Posts Tagged With: hope

apparently, I need to “calm my stress”

At the holistic doctor on Tuesday, “Your adrenals are pissed. You need to calm your stress.”
Um…Ya think?

I’m staying off social media.
I’m not watching the news.
I’m trying not to listen when I overhear folks talking.
This is what I’m doing to calm my stress over the school shooting in Parkland Florida.

It is not lost on me that I spend my days in a public school. In a huge, open room with no safe place to corral children to hide. With doors that do not lock.
Would I do whatever it took to keep these children safe?
Would I die for them?
Do I feel like that’s my job?
Hell no.

Do I want to keep the children in my school safe?
Do I need to give my life to do so?
I’d rather not, thanks.

I’m a mom. I’m a wife. In the Autumn, I’ll be a grandmother. However grown, is it acceptable for my girls to be motherless because I died protecting other peoples children? And YBW? Is it acceptable for him to be a widower before we even gain traction on our greatest life adventure together? And little Shrimpy, the bebe I long to know and love. To teach and learn with. To watch irritate his or her mother and Auntie. Is it acceptable for that child to miss out on what might possibly be the coolest grandmother-grandchild relationship ever?

I carry this in me each day I arrive at my sweet little suburban elementary school. (Which, BTW shares physical campus space with an equally sweet suburban high school.)

Now this concept is always and has always been in the back of my mind. And to be quite honest, I lived through something similar during the sniper attacks in October 2002. Keeping children safe through that was a bit more simple, we just never let them go out of doors. At school, or at home.

Do I honestly believe someone will come into our school and start shooting it up?
Is my concern understandable?

And then we had a two day heat wave. And I mean record breaking warm temperatures.
I opened the windows wide!
I let the cruddy stale winter air be replaced by delightful breezy spring air.
We needed the sunlight. (My vitamin D is so low.) We needed the beauty of the past two days.

Of course, we’re not the only house in the neighborhood with windows open. And so it came to pass yesterday from the hours of 3:00 to nearly 8:00 the horrible shouty man screamed obscenities and threats at his wife.
This is not new in our neighborhood. There is long standing knowledge of the chaos that is their relationship. Apparently it isn’t physical, just verbal. She drinks too much and he shouts horrific things at her. He shouts horrific things at her and she drinks too much.
Which came first?
We may never know.

I’ve been anxious and bordering on depressed for a few weeks now, to such degree I’ve begun conversations with YBW about me talking with my doctor regarding mood meds.
I’m dull. I’ve lost my sparkle. I’m sleeping too much. I’m suffering insomnia. I eat nothing. I’m bingeing.
I can’t seem to shake myself loose from it.

It’s partly because of this that what happened to those kids in Parkland feels…more.
It’s partly because of this that the horrible shouty man screaming at his wife on and off for five hours did me in yesterday.

Early on in the afternoon, his shouting made me anxious. I knew it then, but I was busy with laundry, and had the TV on for sound it was easy to not hear his actual words. And somehow that kept me feeling safe in my own house while I could hear him in his. But as it wore on and on I could feel myself flooding with stress hormones.
But then as suddenly as it began, it stopped.

Just as I began to feel comfortable again, YBW came home. Even though I’m struggling, I had momentary joy.

Before long, the shouting started again. Only this time, it was closer.
From what I can deduce, the wife went over to one of the neighbors to get away from him. So when his shouting began again, they were at the house directly behind ours.
I was sitting in my comfy chair right next to the window. I could hear every word.
I was on the computer in the middle of something that I needed to finish immediately. I turned on music to drown out his shouting. I wanted to close the window but I was hot and the breeze felt nice.
As I sat here, I became more stressed and more anxious. Realizing I was feeling fearful in my own house!
My face was hot and my head began to hurt and I forced myself out of the shallow breathing pattern.

When I finally finished my task, I went downstairs. YBW was watching the Olympics. I came into the room and said, “I’m so anxious from listening to him shout for so long.” YBW immediately wrapped his body around mine and held me close and quietly. I actually felt as though I melted into him for a moment. That embrace was powerful enough to calm my body and my spirit. YBW’s love grounded me, and I’m so grateful.

