Sunday, August 13, 2017

Because I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone it, People Like Me!

There was once a skit on Saturday Night Live where Stuart Smalley went on and did his daily affirmations: Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and Doggone it, People like me!  It seemed so silly at the time and everyone would laugh. I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately. 

Life seems so hard sometimes.  It feels overwhelming...as if we work and we try and nothing we do is ever good enough.  We run ourselves ragged and yet nothing gets done. We save and we budget and there isn't enough.  You tell your kids how magnificent they are from birth, they are beautiful and smart, and kind and loving and loved and they don't believe you.  One kid tells them something different and all your work is for naught.  You follow a recipe and try to make healthy meals for your family and they don't turn out.  You work a program to lose weight and you put ten pounds on as soon as the program is over. You look for jobs and you don't qualify for any of the jobs that sound challenging and fun.  (Interesting how many things you don't qualify for having spent your life dedicated to your children) Your kids don't think you are as smart as dad and you don't think so either.  You're quirky and sarcastic and a people pleaser and people don't get your humor.  You go on Facebook and everyone has their crap together.  They can do it all.  You go on Pinterest and everyone is a professional decorator and gardener and chef and you cannot possibly do all of it...or even some of it.

Somewhere along the way we get lost.  I get lost.  Maybe it is just me...it could just be me.  I moved and I live in paradise.  I have everything I ever wanted.  I have the husband, the children, the house with the palm trees and I've been lost. Sinking, trying to keep my head above the water, just treading water because my feet can't touch the bottom and I can't get my footing. I've been so busy trying to make everyone happy that I've forgotten how to be happy myself. I'm exhausted...all. the. time. 

I haven't even been reading books. Me!  Not reading books.  I buy books.  I bring books home.  I read a couple of chapters and put it down or maybe I'll read half of it, then put it down not to be looked at again.  There was once a time when I would sit down with a book and a cup of coffee (that doesn't actually taste like coffee) or tea and read.  I could read for hours.  Laundry would pile up, dinner would need fixed, the kids could fight and I didn't care.  I was in a book and I was filling my tank.
I haven't even been writing.  Obviously...I haven't been writing because if you are one who follows this blog you know how far and few between the posts are. 

There was a time I didn't concern myself with what people would think of my posts. I wrote for me and no one else.  Everyone else was just bonus.  The actual writing was cathartic for me...as if by doing so it healed the broken vestiges of my heart.  Writing stories about my kids reminded me of my blessings. Just typing out what I was figuring out in life helped it to sink in somehow.  If what I wrote for me helped someone else that was God's business and not mine. Somewhere along the way I tried to take that from God and worry about that myself.  I started concerning myself with who was reading and what they thought about it.  Do I look stupid?  I shouldn't be writing.  I have no formal training....who am I anyway?  I should leave this to professionals.  Who do I think I am anyway, Beth Moore?  I love Beth Moore, but I cannot BE Beth Moore, nor do I want to.  I can't go talk in front of people.  I'm more of a Lizzy McGuire....RUN!!!!! kind of girl.  My mind would race and wouldn't shut down.  What once was healing and only for me, two books later, was no longer just for me and I wasn't sure I was that person.  The enjoyment disappeared and was replaced with a real sense of total fear.

Transitions are hard.  We moved a year and a half ago.  We settled in and made some friends and found a church and jobs.  The transition was hard on everyone but I made it my mission in life to do whatever I could to make sure everyone was transitioning well and they were happy.  They would be happy if it was the last thing I ever did.  They would be happy if it killed me. Working and doing everything for everyone because that is what we do as wives and mothers.  We bend over backwards to take care of everyone else and we forget to take care of ourselves...or maybe we just run out of time or get too tired.

I started reading a book recently (a couple actually) one asks "who told you, you weren't good enough?"  the other asks "what measuring stick are we using to measure perfection?"  I can't seem to find the balance.  I never feel like anything I do is good enough and I will never achieve perfection.  My meals will never be gourmet and my house will never look professionally decorated and will likely never be without dust or a pile of papers somewhere.  It's stressful.  Never feeling good enough, or smart enough, and never being able to tell if what you think is what God wants from you is really what God wants or what you want is stressful.  Having your kids growing up and leaving and not knowing who you are without them and how to fill your days once they are gone is stressful.  So many make it all look so effortless.  Why is it so hard?  Why do I continue to tear myself down and knock myself  down to size the moment I think I might be on to something that maybe I could do? 

Does God talk to you?  Does he tell you stuff?  I mean...do you know how to tell the difference between what you think God wants and what you want?  What if it's the same thing?  Does that happen and if so what do you do with that? I don't know...maybe God doesn't talk to me. Maybe I don't know how to recognize it if he does. 

