Piles

I like to make piles.

Piles of bills. Piles of laundry. Piles of super hero toys. Piles of books. Really, you can make piles of everything. It makes me feel like I’m taking inventory, being responsible. Developing a plan. Dare I even say it? It makes me feel (pseudo)-organized. My piles aren’t in control of me. That’s right, I’m the queen of my piles. After all, I did create the piles.

On the days that I decide to attack the piles, I get myself ready. I put on my armor to help promote victory. I clear an area. I turn on my “Sad Shit” spotify mix. That’s right. Eva Cassidy, Damien Rice, Ryan Adams, Patty Griffen and many others serenade me while I de-pile. I have always found that good music makes life more bearable. Whether you’re cleaning the toilet or sitting in a hospital room by yourself, music can make hard things not seem so hard. Or more hopeful. Even fun. Music can make you truly feel your emotions so you can move on. Or stand still for a second. Heck, I didn’t even mind reaching into the garbage disposal to retrieve a couple of marbles today. Because there was my music playing in the background.

I usually come to a great epiphany when I’m doing the work of an adult: being an adult can really suck sometimes. Why did I always want to grow up? I would much rather be playing in a creek or even running suicides in a basketball gym than sit at the kitchen table sorting piles of mail. Medical bills, house bills, gas bills, library bills (ARGHHHH) Toyota recall notices, Department of Justice crap, and more bills, and more bills. I don’t know why I thought they would magically pay themselves if I left them on top of the piano. Without piling them into their specific category: Shred pile, Recycle pile, Pay now pile, Pay last month pile, Hurry Up! Pay faster pile, Don’t worry “Not a Bill” pile….

After opening, sorting and piling, I let myself take a break to unload and reload the dishwasher. And make myself a cup of tea. All the while, with my Spotify mix playing and the sun shining. It would be so much worse if it was rainy without music and Thai tea. So, I just plug away, thankful that I don’t have a massive headache today like I did yesterday. Thankful that I have a somewhat good attitude even though I really want to set all the piles on fire. Thankful for the starving artists who play and sing and make even the boring, mundane, sad, hard and yuck more bearable. Thanks, Jeff Buckley. And Eric Clapton. And you too, Sting, and all of the rest of you on my Spotify mix. Sorry that it’s titled “Sad Shit.” It’s really not shit at all, its a bit of brilliance. And it goes along perfectly with the budding cherry trees. The sun. And my piles.

I’ve got some checks to write. And some stamps to find. Old school style. I also have $.40 to spend at REI. What a bonus. Forty cent credit. #Winning my piles.

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Rescue Guineas

imageI was watching a tear jerker of a video* today that a friend posted. A middle-aged man desperately needed to lose weight. He was morbidly obese and his nutritionist told him to go adopt a dog from the shelter. It would encourage him to be outside and he would meet people. The man purposely adopted an overweight middle-aged dog, so they could relate to each other. They immediately bonded. Both of their lives changed for good. They lost weight and both had more positive outlooks on life. I cried when he talked about lying down next to his dying dog. At the end, he questioned whether he rescued the dog or the dog rescued him. They rescued each other. My four year old son wanted to watch the video twice.

I just went upstairs to feed our rescued guinea pigs some limp celery. Turns out it’s not good enough for human consumption. I also grabbed them some hay. They eat like every eight minutes or something like that. Maybe it’s pooping. Or maybe that’s geese. I stared at them and it may have been the wine thinking, but I got to talking. Did I drive to Wichita to rescue these overly conversational, constantly popping guinea pigs? Or have these guinea pigs rescued me?

Despite my second glass of wine which promotes even more truthful transparent thinking, it’s pretty clear. I rescued the guinea pigs. For my seven year old boys. Not a lot has changed in the past four months for me. Yeah. Yeah. What a selfish jerk, right? I talk with them, change their cage but they just constantly “eep. eep. eeeep” for carrots which I was told I should go easy on giving them. I think they may be addicts. They have too much sugar, according to the humane society highly-knowledgeable volunteer. I really don’t want diabetic guineas. Seems complicated.  I would have to give them to one of my nursing friends. (uh. hem. Lori) I buy them cilantro because a woman at work told me they just love cilantro. Love it. My husband gets a little bummed that I don’t have big Mexican food making plans for the cilantro most days.

