Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Never Make a Decision When You’re at the Bottom of a Hill

I went running a few weeks ago with a friend and I was struggling.  I mean REALLY struggling.  She is a very good runner and I am a very inconsistent therefore pitiful runner at best.  We were nearing 1.75 miles and I was losing steam quickly especially as I looked ahead to a small hill that was approaching.  I wanted to stop, but she said firmly,

“Never make a decision when you’re at the bottom of a hill.”

Now, we’re not talking about running any more.  We’re talking about LIFE.

How many times have we been in a bad place at the bottom of a hill and tried to make a decision only to find it was a bad one made out of desperation?  When I am at a low spot for whatever reason - I make terrible decisions.  If I only had a little patience.. and persevered… and got over the hill… which requires patience… and I lack patience… and I need to be patient and stay the course… which requires patience…

Get my drift?

If we stay the course when a hill approaches, and work a little harder, before we know it we’re over the hill!  It’s cool to look back at our hills when we’re on the other side and high-five ourselves for making it!

You CAN’T QUIT when it gets tough – that’s when you KEEP GOING!! Hills make us stronger!

Every time I come to that spot on the road at the bottom of the hill, I think about my friend and I smile.  

Bring on the HILLS!!

P.S. If you like country music, this is a GREAT song! "Mountains" by Lonestar


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Back Home With Myself

I recently met someone originally from Ohio who left home and spent a great deal of time on the West Coast like I did.  We reminisced about California and some of the places where we visited and it really made me reflect on my life then… and now.

I got on an airplane for the first time in my life in 1990 when I was 22 years old and moved to Boston to be a nanny for a wonderful family.  About 8 months after I moved in with them, they were transferred to the San Francisco Bay Area so I went with them.  I stayed with them and took care of their beautiful girls for a few years and then moved across the Bay to Oakland where I had a cute little 1920s studio apartment in a trendy part of the city.  I worked at a printing company in a bad part of Oakland and went to night school to finish my degree. (My BSBA degree is from California State University.)

I traveled all over California and the western states:  Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Seattle, British Columbia, Santa Cruz, etc.  I used to take BART (a train) to downtown San Francisco (across from Union Square between Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus) to get my hair cut every other month.  I knew the back roads to the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley.  I looked at palm trees and the Bay Bridge every day on my way to work.  I didn’t own an ice scraper or a winter coat. I rode my bike all year. I had a great life!

But I missed home.

I missed my friends.

I missed my family.

I missed where everything was familiar.

I missed me.

I’ve been back home in Ohio for 19 years and could not be happier with my life!  God has blessed me with two beautiful children, the most loving family a girl could ever ask for, friends that are absolutely incredible, and peace. 

I needed that time and those miles of separation to find that what is most important to me is really right where I started.  Home sweet home.

I’m back home with myself – and it feels fantastic!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

My new groove!

In order to reduce stress, sleep better, feel better, and improve my overall fitness - I started a new groove - weight lifting!  It’s very fun and something I never thought I would embrace, but it's really cool and I'm digging it!

Like anything else in life:  If it’s important you make the time.  If it’s not you make an excuse.  I’ve decided to make it important.

Here are some personal observations about weight lifting.  Please feel free to share your observations; I love feedback! 

What weight lifting is teaching me:
  • I’m stronger than I thought I was, but I want to get a LOT stronger!
  • When I hurt it’s because I did it really really right or really really wrong.
  • I feel better when I make my health a priority.  It’s like that oxygen mask speech every time you get on an airplane.
  • Slow progress is still progress.
  • It's fun to cuss out my coach in my head. It makes me feel bad. Breaking Bad.
  • Protein powder scoopers are always at the WAY bottom of the container.
  • Muscles give me confidence.
  • When I eat like crap – I feel like crap – and I lift like crap.
  • It’s addictive! I want to learn more and try new things constantly!
  • Sometimes I pretend like I am The Incredible Hulk when I lift. Or Batman.
  • People who do not wipe down the equipment after they use it are disgusting.
  •  I see random objects and think to myself, “I could lift that.”
  • Leg day can BITE ME.
  • I’ll have good days and I’ll have bad days.  That’s just the way it goes.
  • When I’m focused I’m not very social and I think my face looks like a meanie weenie.
  • I like to flex!
  • It’s important to lift with correct form and in the correct order to reduce injuries and maximize results.
  • 4:30am is pretty darn early to head out to the gym and nobody in my village is moving at that time.
  • It’s important to plan ahead (pack gym bag the night before and have workout planned out).
  • The human body is an amazing machine!
  • It's a great way to spend quality time with my 15 year old son (at the gym).
  • I am obsessed with following ladies who lift on Instagram and looking at their food pics.
  • It’s best to wear running shorts with the attached panties to the gym because… well, just because of the benches and mirrors and weird positions.
  • I have a long way to go and a lot to learn!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

