Monday, January 2, 2017

I Can't Believe It's Been This Long

     I started writing in journals when I was a teenager. Sometimes I wish I had saved them, but I threw them away.  Perhaps it is just as well.  They were surely filled with the angst of teenage drama.  I started another journal before I graduated from college and I began almost every entry with the title of this essay.  Oh, there were times I wrote weekly or maybe monthly, but more often I would open up the book and realize it had been many months or even close to a year.  I stopped keeping regular journals some time ago, although there are several lying around with an entry or two.  This blog is not a journal.  It began as a collection of essays so that I would be challenged to write, edit, and rewrite on the off chance that someone would actually read one and so it still is.  But it's been almost two years. 

     Much has changed in my life and some of those changes will undoubtedly be reflected in upcoming blogs.  Since one of my 2017 resolutions is to write more, I'm sure there will be a respectable number of essays before I stop again.

     This essay, however, is about the opposite of change.  

     A much repeated adage about choosing one's mate is to never marry someone you think will change.  It's not that people can't change; they can and do in sometimes remarkable ways.  It's just that you shouldn't think you can make them change.  The older I get, and I am getting there quickly, the less I believe I have changed much in my life. Sure, I have matured and improved in some areas.  I have set goals and attained them; I have even successfully prayed to have certain weaknesses become strengths and watched in wonder as they have. I have also struggled with some of the same problems most of my life.  Altogether, the fundamentals of my personality are much the same as they were in grade school.

     I loved approval as a child and I still do.  I received plenty from my parents and older brothers, so I was disappointed when I went out into the world and received much less.  The problem was that as much as I liked approval, I liked sharing my opinions more.  Opinions that were not necessarily in the mainstream.  And sharing is the key word.  A lot of people have differing political views from friends, but they don't talk about those views when outnumbered.  I seem to only share them when I am outnumbered.  I was a Democrat in 1972 when I started attending BYU, and I just voted straight Democrat in the 2016 election.  There are plenty of Mormon Democrats, some even get elected, but the ones who want to be popular in Nampa, Idaho keep it to themselves.

     I loved having pets as a child.  I loved having pets as an adult.  Especially cats.  But when I bought my home almost 2 years ago, I knew I wouldn't have a pet cat.  First of all, two of my adult sons have developed allergies to cats and have indicated they would feel less loved if I brought a cat into the home they visit once or twice a year.  Seriously.  The other reason if I'm honest, though, is that I like to pick up and go for a week or two at a time now that I'm retired and the last cats I neglected paid me back by ruining carpet. Cat owners know what I mean.  I have new carpet and flooring in my house. It's horrible to admit that I don't want it ruined, but I don't.  I also have grandchildren who are even cuter than cats. All of that said, I jumped at the chance, or maybe hopped, when a student at my last teaching job needed someone to adopt his rabbits.  So, I have had three rabbits for a year now.They take neglect better than cats, and they are super cute to watch hop around the yard when the weather is nice.  When the weather is very cold and snowy like it is now, they require me to change out their water bottles when frozen and convince my daughter to do so when I want to drive to Utah to see the grandchildren there.

     As a child, I liked collecting things.  Dolls, rocks, marbles, books and to a lesser extent, shoes and purses.  I downsized quite a bit when I sold the house I'd lived in 24 years, but anyone who knows me has seen what most people would consider too many dolls, rocks, marbles, books and yes, shoes and purses in my house.  And dishes.  And plants.  And nativity sets.  That's all I'm willing to admit to right now.

     So what's the point of this essay, because, I do try to have a point.  It's really all about why I am writing--why it's a resolution.  I started writing 50 years ago.  I wrote poetry and stories as a 12 year old. I took creative writing classes in high school and college.  I wrote a song or two, a roadshow or three, and have wanted to write and be published my whole life.  It was third on my list.

     First, I wanted to be married and have children.  I'm not married now, but I have the exact kind of children I wanted and 11 grandchildren as an incredible bonus.  Second, I wanted to work with other people's children. I graduated in Child Development, worked professionally with developmentally delayed children before my oldest child was born.  When he was three,  I created and taught two days a week in my own preschool for 15 years.  When I needed to support myself and my children, I received a teaching certificate and taught middle school for 15 years.  I didn't write as much as I wanted to during the years I mothered and taught and I don't regret the choices I made. I had a few things published; I've won a contest or two, but not on the level I dreamed of.

     Now I'm retired.  I don't have much confidence that I can write as well as I used to, but I need to try.  I bought a marvelous blue leather office chair at an estate sale a few days ago and have been sitting comfortably while I have been writing this.  The hard wooden dining room chair I was using made any attempt at writing painful after 10 minutes. I still have ideas; my plots for children's books are never hard to revive.  I would like to write personal histories for family members and even a few friends who have excellent stories, but no feeling for how to put them on paper. And when poems form in my mind, I'd like to do the work necessary to make them real.

     I don't have many regrets about my life.  It has been quite wonderful. Since I have a gift of time, though, it seems silly not to chase that third dream.