Just writing about this now I’m feeling nearly as anxious as I did yesterday.

The actions of others are impacting me with a greater force than I would like.
Normally I have the skills to fend off these outside influences. I normally repel them with the strength of my character. My strong will, and sense of humor.
Seems I’m tapped out of late.
I seem unable to calm my stress.
I hear Hagrid’s frantic voice in my head, “It was dark times, Harry. Dark times.”

I have an appointment with my therapist.
I have herbs and supplements from the holistic doctor that are meant to aid in improving my sense of emotional well being.
If I can’t seem to shake myself from the place I am, I’ll go my general practitioner and have a conversation to see if spending a bit of time with Wellbutrin might make a difference.

In the meantime, I’m only watching HGTV, Food Network, and the Olympics, and I’ve closed the windows on my computer and my house to help block things that only make me more anxious.
But I left the curtains open to let in the ever helpful and hopeful sunlight.

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Paul knew what was up

1 Corinthians 16:14
The general consensus is Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians between 54-58 in the common era. This verse is from the conclusion of the letter.
I feel like Paul knew what was up when it comes to this particular verse. He’s ending his letter with, well, some good advice really.

Be alert. Stand firm in the faith. Be strong. And do everything in love.

Almost as though he’s presenting ideas for possible¬†rules to live by.

Do everything in love.

Love is my intention.
I live my life by love.
I mean even when I’m crabby and kind of evil…I actually live each day of my life by do(ing) everything in love. (Is it weird that I wonder if Paul would dig it?)

Lately I’ve wondered if I’m not being mindful about doing things in love for myself. That is, living in love for me, treating myself with the same love I share with others.
Only, after considering this for a while, I’ve come to understand that by doing everything in love, I am treating myself with the same love, grace, and gratitude I do for everyone else.
I think I just haven’t been paying enough attention. And while that’s OK on occasion, I must remember to be present and recognize living my intention begins with me.
Love is in the simple every day things.
It’s with the children at school. With my family. With my friends. It’s even in the way I drive my buggy around the grocery store.
Love actually is all around me.
Every day. In every thing I do. And that love gives me hope. As far as I can tell, hope and love go hand in hand.
(Seriously, though, Paul wrote about that in the same damn letter, right!?)

I’m grateful for Paul’s advice. I truly take it to heart. I live my life by it.
I do everything in love.
Y’all, isn’t that the most beautifully hopeful way to be?

Categories: love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

hopeful and organized beginnings

This papercrumbs post spoke to me this morning.
On this the tenth day of the new year I’m still feeling a bit off kilter. Of course the holidays were hectic and with the mad weather, getting into the back to school routine was shot all to hell. So it makes a kind of sense to me that I’m still in that ‘waiting for the new to begin’ feeling to kick in.

I’ve completely reorganized the kitchen cabinets, drawers, pantry, and laundry closet. I reorganized the linen closet. I feel so peaceful now that these things are finished. I’m serious y’all. I feel peacefully content down deep in my soul.
This organization is one small part in the beauty of beginning again. Perhaps it makes it simpler for me to begin again when I have the comfort of everything being orderly? Perhaps I just can’t handle perceived chaos?
Whatever the case may be, I do know this. I feel more ready to begin again since accomplishing those tasks. Even with the chaos of snow days, early dismissals, and delayed openings, I feel more able to get back into the swing of things at school too.

It occurs to me as I write this what’s beautiful about beginning again and again is that it feels hopeful. Hope that however tiny, each new beginning can bring adventure, or comfort, or a new way of learning, or something I may not have even though of yet!
When I feel hopeful, I’m inclined to begin again.
Sometimes a beginning blows up in your face. But with hope, you take what you needed from that beginning and decide to begin again a different way. Sometimes a beginning is more than you could have hoped for, and you have exactly what you want or need. You needn’t begin again, but you want to, to see what’s next.

