For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kerry's First Job

Kerry has a job! 

Kerry will be graduating in May from the University of Vermont School of Nursing.  
She has been in the process of finding a job for the past few months.
In March,  I went with Kerry to Nashville where she had an interview with
Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

While we were there, we had 1/2 day to do some touristy things.

After checking into the hotel, we had lunch at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.
We were greeted at the door by this very TALL girl (on stilts) with a hearty  
"How y'all doin today?"

We were seated and ordered drinks and lunch.

While we were waiting for our food, the TALL girl was talking to the women at the table next to us.  We overheard her saying she was from St. Albans. 
We wondered if there was a St. Albans in TN as well as in VT.
We joined in the conversation and discovered the TALL girl was actually a native of St. Albans, Vermont.  The people at the next table were from Vermont too.
When we told them we were also from Vermont, it was very odd. 

This was so strange!  It had to mean something!  
A good omen of something, maybe?
A Vermonter welcoming us to Nashville!

The TALL girl told us she had to learn how to speak correctly before she could begin her job.  It took her a while to say "y'all"  like a real southerner!  She also told us how much she loves living in Nashville and wished Kerry luck in her interview.

Wandering the streets after lunch, we noticed a lot of Jack Daniels souvenirs.

It was a very interesting little area, with one bar after another along the streets and the sound of country music coming from each open door.   The amazing thing was how really GOOD all of the singers were!

We stopped to listen to this young girl while we had an ice cream cone.  Her mother stood nearby watching.  She probably imagined herself a future Taylor Swift!

We walked by the Bridgestone Arena...

and went to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

We went quickly through the exhibits of the really old timers.  It started to get interesting when we saw Elvis Presley's gold limo and piano.

There were walls of gold and platinum records.

The displays of the more current country singers were more interesting for me.

Brad Paisley's guitar...

Keith Urban...

The dress Carrie Underwood wore when she won American Idol...

and Taylor Swift, complete with home movies.

After walking around a little more, we went back to the hotel.  

Kerry wanted to get a good night of sleep before her interview in the morning.
She had been preparing for this interview and had papers full of facts that she was studying before going to bed.  We ordered room service for breakfast the next morning so she could relax as she got ready to go.

I went with Kerry to the interview, but waited downstairs in the lobby. 
Afterward, she was given an iPod with a self-guided tour of the medical center.

The tour started at the Children's Hospital.

It was amazing!

The hospital was comprised of many different buildings, and I followed Kerry as she took the audio tour.

The grounds were just as beautiful as the buildings.  
There were plenty of areas to sit in peaceful solitude, 
away from whatever was happening
 inside the hospital. 

Kerry thought the interview went well - as far as she could tell.  
But they were interviewing 200 candidates for an undetermined number of positions.
It was hard to know exactly what they were looking for and what her chances were.

Things are so different in this time when social media is so prevalent.  There was a Facebook page for the applicants to join to communicate with each other.  Last week, Kerry read on Facebook about others getting wait-listed or rejected.  The following day, she sent us a copy of the email with an offer of employment!

The thought of moving all the way to Nashville was a little scary, but after much deliberation, Kerry accepted the offer with the support of her fellow classmates at UVM.  I know how hard it will be for her to leave Burlington because I felt the same way when I came to Hartford for my first job at Travelers Insurance Company many years ago.

But I had really good vibes when we were there,
 and I have a really good feeling 
that Kerry is going to love working and living there. 

After all, there was the omen.

Congratulations, Kerry!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Knew It All Along

I have so many wonderful memories of being a mom when my children were young.   Without a doubt, some of the most enjoyable times were spent reading books to them.

There were so many really great reads that are well-known:  

Goodnight, Moon
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Love You, Forever

Even though these books were written for children,  their messages are meaningful to adults too.  One of my all time favorites is a book you've probably never heard of.  It's not even being printed anymore.  

I found our copy inside Annie's special box - a large rubbermaid container that I gave to each of my children to save their favorite things as they outgrew them.

The very first page set the scene.  "Wally Raccoon looked worried."

Wally's mother had always walked him to school, but he was at an age where many other kids his age were already walking to school on their own.  His mother was trying to convince Wally that he could walk to school by himself too.  He was big enough.  He was ready.

But Wally was afraid.  Wally's imagination ran wild as he worried about all of the bad things that could happen on his way to school by himself.

Maybe he would get lost.
What if the bridge breaks when he walks over it and there are sharks in the water?
What if he sees a mushroom in the woods and eats it, and it makes him sick?
What if he stops to look at a rainbow and he's late for school?
What if he doesn't look where he's going and falls in a giant hole and can't get out?

