Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Person

Everyone has one.  That pivotal person.  The one who changed your life.  The one who helped define you.  The one without whom you wouldn't be who you are.  Hopefully, the one who taught you to believe in yourself.

For me, that was my grandma.  And today would be her 100th birthday.  I miss her.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I Hate Most About Chronic Illness

Take your pick on what qualifies me as chronically ill.  Chronic fatigue.  Chronic headache.  Chronic depression.  Or whatever diagnoses we haven't made yet.  Basically I feel horrible all the time.  On a good day I just feel yucky and drained and my head hurts.  On a bad day I can't get out of bed.

And, while there are so many ways this has changed my life, there is one area that bothers me the most.

It's difficult to not enjoy things I used to, to not want to do anything or be with anyone.  It's more difficult to want to do things but not be able to.  But the most difficult isn't the things that I am missing out on.  It's what my kids are missing out on.

For the first ten years of my marriage I was a doer.  I played with my kids.  I took them places.  I cleaned house.  I made meals.  I read to them.  I volunteered at their schools.  I did crafts with them. 

But that was a long time ago.  At about the ten year mark, my health started going down hill.  And I started to do less and less.  And because it was so long ago, they don't remember all those things.  They don't remember me pushing them in the swings at the park or having picnics on a quilt in the living room.  They remember me asking them to be quiet because my head hurts so much.  They remember me telling them to ask their older sister for help on their homework because my mind isn't clear enough.  They remember me sending them to do things instead of doing things with them.

I expected to teach them about hard work by working with them and by modeling the behavior.  But they see me do one small job and then crawl back into bed because I am so dizzy.  I expected to teach them about service by volunteering in various ways and doing family service projects.  Instead, I try to encourage them to work with their youth groups when there is a service opportunity.  I thought I would teach them spirituality by doing all the things our church suggests we do to teach in our homes.  I often don't feel well enough and so those things fall through the cracks and I have to be content with just getting them to church.

I planned to have a beautiful home where my children could find a place a refuge.  A place that was warm and welcoming to all who passed through our doors.  A place where our family could feel peace.  But I can't clean like I need to.  And I am often tense and isolate myself in my room, leaving them to their own devices which leads to mess and fights.

There are so many things I thought I would be as a mother.  So many desires I am unable to fulfill.  For years I waited, hoping that it was just a matter of time.  But it might not be.

This might be as good as I ever feel again.  And I am mourning that today.

Yes, there are great things in my life.  Yes, I have found other ways to teach and show love to my children.  Yes, I have found value in the life I have.

But it's important to allow ourselves to mourn our disappointments.  It is a loss.  And it makes me sad.

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Oh, and this is my 100th post.  It's been just over a year since I started blogging.  It's amazing how quickly time passes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm Not Who You Think I Am

I spent most of my life letting others define me.  They told me what to be and that's what I became.  Or they told me what I was and I believed them.

I was so many different people, depending on who I was with.

And this was such a part of my life that I really had no idea who I was.  And sometimes I still slip up.  Sometimes I still believe what others think of me.  Or I know it's not true but it still makes me question myself.

It's so easy to look to others for our value.  It's easier to believe what others tell us about ourselves than to decide on our own.

Some people like me.  They think I'm kind.  They think I'm honest.  They think I am strong and dedicated.

Others aren't so fond of me.  They think I'm a snob.  They think I'm selfish.  They think I'm judgemental.

Still others claim to like me but constantly tell me what is wrong with me, how I don't measure up.

I'm an angel.  I'm a witch.  I'm self-centered.  I'm compassionate.

All, some, or none of those things may be true.  There is probably someone out there to vote for each trait, who would assign it to me.

But no matter how others perceive me, no matter who they say I am, I know what is in my heart.

I am a person.  A small person in a big world.  A person with a purpose who is just trying her best.

I am okay with that.  And that's all that really matters.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Where's My Duct Tape?

Often, when people ask me how I am, I reply that I am holding on -- with both hands and a roll of duct tape.

I misplaced my duct tape.

I say this because my life slipped out of my hands a bit recently.  I was stuck doing triage.  Hitting those life or death things, but missing the details.

I kept the electricity on.  We had food in the house.  My kids went to school.

But I fell down on some things, too. 

I have been sleeping too little at night and too much during the day.  I haven't been eating much.  I stayed home almost all the time, usually not getting dressed for the day until my kids were about to get home from school.  Or after they did and I had to take them somewhere.

Basically, I quit doing things for me.  I spent so much time trying to put out fires that I forgot to make sure my firesuit was secure.  And I got a little burnt.

Once I find myself there, it's tricky to get out.  It's a steep climb without any gear.  Because I left all my gear on the ledge I fell off of.

But it's still there.  I know where it is this time.  I have some spotters who will help keep me from plummeting to my death.  I've made the climb before.

And I've finally figured out what the duct tape is.  It's self-care.  I've got several rolls stashed in various areas of my life.

Now if I can just remember what I'm looking for when I walk into the room that has it.  Then I'll be all set.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Smartly Metaphor

I have a new essay up over at Smartly.  A metaphor for life.  You should check it out by clicking this link

And I will have a new post here sometime soon.  I hope.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Octoboween

Huzzah!  The day has finally arrived.  The day I've been waiting for all month long.  It's the first day of Octoboween and I am so excited!

Seriously, not a lot of things excite me.  But the first day of October does.  It really, really does.

For most people, one day of Halloween is plenty.  For some it's too much.  But not for me.

I love the dark and scary stories.  I love the rats and spiders.  I love the macabre.

I grew up on scary movies, some much scarier than my children have yet to see.  Edgar Allen Poe movies with Vincent Price.  Stephen King.  All the original scary movies of the '80s (Halloween, Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th) and then some.  Plus lots of Hitchcock.

I don't go in for the hard stuff anymore.  Nothing R.  I just can't stand the gore.  And I've found that a good scary movie doesn't need it.  A really scary movie can freak you out without showing you anything.  It lets your mind scare you.  That's where the fear happens.

So a few years ago I decided I wanted more out of Halloween.  Thus, Octoboween was born.  Every day in October we watch a Halloween movie.

Halloween movie is a somewhat loose term.  If it has ghosts or monsters, it qualifies.  If it has Halloween in the title, it qualifies.  If it's scary, it qualifies.  So we end up with quite a broad range.

We will watch several M. Night Shyamalan movies (Signs, The Sixth Sense, The Village, Lady in the Water); probably a few Hitchcock movies (Rear Window, Rebecca); some more recent classics (Young Frankenstein, Labyrinth, Disney's Haunted Mansion, Ghostbusters, The Addams Family); definitely some Vincent Price (Fall of the House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum); some original classics (Dracula and Frankenstein from the '30s); possibly Monsters, Inc. and Jaws; and we will end with Disney's Legend of Sleepy Hollow on Halloween.

It will be fun.  It's a great family bonding time for us.  Some days it will be just us; other times we'll have friends over.

It's the way we welcome fall.  It fits our family.  We revel in the ways we are weird -- together.  And isn't that what family traditions are all about?