Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Houston Chronicle- Part III

I wrote my last blog post on September 9 about experiencing more and being grateful, then on September 14 I received an offer from the Houston Chronicle to return home.

I have worked for the Houston Chronicle for most of my adult life- almost 17 of the 23 years since I graduated. I started right out of college at the tender age of 22, two months shy of my 23rd birthday. I left at 24 because I thought I wanted to go into teaching. What I ended up doing was working for the University of Houston as the sales manager of the Student Publications department, a perfect combination of advertising and training/teaching.

I returned to the Chronicle at 28 and worked there for the next 14 years in a variety of positions and it was during those years that I gained the most experience about paper, printing, operations, circulation and so many things. I loved the years when I was a project manager for special and new sections.

When I left at 43 I needed a break. A lot of things had happened in my life, like a divorce, my elderly father became ill, maybe a mid-life crisis. I don’t know, but I had the intense desire to take a break and get out on my own. I did that for a little over a year and then it was time to go back to work. An opportunity came up with a community newspaper group and I took it.

It was a good year and a good experience. I learned more. There’s always more to learn, no matter how long you’ve done this.

So here I am on the eve of my 3rd start, thinking of the things I’ve missed. I missed being a part of something big. I missed that knowledge that every day people fire up their computer and go to or still go out to their front lawn and pick up their newspaper. I missed knowing that in my little way I was a part of this city’s day. I was part of an institution in this city, part of its 114 year history, and that feeling is awesome. That is why I’ve loved working there all these years. Third’s a charm!

I’m going back this time older and wiser. Questions I wondered about have been answered and I may not have known if I hadn’t left. I had to venture out “daring greatly” to the unknown and I do believe that I’ll be a better employee and leader now.

More than anything, this past year has really been a great lesson in humility, gratitude and budgeting. I have learned to live with so much less in my life and we survived. I tell the kids that all the time and they agree. I lived a year without Starbucks, haircuts, pedicures and internet and it has made a difference. But I can’t lie, once I’m back to where I want to be it will be so nice to get a pedicure and a manicure.

Tomorrow is a new day and a new beginning. I feel like I do when the kids are starting the school year, New Year’s and my birthday, when I make or review my goals. I’ve made new goals, both professional and personal and now I need to set out to reach them.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Experiencing More by Being Grateful

I’m still thinking a lot about the movie “Boyhood” and that quote that just resonated with me.

If you haven’t seen or heard of “Boyhood” it’s that amazing movie that was filmed over the course of twelve years with the exact same actors. Ethan Hawke plays the dad and Patricia Arquette is the single mother juggling school, two children and bad choices for husbands.

With the kids at the end of a day in Disneyland

Towards the end of the movie Patricia Arquette is getting ready to send her son Mason off to college.

Mom: You know what I'm realizing? My life is just going to go. Like that. This series of milestones. Getting married. Having kids. Getting divorced. The time that we thought you were dyslexic. When I taught you how to ride a bike. Getting divorced... again. Getting my master’s degree. Finally getting the job I wanted. Sending Samantha off to college. Sending you off to college. You know what's next? Huh? It's my f--ing funeral! Just go, and leave my picture!

Mason: Aren't you jumping ahead by, like, 40 years or something?

Mom: I just thought there would be more.

The reason this quote touched me is because I’m in the thick of it right now and the years are passing me by so fast. My daughter is 14 and just started her freshman year of high school. In four short years she’s going off to college. My son is three years behind her so I only have seven years left with him. I have less years left with him at home than I have had with him so far. Wow!

After watching this movie I said to everyone, “I don’t want that to be me. I don’t want to say, ‘I just thought there would be more.’”

I want to know that I did do a lot and that it was good. I want to cherish the moments I have now and appreciate them. I don’t want to miss out on anything.

So then I thought about an exercise my friend Kimmi had been doing. She has been posting #100daysofhappy on her Facebook page and she keeps posting what she’s grateful for. It’s based on a book called “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a wonderful personal project and one I want to do too. Most importantly, watching Kimmi do this has made me think about all the things that I’m grateful for and there are a lot.  

Showing gratitude honestly acknowledges the good things we have had in our lives. I’ve thought about how I received my education early, before having kids, which is less stressful. I traveled abroad a few times prior to the kids. Since I had the kids I’ve traveled a lot in the US too. I realize that’s more than a lot people.  Two years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to take the kids to Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York for the first time. Last year we went to LA and to Disneyland.  They loved traveling as much as I do so I’m in big trouble.

I have a roof over my head, even if that roof needs a ton of work. I’m grateful that thus far my kids have been great and I hope that they continue that way. We’ve had our challenges, just like every family does, but we work through them.  Most importantly, they are very healthy and they hardly even get sick from colds. I know that in itself is a blessing.

I’ve loved and lost and I’m okay. I survived and I have a pretty good relationship with my ex husband. We work hard to co-parent our two kids. All in all I have to admit that I’ve had a really interesting life. I have tons of travel stories to tell and great experiences. I will not be one of those older ladies who says, “I just thought there would be more,” because so far I’ve already experienced “more.” I have nothing to fear.