Sunday, February 18, 2018

my mom died.

i thought a lot about a way to gently head into this post- i tried a few different, softer introductions that seemed less dramatic, less shocking, but they didn't feel right. maybe because her death is still dramatic and shocking to me. or maybe because gut-wrenching, heart-aching grief has a funny way of stealing away all things that you used to 'normally' do, and replacing them with harsh, blunt acts that seem like the new way to do things.

either way, my mom died.
november 17.
three months ago already.

in a way, it was expected. ovarian cancer is sort of infamous for it's mortality rate. but in another way, it was so very unexpected. my mom was a fighter, had a positive attitude, and wanted to live more than maybe anyone i've ever met. she also just loved living. it was sort of her thing.

expected or not, it's still a piece of reality i cannot seem to wrap my brain around. every day, there's some new way that it finds to slap me in the face. i feel it when i smile at my littlest baby, a daughter, born just five months before she died. i see it when i look at my sister learning how to mother her own baby, another little girl, born a mere 19 days after mom's death. it hits me hard each time i watch my stepdad get into his car to go home, alone. i think of it when i look through my phone and notice i haven't talked or texted with mom in ages. it hits me in every day things, surprising things, like when i read books to my kids, when i hear my daughter laugh, when i see a penny on the ground, when i hear country music, when someone talks about their own mom. when i wake up, when i go to work, when i come home, and when i go to sleep... it always seems to hit me like a brand new reality that i must somehow understand to be my own.

during the day i think of mom: i easily find memories of a healthy, vibrant woman doing life and giving love with her whole heart. memories of her laugh, her long, rambling messages, her silly jokes, her funny dances. i can find those during the day.

at night, i am ravaged by memories of the sickness that overtook her. when darkness comes and i'm awake in bed, i just can't seem to escape the harsh, surreal reality of her last two weeks of life. in a way, i'm sort of grateful for that because it keeps me in check- no questioning this actually did happen; i didn't make any of this up. the reality of her being gone forever is so surreal on a daily, moment-to-moment basis that sometimes reliving the memories of watching her die before our eyes is helpful to justify the aching hole in my heart. nonetheless, though, the pain is still searing hot and relentless.

grief is a funny little monster. it sneaks up and shows up in ways i hate. like (obviously) crying. i used to not really be a crier, at all. then i had all these babies and they messed up my hormones so i cried much easier than before, but still not often. but now... now. now i can cry just thinking about crying. i cry at the mention of a funny story of mom. i cry when i realize i use past tense to talk about her. i cry when i realize she'll never see the new firsts of all my babies- her pride and joy grandbabies. i cry when i start talking, i cry when i close my eyes, i cry when i'm alone and i cry when i'm with people.

i also get very overly emotional and underly (is that a word?) logical a lot lately, which is terrifying. grief seems to have taken a hold of my emotions and stuck me into this really shitty cycle of over-performing when i'm stressed out (which is all of the time, #letsbereal) and then i get upset that i'm so stressed and doing so much, and then i get angry and rage-y about it all and take it out on the people i love so dearly. and then i realize i'm doing that, so i dive into this deep depression for a few days, realizing i'm a horrible, grown-up human who can't even regulate her own damn self.  i sort of wish i could be rageful towards my mom, or God, or cancer, or anything that would make half a lick of sense. rather, grief takes a hold of a normal annoyance or frustration and turns the volume up to, like, 50, and then i can't see or hear or think of anything except that i am mad.

and so many other ways grief shows up. too many to count, really. and yet, i have to keep going. my sisters, my step dad, our family... we all have to keep going and doing life, every day. because life doesn't stop, obviously, but also because that's how she would have done it. actually, that's how she did do it. i can easily say that mom lived her life, right up until the very, very end. and for that, i am proud of her, and so grateful. grateful for that last little lesson she left for us: don't forget to live.

love you mama.

