The Bold…The Beast and The Beautiful

I stood for awhile tonight at my bathroom mirror. I actually stood and peered into my own reflection…looked into my own eyes to see what lies behind the flesh and bone. Someone told me recently that my eyes sometimes talk and I wanted to know what they said. They didn’t talk. Maybe I have to be looking at, or thinking of something before my eyes say anything. I actually twisted my face around to see what would happen. Not many wrinkles. No spots…just a couple of left over bug bites from a trip through the swamps of Chincoteague. Does my skin bounce back? Am I getting old? Should I get a face lift?

Ugh…those of you that really know me know that my beauty regime is minimal. Wash my face, brush my teeth…maybe do my hair…why the hell am I staring at myself in the mirror? Am seriously about to let my hair dred again cause I so do not feel like messing with a brush.

Because a face tells many stories. It’s the beast and the beautiful in all of us.

Colin watched me contorting my face in the mirror.
Him: “Mommy…there are 16 lines on your face!”
Me: “Really? Where?”
Him: “Beside your eyes…they’re funny when you laugh.”

Laugh lines. Only sixteen? I did count and he’s right on of course.

Laugh lines…awesome! From here out…every stress will bring on another laugh line. Every down moment will elicit a humorous outlook…every bad thought will cause an equally hilarious thought to cross my mind. I want 72 laugh lines before I’m forty! We’ve got 5 months.

Tomorrow I’ll stake up my lilies so their beauty will show through the scrub.

Tomorrow I will be beautiful despite what the beast inside me tells me I am.

Tomorrow I’ll kiss someone just for the hell of it.

Tomorrow I might dance some more…kitchen parties rock.

Tomorrow I might imagine the future.

Tomorrow I will laugh like crazy at anything I can find.

The beast won’t find me.

It’s all good.

Even when it’s not.

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Growing Pains

Eight months? Seriously? Wow! I know I’ve said this before, but I really can’t believe I’ve taken so many months away from this little lovely blog. For so long writing was my therapy…and the only reason I stopped, honestly, was that so much of what I wanted to write would come out in jumbles and total ADD jargon. I’ll always admit to the fact that my mouth works faster than my brain and I say stuff unfiltered most of the time. But, in my writing I am free to edit and I haven’t wanted to edit much of what I thought lately I guess.

It’s been an interesting time of change for sure! Change often hurts, but we grow through pain and I’ve committed myself to a path of personal improvement in spite of hurt and irregardless of happiness. Emotions are wonderful things…but they can’t make decisions for you.

Maybe it’s because the warmer weather is slowly (way too slowly) working it’s way in…I’m a total summertime chicka…but a few days ago I felt my writing fairy tug on my sleeve a little. I was sitting at a ball park watching tiki tiki play a great game of baseball…and realized that the little fairy was buzzing very loudly in my ear. I love watching baseball…I don’t get tired of it. I also love watching Liam on the field…on the bench…anywhere near the field. He’s part of something really fun and really cool and he loves it. The excitement that he gets preparing for a game and the total meltdown that happens if he feels he didn’t do well afterwards are all so raw and real. We could all learn from him I think. As adults we’ve somehow learned to put on the “right” face instead of allowing ourselves the pleasure of just honestly feeling and letting go of both the good and bad so we can move on.

Colin is learning how to show his feelings too. Unlike Liam, who wears his heart on his sleeve, Colin has to be taught how to express those things. He has to be taught the words for the way he’s feeling. He can’t identify emotions the way others do…but he’s learning. This week (thanks to weeks of Social Skills therapy) he has been doling out hugs and ” I Love Yous” quite a bit. However….he announces them first. “Mommy…I’m going to come hug you and tell you I love you.” Then he sorta pats me on the back. Whatever! I’ll take it!!! Melts me. Sometimes it’s nice to know I’m more important at that moment than the plane, train or car he’s currently obsessing with.

This week, I finalized within myself the ability to not care too much what other people think of me. Not that I’m going to go do whatever I want no matter who gets hurt. Not at all. Just not going to worry about what I might imagine someone else’s opinion of me are. I had the privilege of hearing Darren Hardy speak last month. I took a lot of what he said away with me and slowly incorporate it into my daily activities. Most importantly he taught me not to be afriad of what other people will think. If they aren’t going to cry at my funeral…then they aren’t anyone to be afraid of.

In the meantime…I can’t wait for a fabulously fun summer! I’ll continue to foster my mild crush on Rob Thomas and keep dancing like a nut in my kitchen at night!

Please Throw Stuff Away!!!

I am pleading with you…do NOT hoarde decades worth of financial documents, illegible scribblings intended to log all your medical expenses, little calendars with your mileage to doctor appointments on them, paystubs, cancelled checks, benevolent gifts and other useless tax write offs.

As a daughter-in-law of someone who never throws things away…I implore you to look beyond yourself and realize that someday, one of your children or one of your children’s spouses will spend hours and hours going through all that crap and then pitching it!

