December uglies…

This has been a rough week, I am not going to lie. Monday was brutal in that I just couldn’t seem to be enough. Have you ever felt that? I have been doing a seasonal part-time job that I really enjoy, but Monday was off. The holiday crazy of customers did not really help or hinder the day, it just felt rough. Towards the end of the day I completed, what I believed to be, a task and it turned out I’d done it incorrectly. This sat with me in a not-so-great way. I had to rush home, grab Gen and take her right back to the same area of town for her work shift, and I simply could not shake that awful feeling that weighs you down when you have screwed up. I offered to come in, off the clock, and do the task right but my manager said it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, it bothered me.

Psychologically, I don’t think it was that big of a deal. My manager is genuinely kind and did not seem to be upset. Whether it is a seasonal job or not, I try to give 100% at whatever I do and take pride in it. I felt like I failed. Talking to a friend, later that evening, I had to admit that this heavy feeling was being filtered through the perspective of a lot of December uglies right now. I get it… And so when Tuesday found me stiff and achy, with a migraine, I simply had grace for myself and acknowledged that the December uglies were probably affecting me and my fibromyalgia was flaring up. Wednesday became a tough day in this parental journey, coupled with still feeling stiff and achy, with a headache. There is NO COUNT to how many times I told my family yesterday, I really need to feel better because I work tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow is now today, and I am bundled in yoga pants and my Boise State sweatshirt, in front of my fireplace instead of being at work. After a fitful night of sleep, I woke around 6 with a 10-ton weight on my chest, complete sinus pressure and temple/mastoid throbbing to boot. My achyness had become an almost inability to move. My husband commented on how i didn’t seem well and maybe I shouldn’t go to work. I told him that I WAS going, and he offered up coffee as an aid. Coffee and a shower (I had really banked on the shower being my saving grace) did nothing but wear me out the final bit and make me want to die. (yes, I am sure we all know that feeling.) Turned out my temp was 101.2. No wonder the hot shower depleted me…

It’s the worst timing, really. Christmas wise, work wise, travel wise. I’m going to see my mother in her nursing home tomorrow and can’t go if I’m contagious. I’m spending the weekend with Amanda’s family and hate to spread sickness to them. My fibro makes car trips painful, but coupled with whatever achy nonsense I’ve got happening, it seems a cruel twist of holiday fate. Beyond all of that though, (because why stress about the things that haven’t happened yet? I’ll either be deathly ill or I won’t) It is how I was treated upon trying to openly communicate with my employer that seems the worst. That’s the part I can’t get over. I value, above all things, genuine kindness and love for others. I have always gone out of my way to make the lives (or days, or moments) for others, just a little bit brighter. I was treated like a piece of crap, pretty much told that I was selfish and manipulative and talked down to in a way which caught me off guard. I understand the holidays are stressful, management is exhausting, underpaid, overwhelming and that frustrations are high. I also understand that people are people. When one person treats another in such a way, it is dehumanizing and arrogant.

It is 6 hours later and I am still so bothered by it. Isn’t it enough that we simply do the best we can? Thankfully my temp is down, and maybe it is just that I’m sick and it made me feel more sensitive. I don’t know. I do not know this woman outside of work and while her personal opinion of me is of no value to me, professionally it bothers me far more than I would have expected. I find myself feeling crippled regarding ever stepping foot in there again, which I have to do. Tomorrow. Nearly a year of experiences within a company, that I love and felt such happiness from, is now an issue of disgusting conflict and that makes me angry. I am angry at this woman because, who does she think she is? Perhaps it is not fear of conflict that scares me… The past year has been complete and utter hell for me. I have somehow maintained dignity, grace and attempted to stay present and grow forward. I am afraid, within this hurt, appalled and angry place, that I would not be able to hold my tongue and would take out so much on her… And that, would be exactly what she did to me, which didn’t solve anything. Kindness and love… So I will steer clear of her, and that place, other than the 2 visits I have to make. Deep breaths and realizing it was just a seasonal job that would have been over today anyway, and that I don’t have any respect for her (after this morning) and don’t care what she thinks of me.