 Meet my mom



Monday, January 16, 2017

battleground


my sister's dog stayed with us the week after christmas. she is used to a morning walk, and the duty fell to me to make sure this tradition continued. now, in case you're wondering, the week after christmas is in late december, and traditionally, in colorado, this week is pretty cold and pretty dark at 6:00am. but, once sweet scout licked my face and got me up, i got going. 

i am so grateful for her stay because i have actually continued to get up each morning, and now the battle of the early morning walk is now not so hard. i first started walking and now am running my large, pregnant body through the cold air and around the park for a brisk morning exercise and clarity of mind.

this morning routine has given me much needed space to engage the other silent, less obvious battles waging in my head: from littler things like my changing body and new found pregnant addiction to every food i can see, to bigger things like the overwhelming depression i have been fighting for almost a year now. each morning on this run i wrestle with my inner life. things like my grandmother losing herself in her alzheimer's disease, my mom's cancer returning, our future baby's health, my marriage, my parenting, my work, my friendships, and myself. this morning time alone with myself (and God), while much needed, is also so very painful for me. i think i'm finally facing so many of the inside things i have been avoiding with the outside busy-ness of life. now the battle isn't getting up, it's just showing up to my own fight and not giving in.

each morning, i see basically the same array of people- most walking their dogs, many ambitious runners, and some just walking themselves. i have started to recognize my early morning compatriots and feel a silent but strong bond with them. my nosy self always wonders what house they tiptoed out of this early, what day they are about to face, what they will be going back to when they are done with this early morning commitment. 

there is one man, in particular, stands out to me the most. he is always walking counterclockwise, and i am running clockwise. he wears (what i remember to be) a stripy, colorful hat, thick gloves and winter clothes. he is an elderly gentleman, and he walks with confidence and wisdom. and each time i pass him, he looks me right in the eye and gives me a solid half grin and an emphatic, solemn thumbs up. 

and each time i meet his eyes and see his arm raise in this silent gesture of support, tears well in my eyes. the small and simple thumbs up makes me feel seen. like, he sees me not just facing a battle but showing up to fight it. it somehow communicates that my fight is not only seen, but is also being won and he knows it. i know this man actually knows nothing of my life, nothing of the heartaches and tears and joys and loves in my life; and i am sure he encourages everyone that passes by him. but the solidarity we have in our cold morning walk, together with his knowing eyes and raised thumb tell me it doesn't matter how many people he sees, because he sees me and he is cheering me on.

so now, when i feel a little slower to get out of bed, or when i try to talk myself out of the necessity of this time alone, moving my body to the rhythm of my own thoughts, i think of lacing up my shoes for one more battle: to prove to myself that me and my battles matter, and that someone else sees that. so i will keep running. 

(or walking. because let's be real:  pregnant running is like, so hard).



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

shopping with raccoons.

one time i remember when the majority of my blog was about the funny things that happened in my life. i used to be able to find inspiration for post after post about the silly, trying events of the day and could gain the 'laugh about it later' perspective just by looking at my life through the lens of this blog.

since then, life has gotten more serious.
or, has it? maybe my ability to look at life through that lighthearted lens has just sort of atrophied a bit. but because i liked that ability, and it made me happy,  i want it back. so i think i'm going to practice trying to find the humor in every day things and relishing in them back here. one such instance happened the other day...

so mondays i normally work a full day, morning to evening, but with my mom being my childcare provider that day and her cancer diagnosis over the last year, things have shifted a little. so now mondays are a little less work busy, and more crazy busy trying to put together a half kid day/half work day. this monday was no exception.

and of course, this monday i decided to extra complicate by being super mom and hitting the grocery store AND then going to work. to those of you without little people in your life, that might not sound hard. even as i type it, it doesn't sound as defeating as it always turns out to be. sometimes i forget that wrangling two small people in a grocery cart that i am continually throwing perishable and delicate objects into while pushing down brightly lit and colorful aisles is a task. but let's not be fooled, people: grocery shopping with two under three is a miracle and you should applaud every single mom with kids you see in a store.

so this extra complicated monday, i decided to up the ante by taking us the extra three minute drive to the FANCY grocery store down the street. see, our neighborhood grocery is fine, really. but let's be real: it's ghetto. like, so ghetto that i get coupons for items at the store they don't even carry because they keep it so small and basic. and most days i like it that way because i KNOW that store. like know it so well i don't need a list, i can just meander down the aisles with my eyes closed and pick out our basic necessities without exercising a brain cell (an important ability when you're shopping with aforementioned maniac munchkins).

