The art of looking…

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A few snowflakes dance on the outer side of my office window.

I sit here watching them waltz, kiss a bit and then chase each other down to the ground… It is snowing in such a way that it isn’t really snowing at all. Gen had hoped for a snow day because, honestly, she has (finally) reached that point in adolescence where she wants to fake sick and miss school. Since it took her becoming a Sophomore for this to happen, I began to question if it ever would. Tragically, (for her) the green grass outside and blustery seven flakes, in the late morning, do not constitute inclement weather. Not so tragic for me, I guess. I sit here thinking about the state of life. How sad things fill our news feeds every day, but when then are big unfathomable things that happen here on our own American soil they feel so much bigger.

Life feels heavy.

Days before Thanksgiving, the state of it all feels bleak. Dark.

And then I see commercials or ads for Black Friday sales and mention of how we need or want this, that and something else. More, more, more… I’m so sad because, you guys, we just don’t get it. Maybe for a window of time you get it, or I get it, but we as a people do not register that the way to make the dark a little brighter is simply to shed a little kindness and share some love. On a radio show this morning someone commented that this “Ferguson stuff is putting a damper on my Thanksgiving.” What? No, this person does not live anywhere near Missouri. Talk about missing the point of Thanksgiving in the first place.

While I typed my last blog post, 34 days ago, I’m sure I glanced up to see leaves dance outside of my window the very same way these snowflakes have been. There is something both beautiful and a touch magical about these dancing seasonal fragments of nature. My soul needs the wonder of their whimsy amidst the blackness clouding my phone, Facebook, twitter and internet feeds.

It took me looking up, from the bad though, to see this good. That’s how it is. Sometimes, we have to look up. Sometimes, we have to seek out the beautiful moments, but they are there.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but this year everything in me wants to hate it because everything I love about it is not present. I miss home, I miss my family and friends. Scrolling through photos of my nieces and nephews, my heart-felt homesick pangs like none I’ve had before. I have china and service ware for holidays that I doubt will ever be used again and I am the shallow sort of person who sheds real, hot, heartbreaking tears over this realization. All of that being said though, (and I’m not complaining, I’m just being real…) I’m looking a little bit harder these days and I am finding things to be thankful for…

Things beyond the:

- my amazing husband

- my wonderful kids

- my adorable, faithful canine companions

things like,

- a warm place to sleep, even if it’s only a temporary solution.

- clean water to drink, that does not carry disease.

- one really lovely weekend. We had a nice date, Chw and i, and we had a really fun family day. This was preceded and followed by home stress that neither of us have any energy or resources to deal with, anymore, but the weekend was divine.

- ridiculous conversations with my awesomely witted friends.

- Rudolph Christmas stamps. I’m not sending out Christmas cards this year (for the first year ever) but those stamps are amazing.

- the rains that came and took the snow (for now) away.

- sore muscles.

- friends who keep me accountable.

- cozy pajamas and flannel sheets.

- a thermometer that reads in the ear.

- tea, iced or warm.

Thanksgiving, the day, is in a few days. It’s Thanksgiving for Americans living in Boise, Detroit, Tampa and Ferguson. People have buried loved ones this week, or will prepare to. Thanksgiving is a spirit we need to embrace, to make the most of our moments, our people and our breaths… This is what I mean when I say Happy Thanksgiving.

The randomness of absence…

cA4aKEIPQrerBnp1yGHv_IMG_9534-3-2I know, I know, it has been FOREVER since I blogged. In a few ways my husband could be held responsible for that, but I’ll get to that on another day. (and no, it won’t be a “trash your husband post”, you should know me better than that!)

Really though, I think the real culprit behind my lack of consistent blogging (and oh, so many other things) is 2014 itself. I don’t know about you, but this has been one nightmare of a year. As I reflect back over these past 10 months, I can’t find one salvageable one and I fear if I dug deeper, the weeks would play out the same. I hate to grimly nutshell it like that, but there it is. This isn’t really a whine about the year post either. Perhaps it’s an I don’t know what kind of post this actually is- sort of post.

