Friday, July 26, 2013

The Escape


The other night, the ladies had a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  Billy worked late so I had the house all to myself.

It was lovely.

There were moments of productivity and moments of simply spacing out.


The next morning, Billy asked me if I was bored the previous night.  That was a serious question.

In case you are wondering, the answer I gave him was, No.  The answer I provided in my head was, Are you joking?  Of course, I wasn’t bored.  It was great!  It would have seemed rude to provide that answer, though.

I needed a night like that.  I’ve been spending way too many early mornings with Powerpoint, working on training materials.  I realized this week that my presentation was not going to be perfect (because perfection doesn’t exist), and I needed to let that idea go.  Easier said than done.

Still, that night provided some much needed rejuvenation.  I have been feeling a little unfocused lately.  The ladies only have three weeks left of summer break.  There are projects in my mind that I would like to do but can’t seem to get started.

I read through some old entries in my journal the other night, reminding myself of some truths.  Truths about what I need to focus and feel awake.  Lately, I have been filling too much of my time with escape- computer, reading, etc.  While escape can be good, there is a point where it starts interfering with living.  I think I am at that point.

I have been trying to give myself some grace around that, really looking at the reasons that I feel escape is necessary.  And reminding myself that when I am doing those things that keep me awake, those can be just as refreshing as the escape.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Struggle

I am that mean mom that makes her kids do homework over the summer.  My little Lucy has struggled with homework since kindergarten, so as you can imagine, she loves this idea.  It’s such a chore, these math worksheets and spelling lists.  But I am able to see the payoff in sight-when she starts a new school year without the anxiety of playing catch up to the other kids. 

It’s for their own good, I tell myself.  And I often tell myself this in the middle of heavy sighs from the ladies.

It hurts me to see them struggle, and this summer homework is my way of easing the struggle.  That’s the tough bit about this motherhood business.  The struggle is inevitable.

Last year was our first experience with bullying.  It’s not over yet, simply changed a bit.  Kind of hard to get away from a neighborhood kid.  To be perfectly honest, there have been many moments when I wish that this family would move because I want an end to this type of heart hurt.

Once again, this heart hurt is inevitable.

And really, even if this family moved, there is always going to be someone else or something else.  A new struggle.

And I can’t prevent that.  I like to think that I have control over that-teaching kindness and standing up for yourself and others…with a few math worksheets thrown in.

The reality is that I have zero control over what happens.

I often think about my own mom.  Watching me stumble into adulthood, starting a family, going backwards and forwards with my career, the days of survival mode.  I wonder if there were times when she thought, Can’t she catch a break?!  Sheesh, I know I thought that all the time. 

I know that I will be watching my own ladies go through struggles as adults.  I suppose while they are in my house, I can pretend that I have some control. 

There is no control. 

Maybe I just want to be there for the heart hurts.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Still Going

Ok, summer, I get it.  It’s hot.  And humid…for Colorado.  But I need to run.

We all know that I don’t necessarily enjoy running.  But I still do it.

This is getting ridiculous though.

How early do I have to get up to run and avoid collapsing from heat exhaustion?

Last week, I pulled the plug on my long run.  Only a half mile short of my goal.  I couldn’t do it any longer.  At the 4.5 mile mark, I muttered allowed, This sucks.  By 10 miles, I was actively swearing…in my head.  A lot of swears.

My last mile is mostly shaded and by a creek.  When Mark the Garmin beeped at the 12 mile mark, I sat down in an offshoot of the creek.  And pretty much took a bath with my clothes on.  Thank God for cold water that flows from the mountains.

I should add that the paved trail that runs along this creek has a lot of traffic, and there are multiple housing units that face the creek.  I’m sure that someone thought it was hilarious.  Or creepy.  Or both.

This morning was a short run, and it was still miserable.  Billy asked how it went and I replied, I’m not made for this summer running.

