Monday, July 30, 2012

Sister Runner

Billy and I just wrapped up a week with some of the easiest houseguests in the world.  My sister and her family.  My sister who thinks Elwood Wilson is “a decent cat.”

Seriously, these people know how to vacation and appreciate the true meaning of vacation.  It’s relaxation, in case you didn’t know.  They were gracious enough to entertain our ladies.  My sister grilled for me.  And of course, we went running.

My sister loves to run.  She is quite clear about her motivation for running.  She runs to eat.  I’m not judging-she will tell you that!  Of course, health benefits, etc, etc.  But the fact is, she loves to run.

I run.  But I hate it.  Hate is maybe a strong word.  I certainly don’t love it, though.

What is my motivation?  I suppose it’s health motivated.  I do feel better when I exercise.  I like how many calories I can burn while running as opposed to walking.  I also like to eat.

I have a voice in my head that tells me to run.  A voice that runs with me.  I call it “Sister Runner.”  Let’s just say that it sounds a lot like a certain sister of mine that loves to run.

Before you start getting judgey, I’m sure you all have your own voice that motivates you to exercise.

Sister Runner tells me when to go run.  She tells me that it’s not going to get any cooler so I might as well go now.  Sister Runner likes to tell me how far I should go.  “If you can run 4 miles, you can run 5.”  Sister Runner tells me how fast I should go.  “Your last mile should be your fastest.”

Yeah, Sister Runner is kinda bossy.  She may or may not use phrases that my real sister has used.

Most of all, Sister Runner is very motivating.  She cheers me on when I’m tired or in pain…or both.  She compliments my running attire and fashionable sunglasses from Goodwill.  She talks about food.  Like cake.  And then I feel better about running.  But I still don’t love it.

But I do love cake.  Especially fancy Olympic cake that your niece wants to make.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Healing among tragedy

In my professional life, I am usually meeting someone at one of the worst moments of their life.  I know, sounds like a happy job.

And then when I get home, Billy starts talking about his job.

And then I turn on the news, and there is heartache.

It is all around us.  Our family, our friends, our neighbors, our community.  Sometimes the people in our personal worlds are suffering, and we have no idea.

I used to search for meaning.  I’m not sure there is any meaning to this heartache.

Sometimes I have to shut it out because I simply can’t hear or see any more of it.

Still, we move forward.

And we heal.

Please don’t mistake this for closure.  In my opinion, closure doesn’t exist.  Some wounds are too deep to forget. 

Healing is a process.  One that we may always go through.  We can choose to go through it with hope. 

Some of us hold onto hope.  Some of us hold on so tightly, we are afraid of crushing it. 

Hope can’t be crushed.  Sometimes it may feel like a crack of light under a door, but it remains.

When we are healing, we need hope.  Hope that the grip of pain will be lessened, will be released. 

And then it starts.  This day wasn’t as bad as the last.  Every day we get a little stronger.  That’s what my mom told me after I had Lucy and was a new mom, sleep deprived, half crazy from parenting advice from books, relatives and strangers.  I repeated it daily. 

Again, I like repetition. 

I don’t think it just applies to new moms.  I think it is universal advice to healing.  I’ve dispensed this valuable nugget to friends.  For the sake of repetition….

Every day we get a little stronger.  And the healing begins.

And we'll walk down the avenue in style

And we'll walk down the avenue and we'll smile

And we'll say baby ain't it all worthwhile

When the healing has begun

And the healing has begun-Van Morrison

Monday, July 23, 2012

He seems like a decent cat

My sister is visiting this week.  Elwood Wilson has her fooled.  She said, “He seems like a decent cat.”

This is after he pooped on the rug in the bathroom the first day she was here.  The bathroom that she was going to use.

Obviously she sees the positive.

We could all take a lesson from her.

It’s not personal.  How often have I interpreted someone’s actions as intentionally rude or unkind when it was really a simple misunderstanding?  How often have I overanalyzed someone else’s actions?

Because I need repetition with important messages, I’m going to say this again.  It’s not personal.