but today, i decided the big fancy store i don't know my way around was a better choice. the store with an epic produce section, a built in liquor store, a lobster tank, and far more fancy kosher aisles than i can count was my choice for the day. and because i knew it would be a challenge, i decided to leave my wallet at home and just bring my credit card with me. i also decided it would be a quick jaunt because i knew i had to be at work, so i let the kids stay in their matching raccoon footie pjs' to "make it more fun" (aka i didn't want to deal with shoes). so i stuck my card in my back pocket , wrestled my kiddos into their car seats, and drove away to the shiny, pretty new store with my hopes and dreams and dignity still in tact.

about 45 minutes later, we are limping our way into the checkout line to finish up the task at hand. i've got a cart full of two rabid raccoons eating raisins straight out of the box we haven't bought yet, a smooshed loaf of bread, two dented cereal boxes, and 87 gallons of whole milk because... boys. i am feeling triumphant and ready to win the day's challenge, when i put my hands into my pocket and pull out... nothing. no credit card. my phone and keys are the only thing i can find anywhere near me. this is where i had my first heart attack of the day.

quickly i back out of the line before they start checking me out. i frantically run to one end of the store, eyes glued to the ground looking for my (of course) CLEAR american express card. i begin whipping up and down every single aisle in the store with the crazed look of a mom about to lose her shit. i find nothing.

at the last aisle i see a store manager. i frantically explain, trying to stay calm but failing miserably. nice, sweet steven gives me a weary eye but takes me to the customer service desk: no card. he asks all the cashiers: no card. i ask him if i can leave my cart full of carefully, hand-picked groceries here to go check my car. he nods and disappears (eagerly, i might add).

i scoop up my antsy little kids with messy raisin faces, and run to the car. except we couldn't run because an enormous fire truck was parked out side and my fireman-crazed son had to touch every light and wheel on the stupid truck.

so, after that we run to the car, as fast a mom with a baby on her hip and holding the hand of a three year old with no shoes can run. no luck: the card is not in my car. i gather my shattered dignity and two dollars in quarters to pay for the raisins we ate in case they shun me from the fancy store forever.

we run back to the store. find steven. beg him to let my cart stay there for another 15 minutes while i run home to get my wallet.

run back to the car.
get in the car. buckle raccoons in.
race home.
grab wallet.
race back.
run back in.

my cart is missing.
steven is missing.
my heart attacks are coming at regular intervals at this point because guess what? i have to leave for work in less than two hours and i'm not home, not dressed, not made up, my kids are in pjs and their lunches aren't made and i haven't even bought the groceries i still need to unpack at home.

i find my cart.
i get in line. in front of all the firemen that had their stupid truck on display. i send them the evil eye with my mind but try to flirt with them with my actual eyes because... firemen.

i breathe a sigh of relief as the checker begins and think that my hell may be over soon.

it's not over though.

feral raccoon child #1 races away to the mechanical horse. i let him go- he's in eye sight so he can't be in too much danger, right? feral child #2 is in the cart but trying to get out. i quickly notice no one is bagging my groceries so i begin stuffing anything and everything i can see into the first bag i can get my hands on. out go the rules of 'meat in plastic' and 'cold case items together'. this has become my own personal, chaotic, frantic warzone as i am trying to bag with one hand and keep my child in the cart with the other.

the firemen are laughing. i'm nervously laughing back. are they laughing at me? with me? i am not sure at this point but i want to look cool and calm, even though my insides are churning with anxiety.

finally the groceries are in, my child seems contained in the cart and the other is contentedly sitting on a horse, as still as statue. i breathe just a little and enter my credit card PIN.

wrong pin. credit card rejected. do over.

i'm slowly sinking into myself, willing the credit card machine to hurry the f up so i can just be out of the limelight and get on with my day. because let's be real: at 11:15am, a frantic mom flirting with firemen while toting kids still in their pj's and no shoes on is no longer cute, it's desperate and sort of like a car wreck you can't stop looking at even when you should move on.

just then baby raccoon in the cart climbs half way out and begins to fall. fireman #1  rescues said baby raccoon. fireman #2  shouts 'raccoons on the loose!'  as my older raccoon child shouts at me from the horse. and they all laugh.at me- no doubt about it this time. and i'm mortified, convinced they are going to follow me home and arrest me for child endangerment at worst, and at best lecture me on small child safety.

and then, it's over. sigh of relief. there's nothing left to do but retreat to the safe haven of my car. the tears come to my eyes as i finally gather up my littles, slowly maneuvering my way out of the store with one hand on the cart, one baby on my hip, and the other riding shotgun on the outside of the cart. because guess what the crazy thing is? no one that witnessed this whole debacle knew what i knew: i'm pregnant right now and it means, without a doubt, this is only going to get crazier. 

