Saturday, June 30, 2012

This Week's Doings

Bad news has been surrounding our area this week from wildfires to violence.  Welcome to a break from the bad news and come on into my weird little world!

I have Mondays every week, like all of you, but I don’t often think, “This feels like a Monday.”  Well, this week, I thought that.  And not just on Monday.

Each day seemed to have a challenge.  Something really silly and stupid.  Maybe a few months ago, it would have thrown my whole week off.  Events that I would be obsessing about all week.  Cursing the week.

I didn’t curse the week this time.  I tried to enjoy other moments along the way.  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad the week is over. 

Monday morning the coffee maker broke.  Seriously, on all days, Monday?!  I made many attempts to revive it, but it was dead.  I pushed through, had some orange juice and got in the shower.  When I was done, Billy had coffee made.  He boiled some water and poured it over the coffee grounds in the dead coffee maker.  I wish I had a picture of this but, again, I was in the shower.

This is our shiny new coffee maker.  It was ready to go Tuesday morning.

Monday night I headed over to Billy’s parents’ house to have dinner with everyone. 

This was waiting for me.  I was amazed.  A lovely meal cooked by Billy’s mom.  Billy prepares food-he grills, he can make a boxed meal.  But this was actual cooking.  And this wasn’t the only meal this week that she cooked for us.  And she also made dessert!  Maybe it’s because I’m the cook in our little foursome that I truly appreciate having someone else put time and effort into a meal for me.  It was lovely.

I love Van Morrison’s music.  Obviously.  My blog is name after one of his song lyrics.  It’s soulful.  It makes me feel alive.  This week, I found a song that I hadn’t heard before on youtube, Hungry for Your Love.  Amazing.  I haven’t actually watched this video because I have it on as background music.  So check your facebook while you listen to it.  I’m only vouching for the music here.

It did occur to me this week that I am in need of time away from work.  Soon.  So soon.  Thursday morning I got out of the shower and realized that I got my hair wet but I never washed it.  If I’m going for the convenience of not washing my hair, I certainly don’t want to have to dry it.  But I had to because now it was wet.  When my wet hair air dries, it gets poofy.  I got a compliment on my hair that day from a coworker.  I should have taken a picture of it.  Hair washing is overrated.

In an effort to de-stress, I went running on Friday and Saturday.  This probably would have been ok but I didn’t hydrate well enough between runs.  Dehydration can be quite uncomfortable.  I spent Friday night reading a book in bed while Lucy read hers next to me, and Saturday was spent in front of the tv sipping water.  Not a bad thing, necessarily.  I was forced into relaxation.

These events are all about perception.  These minor inconveniences are nowhere near the scale of any real problems going on around us.  Maybe that is why it is so important for me not to get bogged down in these silly mundane details.  What is important is to enjoy the life around me-the innovative efforts to make coffee, the home-cooked meals, the music, awesome looking unwashed hair, time spent relaxing.

And half price milkshakes at Sonic after 8 pm. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A different look

I’ve been struggling this week.  Tired (even after my day of rest), impatient.  Hot weather, devastating wildfires, no good news going around.

I’ve tried to be kind to myself because I know what the issue is.

I know I am in need of some time away from work.  And it’s coming.  But not yet.

I am desperately trying to change my perspective.

Tonight I thought going on a walk with my ladies would be a relaxing end to the day.  Not exactly.

But we rallied.  Got home, had some dessert, played a game of Candyland and did the bedtime routine. 

I settled in with my computer, grateful for finishing the day strong, hopeful for tomorrow.

I looked through my camera at some pictures that Lucy took along the walk.

I found this.  And I was so happy to see a photo of the sky that wasn’t filled with smoke. 

Peace.  This is what Lucy was looking at.  Hopefully tomorrow I will too. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The right way

Sometimes I wish that I would take to heart some of those lovely bits of wisdom that I share with clients (I’d like to think they are lovely bits, anyway).  I really do believe these statements to be true.  The problem is I don’t always allow the same grace in my own life.

In my work, I meet a lot of moms.  Moms who are going through crisis.  A common thread is these moms ask a lot of questions/make a lot of references to being “right.”  “Am I doing the right thing?” “I don’t know the right thing to do.”  They want to do their best, but sometimes overlook the fact that they are already doing their best.

I’m sure that most of you know this, but I’m going to say it in case you don’t.  Or in case you need a reminder.  I sure do.

There is no right.

There is more than one way to raise a happy, healthy child. 

And this concept doesn’t just apply to motherhood.  It applies to life.

So I will say it again.