I am now surrounded by boxes of papers ready for the Shred-It people who will charge me by the pound to obliterate any traces of personal information contained therein. They charge by the pound. I have at least 90 pounds of papers.

The IRS and Medicare are tricky. You can claim expenses, itemize deductions, under certain circumstances. Most people don’t fit those circumstances. So…stop with the obsessive record keeping.

Don’t go to funerals, give a donation to the memorial fund and then write on the pretty little service program you received the amount of your “charitable donation” and the date you used it as a tax write off. That’s just sick.

Don’t paperclip or rubber band all these things together. I have to remove each and every one of those before the shredder can eat the paper inside.

Don’t keep everything in it’s original envelope with little notes on the outside referring me to the date, hour, minute and second that you spent the money or claimed the deduction. It just makes the whole process of going through your stuff even more aggravating.

If you had spent half the time, money and energy on playing with your children and grandchildren or having fun with your wife that you did keeping, sorting, filing, documenting and storing all these papers….I can’t imagine how different it would be.

Discharge

Well, Andy’s dad is coming home on Saturday from the rehab facility.  Now the fun begins.  He got around the apartment okay with his walker; only a few minor furniture placements need to be addressed. 

It wasn’t until yesterday that it really hit me how much this whole situation affects my children.  They are struggling to be normal kids in this world with all the activities and friends and stuff that goes with that.  They deserve to have fun and don’t worry about the grown ups in their life…only that’s not what’s happening.  I spent the long weekend at home with all three of them and still can’t get over how irritable they are.  Erin wants to sleep all the time and needs to be prodded to go to her friend’s house.  Colin won’t let go of my leg when I’m here and Liam wants out.  None of that is good and none of that is the way it used to be.  They have two working parents who also have the responsibility of taking care of their aging grandparents.

While I was supposed to be home yesterday with my kids I spent the morning (two hours of it) helping to balance the checkbook next door.  Unplanned, unannounced and without thought to how it would affect others.  It just happened that way and so when my kids looked at me and said “I thought you were going to be HERE today” I nearly cried.  They miss their mom and dad cause when we are here; we aren’t here.

Something’s gotta give. I just don’t know what.  And, it’s gotta give soon. 

It’s A New Year

Two people told me tonight that I should post more. So…here goes. Unfortunately, much less than half of the people that read this blog actually comment. That’s because they know me and they’re afraid to offend.  Let me make this one thing very clear. I do not write to impress or fluff anything up. Offend away. I write to engage others in an idea, an argument or discussion or simply to entertain. Ocassionally I’ll swing at someone and I might say bad words. That’s who I am.  I’m pretty real most of the time.

 I gave up on the discussion of women in leadership. It’s too complicated, and frankly I don’t really care. That’s my final answer. I’m ready to take on anything God throws in my path and if leadership is in there somewhere, fine. I’m a woman. Deal with it.

It’s a new year and I have a few errands I have not attended to. They are all selfish; no one else is involved. (At least not immediately). I spent the month of December caring for my husband’s parents in a way I’d rather not have done…and so all the thoughts for the new year hinge simply on things I want to do for me. I’ve made a list. Others might appear in it, but it’s simply for my enjoyment, benefit, warm fuzzy feeling or financial gain.

  • Read one book a month pertaining to business and making money. That’s what I do for a living.
  • Read one novel a month pertaining to nothing but great reading.  (I do speed read, so both should be do-able.)
  • Spend Saturday nights eating Pizza at Parma’s with my husband and kids.
  • Pay all my bills either before or on the due date.
  • Walk for 30 minutes with my son on Saturday mornings. He actually wants me to sign a contract agreeing to this.
  • Try a cosmo or a martini.
  • Get a tatoo. (I’m considering a big X on my lower back where I had surgery.)
  • Teach my 3 year old to read since he’s already learning on his own.
  • Buy a cool car. (I am hoping for a white soft-top Mustang).
  • Make my daughter feel safe, secure, wanted, loved and beautiful. Forever.
  • Make love to my husband on a regular basis. Or at least…hold his hand.
  • Finish my novel.
  • Finish my other book.
  • Read the Bible cover to cover and not necessarily in order but rather in whatever order is more chronological.
  • Get published again. (2007 was the first year in the past 6 that I wasn’t paid to write something.)
  • Get another dog.
  • Find a really great, wonderful and permanent best friend who is a girl.
  • Have a birthday party for each of my kids involving friends, balloons and games.
  • Remember to send cards to people in our families.
  • Go on a week long anniversary (15 years) trip somewhere that my spouse surprises me with!
  • Earn more money than last year.
  • Give away more money than last year.
  • Get a pedicure and a massage. (Never done either!)

Outside of that list…I’ve really got no plans!

What is Safe to Say

Again, my writing fairy left for awhile. No, really I just ran out of time and energy to do much except work, sleep and sleep. I have been chided more than once because I haven’t put thoughts to page so I’m making a real effort to write something every few days now. It’s a discipline as much as a passion, I guess.

