Sunday, August 29, 2010

Books - A Precious Relationship

My mom taught me that it's practically a sin to throw a book away. Someone's words and someone's story is never trash. More importantly, throwing away a piece of literature is keeping someone else from enjoying and learning from it. Just today, I let a friend borrow one of my favorite books (The Stand). I felt slightly embarrassed by the fact that the book (one I've read so many times) no longer had a cover - then, I became proud that the book was used and enjoyed so thoroughly and thrilled that someone else was going to be (hopefully) touched by the words inside. That book has traveled across country with me, from home to home, and gotten me through lonely times (as sad as that may sound).

Then, tonight, I did some packing for our September move, and I got to the part I always dread - boxing up books. It's an easy process, but one of the things I love most about our apartment is the plethora of wonderful books we display. When I look at each, I remember what it taught me and how I felt when I read it for the first time. I packed away my favorites from childhood to adulthood, some that changed who I was fundamentally by the very power of the words inside. Then, I got to one that really fostered my love of horror fiction (The Gunslinger) and was horrified to find that our pug had ruined it. When I held the destroyed book in my hands, I remembered how it made me feel to turn each page, how I'd stayed up all night reading, and couldn't wait to move to the next book in series. I recited lines in my mind that I feel are so beautiful and powerful that anyone who reads them is lucky. I felt again the intense yearning to write something so deserving of readers. And, when I realized that the book would have to find it's resting place in the trash can, tears filled my eyes. Pathetic? Maybe.

For me, books are a vacation, a learning experience... but most importantly, they're friends. I form a unique relationship with each book I read and when we (the book and I) reach the end of our journey together, I'm forever different. My relationship with books is special and deep inside of me. My love for them is a truth that makes me who I am.

My mom was right to teach me to never throw a book in the trash, and I hope I don't have to do it again soon.

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."

Monday, August 23, 2010

What's in a name?

I had a bit of an identity crisis with my name change. I thought I was looking forward to getting rid of a last name that could never be pronounced, but when the time came, I turned into a raging feminist, wanted to reject the expectations of society, and seriously considered keeping my maiden name. The name on my college degrees, etc. wouldn't be my name anymore, and I had a hard time accepting it.

Then, I thought of my future child and his or her identity, and the possibility of Steve never getting to have joy of his wife taking his name... and I "gave in."

But, what I never could have predicted is the immense joy I feel every time I see my married name on a document. I realize now that I didn't lose who I was; I added to it. This name is a symbol of the love we share and the commitment we made to each other. We're not just two people in love now; we're a family - our own family. And, I had to give up some symbolism of the family I came from to really make that a reality. *Please note that I'm not implying that women who choose to keep their maiden names haven't formed a family. This is simply what it meant for me.

Did anyone else struggle with their name change? Did your maiden name mean a lot to you?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Work and Passion

Conventional wisdom is that you should find a job that matches your passion. I think this is backwards. ~ Seth Godin

Seth Godin, a (in my opinion) marketing genius, suggests that it’s easier to bring passion to your work than it is to find work that matches your passion. Recently, I’ve realized that if you ask me what I’m truly passionate about, I have a hard time articulating it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m passionate about so many things that it’s hard for me to narrow it down to one true, can’t live without passion. For example, if you want to get me talking non-stop, you could ask me about any of the following things: my husband, my dogs, my family, writing, horror fiction, human rights, marketing… the list goes on.

What makes jobs easier for me is that I’m also passionate about working. I like contributing to a team. I like bringing home a paycheck. I like having somewhere that I’m needed every day. But, most importantly, I like to know that what I’m doing is making a difference somewhere for someone.

Luckily for me, at work, I’ve been put in charge of customer testimonials. This gives me the opportunity to really bring one of my passions (making a difference) to work every day. Talking to happy customers constantly reinforces the work I’m doing. I talk to customers who say their life is greatly improved by our services, and I go home feeling wonderful. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s a customer who isn’t as happy as they could be for various reasons that have nothing to do with any of my work. When that happens, I take it very hard.

What I’ve realized is no matter whether your work is your passion or you bring your passion to work, mixing work and passion has the potential to be hurtful. But, everything worth having comes with risk so I’d rather hear a hundred happy customers’ stories and a few unhappy customers’ complaints than work without passion.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Real Meaning

Today, I've been stressed. I still haven't gotten around to legally changing my name. We still need to get our bank accounts in order and get insurance the way it should be. I'm worried about every little thing that could go wrong. I've been nothing but nerves lately.

Then, tonight, we took our dogs on a walk. And, as I watched our two furry children walking with the man I married, I realized that those moments are what it's all about. Many many people will come and go in my life, but Steve will be a constant. He'll be my source of strength and my best friend for many years. It's not about the legal paperwork or anything like that. It's about the promise we made and the fact that we'll hopefully have many nights like tonight. When I recognize that love is the important part (and we have lots of it), everything else seems so petty. So, here's to wonderful moments and being Jessie Hansell, even though it's not official yet!