gratitude, journey, Misc., self care

Too Too…

 

On Sunday I sat aboard a riverboat, contemplating…

The projected forecast had turned grim and the riverboat had been an unplanned little adventure. It was cold and rainy while I was unfortunately dressed for the 70 degree sunshine which my weather app had predicted. There had been a whirlwind of days leading up to that slow-moving boat trip down the river. Family visits and dinners, physician visits and physical therapy appointments. New medications, a handful of work deadlines, and all of the other life bits of things that layer and weave about within the sometimes crazy.

The quiet moment was unsettlingly nice. Despite the monotonance recording of the boat announcer, I found my busy-speed senses taking in any (and every) thing in double time as the pace life literally slowed around me. I noticed the subtlety between the sweet children and the mischievous ones. I noticed the father and teen-daughter duo, each lost in their phones which confused me a bit. Why be there on that boat, in the rain and misery, at all? Why bother? With each captain’s urging to look left and we might see a deer, or look right for the rare sighting of a speed turtle, it reminded me more and more of those scenes in Jurrassic Park when the caravan look searching for a sighting, only to grow in disappointment. No deer. No speed turtles. About six ducks, the men… Apparently the women were home tending to the nests. Of course they were…

I felt heavy with sadness, really. Maybe it was due to the growing cloud coverage, but maybe it was just my increasing awareness of the disconnect that is everywhere. In the families lost in their own thing, and the couples who travel to do things together, in odd and uncomfortable silence. Every time I leave my home my attention is drawn by people doing life solo, and not in that independent way we claim as a goal. Also I am noticing when interaction happens, it is often unkind.

Several years ago we were in Phoenix for a long weekend. Sitting at a red light, with windows down, enjoying the winter warmth to which we weren’t accustomed, we heard a woman screaming at her husband across the intersection. The light seemed to last forever as she shoved her finger at his face, belittling him and growing so loud that she could have been in our car. It was so sad and I vowed to never be a Phoenix wife. That is how I remember her. I may get upset, but no matter how passionate (or valid) my anger may seem, I stop myself before Phoenix wife. In turn, when Chw is talking about particular friends or men he encounters, he will sometimes point out that their wife is a Phoenix wife. I think it is probably pretty easy to allow ourselves to decline (or escalate, depending on perspective) to that point and here is why…

I began to pick up on dialogue that others had around us, there in the lower level of that boat. Too hot. Too cold. Too crunchy. Too sweet. Too tight. Too slippery. (that one was me, we went up to the second deck and the rain made it a bit of a mess in my all-too-appropriate-flip flops.)

Too. 

Such a negative little word, that too. With it comes much weight, which is ironic considering it’s definition. It is ugly and it is critical. It is implicative. It is often divisive. It is so many, many things, but almost always it is negative. It is not kind. Nothing genuinely life giving is every summed up with the word too. At it’s very nature, when spoken, it can seem competitive. Of course, as with most things, there are exceptions. But while anything is negatively alligned with too, beyond the standard I love you too and I miss you too’s, not many positive things are. My car is too old never had a season of my car is too new. Too old. Too young. Too dark. Too light. Too abbrassive. There is never too kind, too funny, too peaceful, too loving unless it is spoken in false modesty or with a sense of complaining.

Too.

Phoenix wife’s husband was a lot of too’s, and with each mention of the next too, she grew crueler and louder. Too mentality alarms me, suddenly.

I’m breaking up with too for a while. The thing is, I have been mulling it over since the boat ride on Sunday, and growing stronger in my feeling. Maybe one day I’ll try to bring too back, but today we need a break. Whenever my mind or heart resort to too prefaced things, it is a mindset I need to correct. To be a light, we have to be willing to be a light. We have to choose to breathe on that flame and make it brighter, without that breath, it just goes right out. That is what too does, for me. Plus, let’s be honest, too is just plain lazy. Too replaces real words with real descriptions. Too takes the effort and thoughtfulness of intention away and replaces it with a generic and coined response.

I love you. 

I love you too. 

Why? Why not follow it with an embrace? Or with a thank you, I really love and appreciate you. I really love when you/your _________! Isn’t love, at its core, a gift? Who wouldn’t rather hear that, anyway? And maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe you find value in simplicity so too works for you. Awesome. For me, I am seeing so much negativity. When I have worked hard and poured my heart into something and the response is that it is too ______, I whither. My broken bits shift a little, and that isn’t good. When my mind wanders to too, (Michigan is tooDoing that seems too hard… Your voice is too loud) I am choosing to ignore the multitude of good and beautiful around me to hone in on the negative. Really, that is too bad.