But it has good bones…

I recently had a conversation with someone about a house that had been on the market for a very long time.  The house had a few offers, but every offer fell through.  It was a great house in a great neighborhood and priced below the market because it needed some minor repair work.  There was definitely potential in the house with a little TLC.  My response after hearing about this great house was simply, “If it’s that good of a deal - don’t you think someone would have swooped it up sooner?  There has to be something majorly wrong or it would not be on the market for this long.”


I’m that house!  

I’m really a woman with a heart and soul and not just a piece of real estate, but my business head understands life better through these types of analogies so please stay with me here while I explain.

Here are the three major reasons why homes don’t sell: price, condition, and location

Price – Is the house priced comparably to others like it in the market?

I’ve been on the market for nine years.  I’ve actually already lowered the price. When I was first single I was overly picky - one tiny thing and I was turned off.  I REALLY REALLY cut my price a few times and that was not wise at all.  I even had a closing date set two years ago and am very thankful that that deal fell through.  I’m worth more than that and thankfully I realized it sooner rather than later.

Condition – Is the house messy? Does it have strange smells? Does it have good bones?

Like that house, I think I show fairly well with a quick drive-by. I look comparable to the neighborhood – nothing out of the ordinary. Sure, there’s a little snow on the roof and some cellulite in the basement, but for an older home I am holding up OK.  I don’t notice any strange smells; the house gets a good cleaning daily and is very conscious of the maintenance required to keep it running properly (like exercise and kale salads). As for the snow on the roof - no worries there because that maintenance is taken VERY seriously.  That snow gets brushed off every six weeks come rain or shine.  The cellulite in the basement makes the basement feel warmer and a little more comfy and it usually comes with an older home especially one that has had a few children.  For reals.

Now go inside.  Do you see the cracks around the windows?  They are actually wrinkles from 47 years of laughing and smiling and crying.  Those windows have seen a lot of beauty and pain in life, and are still wide open to share life with a loving family.  Those widows are determined to see more sunshine than rain, and will always see the bright side and the rainbow after any storm.

And then there’s my favorite part of any house – the kitchen!  The kitchen is called the heart of the home and this kitchen is big and open and full of love!  This kitchen has been used a lot (sometimes good and sometimes bad).  Some people don’t value a great kitchen, but some do.  This home needs someone who looks first at the kitchen and what they can make WITH the kitchen - NOT (at first) with what the kitchen can do for them.  (And on a side note – good things can happen when you’re BOTH cooking together in the kitchen! Wink wink)

Location – This variable cannot change which makes price and condition critical.  Location CAN, however, drive the value up or down.

My location is not going to change for at least 3.5 more years, or more, depending on what my kids do and where they settle.  Maybe then I’ll move to Nashville and find me a “pick-up-truck-country-music-man-with-a-beard-and-soft-jeans-who-smells-amazing-and-loves-Jesus” – but this is Ohio which is thankfully not too terribly far from Nashville so I’m thinking there might still be a hidden cowboy here somewhere.  I’ve got my peepers open!

So, the house will remain on the market another long cold winter and maybe, just maybe, next spring when the market comes back, a strong (and handsome) buyer will come along.  Here’s the cool part – a LOT of work is happening on the inside of this house right now and this house doesn’t mind sitting empty while the exciting changes are happening!  

Let’s face it, this isn’t an 18 year old home, but some people prefer the charm of older homes!

I know it seems like all of the good houses are snatched up right away…  but here sits this house.  Is it really too good to be true, or is it sitting on the market for a very good reason?  Good question.         

