You Are Not Alone

“Life is slippery. Here, take my hand.”  

-H. Jackson Brown Jr.

*I feel like I’ve written this before. Have I? I have, haven’t I. Welp, even if I have, it feels timely to hit this up again.*

Hitting rock bottom hurts. Have you ever been there? How many times? Am I the only one who seems to carry a frequent flier card to this destination?

I wish we could pull our feet up under us and sit staring at each other across a couch and have this conversation. Face to face. There are so many of us. There have to be.

I refuse to believe that I’m the only one who sits in a pit so often.

Time can drag on, too, until I remember the only way out is up. Then again, I can wallow at the bottom like I was born to.

Tell me I’m not alone. Because I can confidently state that you are not. Alone.

And when the pit is deep, it can feel bleak. And when it feels dark and disheartening, I can get numb.

I don’t know about you, but once numbness creeps in on me, even music hits different. If I can even hear the music at all. The worst is when the music stops altogether. Sadness slides in. Depression deepens. And sometimes, the music just stops making its way to my ears.

Or worse, to my heart.

If I sit with the pain and the hopelessness of it all and allow myself to just feel all those feelings, one of two things happen. Positively, I will eventually, once again, realize rock bottom is not where I’m meant to stay. Negatively, I burrow down into the angst and allow it to snuff out joy.

When you feel like you are hovering with one step hanging right over the edge of that rock-bottom pit, what do you do? Especially this hot minute as routines have gone haywire and security seems out of reach.

I’m no therapist.

But, I have been fortunate enough to interact with a few amazing ones over the last two decades. Here’s a little something to work with when you feel like you haven’t got squat to work with. It’s a little of what has helped me in the past and is helping me right now:

  • Find something, anything,to be grateful for. Anything. Say out loud to anyone, or no one, what that thing is and how grateful you are for it. (The other day, for me, it was the ability cry. Seriously. I just needed to know I could still feel. And the crying felt cathartic. And I was grateful.)
  •  Look, really look, for something to laugh at or about. Anywhere. Then do it. Laugh. Whether it’s for 5 seconds or five minutes. (I was able to search through my phone for memes that made me laugh. Once I got started, I was able to feel like climbing a step or two up from the bottom of my latest.)
  • Tell yourself that you are not alone in this. Anytime. Say it. “I am not alone in this.” (I had to repeat this to myself a couple dozen times in the shower this past week.)
  • Call, or text, someone. Anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone you are related to or even close to. Just connect with a human to let them know you aren’t doing okay. And if you have no one to call, please call a hotline. Here’s one: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
    Here is another one: SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline, 1-9-800-662-4357.

Most importantly, know that there are so many of us struggling. Isolation is the worst thing for a pit dweller. We struggle to keep hope near.

Please! Please remember…

You are not alone.

You are valuable. To me. To others you may not even know. To The One Who Created You.

You are worthy. Of love. And time. And attention.

You are able. To keep struggling. To climb up. To find joy.

You have help. From professionals and volunteers. From family, or friends, or even acquaintances.

You are not alone.

 

 

Preferable

It’s time to write again.

Because, quite frankly, there’s nothing else to do.

The two extroverts in the house are dying a slow death. The two introverts are thriving. It seems as though there should be a perfect balance to the family dynamic with that two plus two combination. There isn’t.

I’ve cleaned every surface that can possibly be cleaned. I’ve cleaned out almost every closet and shelf that exists in this house. Discipline has been enforced and promised for the minor squabbles that keep breaking out amidst all the Stir Crazy that is setting in within these four walls.

Each human is organizing their schedule for the pending remote learning reality we are all facing. Workspaces have been designated. Playlists have been curated. Movie cues have been arranged – by genre. Books are sorted and stacked in the most desired reading order. The pantry has been raided, sufficiently, thank-you-very-much. Exercise DVD’s are standing at the ready from all said raiding.

A 2,000 piece puzzle is currently spread out over the expanse of the dining room table. Every family member takes a stab at it at some point in the course of the day. Sometimes, we even sit and tackle it together.

Riveting information, I know.

Spotify has introduced me to more new music genres than I ever cared to know exist. Did you know that in addition to House music, there is also Tech house, Deep house, Tropical house and heaven-knows-whatever-other kinds of house music?