When someone shares with me, I do not want it to be too vulnerable. When someone shows me something they’ve made, I do not want my gut reaction be that it is too-something. I want to be honest, but I want my honesty to grow from something genuine and kind. Something that considers them more than it considers me and my opinion. For me, I am seeing that too comes solely from a place of self. It is about me.

When my mind instinctually goes to too, I will try to shift it to something nurturing.

 

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gratitude, journey, Misc., writing

on writing and authenticity…

Something out of nothing.

That is what every day, as of late, has felt like. Mixed signals out of innocent responses, hail storms out of calm. An impomptu meal whipped up from a fridge adorned with scarcity. Something out of nothing. Like me. Like this. I wrote out my heart for years, for myself. I focussed on the numbers and paid attention to who commented on what, where they hailed from and what they’d said. Social media found ways to feed my need for something- but bigger. Once upon a time my heart beat for everything out of nothing, immediately.

I don’t want to go there again, to be that person needing the validation of anyone who wants to summarize my worth or value with an Instagram double tap heart or Facebook thumbs up.

I would like for this little piece of internet real estate to contain something of value, but lets be clear- I want to always be the nothing. I don’t want to crumble if no one leaves a comment and only seven people visit my site. I want to write, because I am a writer.

I want to dream, because I am an artist and a dreamer.

I want to make, produce, believe, become and put myself out there, not for the awe and applause but because it is what I do.

I want for you to read something which grew from {me} nothing, and I want for it so continue to happen. Down the road I want the same nothing to be responsible for books and more than I can comprehend. I want to be the voice which stands within the most imperfectly imprecise body, speaking to a room full of someones. I want my motivation for none of it to be based on the “love” I may receive, because attention is fleeting, but art does live on.

When did being a writer, a photographer or a creator of any kind become so much about the glorification and applause and not about the process?

Today I put the pen to paper for me, for my heart, for my passion. For my breathe…

Out of gratitude, because I have the ability and I am truly thankful for this.

The rest, it’s just noise. When I think about it, it blocks the flow and that is what needs to not happen…

friendship, infertility, journey, marriage, Misc.

Authentically speaking matrimony…

We scrambled eggs and toasted bread, this weekend. There was coffee in the press, aromatically tickling the best inside of us while the ice blew around outside tugging at the less best.

It is so hard to listen to another when we cannot seem to look over the hurdle of hurts and inadequacies we choose to fence ourselves in with. We have all done this, to degrees, and the letting go is overwhelmingly vulnerable but so necessary.

If I were to ever write a book on marriage, this is absolutely the angle I would take. I would title it something akin to Get Over Yourself, and it would probably be poignantly badass and awesome. Lives and marriages would be changed and the world would bloom brighter because the divorce rate would plummet…

All from my book.

Obviously, this isn’t true. None of that would happen, and I would honestly never write about marriage. The truth is that this isn’t because I wouldn’t be qualified as much as because the world around me feels that I am not. I am asking myself quite a bit lately, how much does the world around me determine my path?

My husband and I married very young, with a very unhealthy support system, very loosely around whenever it fit their needs. We were life-broken and hurt kids, walking down the aisle to some promise of a future constructed by a mix of the 90’s church, movies and top 40 love songs. These ideas sold as ideals were all we knew to look toward, and so it was devastating when they let us down.  None of these things prepared us for emergency medical procedures in less than ideal locations, or badly mannered doctors brazenly promising you a healthy baby, while hours later you lay holding the sixteen week lifeless one in your hands while your husband wails and looks toward suicide to balm the horror throbbing from inside of him. Bloody bathroom baby funerals became the most consistent part about our early day marriage and when we looked up or called out, we were almost always left with only each other to look at.

Adultery honestly, with hind sight, kind of makes sense. Nothing within out lives made sense and everything hurt overwhelmingly, so escaping it for something which felt a little nice and was so separate from the worst life was almost a no-brainer. Of course, anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on knows that this doesn’t take the bad away or really make it any better. It simply piles on top.

Divorce follows broken, blistered years of crash-course-adulthood almost always. In our case, had any one element been different- the support system, the miscarriages, the drowning medical debt- everything else may have changed. Had one tiny sign of life been present, the funeral would not have had to happen.