To begin again and again, as many times as you want is really a gift. To begin after disaster is scary. To begin after perfection is also scary. Being scared is OK. Being scared is natural. But, it’s important to remember you always have hope in your pocket. To me the saddest thing is choosing not to begin because you’re scared. You don’t have to be brave to begin.
Just begin.
Bravery will come to you.
Hope will remind you that it’s in your pocket.
You might fail. That’s OK too. Keep the important bits you needed and begin again.

In my life, I had many beginnings. I had some pretty epic failures. I have learned so much. I have been scared. I forgot hope was in my pocket. Or I found hope in the pocket of something when I wasn’t even looking.
I began again, and began again, and began again as many times as I wanted or needed. But mostly with prep work. Mostly organized. I do not function well in perceived chaos. I need to feel like I have a handle on the beginning.
Of course this isn’t always a perfect scenario, sometimes I must begin without being organized. That oftentimes leads to some sort of new mini beginning.
But that’s OK too.
I believe in the importance of beginnings.
I believe in hope.

In an excellent book about beginnings, Dr Seuss wrote:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”


“Out there things can happen, and frequently do, to people as brainy and footsy as you. And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!”

Each night promises a new morning. An opportunity to begin again. And again. And again. As many or as few times as you like.
Organize yourself.
Hold on to your hope.
You’ve got this!

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

love and light at the Cathedral

The day after Christmas we went downtown to the creche exhibit at the National Cathedral.
For the first time in many years, the sun was out on that cold, cold day. (sorta kinda)

We walked the long way around the Cathedral College on our way up the hill to the Cathedral.
Thing 2 especially loves this building, the tower with the ivy vines. I think it has something to do with her love of the Disney movie Tangled…though she might not agree. It was important to her to bring boyfriend J to this place.

I loved this glimpse of colored glass! It wasn’t until I viewed the window through my lens that I realized there was a pane missing.

The Cathedral is my absolute favorite building the the whole of DC. I mean to the point that I began to breathe differently when we drove up Wisconsin Ave and I could see it. The building is truly awe inspiring, but more than that, it’s just a lovely, peaceful place. God’s house for everyone.
I was pleased to see the Advent wreath in the Bethlehem Chapel!

Though they were beginning to look a little worse for wear, the Christmas trees were dressed with a garland of hydrangeas. A few jingle bells and, boom! You’ve got yourself a gorgeous tree.

The sun was shining brightly as we made our way through the chapel and the stained glass positively sparked!

The “Space Window”.
Inside that little white circle is a piece of moon rock given to the Cathedral in 1974.

This view stopped me in my tracks. I honestly cannot describe the beauty my eyes saw, and this photo is a sad representation.
But not so sad that I wasn’t asked by a local online culture and lifestyle magazine if they could feature it in a current coolest pics article.
Go me!

This little beauty was waiting in the observation tower.

Here’s a view of the Bishop’s Garden from the observation tower.

Down on the crypt level is the chapel of St Joseph of Arimathea. This is my absolute favorite space in the entire building. I always stop for a moment (or longer) in this chapel to talk with God.

The teeny chapel where we normally light our candles in prayer.

Much to our dismay this little chapel was otherwise occupied. Who dropped off an organ in there? It actually brought Thing 2 to tears.

So we went back up the the Bethlehem chapel to light a candle in prayer. I finished my conversation with God before Thing 2 finished hers and I shot this pic without her knowledge. Seeing her like this moved me so.

I saw many lovely nativities at the creche exhibit, including one from Norway in which both Mary and the baby had red hair! Like, what’s that!?!
But this one is my favorite from this year.
From the collection of Mr and Mrs Harold R Amos, Jr, painted on wood by Miami folk artist, Flor Larios.

We left our coats, hats, and gloves in the car to avoid having to carry them around the Cathedral. Not the smartest choice when we decided to visit the Bishop’s Garden. Though the beauty of the dappled sunlight nearly made the freezing air bearable.

My Cathedral experience (as always) ended with the Cathedral Library.

I love this building. I long to get in there and oodgey-goodgey, only it’s never open when I’m there.

