The Tall One”) took her to her favorite restaurant, The Spaghetti Warehouse, where she ordered a glass of wine and was a little miffed they didn’t ask for her ID. Yesterday was the first birthday in 21 years that I did not see my girl or plan her celebration. She went to her classes, went to work, went back to her apartment and got ready for her birthday date with her boy. We chatted on the phone a couple of times during the day and I sent her lots of birthday love via text emojis, but I have to tell you — it was really strange waiting until her daddy got off work today, to drive up to Houston to spend the afternoon together.

Today I think I finally felt my age. I have an adult daughter who makes me so proud. She doesn’t do everything perfectly (said in an effort to appear unbiased), but she puts forth her best effort and she is navigating adulthood very well. We went for an early dinner at Sweet Paris Creperie and then shopped at The British Isles and a lovely stationery shop, Dromgoole’s, that sells Montblanc pens (good heavens, those things are expensive!) and boxes of Crane stationery (so hard to find). As I watched her navigate the aisles of the shops dressed in a cute outfit and heels, she looked so flipping grownup — and I realized she is. I don’t have a little girl or even a teenager anymore. I have a wonderful husband I’ve known and loved for half my life, and I’m mom to a lovely young woman who makes me smile (and sometimes cry, but in a good way) whenever I spend time with her. I think I finally feel my age, and that’s okay.

🙂