But it did…

And then a rebirth came. It was painful and gut wrenchingly beautiful and organically everything that should come from a shattered marriage moving forward. Living it was unexplainably complex.  Having grown up in the between helped immeasurably, and for that we were grateful. There was no condoning the giving up and not fighting, but we were attempting to redeem that short coming, and beauty abounded. A family miraculously came to be out of seeds of awful beginnings, and that next bit was real life littered hardships, sometimes discouraging but some how always intoxicatingly beautiful.

Gratitude. Always, there was gratitude.

But life is cyclic and shifts happen. The things which should have stayed most important slowly weren’t any longer and the slow-motion spiral stole our marriage’s breath away. Stole my breath away and silenced my heart. I have never felt so terrified, so incapable, so helpless, so worthless. So numb.

The train wreck following the slow motion fall was instantaneous and blinding. The deafening blows left my senses unable to grasp and be for weeks and weeks. When they did, I reached out to the supportive life I’d grown to nurture and found that the majority of them had been more shallowly inclined to love me than they had actually let on- once my life was shattered and bare. That is how it goes, really. Nearly every time. People love to show up when things are bright, and people love to take credit for the place they stand beside you, but when you fall most of them scatter…

Today I am with my husband. We made eggs and toast. We read a little, together, worked a little, together, and spent a cozy day confined inside while the world of never-ending winter froze just beyond our windows. The journey is long and hard and any one who has been married for any amount of extended time will know this. Not everyone tells the truth and so if someone tells you it’s great, just know they are lying to themselves more than to you.

Marriage is hard and it can be dark. It hurts more than any other relationship. When both people do their parts though, and put the other first, it is the most secure, warmest, most full filling and embracingly raw thing our human hearts can comprehend. Often what makes it so hard is that we cannot make the other person do their part or even want to, when they aren’t, which feels devestating. Sometimes they just don’t want to act on love, with us. And that sucks. When we each want to make the effort, it is so beyond anything I can find words for. Today has been a medium of that, while Friday was a not-at-all. Last weekend was a 10 out of 10.

And that is marriage. It is real, and you have to stay on top of it and protect it and work at it and honestly, there can not be time off. It is intensely 24/7, no day is a guarantee and no moment is scripted.

And when you are honest, in the train wreck times, there are people who will hold this in their memory until their very last breath. While they believe they don’t want you to fail, they also can’t get past that time when you could have. The worst part is that maybe they could have extended love and helped, but probably they didn’t, they just “care” so much to hold those moments against you.

My marriage is mine and my husband’s responsibility, but it is ignorant to pretend like no one else can hurt/harm/help it, because that just is not true.

For five months in late 2015/2016, my husband and I were separated and living in different states.  For two months, leading up to the sudden separation, things were really disconnected between us. Over that time there were counselors and others sought because we each said we wanted to have a strong marriage, and every time we were turned away. Within those five months, other people were DEFINITELY a majorly contributing problem. Those five months were two years ago. The sad expressions and gossipy questions looking for dirt never cease. This is why any book, on the topic, would never amount to anything. The social system around me would squash it from blooming. Can you believe she honestly thinks she has anything to say about marriage? Remember that time…

Allow a micro rant here- Stepping back I see this same exact thing happening in thousands of lives around me, in so many ways. Why are we rooting for the failure of others while masking it as concern? When you “well-meaningly” ignore two years of progress and healing to cut me right back to that time- it isn’t loving and it isn’t support. If all you can think to ask is how my marriage is, since the separation, then perhaps you should stop and think about the 24 years of survival and work we’ve put into it instead of the five months we were flat on our faces- and then ask yourself how you could have actually shown kindness both then and now…  And if you are one of those people and are married- shame on you for taking that self righteous path of crushing down.

Rant over…

When I want to look to someone for marriage inspiration and guidance, I look to the person who has been honest about their rollercoaster journey. THIS shows commitment, not the pretty filter image projected out there. When I want fitness/weightloss inspiration, I look to someone who has actually done it, not the naturally permanent size 4 girl with her own youtube channel. the time for authenticity is NOW…

I made eggs and toast, along side my husband. We had a few little irritations. This isn’t because of any other reason than we’re human, we have outside things in each of our lives that interfere with our thoughts and stresses. We were trapped in our house while an ice storm wailed outside. We are people. I love my husband more than any adjective could explain and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him, within my power. My marriage isn’t great, it isn’t fine, it isn’t anything other than REAL. Just like yours…

 

entertainment, food, gifts, gratitude, home, journey, list, marriage, Misc., self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

I had so naively hoped that I could rave about how gloriously beautiful the weather was, now that it’s Spring and all. In reality though, so far Spring is pretty much just like Winter, and let’s face it- many are open for disappointment…

I do enjoy saying that it is Spring though.