If I do ever cross paths with her I will simply smile and move on because people are people and it is on each of our consciences the type of people we choose to be…

Togetherness… {A giveaway}

 

Oh Christmas Tree...I’m going to be honest… I have really struggled with writing this post. I wanted to talk about what Christmas means to me and how my faith plays a part in that. This is a timely post and while I deeply love both Christmas and my faith, and for me personally the two are intertwined, I am still on the cusp of what has been an incredibly difficult leg of my life journey. To sit here and tell you how much I adore Christmas, and this is why and this is how my family celebrates, seems so fake and contrived. Sure, we have traditions and we somehow managed to continue those traditions (for the most part) when we were apart last Christmas… But truthfully, I still cringe with so many raw and broken emotions when I think about last Christmas. It is almost like I had loved the season so deeply, and then we had a terrible break up and I feel like I can never look at it the same again…

What I want, this Christmas, is for that feeling to go away and for the magic to be restored. Before the horrible holiday season of 2015, my youngest daughter and I loved cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. We all loved our trips to the city to watch black and white Christmas movies on the big screen. We bought special outfits to dress up in for our annual “family date.” Last year we had tickets to Newsies. Chw and Gen went alone, of course. On my wall of Playbills, that one hangs there screaming at me of all the mistakes I have made, ways I have both wounded and been wounded, and all that was broken when adulthood just got too hard.

For me Christmas means so many things, different things than they did before last December, but possibly that is simply a part of growing up. Whenever life is hard, or hurts, it seems like the holidays accentuate that. Two Decembers ago, we sat in a New Jersey hospital, afraid that someone dear to us would not wake up. Last December I unpacked my life in the last place I wanted to be, going through the motions of what I felt like I was supposed to be doing, while dying more and more, and more on the inside. Having a faith in Jesus gives my heart reason to celebrate Christmas. Having a faith in Jesus is perhaps the only thing that stopped me from not ending my life last Christmas day when I finally woke up to the reality of life crashing down all around me. Today, in this season, I am not one hundred percent clear about how my faith and the holidays fit together. I could write up some plastic piece which sounds right, and is something I probably would have felt 14 months ago. I don’t want to be that person. Last Christmas looms, in my mind, like the boogeyman. I feel overwhelmed with this need to make up for it, to make it better, to be better and to never be there again. Gone is the magic or sentiment of any beautiful Christmas before, as the shadow of last Christmas hides them all. The Hallmark movies were unbearable for me to sit through, and I saw this play out in Gen as well, though we both tried to force it for a while. It only feels like Christmas because of the sparkly tree and gift wrap. Unspokenly, for me, it all feels so terrifying and like I don’t belong.

It is that last little bit, which has navigated me through. It has driven me as I focus on acts of kindness towards others. We’ve sponsored a family, bought gifts for a young girl and I have tried so very hard to spread genuine kindness and cheer to an increasing number of people who want no part of either. Perhaps this bleak and overwhelming fear I feel is closer to what many feel, where Christmas is concerned.

For me Christmas means Togetherness… Together, an honest connection between my faith and my action. Together with friends and family, wherever we’re at, no fakeness needed. Together within myself. Allowing me to be right where I am at, not drowning within the sea of my expectations and personal disappointment. Holding it together, keeping it together, reaching out, connecting and moving through this season together in every possible way the word can be… Together with God, together with loved ones. Slowly glueing my pieces back in place.

In what has been the absolute worst year of my life, I have had a few bright spots. Two of these come in the forms of really lovely films I’ve had the privilege of writing a bit about before. I loved both of these movies a great deal.

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise follows Hillsong United as they share a bit of their journey both as a band, and individually. It is a moving showcase in the dark days we face, coupled with how God can truly do the unexpected in our lives. As I have said here before, Hillsong has played such a vital part in my year and growth. I truly love this movie for its authenticity and relevance.

Greater is the inspiring true story of college football player Brandon Burlsworth. His journey is one that taught me so much about my own faith and how I live my life. There are not enough things I could say…

BOTH films are releasing on Blu-ray/DVD Tuesday December 20th, just in time for Christmas. I am giving away a movie night bundle to a reader, including copies of BOTH films. Simply comment on THIS POST by December 20th, at 12 a.m. with what Christmas means to you, to be entered.

It was an odd day…

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I was walking with a friend when I happened upon a flyer advertising a Halloween town display. Apparently Jack Skellington would be there, and it would transition, as you walked through, from H-town to Christmas town. I LOVE Nightmare Before Christmas and thought this was AMAZING. Tim Burton had apparently designed the set and I was so excited. Tickets to walk through would be $75.

Ouch…

As I was talking with my friend, Nev Schulman approached us and told me about how he was managing the inner city Target through Christmas and that employees of that Target could get tickets for $10. He asked me if I’d like a job there. What?! A job at Target, cheaper tickets, AND Nev would be my boss? (I mean, who doesn’t love Target?! And Nev! Could I meet Max? This was turning out to be the best day ever!)