I have questions!  I'm scrambling through this life full of questions.  Anyone?  Just me then?  OK ...I got it.  But if I'm anything I'm real.  I keep it real and I don't pretend to be something I'm just... not.  I am also pretty sure that when I feel like God is wanting me to do something I tend to want to pick and choose.  I also tend to be pretty sure that it can't be God asking me but it is just my own selfish desires coming into play.  I'm also quite certain that I am really good at running.  (Not actual running because that would be ridiculous and someone or something would have to be chasing me. If you see me running it would be a good idea to send help.) 

I love this place I call home. I feel blessed to be here.  I love this crazy family I get to spend this life with and I love God.  I don't talk nice about myself.  This has been pointed out to me.  I also have a growing relationship with the words "I can't" this has also been pointed out to me.  These friends are not wrong.  I just haven't figured out how to reprogram my brain into thinking or reacting another way. I am not unhappy I'm distressed.  I'm confused about my role not only in my family with my growing/grown children but also my role in the kingdom.  I'm also really quite scared about what I might find out.  I never said I made sense. 

In church today we talked about Got equipping the called and that he often doesn't call the equipped.  It makes so much more sense the other way around.  Although when I really stop and think about it, maybe it does.  Maybe it is easier to learn from someone who is or has been where you are.  Maybe it is harder to take things in from beautiful perfect people who seem to have always had their crap together because when you're scrambling around trying to figure things out what they have going on seems unattainable and out of reach.  Maybe it is easier to take things in from people who are just like you, just like me, lost sheep in need of a shepherd.  When you think about it like that it doesn't seem quite so crazy. 

So here's what I've got: Maybe daily affirmations aren't so bad.  Maybe they can be helpful when (like me) your inner voice isn't really very nice to you.  We need to take some time to fill our tank. I am not now nor will I ever be perfect.  It is completely unattainable and maybe that it ok.  I didn't use to care.  My goal was always food-edible, house-not condemnable, kids-loved, husband-loved, and the rest would just sort itself out.  My daughters are both going to be out of my house soon and I have to come to terms with that.  I have to learn to let them go and do and be what God wants them to be.  My baby is no longer a baby.  He's in high school and as hard as that is to come to terms with I have to deal with that too.  I don't know how or where that leaves me once they are all off living their lives and leaving me behind but maybe that's ok too.  I don't have to have it all figured out in a day, or a week or even this year.  What I really need to do is learn how to let go and let God handle it all and stop trying to do His job for him.  It is far too much for my tiny brain to handle and frankly it is exhausting.  Lastly, why should I be so concerned about living up to what I think others expect from me when I really don't know what they expect.  And does it really matter?  I'm a mom and I have the love of my husband and my children (most of the time) and so what if I don't have some high profile thing to talk about at reunions.  I don't like or go to reunions and it shouldn't be a competition anyway.  I'm not on anyone's journey but my own and for now I don't know what it holds and I need to learn to be ok with that too.



Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Story about Time and Finding Friends

What difference can a year make?  It is a funny thing, this thing we call time.  We, as humans, are the only creatures who mark it out, count it, rely on it even, and worry so much about it running out.  One of my favorite books is called The Timekeeper.  Mitch Albom of course, is one of my absolute favorite authors of all time.  In this book about the Timekeeper and time he explores it all in such a poignant way.  It is really a good book so check it out if you haven't.

We have lived in our current location for almost a year and a half.  I think about how different things are from when we first got here.  It is amazing really how much smaller a place can get.  Don't get me wrong, it is huge.  Two to three lanes per side on any given road to get where you are going is not unusual here.  A traffic jam here is not just a few cars behind a tractor and not once have I had to try and get around a combine that was moving between fields.  It just isn't a thing here...at least not where we live. Perhaps the more appropriate word is familiar.  Most places are now familiar and feel like home.

When first we arrived things were not familiar.  Even our home wasn't familiar.  People weren't familiar in almost every location we went and the locations weren't familiar either.  I was afraid.  I won't lie to you about that.  Obviously I was afraid.  I've always been afraid of one thing or another.  Afraid to go down the big slide at the park, afraid of the dark, afraid to drive on the big roads, afraid to speak in front of people, even if I know them all, always so afraid.  Mostly though I think my fear was bigger of what our lives would be if we didn't move.  That fear was bigger.  The fear of settling and always being afraid of everything because the comfort of the familiar was just so comfortable.  The comfort even started to scare me because what if I never stopped being afraid and I stayed that way and eventually it became worse?  What kind of life is that for my family?  What does that show our children?  Is that what I want for them? The answer was and is no.

