Friday, November 1, 2013

My Accidental Life

Patterned after the admirable Mette Harrison's blog post: My Accidental Life, this post is about my accidental life, which is what happens when all my life-planning does not prepare me for the my actual life.
Accidentally a runner

I never intended on being a runner. I gained a lot of weight in my early 20s. TONS. I weighed 221 lbs., couldn't get pregnant, and had no clue how to fix it. It wasn't until a doctor diagnosed me with insulin resistance that I found my bearings. I became determined to change my life. I cut out sugar, started exercising on tready, and dropped weight fast. I got pregnant with my son a few weeks later. My little miracle was born in March of 2008. In 2009, I ran my first 5K, a little community run that I mostly walked. I ran a few races in the years to follow, and now, in 2013, I've participated in 11 races! And still plan on 2 more.

Accidentally a mom with a career. I LOVE these two. XOXO, my babies.

I never intended on being anything other than a stay-at-home-mom, but during my 3rd year of college, I got married. I literally thought the only option I had was to drop out of school and get a job to support my husband. A friend said to me, "Why don't you just finish college and then get a job?" I honestly never thought of doing that. I don't know how and where and when exactly I picked up this notion that my sole existence was to get married and then LIVE for my husband and children's needs, ignoring my own, but I did.  The spell broke the day I chose to finish school. I enrolled in the education program, became a mom, graduated, became a teacher, gave birth to second child, got a Reading Endorsement, became a CUWP fellow, and started writing for two newspapers. My career saved us financially as Cole finished school and then grad school. Without that choice, he wouldn't have a masters degree, so it's a win-win.
Accidentally a world traveler
I never intended to go to grad school. Like I said I never thought I'd even finish my undergrad. I started school with the hopes that I'd end up with that cliched MrS. degree and then get to drop out and be a homemaker and mother. (Not that being a SAHM is a bad choice--but looking back this was the best path for me.) Now I'm working on my second degree in a subject that I adore: creative writing. By the time I'm done with school, I'll have traveled to Europe 3 times and hopefully be a published or represented writer. I get to do all this and raise my beautiful children. Before, my scope never included anything else; my ambition was truncated at the threshold.

Accidentally a correspondent
I never intended on writing for the newspaper. I wanted writing opportunities in college, so when I saw an ad for writing jobs for The College Times (now, The UVU Review), I applied and somehow with no experience got the job. For a year, I wrote one article a month--on everything from faculty of the month to covering the results for the annual beauty contest. But the experience did give me a lovely addition to my resume. Then YEARS later I saw an ad for a position as a movie reviewer for a Mapleton paper (so small it doesn't even exist anymore, The Foothill Breeze). I didn't get that job, but a few months later, the owner called me to fill a book reviewer position. Even better! Then two and a half years ago, a friend casually mentioned an ad for writers in the Herald. And now my accidental life includes "correspondent for The Daily Herald". When people asked how I got that job, I always give the short answer: "I applied." I guess even if you accidentally come across something, it requires application.

Accidentally a feminist.

I never intended on become a feminist, but at twelve I was molested. The secret, I guess, is out--though most of my family and some close friends have known for years. I spent years blaming myself because I worried that tight gymnastics shorts I wore when it happened might've been too revealing. As an adult I realized how CRAZY that was, but I then realized that I lived in a culture and era where women were not only being blamed for sexual attacks but also taking responsibility for their attackers' actions and THAT was even more insane to me. I realized that many men and women perpetuate this belief that women don't have value unless they are thin and sexually attractive (by society's standards). I still have to talk myself out of these thoughts. I know it's a problem. I see it everyday. Just the other day a kid in my class interpreted that a woman's sour expression in a painting had to do with the fact that she was "depressed because she was heavy and no one wanted her." As women, we've been taught through advertising campaigns--often launched by our own families, friends, and peers--that we don't have value beyond our wombs or, on an even baser level, our sex appeal. I didn't--don't want to live in that world. I want my daughter to grow up knowing her worth has nothing to do with her ability to land a man. But rather had to do with her mind, heart, spirit, and integrity. I don't want to raise a daughter to believe that her mission in life--that everything she does with her hobbies, career, interests, and networking circles--should revolve around her eventual mom-dom. Being a mother is a fantastic role, don't get me wrong. It's the most important role in my life, but I want it to be a choice for my daughter, not an inevitability. And that if she chose to seek beauty--and I hope it's more health than beauty that she desires--it should be because it makes HER feel good about herself, buoying her worth in her own eyes, not in the eyes of anyone else--save, perhaps, God.

Though I didn't expect or intend for these things to happen, and it's abundantly clear that God's laying down the cobblestones of my path, I'll be stomping these paths with my chin up and heels on. Yes, heels. The terrain my be bumpy, but I want to traipse through life in something that gives me confidence and is a reminder of how far I've come.

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