His mother did all she could to reassure Wally that he would not get lost, the bridge was strong, he wouldn't eat any mushrooms, etc.  The next day, Wally successfully walked to school and walked home alone.   When he saw his mother waiting for him, he was so excited and proud,  and he announced that he wanted to walk alone every single day!

Now it was Wally's mom turn to worry.  She was worried he didn't need her anymore.


Isn't this true, all through life, when we face new experiences that we are unsure of?
 Our imaginations create all kinds of scary "what if" situations. 
These crazy fears can stand in the way of our growth if we let them.

As we mature,  
we don't need Mother Raccoon to tell us that our fears are unwarranted.  
We are "big enough" to realize it ourselves. 
And as we experience more of life, we become more confident in ourselves.

When we look back, we say to ourselves:

"I knew I could do it.  I knew it all along".

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Twenty-Three Years Old

"Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands."  
~ Anne Frank

Adam completed his 23rd year yesterday.  I found this birthday wish on Instagram to day.  It was from his sister, Annie.

I agree so much with what she said.
Adam really is the best human being I know too.

 My father used to hold that position, but the torch has been passed...

He always treats his sisters with kindness and respect. 

 When I'm around Adam, I feel inspired to be a better person.  

 He is a thoughtful, compassionate friend, and cares deeply about others.  

 He sees the beauty in the world around him and appreciates all that God has given us.

He actively looks for ways to help others in any way he can, and generously gives of his time.

He loves not only people, but animals too.

I often think how it must be hard to be Adam, though.

I wish he would put himself first sometimes. I know from being a mom that serving others can be exhausting.

It also feels good to let yourself get angry.  You can't keep everything inside.

And try as hard as you want, you can't make everyone happy.

These are lessons learned as you go through life.

"Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like.  More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people."
~Dennis Prager

Adam's friends surprised him with a 23rd birthday party last night.
They made Vermont grilled cheese sandwiches (using Vermont cheddar cheese drizzled with maple syrup inside!)

I hope you had a wonderful birthday, Adam!
You are loved.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect

For all of the ways that I'm a perfectionist, in MANY ways I'm not.

I make mistakes ALL the time.

It used to bother me a lot.  After forgetting to do something or doing something incorrectly, I would beat myself up about it, silently asking myself "how could I have done that?".  "What was I thinking?". When I think back, it was crazy to put pressure on myself to attempt to do the impossible - to be perfect.  

One good thing that comes with age is perspective.  I'm much gentler on myself now.  I truly get it.  I am not, and never will be, perfect in any way.  Time has made me understand that making mistakes has taught me so much over the years and made me a better, more confident person. And I don't often make the same mistake twice, but I won't say never. 

What's really tough is having a husband who is almost machine-like with regards to memory and keeping on task.  

Today we were making another 5 hour drive between Rochester and home.  Vance usually does the driving on trips when we're together, but he was tired today and asked me to take over driving midway through the trip.

I took over the wheel while Vance reclined in the back seat for a nap.  I found a really interesting Oprah show on XM radio.  The discussion, ironically, was about how everyone has areas where they are gifted and areas where they struggle. It's a beautiful thing how the people in your life, each with their own strengths and weakness, tend to pick up the slack for each other.  We learn much from others who are gifted in different ways than us.  People who work harmoniously together tend to complement each other in this way.  I was very absorbed in the show.

I had been driving for about 1/2 hour, lost in thought (which is a nicer way of saying I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going), when I remembered a while back that the exit to the Mass Pike was only 4 miles away. That was, well, a long time ago!  The GPS was on mute, but checking it I saw our estimated arrival time was an hour later than when I began driving! This was not good!

Glancing in the rear view mirror, I saw that Vance was still fast asleep.  The GPS showed the only way to get home was to get off the highway and go back to the exit I missed.  I knew Vance would wake up if the car slowed down, but I had no choice.  He woke up slightly confused, and I readily admitted my error.  His calculator-style mind quickly did the math.   I had driven 30 minutes out of my way, and had to drive another 30 minutes to get back to the exit I missed.  I had been driving for only 75 minutes in total.  So, in effect, I had advanced us only 15 minutes toward home in that time!

Vance took over driving and we were getting off the exit I had missed and were making progress toward home once again.

The good thing is - I didn't obsess about my driving failure.  It was done.  We were back on track.  I KNOW I will never miss that exit again. We made it home safely.

The other good thing is - Vance didn't obsess about my mistake.  The years have also taught him that perfection is not possible in himself or others, especially me.

After 30 years of marriage (our 30th wedding anniversary is tomorrow, the 14th), we understand, accept, and value each other's strengths and weaknesses.  Life is a team effort.  We are better together than we ever could be alone!