Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Making Peace

Have I mentioned lately that I'm stressed? If I haven't, it's because I haven't been around enough to say anything. I am stressed. Out. I am losing hair, losing sleep and losing my grip on reality. Yesterday, I broke down and sobbed in the parking lot of the grocery store because my stuff wasn't bagged correctly.* I do not do that. That is not me.

This is a combination of things. For starters, my job is... um... interesting right now. Secondly, my personal life seems to have suddenly gotten crazy. And finally, I think I'm just losing it. Yesterday, Maren patted me on the shoulder and said, "Mommy, you feel bad too much. You need to go to the doctor." Sure-sure. I'll get to that. Eventually.

In the meantime, I'm trying to make peace. I am putting a conscience effort into trying to carve out time to just be at peace with everything. Even if it's only a minute of peace, I'm trying to make myself be there and just enjoy it.

Last week, I brought my dog to work on Friday. I used to bring him a day or two a week, but I kinda quit when it got hot because I didn't want to go outside at noon to walk him.

All morning, he slept on the floor right behind my chair, where I could hear his slow, unbothered breathing. Then, at lunch time, we went for a walk around the pond. When we were well away from any other dogs, I let him off his leash and he ran and played and chased butterflies. On a couple of occasions, a mower or a golf cart would approach and I would call him and he'd come stand right at my side until I patted him to go on.

On the way back, we even stopped and sat in the grass to take a selfie.

That afternoon, he was a little less well-behaved, barking at all the other dogs in the building. And that night, he kept me up all night while he tried to guard dog a tent full of preteen birthday celebrants.

But that day, I had more peace than I'm used to.

I'm not sure if the lesson learned is that I need to never leave home without River or if it's that just being near peace makes me more peaceful. Maybe it's both. I don't know. But what I do know is that I can't change what's going on in my life right now. But maybe I can change my reaction to it.

*In my defense, I shop for three to four households every week and my big requirements for bagging is that you keep all our crap separate. I don't really think I'm asking for a lot here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Decade

Sometimes it doesn't even seem possible. I look at her, with all her personality and attitude and tweenyness, and I think, "How did that happen? She was just two."

But she isn't two anymore. She's going to be ten on Sunday and I can't believe she's been around for a decade. I can't believe it's been ten whole years since I was terrified in an OR. Ten years since she slept in a suitcase full of lights for jaundice. Ten years since I stayed up all night with her for two weeks while we got her days and nights switched back to normal. Ten years since I looked at that closet full of tiny pink dresses and wondered how I had that many friends who didn't know I hated pink.

And now, here she is, almost grown. And there are so many more things I know about her now than I did then. Then, I knew she was strong and smart and that she liked the sound of thunderstorms and that she got scared when I wrapped up my hair in a towel.

Now, I know that she loves books, words, sentences and the ebb and flow of language. I know that she loves fantasy best, but that she will give almost anything a shot. I know that she can't seem to live without a little bit of chaos, but that she can't live with too much chaos, either. I know that she has so much more going on in her head than anyone would ever guess.

I know that she likes animals more than people and that's okay, because there's some magic to watching her observe wild animals. I know that she's a good writer and a good friend and a good kid.

I know that even when she's not great at something, she has the passion to get by better than most.

I know that she's not fussy or primpy but that she cares very deeply about having a certain look.

I know that she's going to be trouble. I can see it in the boys who have crushes on her and the easy way that she talks to people and the easy way she moves through life, like nothing is really worth getting all that worked up over.

But, I know that when she does get worked up (usually at her sister) you should run for cover. She is a tornado in a teacup.

But the most important thing that I knew then, is still the most important thing I know now. That's my kid.

I am feircly proud of that kid. Today, I had a meeting at her school and I happened to be walking down the hall when she was waiting to switch classes and I saw her talking with her friends and laughing. She talks with her hands, like me. And she was twinkling and I wondered how anyone could see anything other than her. She took my breath away.

So often, I see her with my critical eyes. Her shirt is too short or she's wearing her pants too low. She needs a haircut or is that chocolate on her face? But this morning, I just took her in, in all her amazing glory.

That's my kid.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ten Deep Breaths

So, I've been... Well... Busy, I guess.

I don't know, it doesn't seem like I've done all that much with myself. And yet, I feel like I haven't had any decent downtime in almost forever. I feel like I threw about seven knives in the air and just remembered that I don't know how to juggle.

September is hard on me. For one thing, practically everyone was born in September. (I believe that and yet, it's pretty much just Brynna. And the Ex, but I don't so much celebrate his birthday anymore. There's some cousins and a couple of the kids' friends, but really, as far as big birthdays go, just Brynna.)

It's also my favorite time of year. This is the season where I suddenly believe that I am invincible. I think of exciting new things that I am positive I want to do. I take on new challenges. I say yes a whole lot and get excited about almost everything.

But the reality is that I am running ragged, trying to just remember get some laundry detergent and wash Maren's lunch plates.

I am buried.

I went to the therapist today and I told her how overwhelmed I felt and why. I went on and on an annoying amount and work and home and how everything is piling up and I don't know what I'm doing and there's so much work and so little time and AAAAAAAAAAAAA.

She told me to take ten deep breaths.

I rolled my eyes.

She laughed.

She said that it's not going to be about the breaths, it's going to be about me carving out time. Insisting that this thirty seconds or so is just for me to breathe and not do anything else.

And that speaks to me. I've been "holding on" until the girls are away again. So I can have a whole day to spend in bed or house cleaning or whatever makes the peace outweigh the chaos.

