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45 is the new black

Today is my 45th birthday.  I don’t really view this as a milestone.  I’ve always been a big believer in your age is really just a number, and how you act is more important than the actual digits.   In saying all of that, however, I started thinking about 45.  When I was in my twenties, what did I think I would be doing in my 40s?  In a perfect world, what do I think I should be doing?

My career is where I wanted it to be, but now that I’m here,  I’m looking for a change.  I started a family later in life, getting married at 36, gaining two children in the process,  then giving birth to a son one week before my first anniversary.  “Zero to three kids in one year!” was my tagline.  Balancing a career with kids is tough.  My job morphed into a role that is not one I would have picked for myself.  I’m doing OK, but I don’t love it.  It’s not a comfortable place for me.  The paycheck is amazing, and if it wasn’t for that, I would have walked two years ago.  Unfortunately, I cannot make this kind of money and keep five weeks of vacation anywhere else locally.  Moving is not an option at this point in life, due to involvement with my stepchildren’s lives.  That may change a few years, when our middle child graduates from high school.  I would like to do a complete one-eighty and manage a non-profit agency for some grand cause.  In reality, that will most likely take up 50-60 hours, which is part of my work problem now.

What to do?  I’m entertaining ideas on a new career in technical writing, consulting, or even a more internet-based business.  I’m also pursuing a 25 year old dream to become an author.   I’ve started writing again, and while I don’t expect to grace to New York Times top ten list in the next few  years, the emotional payoff has made it worth the effort.  To me, it’s like popping a Xanax.

When I was in my late twenties and early thirties, sans kids, I mentored women at work.  Typically they were in roles below my level, and we focused on long-term career goals.  I miss this.  I realized that I while I am a parent (and, alas, wicked stepmother), there is no reason I can’t also be a mentor to these children.  This is a new realization to me, so I don’t have a lot of data to show this to be a success yet, but I hope it will work and be a win-win for all.  I’m also mentoring one woman at work, even though we have no formal process any longer (new ownership).

My health is not good.  Perimenopause (the time leading up to full-fledged menopause) is kicking my ass at the moment.  Long story short, I need sleep more, drink more water, less alcohol, eat a more healthy diet AND increase exercise.   The worst part is the headaches – I often fall asleep with one and wake up with it.  It is SO draining.  Seriously – can’t you just put me under the knife and be done with it???  PLEASE???

So – here I am at 45, and I’m kind of a mess.  Now, to the general masses, maybe not so much:  I have a great husband,  teen children who are not in jail or parents themselves, a nice retirement account, a well-paying job, a nice house, and no credit card debt.  To me, however, I’m a mess, but whose fault is that?  It’s mine.  If I don’t like who I am, shouldn’t I be changing it?  At 45, I ought to feel like I own the world and hold myself up high.  Well, that’s a little arrogant.  I mean I should be where I want to be, and if I’m not, then I need to get off of my ass and fix it.  So what’s stopping me?  Me.

Forty five is the new black, and baby, I’m gonna wear it like it’s Dior.

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Shame

This is a comment I wrote after reading a post by Jeff Goins on the topic of shame (http://goinswriter.com/shame/)

Yesterday, my neighbor sent me a text/photo of my first-grade son dancing to “Gangnam Style” with her two boys.  I love, love, LOVE the fact that not only will my son do this at someone else’s house, but that she appreciates this kind of freedom as much as I do.  In all honesty, she is much better at promoting free expression than I am.  She and her husband both have degrees and careers in the art world, whereas I am a boring chemistry geek.   I want my child to sing and dance, play and express himself.  I have been “busted” by coworkers driving by my house, while my son and I are having glorious light saber battles to the death.  I have been caught singing in the car as I pull into the parking lot at work.  I am honestly not trying to attract attention, but I also don’t always squelch my actions because somebody might see me.  I was not always this way, but I have purposefully broken away from the cookie-cutter persona that is often expected, and I’ve allowed myself to be me.   This especially applies at home or in non-work events.  There is a limit to how much fun nerdy science people can have on the clock, after all, especially when we are making medicine.  🙂

Thank you, Jeff, for the wonderful post.  In life, we cannot forget to dance.

Wild Violet Ardor: Whipped Honey Butter

This looks delish!!!

gather

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“Don’t let love interfere with your appetite. It never does with mine.” Anthony Trollope

Valentine Day is gone, but for those still in the mood for amour, there is a lovely little woodland aphrodisiac blooming right now – the Violet. Today we associate this demure little beauty with primness and old lady perfumes – but it has not always been so – in ancient Greece its aroma was said to “torment young men beyond endurance” and it was used by courtesans to scent their breath and erogenous zones. Affiliated with Venus and love from time immemorial, the violet (according to the American Violet Society) was the original official flower of Valentines Day – not the rose.

