Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This Girl



This week has been kind of a tough one for my little Katy.  Last week, the girls had a full week off for Thanksgiving break.  Going back to school, resuming the to dos of life has left her a little overtired and frazzled.

Last night was probably the most difficult.  After Girl Scouts, she took a shower and went straight to bed.  I’m sure she was asleep within 2 minutes.

Today was another rush around day.  After I made dinner and ate it in five minutes, I had to head out to an hour and a half meeting.  I admit, I had been dreading this meeting all week.  A meeting that starts at 6:45 pm is only going to get the attention of about one quarter of my brain.

When I got home, the girls were showered and ready for bed.  Billy said that after Katy was showered and jammied up, she got in our bed.  When he asked her what she was doing, she replied, “Waiting for Mommy.”

This girl. 

All week I have been feeling that it didn’t matter what I did, we were destined to butt heads.  But here she was, at the end of her day, and she wanted to snuggle with me.

She melts my heart.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grateful for Me



I read a lovely post from Anna that included a thank you letter she wrote to herself.

I was inspired.  During this month of gratitude, many recognize the blessings in their life.  Other people, life circumstances, stuff. 

But do we take time to acknowledge ourselves?  Do we take time to acknowledge the struggles we’ve been through?  Do we acknowledge that we are still here?  Do we take time to acknowledge beauty in our imperfection?  Do we acknowledge that we matter?

I took some time and thought about what I would say to myself.  What words of appreciation would hold meaning to that person who saw hope blooming but was still living in the day to day?

Here are some of my thoughts:

This time last year, you were in the middle of a change.  Trying to accept life.  Trying to seek joy where you were.

It was hard.  There were days that you wanted to give up.  Days when hope was foggy. 

Thank you for believing.  You only knew that life would change for the better.  You didn’t know when.  Yet faith remained.

Thank you for seeing that life could be different.  That life could hold more meaning.

Thank you for hanging on.  Hanging on through working seven days a week.  Hanging on with burning eyes from staying up all night.  Hanging on with a body that would always feel cold from not getting enough sleep. 

Thank you for keeping it together.  You had to keep going.  Your responsibilities at work and home were constant.

These recent days are so much sweeter for everything that you did.  Everything that you were.  You were enough.

I know your struggles.  I know your heart.

And I thank you.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Truth



I just finished a lovely week of not doing much of anything.

I really needed it.  The quiet and calm of doing nothing.

When I returned to work today, I wasn’t filled with a sense of dread about going back to the routine.  I embraced the day, in all of its imperfect glory.

I was remarking to a friend today about being plagued with dreams about work for the first few nights of my vacation.  It wasn’t until I had my first full night of sleep (and did not dream about work) that I had some insight.  I caught hold of it again, that undercurrent of joy, because of a powerful truth.

I am not responsible for solving the problems of this world. 

And with that truth was the relief of unloading that burden. 

As I began my imperfect day, I remembered that truth and held onto the undercurrent.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks


Each year at Thanksgiving, one of my sisters would make us go around the table and share what we were thankful for.  She was met with groans.  My siblings and I reluctantly shared our blessings.  Can you imagine that?  A group of people grumbling about having to be thankful on Thanksgiving.  Sheesh.  Sorry I was such a jerk, sister.  I hope she didn’t let that experience discourage her from carrying on that tradition with her own family.

Gratitude shouldn’t be something that we dread.  It also shouldn’t be something that we express only once a year. 

Gratitude should be expressed daily.  A thought of appreciation, a verbal expression of “thank you,” whatever form it comes in.  It is important.

But it makes us feel a little vulnerable, doesn’t it?  We need other people.  Gratitude is admitting that we need other people, admitting that we can’t do this alone.  We admit that it’s not just those big things that we are grateful for, it’s the little things as well.  Maybe we feel a little embarrassed about being thankful for such “trivial” things.  But they aren’t trivial.  Those little things in life can bring great joy.

I’m not big on seasonal decorations for my house.  I’m not sure if it is lack of creativity or talent for decorating or laziness.  This year, I made a Thankful Tree for Thanksgiving.  I got the idea from Pinterest.  Let’s celebrate the fact that I made something on one of my Pinterest boards!



