Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Give Thanks

This year, as always, I am aware of how much I have in my life for which to give thanks. Here is a short list of things I can rattle off:

1. I am thankful for my family, who are always the first people to rush to support me, who listen even if they don't have time, and who have always not only understood that I operate a little differently, but appreciated me for it.
2. I am thankful for John, who has felt like family pretty much from the get-go. I am thankful for all we've experienced together, and look forward to all the things ahead of us.
3. I am thankful for John's family, who have made me feel welcome since day 1. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of in-laws.
4. I am thankful for my amazing group of friends. Many smiles behind, many smiles still ahead.
5. I am thankful for my kitten. I'm pretty sure it was destiny that we found each other...he is exactly the kind of cat I dreamed of having.
6. I am thankful for laughter, and for things like this:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. : )

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

W O W !

Saturday November 14: on our 4 year and 9 month anniversary, John got down on one knee in Central Park, and asked me to marry him. I obviously said yes. : ) Highlights of sharing the news:

1. Calling my mom and avoiding the topic until I was about to burst, and hearing her scream.

2. Telling John's younger sister, who had no idea. A brief recap:

Me: Hey, your brother did something silly today.

Her: Uh oh, what'd he do?

Me: Well, we went to Central Park, and he asked me to marry him.

Her: ::high-pitched scream::

Me: And then I did something silly, cuz I said yes.

Her: ::silence:: screaming, JOHN ASKED MAUREEN TO MARRY HIM! ::silence:: AND SHE SAID YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was absolutely my favorite moment.

3. Listening to John's aunt fumble as she tried to figure out how to put us on speakerphone. Eventually, she gave up and just turned the volume all the way up and made everyone gather around the phone.

In more good news, the artists' reception for the Medford Arts Council is this Thursday night. It'll come at a good time because today was a rough day as far as job hunting, so an evening of validation will be good.

Stay tuned for more pics.

Monday, November 9, 2009

In a Time of Professional Crisis, Personal Triumph

So this is about a week delayed, but better late than...well, you know.

Last week I went to the mailbox, a usually unexciting chore considering we usually get an assortment of mail for people who no longer live here, useless ads, and bills. We are seriously lacking in interesting correspondence. So imagine my surpirse when I opened the box last Wednesday and was greeted with only two items: a postcard solicitation from an insurance company for John, and an envelope from the Medford Arts Council addressed to me. I stared at it for a minute, and then ran upstairs to tear it open.

The envelope had two things in it: an invitation and a folded-up letter. First I looked at the invitation--it was shiny and pretty. It was for the artists' reception and reading from the poetry contest I had entered. In my excitement, I only half-read the invite, and judging by the front assumed the reading was going to be held at Braddock's in Medford, which looked rather swanky. After I calmed down a bit, though, I read that the reception was actually the Medford Arts building, and assumed the picture was one of the winning photographs from the contest run along with the poetry one. Once I opened the letter, I saw that I had won not only first place, but third as well! The poetry contest only awarded first, second, and third place, and it literally made me laugh out loud when I realized I dominated 2/3 of the prizes...I never expected to win let alone win twice. What impressed me even more was that 53 poets from Burlington County had entered, and between the 53 of us there were 135 entries...and I had won twice. Aside from excitement, what I felt was a classic Maureen-ism: discomfort.

I am really bad at accepting praise, and am even worse at believing I deserve that praise. I was mentioning this to Tara, who told me about an article she had read about how it's not uncommon for women to underestimate themselves, and then to make excuses for and to undersell their achievements. I can't say I know that to be true of other women, but it's definitely true of myself. When I succeed at something, I automatically assume it was because I was just the best pick based on what must have been sub-par competition. Call it the getting-picked-last-in-gym syndrome. But now that I think about it, I'm not only selling myself short when I make that ssumption, I really undermine the people with whom I am in competition. I don't know why it's so hard for me to value myself and my work, but I do know that the pieces I submitted were pieces I felt good about, I was proud of, and that I thought had a real shot at winning.

And this couldn't have happened at a better time, just when I was getting really frustrated with my job search and when I was getting depressed about being out of work. What I've told people about the poetry contest is that I feel validated as a human being. My job wasn't who I am, wasn't what makes me a passionate person. It was what I did to pay the bills. But writing is who I am. It's pretty much how I define myself, and how I want to be presented to the world. That I've been recognized for that just feels darn good.

So that's all for now. The job hunt continues, and there are a few things I've applied for that I feel I have a chance for, but that remains to be seen. Until next time, cheers.