Netflix, Hulu, and PrimeVideo keep alerting me to shows/movies I might like. I’ve decided they don’t know me quite as well at they think they do.

My Amazon cart reminds me that I still have 48 books that I’ve saved for later, should I blast through the current 35 I have waiting for me on my nightstand. “Three down and 80 left to go,” I’ve taken to telling myself.

My meme game is strong. I’ve been flexing those social media cruising muscles and finding plenty to lift.

This self-imposed period of isolation has introduced more choice into my life than I ever wanted.

Too much, really.

Choice is exhausting.

A blinking cursor seems less overwhelming than deciding which pantry snack I’m going to have to ration today.

These aren’t even real problems, people.

Having no toilet paper, or food for your hungry kids, or job because your place of employment has been closed for the immediate future – those are real problems.

So, maybe I’m more overwhelmed because I’m faced with the realization that what I’m going through mentally doesn’t quite rank up there with Things to Be Worried Over, after all.

Blowing off a little steam on the page, or screen, seems a preferable outlet for my anxiety over this pandemic than another household chore, snack, movie, or book choice (Although, really, are there ever enough books to be read? Correct answer – no.)?

For now, anyway, the blinking cursor is definitely preferable.

Yes indeedy.

 

 

 

Five Things I Learned in September

September heralds birthday-mania, in this family of mine. Soccer starts, summer ends, and generally, All The Busy-ness intrudes into every breathing space I’ve spent the summer cultivating in my soul. Every. Single. September.

But, looking back over the past month (I praise you, Lord, for ushering in October!), I’ve taken inventory of what is important and what can be let go of. Maybe it’s because I’m already tired of the tyranny of the urgent that shouts from day one of September. It could also be that I’m applying loads from our study over on Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies Or, it could just be the sugar talking (from the many pieces of cake I’ve consumed this month).

In any case, here are the five (most important) things I learned in September.

  1. There is still no such thing as too much cake. There is, however, such a thing as a scale to try to tell you otherwise. I can’t get over how much I love my people, so celebrating another year with each one of them was precious. This picture so perfectly captures one day of the celebrating. I feel the need to point out that four birthdays are represented in this picture. And that’s just the family birthdays! Family_Bdays_Missindeedy2.  When the subject line of my favorite online devotionals looks like this, twice in one day, I’d best pay attention. (And, because this topic was in the subject line of many devotionals and blog posts and conversations this month, you can bet my attention is rapt!)  Tongue_Trouble_Missindeedy3. Also, I learned that reading  is still my favorite thing to do. Most recently, I’ve read Every Little Thing by Deidra Riggs, Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown, For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, and Taming the To-Do List, by Glynnis Whitwer. All impacted me greatly. But, this one line from Every Little Thing has been banging around in my head for a week:  “Some seasons of life are like that, with each moment marking a small victory, primarily because we survived it.”  AMEN! EveryLittleThing_Missindeedy4. Sweetboy is old enough to “watch” Sweetgirl for an hour, now,  while I run out to the grocery store (or Target). However, Sweetgirl has dutifully informed us that her brother is a “Not-So-Great Babysitter”. Upon further questioning, we found out that this is because he will not play Princess Palace Pets with her.  We’ve realized her gifting does not lie in determining the quality of a babysitter.
  2. Lastly, (even though it says number 2, because even my computer won’t listen today!) I learned that friendships require time, but that time requires careful consideration. I’m pretty sure we all know that, of course. But, it was brought home to me when I started filling in all of the commitments that I had over the course of the month. I saw lots of lunches and breakfasts and coffees with lots of wonderful beautiful friends, but hardly any white space for my own soul to breathe on its own. Everyone in this household suffers when mama doesn’t have space for her soul to breathe. Anyone else? Now, this realization is going to take some thinking through because, friendships! But, for now, I see that I can’t sustain the pouring out without more time and space to fill up. 

There you have it. Try to contain your enthusiasm for all the sharing. If you’d like to read some far more fabulous lessons learned in September, head on over to Emily P. Freeman’s blog and check them out.

What did you learn last month?

