No Regrets

“You want to be a pilot?  Well, are you training to be a pilot?   Are you studying to be one?   Are you doing anything that is helping you to accomplish that dream?  No?  Well, then you’re just living a fantasy.”

Those were the words spoken at a high school graduation I attended on Friday night.   I call myself a writer, but I was just asked by a friend over the weekend how my writing was going.   We don’t see each other that often, since she lives out of town, but we both share a love of writing and a love of books.  Apparently, she is, or I should say was, a reader of my blogs and she noticed I hadn’t written in a while, a month to be exact.   “Well, you do have two boys.  You’re hands are full,” she said eager to make me feel not guilty for not writing.   She’s right, but being a mom is no excuse for not still finding some time for me.

Thursday I listened to a news report on Morley Safer.   The veteran reporter, an original of CBS’ 60 Minutes had passed away.   Being the dork that I am, and always have been, I love news programs and 60 Minutes is one of my favorites.   I had recorded the special from the previous Sunday, which was a story on basically the life of Morley Safer.   I listened to his news reports from Vietnam, how he had once occupied the same desk as Edward R. Murrow (whose reporting from WWII I would love to hear), and got a glimpse of his office at 60 Minutes.   He still used an old typewriter and wrote stories in a manner of Hemingway.   His words were melodic and could put you right into the scene.   You could smell the surroundings just from the words he used.

Years and years ago, my dream was to be a journalist.   I didn’t want to be on television.   No offense to any of my former colleagues, but television reporting is too froo froo.   The story seems to be lost in all of the graphics and commercialization of television.   No, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter.   My idols were Woodward and Bernstein.  I wanted to be a writer, but for various reasons in my life (mostly immaturity and a lack of discipline)I never followed through with that dream, and now it is a regret.

Over the weekend, my husband and I also attended a memorial service for a former friend and teammate.   We were told stories of our friend and how he followed his dreams, at times perhaps with the occasional regret, but he was doing what he loved.   All of this has weighed heavily upon me and while I try to not have regrets, I worry about whether my boys may encounter this.

I go out of my way, sacrificing of myself, to make sure my boys experience everything.   I want them to be able to do everything they want to do, so that one day they don’t wake up and say, “I regret not taking the time.”

For me, I regret not writing for my college newspaper.   I regret not being more involved with the political parties at my school.  I regret not taking the opportunity of a research assistant for a book (which has been published and without me) more seriously.   I regret taking all of these opportunities for granted and thinking to myself, “no worries, Amy, another opportunity will come along.”

My boys are 4 & 2.   Perhaps they are too young for me to worry about taking things for granted.   Perhaps they won’t be like me and just assume that everything will be there tomorrow.   I don’t regret being their mother.   My life may not have been the way I had originally imagined it to be, but it is an exceptional life and not a fantasy.

I may have missed my chance to be the next great journalist or writer.   I may have forfeited an opportunity to write briefs for the State Department, but I have new opportunities presenting themselves daily.

We all have regrets.   Morley Safer said he felt guilty for being gone months on end on assignment while his daughter grew up.   He stopped short of saying he regretted what he had done.   I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be at home with my children as they grow.   I now just need to find a way to still carve out time for me and not beating myself up for what I perceive to be my shortcomings and failures.   They’re all superficial and callous, but they are what make me who I am and there is still a strong sense of determination to at least make my children not experience their regrets to the level I still do

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What I’ve Always Wanted

People tend to ask you that…what have you always wanted?  Others like to rephrase it by saying, if money were not an impediment, what would you do?   I’ve had this tossed out to me in the past and I’ve always answered with trivial things, those that will accentuate my vanity, or my need to outperform my peers.   Yes, those two have crossed my mind.

