Friday, October 26, 2012

The Worst Best Day

The feeling of family is alive and well.
People still need people.
We all have hurt.
Pain is not exclusive.
Tears and laughter are indeed the best medicine.
We do the best we can.

"How do we do this?"
"We hold hands and walk through it."
"Because we are kindred spirits."

I let my fear keep me from calling.
I let you down.
Your grieving was too much like my own.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
You came back to this family.

I will always wear my heart on my sleeve.
Take me for what I am; who I was meant to be.
You can't preach away the crazy.
But you can love it, so give love.

Give Love.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Have I Done All I Can?

In recent days I've had some challenging yet insightful conversations with good friends (old and new).  In relationships with people, we often get involved in each other's lives as a result of living in community, and wind up knowing each other's dirt.  As a person of faith, I used to consider this a good thing, until I realized how much I was overstepping boundaries in many areas.  I would smother people with what I thought was positive attention until the relationship blew up and some people actually cut me out of their life for this.  I'm not crying about it--it was a consequence of my unchecked behavior.

Several years ago, after a particularly painful incident (resulting in said "cut out"), I found myself in therapy (AGAIN) and crying and whining that no one understood me, my marriage was failing, why didn't anyone love me back, etc, etc.  Truth be told, it was a bunch of whining.  My therapist at the time invited me to read Cloud & Townsend's Boundaries.  I did, and my eyes were opened to the fact that I wasn't a completely co-dependent and boundaryless person, I was more of the person that ignored other's boundaries.  I was the antagonist, pushing on those around me that I loved to show their love the way I wanted them to, or just plain forcing myself on them.

After I finished the book, there was a period of growth--a somewhat peaceful time of self-reflection and conscious action on my part--to be aware of other people in a different way, and to release the control I tried so desperately to keep.  Through various methods of recovery I have felt relieved of many of those compulsive and obsessive behaviors.  Though there is one area with which I'm still challenged.  Boundaries.  I think I've taken the boundaries approach to the opposite extreme, and refused to get involved with people much beyond level 1 or 2 (save for the people in my food group or other people in recovery.  Wait.  That sounds like I eat people.).  In my case, isolation leads to feeding my addictions.  This is not good.  This is not okay.  In addition to feeding my addictions, I've let my compassionate side take a back seat to not interfering, and not spoken up to friends that need a shoulder.  I haven't offered the very love and compassion I so desired.

So the question remains, "How much is too much?"  How involved should I get?  The obvious factors are: a) how well do I know the person, b) am I in some sort of community with them, and c) what are the needs?  One friend stated that it is not about how much you "know" the situation.  Sometimes we aren't called to understand specifics of a problem--we are simply to love and encourage and keep in touch.  I agree with this.  Another friend said that because relationships have been developed, we have a responsibility to do all that we can when we see a friend in trouble or drowning.  I'm not saying the two ways of relating my friends mentioned are the only ways to deal.  I'm simply wishing I had a black or white answer to give them.  That's me--do it right or don't do it at all...

The bottom line is that in these times, people are afraid to share.  We don't want our conversations and defects broadcast to the multitude of social media outlets (see Drew Barrymore in "He's Just Not That Into You").  A confidant doesn't want their mess to show up on a Facebook status or repeated back to them from another person in whom they haven't shared.  We can make grand statements about how we are "an open book" and "you can know who I am all the time!"  but it just isn't so.  And so we let people see what we want them to see and it all becomes a vicious cycle, resulting in coping mechanisms that eventually lead to isolation.

And what is this all about, you ask?  I wonder if I have done all that I can for my friends who are hurting.  Have I been a big old chicken because I didn't want to cross boundaries?  Have I used boundaries as an excuse not to get involved because it was too messy?  Answer:  Yes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hip Shakin'

Dancing through these days one at a time.

On Career:  Definitely podcasting.  Definitely aiming for going back to school.