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fixer Upper

The beginning of 2006 was rough and it was looking like my marriage was not going to make it.  At that time, I was a Loan Office at a bank so was “in the know” on bargain homes in the area and found a fixer upper that I could easily afford to buy for me and my kiddos.  The house was in foreclosure, so I contacted the local Chief of Police to accompany me while I broke into the unoccupied house.  Luckily, the house was unlocked so no B&E went down. (In small towns we do this sort of stuff.)

From the outside, the house looked OK, but as we stepped inside – it was another story.  The house was completely gutted down to the studs and there were pieces of plywood laying on the floor joists that we walked on.  There was no indication of which room was supposed to be the kitchen – that’s how bad it was.

I imagined the possibilities (because I watch HGTV, of course), but in my heart knew that this house was not for me.  The house needed repairs far beyond my capabilities.

For the next several months my wasband and I worked on our marriage, but sadly by summer our marriage was over.  My friend was a Realtor and told me about this cute little house that just went up for sale that would be perfect for me to buy which turned out to be that same house! She explained that the house underwent a complete renovation on the inside over the past several months.  When I stepped inside, I immediately knew that that was the house for us!  I took about five steps to a makeshift desk and signed the purchase agreement right then and there.  I didn’t even walk through the house first. I just knew!

Isn’t this how we are as people too?

Sometimes we look OK on the outside, but our inside needs some work that we are not capable of fixing ourselves.  We try to fix our worn-down and broken selves with our tiny human power – but it still needs repair.

This is way more than a fixer upper kind of repair – this is a job for Jesus if you ask me!

In my nine years of being single, I have let people into my life when I should not have - because I was a mess on the inside and needed some healing.  As a result I hurt them, and I’m not very proud of that.  And likewise, I’ve been in men’s lives when they had some stuff going on inside of them that needed some healing – and I’ve been hurt as a result.  We look OK on the outside, but are not in the best shape on the inside.  We will never be perfect because we are humans, but there are better and worse times to be in relationships. 

I’m a fixer upper.  Me.  Jen.  I might look OK on the outside, but I need a little extra work on my inside right now that only Jesus can fix.  I need to get my house in order.  I need to stay focused on God and HIS will for me – not MY will – HIS will.  I need to slow down and focus on God’s sovereignty.  I cannot ramrod my life into what I want it to be when I want it to happen.

So just like my house story - the first time inside was not the best experience, but after some repair – the second time was SOLD ON THE SPOT – maybe that’s where love will find me!?!  I'm totally up for that! It's all about allowing God to repair the broken parts and patiently waiting for Him to do his work and the right (good-looking Christian) man will enter (or like my house, RE-enter) my life. Second chances are possible!  That's my prayer.

(I don’t even know if all of that made sense, but it did to me!  Feedback is much appreciated.)   

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Be in the Moment

A few days ago, my brother's friend posted this on Facebook and I cannot get it off of my brain:

“Sometimes you have to take life as it comes… there is not always a perfect time for things… don’t let an opportunity pass you by… it may only come once in a lifetime!”

For whatever reason, that simple post really made an impression on me.

We say that we want simple lives, and then we go and make them so complicated by over-thinking, over-doing, and over-scheduling.  We spend so much time doing things that really don’t matter – then we lose the moment – and we can never get those moments back.

This past weekend I was busy in the kitchen doing something (that really didn’t matter) while my beautiful 13-year old daughter sat on a stool in the kitchen eating a popsicle and telling me all about her new guinea pig (Charles) that her dad bought for her 4-H project. Along with her new guinea pig, she also got braces last week so she was even more adorable as she sat just chatting away and eating her popsicle... while she stared at the back of my head. Gulp.  Why oh why didn’t I stop whatever I was doing (that really didn’t matter) and grab my own popsicle and pull up a stool beside her and listen to her tell me all about Charles?? 

Oh… to have that moment back. 

It’s not just THAT moment.  I have LOTS of those moments and they all add up to opportunities quickly passing me by that will only come once in a lifetime.  Nothing that I was doing was as important at that time listening to my daughter. Nothing.    

