Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Calm Before The Storm

It’s a bit of an oxymoron to consider Thanksgiving as a relaxing day for a mother of four, but for me this year that is exactly what it has been. We have left our lives behind for a few days and headed to the in-laws in the mountains of Northern Arizona. The only thing I had to do to get ready for the day of overeating was cut up some fruit. Pretty cushy, yep, I know.

With Christmas parties to plan and all of the paper deadlines that are approaching and finals starting in just over a week, I needed today to just stop, STOP! my crazy life and spend time with those that have been a bit neglected over this past semester. With 19 credit hours bleeding away all of my time, I have not been able to be the mom, wife, sister, and friend that I have been in the past. Lets be honest, you cannot be good at everything all at once.  I am not na├»ve to think that my attending school full time has not caused those around me to feel a little short changed. This was one of the reasons it took me a while to jump back into college life.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely good things that have come out of my educational endeavors, and not just for me. First of all, my kids no longer think that their father is the smart parent. They actually come to me, ME! for help with their homework. This is huge! (I have to admit their dad is a bit of a genius). Another benefit is that I am instilling in them the importance of going to college (though they are a bit snobbish about it being a community college. I have to remind them that it still counts). Lastly, my kids see me as a person, not just the lady that is expected to orbit around them making their lives easier.  

After my finals I am taking a semester off before starting up at ASU. During that time I will be focusing on my writing and my family. Today I received a little taste of what is in store. I won’t lie; it’s going to be pretty awesome.  (Man, am I thankful for this crazy crew of mine). In the mean time, happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all found the time to enjoy the company of those you love. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Psychoanalytic and other Mumbo Jumbo

Like my big word? I feel smart just by typing it out. Anyway, I am taking a critical theory class this semester. It is one of those required for English majors. In the class we look at different methods to critique texts (not what we do with our thumbs but a term for almost anything written). Psychoanalytic criticism (or as I call it, a bunch of wackadoodle mumbo jumbo) was the first theory we looked into. This method is based off of the philosophies of Sigmund Freud. If you like Freud, good for you, (I hope it doesn't screw up your relationships) I personally am not a fan. 

Anyway, one thing I did find interesting was the idea that authors deal with their "issues" subconsciously through their writing. My first reaction was a bit of... yeah, yeah, whatever... move on to something less crazy already. Then, I started thinking about my own manuscript. That's when I started to squirm a little bit. Yikes! I totally do this. Freud has something on me after all gosh darn-it! (if you don't tell I won't).

So, to help explain I will take you to my current novel. My protagonist's mother dies right off the bat. there are definitely some issues there between the 15 year-old Lan and her mother. It isn't until years (or the sequel) later that she fully understands her mother's worth. (I know, I know. Freud would have a field-day here).

Over the last year or so, my mom has been slipping away rather quickly. I have been doing a lot of reflecting, who wouldn't? I worry, worry, and worry some more, that I haven't valued the time I had with her over my lifetime. Does she know I love her? I know I didn't show it when I was Lan's age, but did I show it when I was an adult and could fully appreciate all she did for me as my mother, my protector, my champion? She was not perfect, but with 11, yes ELEVEN kids, what she accomplished with us took some serious superwoman, out of this world, strength. Of all of the blessing God has bestowed upon this girl, my mom is among the top. 

So, I guess what I am saying, though I know she will never read this due to her diminishing eye sight and memory, is that I love you mom. All of the good qualities that are inside of me, all of those things that you have constantly pointed out for me to see... telling me how wonderful I am, are there because you have instilled them. 

That, and Freud may have won this round, but don't expect a repeat. 

- Jen

Monday, November 18, 2013

Full Speed Ahead

Starting a blog has been something I have been encouraged to do for years, but the idea of putting my ideas out there for the viewing public very near gives me hives. (I know it's a bizarre statement coming from an author).

A few years ago my youngest (of four) started school. I found myself asking what all of us stay-at-home moms ask ourselves during this transition phase... "What now?" This question was just the start. Follow up questions like, "What do I want?" and "Who really am I?" and "Am I the same person I was before my "me" became "us"?"  started to clog my think maker. This was a really rough year for me. To be honest, I was a bit lost. I have always known who I was and had a pretty healthy sense of my worth, yet I felt all of those things slipping. 

During the following summer my mother's struggle with cognitive issues hit a crescendo. This was a major eye opening experience for me. (I think we have all had that slap in the face when we see our own mortality) At the age of 35 I realized I no longer wanted to put off all of the goals from years past that I had stuck on the back-burner. All of those "somedays" started nagging me somewhere near the adventurous part of my brain. 

In a matter of days I signed myself up for 13 credit hours at the local community college. (Those who know me know it is pretty much impossible for me to do anything halfway. Some people may think this is a good quality, but the truth is it can be kind of annoying for anyone who has to function in my orbit.) I was married at 21 and had my first child at 23. Between high school and my marriage I worked and played. This is one of those "if only" aspects of my life.  I am proud to say that in three weeks I will have my Associates degree. Then, on to Arizona State University in the fall. (I am majoring in English and then thinking Law School....but that story is for another post).

My next step (or goal) was to get back into writing. I had written several novels up to this point, but had taken a 4 year break. So, I sat down at my computer (this was one month into my second semester) and two months later had a 100,000 word rough draft of the first novel in my young adult epic fantasy series completed. My next step was of course to edit, edit, and then edit some more (this is a never ending process that I have been trudging through the last 10 months).

The last "someday" nagging at me was to start blogging as a way to talk about my writing, and the overall growth process I have been embarking on in my life. Funny how for me this is the goal that is causing me the most anxiety. I have put it off so many times I almost wrote it off of my list. Deciding that I had better stop being a total weeny, I signed up for a Social Media class this semester. I figured this would force me to face my fears. And look! Here I am! So far so good. My fingers are not bleeding as I am typing this and so far my self esteem is still in a relatively good place. 

So... ready, set, go.  It is full speed ahead for this girl.