The Power of a Woman – Part 2

I believe that God puts you in positions, or provides opportunities, for you to learn. Like, for instance, a part breaking on a plane which frees up some time for a person to write a blog.

“I struggle every day with who I am…” those were my words on Monday as I sat in an airport, waiting for my plane to attend a United Methodist National Gathering of Camp and Retreat Leaders. I arrived eight and a half hours later than I was scheduled. I missed the opening worship service, but I found out I did not miss the lesson!

Because I arrived late and missed the first event of the conference, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss anything else. I was up at 6:00 a.m. (5:00 a.m. my time) to attend Morning Watch. I walked the short distance under the Spanish Moss laden trees to the little white chapel. Built in 1880, the small chapel is named Lovely Lane Chapel after the site where the founding of the Conference of American Methodism in Baltimore, MD, took place in 1784. It is significant in the life of the Methodist Church. But today, it was significant for me as it became my chance to move from my past, to the present and into the future. I did not even know that what I wrote yesterday would have such significance today. But that is the way God works.

The air was crisp as I walked towards the chapel. I opened the white-painted door to a small room filled with rich dark woods and beautiful, vibrant-colored stain glass panels. It was warm and welcoming. I was ready for newness.

I had spent much of yesterday, writing, re-writing and reading my blog. I wanted to make sure it was what I wanted to say. It was significant to me. After I was finished and hit the “publish” button, I kept thinking that the blog was not what I had intended.

I had meant to write about the fact that a woman has great power in no matter which position she holds in life. It is the right of a woman to determine her direction in life, whether it is being a stay-at-home mom or a business executive. I wanted to write that my parents had given me the power to decide my fate; I WAS to go to college; I WAS to get an education that would allow me to live on my own if that is what happened in my life; I WAS to have the chance to be independent and that would happen in college. My parents gave me the values and foundation to be whomever I wanted. That is what I meant to write about. I meant to write about the power women have and to not let anyone take that power away, and that power could be defined in many different ways.

That is what I meant to say. But that is not what happened. I cried that I missed my past life. I mourned for the person I was and I lamented my sorrow to the world.

It was actually on my mind as I entered the chapel. And then the pastor stands up to give the message. He cited Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God’s Word Translation says, “Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events long ago.” Apparently, that was the Bible verse that was cited in the opening worship service which I had missed.

I was dumbfounded! That verse was speaking to me; God was speaking to me. He was telling me to get over it and feel blessed with the life that I have and am re-creating every day. He had probably been telling me that for quite a while and I was not listening (I just typed lostening. How ironic that I wrote lost because that is what I am/was.)

If I had been at the evening service and heard that verse, I am sure it would not have meant as much to me. I needed to be placed in a position where I allowed myself to have a pity party. I had to put down, in words, my feelings of despair because then, and only then, would it manifest itself into the “aha” moment of this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I still own my words. I do miss being “that” person, but there are parts of my childhood and young adulthood that I miss. I do not mourn those times, I have recollections which have shaped who I am today, I must look at the past and take what I did and learned and use it in my present and into my future. I need to quit dwelling on my past and being mournful because dwelling on it makes me sad and I do not want to be a sad person. I want to be a happy person, an inspiring person, a person filled with love for God and family.

God gives us a chance to learn. Sometimes God needs to set things in motion that force someone to look at their life so they can quit dwelling on the past and begin looking towards new things, the future.

For my Morning Watch alone, I am a changed person. I may only say this once, but thank God for my canceled flight.

Advertisements

Defying Gravity or When did I get old?

I know where I was when It happened. I don’t remember the date or time; maybe I was trying to deny the inevitable and erase it from my memory. But it happened, I stopped being “that girl”. No I don’t mean that ditzy Ann Marie from the 1960’s tv sitcom That Girl; I mean the girl who rock stars make a connection; the girl who could garner a smile from a total stranger.The one who the lead singer targeted in the audience.

I was the girl who stood out in a crowd. I am not being conceited because I was far from a strikingly beautiful person. My face was a little too full and I was never a thin person. But my grandfather always made me his photo test subject because I was photogenic. Maybe it was my smile or my blue-blue eyes. Whatever it was, I knew that I could capture the attention of XY gene carriers on a stage. I could feel their eyes connect with mine. Sometimes it was electric. I would smile and that smile was reciprocated. Sometimes their smile was a shy little smile and others an, out there, full grin. And while I could have been imagining it, I don’t think so. Because I remember when it ceased; more importantly, I remember how I felt.

