Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hurricanes, Whirlwinds, and Tailspins

Hurricanes like tailspins and whirlwinds spin and spin and spin until eventually they just....stop.  As Hurricane Matthew continued its northbound spin leaving destruction and devastation in its wake, I was left to count my blessing and to consider how tailspins and whirlwinds are much like hurricanes of emotional devastation and destruction.  They spin and spin until they stop.

As we were preparing to move almost nine months ago it was a whirlwind of activity.  We had been in our house almost sixteen years.  We knew most in our neighborhood and had many connections in our community.  It took nine months to sell the house but once we did it all happened very fast.  Packing, planning, preparing, and compartmentalizing every detail both physically and emotionally.  An overwhelming whirlwind of activity with not much time to really process.  Until we were finally moved and everything just ...stopped.  Sure we unpacked after living a week in an empty house because we ran into holidays with the moving company but for the most part the spinning just ceased.  Just the five of us in an unfamiliar area with no family, and four busy friends, and none of the comforts of home.  We arrived to an empty house and not a home.

Looking back I think I truly believed it would be this grande adventure.  That it would all be so much fun exploring and learning a new area and all it had to offer and what's more it would be warm.  How much better could it be?  I believed that there was nothing that the five of us couldn't do.  That all we needed was each other. We would grow closer as a family.  I thought all of those things and more.  I thought we would have no trouble finding friends and integrating ourselves because, why wouldn't we?  It's the south.  Southern hospitality rules require people to just bring you into the fold and love you and offer you tea and biscuits or something, don't they?  I thought many things and I thought many things wrong.  We were an island unto ourselves...for weeks that turned to months.  In retrospect you can think of all the ifs and what ifs and buts but time doesn't stop and it doesn't rewind. It doesn't care about your timetable and what and how you think things should be and how things were supposed to go.  The reality is this:  Being the ones that left can be harder than being left behind.

Do not misunderstand me.  I know being left behind.  I know it to the core of my being.  But being the one that left is hard when you realize that perhaps you didn't have as much of an impact as you thought.  Maybe they don't actually miss you now that you are gone when you were sure that the ones you left loved you as you did them.  It is hurtful. It is raw and it is real.  Maybe we had misconceptions about staying in contact with people.  We thought people would call.  We thought we would be overrun with visitors.  We just would be different.

I love my new home nine months in.  I love my messy disorganized house.  I love that it is warm in October and my pool is still open.  I love that I have found some of the kindest people I have ever met.  I love that since coming here I have become braver than I may have otherwise.  Nine months in and I can find my way around without fear of the traffic that I was once overwhelmed by.  There is never a shortage of things to go see and do but I'm just as content to stay at home.  I'm also not afraid to just walk up and talk to random strangers...ok maybe I wasn't all that afraid of that one before. We have had some grande adventures and for the first few weeks or so we were top notch in the family togetherness realm until our island unto ourselves started feeling too small.

The thing is that while it is hard to make friends as an adult it can be equally as hard as a kid.  My son is the funniest, kindest, most entertaining boy I have ever met.  He's also very calm and laid back.  Perhaps being the youngest in the family he learned early to go with the flow.  Maybe it is a trait that he inherited from his father.  My husband is like that.  His very nature is calming.  I wish I could be like that.  He has made some friends at school but he doesn't have his "crew," his "cast of characters" if you will.  We come from a place where we are used to six boys running in and out of the house and that doesn't happen here.  He misses that but acknowledges now that there are things that he does like about being here.

For the others in my family it hasn't been so easy.  It has seemed that we have been in a tailspin at times.  Not something that we haven't encountered before as it seems with life you will have your share of whirlwinds and tailspins.  It also seems that tailspins like to follow whirlwinds.  Reminders of what we had and what we no longer have tend to do that to you.

I'm not sure how men make friends really.  As a woman I made a lot of friends through my kids at school functions.  Not something that I have been able to do here as my kids are a bit old now for class parties and such.  Men are a different species really in my mind.  My husband had the same friends as he had when growing up with a few others mixed in and a few of those were made through the kids.  What I do know is that men, like women, need people.  They need other guys to unwind with.  To have guy talk and play cards and watch sporting events and whatever else it is that they do.  Finding your people when you word ridiculous hours and even when you are not scheduled to keep things running is hard to do.  It takes its toll.  One I hadn't anticipated paying.

I also didn't count on it being hard for my young adult children to find their people.  In a generation full of people with their heads down looking at screens and no idea how to connect on a human level and I didn't think it would be difficult.  Perhaps as a mother I am blinded by my love for my children and thought that people would flock to befriend them.  The lack of interaction with peers has taken its toll.  Another toll I hadn't counted on paying so highly for.

In life it seems when dreams come true they come at a price and you have to decide if it is worth the price.  Whirlwinds seem to always be followed by tailspins.  We had our whirlwind and we have slowly been entering a tailspin.  It starts slow and picks up steam as time progresses.  It doesn't care that you didn't sign up for the hard.  But getting through the hard I believe is what makes us stronger and makes it all worth it.

I know there will be some who will read this and get it.  They've been there.  Maybe they are still there.  There will be some that will read this and think "I knew it.  I told you so!"  Perhaps they don't know what I know.  Perhaps they never will or maybe they just don't know me....or my family.  Not like I do.  My own family may not even know what I know.  Maybe they have forgotten.  Because what I know is that after every storm comes a rainbow.  I have endured many storms and seen the other side knowing that I didn't get there alone.  I can't get there alone.  I'm broken.  But I've tied a knot in my rope and I'm hanging on tight during this particular storm in this paradise.  I haven't lost all hope.  Those who will question have forgotten that God has said, He knows the plans he has for us.  He didn't bring us down here to fail or fall in despair.  I also know that His plans are better than my own.  The plans I had....  well it hasn't gone exactly like I had planned.  But what has?  In the history of all the plans I have ever made well I don't think anything has gone the way I wanted or planned.

In the molding and shaping of the bundle of brokenness that is me, what can I learn if things always go the way I want them to?  How do I learn to trust?  How do I learn that I can't fix it.  I can't fix anything.  I have control issues.  Odd from an only child, I know.  I have trust issues...OK we can establish here and now that I have many issues.  I get it.  I am not unaware.  I'm a work in progress.  I tend to forget that too.  I want to fix every problem that everyone has here and I can't.  It is breaking me.  I pray for God to fix it.  I fall asleep in exhaustion from running "the complaint department" and not having the answers and not being able to fix it.  I feel like a failure because I can't do it.  Who am I?  I'm the mom.  It's my job to fix it.  If it isn't my job then what is?  I must have some purpose. Am I just supposed to sit and watch as everyone falls apart around me?  It occurs to me that that is exactly what I'm supposed to do because it isn't really MY job.  Not really.  It might just be that just as I have to be broken in order to learn to trust God, my family may also need to learn a lesson as well and instead of trying to fix it I should take a step back and watch God work.  Quite the revelation to have on such little sleep today.