It is Spring. Spring!!!

So far, though Spring is on my naughty list, and therefore NOT making this cut, this week, I am cautiously optimistic at it’s potential in weeks to come…

1.) Around November, this woman that some of you may have heard of, (her name is Oprah, just in case you’re one of the few) released a list of her Favorite Things. I have, in all honesty, never found many things in her list to be things I loved (especially where the book club aspect of things fell) but still, curiosity spurred me to check it out. I cannot remember anything on that list, save one thing in particular. While I may have been the last person around to learn what an air fryer was- I knew instantly that I needed this miracle machine. Funny thing about new, well-reviewed products though, (especially when they make Oprah’s list) they are out of stock. For a long, long time. So, we saved our pennies, and waited. And waited. And waited. And then, one week ago today, the heavens parted and I was alerted that Macy’s was having a ONE day sale, and they had ONE in stock. And then, as strange as it may seem, that 40% off little miracle, was tucked away in the back room and no one knew why. (I did! It was meant for me! Happy birthday, to me! Air fried chicken for everyone! (and bacon! And everything! Let’s fry it all!)

2.) While at the miracle sale, at Macy’s, (A store I NEVER shop at, and reminded me of my Dillard’s employee days as soon as I walked through the doors) a display for these little diffusers was sitting by the register. As a part of the one day sale, it was $20. TWENTY dollars! I picked up a few other goodies from the Ellia table, and brought home this amazing little gem. I love it so much! I sleep to sounds of the ocean, and it runs beautifully… Plus, let’s be honest- it’s gorgeous.

3.) Today is the day! Season two of Santa Clarita Diet is here! I am thrilled! We LOVE T.O. & D.B. so much and the combination of them in such a metaphorical way is absolutely genius!

4.) Ok… Southern Sweet tea has saved my life, this week. I don’t want to hear about the sweetener in here being not super Keto friendly. I literally do not care. I drink Coke Zero, which also isn’t keto friendly, and this tea is probably better for me than that… At any rate, I LOVE sweet tea, and this tea is carb and calorie free. So yeah… And it is so incredibly tasty!

5.) I literally stumbled across this song by Needtobreathe this week and I have to say it really hit me right where I was, like an arrow to the pit of me. Thought I’d share. :)

As always, I love hearing what has stirred your soul and made you smile, this week.

Happy Friday!

books, chronic illness, depression, entertainment, family, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, home, journey, list, marriage, Misc., self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

You guys, it’s February! How?

Last week I received an email from one of you lovelies, and I loved it! It’s author was having a bit of a rough season and said:

I really enjoy getting in to the office on friday mornings and finding your post in my inbox. I often find new favorite songs, things I have to purchase as soon as humanly possible, a good chuckle or a reason to tear up. There is something so human about your sharing and transparency. Some days though, like today, I just want to sarcastically list the top five things I really don’t like about this week, in reply. That’s pretty transparently human too, don’t you think?

I DO! We had a nice back & forth exchange, over the weekend. The truth us, sometimes I do slip things that I might be disappointed, or am struggling with, into these Friday-Five posts. Life is not perfect. I do not want to give that Fake-Facebook illusion that my life is picture perfect. There are weeks so overwhelming that I really have to grasp to fill these five slots. While I do have a list of five ready to go, for this week, I could probably come up with a list of forty-five “bad things” almost instantly. Like, do you know what I don’t like? When my husband’s business trips get extended. When it feels like I spend less hours/days with him home than not, and all of the side issues that accompany that, and this particular season of ours. Do you know what I really, REALLY don’t like? When it is dark outside, and I’m walking the dog (close to home) and she stops, alarmed, and then follows something (with her eyes) as though there was actually something there, which there isn’t… Creepy dog. I DO NOT like that. And also, nearly crashing my car into the back of someone. (although I do really like that it was a “nearly” and not an actually.) Adding to the terrible list, cucumbers. Gross.

That is kind of the point, I guess. For most of us, it is super easy to find, list out and dwell on the bad. So I (try to) intentionally focus on a handful of things I love a little (or a lot, sometimes) to share with you guys, whom I also love.