God help me.

and please laugh with me.

and ps: for those that are wondering, i actually unpacked my groceries, packed lunches, dressed my kids, kept the house clean, left semi-on time, dropped off the kids, and made it on time to work, dressed and made up like a professional. that was my super accomplishment of the day.





Thursday, November 3, 2016

beauty from the broken

the struggle is real. 

have you ever felt broken? like truly, utterly broken? i have. sometimes do, actually, right now. and sometimes it's a challenge to show up to life when you feel broken from the inside out and you aren't quite sure how to trust yourself. 

the first time i remember feeling broken was in my early twenties, when i was struggling with a deep depression, existential crisis, and addictive behaviors. i spent a good almost two years trying to 'fix' that broken, and pull all my pieces back together. i remember it being one of the most painful but freeing times in my whole life. i wouldn't revisit that experience again (like, ever), but i look back on it fondly with the knowledge that who i am now is absolutely dependent on that person i became back then. i remember it often, when i meet clients that struggle with something similar or when i look down at my foot at see the small but mighty tattoo i got to commemorate coming out of that brokenness.

and now, about ten years or so later, i think i've returned to another pivotal, broken period of life. it's not as tragic or dramatic as that one was, and i don't feel as untethered as i did back then, but if i'm honest, i feel pretty broken. it's been a rough year; lots of events have challenged my steadfastness. while i think i managed them in the moment, the events have finally seemed to fizzle out and i am just now finally starting to take stock of myself and realizing i am feeling less than whole. 

part of my less than wholeness is in my mind. actually, almost all of it. my mind is my worst enemy and i just haven't figured out how to beat it. while this year has been oh so hard, the hardest part was actually just right between my ears: the constant struggle with depression, irritability, mood swings; the various doctor appointments to get hormone levels and genetic predispositions checked; the medications and supplements; the litany of inventories and questionnaires asking me to rate my moods and behaviors; reviewing family history and revealing vulnerable thoughts and feelings to new professionals; the mood charting, the exercise and diet regimes; the constant fighting with my loved ones and not knowing if it's because i'm actually unhappy or just actually plain crazy... all of this in hope that something will click and i will start to feel like myself, whoever that is, once again. 

i can't say that i am there yet. i still feel broken and unlike myself most days. but i have found some things that work, and some that don't. i have begun practicing more mindfulness and living in the moment. and i am concentrating lots of time and energy on God and renewing my commitment and life for Him. trying to define my self worth in who He says i am, rather than who my crazy brain or my current mood of the day says i am. 

i don't think i'll ever really figure it all out exactly, but i am hoping that eventually i will figure out more things that make day to day more manageable, as well as come to a peace and truth about who i am on the inside and out. i know that i am surrounded by people who love me, and most importantly, i am loved and delighted in by the God who made me. so while i keep trying to fit the broken pieces back into some semblance of a picture, i am going to hold on to that. 

and this new tattoo i just got finished that i think is a great reminder:

i don't normally like to explain my tattoos to most people because i like keeping the meaning  personal, but this one is very symbolic to me and feels like it needs a little story:
the anchor symbolizes my anchoring relationship to God. he is the one true thing i can wrap my world around. 
the tuberose flowers are a symbol of my husband. they have taken on a special meaning between the two of us. 
the two little hearts are my babies. 
the sparrows are my "spirit animal", if you will. the Lord has spoken powerfully to me through sparrow imagery throughout my journey with Him. i think there's some sort of word that encompasses this idea better, but you get the point. 




