Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sometimes Perspective is Handed to You on a Shield

So, I wrote my little emo heart out last night, so when I woke up I felt great. Down three pounds- just water, but still good. Healthy, strong, happy. Great morning, relaxed & joyful with my little family. Great work calls in the morning for some significant donations. The happy jig was jigging. Looking forward to a movie tonight with friends and feeling very drama free.

No sooner had I posted a happy status on facebook than a phone call came that threw my day into a bit of a bad afterschool special. A desperate voice of a family member on the other line who was too far away to do anything. A flurry of frantic phone calls to follow. A story of a hospital, a phone that wasn't being answered, and the fear of suicide from someone I care about. Minutes later I was in the car going to a place I didn't know, searching from the barest of hints. And then at a strange apartment, pounding on the door and then the back window while preparing to call the police and starting to fear the worst.

Thankfully, it wasn't the worst but it also wasn't good. It's not the first time I have worried about finding someone dead, but it still isn't a feeling that I have built an immunity to. And I have taken the reigns and tried to steer the boat back into the right direction, while also fulfilling my own responsibilities. I have a brief reprieve right now, but I know it's not for long.

I wonder how many lives I must watch be destroyed by drugs. It's weird to be immune, but to watch it destroy so many around me. It's a poison that I can only control by never letting it into myself... and yet I cannot save those around me.

Second, the dismal shape of drug and mental health care in this country is just pathetic. This is the not the first time I have spent hours on the phone looking for help for someone.

Third, I often say that I wonder when I will feel like "an adult." Today was one of those days that I do, most definitely, feel like an adult. And all my belly aching below seems so silly, so insignificant. My life is such an amazing blessing. And while I am tired and worn from today, I also still feel strong. I am not drowning in the drama and I'm not depleted. Sometimes it takes fighting in another person's war to see that you are not weak.

It's scary for me to acknowledge God's blessings- it seems when I do that something tragic happens. But as I see the soldiers push forward, I raise my sword and accept that I can help, but I cannot save.

Monday, April 25, 2011

On a Musical Note

I have just been loving Ingrid for awhile on Pandora and it's time to save her for posterity.

First, this one:

And also this:

And Now I Blather

In October and November, I was really working daily on my health. I was walking a lot more and tracking my food. I was doing yoga weekly and attending OA meetings. But still I wasn't losing weight. Then the holidays hit... and I began doing less and less. By the time March rolled around, I was ready to recommit. I was going to focus on getting off 30 pounds by the time June rolled around. And it's the end of April... and I've gained 18 pounds. Seriously?? The thing that kills me is that I can eat a totally normal day and still gain three pounds overnight. If I were hanging at buffets or a Girl Scout cookie factory, I would accept it. But this just seems so unfair.

So, spring is literally "busting out" all over and I'm not thrilled. The bout of sickness in February and March really seemed to do me in and I'm just really feeling the effects of the extra, sudden weight. Plus I'm just pissed- I know many people have trouble keeping weight off, but really- to gain 18 pounds when I am trying to lose. Ugh!

We spent a lot of time this weekend at my mom's house, which is a small ranch. She has four dogs- three are big and one is decidedly furry. I can usually only stand about three hours before my sinuses rebel. We spent a big chunk of time Saturday and Sunday there and the combination about killed me. By the time we left Sunday evening, I was so inflamed and congested that I felt as if I had the flu. I had a fever and was having a hard time breathing (which makes me a tad cranky). We got home and I took Benadryl, which knocked me. That might have worked okay, except I mean it literally took me out of the game before I had time to get ready for bed. Plus I had tons of work to do, so when I woke up around midnight, I was not pleased. I tossed and turned until about 5:30, at which point I got up and started fighting the work demons in my head. But I still have allergy hangover and the current weather isn't helping. I have felt very inflamed and unhealthy and it's time to get on the ball.

So, this morning I went for a walk around a pond close to my house. It was harder- just a few weeks off really makes a difference. And I was bummed to find that it wasn't two miles, like I thought, but rather 1.5 mile. While not perfect, I have tried to eat better today. Besides a few sips of coffee, I haven't had caffeine. And I ended the day with a yin yoga class and a healthy dinner of salmon, rice, and green beans (with amino acids and tons of garlic). Yep- I'm trying to bring down my inflammation levels. I find if I focus on treating specific health issues- instead of just the omnipresent jaba-the-hut- weightiness that I do better. It's more like a science experiment.
I googled "Jabba the Hut in Drag" but it just made me mad.
So we are going with the cat version.

So now I am just chilling with some green tea (courtesy of the husband, who I have to give props to, for he did bring me a little heating pad and the tea upon request.)

I was thinking again today about my many different- and disparate- dimensions today. I definately have a strong streak of hippie-alternative yearning (yeah- that's the best wordsmithing I can come up with right now, as I am listening to the neighbor roaring up and down on the four wheeler outside my house while my monkey boy & man-child jabber on and sing Mexican Christmas songs. Yes, really). Anyway, where was I? Oh yes.