What I Learned in 2014

2014 was a year full of new challenges, grand adventures, goals met, lessons learned, and a whole host of moments where dark chocolate was desperately needed! I’m including my favorite posts from each month. But, I have to tell you – it was not easy to choose which posts to include. In fact, reading through each month sent me running for the tissue box more than a time or four (not to mention the stash of dark chocolate chips I realized I was going to need to keep on hand just to get through the month of June!)

So, grab your favorite cup of something warm (or cold) and join me as I reflect back on 2014.

Lessons_Learned_2014_Missindeedy

In January, I learned that I was one in a million. I also realized how very deeply I love my Dermatologist.

February reminded me that Sweetman is wicked smaht, and that I need to pay better attention during our conversations.

March was the month where I finally pursued a long-held goal of mine to enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. And, although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped, it felt good to give it a go.

And, of course, in April, Dentists became dead to me, as we learned of sweetgirl’s boo-boos on her teeth.

May was where I reflected on the BOOM created by the very different Myers-Briggs personalities in my marriage.

June brought a painful lesson in turning the other cheek, from Sweetboy, and reminded us how Autism can have painful ripple effects for a parent – but that it doesn’t win!

July reminded me that Sweetgirl is always watching, and that Autism can sweeten the interaction between siblings – especially when a yoga ball (or two) is involved.

August is when I finally realized where my mission field is. And, OH, how I yearn to work it well!

September was the month where I learned that I can both set a goal and reach it and set a goal and fail! The women’s triathlon was successful. The goal I set afterwards was not. (There is always 2015!)

In October, I proved that I can indeed get along with Commitment, after all. I accepted the Write 31 Days challenge. Because, Grace, I know Him well.

November was full of masks, casts, and WINS! (P.S. If you need me on January 1st or, LORD WILLING, January 12th, I’ll be parked in front of the television, yelling encouraging my beloved BAMA’s football players to RUN THAT BALL!)

And, December, of 2014, taught me to shop a little earlier for the “classics”, as I reflected on the beauty of the lesson in the The Little Drummer Boy.

Such grace laces my days. I was reminded of that on more than a hundred occasions over this past year. I’m encouraged to keep moving toward new goals, maybe even toward an old one, or two, that got dropped along the way.

Hope sparkles on the horizon for 2015.

I’m praying that it does for you, too.

Yes indeedy!

What were some of your favorite lessons learned in 2014? Please, share them! I’m linking up with the lovely Emily Freeman, over at Chatting At the Sky, for her “What We Learned” link up.

 

Don’t Pass the Peas, Please

Sweetman and I recently started plotting a way to get the kids to eat more veggies. Allow me to rephrase that, please.  Our children don’t eat cooked vegetables.

An intervention has become necessary.

We’ve tried a few popular methods for Operation Eat Your Vegetables, already. Sneaking shredded zucchini into their favorite pumpkin bread? Been there. Wouldn’t eat that!  Put shredded carrots into their spaghetti sauce or mashed potatoes? That would work great… if either one of them ate red sauce! Or mashed potatoes! Make vegetables look Super Fun and Exciting, a la Pinterest?  Sweetgirl asked if we could keep it on the counter for the week because it was “just too beautiful to eat, Mama!”

You can see why plotting is involved, right?

I fear that my children are going to end up going off to Harvard eating applesauce with their dinner every night. As long as I send them off with the twistable kind that they can open themselves, I guess we might be alright. (P.S. Regarding college: I’m totally kidding! We are actually praying that the Good Lord will see fit to motivate them to go anywhere for college!)

In all fairness, Sweetboy will eat raw baby carrots.  He really likes them, actually. Sweetgirl will even nibble on two or three, once in a while, as well.  Corn is another “vegetable” that we can get Sweetboy to eat – as long as it’s on the cob, freshly shucked, and from a local farm.  (I can thank Sweetman for passing on the Food Snob genetics!)

Beyond those few items, though, there is a strict Ain’t Gonna Eat It policy in place, here in this house.

And we didn’t enact it!

Last night, I attempted to re-introduce peas.  Both children ate them, joyfully, might I add, when they were under two. Sadly, they are considered enemy number one, at present.