This is how I became a seasonal Target employee.

The Target was odd. It was in an old, renovated home. The home was two stories and Target’s home decor items and furniture were all displayed in the way that kitzy little shops-in-old-houses display things, which was fun. I felt it was a little confusing though, because, what if I needed toilet paper? Where was that? Or peanut butter? Tampons? I was puzzled.

As it turned out, I was not cut out for the Target life. I messed up, day one. The incident was something random that I am still confused by, so I won’t get into it… Not the point, anyway, Nev had to let me go. Fun fact! Apparently seasonal employees have “send off’s” when they are let go. You are given a Christmas onesie to put on, and you have to walk around the house/store so that employees can stick candy in your onesie. I still got my cheap tickets though, so it was worth it.

And on a side note- what the heck was happening in my psyche to have a dream like this???

Dearest Mr. Kringle,

In my November/December Newsletter I shared a gift list with suggestions for people you may be shopping for this Holiday season. I am a stickler for details and observant, to a fault, so throughout the year I collect ideas for things. It brings me great joy when a subscriber emails me to tell me they purchased one of the items for a loved one. (this has happened about a dozen times since my newsletter went out!) I love helping others and often dream of being a personal gift shopper because, let’s face it, giving gifts is THE BEST!

My daughters were begging me to get a list together for Chw. He’s kind of the worst at making a wishlist. When I pointed this out to him, he said that I hadn’t exactly presented him with one. We aren’t really exchanging gifts this year and my daughters both know what I would like, and wouldn’t, so the idea of making a list myself seemed ridiculous. Then, as if by magic, a long time reader emailed me and asked when my wishlist would be up. Weird right? See, every year, around December 1st, I tend to post a “dream wishlist”. It’s not a big deal, and it’s just for fun. We all have those things we’re dreaming of getting, but know we won’t. Well, apparently she looks forward to this list at the start of the holiday season, which is super cool and pretty funny, to be honest.

At any rate, after careful thought, I’ve decided this place could use a light-hearted/fun post so here it is…

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1.) Drake Tufted Sofa I mean, seriously… is this not the most beautiful sofa? This color… The tufting…
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2) If I haven’t complained on here about my current kitchen, please be amazed. It is my least favorite kitchen in all of the kitchens. This little kitchen set is SO adorable though and whenever I see it, i just grin from ear to ear! My kitchen needs some love.

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3) THIS recipe box. Do I need a new one? No. Not really…  But recipe boxes tend to be among those things that are typically pretty ugly and never really “fit in”, but this one… Well. :)

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4.) This Vase is gorgeous. Among my favorite things, in all the world, are fresh-cut flowers. I love them. I imagine this vase filled with flowers and my domestic little design loving heart soars…

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5.) These food prep boards… I mean, imagine the love these would bring to my kitchen. (remember my woeful kitchen confession above? *sigh*)

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6) This PTR face mask sampler is something I drool over every single time I’m in Ulta. PTR is my FAVORITE “something essential, yet special” skin care line, and with my Mask Monday stuff, this is PERFECT!

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7) I have been on the hunt for this Palette for what feels like ever. I have dreamed of it… Someday. (maybe. Hopefully. If only…)

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8) It is amazing. Enough said… 65-loews-spa-day-massage-or-facial-reg-125-2250482-regular

9) A spa day, complete with a facial, deep tissue massage, pedicure and glass of wine.

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10) a private jet. I miss my kids like crazy and soon Gen won’t be home either. (college) my closest friends live insanely far away and sometimes a “quick weekend” somewhere warm sounds perfect…

So there you go! Of course, I don’t need any of these things. The best parts of Christmas, for me, have nothing to do with what I unwrap. It is all about who I am surrounded by and the joy that lights up their eyes, along with what I can possibly do to make that a reality… What are you “wishing” for?

