Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

In the past, I’ve sent out my “Christmas” letter at various times of the year. Since my birthday is upon us, (not looking for gifts or anything—wink, wink, nudge, nudge) I think now is a good time. Especially since much is going on in the ever changing world of the Jensens.

So…here’s what’s up with me. I mean, it is MY birthday, and my blog. I spent 1 ½ years getting certified to be a secondary English teacher, only to be looking during the worst recession in decades. Not to mention our loony state superintendent of schools has pushed through some disturbing legislation that makes our schools less effective, and in the process, eliminates quite a few teaching jobs. I’m sure I’ve posted about it before, so feel free to read those rants in other posts. I kept substitute teaching for a while, but it just wasn’t the same as having my own classroom.

So…I went back to my freelancing work, which has taken off quite a bit. Gee, maybe it has something to do with that recession? People not having enough money to hire someone full time, but just enough to hire freelancers? What do you know? I just might have found my niche. With the rise of self publishing (shhh, don’t tell anyone I said that word), more and more companies are sprouting up to help people publish their fiction (and non-fiction), and they hire me to edit for them. So I am basically doing all the fun parts of editorial without all the crappy meetings, financials, and corporate stuff I hated.

I did work for about six months at my favorite indie bookstore. (Shout-out to Rediscovered Books.) It was a supremely part-time gig, with the biggest benefit being the employee discount on books. Needless to say, not much of my paycheck stayed in my bank account. I liked it, liked the people, loved the customers—especially the Saturday morning folk who came down to the farmer’s market. But it was just not really helping me achieve what I wanted. (Except to own more books.)

So…I have been focusing my efforts more on writing my own fictional works (in addition to the afore-mentioned works of others). I have one novel completed, one just about done, two more in the writing phase, and several others in various stages of planning and pre-writing. The one I’m about to finish will be going out on submissions this fall, so wish me luck. As part of my writing life, I am an assistant regional advisor for my region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. That role got me on a cruise to the Bahamas (it was a working trip, I promise) and to LA for the 40th anniversary conference. I also spent a week in Salt Lake City in an intensive class with Ann Cannon and a group of incredible writers. I keep learning amazing new things at every turn.

Music is still very important to me. I play my flute anytime someone asks. I play in my recorder group. Right now I am learning alto recorder, which is in a different key than the soprano/tenor voices, so it is a challenge. I am planning to start up bag pipe lessons this fall. Just had
an urge to try it. And I am in the handbell choir and the orchestra at our church.

In other news, I am still on my weight loss journey. Year one produced a 30 pound loss. Year two has been sort of a stall. I haven’t gained any weight, but I haven’t lost any either. However, I must be getting firmer or toner or something, because I keep buying smaller clothes. And I’m in no rush. I am a firm believer that the slow weight loss will be a long-term weight loss. I know my body. It does not respond to much of anything in a fast way. I say it is like a glacier. Change happens VERY slowly. So, I am being a lot more active, eating a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables, and thoroughly enjoying my food. Odd, isn’t it? Food is my friend, not my enemy. I can enjoy it all I want and still lose weight.

Life in our home has changed quite a bit, now that both Melissa and Emily have moved out. Melissa moved out about a year ago, and is living in her own apartment. Emily moved out not long after, and is sharing an apartment with her boyfriend, Isaac, and another friend of theirs. And she recently got an adorable kitten named Luna. (After the Harry Potter character.)

So our house is quieter, cleaner, and less crowded. Fortunately, both girls are still in Boise, so we see them often. Peter still is at home for at least a few more years. He took over the girls’ room with his drum set.

David is busy, busy, busy at work. His associate moved to another company, so his work load is heftier. Hopefully he will get another one soon. David won an award this year from the Idaho Bar for service to the bar. You can ask him about it if you want more details. Apparently it had something to do with lending codes. Fascinating, right? The nice part of that was going with him to Sun Valley to receive the award. He is loving his role as a Boy Scout leader, going camping every month, backpacking, and watching Peter become a leader in the troop. David also ushers at church, which I think is just a gig to get out of listening to the sermon. (But hey, I do orchestra to get out of singing the hymns, so I guess we’re even.)

