Sunday, March 22, 2015

La Joie de Vivre continues.... surpasses... everlasting

Well, I survived...
And... Lo and behold, that same "joie de vivre" kept me from drowning in my sorrows, so to speak.  It grounded me.  Don't get me wrong - I did have my brief moments of insanity and "Poor Aimee" days.  I have survived the two most gut-wrenching experiences of my life - divorce, and being "let go" from a job/employer that I associated my total worth in....  Both in a 2 year time span.  Not easy.  Both tremendously unsettling.  Both shook me to my core.  Made me second guess who I was, who I had been, and who I wanted to be.

I am on the other side now.

I was eating breakfast with a friend this morning and she remarked about how she always pondered about my ability to get through the bad times without her even really knowing how I was struggling.  Of course she is wise and knew that I was struggling, but she wondered how I didn't seem to succumb.

I thought about this today.

Answer: good old fashioned work ethic and.... a little dose of "joie de vivre"...  I was truly blessed as a young child...  What I got that a lot of people don't... is two parents with STRONG work values, a family history as far back as can be recalled of work ethic and value in making something of yourself and not whining... AND... most importantly, I felt loved.  Truly, I felt loved by my parents, my grandparents, my aunts...  That love, that knowledge that no matter what my accomplishments, I was loved for just being "me" was a live saver and that is what transformed into "joie de vivre".  From the bottom of my heart, mom, Dad, Renata, Mimi, Jana, papa, papa bud, Grandma Hattie and Grandma Jean, you saved my soul from bitterness and resentment.  Your devotion to me, to raising me right, has saved me as an adult. 

Yes, I was a child raised by a village...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stay-at-home Mommy

Since I will be actually working outside the home very shortly, just a matter of days, actually, I thought I would capture in writing what my experience has been like as a stay-at-home Mommy for the FIRST TIME EVER!!!! I am somewhat of a scheduler and task-oriented person. On a weekend, I typically did not relax until night-time when I was exhausted - I would clean the house, run errands, just take care of things, tell kids to wait, I didn't have time, etc... Then at night I would relax with a glass of wine and kids were already engaged in something else and I was just relieved i didn't have to entertain them anymore. So, you can imagine all the different feelings I've had being at home all day. My son's in PM kindergarten, so can't do major projects (which is typical of me - I have been known to paint an entire room in one day). So, I'm forced to just take it easy and fill my time with simple things. The bathroom shower door is still cracked, Liam's ceiling still has water damage and is not painted, Zoe's wood floor is not sanded and stained, etc... The ONLY reason my side porch doors are gorgeously painted red and the porch has been spruced up with gray is because my friend Kym spent 2 days painting them for me while I did my paperwork for my job which I STILL haven't started yet!

Anyway, so, when kindergarten interrupts your day, you don't plan much. I get dressed first thing, take dog out, drink coffee, eat breakfast, make beds, maybe do laundry, tidy up kitchen and then plan day's meals. I do some email and blogging and take care of household business. At 1100 AM I starting making lunch (no, not PB and J, I usually make something) and then walk him to school by 1215 PM (leave house around 1200PM). While Liam is at school I rush around and do everything I can't do when he's around - grocery store, my hour walk, walk dog, or workout. Recently, I have been squeezing Christmas shopping into that time-frame. Then I walk to pick him up and that's when I start relaxing...

He holds my hand and twists and squeezes it as we walk because he's jumping and kicking plants and falling (he cannot be still, that's for sure!). I ask him about his day and he says he can't remember because he has a "bad membory!" - yes, the typo is correct! We chit chat all the way and he says he loves it when we walk home. Zoe comes home and it's time to organize and approve snacks. Zoe says, "I love it when I have a stay-at-home mom". I say, "Why do you say that, honey?". She answers, "Oh, just because, you do things for me (I have just recently cleaned her room and organized it), you make cookies, you cook everyday... I don't know I just love it".

Then Liam and I read. Finally, they are off to their individual activities and I start cooking our evening meal (by this time it's 400 PM). I love this time - I'm finally allowing myself to relax as I am not leaving the house and my last responsibility of the day is the meal. And boy, do I get into it - Christmas music is on, veggies are being chopped, hair is pulled back, candles are smelling great.... I set the table, light the centerpiece candles, City Boy arrives home... And then I pour the wine and take a deep, deep breath.... I know this won't last forever and I'm so enjoying it right now...