P.S. A quaint little Inn, in Cape Cod, Ma… :)

One foot in front of the other…

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To my right a thousand little lights twinkle. Armed with my second cup of coffee, this morning, I open up this page and begin. I have not been spending much time with this blog of mine for a hundred different reasons, many based upon heart issues. I am sure someone reading this can understand issues of the heart. The heaviness, the frustrations, the aches, the loss, the less, the more…

Two thousand and sixteen has been my least favorite year and one of tremendous growth. Every time I admit this truth I am reminded of the nights spent in agony, in my bed, from leg pains. On a scattering of those evenings, my mother would be there massaging them to bring me relief. Those were among the good childhood moments, fighting through pain and not alone. While I was mostly a normal child, I did have a disorder which caused the pain to be a bit more than that of a typical childhood growth spurt. Growing hurt just a bit more. Even through the pain, which at times felt unbearable, those times when my mother was there comforting me and validating the pain I was in where among the small list of happier childhood moments. It took me decades later to realize that growth will always hurt, but people do have the ability to make it beautiful, despite the pain.

During those seasons of my life there were hospital visits, hotel stays (the most magical bits of the journey. Even as a small girl, I understood the sheer wonderful that was a hotel room.) painful exams and my mother. It was clear to me what a burden, in every sense of the word, I was to her. And the massage nights, they would likely be the kindest things she ever did for me. It does not matter that for every 25 pain ridden nights, there would be one with her sitting there helping me. Somehow, for as far as I could remember, I knew to be so thankful for that one. (I also knew never to ask her to do it, but that is a different story.)

Throughout my young years, my mother often told me to massage lotion into her feet. I hated doing this. Of the two things she asked me to do the most for, (foot massage and dumping her ashtray) thoughts of both still have me recoiling. As an adult I now live with my own feet which ache more often than not. (sidenote, my mother went on to have some serious foot issues needing multiple surgeries and there are moments when my own pains lead me to fear that is my fate as well,) Despite the tumultuous relationship I have had with my mother, i was flooded with something like peace and relief to know that maybe I had brought her something good. Maybe in those moments, with Vaseline lotion in hand, I brought her the comfort she was mentally/emotional incapable of bringing to me.

A couple of weekends ago I went to visit my mother. I had not seen her for one week shy of a year. I was wary of how it would go. Sitting down for a visit with a severely bi-polar woman who is in the early stages of dementia can be unpredictable. The 120 minutes were filled with ups, downs, confusion (hers), empathy (mine), guilt (also mine) and a precious 10 minutes where I grabbed the bottle of lotion from the table which sits next to her lift bed, and gently rubbed her feet. She argued at first, but in time she relaxed.

My mom has dementia and is in a home 45 minutes from my apartment. This is the closest I have lived to her since I was 12. Between us there is so much and it has been very hard on me, in a complicated and layered way. My dog, who was my closest companion, died. This broke the tiny piece of my heart which was still in tact and, three months later, I still miss her terribly. My marriage was in shambles and felt irreparable and hopeless. While the word felt is truly appropriate here, past tense and all, I won’t lie: it still feels that way sometimes. (I do appreciate that sometimes is a lot more manageable than always.) I went through a lot of hurt and due to a situation, have harbored a lot of flat-out hatred for a few individuals. I have spent seven long months waiting to matter, waiting to be worth something to my husband and waiting to have my heart fought for. It was in my thirty November days of gratitude and reflection that I finally had to admit this will never happen. My husband loves me. He used to love me more, and differently, or at least he pretended really well. Now he loves me this way, and that is simply how it is. I have some semblance of worth to him, though others are worth more. They have done nothing to earn this position, and honestly are really horrible women, but that is not the reflection of my worth that I have allowed it to be. As much as I may imagine a confrontation which leads my husband to proclaim his choice of me and force each of them to face the awfulness of themselves, I do not need this. I no longer harbor hatred towards them. I no longer expect my husband to love me the way I once believed he did, simply I accept that he does not. While I do not like the esteemed position of these women within his heart, this realization does not make me less valuable or worthy. It simply means to my husband I may be, but he is not the end all of my appraisal.

I am the daughter of a woman who had loving parents who worked really hard for her. They were not perfect, but neither was she. She has mental illness which, untreated, really made a mess of her life. She caused immeasurable amounts of pain and for the forty years that I have known her, she has harbored hatred and bitterness to extreme degrees. Despite everything, I will always be her daughter. I may end up with marred and pain riddled feet. I may cry in the occasional sappy Hallmark movie, melt into a puddle whenever I see a puppy and have unrealistic ideals of what my daily productivity levels should be, but beyond the little details I do not want to be like my mother. I do not want to harbor ill will to anyone. I do not want my perception of worth to be based on a man’s perception of my worth. I do not want to spend any amount of time tormenting my children, causing them to go any amount of time terrified to see me.

I will however, take any foot massage offered to me. (that being said, I am probably always going to be way too scarred to ask for it.)