We arrived as aliens in an unknown but beautiful place, knowing only four people in our location and three others that lived hours away.  My husband and son were the lucky ones.  They had work and school.  That helped them to be submerged into the environment a bit quicker than it happened with the girls in the family.  We mostly stayed home except for going to the grocery and church.  But then something amazing happened, our pastor's wife started taking me out on excursions and showing me around.  We quickly became friends and in no time (there's that word again) at all we were getting together most weeks even if it was just to go to the grocery together.  Everyone knows going with a friend to the grocery makes that chore more tolerable.  

In the year and a half since we've been here I have met some great people and made some friends.  Our son has made friends at school and even ventured to a school dance (something he never ever did back at his old school).  Our middle child started a job that was temporary and then started a different job and started college.  She has made friends and started getting more grounded.  Our oldest daughter has graduated from her college she was attending on line and is getting ready for her next chapter.  My husband has turned his store around.  It is no longer quite the trouble store it was upon arrival.  It is still insanely busy and ridiculous at times but improvements have been made and small glimpses of light are being seen at the end of a very long tunnel.

I drive.  I drive on three lane roads and cut in and out of traffic when people go too slow.  I have driven to the beach.  I have been forced to drive places that I wasn't familiar with to get my son places he needed to be for activities.  It seems that if my child needs me to go somewhere, my fear gets put in the corner and I go.  It is good for me.  We take walks and it gets dark.  It storms and I find I am not concerned.  I have ridden rides (simulated rides but I think that still counts).  It seems as though things have started picking up.  Life has started and we are hitting our rhythm here.

But as per usual life always likes to hit you with a curve ball to make sure you are paying attention.  Life is a Rocky Balboa quote.  "You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.  But it ain't about how hard ya hit.  It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  How much you can take and keep moving forward."  My friend is leaving.  Our time together is short now. Their family is moving and I'm so sad.

It is harder I think, as an adult, to find friends who get you.  Someone you can laugh and be silly with that won't secretly judge you for being a nerd bomber.(Does that term date me? I feel like it dates me.)  I'm a huge nerd.  I like super heroes and Star Trek, and Star Wars and singing to the muzak in the mall and singing in the car and pretending I could rock at lip sync battle.  I walk out of movies feeling like a ninja and like I could conquer the world.  I have unrealistic expectations of things I think I should be able to do, that I cannot, and I speak in movie quotes and sarcasm.  As you can see,it is hard to find someone who can not only deal with that kind of charm but embrace it and dive right into your life and be the kind of friend that seems as though you have always been friends and the time you didn't know each other seems of no relevance at all.  I get I'm weird and my only fear now is that once my friend leaves I may not find that one friend here that can fill that void.  The one I can call and say "Hey let's go to Target and look at clearance." or "Hey I need you to talk me down from the ledge cause I'm losing it."  or "Hey, go to Aldi's with me because I don't want to go alone."  I need that kind of friend in my life and while she reminds me that she isn't dying she is just moving, there is still a sense of loss.

I am blessed to have made such a good friend shortly after my arrival and we will always be friends.  Just as it was when I moved from my home town to here, I didn't just stop being friends with the friends that I had there.  I have several friends that I miss dearly from my home state.  That said I don't so much miss my home town.  I don't miss who I was when I was there.  I kind of feel like in leaving I found a piece of myself that was missing.  I gained a bit of independence that I may not have found otherwise.  God sent me just the friend I needed here to help me adjust and learn to step a few toes outside of my comfort zone...to learn to fully live my life in this new environment instead of just moving to another house and nothing really changing.

I am no longer sitting on the sidelines. I am diving in, looking around and absorbing it all.  I'm looking for my tribe and I'm not so concerned about the timing.  Sooner rather than later would be nice as she's leaving next month but it's OK, she will still take my calls.  I have a routine and I'm still figuring out who I am outside of the motherhood.  I've always just been someone's mom and while I'm still the mom, they don't really need me or want me around so much.  I'm not sure who I am outside of that.  My cousin reminded me that I did once have interests and I was once human before I had the children.  It's hard to remember but I think when the time is right God will reveal the plan.  Until then I'll bide my time and wait for God to send me a friend that likes to sing along with Bohemian Rhapsody and go to the grocery with me and speaks fluent sarcasm.  Ironically my friend is moving to my home state.  I did warn her and I sure hope she likes corn.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Phone Calls from Heaven

Dear Mom,

It doesn't really get easier.  Mother's day is tomorrow and I suppose I should focus on the fact that I, myself, am a mother.  I realize that, of course, I realize that and yet I want my mother.  Everywhere I go people are talking about buying cards for their mothers and I don't have a card to buy.  I don't have a call to make or flowers to send.  I would have sent you sunflowers.  You should see the sunflowers they have at the farmer's market.  They are breathtaking.