As I’m sitting at my desk, in my chair, writing these nonsense words, fingers clickety-clacking on the keys before me- my eyes look to the grey blanket gloom filled sky outside my small office window and I can’t help but find it fitting. Trying to find words to say what I want to say here without being morose, and seeing this typical Michigan-sad sky already speaking them for me. I wish you could see it. The most delightful part about really, it is that I’m sitting here typing at all. For the past four weeks, I couldn’t have done that. Even now, I don’t think I could do it for long, but I’m sitting here, posture well, and that’s something. Late September I had surgery and while I knew the recovery could take months, and would be difficult, what I did not know was the that recovery would often feel like death, I would have numerous complications and this recovery would be one of the hardest things that I may go through physically.

My fifteen year old, she texts me about 147 times a day. Yesterday was sort of nice because she got her phone taken away and so she didn’t text me at all, but then she decided to be a little bit nicer and more helpful, (see: surgery, recovery, etc. I need help. A LOT of it, sometimes.) and she got her phone back. While I’m sure you’re thinking Awe, it’s so sweet she texts you so much, it’s not so simple. Her phone is restricted and she can currently ONLY text/call her parents. This was a result of major cell phone abuse and some really poor choices. She’s been given phone rules, and goals and told it will take a long time to earn trust back. One of those rules is no texting during class. (see: 147 times a day. and no, these aren’t to check on me. This happened since the first day of school. My most common text to her is “aren’t you in class?” Oye…)

We are buying a house. Well, let me refrain. We are hoping to buy a house. We, like half the country, lost a home (and most of our savings/money) in 2007. We were hurt/jaded and swore we’d never buy again. In June of this year, we decided to take a few steps towards buying a home. Our timeline for such an endeavor was Late fall of 2015/early spring of 2016. We were moving along well and feeling really good about our plan. This lasted roughly a month. Things began to look really grim (long term) regarding my mom’s health. She’s a few thousand miles away, and honestly she has a modest income. We can’t afford to put her in assisted living. Realistically if she continues to live alone, she is at risk for many things and it’s just not a good option any longer. I’m her only daughter and so after a hospital scare we had the conversation where we realized it was time to talk about bringing her here to the Midwest’s version of the Arctic tundra to live with us. I did not think she would be in favor, but she was and immediately began getting rid of things for her impending move east. The problem though, is that we currently rent a three story brown stone. The main floor is on the second story and the full bath and bedrooms are on the third. My mom is on a walker on a rare good day and does require a wheelchair. (someday soon, permanently.) We found the perfect house, and lost the perfect house. Found a lot of lemons, got really discouraged, and then came upon a doable option. It requires some tweaking, and isn’t the most ideal for her, but what is out there really wasn’t meeting those needs unless we stumbled upon a trunk load of cash for renovations and repairs… It’s all been beyond stressful, and this mortgage process is enough to make me want to stick kindergarden safety scissors through my eyeballs. Things are certainly different since the mortgage restructuring. Everyday it’s “everything is great, you’re good to go”, then swinging over to “nope, I’m sorry, miscalculation! No mortgage for you!” and back. Our landlords decided to put the brownstone on the market, thus making us officially homeless should this mortgage thing fall through officially, (which it seems to do every Tuesday, Thursday and every other weekend plus holidays.)

One beautiful thing happened since I last blogged… My older daughter married a really great guy. It was a beautiful wedding and we are so proud of her! (she also had unexpected issues arise that confirm other than her wedding, 2014 is a total Jerk…) Second to that would be my bestie from Boise came out for a few days last week. It was awesomely wonderful and depressing because then she left again and I was reminded that I am certainly NOT in favor of living across the country.