But maybe I don't need a whole day. Maybe I just need thirty seconds, or five minutes, or an empty car and a drive home, or a long shower. I need to intentionally set time aside for me and enjoy it, not just use the quiet seconds as a time to work on my to do lists.

So, here I am, taking ten deep breaths.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This is What Kicking Pants Looks Like

You know how a couple of years ago, everybody picked a theme for their year? Like "This is the Year of Joy!" or "This is the Year of Pretzels!" And you know how I said that my birthday/the beginning of the school year is my New Year's? Yeah? (If not, can you just pretend that you know what I'm talking about? That would be great. Thanks.)

Well, this is my Year of Fear (lessness). I realized it when I was looking over my 36 Things. This year I have a lot going on that's primarily about taking back my dark night of the soul. And someone asked me the other day, why I've chosen to go from as little physical activity to weight training of all things.

My answer was that it was a metaphor. I've been strong, really strong for the past few years. I've survived a whole lot and thrived through most of it. I'm standing taller now than I have for years and years. In short, I am a pretty kickass lady. Except that it's all metaphorical. I'm metaphorically strong and physically pitiful. I'm going to change that. (If it kills me, which, you know, right after a day at the gym, it kinda feels like it might.)

So, let me tell you about why I've never given blood:

It's freakin' scary.

No, really. I once passed out when I was having blood taken for testing. My arm felt like it was on fire and the fire spread to my head and I thought I was going to throw up, but luckily(?) I passed out instead. When I woke up, I had a very annoyed phlebotomist, a cold compress and the world's tiniest apple juice cup.

I don't like needles. I don't like the way it looks when they pierce your skin. I don't like the way the skin depresses and then seems to suck itself up around the needle.

I don't like tourniquets. They make my hand hurt. Yes, my hand. For a long time.

I don't like the smell of rubbing alcohol.

And I mean, really, that's just for a couple of little vials with some kind of sludge in their bottoms. I couldn't even imagine the horror of someone sucking out an entire bag of blood. Plus, I've watched enough vampire movies and shows about nice guy vampires to not be able to picture those things in any context other than being ripped open by someone's teeth.

So, today, facing my fear like a big girl, I walked into a bloodmobile. (I can't believe my spell check knows what that is, but has a problem with kickass.) Anyway, I walked in and sat down and started answering questions. My hands were shaking so badly that I dropped everything they gave me. Literally. My thermometer hit the floor.

By the time we got to the mini-physical, my legs were shaking too. When it looked for a moment like my surgery in April might disqualify me, I nearly burst into tears. I was afraid that it I walked out, that would be it and I'd never get up the nerve to give again. I was relieved that I might leave without a hole in my arm. Mostly, I was just too scared to answer questions.

It all turned out fine, though and I went to lay on the couch-y thing. The worst part was the waiting. Next time, I'm taking a book. Is that rude?
Look at that bandage. It's a blue badge of courage.

I got a brownie out of it, though. And a tee shirt. And, of course, the knowledge that someone, somewhere might need that blood and I might just keep them from bleeding out. (Or starving to death, I'm not discounting vampires.) Mostly, though, I got the knowledge that I could take this terrifying thing and stare it in the eye and with a wavery voice and shaking knees, and say, "Come at me."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Conversations with the Voices in my Head

You know, Robin Williams...

Everyone seems to be having some sort of opinion on this. From those who want to criticize because suicide is "selfish," to those who are jumping to defend by lumping all mental illness together.

This is just another example of how we, as a culture, all hurry up to halfway act when something strikes our fancy and as soon as the roar dies down, we'll all forget this was ever a thing.

But it is, right now. It is a thing. So I've got some things to say about it:

  • I didn't get it when Michael Jackson died or Whitney Houston. I just wasn't that attached. I haven't really fallen apart over Robin Williams, but I get it, now. He wasn't just a celebrity, he was a personality and one that I kinda thought I sorta knew. I kept thinking about the guest spot he did on Louie and how I thought that was a better explanation of comedy than anything else, ever. Lonely and off kilter.
  • Suicide isn't selfish. I mean, yeah, if you're the one left behind, it is. But if that's the case, having cancer is selfish. Being in a car wreck is selfish. Suicide is just another way that our loved ones leave us. It's the end result of a fatal disease. Period.
  • On that note, though, not everyone with depression is suicidal. I'm not. I haven't ever been. I have this over-developed guilt complex that means that no matter how bad it gets, I'll think it's my job to suffer so that no one else has to. That's just how my neuroses stack up. But please, don't just assume everyone fighting depression is fighting to the death. There are degrees. 
  • But don't assume that someone isn't, either. Just, you know what, how about we stop assuming anything about another person's thoughts, feelings and mental state. Would that be okay? 
  • Don't tell people to get better. You don't tell someone with any other chronic illness that positive thinking and cute cat pics will solve their problems. (I do note that some people do this and if you are an equal opportunity asshat, go right ahead.) There is no way for your brain to cure the chemical imbalance in your brain without help. There just isn't.
  • If you've never thought the world would be better off without you, I want you right now to stop and realize how lucky you are. If you pray, say thank you. Because you just don't know. Don't think that you can imagine it. Don't think that there's anything else comparable. 
  • Go hug everyone you love. Tell them that you love them and you can't imagine the world without them. Tell them you need them and that they are important to you. And then listen. Let them talk. They might say something that scares you. Don't blow it off. 
So, that's it, my thoughts on Robin Williams. Now, go watch Dead Poet's Society, or The Birdcage. Just avoid Patch Adams.