1.) Let’s chat about wish lists for a second. I keep a running wish list for a few reasons, but the two biggest would be that A.) my husband will ask, come birthday and Christmastime, and I ALWAYS come up with nothing, when put on the spot. Also there is B.) the fact that my memory is pretty worthless and sometimes I see really great things that I might just want to buy one day… Even so, while I am known to ask a child what they’d like for Christmas or birthday, I try not to make any occasion super materialistic and consumer focussed. It is a pretty fine line, at those times, but what about the asinine Hallmark holidays? I have always prided myself on being the low maintenance Valentine wife, content with a bouquet of Costco flowers and cheap little date. Or not. That’s how easy I am. (Though between us, my heart always hopes I’ll secretly be surprised by a bouquet of peonies, because they are my absolute favorite. I can say that because Chw doesn’t give two hoots about this blog. I also know myself well enough to know that once I saw the amount spent on such an indulgence, I’d kick both of us and then go back to being just fine with Costco roses…) That being said, there is this book releasing which I absolutely want to beg my husband to buy me, and inscribe it with something heartfelt and lovely.

Who am I kidding? I already showed him this book, about a month ago. It sounds so delicious, doesn’t it?

2.) Speaking of my husband… The guy is a BIG fan of Emergen-C. (So much so that sometimes it almost seems like the Windex thing from My Big Fat Greek Wedding…) I’m not above taking it, if I am actually sick (or feel strongly that I’m getting sick) but I am not a masochist and so I have to mix it with orange juice. (or, best of all is several juices together so that I can pretend it is a mimosa or cocktail.) When we ran out, this month (GASP!!!! The Horror!!!) my husband managed to find the Army supply size at Costco, to purchase. I only half rolled my eyes though, because let’s face it- the guy is hardly ever sick, so he may really be on to something. To my surprise, on the side of the box there was a smoothie recipe.

Mind blown… Why hadn’t I ever thought of that?

This week I made my normal smoothie recipe, (forget theirs, their product already tastes like dehydrated floor cleaner, I don’t care to try their smoothie recipe) and added a packet of Emergen-C. I can honestly say that it was incredibly tasty, and I would do it again! (also, I’m not sick! which, I wasn’t actually feeling sick, but still, I’m not sick and we can pretend that my magic smoothie is why!)

3.) No link here, sorry. While at Costco, over the weekend, stocking up on our seven trillion packets of Emergen-C, I stumbled upon Cauliflower crust pizza, in the freezer section. What really caught my eye was that the toppings were Roasted Vegetable. There used to be these delicious Lean Cuisine personal pizzas that were Roasted Vegetable and i LOVED them. (Think pre-economy tanking, back when Godiva also sold the most perfect ice cream ever, in the freezer section of all supermarkets. Man, those were the days… Can we spend a second in silence, remembering gas that was well under $2 a gallon?) Even though I love cauliflower, I’ve been a little slow to embrace it taking over the world, but the Roasted Vegetable appealed to me and so I brought it home.

This is the best pizza ever.

Seriously.

Is EVERY Cauliflower pizza like magic, in your mouth? Is it just this one? Honestly, I am a little panicky about the whole thing because things I love at Costco have a habit of being temporarily available, and then I never see them again.

4.) I pay a ridiculous amount of money to have a cell phone. Do you remember home phone days? When a phone bill would be around $25, and then long distance calls might bring it to a hundred dollars, on a really bad month… In those days I never would have imagined monthly phone bills of the cell phone variety. As I stated, I pay a ridiculous amount of money to have a cell phone in which I text people and they text me, and I occasionally play Disney emoji. And sometimes I think it is ridiculous that I have this phone, and then an afternoon comes along when one of my oldest, dearest and truest friends and I spend four hours talking. In those four hours, the distance between Michigan and the West Coast shrank a little, and my heart was full. (and now I’m set on actual phone conversations for a good, long while.)

5.) I don’t watch the Grammy’s, they are pretty much not my bag o’ fun. I am sure there isn’t a person around, however, who hasn’t heard about the amazing performance Kesha gave, of her song Praying. Already deeply moved by the song, her performance (as seen absolutely everywhere, all over the internet) moves me to tears. Every. Single. time.

As a survivor of sexual abuse, I identify with every ounce of it. Even with the conflicted feelings I have regarding the #metoo sensation of right now, I feel the message of this anthem (I am totally calling it an anthem!) is EXACTLY the one we need to embrace. Empowerment involves many, many things. It is a layered process of several facets, but being a victim and cloaking one’s self in pity is not among them.

I’m proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come
‘Cause I can make it on my own, oh
And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known
I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain, oh
When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name

 

It is on a somber note that this week’s post is ending, and that’s ok. Sometimes somber can be beautiful too.