One reason I haven’t blogged much is that I am afraid of what I might say. There has been so much I wanted to write, but was afraid for fear of hurting people around me or causing someone somewhere to wonder at my sanity. At the tip of my brain are thoughts that are quite personal in nature and nothing else has gotten through.

 How much is safe to say? I have a few vents to indulge in, but they will tread on some toes, I fear, and that is not my purpose. I write in order to process thoughts as much as to share them; hard to tell sometimes which one it is. I will say that over the past six months I have thoroughly changed my mind on a few “small” issues that were once quite firm in my life. Or rather, I changed my mind long ago, only now I am living a little differently than I did because I finally engaged my thoughts and allowed them to become real. 

As I write this morning, my church is congregated and likely in the middle of worship time. (I am at home with what was supposed to be a sick kid.)  I would love to be a fly on the wall in the sanctuary right now. I wish I had Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak and could sit down next to some people and hear what they whisper to one another. I know a little of what today’s service includes and I wonder how political it’s going to get. Is church the proper place for political outcry and what amounts to demonstration (albeit privately) or is it a place for worship? Hmmm.

We’ll see what Andy shares when he gets home. And, Leon, Hiya! I’m back.

Deepening Roots…Growing Up….Growing Older

Last year at this time we found ourselves on the edge of so much change. When we entered 2006, Andy and I knew that the year was going to bring profound changes in our lives. I could almost taste it and it was exciting in an apprehensive sort of way. Nothing could have prepared us for all that happened, and certainly none of it was expected. Much of it was hard and painful; nothing was simple. And right up to the last minute of the last day of December, we were feeling things shift.

Kayleigh’s decision to move to Michigan was the first change. At the time it felt like the biggest one; but it wasn’t. The fact that she left impacted everyone in very different ways. Liam seems to have taken it more easily than anyone. He’s angry sometimes, but the kid is amazingly forgiving and, although he doesn’t understand what she did, he has decided to learn from it. He states over and over that he doesn’t want to do some of the things Kayleigh was doing because he felt the fallout and wouldn’t want his brother and younger sister to feel that way. He saw how hurt we were as parents and doesn’t want to make us cry. He remembers how rejected he felt when she wouldn’t spend time with him and knows someday Colin will look to him for attention like that. All very idealistic for a ten-year-old kid; let’s hope he sticks to it! Erin just sits in her anger sometimes. For weeks at a time she’s been moody, pouty and violent. She doesn’t understand that she didn’t do anything to make Kayleigh leave, nor does she understand that no matter what she does, Kayleigh will never be back the way she wants her to be. I can’t imagine the heartache of having a big sister who embodies everything you want to be and then she rips your heart out. Erin deserves to be angry. But she is learning to deal with anger (not just with Kayleigh) and developed some new coping strategies. That’s a good thing. Colin has stopped standing outside her door calling her name; she is now someone that comes and goes for holiday meals. He’ll certainly have questions someday and we’ll leave them to her to answer. Andy seems to easily tuck his hurt somewhere far away and to be honest I don’t know how much hurt there really is. I know I’m no longer hurt. I think we’re both just a little numb. After decades of verbal violence and psychological head games with K’s mother, we got so used to tuning out the madness. It’s been almost a year and we’re just happy not to worry so much. We love her now from a distance and I think that’s the better way for us to be. We will learn again how to be in a relationship with her, but as adults in the future, not as traditional parents in the present. Peace came to reign in our house and that was sorely needed. From this big change in our family make up, we all learned how important we are to each other and how desperately we want to stay together through everything. Kayleigh always had another parent to run to; the other kids won’t. They are stuck with us and they know that! And we will all be in it together.

The career changes for both of us were huge as well. Andy left what should have been the job to retire from to come “home” to Lancaster EMS. Less travel, less headache (and less money) were the tradeoff. But he’s so happy he did it and now has settled into his role there. Just in time to be present for the slaughter of baby girls in an Amish school. For such a time as this he was placed. Through that, Andy has been able to share his faith with his co-workers and with the press. He has learned about forgiveness (as we all have) and soon will get to meet Sara Ann and see how what he does really matters. I can’t wait for that!

My career change from nursing to sales was just wierd and unexpected but has brought rewards on many levels and it is becoming clear to me that God knows exactly what He’s doing and I should just shut up and deal. The schooling I’m starting is just another step in the road and one day ministry will be my “other job” while sales will provide the bread on the table. One has to fund the other, I think. God has a plan and His is much more long term than I could ever imagine.

Then, surgery came and went and now I wait to heal. I put that off for 13 years fearing the changes that would bring. By summer, I hope to be nearly pain free or as close to that as I can get. That just may be the most welcome change of all!

So, now we settle down in our new roles in our jobs, our new positions in our family and our new physical conditions. We wait on God to show us clearly where to go next. This year we sense His guiding hand very clearly and we know that if we trust Him, we’ll be exactly where He wants us to be.