One of my earliest memories was of doing yoga in the living room with my dad. My mom worked third shift and we would sit on the carpet in the front room of the ranch, listening to Cat Steven and doing yoga in- yes- the actual light of the moon. This remains a sacred memory for me and I can remember the smooth cover of the"Tea for the Tillerman" record. Listening to Cat Stevens, John Denver, James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac still takes me back and can literally lower my blood pressure.

This being the late 70s, my dad also had left over vitamin supplements and self-hypnosis tapes from some entrepreneurial venture, and I listened to those growing up. We also have some Native American ancestry and that colored my world view, so that when I was old enough to make my own decisions about religion I ended up with both a Christian worldview and a strong interest in the concepts of Hindu and Buddism, with special focus on karma and the balance of yin and yang. In fact, I wear a tiny yin yang in my right ear and it serves to remind me to recognize the sacred balance of energy. I don't see this as an either/or endeavor- I believe in a God mighty enough to reach his many peoples through many messages of truth.

I used to love to have conversations with people about the universe and all it's mysteries. I didn't mind being the freak- I just thought everyone else was kinda conventional. I gave a presentation in eighth grade about reflexology and did astrological projections with my step-grandmother. I experienced mind mapping and reflexology tanks and all sorts of things that people deem madness. I wasn't searching for some deeper truth that I didn't feel that I had. Instead it was just... interesting. I like exploring. In fact, I would say that it my strongest characteristic. I want to explore the psyche, the inner-space, the dimensions of people's believes, their histories, the journeys, their possibilities, the interactions between us.

More than ten years ago, I conceived of a nonprofit utopia that I wanted to start. I called it Sanctuary. And I researched. I dreamed. I explored. I wrote. I created a business plan. I toured possible locations.

And slowly, steadily, over the last ten years I have let my dreams seep out of me, one drop at a time. I have become more and more conventional. I haven't lost who I am... I've just let is sink deeper inside of me and in front of it I have placed the vestiges of the roles that I have played as a fundraiser, a wife and a mother. But most of all- a provider. For I have had to be the provider for the last eight years as my husband works on his own dream of a doctorate in clinical psychology.

And I still struggle with it. Did I do this to myself or let it be done to me? Was I too weak to fight for my dreams? Too scared to chase them? To sacrifice all to achieve them? Did I let the fact that my family didn't see the beauty of my dream discourage me? I remember walking into pre-marital counseling with the preacher of the church we had joined. When we started talking about the future, I was already frustrated and emotional about not feeling supported to pursue my own dreams and being dismissed because hubby "didn't even know what they were." And that was right long years ago.

It's strange how so many others knew my dreams in all their techno-colored detail. Last year I reconnected with a friend who I had worked with in 2001. We were both trainers, but she was exceptionally talented in cake decorating. So I encouraged her. I helped her design a portfolio and pushed her to interview. It was awesome to me to be a part of helping someone make their own dreams come true and when one of her cakes was published in a bridal magazine, I was as proud as a parent. When we reconnected, she wrote me a touching letter thanking me for helping and encouraging her then. And then she wrote about how she hoped that my dream of Sanctuary would come true.That stopped me in my tracks. Ten years had passed and I was no closer. Ten.Whole.Years. Not only that, she remembered. She knew. She cared. She believed.

It's always funny how I start one subject and end somewhere different here. And I can't help but feel that I am painting a picture for myself, a sort of psychological color by number of truth that I can only see when I'm done. And yet, it's all perfectly interrelated. My health. My beliefs. My sacrifices and my balancing of identities. What I have tucked away in order to make others happy. This is my place to pour it out, even if it doesn't make people smile or laugh.

So what will I write in another 10 years?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Musical Moments

Life is busy, busy, busy and I seem to be behind in the race right now. Although, that may no be a bad thing. Being late to one's funeral, for example, is a good thing.

So no time to write. But loving these two songs lately, just for their spunky originality.

and a lady that I just ADORE....

I envision myself banging along to a big bass drum to this. The artist describes it as a bluesy gospel disco- that's epically wonderful for me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What If It's Not Fair?

(I started this last month and felt the need to come back and finish the thought, at least a bit).

I came home tonight after my son's first t-ball game, fairly happy and content in the moment. I was prepared for most of the emotions, but I teared up a bit with a little boy from the other team got struck out on his first try. They are only five years old- I'm not ready for them to be competitive monsters, nor will I be. We just root and cheer all the little souls.

But that's not what I have to write about right now. Nor is the topic the rather overwhelming tides of change flowing my way and my intense scurry to keep up with work, with life, with family, with home repair & sale... these area all things I'll need to get out eventually, but for right now I just keep paddling.