There is no right.

There is more than one way to live a fulfilled life.

And each one of us gets to define what that means.  And we also get to change our minds along the way.

Looking back on decisions that I’ve made, I get caught up in the “right” game too.  Did I say the right thing?  Was that the right decision to make?  Am I living my life the right way?  Am I teaching my kids the right things?

Also related to “right” is “enough.”  “Am I doing enough?”  “Am I good enough?” I’m sure you get the point. 

Hiding behind “right” and “enough” is doubt. 

Doubt is scared.  Always fearful.  Doesn’t trust instincts.  Questions every possible move.

Doubt makes me weary.  Doubt stops me from moving forward.  Doubt leads me to overanalyze everything.

In these moments, which happen frequently, I ask (maybe plead) for grace.  And through grace, I hear little bits of wisdom.  I hear that there is no right and that I am enough.

I hope I teach these ladies the same.  They are enough.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A day of rest

On Sunday, I woke up ready to make a list for the day.  After coffee, my mind started to go a little numb.  More than a little numb.  I was staring at the wall. 

I needed rest.

I didn’t get out of my pjs all day.

I did accomplish a few things-laundry, organizing the girls’ room, dishes.

I played dolls with my ladies.  We watched movies.  Lucy and I cried during “Soul Surfer.”  It’s the movie about the surfer who had her arm bit off by a shark, in case you are wondering.  Lucy cried because she was so sad for the girl.  I cried because Lucy has such a tender heart.  It melts mine.

Did I mention that I stayed in my pjs all day?

It’s so easy for kids to take a day of rest.  My kids can fall asleep almost anywhere.  That's Lucy asleep on our way back from camping last year.  Not sure how her finger ended up on her face like that.

It’s not that easy as an adult (at least, not for me).  I have a running to-do list in my head of household chores (along with all those movie quotes).  I think about work.  I wonder if I really am living the life I want to be.  I start to overanalyze everything. Everything.

And then there are days like Sunday.  Days when my body and mind are done.  Days when I have the grace to let go of the to-do lists, clients, life.    

Days when I can just be.
And eat an ice cream cone in my pjs.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Days

I’ve been floundering the past couple of weeks.  Thrown for loops from my regular scheduled programming.  Trying to find some routine of summer.  I need routine.  I’m like a small child that way.

But summer is different.  Summer has no routine.

Summer has magical grilled cheese sandwiches with smooshed avocado.

Summer has running in the evening when it is 94 degrees outside.

Summer wants me to get up earlier in the morning to go run before it is 94 degrees outside.

Summer has Elwood Wilson meowing on my bed at 5 am.

Summer keeps the daylight longer, letting little girls giggle in their room.

Summer lets mom and dad pretend they don’t hear little girls giggle in their room.

Summer has patience for a lady creeping out of bed after she was just tucked in.

Summer has beach towels, swimsuits and sunblock scattered around.

Summer doesn’t mind a messy house.

Summer celebrates a weeknight with an ice cream cone.

Summer has precious time.

I’ll get used to it.  Just in time for September.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This body got me through

In early May, I got an idea off Pinterest to paint the grout in our bathroom.  I didn’t realize there was special grout paint.  I also didn’t realize that we were supposed to be sealing our grout at least once a year.  As a result, it was a bit worn and stained.  Yes, I did try to clean it.  Really, folks, a light grout in my bathroom never was going to work.

Here is the final result.  Before and after.  The after looks so pretty.  I will say that painting the grout white has made the tile (which is a gray/white combo) now look a bit pink.  Someone suggested changing the light bulbs, which we did.  It may be time to try to paint the bathroom a different color.  I’m not sure which is worse-stained grout or a pink hued tile.

After this project was done, my left hand was twitchy.  I figured it was the strain from balancing on my left arm while I meticulously painted the grout.  By the end of the week, the twitching was gone, and I thought it would be a good time to clean and seal the grout in the kitchen.  The grout in the kitchen is thankfully darker so I only needed to seal it.  So much easier than the paint!

By the end of this second grout adventure, my left arm was feeling a bit numb.  And then the pain grew in my shoulder, and I lost some mobility in a couple of fingers in my hand.

I can almost hear my mom’s voice asking/yelling, “Why didn’t you go to the doctor?!”  Well, I used to diagnose myself, and I was fine.

A couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t take the pain anymore.  I didn’t want to go to the doctor to hear “you have a pinched nerve, here’s a prescription,” so I opted for a massage therapist.  I’m not big on strangers touching me, and fortunately, I have a former coworker who happens to be a massage therapist.