Most times, this happened when my husband was with me; sitting (or standing) right next to me. It made me feel special. I was proud that I could catch the attention of someone other than my husband. No don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and would never do anything to lose his trust. And while this sounds very shallow and women out there may tell me I am demeaning myself, I was glad that I could stand next to my husband and know that I looked good for him and he could feel proud to have me next to him. And… other men knew that he was lucky to have me going home with him. It was nice to know I “had it.”

It was in 2010, the 35th anniversary tour for Air Supply. Kent likes to go to concerts and this was one that he really wanted to see. I agreed, even though I wasn’t readily familiar with the songs tied to the band name. (I am bad connecting song titles to bands. I was/am very familiar with their music. Now it all brings back sad memories).

Kent was excited for this concert. Famous for love songs that caused teen girls to swoon in the arms of their boyfriends. I am sure that Air Supply was responsible for many late night entanglement of arms and legs; you can imagine the rest. How could you not want to declare your undying love while, .“Lost in Love”, “All Out of Love”, “The One That You Love”, “Sweet Dreams”, or “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All”, played on your transistor radio. It was going to be a romantic evening, alone in a crowd, with my husband, I thought.

It was a small venue. We were in  a hotel meeting room area at one of the local casinos. The stage was set up and metal folding chairs were parallel from the stage edge to the back wall of the venue. We chose our seats and then chose them again. We kept moving around until we found, what we felt were the perfect seats. We were in the third row, square in the middle of that row, center stage. I was ready for a night of swooning with my husband.

I know it was the 35th anniversary show (I know that because I have a guitar pick advertising their 35th year tour) but WOW, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock looked old. Their faces were fake baked (at least I thought their tans looked fake) and that really brought out Hitchcock’s silver fox colored hair. But what should I have expected from a band that was formed in 1975 and was still on the tour circuit. I would guess it had not been an easy life. Plus they were 60 and 61 years old.

The lights went down; you could feel the excitement, electricity in the air. And then the band came out, full of energy, even though they looked old, playing, singing with the same, smooth sounding voice, playing with eloquence and moving across the stage. And then the time came. It was time for “the contact”. Hitchcock’s eyes met mine. It was just a short glance and then, his eyes went to someone else. It felt like a cold, blank glance. I felt cold, unattractive. No, I felt old! and I was under the age of 50. I had lost it. Even thought the concert was great, the lack of an eyelock, is what stands out in my mind.

That was the beginning of a new era in my life. I was no longer “that girl”. I have been to concerts since 2010 and every concert is the same, I no longer have the same appeal. I am older. I am not the kind of “girl” who rock stars want to lock their eyes with. I am pretty sure that I still cause my husband’s heart to flutter. But I don’t think that men on the street look at my husband and say “What a lucky dog!” I still try to get the eye contact, but it is not meant to be.

I don’t know if I am okay with that, but it is what it is. I have yet to find a natural way to truly hide the wrinkles. I let my hair go natural and while there really is not that much gray, in fact very little, my hair does not have the same luster if I don’t add color. (By the way, after a year of no color, I have an appointment tomorrow). My face is finding gravity; my body is finding gravity. And it is taking more time to keep all that is me, together.

There are many reasons that I am blessed to be married to Kent. He puts up with all of my emotional days; days when it is hard to think positively and my mood comes out in my words. He puts up with my body changes and my, set in stone, beliefs. When my friends tell me that they don’t celebrate birthdays anymore, I say, “Heh, it’s better than the alternative!” I do believe that and while I believe I look pretty darn good for someone over 50, I wish I looked about 40 again, that was a good time for my face and body. So while I may look good for my age, and it is a compliment to hear, I wish I could learn how to naturally learn how to defy gravity and not look so old. I can’t see being so vain that I go under the knife.

I will age gracefully and maybe I will always look younger than my age, but I don’t know if I can accept that all of the things that are impossible to do at my age, are gone from my life.

Or maybe I should not limit myself. I have always said that if no one told me I couldn’t do something, that I could do anything. Maybe I should put that into practice. While I will never have another baby, maybe I could build up my stamina and canoe like I did as a teenager. (Somehow though, I think my all night partying days are over; that doesn’t even sound appealing to me anymore.)