Another semi lovely thing happened. I received a $50 Pottery Barn gift card. I am forbidden from buying anything for the house (of course, due to my mortgage induced whiplash I understand why.) I chose to buy Christmas ornaments as they’ll look beautiful no matter where we live. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake. I’m hoping, if it all goes south, we find a box to live in big enough for at least a Charlie Brown tree…

Dawning…

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Last week my youngest became a Sophomore in high school. Next week, my oldest daughter will be a bride. In each of their lives (and as a mom, for me as well) these are defining moments, yet somehow I sit here wondering what is next for me… I have all of these goals, that haven’t really changed much, over the years. My life has. Time has. Timing has. Things around me have changed, like headlights on a late night busy highway, speeding through… These goals, hopes, plans and dreams remain. Unattained, unstepped towards, Un…

And suddenly I am forced to self reflect and of course I come to the conclusion that this simply will not do…

It seems like the majority of themes in books about 30-40 somethings is that marriages and families fall apart because the characters stopped. They stopped seeing each other, stopping feeling seen by others, or stopped caring about something, stopped pursuing something, stopped something. In my own life, it does feel like the majority of my milestones happened long ago, and suddenly I live vicariously through the milestones of my kids. That can’t be right, can it? I mean, surely? Is that at the heart of why marriages fail, affairs happen, careers tank, etc? Is it because people just needed something that was theirs? Some milestone to mark an age and tether them to a time period and bring them back to their own lives a little? Because, to me this sounds partly insane and partly 100% sound.

All of that to say, I’m not doing any of those things, but as I consider the fact that it has been a really, really long time since anything in my life happened that was for me, I got to wondering what happens when someone else feels the same. And I don’t mean that all whiny, like “What about me??? Why don’t I ever get to do anything???” I mean, as adults who are married and parents, we lose ourselves a little. (or sometimes, a lot.) When you throw into the mix special needs parenting, it’s even tougher. Actually, this brings to mind the movie Catfish. Have you seen it? If you have, then maybe you realize I just illustrated my own question with a cinematic answer…

Maybe, as people, we are wired to hit a panic switch (which often screws up our whole lives) whenever we start to feel irrelevant, but we ignore the warning signs for so long. Like, while I would love for my husband to always remember to place me on a pedestal and to think that spending time with me is the absolute best and greatest thing on the planet, this isn’t realistic and it’s kind of unfair of me to expect for him to be the source of my fulfillment. Just as I know personally that those Hallmark penned cards which say the best Mother’s Day things feel lovely to read, the adoration spewed my way won’t always look like that. Sometimes it will resembled adoration or love and the majority of the time it may be joy sucking. No one ever promised easy and it’s not on my kids to be my reason to wake up and keep living. Choosing to actively love them is a great way to live, but they don’t deserve the responsibility of my fulfillment. They can never  win with that. My life, my goal achievements, my successes, my __________________, those are on me. Yours are on you. We all own our own. So often we place blame, blame on our spouses, kids, parents, gardener… (Maybe not the gardener.)

I’m questioning if the greatest tragedy in my life might be that of this fog of distraction I slip into. The one where meal plans and household chores consume me. Within the safety of those confines I have a purpose and I am needed. For the twelve seconds that my home is clean and looking magazine spread worthy, I feel satisfaction. Within that frame of mind though, there is no love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my husband or family don’t love me. I’m saying they can never love me enough to make up for the fact that as long as I hide there, without taking personal risks, making personal strides and attempting personal growth (and failing, because we learn when we fail,) I will likely grow a little sadder. Maybe sad is the wrong word. Maybe more accurately, I will become less and less me.

feelings…

A couple of days ago school began for kids in our area. Busses were back on the roads, parents were frustratedly waiting in carpool lanes and if you fine-tuned your senses just right you could sense that autumn nip in the air. All was as it should have been, at least in our little bit of our sweet little town. We breathed our air as we listened to music and made the long trek home from school. Just one street over, at that same exact time, another family was on their way to pick up their own kids from school too. After nearly colliding with a reckless driver, the reckless driver proceeded to fatally shoot the father at an intersection…

Up until that moment, there were all sorts of things at the forefront of my mind. House hunting stresses and disappointments, frustrations with professional people who don’t do their jobs which therefore make it difficult for me to do what I need to do, etc. Up until that moment I was pretty full of me, I guess you’d say. And it’s not that these weren’t real things to be concerned with. That’s not my point… My point is simply that a man was killed at 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of a street at a red light. This man was a father and a husband. His wife sat in the passenger seat watching. This happened in front of the ice cream place my daughter grew up visiting. Their children were sitting at school, eager to tell their mommy & daddy about their day. It’s so senseless and big, so, so big.