On Church:  I continue to seek and understand the meaning behind community, and to de-compartmentalize myself.  I'm blessed beyond measure by my friendships, yet still hold them at arm's length.  I've met many new people in the last year.  I seek to be a voice of peace and connection within my church community.  I have no care for divisiveness.  I will not shoot the wounded.

On Self:  Sometimes we have to be honest about what ails us.  I had to reach out and get some help.  Struggling with postpartum depression is real and creates real anguish.  I'm also regularly attending meetings again.  God is bigger than this day or that moment.  He can do with it what I can not.

On Children:  Things are fun and fairly enjoyable.  Seeing things through the eyes of my two year old is amazing.

On Faith:  I continue to be open to possibilities.  I seek refuge in the heart of Christ, and that's as far as I can get most days.  In the past few weeks, I think he's literally holding me up.  I'd like to hide in the folds of his garment.  Oh for the day I see your face.

On Music:  favorite tracks of late include Empire State of Mind (Jay Z), Shadow Days (Mayer), Summertime (Janis J), and the entirety of my Astrud Gilberto station on Pandora.

Bonus PSA:  Politics blow.  I'm tired of it already, and it is only August.  I don't care who you vote for or care to listen to any more vacant promises.  My thought is to live and do the best I can where I am.  I believe the opportunity to vote is precious and not to be taken lightly.  However, it is not the definition of who I am, and I resent the fact that I'm asked to pick sides, and that things like this pull apart families and friends.  Get over it.  Vote.  Live YOUR life.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summertime, and the Livin' is Easy?

We spent some time in Dallas last weekend with my brother, Will, my brother, Scott, their wives and children and my step-mom, Laura.  And by "we," I mean me and Eleanor.  Sweet Josiah spent 4 days in the hospital last week.  He had what turned out to be a nasty virus.  With a virus, you simply have to let it pass.  He was given rounds and rounds of tests that revealed nothing.  So, dad and Josiah stayed home and rested while Eleanor and I made the rounds in Dallas.

We swam every day.  Eleanor is such a little fish!  She even jumped off of the diving board a few times!  We definitely need swimming lessons.  And possibly gymnastics.  She really has no fear.  She also adores all her helps that they are all girls (first cousins anyway)!  She played and played with Hope and Adelle, showering them with kisses and hugs.  We're working on sharing things.  Her second birthday is this week!  So hard to believe!  We're having a Sesame Street party at the park, and mom and dad got her a tricycle and her very own goldfish.  For those that don't know, Elmo has a pet goldfish named Dorothy.  Eleanor thinks every fish is named Dorothy, and we though it might be fun for her to see and have one at home.  I don't think we'll keep it in her room--I imagine walking in and she hands me the fish and says "Dorty!"

We got home tonight and Josiah seems so much bigger after only 3 days!  He looks so much happier and comfortable.  He's back to eating regularly and was smiling and talking to me.  It was scary for me to be with him at the hospital.  He had a teeny tiny IV and was so sad and fussy.  I'm glad that is behind us for now.  To me, Josiah looks more and more like Jeremy.

Right now the man and I are sitting on the back porch surfing on our laptops and chatting.  It's nice to chill with him and a little glass of wine.  We've got a full week ahead--Grammy Laura arrives on Wednesday, my birthday dinner on Friday, Eleanor's party on Saturday, then Aunt Becky & Uncle Eric arrive on Sunday.  We've got sunshine to sit in, games to play, hugs and kisses to give, and time to enjoy with friends.

A quick thank-you to all who visited Josiah, and took such good care of us during his sickness, especially to Kristina & Eric Lusk and Frances for looking after Eleanor.  It's a big job.  Now on to unload the car and have a shower before I collapse.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Death and Dying

I'm reminded this week of how much time we don't have.  I know a lot about loss and death.  My husband works with patients at the end of life.  This does not make things more comfortable or easy when hearing about a friend's mother who, quite suddenly, lost her life.  I'm certain it was all a frightening blow-as if the wind had been sucked out of the universe.  I actually CAN imagine how my friend feels, yet each situation is unique.  The best I can do right now is sigh and share her tears, I guess.

