Thursday, September 1, 2016

And now, a note from our sponsor

Some reflection on turning 30
Liam here, and I apologize in advance that I'm not nearly as talented as my dear wife when it comes to waxing poetic about the daily life in the Jewell household - her prose is a tough act to follow!  Nonetheless, we proceed... fair warning, if you arrived at this blog update and were looking for a light post with cute pictures of a 2 year old I give you leave to skip this and continue to the next section by Elisabeth... I can be a bit wordy and serious and that's not for everyone - especially when it's unexpected.

I've been asked more times than I can count in the last few weeks about how it "feels to be turning 30" as if this 30 turns on a huge rock around the big ball of hydrogen we call the sun had some sort of mystical meaning or purpose attached to it.   News flash... in the bigger scheme of things it's just another day.  If you know me, and presumably you are reading this because you do, it means you probably already know that birthdays are not a big deal to me.  But it's as good of a milestone as any to evaluate the question, how am I actually doing at 30?
As you may or may not have heard, I'm now enduring a life in chronic pain.  My shoulder injury is neurological in nature, and has spread to much of my body.  After 4 years of poking, prodding, x-rays, MRIs, and declining health... the doctors are running out of ideas and have pivoted mostly to pain management instead.  There are days when I don't want to get out of bed, and many other days that I just can't physically do the things I want to do like go for a walk with my wife or even just pick up Calvin when he asks.

Yet despite that, I'm happy to report, on balance, I'm doing frickin' awesome.  I've worked my butt off and it's paid off - whether it was working 3 jobs at 14, working full time for real world experience through college to give me a leg up when I graduated into the worst job market since the 1930s, or forgoing fun for responsible choices many times over... after half a life of effort (and a hearty dose of fortune and parental guidance) I'm very pleased with the results of my endeavors.  I have a job I love and finally found a career I really can see staying in for a long time.  I have a loving wife, and a wonderful son... each of whom bring joy and light to my heart. Every. Single. Day.  I have a nice house.  I have paid off my student loans.  I own my car outright.  Life is stable, enjoyable, and rewarding.  On paper, I live the American dream... and while that means something, it also means nothing as it provides no actual meaning in and by itself.

Faced with the prospect of living your entire life twice over in constant pain has given me ample opportunity to ponder about what makes life worth living, and after all this rambling, I'd like to get to the thrust of why I chose to share all of this with you.

So, what am I thinking and feeling about turning 30?  Being 30 is the same as being 29 or 31 or 91.  You, I, all of us, knowingly or not, consciously or not, spend each moment looking for meaning, and what that meaning is, is unique for each of us.  My purpose, why I mean, why I choose to get up each day is not with the goal of making it to retirement so I can sit in a chair bored all day.  It's not to make a million dollars so I can buy a bunch of stuff that doesn't actually make me happier.  I strive to make each moment count, and I personally find most of those moments with my family. I challenge you to find the moments that count to you...and then pursue them.  Nobody will do this for you.  No matter our age, background, or experience, it's up to each of us to make each day count.  It's up to you and I to find our own purpose and it's up to each of us to decide why we get out of bed tomorrow.  And let me tell you, there's no time like the present.


Ordering crepes is exciting.
It has been a year since we moved into our "new" house, and it feels like home. We've had a few disasters (remember the sewer pipe bursting in the basement? It turns out that it was a sheared off sewer main in our front yard, which ended up involving excavators and expensive plumbers and several thousand dollars. Incidentally, have we mentioned that you should check your insurance policy? You should know that most insurance doesn't actually cover pipe repair or replacement, only the damage caused by a broken pipe ), and lots of things have been breaking all at once, but interestingly it is all not nearly half so stressful as it was at the old house. I suspect this is because no matter what has been breaking, none of it has actually threatened the structural integrity of the house. The sewer pipe was stressful, but was ultimately outside the house. I remember February 2015 when we had an ice dam that threatened to actually soak and damage our walls and house frame (thank goodness that didn't come to pass the way the first contractor predicted) and siding and roof, and we spent sleepless nights wondering how we would pay to have it fixed. None of that sort of stuff has happened here. There's a ceiling fan that suddenly stopped working, and there's a bedroom door that sticks and doesn't fully close, and the shower sprays mist against one of the bathroom walls, and all of these things are fixable. We don't miss that old house. (We do miss the wide flat grassy back yard that we spent several years imagining filled with future children and puppies wrestling over soccer balls. But that's about it.)

Calvin is blossoming under speech therapy. His vocabulary is exploding day by day, and he's newly interested in "cooking" ping pong balls for people to "eat" in his snazzy new kitchen play set. He has added "Pop Goes the Weasel" to his repertoire of songs (which formerly included golden hits such as "The ABCs", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and "Frere Jacques") and begs us to put a charming British children's show Sarah & Duck onto the television (it's on Netflix, and sometimes we watch it without him, because it's just that good).