To borrow an old, worn out saying, “You are only as old as you feel”. Maybe this is my inspiration to quit feeling sorry for myself and start feeling younger so I can truly reflect my youthful self.

How do you go about keeping yourself feeling young? How are you working at defying gravity and not needing to ask that question, “When did I get old?”

Now off to work out and start my new attitude! Okay, kidding! I am going to make some coffee, I think a chocolate peppermint latte this morning, and get ready for work.

taken just yesterday
taken just yesterday
At a volleyball coaches training with Karch Kiraly (natural curl in my hair)

At a volleyball coaches training with Karch Kiraly (natural curl in my hair 2010

It's all about the blue eyes. 2012

It’s all about the blue eyes. 2012

I can see a change over the years. I don’t know how it happens but it is a reality and definitely better than the alternative.

I guess I should just look at it all and age gracefully.

I am who I am…a pontification on a changing life

I am Jane Van Horn. While I am always a mom, my life changed 11 months ago when I left my career as a mom/wife/volunteer and became a full-time employee for a Fabulous church camp. I have struggled over the past 11 months trying to juggle the mom/wife/volunteer and employee “balls”.

The volunteer ball dropped. I could no longer handle that aspect of my life. I guess, luckily, one of my volunteer jobs was out at Camp Fontanelle, where I became employed. I took a diminished capacity in my Girl Scout volunteering. I went from being a leader and a volunteer leader manager and a product sales coordinator to just a product sales coordinator. My volunteering for my church almost completely stopped. Life Changed!

My children, being almost 16 and 18, do not need me in the same capacity as before. While, at least for the next 26 days, I have to drive to my daughter to non-school activities, my children are very independent. They handle doing their own laundry; they drive to school activities; they are able to prepare their own breakfast and lunch and can make dinner if I am not around. Life has changed!

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I always felt that I could be doing more. My home could be cleaner. My ironing could be done in a more timely manner. My files could be better organized. I was always cooking and baking and I was heavily involved in my volunteering and the lives of my children. I ran all of the errands for the family and felt I was the manager of the house. It was what I dreamt of all of my years as a youth and young adult. I was (am) a traditional woman. I wanted to be a “housewife” and mother.

What I found out after I started working full-time was that I was doing a great job as a housewife and mom! While I was not as organized as I wanted, life ran fairly smoothly in our household because my life revolved around making sure everyone was where they should be, on time and they had what they needed to get their job done, whether it was school, extra-curricular items or anything for my husband. WOW, how life has changed.

What these past 11 months have taught me is that I truly loved being available. I loved being the person that people could count on being there, doing “this” and organizing “that”. My going back to work, in an employment capacity, was always discussed. I think I was in denial that it would ever happen. When it happened, I thought I could handle it all.

I couldn’t/can’t be the person that I was for 18 years. I have not adjusted well and I am a work in progress. My new reality has not been a smooth transition for me, my husband or my children. I have let things drop. And my going to work full-time did not mean that they could pick up the things that I previously, did because they live busy lives as well. Life has changed and we still don’t know how it will evolve.

For those stay-at-home moms out there, keep doing what you do and now that you are making a difference in the lives of your families. Be confident in what you do, but don’t take lightly your responsibilities, you never know when your life may change.

I was blessed to be able to have time to spend with my children. I had six years where I was the homeschool mom. It was time that I will never forget. Our children are who they are, strong, independent, intelligent, well-rounded, of strong moral character partly, because I was there to guide them and be that positive influence. While I have not been the perfect wife, I tried to be available to make sure that my husband’s life ran smoothly. I was his secretary, sounding board, friend and lover.

While my circumstances have changed, I am who I am. I am still confident, interdependent, a strong believer and a person who wants to be the best I can be for the world. As my life evolves, I will see how this thing called life plays itself out.

Eleven months ago, I quit writing because of my life change. On this Ash Wednesday, my Lenten “give up” is not giving up but giving back. It is time to start writing again and trying to make sure my life evolution is directed by me and not a reactionary change.

Please be patient with me as I work on being the director of my life. For these 11 months, I have been reactionary. It is time to take back control. So while my writing is a little rusty, at least I am writing again.

Find your Lenten give back and work to improve your life!

Politics

Okay, I am kidding. I am really not going to write about politics, specifically. I am going to talk about kindness, consideration, responsibility.

