Saturday, April 26, 2014

Only If You Let It: Thoughts on Life After Easter

Last Sunday was Easter. So this girl, who usually wears jeans to church, put on a dress.
My entire outfit was from StitchFix. I felt feminine and pretty and Springy and it was glorious.

We sang songs about Jesus raising from the dead, and I was reminded that THAT is what my life is built on, and THAT changes everything and dreams and hopes and redemption ARE possible because of THAT.

Enter the resurrected life, right?

Because the Friday and Saturday before Sunday were not great.

Sunday: I made soup and we snuggled and rested and I did not mow the jungle that is the back yard.
Monday: I left work ON TIME for pretty much the first time, ever and I went to the gym. This resulted in me not being able to move normally for the next four days, but it was a good sore and I was happy to have it.

I started reading Stephen King's book, On Writing, and discover I have things in common with Stephen King. Never would have guessed it but hey, I love active verbs, so that's that.

Tuesday: Didn't go as I planned.
Wednesday: Didn't go as I planned.
Thursday: Didn't go as I planned.

Friday: I left work later than I wanted, but I spent the afternoon with my dad. You guys remember, my dad almost died a couple of months ago, so the fact that we were sitting outside, and he was showing me how to till up a garden, is kind of a big deal. Three months in the hospital changes your perspective, but only if you let it.
So, my point is this:
This resurrected life, it's still not perfect.

We're going to have plans that don't pan out.
We're going to lose the battle to do the good and right thing, sometimes.
But Jesus rose from the dead, y'all! And that changes everything.
So, when we get down or swallowed up... it's okay... because He beat all that, and we get to, too.

But, much like perspective changes your outlook only if you let it, hope can change you, but only if you let it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Kryptonite

The more I talk to other wives who are in the position I'm in, the more I realize that the hardest thing about this life is having to have other people in your house to help your loved one.

We have been on such a roller-coaster this year with regard to home health aides. I can't even count the number of different people who have been in and out of our bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Some for just a day.

It's so unnatural to have someone else in your space. But it is necessary, or you just have to do it all yourself, and that's just not sustainable long-term. I've learned that.

But new people, working new or different hours, and taking on different things -- that's my kryptonite.

I've had a heck of a week with this.
At it's worst, it makes me not even want to be in my own home.
Like I don't belong there.

I know that sounds ridiculous. It looks ridiculous when I write it, but I seriously feel that way.

I don't like to be home when they're there. I feel uncomfortable. Like what am I supposed to be doing? I feel guilty. I feel lazy. I feel weird. So, I wait for an "all clear" text from my husband, then I come home.

What's been difficult about this week is that the roles have been muddy. I'm used to them taking care of his personal care needs and I'll take care of the cooking, for example. Well, we have to keep them around longer to give them more hours, so Michael is going to be taking on some of the cooking.

I should be thrilled about this, but here's the problem: they're here in the morning, but they can't come in the evening. So, I have to get him up in the evening. It's not a big deal. It takes like half an hour and doesn't involve much. The problem is, I have no clear role for myself and no clear expectation of the aide. Because they're helping with some of his personal care, and they're doing some cooking. And I'm doing some cooking and some of his personal care.

I feel lost.
Kryptonite got the best of me this week. That one thing won. I lost.
I don't want to go home, even when they're not there.

I don't know how this is going to get better. It's probably not. I'll just have to get used to it. Another new normal.

Want to know the craziest feeling I have? Jealousy. My favorite sin. That someone else gets five waking hours in my house. I'm pretty sure it takes me a few days to get that.

So much about this life isn't fair.
But this one thing really sucks.

What does make it better is space, and coffee, and chocolate, and writing about it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Thousand Lives

I read something from Emily P. Freeman recently where she says, "We live a thousand lives in one lifetime."

That resonated with me.
As I work on my memoir, and by 'work,' I mean 'think about, freak out and go on Pinterest instead,' I realize that's what I am doing.

I am living my thousand lives. I am going through my seasons, one step at a time. When I stop for long enough to look around, and I realize those seasons have changed, those are the moments I feel like life is passing me by.
There was a season I lived on a quiet street in Norfolk. I was under the age of six, and the neighborhood wasn't the scary scene that it is today. I used to bunch the pine needles up in rows in the back yard, and create 'rooms' and 'houses.' What a little architect! I used to make my brother go to 'his room.'

There was a season I'd ride my bike around the next neighborhood we lived in - down to the water, down by the 'big houses,' and I'd get away from whatever was bothering me in my 10 year old world. I'd listen to Huey Lewis on my pocket rocker.

There was the trying out for cheerleading season, the cheerleading season, then the time I realized as head captain my Senior year that I'd gotten distracted, and let my team down. I learned a hard lesson about humility and leadership.