What I LOVE about staying home:
  • No pressure the night before to get to sleep by a certain time (although I'm usually out by 1000 PM, still not a real feeling of pressure)
  • Mornings are WAY less stressful - Nat leaves, then Zoe leaves, then Liam and I meander into the kitchen and start our day
  • Researching and cooking new time-confusing recipes!
  • Eating lunch with my son
  • Eating lunch at home
  • Eating a lunch baked in an oven (we currently do not own a microwave, so there!)
  • I can take a walk AND do a workout video tape in the same day!!!
  • Seeing the sun during PA winter - yeah, I get to see it and feel it - I go for a walk, my windows are all open, I walk Liam to school and back, it's fab and then when it's dark at 400 PM I'm not bitter!
  • Having the time to play a game with my son, play cars with him, or read to him - in the few short months I've been home, he has REALLY caught on to 3 letter words and does a GREAT job reading Green Eggs and Ham :-)
  • Not feeling bitter when kids and hubby leave the table after meal, don't clear and put away dishes. I think - well, it's kind of my job right now :-) That will change when I'm working, I'm sure...
  • Not having to chug my coffee - having the time to enjoy my coffee...
  • Getting compliments from my family about meals, or how nice the house looks or smells...

What I do NOT love about staying at home:

  • The nagging feeling that I should be doing more with my day!
  • Naggy people who think I should be doing more with my day!
  • The endless lists of requests from hubbies and children who think all I have to do all day is take care of their needs - ha, ha!
  • Not getting enough done!
  • Having to drop off and pick up my son which takes about 45 minutes all told for only 2 3/4 hour of school - what the heck is that about?
  • No time to do errands while Liam is at school - a VERY quick shopping trip and a 1 hour walk and that's all for now, folks!!!
  • No money

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cherries in Winter and other ways to be broke but not poor

As Suzan Colon writes in her book, Cherries in Winter, "I suddenly feel poor".... For the first time in my adult life I am unemployed, although technically I have a job waiting for me, just don't have a start date yet. As a result, it's back to counting pennies (yes, I said "back to", because I feel like I've been doing this forever already!!) I found Suzan's entry about Cherries in Winter to be like an AHA moment. The tale goes that her grandmother Matilde, who was used to counting pennies all her life, had a way about her, a "joie de vivre", so to speak (my words, not Suzan's). Grandmother Matilde knew that such little indulgences helped all the penny-pinching become much more meaningful... On one December night in Manhatten, she and her daughter walked to the fruit vendor (as they often did in the spring) and found cherries of all things. As it was not bitter cold, they walked to central park and sat on the benches to enjoy their extravagances. Ok, here's the pause and the explanation for you all out there who need help experiencing "moments" - it was chilly, the christmas lights were on, the park was lovely and still and they sat on a bench together and slowly, deliciously, one by one, ate their sweet cherries.... They savored each part of that moment - the smells, the sounds, the taste, their souls.... Nana Matilde said, "Is there anything better in the world than being here in Manhatten in Central Park and eating cherries in winter?" See, Matilde was wise, wise, wise... She spent a tiny bit more on little indulgences to keep herself from feeling like less... Pause a moment and think about those words, to prevent herself from feeling like less.... When one counts pennies and struggles financially day after day, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of feeling poor. One's "joie de vivre", one's hope can be lost... That is SO important to save!! Suzan's Nana used to say, "We may be broke, but we are not poor!!" Poverty of the soul is worse than poverty of the pocket. Once you lose your "soul", or "joie de vivre", as I say, you have become POOR....

Here's what I do help my soul stay alive even as I'm counting pennies:
1) Evenings meals are a lovely, special affair - tablecloth, candles, wine, fine china (this happens more now than before for all those above reasons).
2) Wonderful smelling candles burn daily in my home
3) Rooms are set up for us to enjoy and savor moments - comfy chairs, pillows, blankets, lamps for reading, gorgeous vignettes and views...
4) I spice up the mundane!! Try new meals with wholesome foods
5) I bought FABULOUS expensive lingerie! This sounds like an extravagance, but honestly, that extravagence has made my husband and I happy many times afterwards... I have since bought less expensive lingerie to carry on the momentum.
6) I bought wonderful, feminine clothes, shoes, scarves (at Salvation Army, BUT STILL!) and I dress myself up daily in beautiful clothes that rarely a soul sees except my family and ME! That's the point - I see myself too!

Alright, folks, it's time for you to start commenting on what you do to not feel poor even if technically you are struggling...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wake up - Your Life is not so bad!!!