First of all, I have not watched any debates and have never planned on watching anything like that. And, believe it or not, I am very politically minded. I don’t watch them because I know how I am going to vote and I know that watching the debates would just get me frustrated and stressed. I hate how comments are twisted and something that seems common sense to me is interpreted by another party and it takes a whole other personality and then causes confusion. I hate how people stereotype and how polarizing politics has become.

So let me write about what I believe. I hope that you do not put me in a category or stereotype me. I am sure by the end of describing who I am, you can guess my party. But let me tell you that I do not agree 100% with my party. What I believe is what I believe. I just so happens that what I do believe fits primarily in one party.

Maybe you haven’t read anything of mine before so let me tell you a few things. I am a stay-at-home mom who has a couple of minimal paying jobs. I am a church handchime director for youth 7-10 years old. I also direct a youth vocal choir. The members are from 11-18. I receive less than $1500.00 a year for these two choirs. I am a substitute teacher but am limited to 40 days a year as I do not have a teaching certificate. I have taken classes to be able to sub and I can sub K-12. I do like subbing. I volunteer for the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, my church, the school, a church camp, My children started out in public school but because my husband traveled with his job, we decided to homeschool so we could travel. The children were homeschooled for six years. This is their second year back in school. We have a son who is a Junior (who was just accepted in the National Honor Society) and a daughter who is a Freshman.

I have a degree in mass communications and met my husband two years after I graduated from college. We have been married 23 1/2 years. We lived in Spain for a short time, almost a year, when our children were 3 & 5.

That is a little about me. Now about what I believe.

I BELIEVE…you have to believe in something bigger than yourself. For me, it is God.
I BELIEVE…My husband and I are responsible for raising our children. It is our job to teach them morals, responsibility, and to guide them in a way that they can be independent, self-sufficient, Christian minded adults.
I BELIEVE…that we pay way too much in health insurance and taxes. With my husband being self-employed, people don’t realize how much we have to pay out.
I BELIEVE…that unless it is physically impossible, you should do some kind of work. If you are on assistance, get off your tail and volunteer if you can’t find a job.
I BELIEVE…that welfare was not meant to be a program that was long-term.
I BELIEVE…I should do everything possible to help our Earth. We recycle, live in an energy-efficient home, have a solar panel, are conscious about using our yard to filter out any chemicals that might run into the lake from the residents uphill.
I BELIEVE…that too many children today feel entitled and do not show enough respect to authority figures.
I BELIEVE…that if schools can teach about Kwanza, Hanukkah, they should be able to talk about Christmas and Easter.
I BELIEVE…that the Ten Commandments are good rules to follow, regardless of your belief. I mean don’t we want to people to not steal, cheat, kill, covet, etc…
I BELIEVE…You should teach your children that they should get married before they live together or have sex. (what they do is their business but I would not teach my children anything different)
I BELIEVE…if I have to pay for your children, I should be able to tell you how many to have.
I BELIEVE…that we live in the greatest country in the world. Having lived in Europe, I have seen how others live and the freedoms that we have are phenomenal. Many Americans do not appreciate what they have.

If you cannot guess my political party, I am not going to tell you. But I believe that you have a right to disagree with me. And I will not call you names. I can tell you that people from another party have called me clueless, a f***ing idiot, racist, and I could go on. I would never talk that way to anyone.

I also can’t believe that this country would not want people to work hard, to make all the money they can, so they can put it back into the economy, or save it for their retirement, or give it to not for profit organizations to be able to help those that are unable to help themselves. I can’t believe that we, as a society, want people to be dependent on government for their survival. How sad is it that we are teaching people to be complacent and not be engaged in their own life.

If someone disagrees with my statements, I am sorry. I like to think that I have it right. If you do not agree that people should want to be independent, that we should be concerned about our environment, that my husband should be allowed to provide for our family by hunting deer, antelope, etc…, that we should be allowed to make money so we can help others, then you must not be a member of the party for which I am a member. BUT I do not like controversy, so I will not tell you which party it is.

That is the beauty of this country, we have the chance to be a part of different political parties. That is not the case in other countries.

I guess you can decide if my statement that I was not going to write about politics was accurate or not. Maybe tomorrow I will write about bread pudding!

Oh and BTW, my coffee was a take off of the Magic Bar, chocolate, butterscotch and coconut. It was Nummy!

