Thanksgiving Day Birds

imageMy rational thinking mind knows that it’s pretty selfish to assume that God sent hundreds of different kinds of birds to my backyard this morning. It felt like a beautiful gift. Just for me. Perhaps, He sent them to bring me hope or joy or to peck away at my grief or sorrows, my heartaches and hopelessness.

Despite my disbelieving mind, my spirit-filled heart completely trusts and believes in a God that hears my cries and hates for me to feel the heavy burden of grief, loss and heartache. I believe that He hates for me to be trapped in my feelings. Isolated. All alone. I believe He lifts my chin and helps me see the beauty, the freedom outside my window.

So, as I sat staring out my kitchen window in amazement and wonder at the sudden appearance of all of the Thanksgiving Day birds, my soul surrendered to the simplicity, the beauty, and the ease at which His tiny creatures fly from branch to feeder to fence post. I made eye contact with one of my favorites, the yellow finch, “my Grandma bird,” whose feathers have transformed to accommodate the next dreary season. No longer the striking, bright yellow summer feathers. I sat close enough, only a few feet way, separated by glass. I could barely see the pale yellow neck feathers hidden beneath the new tree trunk-brown winter feathers.

In moments like these, I feel my Grandma and I miss her in an indescribable way. I want to be in her presence. I want to hear her voice. I want to feel like everything is going to be okay. I don’t know that she understood the secret gentle power she possessed. The ability to heal my aching heart.

She had this instinctual ability to relate to me on a level that few can. I miss her honesty. I miss her openness with her feelings, the joyful and sad, painful-to-hear ones and all of the complicated ones in between. I miss the little things, like sitting next to her and filling her cup up with fresh iced water. I miss watching my boys run down the hall to swing open her door and surprise her. I miss her sweet voice telling me some powerfully encouraging words. I miss hugging her and telling her, “I love you, Grandma.” I miss her habitual response, “I know you do. I love you, too.”

Holidays are typically supposed to be happy times but they can be so hard when you’re missing a person. They can serve as a painful reminder that someone who was always around is not here anymore. Just gone. The robins, blue jays, yellow finch, doves, cardinals, and all the other birds flying around today reminded me of my Grandma. I like to think of her as strong and totally freed from pain. I like to think of her. I’m grateful that the zipping crowds of birds outside my window helped remind me of her and her never ending love.

Kidney Stones

Awwwww. How cute. What a kind and polite anatomically correct use of medical terminology. Stones are fun for kids and grown-ups a like to hold and collect. And kidneys, aren’t those your pee makers? Well, I have got news for you, when one of those sleeping little “kidney stones” wakes up and decides to go on a road trip, aka fly the kidney coup, they become, “mother fuckers.” That’s what us stoners call them on the street. I just made that up. I don’t have a support group of “stoners” that I ran this blog by first.

If you’ve ever had a mother fucker, you know what I’m talking about. You feel me. You got me. 100%. Solidarity.

Because there is just no nice way to put into pleasing-for-your-conservative-grandma’s ears the amount of pain they cause. Trust me. I’ve experienced a crud ton of pain in my life, too. I always think it’s funny when someone reports on a pain scale of 1-10 that they are a “10.” You’re a 10? Really? You’re so cute. The only problem is you don’t kindly say a 10, you fuckin’ look a 10. You moan. You’re on the ground. You think it’s absolutely ridiculous that someone is trying to get you to “rate your pain” when you’re obviously dying. How fuckin rude. Actually, you feel like you’re in enough pain that maybe somebody should just go ahead and kill you. Yep. That kind of pain.

When a mother fucker aka “a kidney stone” decides to head to the next rest stop, aka your bladder, you can’t deep breathe. You can’t visualize anything except a cruel heartless person repeatedly stabbing you with his shady pocket knife. Over and over in your left lower back region. And he just won’t stop. There is no negotiating even though you have told him that you don’t carry cash and your bank account has “insufficient funds.” Why would you tell him that anyways? That’s too much information for a robber. This cruel asshole will not take “no” for an answer. He is just going to keep on stabbing you. Don’t try to lay down. Get back up. Nope. Hunch over. Yell “FUCK!” Get in some weird unspoken, awkward yoga pose. Just try your hardest to NOT feel like you’re dying. Even though you know you are. Good thing you got that life insurance. Did you mail the check yet?

Drink water. Throw up. Cuss. Pray and promise God you will do anything if he will just make the son-of-a-bitch arrest the mother fucker. What? It’s confusing when you don’t use medical terminology. I am going to let you know right now this is how Web MD describes kidney stone pain:

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“Waves of sharp pain…” Really, Web MD? I like waves. You know, those sparkling sun-kissed ocean waves. They’re relaxing and beautiful. How dare you describe kidney stone pain as peaceful like the ocean. Who are you, Web MD? Do you think it’s funny to lie to millions of people. Oh, it’s not lying when you water-down or sugar coat the truth? Don’t send me a bill for this visit because my insurance will not pay for your lies.

