When my first child was a baby, I didn’t treasure each moment. It was hard, I was tired, and I knew I was going to (Goddess-willing) do it again.
I remember gazing at him breastfeeding when he must have been seven- or eight-months old and thinking, “I can’t wait to stop breastfeeding you. I’ll treasure it next time.”
(Is that a weird thought? Maybe, but it was a real moment. Breast-feeding was hard with him and I was over it.)
Having been blessed with a second child and going through milestones now — like outgrowing the giraffe pajama for the second time — my brain is oscillating between feeling a sad sort of nostalgia that this period is over and actively trying to convince myself to have another child.
I don’t want another child. I don’t like being pregnant. I am not a huge fan of birth. And babies (and kids) are a lot of work. I always told myself that I would have three children (just in case one’s a dud, you know), but we. don’t. want. one.
As I embark on my fifth decade on this planet, I truly feel like the luckiest person in the world. My life is wonderful. I have ease and joy and love on a daily basis. I have a four-and-a-half-year-old to keep every moment interesting and a baby gestating inside to ensure the next years are even more full. I have a loving family, supportive friends, a wonderful home, a garden that never fails to deliver a dose of wonder and magic just when I need it. I have a business that gives me creative satisfaction and material comforts. I eat amazing food and enjoy modern comforts like running water each and every day.
I’m wise enough to know that appreciating these things is what will give me daily happiness. I’m practiced in the art of noticing and naming my blessings.
Yes, my life is full of the earthly delights. At the same time, what I want for the world feels impossible. I want to wave a magic wand and exhaust the Dixie fire, saving my in-laws’ house and so many others. I want to live in a society that values science and our responsibility to the planet, that somehow finds an immediate and effective solution to this climate crisis. I want ample reparations for affected communities to atone for America’s racist and genocidal history. I want to feel confident that today’s children and their children will have a chance for a livable and happy existence.
I have been really struggling to find the willingness to engage in my annual ritual of listing my successes.
I’ve had some challenges this year that have been overshadowing my successes. The Lee Hazlewood lyric, “I’ve been down so far, it looks like up to me,” was pretty much my refrain for the past two months.
The nature of this challenge was intense to the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was surprised by how often the word “depressed” came to mind and how all my usual self-care habits flew out the window. I didn’t want to eat healthy meals; it was all I could do to eat anything. I didn’t want to talk; I didn’t want to call friends. I just wanted to hide.
I was lucky — it was only a matter of weeks before I pulled through. It’s a blessing — and a curse — to run a business and have clients and contractors and employees relying on you. I can’t remember the last full-on sick day I took (the curse). But the world kept turning and we had work to do; I could not indulge my desire to hide; I had to keep moving (the blessing). Continue Reading
Will and I postponed signing up with the excuse that we were going to transition from one nap to two and had no idea when that would happen and thus could not commit to a time.
Marsha reported back to me that the woman she had spoken to had said earnestly, “oh, they should come sooner.”
And she was totally right.
If you know me very well, you likely know that I have a history of crying at such mundane banalities as long-distance phone call commercials (woah, dated reference!), soap operas, the Great British Baking Show, virtually all movies… You get the idea.
I didn’t have a chance to put on my eye makeup before we headed over and within the first five minutes, I was so glad. It was all I could do to stifle my tears. My mascara would have been all over.
The kids were soooo cute. The songs were soooo fun. It was such a relief to just be and forget my busy week and weekend. And watching Quinn become comfortable and then boogie his little butt off during free dance… Well, my heart warms and tears spring just thinking about it.
When Will and I put off signing up, we were seeing these classes as another weekend obligation.
But, I can’t wait to go back. I had just as much fun as he did. I’m excited to hear him add some of the songs we are learning to his repertoire that currently consists of mainly a slurred “Twinkle, Twinkle” (or is it the “ABCs”?? I can’t wait to figure that out!).
Our teacher in the class made a distinction between making music and consuming music; a distinction that I hadn’t considered before. We listen to a lot of music as a family, and we have a lot of silly songs that we sing already. After Sunday’s class, our daily activities have become even more musical. Will actually got out the guitar the other night. Instead of singing along to music on the stereo, I’m more likely to sing a song and invite Quinn to join. And I downloaded the Music Together app so we can sing the songs we sang in class on our way to and from daycare.
We are making more music as a family and it is the best ever.
In class, we are making music with our neighbors and that’s pretty cool too. No cell phones are allowed so you are forced to be present, musical and silly. I can’t think of a better way to spend forty-five minutes a week.
So good, I’d hazard to say it’s practically perfect.
I have an amazing home with a boyfriend I love. I have a cat of 12 years who I know as well as I know myself. I have a new kitten (still nameless!) to work in some excitement. And yesterday I exercised for the first time in weeks.
The #1 reason that my life is awesome: it’s 10:33 on a Monday and I’m lying in bed with my coffee and the kitten working on this website, jenniferheller.com.
This site has been a labor of love for many years. Whatever my passion du jour (mosaics, pet portraits, wood carving), I never stop wishing for more time and energy to devote to this site. I wished for so much time to work on this site (and other silly projects) that I threw caution to the wind and quit a full-time job I’d had for years on March 31st, 2009.
Since then, I’ve been forced to overcome many challenges. My perfectionist instincts, for one. And the realization that my dreams change almost daily, for another. The first dream I followed was a failed attempt at a pet portraiture business, Van Gogh My Pet.
But these attempts were not without their lessons. I learned that “If you build it, they will come” is frankly not true. No, if you build it and promote it AND it’s brilliant, then they will come.
I launched Artsy Geek to capitalize on the web development and marketing skills I’d been building since I built my first website in 1996. Artsy Geek, I thought, would pay the bills and then, finally, I’d have the time and energy to work on this site (and other silly projects).
This year has been particularly trying. Artsy Geek has tripled its business since January.
Tripled! I didn’t see it coming.
That growth has brought with it more challenges than I ever expected. I regularly bemoan our success, saying “If I’d known it would be this hard to grow a business, I never would have launched it.”
I wonder at this moment if I still mean that. With a team in place that I can trust, I can scale back the 60+ hour work weeks. With the confidence to charge higher prices, I don’t have to work as hard for every dollar we earn. With a great reputation, we have enough business coming in that I don’t feel the need to jump at very last dollar. (Knock on wood!!)
And having survived on practically no income for many months, I can truly appreciate every dollar in my wallet.
With this new found breathing room, my sister suggested that I take my mornings to myself. With my mornings to myself, I can be sure to exercise more often and — perhaps most importantly — to pursue my long-term dreams of being a writer, a blogger and a talk show host.
So here I am. My head sings the Randy Newman song, My Life is Good:
Sure, I don’t have a housekeeper to write my songs for me or Bruce Springsteen asking me to be boss for awhile. But I do have a purring kitten, a stack of blog entries I’ve been dying to write and infinite appreciation for what I’ve built.
Ever since Will and I departed with our awesome roommate Ellen and her cat, Shawn, we have had a cat-sized hole in our hearts.
With a memory like this, it’s lucky we didn’t bleed to death!
We went back and forth about what to fill that hole with. We tried television, and it worked pretty well when we had Downton Abbey to watch obsessively. But we caught up and then that hole kept aching and screaming, “KITTEN!!”
Shut up, hole, we said for weeks. “SHUT UP!”
Until one day last week, it was just plain time.
I surfed Craigslist. It didn’t take me long before I’d located THE kitten for us, Kendale: Continue Reading