But I will still do it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sense of Order

I have no idea where this picture came from.  Maybe my sister's camera when she downloaded some pictures on my computer last month.  It creeps me out a little.  It makes me want to quickly raise my feet from the floor.
Onto other news...the bathroom reno is complete!  Hooray! 
There were a few scary moments.  Like coming home to a bathtub in my bedroom.  Notice that I don’t have a comforter on the bed in the background.  That was because Elwood Wilson puked on it the night before.  While I was sleeping.  I swear he has it out for me.
Or there was this moment, where the bathroom floor was ripped out and the toilet was in the bathtub, and I could only imagine us walking on the sub-floor for months.
And then there was this.  The new bathroom in all of its glory (with the old bathroom rug).  This is actually stage 1 of the reno.  We are going to update the bathroom sink eventually.  But it works just fine and isn’t an emergency.  Billy and I have a very different way of defining emergency renovations.  It seemed smarter to keep my mouth shut and keep Billy and his dad well fed.  I do better in the kitchen anyway.  Without the tools, building materials and film of dry wall dust.

I’m looking forward to cleaning this weekend and finally removing the film of dry wall dust that seems to be on every surface of the house or maybe that’s just regular old dust.  I can’t believe I just wrote that…looking forward to cleaning. 

Who am I?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Real Faces

clouds, dark clouds, dawn

I finished this book a few weeks ago that has been stuck in my brain, Toxic Charity: How Churches andCharities Hurt Those They Help by Robert Lupton.  It’s a book that examines all of these well-intentioned people and programs, and how we have all worked together to make people worse off.  We have created a system of dependency and have disempowered those that we have been meaning to serve.

It looks at programs that society tends to rally around: food banks, adopt-a-families, etc and asks those hard questions.  If the same folks are using these programs month after month, year after year, are we really creating change?

As a social worker, part of me wants to hide under my desk and squeak out, But I was only trying to help!

And that’s just it.  We just want to help but we are doing the opposite.

Poverty is complicated.  And American Poverty seems full of contradictions.  Folks can’t pay their utilities but they have the latest smart phone.  A giant tax refund is used to buy a big tv instead of paying rent.  It’s so easy to fall into the trap of looking at American Poverty and thinking, “Well, it is their fault.  If they would just…insert judgmental statement here.”  It’s easy to look at someone else’s life and make judgments and assumptions. 

If you grow up in this poverty, how could you know any different?  You are living what you grew up with.  You are living to survive.  Do some people make other choices and succeed?  Sure.  And when that happens, we like to make an example out of that person.  We like to make an example of that person, not really as a means of celebrating their success in life, but to put others down.  And judge the choices that others make.  “If they wouldn’t spend all of their money on cigarettes, then…” Then what?  All of their problems would be solved?  They would have this all figured out?  We sure love to simplify a really complex issue.

Where is grace?  Where is compassion?  This is a human issue, and sometimes we lose our ability to see that.

While it is easy to make assumptions and judgments, it’s scary to simply be with someone.  To let go of our notions of how they should live their life and be a friend, be a mentor.

In a sense, that what Lupton suggests in this book.  Giving someone a (well-intentioned) handout is a temporary fix.  We need to develop genuine relationships.  Not this “I know better than you.”  Sincerity.  Interest in someone’s life, someone’s struggles and partnership with community.

And really engaging with people.  When we make judgments and assumptions about poverty, it is usually to lump everyone in a group together and make ourselves feel better.

What about their faces?  Do we see those? 

What about their stories?  Do we hear those?

It is much easier to shut out those struggling when they are a faceless group.  When you make connections with individuals, hear their stories, you realize the assumptions you made are incorrect, the judgments you made are harsh.

These are real people with unique stories.  Stories of pain and survival.  Stories that may be similar to our own.  Stories so far removed from our own that we are grateful for the blessings in our own lives.

This idea of connecting with others, it isn’t easy.  It also isn’t a blanket solution to this complex issue of poverty.  But it’s a place to start.