Don’t you know that you’re never supposed to consult the internet to learn about a medical diagnosis. Come on.

My description is so much more realistic. If you or someone you know ever “passes” a kidney stone, I’m so freakin sorry. Having a baby is way more fun. And so is having surgery. ¬†Just tell yourself or your friend in the most sincere and genuine way, maybe with a tear drop in your eye,”Congratulations. I heard you had a mother fucker. Holy shit. I am so sorry. I’m glad you’re still with us.” Now make sure you get that life insurance check mailed, ok? To my knowledge, Hallmark hasn’t come out with this sort of medically inappropriate line of cards. Yet. We can all hope for the future of expensive thoughtful cards, right?

My Write-In Vote

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I’ve been writing in my head all week long. I¬†thought I would actually put the words down about this once to hopefully get some of it out of my system. I have people that I love dearly that have voted on both sides of this election. Personally, I could not vote for Trump or Clinton. I understand why some people may say that to write-in a woman who you know is not running for president seems like a cop-out, but I am the only one who lives with my conscience and constant thoughts, feelings and emotions twenty four hours a day.

I chose to write-in a woman that I trusted and that has enormous loads of integrity. I typed in the name of a woman I believed in, knowing she would not win the presidency. I voted for local state representatives and senate. Then, I left the polls after a kind man made my day by asking if it was my first time to vote. Nope. I left without the looming feeling of having made the wrong decision with the minimal knowledge I have.

I understand some of the bigger issues and reasons why people I love voted for Trump, despite the ugly sides he flaunted throughout the election. But, I couldn’t vote for him. For numerous personal reasons. I have a hard time looking at him without getting disgusted. I have a disability, really several. I am sure Trump would make fun of someone like me, someone with a disease that makes them different. Someone with an ileostomy. I am also a woman. In my life, I have had men whistle, touch me without permission or stare at me like I am a piece of meat or an object for their consumption. It’s sickening and demoralizing. It’s one of the worst feelings. The fact that a man running for president would not only think, but say and act on such vile thoughts about women disgusts me and infuriates me to a blood-boiling, heart racing level. I also love deeply my many friends who are gay, Muslim, Mexican, immigrants, etc. I love the strangers I have met that could be classified into one of these groups. I hurt for them knowing the pain Trump has caused, and may continue to cause. It’s absolutely mind-baffling in this day and age that Trump would promote fear, hate and a messed-up, racist, and exclusive America.

I understand why people, especially women, voted for Clinton. But I also couldn’t vote for her. She has extremely, ridiculously large amounts of experience. If the two president elects were doctors, I would go to her a million times over Trump. Or if they were painters, plumbers, or any other profession where you seek out a person with book smarts, street smarts and an overall understanding of the profession, she would be my choice. I have a hard time getting over the original Clinton presidency. I have a difficult time with the fact that Hillary Clinton stayed with Bill Clinton. Why would a strong woman not leave a man that disgraced and dishonored her and had public affairs with other women? In my mind, if a woman can fake a marriage, what else is she capable of faking? I can’t get over that, despite her experience. I know some may think that’s judgemental and none of my business. But it becomes a bit of my business when I have to choose who I can trust or who I can vote for for president.*

Also, I realize that each candidate is only human, far from perfect. I am thankful we have people who are willing to put themselves out there, and take all the risks and negativity that accompany running for public office. I’m not Pollyanna. I realize that the media and politics, in general, tend to be corrupt and full of cover-ups, misinformation, lies and tons of money.

I’m pretty certain that both of the president elects are millionaires or billionaires. I cannot relate to them. They most likely would scoff at the Costco dinner I might throw together for them if they came over, especially if I burned it. How awful would it be if one of them sat in our wobbly broken chair and if the dog jumped on their lap during dinner. Or what if one of the boys hit them with a ball or dart? Would secret service lose it? I typically am not inspired by many millionaires or billionaires, unless I have no clue that they are wealthy. Instead, I look up to teachers, doctors, nurses, single moms, social workers, construction workers, nuns, monks, mechanics, police officers, fire fighters, EMT workers and so many other professions that bust their tired asses to serve, protect and care for fellow humans. I did not go into the field of Child Life to make crazy amounts of money. I jumped into the hospital setting to help others going through crappy times. If helping others meant cleaning toys or vomit or blowing bubbles or playing Uno or hugging a parent or comforting a crying baby or encouraging a coworker, I would do it. These things made me feel valued, like a million bucks. Never my paycheck.