In many ways I have let the death of each of my parents define me.  It's not as if I wander around in a state of despair, yet those events are constantly with me.  I was sharing a conversation with the aforementioned friend this week, and she said "How do we keep them alive for our children?  How do we make sure they remember and know who they were?"  I was struck with a sudden wave of sadness.  I always imagined that my children would go to Pop and Grammy's house in Oklahoma, just like we went to Grandma's house in Illinois.  They'd enjoy having Pop tickle them and "getcha getcha getcha."  That's the problem with expectations I guess.  We're not promised anything.  But, in keeping my mom and dad's spirit alive, we look at a lot of pictures, tell stories, and do the best to live our some of their character in our own lives.  There's no shortage of a wonderful heritage!  I have the added bonus of having a wonderful step-mom, two living grandparents, aunts and cousins and a crowd of friends who have become family.

Because my mother's various illnesses were very long and drawn out, I'm  much more at peace with her passing.  It's my dad that troubles me.  He neglected his own health concerns (diabetes) to take care of mom, and his illness (in my estimation and from what I can understand) was preventable.  He may have still wound up on dialysis and in renal failure for all I know.  He and I had a special relationship.  In addition to being "dad's girl," in the days and months following my mother's death we bound ourselves together as a team and fought the demons of grieving.  In many ways I was an adult before I was a child.  Perhaps he leaned on me too much.  I do not fault him for this...the man lost his wife.  We took on life and did the best we could with it.  I praise God for Laura (step-mom).  When she came to our home, we had a place to rest, and a confident woman with whom to re-build our home.

I miss him every day.  I try not to wear it on my sleeve--you know, posting on FB and whatnot, though I could.  I feel like I could.  I still need to call him.  I need his advice.  I need him to make me laugh.  Though now, I get that advice and laughter from past events instead of present interactions.  I call to mind his academic approach to scripture; his practical approach to life situations; his creative nature in regard to literature and the arts; his love affair with music.  He was the first person to serve me a cup of coffee, the first person to tell me I was pretty, the first person to play the Beatles for me.  He made a lot of mistakes, too, and a lot of things I don't want to repeat.  But, these days, I think about those things less and less.  He was just a man, dealing with his life in the best way he knew how.  Right now, I smile thinking how he'd adore his 3 granddaughters and his grandson.  I'm pretty sure he'd be over the moon, telling them (as he did me) that God took blue from the sky and blue from the ocean and made our blue eyes (okay, now a tear).

I love you, Poppie.  Hallelujah for legacies.  "We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses..."

Saturday, March 17, 2012


On days like today, I'm reminded that writing is a most valuable tool to me. With all of the challenges we face in every day life, sometimes it is tempting to only write about the "good" things--the things that are comfortable and bring peace and contentment. I think it is worthwhile to also write about times when we are frazzled, beat-up, tired, mopey and/or generally displeased with life. While letting these things out in a tangible form, I can then have it out of my head and be reminded of all that for which I have to be grateful.

I'm constantly challenged by my daughter. She is growing and learning so fast. Her attention span lasts 3-4 minutes (maybe, depending on the subject matter). It's hard to know what will pique her interest on any given day. Today it seems to be moving bar stools and trying to climb them. So, we reach deep into our reserves of patience and hopefully explain a) "how we don't want you to get hurt" and b) "it's okay to try new things." Her spirit is so playful and happy! I am extremely grateful for that. She is very willful and stubborn too, but not in a way that is off-putting. She genuinely loves to be around other children and loves to run and play. I am frustrated with trying to teach her boundaries and limits. She has no fear, and that's not always necessarily good. Her determined spirit will serve her well later in life, I know this. Right now my fuse is quite short. I wonder when all of the "teaching" will begin to sink in. I seem to be giving myself a time-out every 10 minutes.

