Tuesday, October 26, 2010

MH + JM = 2gether 4ever!

On October 26, 2002, in a gorgeous Milton Country Club, Marc Halter married Jennifer Meaney in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by 88 of their closest family and friends. The groom wore a rented tux and the bride was lovely in an ivory gown, sans designer label, off the 50% discount rack. They danced to a song written and performed by their best man and drank a martini the size of a small country. A good time was had by all.

I may be a little biased, but I still think that our wedding was one of the best I have ever been to. Happy 8th Anniversary, Babe!

Eight years may not seem like a long time to many, but in today's age of the "disposable marriage", 8 years is practically a lifetime. I heard a story on the radio the other day about yet another celebrity marriage that has fallen apart. The couple had been married for nearly 5 years and have a 2 year old son. The reason they cited for their divorce?? "We are more like best friends than a married couple". Ummmmm....hello..... if you have been married for 5 years, have a toddler monopolizing your every waking minute and you are still "best friends", I'd call that a pretty good marriage. Wouldn't you? All of the great married couples that I know, Marc and I included, really are friends first. You kind of have to be. You can have all the passion and spark in the world, but if at the end of the day you don't really LIKE each other, what on earth is the point?

I think Marc and I are in the minority when I say that our parents (both sets) are still married - and happy! My in-laws have been married 42 years, my parents 37. I'm sure their secret to a long and happy relationship isn't endless passion, romantic strolls on the beach and arguing over which one loves the other more. I'm thinking their "secret" is a mutual love, respect and, above all, friendship first. If genetics has anything to do with it, I'd say we have a pretty good shot at making it!

I do believe Marc and I will go the distance, not just because it is our anniversary and I am supposed to say that. Are we that perfect couple that never argues and just can't get enough of each other? Of course not. We scrap it out just like everyone else. Above it all, however, we have a friendship and mutual respect for each other that has only gotten stronger through life's ups and downs. We are each other's biggest fans. We support each other's wacky ideas (mostly mine), tolerate each other's crazy moods (again, mostly mine) and ignore each other's annoying habits (Mostly his. All of my habits are adorable.) We give each other a good swift kick in the ass when necessary. Plus, he cooks AND cleans. Let's face it, I'd be nuts to walk away from that!

I guess the bottom line is this: these days, it seems that a lot of couples head for the hills at the first sign of trouble or, in many cases, boredom. I'm not saying that there aren't valid reasons that many marriages fail - of course there are. Sometimes you just marry the wrong person. It happens. However, I do think a lot of people forget what marriage really is all about. I think if after juggling a mortgage, bills, jobs, several children, the crazy schedules of said children and family (yours AND the in-laws) the WORST thing you can say about your marriage is "we're more like best friends", then you're doing ok. In fact, you're doing better than ok. When all is said and done, it is the friendship that will take you the distance. After all, when you're both 85 (well, I'll only be 81....) and the passion of your youth is all but gone, it is that same friendship that will ensure that you've still got something to talk about.

Thanks for being my best friend, Sparky. Happy Anniversary!!!! I Love you !!!!

Puddles xoxox

Thursday, October 21, 2010

If you write it, will they read?

It's official. I have developed an obsession. Surprisingly, it's not an obsession that I could have seen coming - like chocolate, shoes or that cute werewolf kid from the twilight movies (sadly, I'm a little old for that one!) For the past several months something has been consuming me - filling my mind during quiet daytime moments and keeping me from falling asleep at night. I often find my thoughts wandering back to my obsession during conversations with family, friends and colleagues, hoping they don't notice the vacant expression on my face as they talk. I have been filling journals with notes and scribbles about how to make this obsession of mine a reality. Now I think the time has come to face this obsession head on. The first step to dealing with it, is admitting it, right? Here goes. My name is Jennifer and I am obsessed with wanting to write a book.

Whew! That wasn't so hard, was it? Actually, it kind of was. I am not sure why I have been struggling with this so much. It's something that has been on my "bucket list" for years so why is it NOW so difficult for me to say out loud? Furthermore, why is it so hard for me to actually DO IT?

I wrote a lot when I was younger. I was a shy kid that could barely look people in the eye when I spoke. Writing was cathartic for me, a way for me to get my thoughts and feelings out that didn't involve having to actually talk to someone. In school, if given the choice of writing a ten thousand word essay or giving a 5 minute oral presentation, I would choose the essay every time. I have a box in my basement filled with old journals, diaries, letters and short stories written during elementary and high school. Even now, I would prefer to take the time to send an email or text message to someone rather than pick up the phone and call. I am somehow better at getting my point across with the written (rather than spoken) word.

Why, then, is the concept of writing on a bigger scale so terrifying? I am guessing confidence has a lot to do with it. "Jennifer Halter" and "self confidence" are two things that you will never hear in the same sentence. Unless, of course, that sentence is "Jennifer Halter has no self confidence". It is scary to think about putting your heart and soul into something that no one might ever want to read. I confided to a friend the other day that I had finally "written" the opening chapter of my future novel in my head, but was unable to actually write it down. I told her that the thought of finally putting proverbial pen to paper was intimidating. What if no one cared what I had to say? Her reply was "Write your story for YOU, and no one else. Even if you are the only one who ever reads it, you will still have written your novel." I realized, she was right.