I had this fantasy, a dream really, you were here.  We were making plans for dinner for Mother's day and talking about how to spend the day today.  Were we going shopping or to the beach to work on our tans?  There are so many choices here.  So many places to eat, I think you could go somewhere different for an entire year and still not try them all.

I drink coffee now.  Did I tell you that?  Your granddaughters like it too.  We don't drink it black like you did but I often think about how much fun it would have been to go to coffee shops with you.  How you would have ordered yours black and we would have tried to get you to drink coffee like we do with all the stuff in it that makes it taste good.  Would you have enjoyed it the way we do?  Would it have been a running joke between us?  Can you imagine the four of us girls shopping and drinking coffee together?  I never did...I imagine you thought, like I did, that the girls would be little forever.  It never occurred to me, when you were here, the things we would be doing together as the girls got older.  Now we are visiting colleges and in a few short years they will be working and on their own.  You would have been right in the mix of it all.  How different would our lives be if you were here?  What would you have taught the girls?

Amazing...it is really amazing to me how much difference a year can make.  We moved almost a year and a half ago and I was so frightened to drive on some of these big roads.  We felt like aliens in a strange land and now, well....we're not.  Yesterday your grandson pointed out a kid on a bike and said he was a great guy.  We have friends here now.  I have driven to the beach.  If I want to go somewhere I'm not so scared to go anymore.  I have found that it doesn't matter where you go, people drive like idiots.  I have thought about how you would have handled driving here and then I was remembering that you drove us to North Carolina.  Do you remember that?  Just the two of us on the open road and I realize you were fearless.

You were fearless and yet I have always been afraid of everything.  You were the hardest working woman I ever knew and you raised me alone.  It wasn't easy.  Raising a daughter is hard, I get it, I have two.  PMS and drama and all the things...throw in the eye rolls and the door slamming and it's enough to make anyone slightly crazy and you did it without help.  I, at least, have a partner in life.  We can tag team and team up and support each other.  Remember when I was having the boy?  We were so scared of a boy.  He's so easy...always was really.  He would put himself down for naps.  Such blessings each and every one, with their different personalities, and they would have enjoyed hanging around you as much as you would have them.  You would have spoiled them.  I hope you would have taught them to be fearless like you.  I wish I could have been fearless too.

So many changes and I can't call you.  I can't call you and talk to you while I'm cooking dinner.  I can't invite you to dinner.  You were always on the other end of the line.  You could be so mad at me but you were always on the other end of the line.  You might have yelled at me but you would have been there.  For the record, I was always right, but I'd say I was wrong if I could have one more conversation. It's been almost thirteen years and I have to focus to remember the sound of your laugh.  I have to concentrate to remember the melody of your voice.  I remember the way you would say things, the expressions you would use, like it is ingrained into the very fiber of my being.

I can close my eyes and see your smile and the way you would chew on your pinky finger when you were tired. The way you were late for every party always but you made the best cakes in town.  The way you always looked so tired because you worked all night in a factory for my whole life so you could be available if I needed you in the daytime.  I remember it all.  I thank you for it all.  I was a sarcastic kid and maybe I'm not a much better adult because my entire vocabulary is full of sarcasm and movie quotes but you did teach me to appreciate everything.  You taught me right from wrong and you taught me that love is a verb.  That it's showing up.  And maybe you taught me a little bit about hard work too but I was always too scared to fail to really go for dreams I knew I didn't deserve. And yet you were never the one who told me I didn't deserve anything, you only told me I was spoiled but you were mostly to blame for that and you loved it.  You loved me.  Always.  For better or for worse you were always the one person in my life that I could run to and all I want is to talk to you on the phone.  If only there could be phone calls from heaven.

I have been so very blessed with a wonderful husband and three great kids I've gotten to love here on earth and one that I hope to meet in heaven someday.  I have this beautiful family and some great friends but on mother's day I miss my mom.  No one loves you like your mom.  I know though that if I can't be with you that you are with the only one who could love you better.  I'm so overwhelmed that you came to know Jesus before you died.  I think that is the best part of all this.  His love for you is so deep and so true.  I know His love for me is too.  I love you and miss you to infinity and beyond.  I just wish there were phone calls from heaven.  Until we meet again.

Love,

Your favorite daughter, Heather
(I win by default, only child and all)