Monday, July 25, 2016

wine vs vulnerability


it's tough to write when you have so little to say, but it's almost tougher to write when you have so much to say. in all honesty, i have been mulling over exactly what i wanted to write, because there seems to be so much. but sometimes i struggle with what is good to share and what is sacred and should be kept private (ask husband, he's always reminding me about my filter). but i need to write because it's my therapy. so forewarning this post is long. and rambling. and most likely won't wrap up with a tidy little bow.

i also feel the need to share at least some iteration of what's going on because one of the main reasons i write is to look at and truly embrace my real self. to really take a risk and put my vulnerabilities out there for myself and others to get to know. but guess what? that's much easier when the most vulnerable thing you have to say is that life is hard and you're having a tough time accepting it. unfortunately, my vulnerabilities seem a little more fragile these days. 

on the surface, the story feeding into my current struggle is relatively cliche, somewhat even of the 'garden variety' young adult angst, if you will: girl grows up questioning her worth and self-esteem; goes away to college and becomes promiscuous, drunk and super skinny (ie my alcoholic, slutty and eating disordered self arrives on the scene); goes to rehab, finds God, gets sober, starts eating, and life turns around. said girl goes to school to forge a career giving back to others the way others gave to her, she finds a sweet dude to marry, they have two adorable kiddos together, and life continues forever and ever, amen, happy as can be. the end! thanks for reading! 

except not really. 

my struggle with my eating disorder led into a super dysfunctional relationship with alcohol, and by some people's definition, i was an alcoholic. i chose to stay sober for almost 8 years during my 20's, but after i got married, i decided that i would try to drink again, and guess what? i got knocked up. (that's a real life joke, guys. you can laugh!). two pregnancies and almost four years later, i was still managing my life + alcohol relatively well. 

but then it got complicated. because this january, life basically began to fell apart. my mom was diagnosed with a super scary cancer; my husband's health deteriorated into an unknown hell-hole we have spent buckets of money and time trying to solve, and i was knee-deep in the middle of my youngest baby's super challenging infant-hood. not only all that, but life kept changing from week to week and staying busy and my other son morphed into some weird, bipolar, crazy lunatic two year old i didn't know, and i kept working and raising kids, and money kept getting tight, and we had to fire the nanny and.... everything. all the things!!

and, i started drinking a lot, and i started telling myself it was ok. i was starting to find lots of old drinking behaviors coming up. and i was around people that drank a lot that didn't have complicated relationships with alcohol. and i was surrounded by a mommy culture that's all about using coffee and wine to get through your day. but i was drinking after the kids went to bed and i was functioning every single day, up at the crack of dawn, still working out and eating healthy and managing life. 

anyway. this is not about my love affair with alcohol (fooled ya!). it's really about depression. sadness. and vulnerability.

the reality is that i was becoming extremely depressed, but i didn't realize it (which, btw, is tough to admit when you're a freakin' therapist). i began taking an antidepressant in the spring time to help take the edge of all that i was feeling. on any given day i would have told you i was just a bit stressed and life was tough, but if i was honest with myself, i can see now that i was falling deeper and deeper into this lonely little hole of self hatred and loathing and sadness and hopelessness. doesn't that sound just fun?

life seemed so much more pointless. even little things that used to bring me joy lost a little of their luster and i noticed i had a very short fuse and a very long recovery time from my explosions. husband and i started fighting a lot more. i just couldn't seem to catch a break of peace, the quick recoup i thought would fix it all. and of course, because of that, alcohol was a great remedy. a lovely soothing comfort each night to lull my brain to sleep and quiet me and my noise. (ironically, of course, alcohol is a depressant so while it was a nice quick fix for the moment, it just. kept. piling. up.)

t things came to an (inevitable) head two weeks ago, and hubby and i have been having some looooooooong, emotional, craptastic, vulnerable and much needed conversations this week. in reality, it's been hell. i have not felt this raw, this beat-up, this emotionally hungover since i was in rehab those long, long years ago. it's not pretty. 

it's not pretty and it's so hard. sharing all this stuff with someone. talking it out and being real, raw, and emotionally exposed.  i so, so desperately want to fix things and make them back to 'normal'. to shut off my feelings, to go back to the way things were, or to fast forward to the way they are going to be. i want to just stop beating myself up and having nasty, scary thoughts inside my head all day. i want to erase all the yucky things i've shared with my husband and pretend they aren't real- JK hubby! i want to back take all the mean, horrible things i've said to him and lock those words and actions away in a safe that has no key.