What's on my heart is the battle between faith and reality, between our desires and our despair. I have many unpublished posts that are simply too raw to share. One of them is about my unborn baby girl- the child I have wanted so desperately for so long. I simply don't have the emotional fortitude to capture that story right now, but suffice to say that it's been six years since I bought my first little girl dress, four years since I bought a locket with her name, three years since my son starting asking for a baby sister, and more than a year since my actions & prayers have been focused on her. Actively "trying" they call it. The journey of hope & pain since then is for another time and I just can't go into it yet. So many pregnant right now as my blood betrays me again. Because this is actually not about me and my baby envy, but rather someone else.

I began working with K in 2002, just a few months before I left the job. I didn't get to know her too well, but liked her and got to attend her wedding. Fast forward many years and we reconnected on Facebook. And I started reading her blog and see that we had in common than I had known. I enjoyed pictures of her wiener dog and especially loved seeing her skills at quilting & knitting. So much so, in fact, that I remember showing my mom a picture of a bird quilt that K made. I had hoped, actually, that I could order one from her for a nursery if I should ever get the other baby that I wanted so much.

But more than anything, what made me come back and read was K's humanity and her struggle with infertility. It has been more than six difficult years for her and her loving husband. Grueling and expensive IVF treatments. Rollercoaster emotions and heartbreaking losses. I found myself thinking of her and praying for her to get her baby. And though we haven't spoken in almost a decade and are not close, I cried for her pain when she shared her loss and her despair. And when I've suffered my own loss- when the pain of seeing other pregnant women seemed too much- I could empathize with her own tales of baby envy. And like so many, I started to wonder at God's plan. Why would He allow to many babies to be born unwanted and unloved when these two people were so ready to give their lives to a child?

This summer, I fulfilled a 20-year dream of going to Chartres Cathedral in France. Though I am not Catholic, I am familiar with many of the church's traditions and find some comfort in the rituals. As I stepped up to the small alter of Mary that is dedicated to mother and child, I immediately felt that I must light a candle for my own daughter's soul and for K. I've never done that before, but I made my tithe and carefully selected the two candles. I lit my candle with complete & utter gratitude for my son and I prayed to God that if it not His will that I should have another child to please give that child to K. To be honest, the prayer came up spontaneously and caught me by surprise. Was I really telling God that I would be okay if he didn't give me my heart's desire? It seems silly as I write it now, as if I were doing the prayer bartering that can be so common. But that wasn't it. I wasn't trying to make deals. At that instant, I was subverting my own will for that of a stranger. I can say without shame that this doesn't much happen for me. It's in my heart a lot for my family & those I love dearly, but the intensity in which I wanted God to grant this woman a child was stunning. And as I carefully wrapped my own candle and left K's at the alter, I felt sure that it would come to pass.

But it hasn't- not for either of us. And today I read her blog with tears in my eyes. The last IVF treatment that they will ever do produced a pregnancy... for three days. And now she has the misery of losing a child again.

And it's not fair.

It's just not. And that's what I've been thinking on a lot lately. When I lost my brand new job last year- a job I was so thrilled and excited about, that I thought would literally change my life, I was just so stunned. I was only there a week. Co-workers who didn't even know me lied about me and I was fired. Just like that. It wasn't fair. And frankly, while I have seen the best and the worst of humanity in my 35 years, I was still stunned. I knew God had a plan, but to this day I still harbor the confusion in my heart, the frustration that things are not just and that bad guys sometimes win.

I wear a small symbol in my right earlobe- it's a tiny yin-yang. I keep it there to remind me. In Taoist and ancient Chinese understanding, the outer circle represents everything that can be. The black & white shapes withing the circles represent the interactions of two energies, called yin (black) and yang (white). This interaction is the basis for all. Life is not completely black or white, it says. Things are not simply good or bad, and one force cannot exist without the other. We must live in balance and harmony of the two forces.

Like many, I have adapted this belief into my own life and I have surely Westernized it along the way. This simple image reminds me to seek balance in my life; to honor the actions in our world that we so quickly label good and bad; to seek the pattern beyond our initial understanding. Alas, I am not a monk and I live in the secular world, but there is great wisdom behind this concept that I try to honor.

Last summer, when the wounds were still new, I was telling a stranger the story of my job loss and I got to the end and said, "I'm working on healing, but it has definitely shaken my concept that the world is a just and fair place." I was awarded with a crude, loud, angry laugh and the stranger sneered as she said, "You think life is fair??? Do you still believe in Santa Claus too??"

I was taken aback and none too warm towards the bitter lady. But it was one of those pivotal moments when I was reminded that we have choices on how we chose to navigate life, how we set a course in our heart and mind. To think about "fair" and the thoughts and actions that guide us. Is life fair? Is there balance? Fate or free will? Guided journey or empty wandering?

So many souls have pondered these things for many lifetimes, leaving tombs and words to us on their thoughts. I have so much more to say about it. For now, though, it's time for me to take a few breathes and go love my son. And help make a world where he is free to believe in good. In truth. In fair. Not to keep him from dark, but that so the flame inside of him is strong enough to keep burning when it descends.