This Christmas is over and I find myself feeling that natural sadness. But in a positive ‘comfort and joy’ way. That beautiful sense of anticipation during Advent and the childlike joy of Christmas morning has moved through me and now I find myself ready to say a hearty “Bye Felica” to 2017 and see what kind of shenanigans 2018 will bring.
YBW and I are already talking about going on a mini-break for Christmas next year. Neither of us are sure how we feel about that…leaving home for Christmas, but we’re considering the idea, and it feels kind of fun.
I think I’m in a place within myself, he’s in a place in him, and we’re in a place together that we’re ready to make some changes to better suit the ideas we have for each other as we move through our life. And that’s very exciting! Perhaps ‘just we two’ will be even more fun that we can imagine!
Blessings of love and light continue to wash over me.

Categories: me, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

the spirit of Christmas

I got an email this morning about listening to Christmas music, and geographical facts about the North Pole, and finally, how “Santa’s house at the North Pole is allegedly in Alaska just off Route 2″…
(In the immortal words of Deadpool, “What in the ass?”)

So this got me thinking about Santa and his reindeer and the elves…
Which in turn got me thinking about the Christmas spirit…
And here’s what I wrote in response…

Santa doesn’t live in Alaska! He’s not American! He’s of no nationality! He’s just Santa. (Yes I know the origins of his story, but we’re discounting those for the sake of this conversation!)
I know you’re getting all technical about the North Pole…but I believe Santa’s home and workshop are…well…a load of crap if you want the truth.
(It actually surprised me when I wrote those words!!)

I truly love the idea of Santa.
Santa is the spirit of Christmas! The spirit of giving and love and well, even hope. Because some folks who don’t really dig the baby Jesus do dig Santa. Anyway…it’s fun to think of workshops and elves and the like. But I sort of feel like we all carry the spirit of Christmas in us…that we each have a little bit of Santa in us.
I don’t know…

I remember when Thing 1 asked me about Santa, she was eleven and in 6th grade.
She asked if I was Santa.
I asked her what she thought.
She said, “I think you’re Santa.”
I told her about Santa being the spirit of Christmas and giving, and love. I explained that I believed so strongly in Santa, the spirit of Santa…but that a fat man in a red suit didn’t bring the presents into this house.
She paused for a moment, and she said, “I’m going to believe in the spirit of Santa too, Mommy. But I know who brings the presents into this house.”
And then we hugged for a long time.
I made her promise not to tell Thing 2 and we went along our way.

The spirit of Christmas is what I love above all else.
I do believe that the world waited for a light to enter? Absolutely!
Was that light really a little Jewish baby called Joshua (later mistranslated to Jesus)? I honestly don’t know. But I love the idea that a baby could create that much hope. That much love. That much light.

So, maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with the baby Jesus at all…(though how could it not?)
Maybe the spirit of Christmas really is just love and hope and light.
Maybe the spirit of Christmas is simply the idea of Santa Claus bringing these gifts.
Gifts chosen by someone who loves you so much that they work hard to make sure you have the right thing, beautifully wrapped so you know how much you are loved. So you know how much love and light and hope is in the world because someone loves you.
Anyway…that’s what Christmas is to me…for the most part.

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“You were always a pretty badass mom.”

Sometimes when things are absolute shit, something lovely occurs to spark a little hope in your heart. This happened to me in the form of a text conversation with my own Thing 1.
We were talking about the little boy she nannys for after she sent me a snapchat of him dressed as Batman and generally being kind of adorable. He’ll be two in November.