I tossed and turned all night last night.  Perhaps knowing that you will be more forgiving of this post with so little humor and probably many errors that I won't find when rereading.  I once had an editor to keep me in check.  I had dream after dream that didn't make sense to me and at the end of it all I'm wrung out and this is what was left.  I have found my eternal summer paradise but seasons of life still occur.  This particular season feels like a tailspin but like hurricanes they eventually subside and cease their spinning.  My God is stronger than this tailspin and He has great plans at the end of this.  I mean GREAT plans so you should all just get ready for it. We are a pretty scrappy bunch and God is on our side so....we might get knocked down but we will always get back up and keep moving forward.  Hurricanes, whirlwinds, or tailspins....we are getting back up and when we do....
Watch out because I still believe there isn't anything the five of us can't do, I just believe we don't and we won't and we can't do it alone.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A New Job, A New Experience, and More Movie References

This week I received a job offer.  It is interesting the way of the world and how things are done now as opposed to how things were done before.  It is also interesting that I am old enough and make it sound as though I have so much experience in how things were done when in all actuality I have very little experience.  I have interviewed and received jobs before but I have never gotten an offer for a job via email.  Is this what it is like when girls get asked out on dates via text?  Do people really not do things in person anymore?

Anyway....I received my job offer via email and had to accept it or deny it (circle yes if you like me and no if you don't) and then receive further instructions via email as to my next steps.  As I type this it makes it sound like it involves much more intrigue than it actually does.  It sounds like a mystery or perhaps that is only how my mind works?  My next step was to approve a background check then go get a drug test.

I have been a mother for close to twenty one years.  While I have had just a few part time jobs in that time frame I mostly worked for and with people I knew and while I did have to have a background check to work at the schools I do not recall having a drug test.  Point being...I was a newby to the drug test and had no idea how it worked.  I did know I was going to have to pee in a cup but I didn't really understand the gravity of the situation.  I have never been exposed to drugs, I hate the taste of alcohol and even my coffee is decaf.  I showed up with my work out clothes on so I could go to the gym right after.  I had an arm band with my ID and gym membership card and a belt that can only hold my phone around my waist plus my shorts didn't have pockets.

I checked in and when I was called she asked me if I had to go.  I said, "Well... I have to go in the way that I'm old and I usually have to go but I don't have to go like gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now."  (I do believe it is possible at this point she tried to restrain herself from rolling her eyes) She says, "Well you have to be able to give me this much." and indicates how much with her fingers.  I say, "How big is the container?"  and again she indicates with her fingers and says, "If you can't give a full sample you have to wait around for forty five minutes then try again."  OK now this is when I started to panic.  How does one know for sure how much they are going to produce at any one time?  I remember giving samples when pregnant.  I remember giving samples when I had bladder infections.  I do not remember ever having a quota to fill regarding giving samples.  I am then asked if I want to try or if I want to drink some more water.  Lets be real here for a minute, ok?  I am forty four years old and I have birthed three children via c-section.  Everything I have has fallen or shifted or been moved around and put back in some way from where it once was.  In addition to that I drink a full gallon of water a day so I usually have to go to the bathroom.  I have to go to the bathroom regularly.  Like to the point I think of The Santa Claus movie with Tim Allen and he says, "I shave in the morning and in the afternoon I look like this!"  I go before I leave the house and by the time I drop my son off at school and get to the gym I have to go again.  My ability to go is not in question here.  My ability to produce a sufficient amount that my husband who is waiting to go to the gym with me and would really rather this not take all day is now in question.  The pressure was real.  I chose to drink a bit more water just to be sure.

I chugged water for maybe ten minutes and people started filing into the facility so I figured I had better get a move on and get this over with.  I told her I was ready and was told to go wait in a room and she would be there in a minute.  Had I known the room would be the temperature of a meat locker I could have saved us the trouble of me downing as much water as I could for ten minutes.  I waited....and waited.  Finally she comes in and walks me into a room, tells me to empty my pockets and lock up all of my belongings and bring her the key.  OK???  Is she afraid I will spend time playing 7 Little Words on my phone while I potty?  I cannot very well do that and hold the cup can I?  But whatever... I did as told and I said, "I'm sorry, I'm new and I don't know how all this works."  She says, "You've never had a drug test?"  I said, "Uh no, I've been a bit busy being a mom."  She says, "Well I guess there are people who have never had one."  She gets my information, I sign my life away and am then released to give my sample.  I am proud to say I was able to give my full sample.  I also wasn't allowed to flush or turn on the water to wash my hands until I gave her the sample.  So gross!

I am naive of the ways of the world I suppose.  When I told my husband about it and asked him where on earth on my person would I have been able to bring the pee of another he said, "You'd be surprised.  People do crazy things."  I imagine he has heard his share of stories. Although now that I think of it.  People do do crazy things.  My daughter while working at a fast food restaurant had a guy take a cup for ketchup and pee in it and bring it to the counter and hand it to her and tell her it was his sample for a drug test.  She was so grossed out I think she is only now getting over it.  She washed her hands and sterilized them nonstop for weeks.

I have been very lucky in this life to have worked when I was able and wanted to with some great people and I have been very lucky and blessed to have been able to stay home and raise my family.  I recognize that not everyone is able to do so when they want to.  This hiring process has been different from anything I have ever experienced.  It has made for some good stories though.  I'm excited and nervous and a little bit scared of this new adventure.  I'm hoping to meet some great new people and make some new friends.  My last job was the best job in the world. I'm hoping this next one will at least be in the ball park.  If not the job itself but in the relationships I will have the ability to build while working with new people.  I'm a person who enjoys being around people.  I also enjoy being of help to people.  I am an acquired taste though.  Not everyone speaks fluent sarcasm and not everyone speaks in movie quotes.  We'll see how it goes.  For now I am waiting for my next email for further instruction...I think.  I does sound mysterious to say it that way...very True Lies.  I wonder what adventure I will have next?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Interview

For the last week or so I have been having an interview....every night.  Perhaps that sounds odd and to be honest it started out that way.  It seems odd to go to bed and every night when you lay down and close your eyes the interview begins.  I suppose I should say that I did have an actual job interview this week so the thought of that coming and then the disappointment of being so stunned at my surroundings during the interview and not being able to think clearly enough to say all I wanted to say has added to my subconscious's way of dealing with that disappointment.  As the nightly interviews began before that I think it has more to do with my perception of my worth.

To say that I have issues would be an understatement.  I teeter between complete disdain and Meghan Trainer's Me Too when thinking of myself.  Mostly I hover closer to the prior than the latter.  My perception of success has been askew.  It has not always been this way...or maybe it has.  Most recently I have been looking for a job.  I've been looking on job finding websites and when I find something that sounds like fun I click to get the details.  As it turns out I do not meet the qualifications for most of the jobs that I find interesting.  Computers will always be my downfall.

When I went for an actual interview this week I didn't get to say all the things I had thought I'd say.  Mostly because I was uncomfortable with my surroundings.  I am not accustomed to being alone in a room with men I do not know.  Honestly, to be fair, I'm not used to being alone in a room with any man aside from my husband.  In general, I'm uncomfortable with men, a trait I'm trying to overcome.  The manner in which I grew up has a lot to do with that.  The programming I received during my formative years has made me leery and distrustful of the male species.  My husband and other male family members such as my son, my father in law, and my late grandfather being the exception.  What I learned from my father is that men leave and I am disposable.  What I learned from my mother's ex-husband was that I was ugly, worthless, and I would never amount to anything.  All things that I know are not true but also things that like to creep in when I'm not paying attention.

So every night I have been interviewing when my eyes close.  I cannot see the interviewer.  I can only hear a voice.  The interview that I imagine starts out the same way every time.  They ask me about my experience.  Much like my actual interview when I explained that I had worked with children in a school and prior to that I had spent eleven years as a stay at home mom raising my children, I get the look.  Perhaps you have seen the look before yourself.  The look that says "Oh so you have not been working.  As if raising three children and taking care of a household is not work.  As if it is just...nothing."  What I am learning during these interviews however, is that it is not nothing.  I may have spent a great majority of my adulthood raising my family and not working outside the home but it has been one of the hardest job that I can imagine one having.