but it doesn't work that way, vulnerability. once it's out there, it's out there- no backsies. and the funny thing, is that it a turns out it's a decent remedy for depression. i mean, let's be real: it's a sucky remedy (wine feels SO much better  and easier than having someone point out your character defects and asking you to fix them!) but it's a real remedy. 

and with vulnerability comes intimacy. the reality of being known. and while that is scary beyond belief (at least to me), it also brings some safety. reassurance. validation. when i can't believe in myself, when the thoughts or beliefs in my head get too much for me to handle, i am pretty sure i can share at least parts of that with someone, and the burden of carrying that all inside is lifted a little. 

now the reality is, that's easier said than done. my MO is to run away and shut down- i don't normally feel something uncomfortable or scary and run closer TO it.. so i have a lot of uphill battles coming my way. and a lot of growing to do here. and still a lot of zoloft on my side.  i can say, though, that after trying out vulnerability instead of wine the last two weeks, i have felt much more pain (i still hate emotions!), but i have felt so much more encouraged. i have felt real.

it's going to be a long(ish) fight. depression doesn't just go away on it's own with one night or one week of 'come to jesus' vulnerability. it takes time and patience and work. it takes days of doing things you don't want to do and doing them because you know they work in the long run. it takes self care and self love and self GRACE and self FORGIVENESS. it takes people around you to guide you with care and gentleness and love. and in my experience, it takes understanding that i am God's work, His creation, and i am a work in progress. i am not, nor will i ever be, perfect. but if i draw near to my Creator, and i draw near to the safe, loving people around me, i can be real and loved and full of grace and mercy even when i feel like i don't deserve it. so that's what i am going to try to do. at least today.

for anyone that is struggling with depression, i want you to hear that you're not alone. and it's real. and hard. most people may tell you to shake it off, snap out of it, get over it. but you can't always- it's not that easy (wouldn't you have done that already if it was?!). depression can be scary. it can be discouraging. but it doesn't have to be the only way to live. if you struggle, please get help: reach out towards friends, a therapist, antidepressants, online or real-life support groups... there are options! we don't get to choose depression as our enemy, but we can chose if we want to fight against it. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

margin

anyone that is in the christian realm and has been to church for any amount of time has probably heard the word 'margin'. it's a cool, hip churchy way to say 'hey, take a load off!' unfortunately, i believe just like any other consistently used church word, the meaning slowly wears off and we begin to hear it with jaded, worn ears and nod in agreement without any thought.

at least that's what i do.

margin.

for those of you that aren't as familiar with the term, or those that may need a refresher, margin is basically the space between- much like the margins in your word doc, or (for you old school peeps like me), the extra wide space on the left side of your college-ruled note paper (yes, once upon a time people took notes on paper with pencils. can you believe it? of course, i'm not that old to remember that, i've just heard the myths)

margin. 

an intentional building of space and time in between your life things.
a scheduled or blocked off time to do 'nothing'.

margin. 

if you're anything like me, you're basically having a panic attack by now just reading the description of margin and considering people do this intentionally. um, what? that is SO inefficient and such a waste of time! the type a and go-go-go part of my personality cannot fathom the idea of this concept at all. and while i know it's actually biblical (the unhip, uncool churchy way of describing it is 'sabbath'), i still can't wrap my head around the actual PURPOSE of it all. and if we're super honest, i think i'm way too good for a rest. i've got things to do, such important things, like run a household and raise boys and clean sheets and make dinner and pick up spilled toys for the 3487th time today and run errands and cut up watermelon and apply sunscreen and write notes for work and email my accountant and.. i mean, guys, SERIOUS things. who has time or NEEDS a sabbath? if i were to take a break, it would be silly. right?

margin. 

