Twenty Years From Now

Life is all about the both-and, isn’t it? I both love staying home with the girls and I’m eagerly anticipating our next horizons. Living in this tension is hard work and I’m honored to be over at SheLoves Magazine today, sitting in those feelings. There are no answers, but I know I’ll look back on this phase without disappointment. Here’s an excerpt and I hope you’ll head over to SheLoves to join the conversation!

annie-rim-twenty-years-from-now-2Exploration was part of life—from literally getting on a train to visit a new location to engaging with friends from different backgrounds and world views. This became a habit I held onto: Seeking out new information and ideas, either through books or over a meal with a new friend.

Fast-forward nearly 15 years and that quote doesn’t fill me with the same excitement any more. It fills me with nostalgia and wistfulness. The last time I traveled internationally was in 2011, before we even started trying to start a family. We’ve gone on adventures since then, yes, but they aren’t what I was imagining in my untethered early-twenties.

These days, you’ll find me at home in the suburbs, establishing healthy routines for our daughters and grappling with ways I can make a difference in my community through cultural interactions with our immigrant neighbors and by dipping my toes in the world of activism. Most often, life doesn’t feel glamorous or adventurous. It feels so very typical. When asked what I do, I most often shrug and say, I just stay home with the girls.

This isn’t the whole truth, but I never know how much a stranger really wants to know about all the ways I’m piecing together meaning in my own backyard. I still read a variety of books that challenge my thinking, my outlook, and my faith. I still seek out conversations and friendships with people who have lived different experiences, whether by choice or circumstance.

My husband and I were talking about this phase of life and parenting. I told him it’s a both-and feeling for me. I both wish we could travel and live a carefree life and I recognize the importance of tending our roots. Read the rest over at SheLoves and join the conversation!

What do you look back on, twenty years later, with fondness? What are choices you’re making now that are tough but you know will be good in the future?

Toasting Each Season

One of my favorite Parisian celebrations is the anticipation of le Beaujolais Nouveau every November. Shops paint their windows declaring, Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! At midnight, trucks unload the new wine and everyone became a connoisseur. In college, I had no idea what to look for in this new batch of wine, but the communal aspect of an entire city coming together to celebrate in the grayness of late-fall remains a favorite memory.

 

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Because of its release in mid-November and the light, new flavor, this wine goes well with heavy Thanksgiving foods. So, every year we buy a half case to enjoy throughout the season. I’m sure we could find better Thanksgiving wines but the Beaujolais is good and filled with memories. I still look forward to joining in the celebrations, even from afar.

 

Last week, I found a forgotten bottle and we had it with some ratatouille. It was ok. This is not a wine to save – it’s meant to be tasted right away. We drank it and agreed that a certain je ne sais quoi was missing from a late-February experience. It just wasn’t as good.

Life is a little like Beaujolais Nouveau, isn’t it? A lot of experiences and opportunities are perfect for a certain season or moment. Letting them sit too long can make a good thing just ok.

I’ve been grappling a bit with this idea. Recently, some opportunities presented themselves that made me consider some next steps. I really struggled with timing and direction. I was confronted with my own feelings of contentment and an idea of scarcity in making decisions.

I’m still not sure the direction the next few months or years will take. I’m always surprised at where this life leads – it’s never what my plans really look like. But I’m learning to be picky. I think a lot of paths and directions will lead to good things but I want to be sure that I’m not missing out on a great path in place of something that is ok.

Sometimes choices remind me of a Beaujolais Nouveau. They are good and fun in a specific season but in the long-term, they’re just ok. I’m remembering that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ll always love drinking new wine in November and December. There are opportunities and paths that are perfect for a short season.

But I’m learning to hold those loosely and not to forget my bigger goals and dreams in the midst of all this. I’m remembering to be patient and discerning while also allowing myself to be excited and dream.

I’ll be ready to declare la Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé again in November but in the meantime, we’ve stocked up again on slightly aged Cabernets and Pinots with a couple rosés thrown in for those warm springtime days. I’m toasting to this particular season and remembering to appreciate these moments.

What are your favorite seasonal beverages? Have you ever taken a path that was good for a season but not great long-term?

Doing What Only I Can Do

Even though I quit my job after Bea was born, I quickly found a new identity about a year later working at an incredible museum. Title-wise, it didn’t get much better. Mom and Museum Educator? Pretty cool.

IMG_3982A few weeks ago, I officially quit this pretty cool job. Life has gotten super busy and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. A friend once advised, Do only what you can do. When taking inventory, only I could be wife to Frank and mom to Bea and Elle. But for as much as I loved this job, I knew someone else could do it and do it better.

I confidently made my decision, had a great conversation with my boss, and embraced really being present in this fleeting preschool season.

