On Marching forth…

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Awhile ago I wrote about battling my own demons regarding what was happening last year, around this time, versus now. I think that maybe I had it all figured out, in my head, that by this point in my life, I would know more. (and let’s be honest, be more…) When I think of a 40 year old wife and mother, there are a series of things that I personally feel shouldn’t be in my plan. (in yours, or anyone else’s, its fine.) How after a 22 year long relationship, I we should not have separated. Sure, life would happen, and there for about a year it would happen BIG, but by that point shouldn’t we have it figured out? Or, how after losing 138 lbs, I shouldn’t gain 20. That doesn’t even make sense. What about how, after so many years, we shouldn’t be living in a tiny apartment crippled by debt.

While it would be true to say that I had other plans, the more accurate reality is that I had other expectations, for me.

Between you and I, I am trying so hard to work through those things and deal with life differently. I don’t want to live with the weight of the feelings that accompany the disappointment in my life and where it’s at. Have I made mistakes? Yes, of course I have. Have things happened which weren’t my fault? Again, of course. At the end of the day, however, it simply doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter.

I feel like my head is a little clearer, and my heart is a little less muddled and stuck in the hauntings of the past year. This is due some to praying about it, some to talking with friends and Chw about it, and due to just realizing truths about myself. This life, until the day I no longer take breath, will be a journey. There will be peaks and there will be valleys. We expect and accept this within the boundaries of the shared stories from the lives and journeys of others, but when it comes to the way we perceive our own life adventures- our expectations are tremendously different.

This month I am journeying forth a little differently. March is always BIG for me, big with the sentiment and big with the pressure. March is my birth month and my birthdays and I have always been without peace. I wanted to share with you how I plan to take control of this journey (in a healthy way) and move forward, navigating through it, to something better…

Me:

  • Do a photo of the day challenge on Instagram.
  • Do a 31 day Scripture writing challenge.
  • Read a fiction book, a memoir and a nonfiction book.
  • Be a better breakfaster
  • REALLY celebrate my birthday, how I want to celebrate it.
  • Choose books or gentle creativity on those days when life (and fibromyalgia) make major functioning too difficult, instead of turning on the tv.
  • continue striving to be intentional in the relationships I hold most dear.
  • Journal. It doesn’t matter how, just that I do.

Home:

  • keep fresh flowers home, when I am home.
  • experiment more with essential oils.
  • keep wholesome and delicious things made so that my family always has something good and desirable to eat.
  • continue the journey of minimizing and striving for less.

Family:

  • celebrate my grandson’s 6th birthday.
  • spend quality time visiting my daughter.
  • celebrate my son’s birthday, though he is far-far away.
  • celebrate my youngest daughter’s crossing into adulthood.
  • make moments momentous, without the aid of stuff.

Create:

  • experiment more with photography.
  • make significant progress on a writing project I am doing.
  • Play around with baking, here and there.
  • Do more with my hands.

Health:

  • I reiterate: be a better breakfaster.
  • try, try, try to do the ACV thing.
  • experiment with DIY tooth polish.
  • Be more active.
  • Lose 10 lbs.
  • Be more intentional and deliberate with Yoga.

Spring is such an encouraging time of year. Already I am feeling motivated by it. What about you? What are you working on or looking forward to, this spring?

Perfecting imperfection…

3ll_nlvpl08-matthew-henryI sit here, laptop flat on the deep grey quilt. To my left there is that one thread, unraveling big. To many, this would mean it is time to shop for a new one, while to me it simply makes my heart soar a little. This quilt makes up a small piece of the larger picture of home. It has wear spots and snags, like all good home things do.

Me too…

To my write sits an unfinished library book balancing a long, cold cup of coffee. My day, before it unfolds, holds hope of laundry, quiet time, a face mask, bottles of water, chapters read and a heavy word count written. So many things scribbled out on my to do list. Drink water. Record food. Take a walk. Wash the towels. Hang up the closet clothes. Wash face, and moisturize. Put dinner in the slow cooker. Address the envelopes. Make some calls. Work on that project. Write a blog post… The list of things tick out, both equal measures of daunt and comfort.

I love lists. They keep me grounded and in line, until they don’t. The don’t, these days, begins to strike about Wednesday. The rest of the week has taken up the bad habit of rebelling against everything good, healthy and necessary. I am watching and listening, careful to try and find the place the days snag.