Sometimes we need to believe the best in others, despite how we want to interpret their actions.  That’s not easy.  There are certainly people who do have mean intentions. 

Those times when I have turned off my brain and stopped analyzing a situation are incredibly freeing.  It happened, it’s over, time to move on.  People make mistakes.  I make multiple mistakes on a daily basis.

Being forgiving and moving on is so much easier.  I need to remember that the next time I start reeling over a situation.

But as far as Elwood Wilson goes….I do still think that is personal.  This is my sister giving him some love.  My niece’s foot is also in the picture.  He tried to bite my niece after I took the picture.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vacation High

Last night we spent some time with Billy’s mom (happy birthday!), and she asked me if my “vacation high” was still around.

I thought about it.  And you know what, I feel pretty good.

I can’t think of the last time that I have returned from vacation and didn’t feel the dread of returning to real life.  Riding home in the car on the way home, thinking “How long will I have to do this?  When will it get easier?”  Thinking about going back to working seven days a week is a little overwhelming after a vacation.

This vacation was different.

I spent most of the ride home thinking about how relaxed I felt, talking to Billy about the next vacation with my family (which we have already booked), and telling the girls to stop arguing.

At first, I hesitated to think about work.  To think about being at home.  But I allowed myself to go there, just for a couple of seconds, to see how it felt. 

And I felt ok.  So I thought about real life some more.  And I still felt ok.  Actually, I felt good.  Sure there was unpacking, laundry, emails from work to catch up on.  It didn’t matter. 

I was relaxed, I was refreshed.  And when I got to work-that was ok too.  My job is challenging, there is no question about that, but I love the work I do.  And I came back ready to face the challenge.

The bonus is that my arm is finally back to normal.  I even have full mobility in my hand.  Woohoo!

I’m hoping this is more than vacation high.  I sure would like to keep this feeling.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Learning to adapt

I had a few conversations while I was on vacation about the changes of life.  More like reflections than conversations.  Reflections on how life isn’t what it used to be.

Life is always moving forward.  We can’t stop it.

As we go through these seasons, we have to adapt. 

Adapting isn’t always a bad thing.  Sometimes it brings us new experiences, new people, new joy.

But damn it can be hard.

I was having a conversation with an old friend the other day.  We were chatting about getting stuck in the negative, wanting others to change.  And I accidentally “social worked” her.  “Social worked” is when you start wielding out your active listening skills, offering perspective.  Not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose.  The worst part is that she is a social worker herself.  Social workers don’t really like to be “social worked.”  Sorry, Helen.

Sometimes we have to adapt to the people around us.  The reality is that people don’t change unless they want to.  So sometimes we need to change how we react to them, how we relate to them.

When we wait for others to change, resentment builds, anger builds.  We try to analyze why they act or don’t act a certain way.  The fact is that we will never know.  So we need to move on.  We need to adapt.

At times, we have to adapt to circumstances.  And circumstances that we don’t want.  Circumstances that are painful.  Circumstances that change us to the core.

We are forced to adapt.  To find the “new normal.”

Most of the time, we are adapting to the constant change of the seasons of life. We look around us and the faces have changed.  Somehow we all got older.

Our family is different.  Our friends are different.  Our daily life is different.

Spending time with my family, I noticed how different we look.  It has been a long time since I’ve been the youngest in my family.  And my sisters’ babies are now either adults or older kids.

Our lives have changed so much.  My life has changed so much.

I’ve had to adapt.  And I know that I will need to continue to adapt. 

One day, these precious kittens won’t want to snuggle with me in my bed.  And I will need to adapt.  But for now, they do.  And I will take that with me and rest easy tonight.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

This Week's Doings

My week of vacation has come to a close.  As we were driving back home yesterday on the final leg of our journey, I commented to Billy about how refreshed I felt.  Quite the change from when I was working seven days a week.  There used to be a certain anxiety about returning to real life.  Now I look forward to it.

Our week was full of family and fun.  My dad helped the girls fish.  Not sure what was going on here but look at Katy’s pose!

My mom caught this beast of a catfish!  It took both her and my dad to get this onto the shore.