Thing 1:
He has started holding actual conversations. It’s so cute.
Oh that’s the BEST!!
Thing 1:
It makes me want five kids.
(then we talked about education for a bit)
Thing 1: That’s cool. I’ll probably look into good schools before I make a final decision. I mean I have all the time in the world.
Either you’ll be a mom or you won’t. Either way as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. And if you are a mom, you’ll be that much better at it than I was!!
Thing 1:
I doubt that. You were always a pretty badass mom.
(After everything we’ve been through, that made my heart take flight!)
Aww! Thanks, bear!! But I’m a better mom than Grandmommy was. You’ll be a better mom than I was. Your (maybe?) girl(s) will be better mom(s) than you…does that make sense kinda?
Thing 1:
Hahaha I don’t know how you think I could be better than you. That’s just crazy talk.
Thank you for saying I was a badass mom. I often times feel like I failed you. All I ever wanted to do was be your mom. I’m glad the bigger percentage was good for you.
Thing 1:
Hey, if anybody got failed parenting, it’s Thing 2, but I’ve kinda said that from the beginning. Ever since she almost died, I think you were afraid of her mortality and it made you really really soft on her. And of course, Dad was no help to either of us.
I’m sorry your dad isn’t a better parent. I do believe he loves you.
Thing 2 was an eyeopener for me. She deserves better, but I can’t fix what’s past and I can’t help her now. She’ll have to come out of it on her own with just our love to help her.
Thing 1:
I know he does in his own weird little way. I just have to make a serious effort to keep from getting irritated with him most of the time.
Yeah, pretty much. She’ll figure it out. Eventually.
I don’t know if you truly know how much it pleases my heart that you and I found our way back to each other. You, my very first girl. My own sweet love. You were always your daddy’s…but I got to love you too.
Thing 1:
I’m very glad we did too. It makes me so happy that I can talk to my mom without fighting with her.
Oh, me too Bea!! Me too!!
I know it was crap! In my defense, I was scared and miserable most of my adult life. I was raised by a woman who loved me but wasn’t real. I didn’t know how to do it…I just learned as I went. I wanted you to be strong and independent. And guess what!?! You ARE!! I’m proud of who you are.
Shit, some days I’m like, am I even a real grown up? Seriously! Even after all this time and practice.
Thing 1:
I know. I just have to find that perfect balance between adult and kid at heart.
You will…you’ve only been an adult for a hot second.
(We talked a few more moments and then ended our conversation.)

That girl is the human embodiment of every hope and dream I’d had since I was a little girl.
We lost our way. Turned our backs on each other in the most cruel and horrific ways. But time heals all wounds. Time and distance. And perspective.
I think she understands that all I ever wanted for her was to have the best foundation upon which to build her life. Sure, I went about it poorly on occasion…but I didn’t know how to be a mom. Do any of us know how to be parents? We know we must keep our children healthy and safe from harm…that’s instinctual. And it’s the easy part! The tricky part is navigating everything else! Parents are bound to bugger it up…we have no choice. We’re flying by the seat of our pants trying to hold onto this kid while we’re doing it. It doesn’t matter how many parenting books you read, you’re never truly prepared. So you cross your fingers and follow your instincts and if you’re very lucky, you parent with another human being that thinks the way you do.
My girls didn’t always have the best grades.
Thing 1 dropped out of college.
Thing 2 left high school to get her GED and hasn’t yet gone to college.
But you know what? My girls are strong and capable young women who stand a real chance in this world. They’re not waiting around for some man to come take care of them. They’re going to make it their own way. The best they can.
That’s more than some parents can say about their kids.
Both my girls have discussed going back to school. This pleases me simply because they’ll have a better chance of being properly employed with degrees. They’ll make more money with degrees. Money isn’t everything…but it keeps you from being hungry, and homeless. And having a bit of extra money keeps books on your shelves and shoes on your feet. My girls need that.

My life has been a mess of hotness lately. Between my own personal struggles and the struggles in my relationship with YBW, I’ve been feeling awful about my life. About my ability to ‘adult’. About my ability to parent. About my ability to be in a relationship. About my ability to be a “stepmother” to two partially grown young men.
Thing 1 gave me hope this morning.
I am a badass mom! And, perhaps that means I’m kind of a badass woman. And if I’m a badass mom and a badass woman, perhaps I’ll be able to sort my struggles and come out the other side with my badassness intact and been able to learn another important lesson.
I’m crossing my fingers as I fly by the seat of my pants.

Categories: love, me, on being a mom, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

thanks, Roald Dahl


Like Matilda, I am not alone. For I have books-a-plenty.
Thanks, Roald Dahl for this hopeful and comforting message.