We decided to go the Matter of Fact route, this time. “I’m giving you each a small amount of peas.  They are good for your body and you both need to eat more vegetables.  Also, if you don’t eat at least three bites AND swallow it down, no dessert for you.”

This conversation went over like a lead balloon, as you can imagine. Sweetboy, bless his heart, said, “Okay Mama.  They’re not my favorite, but I’ll deal with it.”

The other child?

There was a whole lot of weeping.

And gnashing of teeth!

And when I finished, she proceeded to do the same.  With some major foot stomping, chair rocking, and negotiating thrown in, for good measure.

I will say this, the child can pull The Pouty Face with the best of ’em!

After I literally held her nose (she requested this) so that she could down one blessed pea at a time, and gag with every. single. one., we both felt like we’d run a triathlon! Not to mention that my own gag reflex was now fully engaged.

We were both so traumatized by the ordeal that I told her she didn’t ever have to eat peas again… until she was 12.

Or, maybe 6 and a half. (I thought I said that last bit under my breath.)

But, little ears are always listening to every wee word we utter.

And, I know this because, this afternoon, Sweetgirl popped off the bus and squarely faced me to say, “Mama, you said I don’t have to eat peas again until I’m 12.  Or 6 and a half.  I want it to be 12.”

Please, don’t pass the peas.

I think it’s safe to say, it’ll be a few years.

Oh, yes indeedy!

Lay it on me! What trickery have you used to get your littles to eat their vegetables?

 

Calling All Apples

The dreaded triathlon swim was last weekend.

Triathlon_Missindeedy

I survived. No, no, no – better than that! I did pretty darn well, considering I’ve a) Never competed in anything ending in -athlon before, b) become firmly entrenched in the 40+ age range, and c) been sporting a muffin-top to beat all muffin-tops for the better part of a decade.

And, it’s that last one that I feel the need to address.

Online.

For all the world to see.

But first… You know how you sometimes think you don’t look half bad? And perhaps you’ve even been working toward some fitness goal and are therefore convinced that you might even be looking pretty good?  And you live in your perfectly crafted delusional world for as long as it takes for someone to snap photographic evidence declaring quite the opposite?

Yeah.

Sigh…

An unfortunate side effect of All The Devil Dogs is, apparently, a spare tire.

Around one’s middle.

This picture below?  I’m putting it out there.  My friend Janet is grinning on my right.  She’s the toad friend who made me swim laps with her every day to prepare.

I’ll “spare” you the bottom half of the picture. Just know that I am now well aware of the effects of all of my Devil Doggery.

triathlon_muffintop_missindeedy

Here’s the thing – I’m a textbook apple shape.  I’m talking, circle resting on toothpicks, People! I’ve always been that way. Even when I was at my leanest, I was a more slender kind of apple. Is there such a thing?

Well, I’m calling all my apple friends! If you don’t already know, we have the most dangerous body type, as it relates to obesity and heart disease.  Decreasing our weight as little as 5 pounds can provide amazing health benefits. Working off even 5% of our body fat can extend our life span significantly!

I know this.

And yet, I’ve still managed to run around town ignoring the ever-expanding inner tube around my waist.

No more!

Seeing that picture of my waist, even if it was while marching down to a quarter mile swim, scared me straight.

As in, rectangular.

Yup. I’m aiming to change my shape.

I’m setting some goals and giving myself plenty of time to slowly meet them. I’m going to make some dietary changes (no Devil Dogs will be harmed in this process). I’m going to add in some (some – let’s not get too crazy, now) consistent exercise each week.

And, God-willing, change will take place.

Yes indeedy. I’m going to work on becoming less circle-y and more oval-y. Any other shapes want to join me?

First order of business is to get a food plan going.  What works (or has worked) for you in the past?  Share in the comments.

Heaven Is a Warm Ocean

I am an ocean lover, through and through. The warmer, the better.

heaven_is_here_missindeedy

I like pools. The warmer, the better. (Unless it’s because you couldn’t make it to the potty in time. Then, not so much.)

And then, there is a special spot in my heart that is reserved for all the things I tolerate.

Lakes.  Lakes are there in that spot – right next to lizards.

And cold pools.

We have an ocean near-ish. We get there as often as we can, in the summer.