This brings me to my most important point. My kids learn how to love from those they’re immediately surrounded by. Not rock stars or politicians. My husband and I. Our families. Their teachers, even the grocery store cashier, people at church, neighbors, and friends. My boys naturally love innocently, unconditionally and beautifully. They love people of every skin color, heterosexuals and gay people, Hindu people and atheist people and they sure as hell love their mama who has disabilities.

I do not worry or fear for my children learning hate, exclusion, racism or intolerance from Trump. I fear they will learn hate or intolerance from classmates, teachers or others who directly influence their day to day lives. It’s our job as parents, teachers, people in the grocery store or traffic jams to teach love, patience, kindness, and acceptance of others, no matter what they look like. I am much more qualified that Trump or Clinton to teach my children how to treat others. I believe you are too.

So let’s love each other in the valleys and trenches and up in the treehouses and on the playgrounds. Don’t forget the offices, classrooms, hospitals, court rooms, mountains, desserts, beaches, classrooms and most importantly, our homes. Every day. Nonstop. All the time. No matter who the president is.

And here’s a funny video, just because.

Heart Holes

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It’s impossible for me to suppress feelings of grief or loss. Even if the losses seem irrational, unreal or invisible. I don’t believe that it’s a healthy habit to smooth over or pretend hurt doesn’t exist. Can you grieve the loss of something that you crave so desperately but that you’ve never actually had?

Well I do and I’m certain that I’m not the only one. It can be a complicated and isolating type of grief. Most people typically don’t dive head first into the deep end of life’s sad realities. When your grandmother dies, and you’re grieving, it’s perfectly acceptable and understood that those around you will outwardly express their sympathy with hugs, cards, tears, and conversations. However, when some life event or experience sparks the brush pile of your invisible loss, the hidden flames of sadness often have the fuel to grow pretty quickly.

Only those who know you in the most vulnerable way may ever recognize the flames. Perhaps nobody will ever know.

Sometimes specific settings or conversations or experiences can shake you up. It can feel like you’re driving over a giant pot hole. You can prepare yourself beforehand, but you know that it will inevitably jar your spirit and temporarily hurt. Always. Just like a familiar pothole on that street that you have to drive through. The feeling of bracing yourself for the broken road doesn’t go away. Maybe ever.

In humans, like me, it feels more like a heart hole.

On some bright and sunny days, you can maybe handle one of the heart holes. You might swerve around it to avoid it. Maybe leave the room at the perfect time or don’t ever walk into the room where that routine casual conversation is not so casual for you. Because it hurts. Because you have an open wound that’s tender, and perhaps it won’t ever heal. You can try and plug up heart holes, but it’s only a temporary fix. They always come back.

Grief hurts. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Hurt slowly burns. Then, it can leave your eyes dry and your heart and body all sore and achey. When my husband opens his arms and holds me and let’s me cry the tears, my real tears, mean a loss is a loss. His presence tells me that it’s okay to feel the invisible weight of hidden or invisible losses. I don’t have to justify them to anyone to know that my pain is real. Validated. Visible. Even if I have never received sympathy cards. And most likely, never will.

I don’t want to take my pain or losses out on anybody else. That’s one of the reasons I write and how I experience the unfathomable joy of this world along with the deep pains too.

I can sit with my son as he draws a “ginormous smile” on himself in his picture. The green marker smile goes off of his stick boy drawing and around and around the scene because “he’s that happy.” And so am I sitting next to him. Then as suddenly as a car shifts into second gear, I can drop him off at preschool and then switch gears and cry until I reach my husband’s embrace. There’s something so healing in these kind of tears. I can cry some more because he understands my grief. Because of how deeply he cares for me, my struggles become his struggles too. He rides over the broken parts of the road, sitting right next to me. And this makes me cry all over again. Grateful tears for his endless love for me.

I am aware that I am not the only one who grieves the losses that nobody ever saw. I know this. So, I share to let another know that it’s okay to hurt. And it’s okay to cry. And it’s okay to be upset and grateful and joyful. We are beautiful, complicated beings. Why would our emotions and feelings not be overlapping, entertwining, connecting and complicated in the same way as our physical bodies?

Ready or not, here I come. It’s a bit like hide and seek grief. You may unexpectedly stumble upon one of your losses hidden away in the closet or the cabinet up high. Or perhaps somebody else will unintentionally reveal one of your hopes, dreams unfulfilled or losses. I hope you will give yourself permission to grieve. And I hope you will let another share the extraordinarily heavy weight of your invisible loss so that it may become more bearable.