This is my dad’s nemesis….the goose.  My parents don’t like geese on their lake.  Once my dad made my mom and I run around the lake with a cow bell, yelling at the geese.  It was embarrassing.  More cow bell!

One of my sisters brought me a new drinking cup.  I love it!  It has a finish line at the bottom!

The grandpa cup also went on vacation.  The grandpa cup doesn’t always hold coffee, as my lovely sister demonstrates.

Actually, we had two grandpa cups with us.  This one was holding coffee.

Nothing says a day on the boat like a fish shirt!

This is the proper way to cool off after a 4 mile run. 

Katy was a little tired after a day on the boat.

I made this feast for my family.  It was pretty amazing.

Doesn’t everyone have this ladder game?  Like those plastic patio chairs?  Does everyone else make inappropriate jokes while playing it?  Or are we the only juveniles who play this game?  Look at my claw hand!  Yikes!

I think this picture sums up my week-hysterical laughter.  Every vacation should include moments like this.  Hysterical laughter makes you feel better.  Helps renew your spirit.

I hope you had a great week with your own moments of hysterical laughter!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

This Week's Doings

I made it, folks.  I’m finally getting some of that rest I’ve been talking about.  Spending time with my family in Illinois.

I planned on cooking for my family (it’s good therapy), so I had to pack a few supplies before I left.  Yes, these were necessary.  I had to justify this to Billy as well when he was loading the car.  Doesn’t everyone pack like this?

The heat has been extreme.  But I’ve toughed it out.  My mom and I have spent the past couple of days in the shade hanging out and sweating.  I suppose we could go inside in the air conditioning, but it is so much prettier outside. 

The girls have found ways to cool off.  And yes, they are wearing swimsuits under those shirts.  I’m ok with being stinky on vacation.  The people around me might not be ok with my stink, but they have been polite enough not to mention it. 

Billy and I decided to go on a run the other night.  Who cares about the heat index, right?  Of course, we felt awful when we were done.  And talk about stinky.

Today we are getting a welcome break from the heat.  My mom and I had coffee and breakfast outside. 

Yes, this is cake.  But it has fruit.  I thought I would also highlight the grandpa coffee mug.  This is a mug from my parents’ large collection of coffee mugs.

Last night we caught up with some old friends (and made a new friend).  I realize this is a bit of a “scary eyes” picture.  Kind of like when you take a picture of pets.

I hope all of you have the gift of old friends.  People who know your history.  People who get you.  People who know you and aren’t judgey.

Billy and I got in the car to head home for the night and it was 2:30 am!  My bedtime is usually somewhere around 8:30 to 9:00 pm, so this was a small miracle.  We had so much fun.  I can’t remember the last time we laughed so much. 

A night out until 2:30 am looks a little different now that we are all older.  Different is good.  Different means no hangovers (at least for me).

Different also means a plate o’ bacon as an appetizer.  Seriously.  This was on the menu.

I hope you had a week filled with family, friends and bacon (or a non-meat of your choosing)!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rest for the soul

I’ve mentioned a couple of times (here and here) that I am need of time away from work.  I want to clarify this.  This isn’t simply time off work.  I am blessed to get my weekends off (finally).

What I need is to be away.  Being a social worker, you are constantly aware of the misery of this world.  And of your lack of abilities to change it.

I need to escape the misery for a while. 

I need to reset myself. 

I’ve been reading a book lately about joy.  About experiencing it even though…insert whatever circumstance here.  Mine is “experiencing joy even though there is misery in this world.”

We are all allowed to feel joy.  This isn’t about putting on a smile and being happy all the time.  This is about finding contentment even though rainbows and sunshine may not be all around us.

Tonight I saw the most amazing sunset.  I would have taken a picture of it but I was alone in the car…and driving. 

So I will give you this instead.  This one was pretty, but tonight’s sunset…well…it has inspired songs…America the Beautiful…I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

I watched the sunset and felt peace.  I’ve been caught up in worry about trying to wrap up things at work before I go, working on that to-do list for our trip.  None of it mattered during that sunset.  I know that either it will all come together, or it will be ok if it doesn’t all come together. 

Rest is coming.