My life experiences have been plenty.  I know what it is to have a child and have no idea what I'm doing.  I know what it is to have two under two and in diapers.  I know what it is to have those same two go through puberty and get introduced to "Aunt Flo" way to early in their young lives and if that doesn't strike fear and make one learn to deal with adversity I don't know what does.  I know what it is to have the surprise baby when you thought you were done and going back to the diaper stage again.  I know what it is to watch a loved one's health decline and stand beside them during their diagnosis.  I know what it is to hold that person's hand and feel the life leave them.  I know what it is to suffer loss.  I know what it is to fall.  I know what it is to fight and claw your way back and then fall again because the promise of a fourth child falls away because that child was so special God needed to keep him for himself.  I know what it is fight my way back again and again.  I know what it is to fail.  I know what it is uproot and start over away from everything and everyone I ever knew and I know the loneliness that can bring to not only yourself but those around you.  I know how to keep a schedule for five people and be responsible for their well-being.  I know a wealth of things.  Things that aren't listed in job descriptions.  Things that make me feel weak to the point of crippling and things that make me strong too.  Things I would like to explain when I get "the look" especially from a man who looks at me like growing a human and giving birth to one is easy even though he cannot do it.

I've had a hard time seeing it.  I have felt like I was failing at the job I've had for nearly twenty one years and even if I'm not and even if I know many things I am still unqualified to work outside of my home because I don't meet the requirements they are looking for.  Many people will say that anyone can have a family.  Teenagers have babies.  Crack addicts have babies.  Having babies for some is easy.  I know many who would give anything for the privilege because they are unable.  They would make wonderful mothers and I pray one day that they will one day become mothers.  It is something that when growing up I never aspired to be.  It wasn't in my plan but it was in God's plan and I am blessed beyond measure to be given the opportunity to be their mother.  During my interview last night I was reminded of a few things.  All of my days were written before I ever came to be.  Nothing I have experienced or am experiencing is a surprise to God.  Also, of all the people that He could have chosen to be the mother to these three children He chose me.  A fact that I should not take lightly.  Why He would choose me for anything I have no idea but what that means is that He thought I was the best one for the job.  He CHOSE me.  I saw saying this week that said " I don't have ducks, I don't even have rows, I have squirrels and they are at a rave."  I'm not sure where it came from originally another author I follow shared it, then I shared it because it was basically describing me.

Every night I interview and every night I learn a little more about who I am and my worth.  But I also am learning that when I interview I already know what I can bring to the table.  What I need to find out is what my potential employer brings.  I want to know what they stand for.  I want to know how they value their employees.  I want to know if they value teamwork.  I want to know if they are open to new ideas.  I want to know if they know who they work for because I already know who I'm working for and it isn't a stuffy CEO in a suit somewhere that has no idea what it is to do the jobs that he oversees.  I work for the CEO of the entire world.  Ultimately He is who I answer to and who I work for so when I come into a job situation I am going to work as though I am working to please Him.  I am going to treat people how I would want to be treated. I am going to treat people as though they are valuable because they are whether they are co-workers or customers or patients or whoever.  God made them and they have value and I want to work for a company that knows that.  I want to work for a company that is more interested in doing the right thing than the bottom line.  I want to work for someone who respects family because my family will always come before any other job I may acquire.

I am learning that I may be interviewing for a job but they are interviewing with me as well because I do have value no matter what my resume might say.  What I lack in experience I make up for in spunk and spunky people get things done.  I'm starting to like these nightly interviews.  I'm learning quite a bit.  I do hope they start getting shorter though as I'd like to get a good nights sleep before my next actual interview which happens to be tomorrow.  We'll see if we pass each other's tests.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Typical Mornings, Gecko Gate, and How Not to Interview

My morning was a typical one.  Get up throw on gym clothes take kid three to school, come back to the house and get kids one and two, drop kid two off at college and take kid one with me to the gym.  These are not unusual things for us.  We even stopped off at the grocery on the way home from the gym which I like to think makes us look like we put in effort to be healthy but also may be mildly gross.  That too is not unusual.  Today however, I had to get ready for a job interview and while I do not go on job interviews with any sort of regularity I have gotten ready for other occasions.  Even getting ready for the day is a normal sort of thing as contrary to popular belief I do not, nor have I ever, sat at home eating bon bons all day and watched soap operas.  That is not, nor has it ever been, the way I spend my time.

No, today was a first as today was the first time in all 40+ years of my life that I ever went to the restroom to take a shower used the restroom before said shower, stood to flush, looked in the bowl and found a gecko trying to escape.  A GECKO was in the toilet where I just sat!  A LIVING CREATURE near the nether regions.  People, I just cannot even!  I don't even like doctors to be down there.  I avoid going to see the OB/GYN until I get guilted into going.  My heart started racing faster than it did while at the gym.  My vision got a little fuzzy and I could only think two things, First, "If I pass out here I am naked and will my daughter know enough to dress me before she calls for paramedics?  This floor is tile...the floor of death.  EMT's will be involved."  and Second, "Gross!  I don't blame you I'd want out too."  So I did have a bit of restraint to not scream loudly enough to be heard.  I slammed the lid down and I flushed.  Then I flushed again.  Then I peaked to see if it was gone.  It was.  So I may have sent a gecko to the great eternal pool in the sky.  I may have killed one of God's creatures.  In my defense, one of us was going to go down and I had a job interview to get to so....

After what will now be referred to as "Gecko Gate" I prepared for my interview.  I went with a black dress and simple black sandals.  My options were limited and black looks professional, right?  I live in a southern state now.  It may be the first day of fall but it is still in the 90's here.  Not my best plan.  I went to my interview with the company my husband has worked for for 20+ years.  I arrived before the people who were to interview me.  Three men take me through a door in the back that they had to enter a code to enter and up some stairs to a private room.  All I could think about during this journey was, "Ok this isn't creepy at all.  I'm just going into a private locked cave with three men I've never met and there are stairs involved.  Glad I didn't wear heels.  It's fine, I work out now.  That one is small I can probably take him, the other one looks like I will have to fight a little harder but I'm probably faster and the only one I'm really worried about is the kid that looks like a football player that went to school with my daughters.   Nope not worried at all."  We arrived and sat around a table and  well...I talked more about how great my husband is than myself.  This would probably be listed in the "How Not to Interview" handbook that I do not possess.  To be fair it has been a good amount of time since I interviewed but I have never even heard of interviewing in a secret layer surrounded by three men.  Where I am from the doctor doesn't even go into a room without his nurse.  It was a disconcerting and I dealt with the discomfort by doing what I do best...talking to fill the silence as they didn't seem particularly prepared and I also felt safer talking about my husband.  Also I sweat through my black dress.

Today has been an interesting day to say the least.  When I arrived home I had a message from that same company and I have another interview Monday.  Who knows, maybe I will talk my way into a job yet.  I got my very first job because I was persistent and wouldn't leave the manager alone until she was basically forced to hire me to shut me up.  There will be training involved of course, but I did manage to get licensed to sell real estate in two weeks once upon a time.  I also have raised teenagers, and lived through Gecko Gate, I have no fear.  I am strong and I really need a job so I can afford things like fresh fish and Netflix.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Not Living a Lie

Today is the day.  Today I weighed in at what my Midwest Driver's License said I weighed.  Fun fact #1:  When I went to get said driver's license I gave myself a few pounds "just in case" I put on a few pounds.  At the time I actually weighed a bit less.  Fun fact #2  A driver's license is good for what...six years now?  Fun fact #3:  I had renewed said license on line since that time and when you renew online you don't have a nice lady staring you down when you said "yes everything is correct" you can just click a button thereby allowing you to continue 'living the lie'.  Which really isn't trying to 'live a lie' at all but in fact trying to allow more time to achieve what the license says.  Fun fact #4: In this great southern state that I now reside in they do not ask for your weight and it is not listed anywhere on the license which means...I will never ever 'live a lie' again.  Unless of course, someone asks for my age which is standing firmly at 39 for another six years.