in true 'me' form, i decided that raising two young men under the age of 3, having a job three long days a week, running a home, caretaking a husband, training for a new counseling modality, keeping my social calendar, and working out and getting sleep wasn't enough, so i decided to paint my cabinets. for any of those that think that's a simple paint job, let me 'paint' the picture (haha, get it? i'm so punny. i crack myself up). painting cabinets entails all of the following: labeling each cabinet door and corresponding hardware; cleaning each and every square millimeter with a degreaser; taking off all doors and drawer faces and keeping them labeled and somewhat organized; caulking and wood-filling, then sanding each millimeter of surface; washing each millimeter of surface; priming each millimeter of surface with an oil-based primer; sanding and cleaning said surfaces; finding fancy, expensive paint from a specialty store; painting first coat on each aforementioned surface, sanding and cleaning each freakin' surface again; painting the last coat FINALLY; letting everything dry and cure (5-7 days), and then reassembling your whole life again, one labeled hinge and screw at a time. this does NOT account for any time and energy needed to re-arrange your cabinets and their belongings to maintain whatever 'babyproofing' system you had in place; nor does it account for any cleaning and shelf-paper lining that may need to occur once your face to face with each nasty-ass surface inSIDE of your cabinets not once but like, 56 times.

so, like i said, easy peasy. right?

margin. 

during one night of this project, i listened to some sermons (yes' some'. it's not like you have this project in front of you and listen to a 20 minute talk and say 'whew. that was a lot of work!'), and they were about building in time and intentional rest and margin with God. it wasn't like i hadn't heard any of it before, but it was good to hear again. because i am straight up, plain ol' BAD at margin.

the thing that struck me was considering that margin is actually part of God's master plan- he commanded it, actually took rest himself, and set up the rhythm of the world to follow this pattern of working and resting- and how selfish and prideful i was being in acting like i didn't need what God had planned for me.

it's easy as pie to say that i don't need rest. i feel better about myself (read: my insecurities and fear of incompetency is satiated when i am packed to the gills with to-dos), and i am good at multi-tasking and doing a ton of projects. sometimes i even amaze myself in a day with all that i can do.

that in itself isn't inherently bad. where that gets dangerous for me is when i want other people to notice how much i work. how awesome i am for not needing a break. when i want sympathy or empathy or people to be on my side because how HARD i work, how OFTEN i work, how much i have GOING ON and can manage to stay on top of it. in short, when my worth comes from foregoing my margin, and ultimately God's plan for my life, that's when it gets sort of dangerous.

and guess what? that's silly. that's me looking to others to fulfill me, to validate me, to define my worth and purpose. it's blatantly looking God in the face and saying, 'i don't need you or your stinkin' plan. i have my own! i'm gonna look tired and awesome and people will praise me, so i actually won't need you to feel good. i'll just work so, so hard for approval, ignore your grace, and feel like i'm never quite there yet. that's way better.'

margin. 

margin is a time that you set aside to spend with God, sure. but it's also time to just stop. to stop conforming to the world and it's now-ridiculous norms, and to just be still. to say, 'yep. i have crap to do. tons! but guess what? so does everyone. and God commanded me to sit. so i'm gonna rest and i'll pick the crap back up later and in the mean time, it will all be ok'.

margin.

guys, it's a form of worship!!

and if we're honest, it can be super enjoyable worship. like today, for example: instead of staying home to work on this completely overwhelming project, i met some family for a lake swim. it was awesome. and tonight- i 'should' totally be working on those stupid oak-not-white-colored cabinets but guess what? i am so stinkin' tired from all the work i've been doing and all the kid raising and lunch making and fun-having i've done, i'm sitting on my patio with a drink in hand, writing a blog. it's glorious.

and also so hard! i want to work. i feel burdened to work. i feel lazy to not! but guess what?

margin. 

the cabinets will get done. in the long run i'm only postponing by a few days, so it's not like i'll really regret the one night i could have spent doing it. and i'm refreshing, refueling and checking in with myself by taking time to listen to what i need (rest) instead of what i should be doing (working). i sort of hate taking margin when i stop and think about what there is to do (cabinets, laundry, mopping, showering, all of it!) but i also know that if i concentrate on the moment of margin and rest, i feel good. rested. like i'm where i'm supposed to be.

i hope you can find some of your own rest. and in that, connection. peace. time with your connecting spiritual ju-ju or God or whatever. you won't regret it. i promise.