Twin Bing old-fashioned candy bar for an old-fashioned wife

Twin Bing, the name of my coffee today. It is made with Black Cherry, Chocolate and Macadamia Nut flavoring. I added a little coconut for added flavoring. The original Twin Bing is made with Cherry nougat, chocolate and ground peanuts. I did the best I could to match the flavor but there is no peanut flavoring that I can find.

Today was just one of those days. Not a bad day, but a day that went by quickly. My intention was to have it be a day of running errands. Go to the bank, the store, check on the cat that we are cat sitting. I wanted to get those things done today so I could spend the day home tomorrow and clean, organize, etc…

The day started late. I mean I was up before 6:30 but when I thought I would be out of the house before 8:00, it was well after 9:00 before I walked out the door. And instead of going to one bank, I went to two banks, one for my daughter and one for the GIrl Scout troop. I then had to go to the church because there was some Girl Scout items there that were dropped there for me, so an additional stop. Next was the post office. I dropped off a letter and a package and then headed south to Omaha. I thought I would be home by noon and it was 10:30 before I was even in the city. I guess my day was going to be longer than I had expected.

I stopped at the BP gas station where I had a coupon to get 5 cents off a gallon. Needed to use that with the price of gasoline these days. I had this brainy idea that I should call my girlfriend who works in Omaha and have her meet me at Nobbies to pick up items for the Girl Scout overnight. Nobbies (nobbies.com) is a local party store that is better known nationwide for their catalog/internet business, Oriental Trading (orientaltrading.com). It is the best place to purchase items for holidays and parties. Joan and I met and got the cute little Halloween craft items for the upcoming overnight. After we went our separate ways, I decided I was close so I would visit the cat that we are watching. While spending time in the home, my husband calls and asks how close I am to being able to go home. I told him I was just finishing up with the cat and I still needed to do the grocery shopping. He said that he needed me to go home and check to see if he really had purchased his deer tags for this season. He had heard a rumor that the deer tags were going to stop being sold as of tomorrow (ended up being not true) so I headed home to check. I told Kent that I would go shopping tomorrow.

That is what I like about my life. I am a wife. I do not have a full-time job so I can be around and take care of the family. I know that there are women out there that think I am so old-fashioned and I should “get a life”. But I like being able to be around and be the errand runner, the person that people can count on at any time of the day or night.

If I had a full-time job in an office, I never would have been able to take off time to run home and see that Kent had the deer tags purchased for the season. He was worried and being in Colorado, he would not have felt as ease until he knew that he really had taken care of the tags. Because I don’t have a full-time paying job outside the home, I was able to be a comforter for a friend who needed to get to UNMC in Omaha for her husband. She didn’t know her way around Omaha and she knew that I could get her there in a timely manner. I was there when my girlfriend had to make the decision to take her husband off of life support. I took care of her daughter when she just couldn’t handle it anymore. I was able to homeschool our children for 6 years, which has helped mold them to who they are today. If being available for the people I love, having the ability to drop things to help out, to volunteer for causes that are important to me makes me an old-fashioned woman, then that is what I am.

BUT… I am an independent person. While I do not make money that I could support myself, I have the personality of a business woman. I expect things to be run properly. I expect respect from anyone I work with in my volunteering, substitute teaching, my music work at church or all of the committees of which I am involved. I dress neatly and when necessary, professionally. I am polished in all I do.

People who know me, know one of my favorite sayings, “I wish I could live the Amish life.” And it is true, I love the sense of community that the Amish have. I like that they share their resources. I would love to have the ability to grow all of my own food, trade my goods for things that I cannot grow or make.

I have a garden, I make quilts (not as many as I would like). I can sew. I do not knit or crochet or have a garden the size I would like. I do have the ability to grow some vegetables in the winter as we have a greenhouse. I have actually made cheese and I regularly make bread for the family. I am an awesome cook (if I say so myself) and love to do those things for my family. I sing, cross stitch, am a pretty good organizer and have leadership skills. I can speak in front of 300 people and not bat an eye and I can teach young people how to develop their music talents with their voices and musical instruments. So with all of the domestic talents I have, I have just as many business-like talents.

Which do I like better? I have no favorite because, for me, they each compliment each other and when they work together, it enhances everything. I am who I am; Independent, dependent, interdependent. I love my life and the irony of everything I am and do.I am such a mixed bag and I wouldn’t change a thing.