Do I not have enough grace for myself? Am I driven by lists until I simply cannot drive any longer? It does not seem so, or feel that way, but why else?

What is it I want? Really? At the end of the lists, when the day’s sun is disappearing behind the skyline of that moment, what is my goal? To have a clean home? To feed my family clean, healthy and yet delicious food? To find joy in every experience and make joy when I don’t find it? To be a slave to nothing other than the moment and making the best of it? To be a writer/artist who creates? To further grow and nurture relationships? To read a book every week or two? To lose 50 lbs? Why can’t I do all of these things? They don’t seem too big, they do seem like every other wife and mother gets them done without much effort.

My apartment is thick with the smell of barbacoa in the slow cooker. Today’s organic grocery delivery is put away, nestled into a freshly clean refrigerator. The laundry basket is stacked high with clean and folded clothes, the dryer humming with another load shortly on it’s way to the same. Music softly plays in the back ground and I feel a slight twinge of frustration that I didn’t even manage to open my laptop until 3:30 in the afternoon, which means that not only will I not accomplish much writing today, but that I MUST prioritize and manage my time better. I must… I must. But I don’t know how. How do I do it all? I do I get it done? At what point do I decide the things which are accomplished, (and accomplished well, at that) are insignificant to the contrast of what remains incomplete or left for abandon? How fair is that to myself? I have a clean fridge, food prepped and put away (or cooking), laundry in progress… Once things are done, do they lose their importance?

I’m also, in the back of my mind, packing and preparing for the few days I am going to spend with my older daughter for her spring break. That little voice, in the back of my soul, is saying why? Why try so hard to figure out how when you are just going to be gone and ruin it all anyway?

I do not want my life to be a slave to the daunting list to check off, missing the heart in the moments written there. I do not want to live my life by check marks, missing all that might happen when I am not looking. I ache, simply, to live my life. To live it well, with intention, and still manage to get the necessary responsibilities done.

If nothing else, today, there are successes. I have managed conversations with each of my beautiful daughters, reminding me gently that I am so blessed to be their mother. I have sang along with songs that stir my inner self with so much love and goodness. I have began dinner, lived Monday with open windows and fresh air. I have washed, masked and moisturized my skin to the point of glowing-smooth (and healthy) goodness, (my absolute favorite part of Mondays.) I have prep-work done for a tasty snack for our tv-catching-up evening. My laundry isn’t done, but it is getting there. Mason’s birthday gift isn’t wrapped, but it will be before Friday so I can relax on that one.

So I don’t write today. There’s always tomorrow. If I set my alarm, I can do it. If I clear out and set myself up somewhere inspiring, a place which does not remind me of the undone list and unfinished snags of home that sit all around to call my name and distract me. I can do better, or at least, different. It can have both to-do lists and grace. It can be imperfect.

I can be imperfect…

Grace, even when perspectives don’t make sense…

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I am beginning to believe that I am just going to have to offer myself endless amounts of grace as I  navigate my way through these months ahead. It is so strange to me how I can be one hundred percent present, in a moment and what is happening, and still mentally aware (almost painfully aware) of what life looked like this time last year. This sort of thing began naturally around Thanksgiving, the time we separated, and though my eyes are firmly planted straight ahead, this time last year comes and steals my breath.

Of course, as the W2’s come rolling in, I am reminded that I was working three jobs and still only making min. credit card payments, homeless and had nothing to show for myself. Though the times are happening less and less often, there are moments when I get into my car and I am reminded of what it felt like to try to sleep there, and to only have items that fit in the back, to wear. As struggle through the financial repercussions of an unwise home purchase with broke us bare, coupled with the separation which broke us to the point of utter devastation, there are times when my lungs feel so tight and I wonder if we will ever be out from under this time last year. It is in everything…

It is in tomorrow, as I plan my Valentines Day tradition for Gen, and once again carry out what I’ve done in years past for Chw. This time last year is the giant that hovers above me as I am unable to escape its shadow. I am reminded of how I can no longer look at my daughter and say “I do this for you every year”, because I robbed her of that this time last year. Though my husband does love me and should not be required to prove it, it screams in the quiets of my memory how I poured out my love to him in a letter, last Valentines Day, and my heart for our marriage while his response was only that he did not love me, had never loved me, and I was merely an obligation and mistake. I do not hold these things against him, he was really in a bad place and honestly, the only people he would talk to were her and friends who were manipulative. He’d shut out the majority of his friends because he knew they wouldn’t support his choices, and his choices were happening because he was hurt, resentful, confused and full of fear. It happens, I hold none of it against him, but that doesn’t bear much weight when it comes to the voices deep within me which echo this time last year.