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Warwick Avenue

How about a little Duffy this morning?
Please listen responsibly.

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happy birthday to Thing 2

Today is Thing 2’s nineteenth birthday!
My sweet angel baby has been in the world for nineteen years.
She is a miracle. She almost died twice before she was eight weeks old. She’s a fighter. A survivor.
I went into the NICU to see her before she was even twelve hours old. I reached to touch her little hand and she grabbed my finger so tightly. In that moment my whole life changed. I fell in love in an entirely new way. In that moment I knew she was going to be fine. She was so strong, that tiny little girl.
She is my gift from God.
She is light and love and deep dark feelings. She of the waspish tongue and deliciously dry wit. She is hopes and dreams even though she’s forgotten how to hope and dream.
I love her more than the moon and the stars.

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hope. (an essay on redhaired girl)

The new year has me thinking.
Thinking about hope.
Which reminds me of ‘An Essay on Man’. Only I’m thinking of it as ‘an essay on redhaired girl’ because I feel hopeful. I don’t know why, but I do feel it with every fiber of my being.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733

In feeling hopeful, I’m considering practical ways that my hope can translate to practicalities in my life, and the lives of the ones I love.

I’m feeling hopeful about my health. That my brain will finally find a way to heal itself. That I can put this struggle to be well behind me. Even though the swelling is no longer increasing because I’m responding well to the meds, my brain is still swollen. I’ve kind of decided this is the new way of being. That may sound a bit defeatist, but that’s not how I mean it. It may simply be acceptance.
I trust that I can have acceptance and hope together.

I’m feeling hopeful for my children.
Thing 1 and fiance N have had a bit of a rough patch. N was hurt on the job and has been out of work for almost a year. They’ve been living with his mother, which has been hard for all of them. He had surgery on his knee and has a clean bill of health from the doctors. This was what they were waiting for. Working with the VA, he’s in a program that helps find a home and new employment. He has a few job leads and they’re moving this week into their new home. The program will also assist in education for a career change, he’s very eager for that.
Thing 1 has a lead on a job working at a horse stable. How wonderful for her to earn a living doing what she loves!
They’re talking paint colors and she’s asking for my help finding things she needs. YBW and I are gifting them a new set of cookware. She’s so excited!
They’re finally getting their life together back in gear.
One thing I love about where they’re living is that it has not just a major state university, but several smaller colleges. I’m hoping this will entice her to go back and finish school.

I’m feeling hopeful for Thing 2. She’s in a living situation that isn’t as positive as it could be and I worry how it impacts her psyche. She’s being the “mom” of so many “lost” young adults and it seems to be sucking the life from her. Interestingly enough, she’s the youngest of all these friends.
She’s finished being stuck and tentatively starting to move forward. Her fear and anxiety are her worst enemies. I’m hopeful that her determination will overtake them and she’ll be stepping into the life she chooses to create for herself.
I have concerns that she isn’t comfortable about going to school. She doesn’t know what she wants to study, she doesn’t want to waste time and money. I don’t care what she goes to school for. Even trade school would be fine with me, a certificate to do whatever is enough that she’ll be able to take good care of herself.
I feel hopeful that with love and support she’ll be able to break the cycle of spinning her wheels. I’m hopeful that she will be able to start working towards creating a new life for herself, even though she’s not sure what she wants. Taking the first steps will get her moving forward and the rest will come as she goes.

I’m hopeful for this life I’m making with YBW. Being married feels a bit different than not being married, but the life we lead is essentially the same. I feel hopeful that we’re heading in the right direction.
We have three “grown” kids and one that’s quickly growing. We need to begin to decide what our life will be like without kids at home. How do we want to live? Maybe even where do we want to live?
I’m hopeful that we can begin planning for our future while we’re working to successfully live in our present.

I long for everyone I love to feel as hopeful as I feel.
I want those of you who read these words to know that I feel hopeful for you.
My heart is filled with love and hope. I wish the same for everyone.

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