Two Thousand and Seventeen

We’re now twelve days into 2017, which doesn’t even seem possible. But then again, most people would scoff at the idea of Clemson winning the CFP Championship but yet here we are…GO TIGERS!!!

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Like most Clemson alumni, Clay and I bleed orange. And while love for our alma mater is certainly much deeper than just it’s football program, we’ve never missed an opportunity to cheer for the Tigers – win or lose. We didn’t get much sleep after whooping it up in our living room after Hunter Renfrow caught the game winning pass in the end zone, leaving only one second left on the clock. Jim Harbaugh may have fallen asleep before the fourth quarter but we wore our best orange and purple and relished in the opportunity to watch one of the best endings to a college football game. Okay – that’s enough about football. #ALLIN

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The date 2017 feels too futuristic…weren’t we suppose to have at least real hover boards by now? 2017 marks the halfway point between centuries for me – 17 years in the 20th and 17 years in the 21st. From this point on, the majority of my life will be firmly planted in the 21st century. In a few short months, I will turn 34. As time marches on this year, the angry 11 forming between my eyes will only grow deeper (I think it’s time for Botox), my husband’s hair will become peppered with even more gray, and our children will transform from tiny mystical creatures into tiny humans racing toward adolescence. And our rapidly aging dog will likely pass in the next year or two, which depresses anyone who has had the honor of knowing sweet Lucy.

It’s also a tumultuous time for our young country. Even though this is not the outcome I wanted, I’m not giving up. I will work hard to better my community, my family, and myself. When interviewed on the field immediately after Clemson’s win, Dabo Swinney (sorry – apparently I’m going to talk about football just a little bit more) said, “I told them to let the light they have inside of them be brighter than the light shining on them. If they focused on that, they’d be okay.” So if I had to choose a mantra for 2017, it’d be to focus on my light shine brighter than any light shining on me. I like that message.

 

Good But Not Great

There is a scene in the classic Three Men & a Little Lady when the devilish trio of Selleck, Danson, and Guttenberg host a party reminiscent of their earlier years and Aerosmith’s Back in the Saddle pumps through the most glorious late-eighties/early-nineties stereo. I’ve never been one to hide my love for the (admittedly) not-great movie, mostly in part to my childhood obsession with Tom Selleck as Peter Mitchell and the absolutely perfect soundtrack. Which is probably why I hear Back in the Saddle in my head whenever I find myself returning to familiar task, such as this space. Hello world. It’s me, Karen. Again.

Back in the fourth grade I was tested for the gifted and talented program at my elementary school. While my grades and class participation showcased my enthusiasm for learning, the results of the standardized test were painfully clear – I was not deemed intelligent enough for the program. I would test again the following year with similar results. By the time I entered middle school and moved across the country I knew my place – comfortably nested in the good but not great category within my honors classes. Later on, the PSATs and SATs would serve as a painful reminder that I just wasn’t as smart as I yearned to be. My scores were good but not great. I learned in college that I knew enough win bar trivia nights but often failed to fully grasp complicated philosophical theories that I found difficult to correlate with a modern worldview. Same with graduate school. Simply put, I was good but not great.

I stopped writing because I convinced myself that I was good but not great. That no matter how much joy the act of stringing words together brought me, it wasn’t a worthwhile pursuit because there were other (more worthwhile) things I should be doing. I’m back in the saddle because I finally grew tired of constantly berating myself for having an idea. I’m tired of routinely talking myself out of grandiose plans. And I’m tired of thinking I’m good but not great.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a metallic-based lacquer so the repair is viewed as part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise. This philosophy resonates with me because I’m currently in the process of figuring out how to glue back together the jagged pieces of my professional side – a task that has proven quite difficult as the demands of my husband’s military career has only grown greater with promotion and the fact that we will likely never live in one place for more than two years. There is a lot of gold woven throughout my resume and there is a lot of gold woven throughout my life. And now that I am back in the saddle, I need to realize that I’m not just good – I’m great. So let’s see where this ride takes me, for the only thing worse would be to not get on at all.

A New Season

I’ll admit that writing about the change of seasons from San Antonio in August just makes me miss the 40th parallel even harder but here we are – it’s 100 degrees outside and we’re already planning on driving to northern New Mexico this winter at least once for the fresh powdery substance (no, not cocaine). However, for as wonderful as it is to experience four beautifully distinct seasons each year, I’m not here to discuss every millennial’s favorite time of year (fall – squee!) and yammer on about campfires and chemically-flavored coffee creations.

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My children are getting older. Their faces are changing. Gone are the chubby baby thighs. I don’t really remember their newborn smell. Our eyes don’t lock during marathon nursing-sessions anymore. No more diapers. No more pacifiers. No crib. No highchairs. No video monitors.  They still need us, but they don’t need us as much. And I have never been happier.

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I’m not particularly a baby person. Of course my babies were amazing and the amount of love that poured from every ounce of my being into theirs continues to be unmeasurable. But when I look back at their babyhoods, I do so with fondness and not with longing to turn back time. Each year continues to get even better as they grow into their personalities and learn more about the world around them. And how lucky are we to be able to have front-row seats to their childhood?

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There is definitely a sense of freedom we feel now. Not that we ever let ourselves feel tied-down just because we had a baby but it is certainly easier to just pick and go with slightly older children. The fact that we’re able to have deep conversations about life (and farts) with these magical little creatures who look like us is mind-blowing and makes me unbelievably excited for the future of our family. We are in a new season of our lives – one that doesn’t involve babies. And I am okay with that.