The loss of Savageman's job ten months ago, the tough decisions that followed, and the stress that came with all of these changes made this perhaps our most difficult year as a family.
When dealing with the crap that life sometimes dishes out, I occasionally revisit Randy Pausch's Last Lecture for some perspective. I listened to it again on the long car ride to the SADD conference last week.
The five teens in the FunMobile groaned a bit when I started it up. It was early in the morning and I think they were hoping for music, not Teachable Moments. They should know me better.
"Really, Kathymommy?" I heard from the back.
"I'm playing a chapter or two and if you hate it, I'll change it, okay?"
But sure enough, when I checked in with them a few chapters later, they said, "Leave it on, it's good."
I'm glad they liked it - I think it's something everyone should hear, especially 14-16 year olds who still have so many decisions and challenges ahead of them. Dr. Pausch has much life wisdom to share in his book, but the way he handled his cancer diagnosis and impending death put life's disappointments and crappy moments in perspective like few other things could. And while they're young in years, these guys are mature enough to begin to understand:
"You cannot change the cards you are dealt, just how you play the hand."
How true is that?
His stories of going after his life dreams, of overcoming obstacles and challenges, and the fun and satisfaction he found on the other side were great to hear as well.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something."
But probably my favorite quote from the Last Lecture was:
"You just have to decide whether you are Tigger or an Eeyore. You have to be clear where you stand on the Tigger/Eeyore debate."
I'm so glad that I first heard these words long before this particular year. It gives me a visual framework for when I am taking inventory of how I'm handling something. If I feel myself drifting toward Eeyoreville, I know I need to readjust and reconnect with my Inner Tigger. (This usually involves dojang time, but hey, whatever works.) I'm happy to report that it has been an extremely effective strategy for me. A few hours bouncing around in my happy place with the other Tiggers and I'm good to go.
Mock me if you will, but I'm All Tigger. Life is too short not to be.
And today is Thanksgiving.
So I'm thankful, in my best Tiggery way, for everything that makes me laugh, stimulates me, challenges me, and fills my world with joy.
Starting with, of course, Savageman and the boys. We may push each other's buttons, we may need our space and our time apart sometimes, but we still know how to have a great time together.
My parents are the absolute best. Our Sunday dinners together provide consistency and tradition in what can otherwise be an often chaotic family life. (And also, leftovers.) They are always happy to take a kid or two out of the mix for the time-apart thing I just mentioned, and they lessen the burden on us in so many ways. The seven of us have made so many happy memories together - we're so blessed to have such wonderful, supportive parents living so close by.
My karate family - we laugh together, learn together, sweat together, struggle together, celebrate together. We lift each other up. And throw each other down on the mat. :) So many happy times spent with them, both in and out of the dojang, my second home.
My primary home, especially our new downstairs, thankfully completed before we knew what was coming financially. It cleans up nice, this place, and I'm glad we are using the space effectively and entertaining more. Our room has been cleaned up as well, as has the basement. Looking forward to making everything pretty for the holidays.
My work - neuropsych evaluations and childbirth classes have become much more important to me this year for the obvious reasons, and I just received word that my emergency teaching certification has been approved by the Department of Education, so I can begin substitute teaching. I'm All Tigger about work as well, and plan to make my days enjoying someone else's students and lesson plans as fun and exciting as possible.
The pets, especially My Cat. That Dog is sweet, but he belongs to Savageman and the boys at heart. My Cat is mine and I love her. It's a relationship built on mutual respect, adequate personal space, and blissful squeak-purr cuddle time. And pipe cleaner toys. And fresh water. Sometimes with ice cubes for her to bat at with her adorable little paws.
Our kayaks, also thankfully purchased before (right before) Savageman lost his job. The sense of: well, we paid for them, we might as well get a lot of use out of them - was probably a blessing in disguise. I have taken so many pleasurable trips down our lovely creek with Savageman, the boys, my Mom, and several of my friends. Even going out on the creek alone fills my soul like nothing else can. I may even go out today for a while.
Our Y membership. Savageman is there every day, exercising and networking. It's his happy place, and I like to join him there when I can to run and lift and practice forms.
This brings me to my body, which amazes me every day by doing things I never thought it could; things I probably shouldn't ask it to do. But I'm thrilled with it. Just thrilled. Spending a few hours a day punching, kicking, throwing, falling, wielding weapons and doing pushups and crunches and burpees and forms, forms, and more forms... seeing myself improving, becoming stronger, more flexible, more precise... I'm loving myself more than I thought I could. I once said that karate made me feel like I'd been bitten by a radioactive spider, and it still feels that way 3+ years later. Nothing compares. Nothing.
Finally, my blog. I don't have much time for it these days, but I love having a place to record these thoughts and share them with my closer friends and family. It's nice, when I have the time, to go back and look over what we were doing at different points, complete with pictures and video.
Grateful for today, for all of these things, and for the opportunity to share Dr. Pausch's book with my young friends last week.
Off to make an apple pie. Dinner in four hours.