“Did you buy the cilantro for the guinea pigs?”

Yep. Again. And the carrots too. But the kids can have some of those if they want. With ranch, of course. Homemade. You know, put the Hidden valley packet in the sour cream. It’s pretty complicated business.

I guess I won’t be able to submit my rescue story to this #mutualrescue organization. I couldn’t do it in a truthful way. I do think our guinea pigs have a much better life. I do think my boys learned about a whole other world that exists in an animal shelter. There were numerous other guinea pigs that we couldn’t adopt from the humane society. We wanted a pair. The others were all fighting each other, biting each other and having to be separated. Maybe they were tired of people staring at them as they waited to adopt a dog or a cat. Perhaps they took it out on each other. Not our guinea pig brothers. They’re alright. Minus their carrot addiction, which I do take full responsiblity for.

But they haven’t rescued me. Or us. Not yet. We’re still holding onto the hope though.

Although in a weak moment to calm my boys’ fears of a robber entering the house while we’re all asleep, I said, “there’s no way that the guinea pigs wouldn’t let us know.” Caged little motion detectors. They alerted the tooth fairy a few weeks ago. I heard her fall into the drum set. Then, the guinea pigs went nutso. Maybe they just don’t like fairies that don’t bring carrots. The tooth fairy should know this, right?

So, it’s not a mutual rescue. But they live 5-7 years. They were a year and a half when we adopted them. There’s still time.

 

*if you do have a #mutualrescue story or you need to cry, here’s the video I referenced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twisted Up Newspaper Thoughts

 

 

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I remember sitting by the fire as a scrawny kid listening to it pop and crackle, watching the electric blue, yellowish orange and red hot flames burn. I would sit really close and my back would get hotter and hotter until I couldn’t take it. I had to stand up and walk away. I used to love twisting and wadding up pieces of newspaper, then I would ask my dad if I could throw them into the fire. Carefully, of course. There was something thrilling in that experiment. It never got old. Watching the flames jump higher after I threw my pieces of twisted paper in. Instantly the newspaper ads disappeared into glowing ashes.

Over the past few days, I’ve been throwing crinkled-up, nasty little self-defeating thoughts on the insecure fire that burns from time to time. In my head. Sometimes in my heart. I lost my husband’s passport. I’ve searched for hours upon hours for two days. I’ve found things I wasn’t even looking for. I’ve organized areas. I’ve sifted through all of our drawers, mail piles, shredded papers, our recycling can and through all of our disgusting trash. Because we eat food and we have guinea pigs. And a dog that wears a diaper.

The entire time, despite my efforts to distract myself with positive thoughts or praying to the saint who helps find lost things, I should know his name. He probably knows mine. Or searching while listening to music or drinking tea, I’ve beat myself up. Over and over. Hard enough that I know if it were someone else’s head, and I held the power, I would step in and pull that person out of the ring, doctor their wounds and encourage them with some truths. Unfortunately, in these times, I don’t offer myself this same grace. And the fire burns on.

With a little hindsight, I recognize that I can be a real irrational jerk. To myself. And I don’t like that mean, self-defeating person inside of me.

When other people are jerks or say something rude, hurtful or offensive to us, we can walk away. Or fight back. When we do it to ourselves, we have to let somebody in. Somebody who will take away the stack of newspaper that we were planning on crinkling up. Because well, we tend to know ourselves best. We possess an arsenal of imperfections. We can crinkle up a lot of nasty, devaluing, hurtful pitiful little thoughts. And we can hide more newspapers. For a later time.

I sat at the table silently big tear crying as I filled out the paperwork for my husband to receive a new passport. Not because he made me cry or made me fill out the paperwork. On the contrary, he has been completely forgiving and kind. Saying, “it’s okay.” I cried because I was exhausted. I had failed and I was so sorry. I said the words, they pushed desperately against the inside of my jaws, trying to stay in. I needed to say them. Admit my mistake. The thing is that I think he knows I’ve been up too close, throwing those crinkled up newspapers in, watching the flames temporarily grow in my head. I think he would go buy all of the newspapers from the local good-for-nothing thought store. If he could. Isn’t that what we should do for the people we love? Offer each other forgiveness, understanding, mercy and love. At the times that we need it the very most. The times when we mess up, lose stuff or fail. And then it’s amazing. And completely humbling. We see a tiny, tiny glimpse of God’s love for us. And it’s a beautifully painful feeling to know that we are accepted. Just the way we are.