We spent the first few minutes catching up on life.  I briefly described my emerging from “survival mode,” and then she began what I would describe as a very thorough armpit massage.  I turns out that most of the pain that I was experiencing was actually originating from close to the armpit area, as opposed to my shoulder (which I had diagnosed on

As she was working on my arm, trying to find the source of the pain, she was commenting on how all of my muscles were incredibly tight.  She was still for a minute and asked, “How long have you been out of survival mode?”  I gave her a specific date.  “What happened on that date?” she asked.  I told her that’s when I stopped working seven days a week.  And then she said something that struck me.

She said, “Your body got you through.”  And I teared up a bit.

During those months (years) of trying to figure out life, working so many hours, missing my family, I struggled to stay healthy.  I dosed myself on Emergen-C, I started to exercise, I tried to get plenty of rest.  I thought that if I got sick, life would crumble.  It wouldn’t have, but that’s what I thought.

And my body got me through.  But it’s not as healthy as I thought.  As a social worker, I should know better about how stress impacts your body.  I thought once I had a regular sleep schedule and some actual days off, I would be ok. 

I guess it needs a little more than that.  It needs to heal.

Because I’m sure you are on pins and needles to know the results of my armpit massage, here’s the update: I still have some pain, but the massage did help tremendously.  She also gave me some instructions on how to care for my arm when it starts to get sore. 

Hopefully I will get beyond the point of resting my body and start healing.  In the meantime, there’s always another armpit massage.

Here’s a lovely mountain photo because who wants to see a picture of my armpit?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Grateful Daughter

This is what happens when you are disorganized….you have to send your Father’s Day card in the form of a blog post.  Sorry, Dad!

This is Dad with Elwood Wilson.  Elwood Wilson loves to snuggle with Dad.  Dad hates cats.  I think Elwood Wilson knows that.

We all have special gifts and talents.  My dad is a great storyteller.  I would like to think that I inherited some of this special gift, but the simple fact is that my dad is amazing.

This is Dad talking to the girls about trains.  He knows a lot about trains.

When I was young, I had a dwarf African frog named JT.  I named him after the letters in one of my sister’s license plates.  I was a weird kid.  And I wonder where my kids came up with the “Wilson” part in Elwood Wilson….  JT happily lived in a small aquarium in my bedroom.

One day another one of my sisters (I have lots of sisters) had a friend over who hosted a Tupperware party.  This was the first and only Tupperware party I have ever attended.  At the end of it, I wanted to show off my beloved JT to her friend. 

I’m sure you can see where this story is headed.  JT was floating upside down in his aquarium.

I was crushed.

I do want to point out that I’ve lived a charmed life if this was a tragic event in my world.

Later that night, my dad came into my room to try to console me.  He shared a story about his prized farm animal that he was going to show and how it ate too much grain.  They had to puncture the side of the animal so it wouldn’t die.  Obviously, he lost his chance to show the animal.

I admit, this story was a bit disturbing (and gross).  But in his way, Dad was trying to help. 

Years later as I reflect on it, it’s not so much the content of the story that stands out (ok, maybe the content does stand out, it was gross); it is Dad’s way of using his gift to make his little girl feel better.


Thank you, Dad.  I always appreciate your gift of storytelling and your sense of humor.  I love you!

Oh, and I think this is guy is a pretty amazing dad too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

This Week's Doings

It’s been a little crazy this week, folks.  First up was my conference in the mountains.  Of course, leaving Billy and the girls for a few days to fend for themselves created a little prep work and a lot of laundry.

I made some blueberry muffins and quinoa energy balls.  I finally used the rest of the quinoa in the fridge! 

The night before I left we had this lovely meal.  It looks like I ate a hamburger bun for dinner.  It is really a grilled Portobello mushroom.  I thought about turning it the other way for the picture but that looked pretty gross.

Lucy ate too much so Katy wanted to help rub her tummy.  And yes, Katy has her dinner all over her face.  It looks like a beard.

The first day of my conference I was greeted with this yummy combo.  I realize it’s a bit blurry but that is Starbucks coffee!  Seriously, social workers just don’t get this kind of star treatment.

I actually went running while I was up there.  The altitude was challenging…or maybe I am just out of shape.  I like to blame the altitude.  This was my beautiful view.  Both runs ended up a bit longer than I anticipated because I got lost.  On a paved path.  That was well marked with signs and half mile markers.

I got to sleep in this giant bed.  All by myself.  It was glorious.  Have any of you seen that movie, “Last Holiday,” with Queen Latifah?  She goes to this really fancy resort and is rolling around in the bed because it’s so awesome.  I did that both nights.  No Elwood Wilson to jump on me at 5 am.  I loved it!