The idea is that each leaf represents something you are thankful for.  At first, it was a bit of struggle for the ladies.  They were cautious, not knowing exactly what to put.  When I contributed “sweet potato pie” to the tree, I think they realized that it was ok to be thankful for the little things.  They couldn’t write their ideas down fast enough.  And they didn’t care what they wrote.  There was no embarrassment over being thankful for turkey, penguins or each other. 

They are simply grateful.

This Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for the many blessings in my life.  I hope that you have a tree full of blessings to be grateful for as well. 

And maybe if some relative at the table asks you to share those blessings with the whole group, you will embrace the opportunity to share your joy with your family.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Seasons



A couple of days ago, I sat down on my bed to read.  I was startled when I looked out the window and saw the tips of the foothills peaking out behind the houses across the street.  When did that get there?  Oh right..it’s always there…the leaves in the trees block it during the spring and summer.  For the next few months, I get to enjoy my limited mountain (foothill) view.

With the change of the season, my view changes.

I suppose that’s true of the seasons of life. 

I never really used that phrase until recently, “the seasons of life,” but I love it.  There is so much beauty in viewing life this way. Some seasons of life are busy, some are challenging, some are easy.

Nothing is permanent.  At times, I think I have a season figured out, only to have it change into something else.

I don’t want to admit it, but this has been a bit of a challenging season for me.  The emotional burdens of the work I do have consumed me.  My “real” life looks different too.  I have tried to take care of myself, doing those things that help me carry on, but I have felt overcome.

I intentionally took this week off work and made no plans.  Last night was the first night that I haven’t dreamed about work. 

I feel incredibly well rested this morning.

I can feel the burden lifting.  I can feel the season starting to change.

I am grateful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mountain Joy

 
 
Ahh….the joys of vacation!

We spent the past few days as a foursome in the mountains.  It has become somewhat of a fall tradition for us, getting away to a cabin, spending time just hanging out.

This year, I felt like it was really needed.  The family time.  The time away from work.  The time away from our house where the to-dos of life can interrupt true relaxation.  I was so rushed to get out of here, that I didn’t pack very well.  I packed a canister with a 5 pound bag of flour in it…that I didn’t use, of course.

This year, we were in for a bit of a surprise.  Our weekend away had a couple of unprepared moments.

Our first day started off with a very tired Katy.  She was not pleased with anything.  Fortunately, a good sleep helped her reset for a better day.  Then Lucy got some sort of stomach bug.  Poor lady.  And I did a lot of laundry. 

 
This is what happens while you are waiting for the blankets to be washed.  You have to be covered up with a bath towel.

In the midst of grumpiness and sickness, I kept reminding myself that those were only moments.  The overall weekend was incredibly relaxing.  I spent a lot of time staring out the window at the mountains and the snowfall.  We had a lot of time to just hang out with each other.  No interruptions.  I read a book.  I worked on puzzles.  We ate a lot of good food.

In years past, I may have been discouraged by those moments.  The entire weekend would have seemed like a waste. 

Instead, we chose to roll with it.  We didn’t get defeated by circumstances that we had no control over. 

 
We chose to enjoy the time as a family.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Starting Small


 
I think some of you paid a bit more attention to the language in yesterday’s post than I did.  I was referencing a run with Billy and wrote “Just 8 miles.”

When this statement was pointed out to me in the comments, I laughed.  When I started running in March, there was no way I could have pictured myself writing that.  Just 8 miles.  No way.  I was gasping for air and dry heaving after 2 miles.  A 4 mile trail run with my sister over the summer left me sore for days.

When Billy and I got home from our run, I made a comment about how when I ran 8 miles in the summer, I felt like I had heatstroke.  Running the same course in 18 degree weather felt a bit more comfortable.  By the way, a few days before the run with Billy, I told my sister that I would never run in 15 degree weather.  I sure am getting close to that.

It’s all about perspective isn’t it?  Time shifts our perspective.  Overcoming challenges changes our perspective.

When I look back on survival mode, I can’t imagine how I made it through.  I was there, I lived it, and I am still amazed.  There were days during survival mode when I didn’t think I would make it through.  Looking at what I still needed to accomplish was too overwhelming.  I had to break it down.  There were days that I couldn’t look past the next week.  It was too big.

Lately, life has felt too big again.

My soul feels a little sore.

I have to break it down, day by day.

