Happy Birthday Jen

Even though I really, really should be knitting, I should also really, really be training (I’m behind) and so a few weeks ago when Jen and I decided how we would celebrate our mutual birthdays (hers today, mine Saturday) we decided that what we would really love was a long ride – punctuated by a lovely lunch.

jenis40ride 2014-06-12

This, in a nutshell, is why Jen is an awesome friend – and has been for the last ten years.   Jen is, in a completely non-traditional, non-acquiescing way, a yes-man – or a yes-woman, as the case happens to be. You think something might be possible if you try hard? Jen will say yes. You think you could create change if only you could throw some smarts and commitment behind it? Jen says yes. Jen thinks that if you really try… you can do almost anything.* You just have to say yes. You want to combine training and celebrating? Yes.

I’ve got a habit of taking things on in a big way, and I can be a little difficult.  If I decide to take something on, then maybe you better look out. Once I get it in my head that something is doable, or something should be done… once I have it in my teeth?  Usually I make everyone around me crazy with the tenacity for that thing, and not all relationships can stand up to the way that… frankly, I expect a lot from people. This can be my best, and worst trait.

Let me be perfectly clear about this next part.  JEN MAKES ME LOOK LIKE AN AMATEUR. A total rookie in the tenacity department.  You think I have commitment? Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Jen.  You need something done? Call Jen. You need someone to take a stand? Right this way to Jen’s desk.  You need someone to stick with something far, far, far past any reasonable point of hope and still hold a candle out for the possibility that everything will still be okay?  Dudes.  I’ll text you her number.  Jen is just about the most spiritually sturdy person I’ve ever met, and to boot, she’s a really good knitter.

A few years ago, I was struggling with a life problem.  It was big, and it was complicated, and I was not at all sure what the right thing to do was, and although there were many decisions to be made, I found myself incapable of making any of them.  No matter what choice I contemplated, I could see the upside, or the consequences, and I was so worried about making the wrong choice,  I couldn’t make any choice at all.

I was on the phone with Jen, and I was completely paralyzed.  I was Queen of the good ship “what if?” and Jen said something that has changed a very great deal about my life.  She said that I shouldn’t be so worried about making a decision.  She said that I just had to do my best, and then she said this.  “The great thing Steph, about making a choice, is that if it turns out to have been the wrong one, if you blow it completely… you can just make another one. There will be consequences, but you can always change directions once you know more.”

That one sentence changed everything. If I made a wrong choice, by wool, I would just make another one, and her sure sense of faith in my abilities and her certainty that commitment without flexibility was a complete pile of crap made it possible for me to see my way out. I chose, and she was right.  I was smart. It was the right thing to do, and if it had been wrong – I would have fixed it with another decision.  Jen had the whole thing by the neck.

That’s the way it is with her. She’s strong to a fault, she’s a mother we could all aspire to be, she’s strong, funny, and she eats commitments for breakfast, while safeguarding all the relationships that she holds dear.  I wish you could know her, and she’s the most amazing person I could have chosen to do the bike rally with. The day we decided to co-lead a team, and throw the weight of everything we know how to do behind the bike rally was (whether the rally knows it yet or not, since we as masquerading as normal midldle aged women) was a great day, and I still feel that way even though we rode really far today, and we’ve got a really long way to go.

Today is her birthday.  She’s 40, and as someone who’s in a position to know, I can tell you she’s a lot more than she was at 30, which is such a wonderful thing, considering how made of awesome she was back then. I know not many of you actually know her, but if you’ve got a thing for strong women, who are trying to change the world a little bit, she’d love to be closer to her bike rally goal.  (That link takes you there.)

jenis40 2014-06-12

Happy Birthday Jen.  You’re awesome.

(PS. Thanks for somehow making camping on the rally fun.  I swear I won’t take dpn’s on the air mattress this year. Sorry about the way that went down.)

*I feel like in saying that Jen is a yes-woman, that I should also point out that if I’m totally off the mark, she’s one of the only people who can stop me, and isn’t afraid to tell me if I’m crazy, which is sort of a lot.