It gets uncomfortable explaining to people that you are still trying to lose the baby weight all the time, really.  They always want to know how old the baby is and then the baby walks up and he's 13 and you are wishing you had a picture of him when he was small so you could pass this giant off as an older brother.  That's about the time the older sisters show up and they are college age and it gets really uncomfortable after that.  

The way I figure it I had three children.  I gained 60 pounds with the first, lets say 40 with the second and 30 with the third.  What?  I'm a slow learner O.K.?  Also I was an only child and Ben and Jerry's were my best friends.  Let's move on shall we?  That is a total of 130 pound that I gained having children alone.  Granted you have the babies and you lose the weight between but...then you are the mom of three children.  You eat when you get a chance.  You shovel down food in between raising kids like it is an Olympic event.  There is no time to sit and enjoy a meal.  Plus if you were raised the way I was back when your parents actually were poor growing up and walked to school uphill in the snow both ways you were taught to clean your plate.  When my mother took ill I cleaned my plate and her plate...sometimes the kids' plates too.  But I digress...I had lost all that weight by the time I got said license the first time around.  I was so pleased with myself and I was never going back.  I felt great!

Days turned to weeks, turned to months, turned to years and I forgot about how great I felt before and remembered how great ice cream tastes...and donuts...and get the picture.  So I found myself in April almost back to where I started.  I was on three different medicines for my stomach and I had finally gotten over a bought with anemia.  I was tired and I was done.  I was not going to go up another size.  So I took action.

Dave Ramsey once said that you don't ask poor people about money.  I figure that goes for other things as well so I should look for people who are losing weight or have lost weight and are keeping it off.  The thing about being overweight is you don't want advice from skinny people.  Especially skinny people who have always been skinny and eat worse than you do.  So I found someone who was killing it in the losing weight department and asked them how they were doing it.  Once I found out the program (Take Shape For Life) they were doing I got on board.  Essentially I have had to reprogram and look at food in a totally different way.  I have always tended to look at food as comfort or as a reward.  I can get comfort from Jesus.  I can get comfort from my husband.  I can get comfort from a soft blanket.  I can get rewarded in new clothes and shoes that fit and books.  Food is fuel.  Food keeps the body going like gas keeps a car going.  If I want to feel better and look better I need to fuel my body with the right stuff.  You don't put diesel in an unleaded tank.  You get down to the basics and eat like a caveman or a baby really because I eat every 2-3 hours.  I eat more now on this program than I did before.  I'm full.  Sometimes so full I don't want to eat again.  

My family and I also joined the YMCA so we have been exercising as well.  I don't hate it.  I don't love it....but I don't hate it either.  It just is. I weigh what my driver's license once said I weighed and I don't have to take my stomach medicine anymore.  I'm exhausted but mostly because I'm a mom and I'm kinda old.  My body is not accustomed to this kind of exercise that I have been subjecting it to.  Everything hurts.  I took anatomy and physiology in college and I did not remember that I had so many muscle groups.  I think I blocked that out or assumed that it didn't apply to me.  I cannot keep up with grandmothers and grandfathers at the YMCA.  Seriously, I can't do it.  These people can outrun, out walk, out peddle, out lift, out crunch, out do about everything they have to offer there better than me.  I get tired watching them.  I get everyone is running their own race in life but golly.  God Bless them because I just want to go home and find some Ben Gay and ice something and they are probably going to go play tennis or ride bikes after they are done at the Y.

So here is to not 'living a lie' anymore.  I'm pretty excited/exhausted/sore but maybe just maybe I'll live a little longer to annoy my children.  I have high hopes of one day seeing them have children of their own JUST LIKE THEM.  Until's time for my next feeding.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Focusing on the Left

I lived in the Midwest for the first 43 years of my life.  In that time I never experienced what it was like to have an allergy, seasonal or otherwise.  The closest I ever came was that I would break out a bit when pulling weeds but once inside and washed off with soap and water eventually the redness would go away.  I still have that here in the South but I also have become friends with allergy meds.  I can't breathe.  My face hurts.  I used to break out every time I took a shower from the water.  I had to buy special soap and shampoo and conditioner.  Now it has gone to the eyes.  They itch and sometimes wake me up from the itching.  In particular my right eye....seemingly my more dominant eye as I do everything better on my right side.  I hear better with that ear, I am right handed.  It is annoying.  My eye doctor says my eyes are dry and he gave me some drops.  They do nothing.

I will be honest.  I have been struggling this week.  I am feeling a lack of purpose.  I feel like a sloth.  My husband works, my son has school, and now both girls have started their college classes.  I give rides to school, I do laundry almost every day, I prepare meals and do the shopping.  I understand that those things need to happen but I do not feel I really contribute all that I should.  I miss my work.  I miss the kids and being a part of something....bigger.  I can't have that here.  There are schools, yes, but they are so far different that I'm not sure I would be able to make the connections with people like I did before.  I accept this, it doesn't make it easier, but I get that sacrifices were made by everyone when we chose to move and this was mine.  All of this is making me feel sad this week in particular for some reason.  While I have found friends, I still haven't found my contribution.

Two weeks ago my middle was struggling and was mad and upset and just plain overwhelmed with unknowns.  She is better now.  School has begun and routine has once again taken hold in her life.  She thrives on routine, something that she hasn't had much of since the move.  She said the words, "I have a job, where's yours!" to me and it broke me.  It felt as though she ripped my heart out and thrashed it around like the Hulk tossing around Loki.  It has resonated in the back of my mind ever since.  It has festered and taken hold and I have struggled to let it go.  I'm not upset with her, she has apologized.  No, I'm mad at me for holding onto it.

I have looked online for jobs.  As it turns out there aren't a lot of postings for people like me.  Women who married, had children and stayed home to raise them.  I spent eleven years at home with my children and only really left to go to work at a preschool to give me something to do once my son started school.  My knowledge of computers is limited.  I can Google and I think all computers are touch screens so that gets me into trouble.  I have to get help to figure out how to get music on my computer.  My smart phone is smarter than me.  I don't know what a cache or a ram is and I have no clue how the cloud works or why I have it or even how to access it.  And if all of that doesn't date me or make me seem an unlikely hire for today's workforce, I also need to only work Monday through Friday and I need to work school hours because I still have responsibilities to my family that I love more than anything.