It’s cold.

We also have a town pool. We get there as often as we can in the summer.

It’s mostly cold.

This Floridian still can’t muster up the courage to jump into our town pool before July 30th or after August 30th.

If you’re doing the math, that equals up to Not Much Pool-time.

During this thirty-one day stretch, I must continually remind myself that I chose to move to New England because, Boston!  And because, Sweetman!

So, I was thrilled to find out that one of my sweet friends, who also happens to live in our neighborhood, is planning to have a beautiful new pool put into their backyard.  It’s one of those super fan-cee salt water ones. It will have the standard stairs, to get into and out of, of course. But, the best part about this pool?  It’s soon going to be heated. Oh, yes it is!

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is necessary for anyone who chooses to live above the Mason-Dixon line.  Otherwise, you might just find yourself jumping into a pool that is barely pushing 65 degrees.  Even if it is 98 degrees outside.

And people?  That is just not right.

I should have taken a clue when I began teaching water-skiing in the Berkshires of Massachusetts some twenty-odd summers ago.  That first crisp summer morning, when I jumped into the lake to begin instruction, it took less than 10 minutes for me to tag the other instructor because I was too cold to stay in. Plus, my foot touched something slimy.

No. Just… no.

Therefore, it might surprise you to learn that I was somehow convinced to become part of a three-woman relay team, as The Swimmer, in a local women’s triathlon sprint. Yes, you read that right.  Come early September, this girl, right here, will be doing her darndest not to die as she competes in the swim portion of a women’s triathlon sprint.

“It’ll be so much fun,” they said.  “You’ll have so much support,” they promised.  “We’re not doing it to win,” they assured me.

The part they forgot to mention?

Training.

In the local lake.

Or town pool.

Neither of which are heated.

Oh, and…the race itself? In a lake.

I don’t have to wonder about what hell is like.

I think I’ll stick with my plans to go to heaven.

There will definitely be warm ocean water there.

Yes indeedy.

Dentists Are Dead to Me

It’s official: Dentists are dead to me.

I was pretty sure that we were coming to this when I had that fateful dentist appointment a couple of years ago.

But this?  This takes the cake.

And frosts it with cavities.

Poor Sweetgirl.  We have just returned from her semi-annual dentist check up.  She’s had a stellar report each time that we’ve gone. We brush. We swish. We don’t floss. But, hey, we don’t live on candy around here, either. Neither child drinks the usual suspects for cavity inducing liquids.

So, we expected a great report again.

Sweetboy had just gotten a great report again, moments before.

And, Sweetgirl has the cutest little pearly whites I think I’ve ever seen! And I’m only mostly biased.

Seriously? What's not to love about that smile?!

Seriously? What’s not to love about that smile?!

Apparently though, she did not get my healthy toother genes.

Dang.

She bravely marched into the x-ray chair for the very first time this morning, all smiles and cute little pearly teeth. She opened wide and allowed the hygienist to arrange the spacer thingy in her mouth for the optimal viewing of her tiny teeth.  She held still.

SHE HELD STILL!

It was for five seconds, but PEOPLE! She did it!

We returned to our room and she hopped up into the pink (coral) chair to pick out her prize from the revered Prize Box.

Not so fast there, missy.

“Oh, Sweetgirl, you have some boo-boos on your teeth,” the Dentist said in his adorable Argentinian accent.  (I may give him a few extra points for delivering such devastating news in such a pleasant way. MAY.)

I immediately jumped out of my seat. “What kind of boo-boos?”

“She haas seeex cavities on her lowers teeth,” he calmly said.

Sweetboy said, “OH NO!”

I said “HOW MUCH?”

Sweetgirl said, “But, is the medicine to fix them PINK?”

I kid you not.

In that order.

He then gently explained that this will require two separate visits, laughing gas, Novocaine, and a viewing of Frozen.

I asked him if he could pass some of that laughing gas to me.

He was not amused.

Or, surprised.

So, clearly, I am going to have to pray about my stinky attitude toward all Dentists who are not from Argentina.

I’ll do that while I’m at the drugstore trying to find children’s dental floss. That’s pink.

Yes indeedy.

 

My Body Talks

And, at 42, I can assure you that some of the things my body tells me are not kind, people!