I had to pick my kids up at their dad’s house this morning to take them to school and I was thinking about this during my drive over there.  By the time I got to my wasband’s house, I was crying.  I mean REALLY crying!  My 15-year old son met me at the door and immediately got the “deer in headlights” look when he saw me crying.  You know that look that men make when they see a woman crying and they don’t know what to do?  He is only 15 but has already mastered that look.  He was frozen.  Speechless.  Men just don’t do well with crying women.  I could just see his mind working and wondering why I was crying and wondering when I was going to stop.  My daughter then came around the corner into the kitchen and saw me crying and immediately hugged me and said, “Mom, I don’t know why you’re crying but I love you!”

I explained to her that I was sorry that while she was eating her popsicle and telling me about Charles that I didn’t stop and look at her and that I am going to try really hard to be better at that.  Then I added that she’s going to be in high school next year and that her time with me is winding down.  Her response (with her cute little slivery smile) was so amazing:

“Mom.  I still have four days left of 8th grade.  Please don’t rush it!”

Once again, I was reminded to take life as it comes!

Friends, if you see me zipping through the grocery store, or rushing past you at church, or playing on my phone at one of my kids' sporting events – PLEASE – remind me to slow down and to be in the moment!  Don’t over-think, don’t over-do, don’t over-schedule.  Just be in the moment.  Please remind me to slow down and chat a bit or take in my kids’ activities.  Please remind me to take life as it comes and to be in the moment.  

These moments only come once in a lifetime! 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A New Season (Part 1 - because seasons change)

These past seven months have been BIG for me.

Seven short months ago I dropped my kids off at school for their first day of 8th and 9th grade.  That morning, and those uncontrollable tears, was a turning point for me.  I realized at that moment that things were about to change - an old season was ending and new season was approaching.      

“For everything there is a season, and at time for every activity under heaven.” 
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

The circle of life is very peculiar and beautiful at the same time.

I spent my 20s single and carefree and (mostly) living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I never imagined that I would ever get married or be a mom, but I was content with that.  As life goes, I fell in love with a man from home  - so moved back to Ohio at age 29, got married at age 30, had my first child at age 31, and had my second child at age 32. My role of a wife ended in 2006 which made my role as a mom intensify because, as single moms will often tell you, that’s all I had to focus on.  After my divorce, and incarcerating myself in our home for way too long, I realized that my life needed balance and that I needed things in my life outside of my children, so I went back to graduate school, developed new friendships as a “single again” woman, dated (ugh!), and developed new interests (running, riding my bike, tinkering around the house, discovering new places, etc.).  I learned to do “me things” as time and money would allow – not a lot, but enough to find balance outside of my children.  Life has been very good and I have managed this ebb and flow of kids/no kids with our shared parenting schedule over the last nine years very well. 

Then seven months ago on the first day of school - it hit me.  I never expected it. I never saw this coming.

I am finishing an old season and will start a new season.

(Here come the tears again.)

This is very hard for me.

My son will be leaving in about 3 years and my daughter in about 4 years.

I’m going to be alone again like I was in California. Single and carefree. 

What in the world am I going to do? It’s exciting and scary all at the same time – and sad in many ways because I’m alone.

Single moms – how do we do this?  We have no shoulder to cry on.  The house will be too quiet.

Some days I’m excited about my new season, and some days I cannot stop crying about it.

I have this really cool virtual career where all I need is my phone and internet service to work, so I can live anywhere and keep this job.  I can sell my house and move anywhere I want to live. I can do anything I want to do - whenever I want to do it.

I tell my kids that I’m going to keep working, but sell the house and buy a RV and live in their driveways.  I’ll be the hippie mom who rolls out of the RV every so often squinting in the daylight, then I’ll go in their houses and eat all of their food and go back in my RV.  (If they have wine, I’ll drink that too!)  

It’s OK. The Bible tells me so…

“And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor,
for these are gifts from God.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:13

My new season is coming sooner than I expected.  Ready or not – here it comes!

I am sure that God has something very cool planned for my new season and I know with all of my heart that it will be fantastic, but for now – I’m going to enjoy THIS season while it lasts because it’s awesome! One day at a time...

Can we just freeze time?