Fast forward 4 days when I finally sit down to finish this post.

The day I began this post was awful. I really did not know how to cope with that day. It passed, I'm rested, everyone is fine. But it sure felt as if my pot was boiling over. It's interesting how those days look in retrospect...I know they will come again, but now it doesn't seem like such a huge mountain. I do still feel that burnout is an appropriate title, because it is the best way to describe what I was feeling. The desire to hide-out comes on me more than I'd like to admit. Sometimes I think I'm still living the life I did before children, and trying to fit her (and soon Josiah) into that life instead of molding my life to fit them, which is arguably the easier and more appropriate thing to do--so why does it seem so difficult?

Jer and I are thumbing through some parenting books. I used to thing they were a bunch of hooey. You were just supposed to get in there and get things done. Now I am actually taking some advice seriously. Some methods about which we have read are definitely not for us and some are useful. I think the best thing I've learned from this reading is that you can pick and choose what works for you in terms of discipline, growth, attitudes, etc. I like black and white, but it does not apply. Flexibility is key, and I've got to let go of control.

Oy. There's the word. Control. 3 years ago I made a commitment to let go of the death grip I had on my life and that I tried to have on others. Do you know how exhausting it can be to try and micromanage your life and the life of everyone around you? Talk about a recipe for squashing all opportunities for authentic relationships! There were things I was doing to others that I didn't even know I was doing. Through the process of various types of counseling and recovery, I have been able to let go of a lot of those habits. Sometimes in parenting I feel them bubbling to the surface again. One important thing I read is that children are not pets to be trained (this is not the same as discipline). I do not have to micromanage my kids. I do not have to stress out because one show is watched more than others, or that fixations on certain foods jump up. A spilled cup of milk is not the same as running into the street. It really is a whole new world of learning for the children and for parents.

I'm lucky enough to have a partner for my life...someone who considers me an equal. We do the best we can. We're learning too. And that's enough for me to feel grateful. I love my daughter and I'm ready to meet my son (7 weeks and counting). For now, we'll jump in the rain puddles together and laugh as much as we can and let go of trying to control everyone and everything.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Circa '69

I'm listening to a lot of CSN(Y). I know they all came from other groups and the fact that they came together should be attributed to Cass Elliot. If I'm not mistaken, they first sang together in her home. Here is what is amazing to me: normally I can listen to music and hear what is happening with vocal and instrumental parts, and separate them in my head--this is this and that is that. When these three (sometimes four) men sing together, I can not pick apart the harmony. I simply can not do it. I imagine to see it written on a staff would be just as blinding--a big mish mash of chords. Of course the melody lines are easily picked out. All of that rich, in-between development is what I can't find. And it's great. Soothing. Definitive.

I'll be honest. I don't know the deep cuts, or much solo work from any of the men, aside from Neil Young. Various problems aside, they put together some amazing music. The version of "Woodstock" they recorded is flat out one of my favorites (written by Joni Mitchell). And who doesn't need a good protest song every now and then? Young's "Ohio" (written in about 10 minutes) fills the need. "Helpless" is probably my favorite of all of their tracks. "Wooden Ships" is such a groove. Literally.

I also like Crosby's "Hero" done with Phil Collins (this makes me sounds just like everything Collins puts out). I think it is about Lancelot and Guinevere. Crosby is such an oddball, and he looks like a carnie. His life struggles are something to behold and it makes me sad reading about them (though how long can one feel sorry for self-inflicted wounds?). The lyrics of "Hero" move me "So we sort through the pieces, my friends and I, searching through the darkness to find the breaks in the sky."

Maybe my connection reminds me a lot of my Dad. I like to think I'd be drawn to CSN(Y) on my own. He was the first to introduce them to me. I'm hanging in there with them since that time in High School. I don't think I could exactly define the group as timeless, because they are so connected with the San Francisco summer of love folkie/rock yaddayadda. But I would say wonderful.