I lack knowledge and know how in a lot of areas.  I have run a household and I have been raising three children.  This is no small fete especially since I have been learning on the job.  I'm an only child.  I had literally no clue what to do with babies when I started.  Now I'm still trying to figure out teenagers and young adults and I'm failing miserably.  I always say something wrong or look at someone wrong or forget stuff.  I'm pretty sure the women I see in line at drop off have their act together.  They also probably don't get excited and start singing along with Rick Springfield in the car during drop off either.  I kind of think that's the point.  No matter who you are or what you know, there are always going to be people out there that are smarter and know more than you do.  It doesn't make you any less.  It

My right side is dominant.  I was saying earlier today that maybe I'm allergic to the air or maybe God is trying to get me to focus on something with just my left eye which is weird because my right side is dominant.  Writing that or saying it is when it clicked.  I haven't been able to write.  I haven't been able to do much of anything really because I haven't been focusing on the right things.  I've been focusing on what I can't do and not on what I can.  My right side is dominant, but so is my ability to focus on all my negatives, so is my ability to make excuses, and so is my ability to procrastinate.  All the wrong things.  I need to go the other direction.  I need to focus on my left.  I need to pay attention because God has been talking to me for an entire sermon series.  It is OK God knows I'm a slow learner and kind of a prat too.  He loves me anyway and I think He has higher hopes for me than I have for myself.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9  I have to believe that in my weakness here God can use me for something I'm not seeing yet.  I have to believe that the words are coming but I haven't really been listening.  I have to believe I can be of some use and I am actually making a contribution.  My children are a contribution and if that is all I contribute then that has to be enough.  If it isn't then I have to be OK with that too and not keep saying no when asked.  

The truth is I don't know what comes next for me but I do actually have a job here.  I am a mother, I do not bring in an income to help my family but I do work and if I run out of the regular chores and tasks there are plenty more to add in.  Paining needs done, rooms need rearranged and it seems I always have one room that I hate the most no matter where I live.  I just can't get it right.  Also when I shut up the inner voices that like to make me feel less than, it turns out I can get quite a bit of typing done.  God has a lot to say when you turn your voices off and listen to his.  So I'm focusing on the left now.  The right is getting a bit blurry anyway.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Moment by Moment

Do you ever think that dreams are better left as just that....dreams?  I have had a few dreams in my life.  I have had some that were even better than expected and some that seemed even more completely terrifying after they came true.

Seven months after moving far from everything and everyone I have ever know,  I feel settled.  I don't have anxiety attacks when driving down roads that have more cars than I am use to seeing when wanting to go to the grocery.  I've learned that while the big beautiful mall is fun to walk around in, I'm still a Kohl's girl at heart.  I've learned that some things are scarier in my head than they actually are.  The bridge to take to St. Pete is overwhelming but the views are so beautiful it distracts from the fear.

I've learned that God sent people ahead of me to make this transition easier.  When I first wanted to move here at least ten years ago, I wouldn't necessarily have ended up where I did with people who are some of the kindest I've ever met.  I've learned that you can find doctors who are good and not abrupt even in a larger area and that is easier to find than finding a good haircut.

Most importantly though I've learned that even though moving was scary, I have the best people to go through it with.  My family is far from perfect and sometimes we drive each other crazy but at the end of the day they are my favorite humans in all the world.  I can mess up or just be stupid and they will still love me.  I have the best partner in life I could ever dream up.  I've learned that his calm is one of my greatest treasures.  All in all moving has been one of the easier of dreams to follow.

Writing however, has been by far the hardest.  The actual writing process is hard enough but throw in things that you never thought of as possibilities, and there have been points in my journey that have made me think more than once...that keeping that dream a dream may have been a better option.  Two books in and I have spent two years not wanting to pull the trigger to attempt a third.

If you don't try you don't have to fail, right?  I tend to think big in my what ifs.  The big success though is something I only truly think I want to obtain in theory.  As in, "Wouldn't it be cool to be like Adele?"  or "Wouldn't it be cool to be like Jen Hatmaker or Beth Moore?"  In theory, those things sound very cool but actually becoming someone like them requires something that I do not currently possess....Courage.  Well that and an overabundance of talent and sheer determination.  I'm not sure I'm so determined to excel at really anything.  I don't just think big successes either in my what ifs.  I equally thing big failures.  What if I am a no talent hack?  What if I have to speak and I projectile vomit all over the people there to hear me or wet my pants or faint?

Perhaps moving is the extent of bravery and courage I possess.  In moving I didn't go alone and I absolutely know that I don't go alone in any endeavor, God goes with me.  In my humanness I need someone else to go with me too.  That would be the Moses in me. I don't want to go but if I do send someone with me. I am someone who lacks the particular gene that holds any bit of self confidence.  Not a trait I was given in my upbringing.

The pastor at church as been (appropriately) doing a sermon series on courage.  Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Joshua, David, and Daniel.  And he isn't done.  All of these people had struggles and in the end showed great courage.  Abraham was hard to get through, Moses worse, but David about destroyed me.  The struggle in finding my identity continues.  The figuring out of who I am and who I am meant to be seems to be taking longer for me to figure out than most.

Perhaps it is my fault.  By my own admission I have tried to surround myself with friends who are smarter than I am.  People I can learn from and enjoy being around and people who aren't afraid to tell me when I am being an idiot.  Those are the qualities I look for in a friend.  How can you grow if you surround yourself with people who always agree with you?  I have learned from my friends but I think to some extent I want them to figure me out.  Tell me what I am supposed to do.  I am not sure about a lot of things but I am certain that I have a lot of growing to do.  More than most by my estimation.

Mostly I cannot imagine how God could ever use me or why He would ever pick me for anything.  I am quite possibly the most exasperating person I know.  I am much better at believing IN God than I am in BELIEVING God.  I am well acquainted with my faults.  The inventory is long and likes to be acknowledged with regularity.  Old habits die hard don't they?

In church we are learning about courage than comes from God and stays with you for a lifetime.  The thing is...I don't think it is something that one attains all at once.  Or maybe it does and that just hasn't been my experience.  I think it is a moment by moment thing.  I think...and maybe I am off base here, but I think that we have to choose moment by moment what to believe, not only about God but about ourselves too.  Some days are easier than others.  Life is full of decisions.  You make good ones, you make bad ones, but I think maybe not making a decision is worse.  I tend to live there.  On the island of indecision and self doubt and even doubting if God talks to me at all.  Maybe I am just crazy and my what ifs take on a life of their own and I only think God is trying to tell me something.

At this point in my life I am content in my family.  I love our little life with all of our ups and downs.  We have eliminated all semblance of feeling stuck in the same ole same ole.  I stay home and take care of my family now that we have moved just like I did before with the exception being that I no longer have a part time job at a school.

When the first book was coming out I was hoping that it would do well but not too well because I couldn't figure out the logistics of how my family would function if such things as book tours were to arise.  Even now, I'm not sure how that would work.  It isn't that I excel at being a mother.  Probably the opposite as the only thing they really know how to feed themselves are frozen foods, sandwiches and cereal.   I just cannot see how it could work even though two of my children are legal adults now.  How many dreams do we get anyway?  Aren't I too old for dreams now anyway?  Are there age limits to these things?  Are you seeing it?  I am the consummate excuse maker.  The struggle is very real. I fear things that haven't happened, probably wouldn't happen, and likely won't happen.  I'm scared of the parts that I don't want to sign up for.

Moment by moment we decide.  Moment by moment we believe or don't believe.  What if it only took a single moments worth of courage?  What if it only took one moment to become a 'David' or a 'Jonah'?  It essentially did, didn't it?  In my moments, I tend to spent them in the belly of the fish with the Jonahs.  He is not the ideal when it comes to bravery and courage.  The man chose to be thrown over a boat to possibly die in the ocean only to be swallowed by a fish than to go where God told him to go.  I've been there.  That is how my mind works.  If only we could all be David and go with a sling and a stone knowing that God would bring the victory.  Knowing that you wouldn't projectile vomit or pass out or wet yourself in front of a group of people because your fear is so great.