Then there are the responses of travelling, owning my own business, writing my book, and finally to the point where I am right now.   Money isn’t an issue.   My husband and I have found we can live off of his salary for the past four years.   Would we like more money?   Absolutely, but truthfully we’re living comfortably and a lot better than most.   So, what have I always wanted to do?   Be able to volunteer and devote my time, energy, and skills to a cause that is near and dear to my heart.  I didn’t know what was near and dear to my heart for a long time.   I’ve fought so hard, impatiently asked of the Lord what my calling should be, what more could I do outside of being a devoted and Godly wife and mother   I’ve prayed for a way that I can use my writing skills for something more than just trying to write that painstaking novel that will be my ticket to paradise.   There’s got to be more to my life than that.

Last month, that opportunity presented itself to me on the nine year anniversary of brother’s death.   When I attended my first meeting for the Cancer Survivors Park Alliance Group, I was a little nervous and a bit overwhelmed.   I was surrounded by philanthropists, business owners, executives, and artists.   I was engulfed by an overwhelming body of water that I had never been a part of in my life

Thoughts swirled through my head after I left the meeting.   Could I do this?   Would I really have something to contribute?   Would they all laugh at my ideas?   Flash forward a month, and it’s a completely new spectrum.   Yesterday I attended my second meeting for the CSPA Group.   I listened to stories of what’s happened in the press, the discussion of those lives who were recently lost to a form of cancer.   I watched potential commercials, looked at designs for banners, flyers, and digital signage.   I asked my questions and offered my input and what’s strange and exhilarating for me…I engaged in intelligent conversations, had my thoughts taken seriously, and actually walked away with an eagerness to work.

Tonight, I sit here in bed, The Greenville Journal, my notes, and various websites pulled up.   I sit here and work on my ideas, write marketing plans, and watch House of Cards.   As much as I love being home with my boys, it’s so personally rewarding to be doing something more.   My stomach twists in pains of guilt and anxiety when I contemplate going back to work full time and leaving my boys.   I don’t want someone else raising them and I don’t want someone else experiencing all of their firsts or even their seconds and thirds, but I do love feeling like that missing piece of the puzzle in my personality is now back in place.

As ridiculously cliché as it may sound, I feel like I’m whole again and it’s refreshing.

 

Testing The Waters

For some time now, I’ve felt as if I could do more with my time.   I don’t homeschool my boys (at least not right now, that could change in the future) and with the two of them in preschool and mother’s morning out programs, I’ve had some of my time freed up.   At first, I thought I would devote my time to me, either working out, writing, reading, relaxing, or running errands.   And why not?  I work hard in my stay at home mom position.   But something deep down within my heart and in my head told me that my time could be better spent elsewhere.

Two weeks ago, at our local Rotary meeting (of which I am the Communications Director), we had a speaker who is the Executive Director of the Cancer Survivors Park Alliance.  It’s a park created for cancer survivors and their families, as well as those who are currently fighting the horrible disease.   The purpose of the park is to create a space for hope, healing, learning, and celebration.   The speaker happened to speak to us on the 9th anniversary of my brother’s death to leukemia, a debilitating blood cancer.

cancer survivors park
An artist’s rendering of the park.

I took it as a sign from God, a sign that I had prayed about for quite some time.   I’ve longed for something with which I could devote my extra time (what little I have).   I’ve told my husband that I want to do more with my life, but I don’t want to sacrifice the flexibility of a stay at home mom lifestyle.   I want to go to my children’s events, be hands on with them and involved in every aspect of their lives, more so than I would be as a working mom, but still be active in my community.   I’ve sought out an organization with which I could be passionate about.   If it’s going to take away any of my time, then it has to be worth something for me, and by something I mean more than money.

After our rotary meeting, I spoke with the director and offered up  my services in some form or fashion.   She said she couldn’t pay me, and I told her I wasn’t looking for money.   She informed me of a couple of opportunities, one of which is on the communications committee.   Given my background in communications, we both decided the group could benefit more from my expertise in that arena.   So, last Wednesday, I dropped my boys off with my mom and dad and headed out to my first official meeting.

