NaNoWriMo (huh?)


Yesterday began the month known as “NaNoWriMo.”  Anyone who has delved into the world of novel writing knows that this means “National Novel Writing Month”.

The idea is to, however sloppily, write an entire novel in the month of November.

“Say Whaaaaaa?”

Yes, you heard me…an entire novel in one month.

And the funny thing is, people actually do it.

Yes, they are aware that Thanksgiving is this month. And Christmas is next month.

Yes, they have jobs. And families. And doctors’ appointments. And houses to clean. And meals to cook. And friendships to nurture.

But they also have writing goals. These are things that are important to them. And they are willing to go full force, pedal to the metal in order to meet this goal this month.

For the past three years, I have wanted to take part in this event. But there is always something stopping me.

I usually blame the time constraints of having a big family, a husband whose job requires a lot of time and volunteering on my part, and any other detail of life on which I can hang my convenient little excuses.

But it’s really that I am afraid.

What if I don’t have what it takes? What if I’m no good? What if I spend all this time writing a novel and it is junk (or I think it is good, but everyone else thinks it is junk?)

Well, then, if I let that stop me, then I am going to be no better off next year than I am now…in fact I will be worse.

I have missed the first day of NaNoWriMo, 2014. But there are 29 days left. And so, I am going to quit blogging (for today) and open up a Word document and go for it.

Wish me luck!


Random thoughts about moving and finding a career

So, obviously, I’m not very consistent with this whole blogging “thing”.  In my defense, our family has moved three times in the past three years.  And moving a family of eight that often is no simple feat.

As a matter of fact, it is exhausting.

Researching schools, finding a place to live, changing jobs, securing all necessary documents, the actual pack-up and travel time, living in hotels, helping kids adjust to the constant change, learning a new city, finding sports and music lessons for the kids, finding new babysitters, dentists, churches, hairdressers, etc.

All of these things and much more make moving a real disruption in a family’s life.  Finding a rhythm again once you have settled in can take time.  And I think the effects are cumulative.  As a matter of fact, I would love to see a study done on the stress levels of families that move frequently.  I would be willing to bet that the level of stress-related illness goes up with each move a family makes.

Being a stay-at home-mom has allowed me a few freedoms that not everyone has. I don’t have to worry about finding a new job or regular child care.  I have a little more time to spend helping the kids get settled into their activities and setting up the house.

And yet, I feel the strain of the move as much as anyone else.

This most recent move has had its own share of stressors.  We are in the middle of helping our twins navigate the college application process.  Our youngest has been potty-training. And there are 3 other children in the middle who have their sports and other activities to consider. My husband’s job, while rewarding, is quite demanding, even though he is not currently deployed.

And, depending on the needs of the Army over the next few years, the prospect of retirement is a reality that we are having to face more and more.

But I’m not ready to retire. I haven’t even started!

I am getting to that point where I have to start focusing in on some sort of career path. Yet I have no idea what I am going to do.

I love talking to and learning from creative people.  I have friends who are food bloggers, photographers, artists, seamstresses, writers, chefs, jewelry designers, etc.  And they all seem to love what they do.

I also have friends who are nurses, lawyers, administrative assistants, teachers, coaches, trainers, small business owners, etc.  And they all seem to love what they do as well.

And all of these things sound fascinating and rewarding.

So how do I settle on one thing?

I think that moving around so much has contributed to my “confusion” over what to do professionally.  It has been easy to sit back like Scarlet O’Hara and “think about that tomorrow.”

But “tomorrow” is getting closer and closer. As a matter-of-fact, it is here. It is time for me to really focus and figure out, as the name of my blog states, what I am going to do “when I grow up”.

I’m curious…how did you settle in on your career path? What steps did you take to bring your dreams of a rewarding career into reality?



The Resume

By most military and even civilian standards, my husband has an impressive resume. In the civilian world, he worked for a time as a Chief Financial Officer and served as a County Commissioner. His military career includes several combat missions in Iraq, to include commanding a Cavalry Squadron (and bringing home every one of his Troopers). He flies two different types of attack helicopters. He has obtained two Master’s Degrees and has been awarded more medals and ribbons than I can count, to include 4 Bronze Stars and a Legion of Merit. And soon he will be taking command of a Combat Aviation Brigade which has anywhere from 3000-4000 Soldiers.

I can’t find the words to describe how proud I am of him.

The funny thing is, he is just as proud of me, even though I don’t have an official resume that matches his. I have always struggled with this fact, but I don’t think that I really understood it until a conversation we were having this morning.

We were talking about the concept of “legitimacy” in life and in careers. So often, as a stay-at-home-mom, I get caught up in wondering if my choices in how I spend my time and money are “legitimate.” Shouldn’t I be earning an income that will help put my kids through college? Shouldn’t I have a more “professional” wardrobe at my age? Shouldn’t I spend more time discussing politics or investing or world events?

Instead, my days often consist of wearing yoga pants and bleach-stained t-shirts, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (not even organic!), and spending too much time on Facebook. I have a mile long list of books to read, a longer list of blog posts and books I’d like to write, and I daydream about places I’d like to visit “someday.” This is not exactly the partner that one would envision for the Soldier I described above, is it?

But real life is not bullet points on a resume. Real life is messy. Laundry will never be completely done (especially with 6 active kids). Furniture will get broken and worn out. Home décor will become outdated, and we may not be able to afford to update regularly. And handling this messiness takes skills that cannot always be reduced to bullet points. Does that make them any less “legitimate” than the skills required to fly an Apache helicopter or lead an air mission to support an Infantry unit that has come under attack? Absolutely not.

And my amazing husband has been trying, for nearly 20 years, to get me to believe him. To believe that my skills are just as legitimate as his. That my role as a wife, mother, Family Readiness Group leader or advisor, volunteer, etc. are just as important to our lives and the greater community as his roles are. That my lack of an “official” resume does not make me any less valuable to society than his “real” resume.

Now, I still want to earn a paycheck. I still desire to obtain a master’s degree. I still want to have a “career.” But I am finally realizing (in my core, not just intellectually) that my role as a wife, mother, and volunteer has been just as legitimate as a doctor, lawyer, or whatever. The point is not to value the title, but to value the person behind it.

That is why I am so proud of my husband. It is not the insignia on his shoulder that I value. It is the man underneath the insignia. In the same way, it is the woman underneath the baseball cap and yoga pants that my husband respects. He would not respect me any more if I had a title in front of my name. And I must continue learning to do the same.

My resume cannot be typed on a single sheet of paper. I am living it, and even though it cannot be seen in black and white, I pray that it can bee seen by those who are truly important…my family, my friends, and any other people I serve.