Billy’s parents moved back to Colorado this week!  Yay!  I should probably clarify that we also live in Colorado, and I was rejoicing in them being closer, as opposed to moving away.  One of my tasks was to unpack one of my favorite rooms, the kitchen.  I discovered that Billy’s parents have a coffee mug collection that rivals that of my parents.  Unfortunately, I got a little “delete” happy with my camera and the evidence is gone.  The return of these lovely folks to Colorado also meant that my favorite patio furniture is here as well.  I love this chair.  The bonus is that it doesn’t need a cushion.  My parents are a little nutty about patio cushions.  That’s probably a separate post.  And look at the beer in the picture!  It’s wearing a shirt! 

Within two days, they quickly barricaded themselves from their neighbors and put up the white boards.  I suppose they are going to paint them, but I really like the contrast.  Doesn’t it look beachy?  Feel free to vote for your paint choice in the comments below.

The girls enjoyed some root beer floats in the Broncos mugs that we got  for Billy's parents as a housewarming gift.  We also bought them some plants that had some hail damage.  I should note that the hail damage came after we purchased them.  Nothing says, “Welcome to your new home!” like dead plants.  Billy and I are classy.

Here’s a lovely picture of us girls on the deck (with the beachy background).  Billy’s mom is in the middle and her best friend is next to her. 
I hope you had a wonderful week!  Don’t forget to support my “beachy” vote below!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Don't be fooled

One of my lovely nieces graduated high school this past weekend.  What an exciting time!  Your whole life in front of you (not that I feel in any way that my life is over).  But that energy when you are young, the feeling that anything is possible, well, it can go away.

Fear can rear its ugly head.  Fear can settle in your head (along with the movie quotes and song lyrics).  Fear can prevent you from doing simple tasks.

I was packing for a conference in the mountains over this weekend and feeling incredibly fearful.  Although I have lived in Colorado for several years, I have never driven myself into the mountains.  Signs like “Don’t be fooled-steep grade” and “Runaway truck ramp,” tend to scare me a bit.  Seriously, there is a sign that says “Don’t be fooled.”  Are they trying to create panic?

I began to dread the trip because of having to drive.  I started wondering, when did I become so fearful?  And not only that, but when did fear start controlling me?  Especially over such a small task.

Only two years ago I made a two-day road trip with just me and my girls from Colorado to Illinois.  I wasn’t this frenzied.  What happened?

A thought rolled in my head (because that’s what they do in there)….a thought that told me to stop being paralyzed by fear.  It can be in the back of my mind, but I can’t let it control my thoughts or actions.  As I referenced in this post, sometimes we have to move forward in spite of the fear.  Really, the thought was more of a reminder.  I need lots of reminders.

So I drove into the mountains, and I lived.  A few days later I drove back out of the mountains, and I lived.  And maybe the fear was still there.  Maybe I had to tell myself to “get it together” while driving.  Maybe I felt some tingles of panic when I read the “Don’t be fooled” sign.  But I didn’t let the fear stop me.

And this was my reward!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

This Week’s Doings

What a crazy week!  I wanted to thank all of you for such kind comments about my new blog.

Here’s a glimpse of this week:

The girls started going to day camp a few days a week.  Obviously this is very tiring!

Billy took the girls to the new elephant habitat at the zoo.  This is actually a fake elephant in the picture.

Our outside eating adventures got a little wild!

I really think that Katy would make a good watermelon model.  Maybe we will put that on the list of possible career options.

I ran in a 5k (well, it was almost a 5k).  This is my version of carbo loading before race day.  I really hoped I wouldn't regret that brat.  I didn't.  Yay! 

I forgot to shave both of my legs in the shower, so I ran with one shaved leg and one unshaved leg.  Let’s be thankful that I took a picture of my beer instead.  I had a couple of these later to chase some ibuprofen.  Notice the plastic chair in the background?

Our dog, Jazz, tried a cherry.  She ate the seed which means that a cherry tree will start growing in her belly.

I found this picture on the camera.  The girls like to take pictures of the cat, Elwood Wilson.

 More evidence of this.  I wonder if he would make a good watermelon model…..

By the end of the week, we were all wiped out.  The girls had a bit of mindless tv watching after playing in the pool. 

I hope you had a great week! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

After the Storm

Last night, there was a big storm.  The storm was so loud that it kept me up for quite a while.  Apparently, I didn’t hear the tornado siren though. 