There has been a story inside me for quite some time now. Until recently, it had been pretty well behaved, quietly rolling around in my head and not ruffling any feathers. Poking its head out every now and then, just to let me know it was still there. For the past several months the story has felt like a caged animal - loud and impossible to ignore, viciously pounding on the cage and demanding to be let out. There is rarely a waking hour that goes by where I don't hear a character "speaking" to me in my head. I had to resort to carrying a journal around with me everywhere to make sure these voices don't get lost in my increasingly feeble memory bank. I know that taking the first step will be the hardest - actually writing that first chapter.

I did, however, finally take an important step in the writing process yesterday. I ordered some books from the library to begin the research process. I have also been following an author online for many years now. He writes a daily blog and a monthly e-newsletter that are entirely devoted to "Novel Writing for Dummies". Recently, I have been devouring his blog and newsletter archives, where I had previously only regarded them as something to file away for that far off day in the future when I would begin to take this novel seriously.

Believe it or not, this blog post is actually a significant preliminary step in the process as well - actually admitting, out loud in a public forum, that this is something I want to do. Not worrying about whether or not people will mock, doubt or discourage me. I have no idea how long this process will take, or even whether or not anything print worthy will come out of it in the end, but I do know this: When my days in this life are drawing to a close, it is unlikely that I will regret having written a novel that wasn't a best seller (maybe didn't even get published). I would be more likely to regret having never written my story at all.

Play ball!

J :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Social Butterfly

Well, all the buzz for this weekend seems to be about the movie "The Social Network" which opens in theatres today. I have to admit, I have been wanting to see this movie since I saw the first trailers a few months ago, and not because I am a Facebook junkie (which, of course, I am). I think it will be interesting to see the story behind the creation of, undoubtedly, one of the greatest phenomena of this millennium. Now that I am reading some reviews of the movie I am even more intrigued....Oscar Buzz!!!! I wasn't actually expecting the movie to be great, just an interesting story. I will definitely have to check it out.

It got me to thinking about what Facebook has actually done for me since I joined in early 2007. At first, of course, the novelty of Facebook was the opportunity to find old friends/neighbours/ex-boyfriends that you haven't seen in ages and check in on what they were doing. Did that guy who broke my heart in 10th grade end up bald and fat? Did the most popular girl in school really end up living happily ever after with the captain of the football team? How about that best friend that I lost touch with when she moved away the summer before high school? Answers to all of this, and more, could be found on Facebook. The first few months were ADDICTIVE - searching for all your long lost buddies. I can imagine office productivity was at an all time low during the early days of FBs popularity, before IT departments had sense enough to block the use of the site at work.

Now, however, I think FB has morphed into something beyond what anyone ever thought possible. Now, one of the greatest things for me about Facebook is being able to keep in touch with my family all over the world. I have over 60 FIRST cousins - most of whom I have either never met, or have not seen since I was quite young. Since FB came on the scene, more than half of those first cousins are on my friends list - as are their children and grandchildren (in some cases), giving me the opportunity to actually KNOW them. On my recent trip to Newfoundland, it was amazing to meet these relatives who were no longer strangers, even though distance had kept me from seeing them for many, many years.

Since my parents moved to Newfoundland back in February and my only brother has been living in Vancouver for several years, it is wonderful to be able to check on what they are up to and for them to be able to see pics of my kids' lost teeth, new hairstyles and redecorated bedrooms. Since I now have a new niece or nephew due to arrive in February, I won't feel so isolated from his/her little west coast life because mommy and daddy can keep us up-to-date on Facebook.

The other benefit (admittedly, an unexpected one) is what a great tool FB has become for my business. I can think of 3 or 4 real estate deals this year alone that would not have happened were it not for Facebook. I realized that there were a lot of people in my immediate circle that had no idea that I was a real estate agent. Now they do, thanks to FB, and they have an easy way to get in touch with me if they have any real estate questions. I have no problem adding past clients to my friends list, if they request it, as I never post anything on FB that I wouldn't want everyone to know. It is a great way to keep in touch with them and give them a chance to really get to know you as a person, instead of just the person that sold their house.

My friends list, relatively small compared to most, currently sits at around 400 - most of whom are old friends from the past, family members, co-workers and people that are in my current social circle. There are also a handful of real estate agents (mostly from the GTA, but several from other provinces and the USA)that are there for networking purposes. There is also at least one person on that list who I actually met BECAUSE of Facebook, and we have since become good friends. I trim my friends list regularly to get rid of folks that annoy me, post things that are offensive, or routinely get into fights with others via their status updates. The friends that remain on my list - I look forward to hearing what they have to say, sharing ideas, hearing about their awesome/crazy/stressful/funny/crappy day. I love to hear about engagements, new babies, vacations and birthdays. Sometimes life can get in the way of friendships and relationships, and Facebook gives you an easy way to just stay connected.

To be quite honest, I am not sure how we ever stayed in touch BEFORE Facebook came along. How did we plan a party, organize a fundraiser or remember everyone's birthday? I realize that Facebook is now a multi-billion dollar commodity, but I think most of the 500 million users (with the exception of, possibly, my husband) would agree that Facebook has changed the way they socialize, stay in touch and even run their businesses. Oh sure, it can be a huge time waster (some of those stupid games are ADDICTIVE!) but I think that if we woke up tomorrow and discovered that Facebook was gone, it would be sorely missed - as would all 400 of my FB friends.

J :)