There was the season I couldn't get enough of the Bible and I traveled around the East Coast with Youthquest, and we talked to teenagers about Jesus and life and we slept on air mattress in random peoples houses and wore overalls and rode in 15 passenger vans.

There was the season I was the 19 year old in the newsroom and I faked like I understood what 10 codes on a scanner meant and I went to bed thinking about how some of the reporters and producers I worked with did their thing, because I wanted to be that smart but I didn't just want to ask them how they did it.

There was the season of growth and realizing I was good at what I do, and being recognized for that, and rewarded for that, and rapidly moving up and around in the competitive world of broadcast news.

There was the season of boyfriend drama. My heart was broken a couple of weeks before Christmas, once. Another time, I broke a heart. I wondered if I'd be single forever.

There was the season of wondering about this guy in Texas and if this could really be a thing. Followed by the season of airplane tickets and Yahoo chats and life-planning conversations had outside satellite truck row at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

There was the season of wedding planning and dog walking and moving and honeymooning and realizing I was living my actual dream and not even knowing how to handle that.

There was the season of realizing I was a caregiver. Of grieving. Of comparing my life to everyone else around me and feeling alone. Then the season of opening up and becoming part of a community online of girls who get it.

There was the season of fighting. The season of traveling for work, that was an adventurous season.

Then the 'what's next?' started. There was the national television show, the management position, and the hard years we didn't see coming. That's where we are now. And I'm realizing, I'm very much still in the thick of these seasons. There are many to still be had. I wonder what they are. But I can't spend too much time obsessing over it, because I must live the season I'm in, right now.
Last night, I took Brokaw on a bike ride around our neighborhood and I thought about how I used to do that when I was a little girl. I would hurry through my dinner, so that I could get a quick bike ride in before the street lights came on - because it was the late 80s, and that was the threshold for safety and avoiding becoming a face on a milk carton.

It's good to get away even though you're not really getting away. You're very much still in your right now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

He is Home

He is home.
Michael spent eight days away with his family, on vacation. I didn't go, because I borrowed this year's vacation last year, when we went to Disney World with his family. It's never fun paying later for fun that's already spent.

When I got home from a day trip to Charlottesville for a work event, my husband was sitting in his office. He had already mopped the dirty floors and folded two loads of laundry. He was wearing a v-neck t-shirt, a worn-out pair of jeans, and flip flops and I wanted to jump his bones at first sight.

He offered me a back rub (I'm super spoiled, and that's a regular occurrence around here), but I declined because I wanted nothing more than to just snuggle up close to him. I was so happy waking up next to him this morning.

We skipped church and stayed home in sweatpants and pajamas and watched two episodes of Parenthood and ate a pitiful excuse for banana bread (I'm out of practice baking) and vanilla ice cream.

Now we're both pecking away at our MacBooks, Brokaw is twitching in his sleep, the dishwasher is running, the sun is shining through the windows and Rascal Flats plays on the radio in the background.

Home is home, and I am grateful.

We have a lot of things to worry about. The van is not working again. I should be shampooing the carpets because the cat apparently has a new hobby of peeing in my office. The weeds are growing in the back yard as I write this. (I can hear them growing.) But I don't care.

All I want is this. Snuggles and togetherness.

This house is empty without that man here. He enriches my life so much. I don't miss that long-distance relationship thing at all.

It's good to miss each other. Sometimes in the busyness of my routine, I crave a break. I have even wondered before if I can do this forever. It's awesome to miss him, it helps me to see how special what we have is, that it's totally worth it, and that this marriage thing that we're doing is totally working.

We are one. We are and us and a them, and when we're not together for more than a couple of days, something is missing.
When I was sick and had nothing to do, I organized my Pinterest boards (because, that's normal, right?) and I found this great list of ways you can pray for your husband. I enjoyed praying for Michael a little more than I usually do while he was away. It made me realize how much I need to grow in praying for him. I thought I'd share it. It links to the book, Praying God's Word For Your Husband, which I have glanced at before, but I haven't read yet.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Cold With Perfect Timing

I was sick this week.
It was really no fun. Fever, chills, body aches. I think it was a viral situation. Not in the YouTube sense, but in the no-reason-to-pay-a-copay sense, because a doctor will just tell you to get over it.

Sometimes, when Michael and I listen to Christian radio, we crack up because people call in and say things like "I'm so blessed because I got hit in the teeth with a softball and the Lord used it to teach me about perspective."

I think it's because we live our lives from a perspective of regular suffering and patience-building and character-building circumstances.
We smile at the people who are able to find joy in getting hit in the face with a softball.

At the risk of sounding like someone calling into K-Love, let me say this: I'm so glad I got sick this week. Because, while it's no fun to be sick alone, it's significantly less fun to be sick and have to take care of someone else.