and, if it's too hard to fathom, try our tried and true recipe: dance parties. seriously one of the best stress relieving, fun activities we do. it's hard to not love a dance party. i record the ones with my kids sometimes, but honestly, my favorite ones are the ones i do when i'm alone or with husband and i'm being silly and myself. in other words: you don't need kids to dance. 

margin. 



open cabinets and drawers....

this gives me SUCH anxiety. does it you?

door and drawer factory. on a good day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

sunshine in my pocket

i just finished a 20 hour training weekend for work. and besides time consuming, intense, and full of lukewarm hotel coffee and awkward connections with strangers you're spending three full days with, it was also (and mostly) AWESOME.

here's the thing: i am a nerd at heart. like, total dork. like, come home and make my own manual and short cuts for the manual i just got, dork. geeking out over color coded post-it tabs and making handouts, dork. talking non-stop to strangers and loved ones alike about every single thing i learned, dork. i am a nerd at heart for sure. especially for something i think is awesome and useful and cutting edge and makes me more competent and all that jazz.

and this was all that, plus a bag of chips! but this post is not really about that....

in the training, we learned about installing what they call 'a calm/safe place' with your client. not an original therapy concept, at all, but we spent some time talking about how to do it and then actually doing it in practicum hours. the gist of it (if you couldn't guess by the title), is to create a calm and safe place in your mind- somewhere you have been or can visualize, and bring it alive with all your senses and make it real.

and because i got to be clinician and client this weekend, i had to create my own calm and safe place. for the sake of the exercise, i just went with my gut idea- the beach in hawaii- and used that. but because i am such a cognitive realist (ie cynic at heart),  the exercise made me think all weekend long of what my REAL calm, safe places, in my everyday life would and could be. places or instances where i can just be me, no strings attached, no pressure, no shame or vulnerability, nothing. just me.

yesterday as i was driving to my office on the highway, after dropping the boys off, i was listening to the radio and a FANTASTIC song came on. you know, the kind where you feel like it just dials straight into your soul and hits every mood your feeling and it's so catchy you can't help but car dance the s#!t out of it and you're singing at the top of your lungs even when you don't know the words and you just don't care who is watching? yeah, that song.

so it came on- and the traffic was light- and i was on time- and i was going to work after being all jazzed and excited about my job over the weekend- and the sun was shining- and my boys were safe- and my husband was at work- and all was just right with the world, for that moment.

and it dawned on me: THIS is a real happy, calm, safe place.

yes, the hawaiian beach is AHHHHH-mazing, and i would go there every day all day if life allowed- who wouldn't? but in real life, i want a place or an experience that i can re-create and LIVE, not just in my head but with my heart and soul and body. this is a place i can recreate almost any day of the week with little effort, money or notice. it doesn't always have to be upbeat- sometimes crying my heart out is just what i need, or being sad and morose is what my soul feels- but i can get in my car by myself, drive a little down the road to the open highway, and blast that song as high as my speakers can go and just lose myself there.

can you feel it? can you hear it? can you do it?

while i believe creating a visualized safe, calm place is amazing and useful, especially in therapy, i think it's so important we have something we can create in vivo, in real life, that we can actually experience here and there. the beach is great, really, but it's just not close to my home. like, at all. i can't just go there and get that actual feeling. and while my memory of it is good, and i even have pictures, i sometimes need to have an actual experience of being refreshed, rejuvenated, and set FREE.

do you have a safe, happy place in your real life? i dare you to find one. you'll love it.

(and maybe your loved ones will too, because i came home and played my happy song for husband and did an AMAZING, all-out super dance for him while i sang out loud. i mean, he basically was treated to a live, justin timberlake music video, that lucky guy. i am sure that was his happy place.)

(or maybe not).




*for those of you that think a fun song would be up your alley, my suggestions are as follows, in my favorite order: 
(PS: NO NO NO judging my musical taste here, people. these are upbeat, feel good songs, not necessarily mature and artistic. give me a break, i'm a mom now. i don't have time to branch out).

Justin Timberlake, Can't Stop the Feeling
Taylor Swift, Shake it Off
Jason Derulo, Want to Want Me and Get Ugly
New Politics, Harlem