I have to start small, with that 2 mile run.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sustain



One question we seem to ask to clients a lot at work is, “How are you taking care of yourself?”  The answer is usually, “I’m not,” which is then a great conversation starter for how to take care of yourself.  We often use that question with each other, as well.  For example, when I saw a colleague this weekend who was talking about hearing painful stories in counseling sessions, my question was then, “How are you taking care of yourself?”

This question, “How are you taking care of yourself?” is an important one.  And it doesn’t just apply to people at the receiving end of some type of service.

 
It applies to all of us.  We all need to find those things that nourish and sustain us.

In my last post, I mentioned that I was feeling worn thin.  This weekend, I tried to be as unscheduled as possible.  Sure, I still had my to-dos.  But one of my “must-dos” was take care of myself.  So how did I take care of myself this weekend?

·         I made a sweet potato pie.  It was amazing.  I cooked and baked other goods as well.

·         I snuggled with my ladies and watched movies, one of those was my all-time favorite, “Rear Window.” 

·         I started watching “Elementary” on the recommendation of a few folks.  I love Sherlock Holmes so I thought I would give it a whirl.  Why didn’t anyone tell me Aidan Quinn was in that?!  I would have watched it from the beginning.

·         I drank lots of hot tea and hot chocolate.

·         I went running and tried to let the drumming into my heart.  I even went running with Billy today, a running date, of sorts.  Just 8 miles.  My ankle started to really bug me from my trail run a few days prior.

·         I let myself stare blankly at the warm fire in the fireplace and let my mind drift.  I let my heart feel the undercurrent of joy.

Did any of these things take away the pain of the world that I have been carrying on my shoulders lately?  Of course not.  Did any of these things help me sleep through the night?  No.  Did my lounging bring about clarity of mind?  I wish. 

But they will sustain me for now.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Undercurrent



Today has been one of those days.  To be honest, it has been more than today.  It has been weeks.

Sometimes as I’m going through my day, I imagine my moments as a facebook status update.  As I was driving home, I thought, “The problems of the world are too big for me today.”

But that didn’t fit.  The problems of the world are too big for me every day.

I’m worn a little thin right now. 

And it shows.

At work, I keep thinking, “if one more thing happens,” and one more thing does happen.  And another.  And another.  That’s the nature of my work, another thing always happens.

I’m unfocused and fuzzy.  It took me three days to send an email back to someone because I couldn’t word it properly.  The words simply didn’t make sense.

Last night, I was happy to have pulled off grilled cheese, chips and apple slices for dinner for me and the girls. 

I have been eating way too much Halloween candy.

I haven’t been sleeping well.

But there has also been this feeling of comfort.  I feel the quiet calm of joy.

I always thought joy meant the exuberance of happiness.  But happiness is usually only a fleeting feeling. 

Joy to me is that undercurrent of well-being.  The appreciation for the life around me.  The reassurance that my current state of chaos is not permanent.

Today, Lucy brought up an old picture of Billy and me.  It has been in a frame forever but she wanted to know all about it.  When it was, where it was, who took the picture.  It brought a smile to my face, remembering when it was taken, who I was back then. 

I felt that undercurrent rise to the surface.  The quiet calm of joy.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Time Change



That was a lovely rest from posting!  Thank you all for your lovely comments during the series.  I needed a few days off after 31 in a row.  I’ve been eating too much Halloween candy and then trying to run it off.  How about you?

Tonight we were talking about the time change.  I realized that this is the first year in 5 years that I won’t be working an overnight shift when the time changes.  Anyone who has worked an overnight during the time change knows exactly how depressing it can be to see the time change from 2 am back to 1 am.

A year ago, this moment seemed so distant. 

In the back of my mind, it didn’t seem possible.

But here I am.  Sleepy, ready for bed, belly full of Mexican food…and Halloween candy.  Tonight, I won’t notice the time changing from 2 am to 1 am (hopefully).  I will enjoy this “extra hour of sleep” that everyone brags about.  Of course, that is if Elwood Wilson doesn’t meow or try to smother me.  Or if no one has a nightmare and crawls into bed, squishing me in the middle.  With Elwood Wilson on top.

A year ago, I never could have imagined the simple joy of sleeping through the time change.  It was such a long journey.  I had many moments of doubt when I didn’t think it would get better.  But it did get better.

And although it was so challenging to go through, moments like tonight, when I can reflect on the past and know how far I’ve come, are so much more joyful.