Melissa is a senior at Boise State, majoring in history with a minor in political science and a potential second minor in art history. She plans to go to grad school in history, although the details of that are still up in the air. She still has three semesters to go, even though she's officially a senior. She's taken a lot of classes, but still has some requirements to meet her major. She is also a voracious author, having written five or six completed novels. And a singer.

Emily graduated from high school in 2010, took a year off after taking something like 10 AP classes her last two years and feeling slightly burned out. She was planning on going to New Mexico Tech, but she has a boyfriend here who is awesome and would certainly move there with her if she asked. But she decided to stay here and go to Boise State. Partly because of the guy, but mostly (so she says) because she wanted to also do some languages that NMT does not offer. So she is majoring in physics, minoring in engineering, and taking Chinese. Her plans are to go on for a doctorate in astrophysics. She hopes to be an astronaut if they still have astronauts by the time she gets to that point. She is also working on her pilot's license and will solo soon. She, too, is an author with several novels under her belt. As well as a composer and pianist.

Peter is a freshman in high school. He is a drummer in band, loves Boy Scouts--will be Life this year--and is taking driver's ed. Yikes. He is also into chess, tennis, and possibly golf. He thinks right now he'd like to go into some form of engineering. He loves computers and reads coding manuals for fun?! He is pretty much your typical 15 year old boy--likes fire and exploding things, doesn't talk much unless he gets excited about something, ignores most of what I say, and eats primarily sugar and grease.

Our old dog Frodo is really showing his age, which we estimate to be around 13 years, give or take. But with the wonder of drugs, we keep him going. He doesn’t chase squirrels anymore nor can he withstand long walks. But he sure acts spry when food is involved. The “puppies”—Ginger and Dodger—are five now, but crazy and frenetic as ever. Also very cuddly, so they snuggle with me a lot. There are no rodents as pets in the house at the moment, and I don’t anticipate any. Melissa loves Emily’s cat and plans to move into an apartment that allows pets next year so she can get a kitten or puppy. Our pets are a big part of our family, and incredibly, they are less messy than the humans.

So as I enter the final year of my fourth decade, how I do I see the world? Myself? Do we really need to ask these questions? As many people do as they get older, I see that things I once felt were of vital importance really aren’t so important. I care less and less what other people think of me or my kids, what my credit score is, how messy my house is, or whether I’m doing a good job as a parent. I care more and more about enjoying my life, being helpful and compassionate to others, making the world somehow better for my having been here, and continually challenging myself as a writer, musician, and person. I won’t apologize for the amount (or quality of) television I watch, having a cookie when I want one, or routinely forgetting things. I look forward to spending the second half of my life with David, being silly old people together (our fantasy is to live in an assisted living center growing medical marijuana—JK), and making our grandchildren laugh at our antics. I will keep you posted.


  1. David pointed out to me that I fail at math. I am about to begin the final year of my fifth decade, not my fourth. And damn proud of it, too.

  2. Neysa!! I'm SO very glad you linked me to this delightful blog!! It was great reading this post, getting updated about everyone.

    (AND it was great reading previous posts--I skimmed a few from the first year, esp. enjoying the one about your family's various dogs. It was extra special for me since I'd occasionally heard about them from Emily.)

    I love your line about not apologizing for the amount/quality of tv you watch. I wonder when I'll get to that point--not needing to feel apologetic to others, or to myself, when it comes to... what should I call it? Self-indulgent choices? Or just, choosing to give myself room to be happy?

    It's hard, because I don't want to waste ANYTHING--esp. not time. (Can you hear the recovering perfectionist in me struggling with this? :D)

    In addition to psychological health I want to congratulate you on the healthier living accomplishments! Em told me awhile back that you'd decided to... I hope I'm getting this right... do more active stuff that you enjoy. I've been working on that, too, for the past several years. Having positive motivation--doing stuff I enjoy cuz it makes me feel good--really does seem to be far more motivating than the self-punishing route. Surprise surprise!

    Three final things:
    *Neysa, thank you so much for that last lovely, lovely card you sent me affirming my work as a piano teacher/mentor. I kept it on the windowsill for months, ready to give me a little boost whenever I needed it.
    *Emily: congrats on the kitty! I hope you're enjoying your classes.
    *Neysa, Em, Melissa: I hope you will all continue to post! I love hearing your thoughts.