Although, I’m not being paid, this is still a professional organization and I hemmed and hawed over what I should wear.   It’s been 4 years since I’ve been in the corporate world and either my business suits no longer fit or I just don’t have them anymore.   I settled with a nice pair of jeans, a button down shirt, and a blazer…business casual.

As the meeting got underway, my head started pounding and my heart beat started accelerating.   All of the people in the room with me were currently working.   Not a one of them was a retired philanthropist or fellow stay at home mom like me.   They all were able to contribute to the conversations by injecting in some sort of anecdote from a previous experience either with a client or an idea.   Me?  Well, I just listened intently and took notes.

Secretly, I sat there wondering if this was a good idea.   My thoughts kept revolving around, “do I have the intelligence for this?   what about the bandwidth?   Have I been so long out of the working world, that I can’t contribute?”

After the meeting, I tossed around a couple of ideas and I have meetings scheduled to find ways to increase fundraisers, to market them, to write up press releases, and encourage the overall notoriety of the park.

That night, my husband asked how the meeting went.  I told him it went well.  I told him about what was being done and about some ideas I had.   As with everything else in my life, he told me he was proud of me for taking on this added responsibility, for finding a way to help others.    Who knows what may come of this?   I definitely don’t, but I do know that the excitement of being involved in something like this is exhilarating.   I’m likely to have less time for my blog posts, but it’s worth the sacrifice.

By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about the park, you can visit their website.  http://www.cancersurvivorspark.org

 

 

Happy 2016

2015 is in the history books, roaring it’s way out of the Doser household, quite more vehemently than that of a lion.   It’s the dawn of a new day, a new year, and a whole new world of possibilities.

I’m like everyone else, well most everyone else, in that I do create some sort of resolution.   And why not?   It’s a new year, time for a fresh new start, and perhaps the opportunity to not just become a better person, but also to live my life as a better person.   I tried to be a bit more realistic this year.   I’m not setting some lofty weight loss goal or quitting some vice (I don’t really have any unless you consider eating peanut butter straight out of the jar a vice).  No, instead I’m taking the opportunity to use the new year as a sort of strategizing session.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve sat back and pondered what was wrong with my life.   Why did it seem that I was constantly spinning my wheels daily and not feeling any sense of accomplishment.   I have a self worth, after all, and in order to feed that dreaded devil, I have to feel as if I’ve been productive.   The Christmas holidays nearly wiped me out, but I continued to trudge forward, and in doing so I decided that once and for all I needed to treat my stay at home lifestyle as a “job”, a career per se.

When I worked in the corporate world, I maintained a daily list of items that needed to be accomplished in order for me to move on to the next day with a clean slate.   Lately, I’ve felt as if I haven’t had any sort of clean slate with my life and that not only have I been spinning my wheels, but also sinking into mud.

Last week, I decided to go back to 4 years ago, when I was still a working mom, and do what I did then.   I’ve made a schedule beginning at 5a with the boys (don’t worry, they get to sleep until 6:30).   It allows for everything from personal writing time, which I’m doing now, to 2 hour work outs at the Y, lessons with the boys (reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history and Bible verses), lunch, nap time for Henry, my personal time with God, and even chores before collapsing at the end of the day with a good book or movie with my husband.

I’ve written out my schedule, what it will be daily, and have even allowed for Friday to be a free day for all of us!   I hope this has become a more realistic resolution and that it is something from which we’ll all benefit.  I hope this allows for me to start breathing again, to not feel so overwhelmed and to feel beneficial.   And of course, I hope this also allows for me to maintain this blog a bit better as I continue to share with you our daily adventures.

I hope you all rang in the New Year in the happiest and best ways possible, and that the Lord will continue to guide you, be merciful, and most of all that you will find Him this year, if you haven’t.   Happy 2016!

