How do you define happiness?
How do you define happiness?
3 #ReverbBroad posts for the price of one!
If you were to play hooky from work today, what would you do instead?
I would actually need at least four days to play hooky. One day to drive to New Jersey to pick up my sisters (my first best friends). Two days to spend at the beach, while “down the shore.” One day to drive back to reality.
While at the beach, I would sleep, read, and eat myself into oblivion. After a day of “sunbathing” (with full-on sunscreen and a huge hat, because now I know better!), we would eat seafood and drink ice-cold beer. Then, we would stroll up and down the boardwalk. I would not care that the sea air was making my hair too curly. I would eat a Kohr Brother’s orange & vanilla soft-serve custard, on a cake cone with rainbow sprinkles. I would fall asleep with a smile on my face, while the ocean lulled me into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Who was your first best friend?
I always struggle with questions that force me to quantify or label things. First, best, favorite…I am not a fan of absolutes. But, this absolute question was actually easy. I am fortunate to have two amazing younger sisters whom I also count on as my best friends. It was not always this way, I am sure. Of course we fought, and teased, and were mean. That is what sisters do. But, under all of that sibling stuff, there has always been genuine love and affection for each other. We have always cheered for one another. We have supported each other through break-ups (“Of course he is a jerk! Let’s burn all the stuff he ever gave you!” True story.) We stood up for each other at weddings (nice bridesmaids’ dresses) and have consoled and counseled each other through motherhood, breastfeeding, work-life negotiation, and suburbia. My mother was right, “there is nothing like a sister.”
What three things do you want more of in your life? What three things do you want less of?
1. Friends. I had no idea that this time in my life would be so isolating. I have friends. My sisters. A few from high school. A few from college. One from graduate school. One from my year as a Holy Cross Associate (Americorps Volunteer). One from my first job. But, all of these people are far away. Across the country far away. I am slowly meeting people at work and at my sons’ school. But, I would not necessarily call these current people friends. I have a lot of acquaintances. I have a lot of women in loose circles whom I respect and admire. I have a lot of people that I would really like to get to know better. I have a mentor (thank GOD for her!). But right now, I would really love a soul-sister. A fellow girlfriend I can go walking with, get my nails done with, have drinks with, call up and vent about my day with. This type of friendship is hard to come by and takes time to nurture and develop.
2. Exercise. The mental and physical benefits of this are self-explanatory.
3. Organization/Motivation. Confession: I am not exactly sure what I am doing with my time these days. I feel busy all the time. Distracted. Yet, very little seems to be getting done. There is always laundry to fold, dishes to wash, toilets to scrub, a garden (first one ever) to weed and water, maternity clothes to donate, on and on and on. I don’t want to fall into whining (too late?) so I will stop here. I would love to be organized and motivated.
1. Childhood cancer.
2. Childhood cancer.
3. Childhood cancer.
What was the best decision you ever made?
The best decision I ever made was to have a “relationship defining talk” with a co-worker whom I thought I was starting to have feelings for.
I had no idea that when I took my first “real” student affairs job in 1999 that it would lead me to my best friend. I had never even heard of Hope College or Holland, MI. Heck, back then, I am not really sure I could have correctly placed Michigan on a map. But, I got heavily recruited at a professional conference, interviewed, got the job, etc. etc. Second year into the position, one of my co-workers and my only friend in the entire state of Michigan leaves me! Her leaving set the process in motion to hire another hall director. We interview a bunch of candidates and Sean is one of them. The only thing I remember about his interview was that he had a lot of experience and nice eyes.
We spent almost every day together the first weeks of the semester. RA training, meetings, fire drills, crappy cafeteria food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), meetings, meetings. You really get to know someone pretty well when you are in all those meetings! Sean is also Catholic, so we went to church together and bonded over being the only Catholic people in tall, white, blonde, Reformed, Dutch, West Michigan.
One weekend I went away to see my sister play soccer. The whole drive back to Holland, I thought about how I needed and wanted to talk to Sean to tell him about it and to tell him I was back safe. Call him up. He was waiting for me to call, too. Huh. We work together. We work together all the time at a really small conservative institution. Huh.
One week later we are driving to a mall (I don’t even remember what for) and I tell him that I think we are flirting with each other. That I think I like him. That I think he likes me, too. But also that I don’t want to read into anything. He turns to me and says, “I like you. Read into that.” Best relationship defining talk ever.
10.5 years later we are still together and have faced some challenging times (see next answer below). There is no one else I want to walk with along the way.
What was your hardest parenting or partner moment?
When I first read this, I honestly thought that my answer would be our son’s cancer diagnosis. Devastating. Crushing. Life-altering. However, that has not been the hardest part. For me, the hardest part has been the “moving on” into the world of cancer survivorship and the “off-treatment” life.
Our son is a cancer survivor.
Or, our son is a CANCER survivor.
Or, our son is a cancer SURVIVOR.
The moving-on has been harder than I thought. For me, the off-treatment life has been a constant negotiation of vigilance and paranoia; and whichever one I choose depends on the day. A cough is not a cough. When my son gets a fever or a stomachache, I panic and I must choke the waves back down or I will drown. Sometimes I feel like there is too much cancer in my life. Sometimes I have bouts of “survivor guilt” because our son made it and so many others do not. Other days, I am madder than hell and I don’t feel guilty at all because every child diagnosed should have the chance to survive.
My husband is kind, patient, hard-working, funny, passionate, devoted, loyal, and an optimist. I am some of those things and a slightly pessimistic realist. His focus is truly on the moving on. He believes and acts as if you can move on without forgetting. I know he is right. I know that I can have our experience with the C word shape and mold me, but not define me. I just don’t know how or where to go. Yet.