This past week two small things happened to shake that confidence. One was an offhand comment from a working-mom friend about how much time I have. Another was the response from a stranger who told me that it was cute that I stayed home.

In reflection, I am amazed at how quickly that confidence can be shaken. I know my identity is so much deeper than the job that I hold. I know that the decision we made was the best one for our family. I know that my days are busy and that being a full-time mom is a full-time “job.” And yet, that confidence wavered when my decision was so quickly dismissed.

I think that, no matter which path we embrace; no matter which life choices are best for our families, there will always be moments of hesitation and question. Because none of these choices are The Best. They are the best for us, in this moment.

What are some in-the-moment choices you’ve made that you see being temporary? How do you embrace the season you’re in?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “embrace.”

The Obvious Decision

One of the most tangible times I have experienced God’s presence was during my second year of college. After another failure in learning French, followed by a series of stressful cultural situations, I sat down on the corner of the sidewalk. There, under the shadows of the Eiffel Tower, I curled up and wondered Was this the right decision?

When I first heard of a this college in Paris, I knew I had to apply. When acceptance and financial aide fell into place and when a trip during dreary February confirmed that I could imagine living in the city of lights for four years, the choice to move abroad seemed like a no-brainer.

Until it wasn’t. Until learning French didn’t come as easily as I’d hoped. Until the eight-hour time difference to call home to ask for advice seemed like an eternity. Until living all alone in a cute little studio at 19 made the idea of dorm rooms filled with instant community seem alluring.

So, there on the street, I felt lost and confused and questioning my easy decision. And then I felt something, a presence surround me. It was like I was enveloped in safety – I could physically feel something or someone hug me, right there on the dirty sidewalk. And, even though I still had a French failure to figure out and cultural mishaps awaited, I knew that I had made the right decision. That this was where I was meant to be, and that God would use these experiences. Maybe not for something grand, but for something.

I still don’t really know why I went to Paris – or stayed. Yes, it has shaped me and my worldview but looking at my life now, I could have easily gone to a college down the street from my parents. But, I didn’t. And I’m thankful for the resilience I learned, for the friends I made, and for the worldview I couldn’t learn from books. I hope to pass along that spirit of adventure and trust to my daughters. And, I’m thankful for that day when God reminded me that our decisions aren’t always easy but they are life-changing.

Do you have a choice that seemed obvious at the time but changed you unexpectedly?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt was “decide.”

Celebrating Strong Women: Maysha Dawson

728067_origMaysha Dawson is beginning our series on Celebrating Strong Women. I asked Maysha to contribute because she is such an inspiration of balancing family and outside interests. She and her husband, Thomas live in southern California with their one-year-old daughter. Maysha earned Teacher of the Year and joined the Mojave Chamber of Commerce all in her first year of motherhood. She just started blogging at http://www.myadventure-book.com.

My Journey

I grew up as the 4th of  6 siblings. Often shadowed my older siblings’ successes and receiving less attention due the demands of younger siblings, I was the typical middle child. I sought attention from outside the family. My older sister and I had a nontraditional sister relationship. We rarely disagreed; rather we were close and shared all of our adventures. Our relationship helped me endure many of obstacles I have faced.

I have failed in many aspects of life. I have failed at relationships, failed at pursuing my dream career as a physician, failed in finances. While these failures defined who I was temporarily, they gave me the courage to try something new. I suppose I’ve always had the optimistic view that great things await me. I knew that if I was persistent, I would eventually land a well-paying job, the “white picket fence house” and a wonderful small family.

Entering adulthood, I realized that my choices and attitude define who I am – not my successes and failures. I have learned what it means to be a strong person and the importance of making the world a better place. A strong person is able to maintain a positive attitude even when faced with challenges. Currently, I am going through a transition at work. I have been removed from my current position and asked to serve at a different location. Although this transition will cause unnecessary challenges, holding resentment will negatively affect not only my work performance, but the attitude of other employee and students.

When I was young girl, I was victim of sexual abuse. Learning to forgive (or at least put it behind me) allowed me to look ahead and be optimistic about the future I have in store for me. I no longer consider myself a victim because I was able to cope effectively. Currently, I teach high school students and they often tell me that I have the dream life. One girl said that I should start a blog because others would enjoy reading my stories. My students say that I have put in the hard work to become educated and get to enjoy my life, and this is all true. I have a loving husband, a beautiful baby girl, and a job that I love (most days 🙂). I have manageable debt and can live within my means. I have more happy experiences than I do sad ones. How did I get here? I practice forgiving the people that have hurt me and forgive myself for hurting others.

One of the hardest struggles that I have faced has been forgiving myself for the harm that I have done to others. I do not think that there is deeper pain than seeing loved ones hurt because of the choices I made. How can I be happy when I’m the cause of their suffering? Repentance- reviewing one’s actions and then committing to a personal change.