That’s ok, living close to the foothills, I don’t have the same fear or tornadoes as when I lived in Illinois or Oklahoma.

We don’t get many big storms here.  The last bad one was a few years ago.  We ended up getting a new roof out of that one.  To me, the most devastating part was seeing the destruction of my thriving garden.

It never did recover after that storm.  Fortunately, last night’s storm looked a little different.

As I go through each day, song lyrics or movie quotes often pop into my head.  It’s a mess in there, folks.  Let’s not dig any deeper than that. 

This morning, I thought of the Mumford and Sons’ song, “After the Storm.”  This lyric in particular:
“And there will come a time,
you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart,
but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see
what you find there,
With grace in your heart
and flowers in your hair.”

I have referenced a couple times that I was previously living in “survival mode.”  That translates into living day to day, just getting through it.  I couldn’t see the end.  People told me it was there.  I believed them…kind of.

It is amazing what music can do.  It can touch your heart.  When I heard this song, and really paid attention to the above words, it started to click.  I would like to say that hearing this song changed my whole life.  That would be a warm and fuzzy moment.

I still had some changing to do on my own.  When you are in survival mode, your view of the world is closed in.  You can’t see beyond to the next day.  There is fear.  What if things never change?  That was my biggest fear.  I had to let that go.

I started to…slowly.  I don’t know if the fear ever went away, but I started to actually live (not just survive) in spite of the fear.  It stayed in the back of my mind, rolling around with all of the movie quotes and song lyrics and other junk.

This song, those words in particular, was also something that I let roll around in my head.  Along with words of encouragement from family and friends.  They were pieces of a larger picture inspiring me to be something different.  Inspiring me to change.  Inspiring me to move beyond surviving and live.

It can take many pieces to inspire hope in others.  In my professional life, I hope that maybe something I say will roll around in a client’s head and will take root.

I intentionally encourage my clients, but what in about in my personal life?  The compassion I have at work doesn’t leave at the end of the day. 

How do I encourage my family and friends?  These are the people that I care about the most. 

I hope that I encourage those around me.  I hope that I speak kind words that will roll around in their heads.  I hope that I help them understand that there is an “after” to the storm. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Simple Joy-Dinner Outside

I thought about titling this post “dining al fresco” but let’s be honest here, that sounds way too fancy for what I am about to describe.

Growing up, I seem to remember my family eating dinner outside as much as possible in the summer.

As an adult, Billy (the hubster) and I do the same.  Although, eating outside is a little more eclectic at our house.  We have a combination of:

·        An outside folding chair.  Yes, it is made for outdoor use.  We used to have 2 of these beauties but a squirrel ate through the other. 

·        Two plastic chairs.  You know the plastic chairs I’m talking about.  Everyone has one.  Everyone in the world.  I didn’t believe that until I saw those chairs in other countries.

·        A small plastic table.  Probably made from the same quality plastic as the chairs.  This serves as our fourth chair since the squirrel ate the folding chair.

·        A tiny outdoor table.  Our neighbor let us borrow it a couple of years ago and we still have it.

·        A giant umbrella.  An umbrella that can sometimes catch the wind and fly over our deck and into our yard below.

If we have guests, we might get fancy and lug out our dining room chairs (which are close to 30 years old) or maybe our camping chairs.  And I’m sure you know what I am talking about with the camping chair.  Everyone has one of these as well.

Now I would show you a picture of this scenario but I don’t feel like we know each other well enough for this yet.

Instead, I will post a picture of this delicious salad that I ate while sitting in the remaining folding chair.

I love this salad.  I make a few modifications for personal tastes but it’s a staple at our house in the spring/summer months.  By the way, Billy was happy that I took a picture using one of the good pieces of bread that he grilled (good=not burned).

Obviously, the quality of our patio setup had no effect on our meal.  In fact, the patio furniture never has any effect on our meal.  We enjoy each other’s company and the weather (and the food…and sometimes beer). 

I suppose we could always upgrade the patio furniture, but it always seems to be one of our lowest priorities.  And now after this post, I’m feeling a bit sentimental about our current setup.

At my parents’ house, I noticed that we were often one of the only families who were enjoying the outside space.  My parents would probably say that is still true. 

At our house, I have noticed the same trend.  Looking around at dinner time (and I can see a lot because we live in a townhouse), we are often the only family outside enjoying dinner…perched on our plastic furniture.

So let’s get it together folks!  Summer is almost here.  Enjoy a meal outside!  Even if all you have is a plastic chair and a camping chair…because I am sure that you at least have those.