Upon waking…

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I couldn’t quite find the voice to blog much, last week, when I speculated that I was dying. It certainly felt as though I were on my way out of this life, and well, when the blue-foam-vomit made an appearance, I knew death was immanent.

Alas’, it was not to be, and I am pretty happy about that, though between you and me, the happiest part is that I no longer feel like every ounce of the lining within me was shredding and coming to the surface. (Chw joked that it is a good thing we watched the Santa Clarita Diet AFTER those several days and not before. How right he was!)

Since I have been given a second chance at life, (wait, at this point it would be like a 38th chance…) my passion has been renewed.

Unfortunately my energy is still lagging behind a bit, but I have faith that it will catch up eventually!

In the few days leading up to my bout with death, I was trying desperately to accomplish some wonderful things. I distinctly remember being a little proud of a few things I was doing, and surprised that I had the clarity to do them despite my weakening health and energy. The super NOT cool part about this chapter in the story, is that I cannot find ANYTHING I was working on. I live in a shoebox, these things seriously cannot have gone away. I feel like I am going insane. Super, super crazy.

To add to the crazy, last week (post severe reaction to the evil spawn of Satan drug known as Cymbalta) I began referring to our local supermarket as Wegman’s. We do not HAVE Wegman’s. In fact, I have not shopped at a Wegman’s since 2002, when we moved to Michigan from New York. Weird, right?

All in all though, I have my health, my family and a freezer full of smoothie packs after yesterday’s afternoon chopping, prepping and stuffing, so I can’t complain. Today feels like it could be a crash & burn day (credit to my cousin for that phrase… Crash & burn days are the bad Fibromyalgia days where you find yourself exhausted and out of commission) except that somehow I am able to accomplish “one more thing.” (which keeps turning into one more thing) so I’ll take it. And that, my friends, is how you are able to read this ridiculously nonsensical blog post about nothing.

You’re welcome!

P.S. If you know where I put my lemon zester, Robot Valentines, favorite pen, stickers, pet postage stamps, pack of bubble envelopes, clear Buxom lip gloss, wireless headphones or packing tape- I’d be grateful for the heads up!

Be grateful and glad in all things, and when all else fails… rant?

tvA long time ago I truly grasped the lesson & importance of being grateful and glad in all things… Then something got lost, along my journey. I sunk deep into a terrifying depression, which I couldn’t truly understand while drowning in it, but strangely and intricately do now. Within that depression, a great many things changed. I had lost, along the way, the importance of being grateful and glad in all things. Truthfully, I felt like I was barely surviving. My perspective of all things, from my parenting to my marriage, my education to my skills and talents, was all seen through a filter so far from reality. In the end of that chapter, I partook in a very time sensitive decision, going in a direction where I believed I would actually be needed, valued and wanted. The truth, outside of that sludgy despair however is that I was far too emotionally sick to really know what any of that looked like. Depression is a beast… Sometimes it can lay at bay, on the surface, and it feels like you’re out of the sea. That’s the best I can explain it.

I wonder what would have looked different if I’d been able to hold on to my sense of being grateful and glad in all things? In all things would mean in the sea of depression or other illnesses as well. In isolation from the very people you live with and love. In abandonment from relationships which fed your life. In the joy and celebration that comes with great blessings… In all things.

I lost this sense. My sense. And over the past many days I’ve been reminded and validated upon the path of reclaiming it. I am someone who needs relationship with people. This is not a character defect. This is not a deep, emotional flaw. This is how I am designed. I am crafted to thrive on connection with others. Our society promotes surface connections, declaring that true friendship is talks of sex, meeting for drinks and Facebook collections. None of these are friendship. Sure, friends CAN talk about sex, share a drink and be connected on social media, but when one, two or all three of these things make up the bulk of your “support system”, there is no support. We have a need to be entertained in all things, and have had this need for independence shoved down our throats. There is this weird parasite in our thoughts that we mustn’t allow ourselves to be too vulnerable, too needy, too dependent upon someone else. What is wrong with us? And we can go through a season in our lives when we form a real, true and deep connection with someone but that tapeworm of ridiculous garbage will live again and try to destroy it. While I suspect we all have the same need, but different life circumstances have left us scarred and unable to heal it, I at least know for sure that I do have this need. In the core of connecting with others, conversation and interactions I thrive. Without that, in any form of isolation, I wither. I can be grateful and glad in all things… In all times. In all seasons. That is my choice, and one I must make and work to retain. Whether it is times of togetherness or isolation. But the intentional connection thing is something I am going to have to be sure to do, as well. In all things… It is the cure to my depression, the cure to that childhood lie stitched upon my soul that I am unloveable. We were created for community, and within a community I must live…

I was already thinking these things, relearning and newly realizing these things, and at this very place in my journey when my pastor, Sunday, spoke on this very idea. I can’t take credit for it at all, as I am merely recycling other people’s wisdom with my own commentary. One thing he said Sunday which hasn’t left the forefront of my brain since then was that a study conducted in 1984 polled people to see how many close friends they had. The average number among the majority was 3. The same poll was taken within the last year or two and the majority answered 0. ZERO. NONE. The majority of people have no one whom they can trust, confide in, rely on… And the very best part of friendship is also being trusted by someone, listening to someone and knowing you are reliable. What has changed in those 22 years? The internet, the mass web of social media, the rise and growth of video games and our 700 television channels waiting for us. Beyond technology, not much has changed. This is sad to me. There was a time when lunch with friends, long distance phone calls and actually, truly knowing someone, were normal. Now, they are occasional treats. We say we are busy, but we aren’t. We are programmed to be “busy” with tv shows, video games and our cell phone obsessions. I remember paying steep long distance bills and buying phone cards to talk to friends for hours. Now? Now I could go a week without a single conversation and NO ONE PAYS LONG DISTANCE anymore!

This totally turned into a rant, which wasn’t my intention… Be grateful and glad in all things… I am grateful to realize this, and glad to know that this epidemic is easily solvable. It just takes altering our priorities and intentionally connecting with someone. Engage in a conversation, get together over a cup of coffee or dinner and talk. Listen. Love. It’s easier than we think. Maybe not as easy as turning on the tv or gazing at our iPhones, but it is so much more rewarding… We idolize our electronics, but the truth is that they don’t give a damn about is.

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.

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…