As you can see, I'm in the mood for Family History - ran across the family history my Aunt Sharon (Mimi to her many grandchildren) wrote up. Here's 2 stories that reminded me to "wake up - your life is not so bad!"
#1 Children
So, my Grandpa Howard was one of eleven children, born in 1920. His mother was Ida and his father was Edward. They lived in various little counties in South Texas. At that time it was uncommon for that many children to survive infancy... (Wake up Note # 1!). But they all did.
One day, Ida went to visit her sister in Austin, and while she was gone, her 6 year old Joseph developed appendititus (this was just a few weeks after his 6th birthday). Little Joseph and his father Ed were driven to the Cuero hospital in Dr. Zipp's car, but to no avail. Little Joseph died and I imagine his mother did not get to see him again alive since she was all the way in Austin that day... (Wake up Note # 2!). This same year, about 3 months prior, they lost their 24 year old son Jesse (who still lived at home), to typhoid fever.
#2 Careers and Bad Luck
For several years in early 1900s, Ed worked for the railroad in Vanderbilt, and he must have made decent wages because they lived in a big 2-story house at Koop Community in Jackson County. I'm sure this was very nice for a family so large... Well, the railroad found out that Ed had vision in only one eye and let him go. No idea what Ed did after that, but they were still living in the same big house when lightning struck their barn. All the horses and mules were killed and the barn and all the equipment burned... So, they had to move. They moved back to Yoakum where Ed worked at the icehouse. (Wake up Note # 3) - on days when you hate your job, think about how lucky you have it - think about how much worse it could get! See above story about when you're down on your luck and then your barn burns down!!!

Memory Fades

In my whining and complaining on my first 2 blogs I forgot that I actually DO have some neat memories of my grandparents - on my dad's side. My Papo Bud, who was my grandmother Haddie Shippey's 2nd husband adored me. My mom tells me he used to take me to the local diner everytime I visited. My mom always dressed me in frilly girl outfits (yes, the ruffle panties AND the ruffle socks, which I used to hate and would rip the ruffle off as I got older). Anyway, he used to take me to the local diner and would set me up on the table and have me sing and dance for all his friends! Mom says it was really quite funny because I had the deepest voice at that time and I ate like a bird, so I was tiny, tiny, tiny. I can just imagine, a tiny, skinny little girl with white blonde mop-head curls standing on a table in a frilly frock, in the middle of a diner singing in a deep, deep frog voice, while her Papo watches on, eyes full of joy.... How sweet is that?

My Grandma Haddie memories are also sketchy - what I do remember is feeling loved and doted on, I remember to me her house was dark, but I LOVED going there because I ALWAYS ALWAYS got ice cream. I remember being in her kitchen and eating ice cream. See? Food again! So, if Suzan Colon had fond memories of good food times and so do I, is it bad as a mom if I'm constantly trying to limit those "good foods" - like cookies, icecream, etc...? I guess I need to think on that one... Maybe it's just for grandparents to create those memories - Nat's parents do the same thing for their grandkids... special cereals that they like, special drinks, special snacks... mmmm... guess if they do it, then I don't have to!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cherries in Winter

I read Cherries in Winter by Suzan Colon today, yes, in one day! I laughed, cried, felt twinges in my heart, nodded my head, and finally, after it was all over, emailed my mom and told her I love her... I realized today one of the main things I feel I have been missing - one of the things that made me move to Texas - I was in search of family history, stories, traditions... Because I lived overseas I didn't see my grandparents very often, didn't participate in their daily lives, didn't laugh at or make fun of their ways, didn't hear the stories of what it was like in the depression... it's a shame, I'm sure they had stories to tell, but I was too young and self-centered to ask. Now I read this book and I remember that Grandma Hamman had an exterior pantry in her garage that my cousins, sister, and I cleaned out and we were amazed at the food that was stored there and how old it was!!! My mom said, "well, they were products of the depression"... And there was also the "clean plate club".... product of the depression - don't waste food... I wish I knew their stories.... So, I made a joie de vivre committment today - since my grandparents can't tell me anymore, I'm gonna hear my mom's stories! She's still around, she communicates very well, surely she can tell me! I remember our last visit in Texas - I cooked a lot - very planned, rushed, focused, as I often do things, and one day for whatever reason, my mom and I made stuffed green peppers. a little of this, a little of that - hamburg meat, worchestershire sauce, spaghetti sauce, whatever else you want to add, stuff in a green pepper, bake for a while at 35o.... After reading Cherries in Winter, I realize how special that was...
Even living in Texas didn't get me closer to what I thought I was looking for - I realized that I was going to have to create those memories, stories, traditions myself... So this blog is partially to fulfill that legacy for my 2 little ones, Zoe and Liam.

La joie de vivre

The French have a saying, "la joie de vivre" - elle a la joie de vivre (she has "the joy of life")... As a teen, growing up in a French colony in Africa, surrounded by French-french friends and French-Canadian friends, and Belgian-french friends, I heard this saying quite a bit. It meant that this girl/female has an inner joy/inner beauty that radiates through her body, her smile, her mannerisms, and spreads like sunshine to others. As an adult, it's not so simple anymore... Or is it? Can joie de vivre carry a woman through anything? Can joie de vivre help a woman survive unemployment of herself, her husband, infertility, financial struggles, disappointing family get-to-gethers, a national recession?

Yes, I say, with a resounding YES!!! Yes it can!!! And let's get on with it!