I've talked before about my CFN degree. I used it this week to take care of myself. Brokaw made sure I had plenty of puggle snuggles.

I'm feeling better now. Can't wait to get back to the gym.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What a Dusty Ceiling Fan Taught me About Dreams

For the past few weeks, I have been reading Jennie Allen's book, "Restless." I heard Jennie speak at Allume, and her book was in the swag bag.

I thought I was going to write a book this year.

There's a plug in my brain, though. Nothing is flowing out. But, I've been ferociously reading. I can't get enough. It's like I just learned to read and it's new and it's all I want to do. It's been years since it's been like this.

So, I've been going with it. I figure if I have no wisdom to pour out, I might as well be filled up, right?

In Jennie's book, there are journaling exercises. I put pen to paper the other day, old school style, answering the questions in the book. I found myself crying. It was strange. I was sitting on my couch, with a cup of coffee, my book, my journal, my hand in minor pain because I'm not used to actually writing with a pen anymore, and it hurts.

And something poured out, y'all.

Jennie asks, "When you anticipate dreaming, what are you afraid of?"

I am most afraid of wanting something I can't have. When I want something, I get obsessed with it. I think about it first thing in the morning when I wake up, then I google it all day long, then I can't fall asleep because I'm thinking about it. This method of 'dreaming' has paid off for me in the past. I can think of a few specific examples: In college, I dreamed about working in a newsroom. I did it. I dreamed about working at the White House. I did it. I dreamed about falling in love with and marrying Michael. I did it. I dreamed about traveling and covering a presidential campaign. I did it. I dreamed about moving home, decorating this house. I did it.

Recently, though, my dreams have stopped. I think it's because I gave up on them. For a while, I dreamed of having a baby. It didn't happen. I've dreamed of being a writer. Y'all, I'm a reader. Those dreams have seemed so far out of reach, I don't allow myself to continue to dream.

I'm afraid of dreaming impossible dreams. I fool myself into thinking I'm content that my husband is well, my house is clean, I'm doing a good job at work. Oh, maybe I'll dream about making a difference there, that's what I'll do. I'll dream about CrossFit. Yeah, those are good, reachable dreams.
I don't want to be discontent. So I just don't admit that I am.

At this point, I realize I'm a poser when it comes to dreams. Embarrassing.

Jennie asks another question, "Do you feel discontent right now, and how does that discontentment tie into a desire for a purpose?"

Uh oh, y'all. I did not read ahead. I did not know her second question was totally going to hit me where it hurt. I make another k-cup, and proceed with caution.

I'm not sure if my discontentment ties into a purpose or any kind of desire. I think I'm too busy to notice. I do it to myself, all the time. Maybe so that I won't have to face my fear of dreaming? So I am discontent. Damn it!

I fill up my moments with responsibilities. That way, I don't feel bad about being focused on things like work, taking care of Michael, cooking, cleaning, because those are all good and necessary things to spend my time doing. But my days are completely filled up with responsibilities and I am too burned out to even think about dreams, desires, passion and purpose.

Then I stopped writing for a moment, because of the searing pain in my ring finger of my right hand, from the writing. My poor hand was trying so hard to keep up with my brain that is used to working with two typing fingers.


I glanced up at the ceiling fan over our dining room. It's always in motion. That is so me! I am that hardworking ceiling fan! I never stop. That's why I can't see my dust. That's why I don't even realize I'm discontent. I'm always spinning and I am doing my job, a good job, no one thinks to turn me off and so no one ever sees my dust, but oh is it there!

That ceiling fan has a few bulbs burned out. They've been burned out for months. I notice that it's darker. But when the fan is in motion, you can't see that it really needs to be dusted. The lights don't work when the bulbs are burned out, but the fan will keep working, no matter how dusty it is. I imagine, however, that at some point, dust will begin flying off the fan, and will dirty up the whole downstairs.

I should probably clean it at some point.
And, I should probably stop spinning.
And start dreaming again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Growth: An Update on My Dad

My dad went to see one of his doctors for a follow-up appointment last week.  They said they can't really explain it, but his lungs are healing.

I remember after one of the major setbacks my dad had when he was in the hospital, this doctor's face changed before my eyes. He looked into my eyes, and he looked like he was going to cry.

My heart was already broken, because I was afraid my dad was slipping away. But my heart broke for this doctor, I could see the fear and sadness in his face.

Incredibly, my dad pulled through. He's worked really hard and is now at home. He is on oxygen, and he is still gaining his physical strength back, but he is alive, and we are all so grateful.

When I went to hang out with him last Tuesday, I saw the sketch for this year's garden.
The garden is going to be a lot smaller this year. I told Dad I would love to come and help him plant it. I would love to learn about gardening. 

Last Summer, I loved getting the vegetables out of Dad's garden. This Summer, I'm glad to still be able to talk to him.

I think that's called growth.