Every Sunday during this series we see the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz talk about all of the creatures that have courage and what they have that he doesn't have....courage.  We see this then we get the lesson.  I can't help but wonder if that will be my legacy?  Two books in and scared to pull the trigger for number three because of what it might/will mean.  Trilogies.  I'm locked in, all in, with three.  There is no turning back.  I can't take it back and I'm not sure I would want to.  It is a very personal thing to write what I write.

Staying true to who I am, a woman with little to no filter or restraint from keeping things real, I will say that I have stared at this page for the last four hours.  Struggling even to publish a post, something I've done time and time before.  Then one phone call from a friend who says just the right thing...because I have done this before.  How can I fear something that I have done already?  It's like riding a ride and knowing your stomach is going to drop but being surprised when it drops anyway.  So after hours of looking at this rubbish here it goes in 3, 2, 1.....

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Great Escape

Twelve years ago my life was irrevocably altered when my mother passed away from cancer.  Before her diagnosis I was living in the house we had built four years prior.  It was decorated in the style of college dorm meets daycare.  There was crayon on the walls, stickers on the sliding glass doors and Barbie jeeps in the yard.  My son was just a baby and I was enjoying my days of breaking up fights between little girls and gazing at this beautiful son God had blessed us with that wasn't planned but was such a gift to us.  I couldn't get enough of his tiny toes and making him giggle by blowing on his belly.  My mother couldn't believe a boy could be so wonderful having had brothers and I couldn't either having had no experience at all and being an only child.

We had had some struggles but we were finding our stride.  We were watching more and more houses being built in our neighborhood and making some friends in the community.  I had the family I never knew I always wanted and while I was a floundering fish when it came to having all the answers in raising children I couldn't imagine anything could change what we had finally achieved.

I remember the headaches were what started it all.  I remember the rush to the hospital and the look in the doctor's eye when he broke the news that it was cancer and it was advanced to stage 4.  I remember the shift.  The look on my mom's face of total disbelief and shock.  I remember the appointments that followed.  I remember the argument with the doctor over whether she would lose her hair or not.  I remember the yell from the shower when her hair was indeed coming out and that it was a friend that took her to get her first of many wigs.  I remember eggs and how she always wanted eggs after treatments.  I remember the day that I went to her room and she didn't know me, her only child who had been caring for her.  I remember when her mind came back from wherever she had been and her yelling at me because she had missed a party.  I remember the remission and how short it was.  I remember taking her to the doctor and begging him to fix it and him asking me what happened.  I remember saying I needed help.

I remember the nurse visits and July coming and asking if she would make it to my birthday it was only two weeks away.  I remember the hot sunny July 13th that my family spent in our pool and checking to see if my mom would rebound and be able to speak to me....always checking.  I remember being so tired and peeking in on her and she appeared to just be sleeping and my baby was finally asleep and laying down to rest for just a little while.  I remember my mother in law waking me and asking me if I had checked and saying yes she was asleep and her telling me to call the nurse.  I remember staying by her side through the night and watching a lightening show outside the window of her room in my house and for once not being afraid of the storm outside because my fear of what was coming inside the house had already started to take hold.   I remember feeling Jesus at the foot of her bed and looking to see if I could see him and taking her hand and telling her best friend to take her hand because it was coming to an end.  I remember feeling the life leave her body.  I remember calling the nurse and the funeral home coming to take her away.  I remember the next day and the day after that.  I remember the funeral and coming home and falling to the floor surrounded by funeral flowers and that is when I checked out.

I went through the motions for two years and then with God's help I checked back into my life.  I couldn't escape the pain and loss and I couldn't hide from life any more.  I started making jewelry, I got involved in MOPS and later helped at preschool.  Time started to move quickly but would slow down every year in July.  I started writing this blog before I really understood the purpose of it.  In the writing I found healing.  July being the crux of it all.  I'm not sure if it would have been easier if it hadn't all happened literally right before my birthday or not or if she had passed in a hospital.  Those are questions I will have when I meet Jesus face to face.

I moved 1100 miles away from everything I've ever known.  I moved for several reasons but it didn't escape my notice that it was the ultimate escape from every reminder that I could possibly encounter.  That's the thing about grief really, it has a way of finding you no matter how far you run.  July 13th and 14th will come every year no matter what until Jesus returns.  This year I sit under an outdoor fan and my view is of a pool with the difference being there is a palm tree just beyond it.  My great escape.  I regret not one bit of this escape to my version of paradise.  Not how difficult it was to get a drivers license, not how scary the roads can be, not even knowing exactly seven people in all of the state.  My great escape wasn't really about running away this time.  It was about running to a possibility.  An idea that life could be more than what I had made it no matter how comfortable I finally became with it all.  A what if....God has more for me than what I've allowed myself.  A separation from the comfortable and predictable and an idea that the fear had had its hold on me for too long.

I remember all of it 12 years later.  Grief finds you but it doesn't have to disable you like it did me for far too long.  I miss my mom every day.  I miss arguing with her, shopping with her, eating with her, talking to her on the phone.  I miss her calling me 'Heth' and asking me 'what do you want to do next kong?'  I miss that to her my birthday was a big deal and the one time that I was sure I wasn't a mistake.  No one else can do that for you but your mom.  I have no one left from my side of the family that calls to check in.  I am blessed that God had that covered with the husband and kids and in laws that he gave me to do that.  So yes, I'm still sad and I still kind of hate July.  This year though I'm counting my blessings and watching the wind blow the palm tree and saving my tears for later and not allowing them to take over.  This great escape has more to offer.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

July, Journeys, and Finding a Way Back

It has been six months since we flew caution to the wind and moved away from everything we ever knew.  I still have moments that I wake up and think it was a dream and only when I look for my favorite tree outside my bathroom window does it occur to me that it is not a dream.  We didn't just move to a new house in the same area we moved to my idea of paradise and what mostly makes it paradise is that we all came together.  Being away from everything can be a good thing at times.  This is now home, our new normal.

Perks to being away include the fact that I don't feel like I need to escape to get through the month of July.  I don't walk into rooms and see my mother and have to replay those last days over and over. I don't have to tell myself there was nothing I could have done and that it wasn't my fault.   I don't have to convince myself that if only I could run away I wouldn't have to feel the loss constantly. I am away and I still feel the loss but only now that it is July, and especially now that I have had a phone call from my dad to remind me.

My step brother has passed away.  My dad called to let me know.  The shocking part is that I actually got a call.  We have literally gone years without a word from him.  We moved four states away and he didn't call to see if we arrived safely.  He called three months later.  If there is bad news to be shared or a family function to attend it is my aunt who sends a text or a phone call to inform us.  It is a very sad time.  I'm mostly sad because while our parents are married I nor my children were included in my dad's new family.  Just as my dad's family always referred to me as my mother's daughter and rarely as father's daughter I was never considered a sister or a daughter to his wife and step children, no matter what I did or tried.  I'm a reasonably intelligent person, I can take a hint.  So my step brother has passed away and I am sad for the brother/sister relationship I didn't get to have and I'm sad for his family but I am essentially a stranger looking in from the outside.  This being confirmed by the fact that I wasn't even mentioned as a sister in the obituary.