Kitchen Talk

In my short amount of years as a mom, I’ve learned a few things.   First, you don’t ever offer a toddler options…he’ll always choose poorly.   Second, snacks after 4 in the afternoon spell imminent doom for those of us hoping to enjoy a peaceful family dinner, and third…you learn a lot about your child when cooking together in the kitchen.

Allowing his little brother to help melt the marshmallows.
Allowing his little brother to help melt the marshmallows.

From the moment Davey was old enough to help in the kitchen, I had him with me.   I was a new and inexperienced cook at that point, eager to start a new adventure with my child.   I voraciously poured through websites, Pinterest, and our cookbooks looking for easy, yet fun and healthy things I could cook with my little one.   I wanted to create memories, to be the fun mom, to have something to do as a stay at home mom.   I wanted to document our cooking fiascos with my new camera and my insatiable desire to write.   The kitchen was my stage, my prop, the backdrop to my coolness as a stay at home mom.   What I didn’t know was how much I would learn from cooking with my son.

Adding in more marshmallows.
Adding in more marshmallows.

Before he could even speak, he was lining muffin pans, tossing cut up apples into batter, dipping his finger into icing and licking the spoon and bowl.  When I would suggest we make something, he would jump, grab his monster apron, a stool, and an eagerness greater than anything I’d ever seen.   One would think when starting in the kitchen with your littles, you would pick something easy, a Betty Crocker brownie, Pillsbury premade, precut cookies, or a Duncan Hines cupcake mix.   Me?  Well, I don’t like to start small, my goals are high and lofty, so we started with a made from scratch apple muffin recipe.   It took us nearly two hours, but we made some of the best apple muffins I’ve ever tasted and Davey was hooked.

A continual process of mixing and stirring.
A continual process of mixing and stirring.

Back then, he didn’t talk much.  These days; however, are much more different   These days, my son loves to talk about what he’s measuring, how he’s going to bake it, cook it, or grill it, how to decorate it, and who gets what.  This past week, I learned a lot more than I bargained for, especially about Davey’s fellow classmates and his teachers.

All ready to be cut out.
All ready to be cut out.

In celebration of Halloween, I decided we would make Rice Krispie treats for his class.  I decided to make them in the shapes of pumpkins and bats and decorate them with chocolate and candy eyes.   I even bought cake decorating pens to help with the faces.   As usual, Davey jumped right in, his brother even helping out, but the true fun for me didn’t really start until Henry was napping and Davey and I were left alone to decorate the treats.

The cut product.
The cut product.

For the better part of an hour, I spent the afternoon with my oldest son listening to him as he decorated the Rice Krispie treats.   He told me about the two Annas in his class, one of whom I knew from last year.   He picked out the pumpkin each one could have and told me the reasons behind giving them their pumpkins.  He told me stories of the boys in his class, how one always makes him laugh, how another one is really quiet.   He picked out bats for his two teachers and told little anecdotes about the things that he likes best about them.   I learned who he likes to sit alongside, who he plays with the most, who makes him sad and why, and what his favorite part about each person is in his class.  This was truly the first time when I wanted to put down the camera, the laptop and phone.   This was the first time in our cooking when I just wanted to totally immerse myself in the moment, the being, with my son, and savor every little morsel he wanted to share with me.

The bats.
The bats.

This was more than just a memory to be created.   This was more than just an adventure, or an excuse to write.   This was my opportunity to really get to know my son.  This was an opportunity I hope to recreate again for years to come as his love for the kitchen grows, but it was also an opportunity for a mother and son bonding experience that may one day go away as he gets older.   Needless to say, if you’ve had some sort of influence in Davey’s life, be it good or bad, then I’m likely to hear about it in the kitchen, while we cook, and dissect the events of the days.

The pumpkins that look like monsters.
The pumpkins that look like monsters.

Kitchen talk…it truly is a magical time.

***as you can see, there are no pictures from the actual cutting or decorating.   I was too wrapped up in the stories I was being told.***