As March nears, I find myself in complete dread for mixed reasons… My beautiful, sweet little girl is turning 18. Not so little anymore… I will be celebrating my 41st birthday, which isn’t so terrible in and of itself. This time last year, however, when I should have been celebrating a milestone birthday, I was instead living the darkest and ugliest parts of my worst nightmare. As a girl who does not have a track record of great birthdays, last year was easily the very worst. Days later is our anniversary… I feel like these months are eternal. While I am so present and grateful and invested in today, and now, I am also devastatingly haunted by those things which I never thought would happen and those things which I never imagined would be said.

These scars in my soul run deep…

There are things we will never agree on too, and those things scare me. Because this time last year could easily be this time next year. Not a day goes by that I do not realize that. I can do every thing in my power to fight for my life and my marriage, but unfortunately I am reminded that my doing that tirelessly for those hellish 6 months did not make a difference. I am only responsible for me, and he is responsible for him. He loves me today, and for this I am so grateful. But, what about tomorrow?

The human body is amazing. I have been in a really low fibroymalgia phase lately. While some of this has been exasperated by the medication fiasco, I also think back to last year. I was balancing three jobs and personal education. I was eating, on average, one time or less, per day. I spent many sleepless nights in the front seat of my car. I was under tremendous emotional stress, and yet the fibro flare ups were nothing like they are today. This makes me feel like a failure. And while there is financial stress now, from our 20015/20016 journey, I have balanced and healthy meals, my own bed to sleep in, and a marriage which feels more and more restored. Why is it now that these flare ups hit, and when they hit they hit HARD?

This time last year I balanced jobs, was generous with what I did not have, was devastatingly alone and broken, I was exhausted but surviving…  Today I am nourished, healing and so haunted by then, and fighting to get out of bed for the discomfort that is now. I don’t get it… But I am giving myself grace until I do.

 

Family Friday, a movie review…

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Race to Win is the story of a flawed man whose sudden passing leaves his family in a desperate situation where they stand to lose everything. It has the quality of your average Hallmark, feel good and everything works out ok movie. For some people, that is a disappointment, but for this girl that’s fairly ok. I love the better Hallmark movies, and though this isn’t one it has that solid family friendly feel.

With Gentry Rhodes (Luke Perry) death, the majority of the pressure to save the family and home falls on his daughter Hannah (Danielle Campbell). Family dynamics, both the functional and dysfunctional ones, come to play. The happy ending comes, as it always does in this type of film, but not in the ways the family expects. There are people out to sabotage, and people reigning in support. I’m not going to pretend that there is anything original or genre shattering here, because there isn’t. What you do get however, from Race to Win (which just received the Dove seal of approval) is a little more honest than other films in its class. When you look past the cliché’ moments, and into the heart of the story you see that it is woven together of raw grief and our human inability to function properly sometimes. It offers the candid perspective that we sometimes wish to sweep under the rug, of the one’s we love having failed us out of selfishness, greed or their own addictions, and loving them anyway. It shows is that we are not made up of our choices and failings, but weak at times and that is ok. This day and age has us, as a society, so consumed with the mistakes of others, and playing victim to that rather than simply trying to carry each others burdens and be our best selves. This film shows that, in times of heart hurts and loss, we share the journey and even though the other parent should be the strong one, they may not be. It shows us that if a child has to rise up and carry the burden for a while, the world will not end and seasons may look differently than the world wants them to look.

Underneath the dialogue, at times breath-taking cinematography, and odd dynamics of the Father’s ghost appearing with advice and information, is a very frank image of a family who makes it through each day imperfectly, and yet they make it through. The heart here is real, and when you add the parts of the film that really just work, it makes for a solid family flick.

Here’s a clip. Look for Race to Win, available on DVD February 14th, and judge for yourself. If you enjoy movies with heart and feel good endings (or Luke Perry, even) It is well worth the watch!

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!