It was Chw who first told me, mere moments after it happened. He texted to make sure we were home and safe. Details weren’t out yet, other than a shooting and a death, and their location. Our town is sweet and I simply kept thinking about how unfathomable it all seemed. It wasn’t until the next day, however, when the depth of it really hit me. I was reading a news article and it said that amidst the gunshots, witnesses heard the anguished scream of the wife from within the car.

Anguish…

All at once I wanted to know her. My heart ached to provide love and shelter to her family and do everything in my power to bring them whatever worldly comfort I could, even though it would feel like nothing at all in reality. Anguish. This woman is living and breathing in anguish. Those children want their daddy.

Last week Gen and I drove by our local funeral home and noticed there was a funeral procession beginning for a local fireman. To see the outpour of community and the volume of firetrucks/firemen melted my heart. My face becomes a puddle, my chest morphing to sobs. Being human, at its heart, should be to care for others. For our hearts to literally break along side a strangers because pain is pain. This is compassion, and compassion is derived from PASSION. Shouldn’t we act on our compassion passionately? When did we forget that the absence of compassion is indifference?

I asked myself Sunday why it has taken me so many years to realize these things.

A woman’s world exploded within that witnessed anguished scream, and those words are haunting me. Can we help the anguished ones? Can we love the world into a less hurting place? Is that unrealistic? I mean, certainly remaining indifferent to the aching for me-centric stresses doesn’t seem like a solution…

here’s the scoop, and why it’s taking so incredibly LONG…

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Every person has a unique story. For a long time now, due to our passion for helping marriages as well as families who have struggled through infertility, Chw and I have been asked/encouraged to do a Podcast. When the topic came up pretty seriously, this past spring, the two of us were heavily entrenched in drama with our youngest (who is 15) and laughed off the guidance with “yeah, we are the LAST people anyone wants to hear about this stuff from.” Our supporters came back a few days later with, “so, we talked to so-and-so, and this-other-person and some-people-over-here and it was unanimous that your candidness and heart coupled with how raw you are about your journey is exactly why you are who people WANT to hear from.”

We thought about it, some. We prayed about it. Meanwhile, oddly, another friend began a podcast (completely unrelated) and the more we listened the less overwhelming of an idea it seemed to be.Still, the teenage rage filled wars waged on at home and so we decided we’d set a launch date of July 15. This gave us a few weeks to get our heads on straight and our daughter would be visiting friends. It seemed great.

But then, Chw got sick the week Gen left. And then just as he began to get well, I lost my voice and this turned into pneumonia. Before I could speak without sounding like a crazy 76-year-old smoker, it was a week into August. We set a new launch date and wouldn’t you know it, Chw’s company sent him out-of-town on business, two weeks in a row. All hell sort of re-erupted with Gen forcing us to put everything on hold and then this wild and crazy scheme to start taking steps towards A.) moving and B.) bringing my mother (from New Mexico) to live with us, just sort of snow balled…

It’s been nuts, you guys. Seriously not a second’s peace since mid June. Before that, I’d guess last fall, maybe?

We are so excited though because it’s going to be funny, and real, relevant, honest and hopefully something useful to someone somewhere… In the meantime… I need your help!

1.)Do you have any questions you’d like to ask about marriage, reconciling from divorce, our story, infertility, adoption, Reactive Attachment Disorder, etc? We’ve already received some great ones on our Facebook Page. If you have questions please message us there, or email me at rainydayinmay(at)gmail(dot)com, subject Podcast.

2.) Like our FB page, if you haven’t already, and spread the word!

3.) Do you know someone who might make a great guest on our show? (we can skype them in, no need to travel!)

Best laid plans, right? We’ll get there… Wish us luck! (and health, and peace!)