But, before we go any further, I have an admission to make.

I now have Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical” running through my head. Oh, yes I do.

I blame 1980’s MTV.

And to be completely honest, I don’t even remember what I hopped on to write about in the first place, because of it.

I’m just going to keep typing away until some sort of logical train-of-thought emerges. But, If I lose you, I don’t blame you one bit.

Exercise was probably on my mind.  NO! I got it!!!!  Aches and pains – that’s what I was going to share with you.

Now, if I lose you, I officially only have myself to blame.

I still play on the floor with Sweetgirl.  She’s not six yet, thank-you-very-much! (Although, she’s taken to reminding me almost every night, lately, in a fit of tears and sadness, that soon, and very soon, “I’ll be six and old and not five anymore, Mama.”) Indeed, child.

Anyhoo, back to the floor.  I play on it. With Sweetgirl. And sometimes, I go to get back up, all spritely like, and my back doth protest too much. My knees, also, like to get in on the action with their wise-cracks.

I am awash in 80’s memories, now, because all I can see in my mind is that “HELP! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercial.  Was that for The Clapper? Or The Helper necklace thingy?  What was that for?

Crud.

Now my mind is protesting.

The point is, I’ve kicked my exercise back up, again. As in, I’m doing it.  And, can I tell you? I. Am. Feeling. It. In all the wrong places. So, it’s probably a darn good thing I’m doing it.

Also, I hear exercise is good for your memory. And, clearly, I need a little help there, too.

I’m just thankful I can still get up off the floor.

But, if I can’t, I’ll clap. Or press a button.

Or, let my body talk while I take a siesta.

Corner Turner

It drives Sweetman absolutely crazy with a capital K when he sees me turning down the corners of a page, in a book or magazine.  “Why don’t you just take a picture with your phone?”, he asks, as if I’m pinching him. “That’s so low-tech!”

He’s cute, but sometimes…

I love nothing more than picking up a book I’ve read and seeing lots of corners turned down. Those corners tell me to that there are treasures tucked within. Things I want to remember. Things I know I’ll forget as soon as I slide that book back onto a bookshelf.

Can I get an amen?

And sometimes, I need to turn a corner in life, too. For all of the same reasons.

Health, is one corner I’ve been working on turning, lately.  Now, I’ve worn down the edges of that particular curb, because, HELLO!  I’ve been around it a time or ten.

But, this last six weeks have given me a greater desire to than I’ve ever had before. The mysterious ER visit last month, not-withstanding, I believe God is making it very clear that my beloved devil dogs, though permissible, are so not beneficial.

And so, I’m choosing the courageous route to change. Again.  Because, I don’t know about you, but I find that wonderful things take place when I finally do make the turns of change.

Shedding of the old.

New horizons.

Shifts in perspective.

Appreciation for the journey.

It’s a process, turning a corner. When I put my turn indicator on, while driving, it’s not so that I can hear that annoying little clickety-clack over and over.

No.

It’s to alert the drivers around me of my intention. I’m letting them know that I intend to turn this car to the right (or left).

And, I’ve been flashing more than a few “turn indicators” in my life, lately. They haven’t all been met with acceptance or encouragement, either. And, that makes turning a corner all the harder.

But still worth the effort.

And I don’t have to do it alone.

I’m going be courageous and turn corners by grabbing hold of God’s unwavering strength.

MTC_Missindeedy_Grab_Hold

Those little turned down corners, in things that I’ve read, remind me that something great happened on that page. And, I’m just sure that the turned corners in my health journey will prove to be just as significant.

Yes indeedy,

Are you a corner turner, too? What corners have you been turning down lately? In books or in life!

2

This is my final week of studying “Made To Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst over at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies. I have been changed by reading this book. And although I’m probably going to be “in process” for a while about the deeply buried issues that have been dug up during this study time, I am forever grateful. The opportunity to study amidst this community of Overcomers, 45,000 PLUS strong? A gift from God, Himself! We begin our next study of Wendy Blight’s “Living So That” on April 6th.  Want to see what it’s all about?, Click here to do just that! And to see what some of the other final reflections were on this study, click the button below.

OBSBlogHop