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Growing wild in the Northwest, Viola sororia only grow a few inches high and are found in shady forests or wet areas each spring.  They can also migrate into urban areas and are…

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When God whispers

A coworker of mine turned 60 today. I walked to her desk to wish her a happy birthday. She had been out of the office for a few days, but I hadn’t given it much thought; I assumed she had taken some vacation. She explained that she hadn’t planned on taking time off, but her husband had a heart attack. Before I could offer her my condolences, she was grinning and said it was a good thing. This caught me by surprise, and I looked at her quizzically. She explained that he had been having difficulty breathing recently. When she was finally able to schedule a doctor’s appointment for him, it was weeks away. Last Tuesday, the day he had the heart attack, she was driving home and this voice inside her told her to take him to the emergency room that night. She said she had been praying to God to help her husband with his health issues. When she arrived home, she suggested going directly to the hospital instead of waiting for the doctor’s appointment. He initially refused. Finally, he said he’d go after supper and after taking care of a few things. When they arrived, he was admitted for his shortness of breath. While monitoring him, he experienced a heart attack. He was immediately taken to the cardiac unit, had several stents inserted, and within a few hours, was awake and resting comfortably in his room.

The first week of January, she went on to tell me, he hit black ice while driving and jackknifed his semi. While the truck was pretty banged up, he walked away without a scratch. She told him that these two incidents were signs that God wasn’t quite ready for him yet. I smiled and agreed, and said yes, God still had some work for him to do down here. She said so many people had told her what a bad year 2015 was for her, but she strongly disagreed with this: it was going to be a great year! Her husband is doing very well and is not expected to have any long term issues.

God whispered in her ear, and they both listened. I’m so glad they did. Are we listening for God’s whispers?

Had I not seen the photo…

Had I not seen the photo, I would have sworn that I never owned a shirt like that. Here it was, however, larger than life and on Facebook: me, smiling sweetly with ungodly bright eyeshadow, standing between my Dad and my Grandma, wearing a white T-shirt with black letters screaming, “STUDY NAKED”. The caption read, “Looking through some old photos and found this one: 1987.”

Seriously? Study Naked? Where did this shirt come from? Did I buy it? Did I borrow it from someone? Why did my parents let me wear it, especially in front of my GRANDMA? In a photo taken by our British friends, visiting on Holiday, no less?

No wonder my mother looks pissed.

On June 16th, 1988, when I was eighteen years old, I was in a serious car accident that resulted in a fractured neck. Although incased in a halo brace and then cervical collar for several months, I came out of the accident quite unscathed with no long-term issues. I realized, however, at some point that my memory was rather fuzzy on some things from my past. I could remember specific events quite well, like my first day of school in almost every grade, various moving days, birthdays, Christmases, but some of the day-to-day memories were gone. There was no defined time frame, just some of the ordinary day-to-day things seemingly slipped away. It never really bothered me, and life had moved on. I was making new, amazing memories every day in college, and the day-to-day stuff just didn’t really matter anymore

Until I saw that photo.

That photo is now 26 years old: more than half a lifetime ago. I don’t think I remember this girl, who wore outrageous makeup with shorts and flip-flops (or whatever popular sandals were being sold the mall that year). I vaguely remember a defiance tempered only with a drive to go somewhere and be something that I could be proud of, yet be myself. I feel that I have accomplished that.

Study Naked? Wow. Well, I guess it was one step above Party Naked.

When Life Turns Out Different Than What You Expected

Natasha Metzler

when life turns out different than what you expected
Some stories don’t turn out like we expect them to.

I’m sure Mary would agree with me. She said yes to God’s plan, despite her limited understanding. She put her hand right in His and followed the path laid down for her.

But I somehow doubt she ever expected where all it would lead her.

When my husband and I were first contacted about adopting a little unborn baby, we went right to our knees. We were Gideon with all his doubts. We weren’t strong enough, wealthy enough.

Four times I stretched out a fleece. Not just the twice that Gideon did. Four times.

Are you sure, God?

Every time He laid my fears to rest. This was His battle, His decision, His plan.

As we followed the road, prophecies and words of wisdom came. Annas and Simeons and humble shepherds full of confirmation. The verse came to me, right…

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Write a novel in a month? Are you crazy?

November marks the month of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I’ve read about this for the last several years, and thought, wow: I wish I had known about this BEFORE I had kids. My job is crazy, requring 50-60 hours a week. My home life is not exactly calm, with a blended family including kids aged 7-18. Growing up, I enjoyed writing, but science was my strength. I ditched the stories for entries in lab notebooks and later, all kinds of fun scientfic reports and global policy for a fortune 500 company.

After my son was born (now seven), our family went through some very difficult times with illnesses and other issues. I picked up a pen and began to write creatively, as a means of stress-relief. It was never intended for public viewing. In 2012, I first heard of NaNoWriMo. It sounded so fun, so exciting – but who has time for stuff like that? I already didn’t watch TV. It was tough to get the laundry done and keep the house clean.

Flash foward to 2014: several days ago, a friend reminds me of NaNoWriMo. In the blink of an eye, I mentally tell myself I am doing this. To be honest, I don’t think I will finish a novel. If I can just begin the process, however, and start this project, I will be thrilled. It’s been too long. I need to write.

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