My dad then went on to ask me if I remembered what day my mother died.  It has been three days since this phone call and I still can't figure how he could think I would forget.  I'm an only child and my mother wasn't married at the time of her death at fifty two years of age.  I was her care taker.  I was 31 with three children ages 7, 6, and 1 to take care of while I took care of my dying mother and I turned 32 the day after she died.  I can't forget that.  He  continued with 'what year was it?' to which I responded it will be 12 years this year it was 2004.  He said, 'it doesn't seem like its been that long ago.'  I said, 'well I get to remember it every year so...'  He said, 'well I guess we all have things we have to carry with us.'  Indeed.  He continued to endear himself to my heart further but I won't share the rest of it.  I just absorbed it all and mostly I just wondered why I'm not worthy of his love.

You know how God sometimes protects you from yourself?  I couldn't respond how I might have, had I not been so stunned to just answer the questions.  My dad may lack compassion and completely lack sensitivity but that doesn't mean that I have to lose those things when speaking with him.  It does not give me the right to be rude and it doesn't even necessarily allow me to tell him how I feel about how I am treated by him or the rest of his family.  His wife once essentially told me I was a mistake and my dad wouldn't have married my mom had she not been pregnant.  It's not true but it sums up how she feels about me and she never wanted my children to call her grandma.  I have tried talking to him and it gets me nowhere.  What it does do is remind me of who I don't want to be, how I don't want to treat people, and sometimes why I really needed to move away from everything I ever knew.

I believe I needed to move so I could be allowed to grow.  God takes us from our comfort zones so we can be stretched and grow into who we are meant to be.  I had become so comfortable I was afraid to do things I had once done.  I was so comfortable I didn't necessarily need to leave the house.  I had become so comfortable it is possible I was beginning to convince myself that I could go on the rest of my life not living life to the fullest and continuing to run from God and what is quite possibly what he had planned for me all along.  I stopped writing.  I convinced myself I had finished that segment in life and that God couldn't possibly want me to do it anymore because no one read what I had to say anyway. I wasn't any good at it and I should spend more time reading instead of writing.  And maybe I'm not good at it but I'm starting to think it isn't up to me to decide that.  I started forgetting who I was.

God knows who I am.  I tend to forget or I tend to think He is wrong and I am right.  I am nobody.  I can't be used for anything.  What could I possibly contribute to the literary world or any part of the world in general?  But what if its not about me?  What if my healing and growing comes when just one person reads what I have to say finds God seeking them out?

I read quite a bit and I love to sing.  Reading is an escape.  Singing is fun.  I'm a terrible singer.  I know this, it isn't my gift.  I still love it. Yesterday I helped with my first demo day and tore down a wall.  Something I may have talked myself out of before.  I was awesome.  I'm trying to find myself.  Maybe you are too.  When I write it is like I'm taking others with me on this journey.  Maybe you can relate to my adventures with my family, maybe you can relate to my journey with God, maybe you just need to feel like you aren't alone in this haphazard road we are all on together called Life. Whatever brings you here, I hope you find yourself too.  I hope God reaches your heart through something He has me write.  So it appears I'm finding my way back.  When God gives me the words I'll meet you here.  Until next time...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Moving, Doctors, and Finding Joy in the Unknown

Three months ago we followed the dream.  We packed up and moved four states away from everything we ever knew.  While it was and still is exciting there was one detail that I didn't fully think through.  Doctors.  To say that I dislike going to the doctor would be an understatement.  I get it, they are doing their jobs.  Mostly I just wish I wasn't in need of ever seeing one.  I am not a fan of taking medicine, or needles, or tests that could possibly inflict pain of any kind.  My pain tolerance isn't unnecessarily low my tolerance for dealing with things like this is quite low.  

In my delusion with this move, I had this crazy idea that I was going to get out of ever going to the doctor again when I moved.  A small part of my brain (read all of it,..all of my brain) thought that by moving south I would lose twenty pounds when I crossed the border and become so healthy from the sunshine that I would no longer require a medical professional as long as I remembered to wear sun screen.  I also was under the delusion that if I needed anything I could just call the doctor I've seen for over twenty years and he could just send the script to my husband and be done with it...because in "Heather world" this is how things should work.  I get what I need and I never have to enter the cold sterile world of a medical structure.  This however, is not how the real world works.  My doctor sent me in a three month supply at the request of my husband so that I don't drop dead and told him I had three months to find a new doctor.  Apparently there is a law or it is frowned upon to prescribe to a patient you cannot actually see to diagnose.  Whatever...

I spent weeks researching doctors on the internet.  One of my best friends is named Google.  She doesn't send me Christmas or Birthday cards but she is handy for information.  I googled family practitioners near me and then sorted through them all looking at their Vitals and Health Grades online and all sorts of patient reviews. I even went so far as making an appointment with one doctor and then changing my mind and picking a different one.  (The first one didn't sit well and I felt unease about it.)  I made the appointment and then had weeks to stew about it.  

Wednesday I went to this new doctor and it became quickly a "Toto...I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" type of situation.  (The building is two levels for one.) For those of you that are not aware I moved here from a one stoplight town surrounded by corn fields in the Midwest.  We are now in a warmer climate where I haven't seen a single stalk of corn but many a cow and if you can think it, its probably here.  I brought a book because I was sure that I would probably have a wait.  I had to stand in a line to check in and there were two desks across from each other where you could check in.  You have to have your id and insurance card ready before you get up there.  There were many people waiting.

Here are my thoughts and observations before being seen by anyone:

1.  Are all of these people waiting to be seen? This is going to take forever
2.  Shouldn't there be a television in the waiting room playing Little House on the Prairie?  This place seems kind of new-ish, couldn't they afford a flat screen to entertain the masses that are waiting? 
3.  I think there is a rule that I can just leave if the wait time is over 30 minutes.  That's a thing right? 

When I get called up I did ask the gal if the doctor was nice.  She checked to see who I was seeing and then sang his praises.  Note to self: OK he seems to be liked by the staff.  If she checked to see who it was that means there must be someone that is not up to par.  It seems I chose well. 

I didn't have to wait too long before getting called back.  I'd say about 2-3 pages into a book.  There doesn't seem to be any real decor and everything is very sterile looking.  I had to stand on the dreaded scales and then in my head I heard my nurse back home tell me, "We are going to the room with the butterflies on the door."  There are no butterflies on any doors and there aren't any family pictures in the exam rooms.  Mostly it seems cold.  But then I got to talk to this new nurse and she seems really nice.  I then get to meet the doctor a short time later.  He arrives and apologizes for my wait which really wasn't that long.  He looks very doctorly. (Yes it's a word even if spell check disagrees.)  What I got from the appointment was that he seems very knowledgeable and when describing my recent history he doesn't seem to agree with my treatment.  He spent some time shaking his head and put his head in his hands at one point.  What I also found out is that I have spent too much time going to the Wawa and should meet a vegetable or a piece of fruit sometime.  

I explained to him that I had thought I would lose weight when I moved here but then we met the Wawa and losing weight has taken a back seat to everything else.  He seems to have a good head on his shoulders so I think this might work.  

So here's the take away.  Oh don't look surprised you knew a lesson was coming.  Moving is stressful.  Parenting is stressful.  Adulting (this too is a word) is well... stressful.  Sometimes it can all be overwhelming...especially when you have water coming out the bottom of the dishwasher and no clue who to call and really all you want to do is curl in a ball and cry.  I struggle keeping it all together.  I'm not as brave or near as confident as I'd like to believe I could be but here's the thing...  From the very beginning of this journey even when we thought the journey was not going to happen, God has been right there to put people in our path to help us with all of this.  Even with all the stuff that can send you in a tizzy and make you question everything, God is there.  I know very few people here.  I don't have even a handful of people to call for coffee or a movie for a girls night.  I don't have my beloved Bunco group and I sure don't have the surroundings I've known my entire life including my medical team.  What I do have though are possibilities and promises.  I have dreams and sunshine after the storms.  Honestly this week has stressed me and stretched me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  My life verse plays in my mind followed swiftly by this one found in John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me, In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world."  I'm holding onto these promises as I learn my way here.  I can do this.  I can live this new life because every step of the way God has made a way for us.  He put things in place, he brought friends before us to show us the way, when we arrived and were living in the mess of boxes he helped us to find all the paperwork we needed for everything.  He placed us in a church where I really like the pastor and his wife and think to myself, "He might be the man who performs the ceremony for my children's weddings."  In this church we found a guitar teacher for my daughter and she learned more in one lesson than ten back home.  In this neighborhood we have met people who are kind and maybe not lets go hang out friends but people we can ask questions or call on to remove a snake.

I'm holding on for dear life.  I am stressed to the point of breaking out in hives but I'm also filled with joy.  I may not be brave but I can rest assured because I am beloved.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Is This Midlife Crisis?

In this quadrant of life I find myself in I find myself seeing things in firsts and lasts.  In just a matter of ten short days my oldest child will turn twenty years old.  Gone will be her teens the very last vestiges of her childhood gone with the turning of the clock.  I see flashes of her childhood flashing before my eyes.  Her first day of kindergarten when she said she was a big girl now and she had to ride the bus to school.  Her learning how to read, how to write, how to multiply, how to drive.  So many firsts with so many more yet to come.  Last days of elementary, last day of junior high, and last day of high school she was sure would never come and I wasn't sure we would survive with so many roller coasters that we seemed to be riding.

As a teenager I couldn't wait to fly the nest and get on with life and as a mother I'm terrified of her flying away and getting on with her life.  No longer will I be the mother of three teenagers.  I will be the mother of two teenagers and an adult.  How do I mother her now?  I haven't even gotten this mother of teenagers thing figured out yet?  These people are growing up far to quickly for my taste.  Where do we go from here?  My entire identity is changing.

I was married at twenty two and had my first child at twenty three.  I stayed home to raise my children, a gift that I acknowledge, and an enormous blessing as I am aware not everyone is able to do so.  I haven't been in school for over twenty years.  I didn't use the two associate degrees I earned in college and I don't know what I'm supposed to do with myself in this quadrant.  How do I introduce myself to people when my children are grown?  "Hello I'm Heather and I'm a stay at home mom, I just don't have any children at home?"  Or " Hello I'm Heather and I'm a housewife who hates to cook, can't bake like her mother, and cleans when she can write her name in the dust?" (That part may be an exaggeration) How will I spend my days?  I don't watch soap operas and I'm not entirely sure what bon bon's are.

My middle child is eighteen years old and she can't wait to get a move on with figuring out her next steps.  My baby is thirteen.  THIRTEEN!!! The baby boy that I brought home from the hospital what feels like four years ago is now thirteen and is taller than everyone in our house.  He's smart and funny and handsome and you know that some girl is going to snatch him up and I will no longer be his favorite.

Is this a midlife crisis?  Is this THAT?  Am I suddenly going to get urges to drive sports cars and have surgery to pick my "girls" up to where they once were?  How does this thing work?  What is even crazier is I've been toying with the idea of going back to school.  I'm going to be "mid-forties" and I'm thinking of going back to school?  That's crazy.  By the time I graduated I'd have maybe five years to work before I was getting pushed out the door for being too old.  Who wants to hire a fifty-something year old with no experience right out of school who may very well retire at sixty-something if she even lives that long. Don't get me wrong I aspire to see the ripe old age of ninety five.  But let's be real here.  I had my baby at thirty.  And what would I study?  Can you transfer twenty year old college credits?  Even if you don't remember the classes because your entire existence has been about kids, kids activities, and carpools?

Twenty years old....and it went too fast.  I want to go back to the American Girl store and start over.  I want to get all rapped up in that cult of dolls and all their accessories.  I want to buy the barbies and the matchbox cars and the Lincoln logs and forget this business of colleges and graduations and first apartments and marriages.  I don't even know how to make chicken and noodles for two people.  Will we just eat out or eat frozen entrees for one?  What if he doesn't like me anymore when it's just the two of us?  We've had children for almost the entirety of our marriage.  I'm not near as cute as I once was.  He looks the same if not better, I look like I'm old enough to be an older cousin.

But then again...maybe it won't be so bad.  Maybe they will marry really great people someday and our family will get bigger.  Maybe someday we can all be in a room without someone being mad at someone else.  Maybe we can come together at holidays around a table of the finest meal Bob Evans has to offer at Easter and enjoy watching our future grandchildren hunt for eggs.  Maybe my husband and I will travel and see the world.

Maybe...God has got this too.  Maybe I should take a beat and remember who I am and not everything has to be figured out this minute.  I am the child of a righteous King and whatever comes next...whether I have a really cool way of introducing myself or not, well, I suppose maybe the best identity I can think of is exactly who I am.  I'm the daughter of a King who was blessed to stay home with three great kids and whatever comes next doesn't change that.  I'll still be the mother of three great kids we'll just have a different dynamic.  Also I would do well to remember that they were never really mine to begin with, they are His.  He has a plan for each of them and if He has a plan for them, I can rely on Him to have a plan for me as well.

Now I really have to go because...well I have homework. One class awaits.  Let the experiment begin.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Happy 64th Birthday Mom!

February 25, 2016

Dear Mom,

You would have turned 64 today.  I wonder what you would have looked like?  Would you still color your hair? (Probably)  Would you wear it short or longer?  To my mind's eye you are frozen in time, forever 52, forever beautiful, forever youngish.  Would you have moved south with us or would you still be angry that we left?  So many questions left unanswered until we meet again.

Your grandchildren are getting so grown up.  Your oldest is going to be twenty.  Can you believe that?  M is finished with high school and preparing for college. and P, our baby who you never saw with hair, is taller than everyone in the house.  You would be so proud of them.  They would have driven your nut as they are just and sarcastic and snarky as their mother but you would have loved them deeply.

It was a moment, a blink of an eye, we were all together.  We were having lasagna for Christmas Eve, we were eating the best cookies and candies ever made, we were shopping for nothing in particular, we were arguing because we were both right ALL. THE. TIME., we were talking on the phone while I made dinner, you were coming over for dinner, the kids were spending the night.  It was a moment a lifetime ago and you were gone. I woke up and you weren't there and you weren't coming back.  I want to call you.  I want to tell you about our day.  I want to hear about your friends.  I want to argue with you because that's how I knew you cared.

We would be planning your birthday dinner for tonight.  I imagine you being tan and being here and taking you to our favorite place for shrimp here.  I can see you in your yellow swimsuit you wore the year we went to Surf side beach in South Carolina. I can see you sitting at the table drinking your coffee and chewing on your pinky finger like you used to do when you were tired.  I can hear you asking me what I want to do next.  Your voice is ingrained in my heart as well as your smile.

I'm sad but it isn't crippling anymore.  I can see past my last year with you.  I can remember all the fun times and smile because I was blessed enough to have you as my mother.  You were young and not ready to be a mother but you were perfect in your presence.  You were there for everything.  You didn't miss a beat and you had a look that could stop me cold in my tracks.  Oh how I wish I had inherited that.  I wish so many things.

Wishing is not futile however, because I have the certainty that I will see you again.  Until that day I'm sure your party in heaven is going to be amazing.  Have a great day and know that I love you always.