On top of losing my husband’s passport, I recently turned one of my boys school library books into the county library. He worries too. And he can’t check out as many books as he would like, because of my mistake. He keeps asking me, in a sweet, innocent and kind way, if I could go try and get it back from the library. I also had a doctor’s appointment yesterday that made me worry like some doctor’s appointments do. While I was at it, I have a sensitive son that I decided to extra worry about today too. I’m worried and sad about my Grandma. And I forgot that my windshield is cracked too. When writing, I know I sound a little bit like a pitiful adult version of Peggy Ann McKay. Since I was already throwing shriveled up, twisted little papers into that fire, I decided to just keep on going. Because that’s what we do to ourselves. It’s really awful. That’s why we desperately need people. Kind, loving people who know we stink at some things but who also know that we’re pretty good at some things too. So they remind us of those really good things. They hold our hand. Hug us. Accept us, flaws and all.

My husband showed me this morning and in so many words told me that I needed to just walk away. Stop. Forgive myself. And move on. Afterall, the fire will eventually die out. Especially if we stop adding crinkled up newspaper to it.

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I love this idea of two wolves inside of us. It was first introduced to me through hearing Richard Rohr speak.

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me…It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride and superiority. The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside of you and every other person too.” They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied… “The one I feed.

2015: 95 Blogs

I am thankful for you. Yes, you. The one reading this. It can be tricky navigating the world wide web. That’s right, the big ole’ “www.” It’s just plain crazy sometimes to think of others out there taking the time to read something that I wrote. Me. Silly old scatter-brained me. I know that time is so precious. Your time is valuable. But for a reason that may never be known to me, you have chosen to use a little of your time to read my blog. I truly appreciate you. For reasons that I will try to explain but I warn you, I may fail miserably.

Over the past year of blog posts, I have shared ridiculous bra stories or children stories or work stories or disease stories. In sharing my writing, I have opened a window and sometimes a door to a piece of my heart. And you have responded. Perhaps you somehow related to my feelings. Some of you have reached out to me. You have shared the most genuine and kind-hearted sentiments. You have shared a piece of your life with me. In doing so, we connected. You, perhaps unknowingly, have helped me heal from mothering blunders, work sadness, disease frustrations, and many other life lessons.

If ever something is going to be happy, silly, hard, painful, frustrating, debilitating, hopeful or sad, it’s best to learn and grow from it. The best way to learn and grow from experiences is to have others surround you. To cheer you on. To hug you. To encourage you. To relate with you. To cry with you. To laugh with you. To tell you the hard stuff gets better. To help you feel less alone.

I’ve always tried to find the good in the bad. No matter what. This can be extremely challenging sometimes in life. For all of us. Sometimes the good seems so light in comparison to the heaviness of the bad. The good can feel so fleeting, in fact, that it seems to disappear altogether. At times. It’s always there. It can get trapped behind the dark heavy shadows of gloom.

You will always be one of my many something goods. Because you’re a first responder. You’re here. You care. You matter to me. Even if I’ve never met you. You have encouraged me in gigantic ways. Thank you for believing in me.

Cheers to next year. Because….Something’s still burning.

 

WordPress sent me the link below. It was pretty humbling. And makes me proud to have such supportive friends.

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 38,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Monday Feels

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I walked into my closet. And sat down against the wall. I was officially overwhelmed. And I didn’t want to cry in front of my boys because I knew it might be hard to stop. I predicted it had the potential to be one of those downpours where it didn’t even matter if I had an umbrella. A lost cause. Between the wind and the crazy overwhelming tears coming from all directions, I knew I would be a mess. Drenched. I thought I should just try and be apathetic. Seemingly unphased on the surface but literally crumbling underneath. It’s a struggle. When everything seems to be happening at the same time. Mondays are just plain hard. On the body. All around.

I wake up and feel so exposed, unclothed and vulnerable because I don’t have to push down the feelings and pretend like the painful stuff doesn’t hurt. Not anymore. Outside of the walls of work, I am free to hurt. And be so sad. And pissed. And then damn sad again. My roles quickly change as I kick off my work shoes in the garage and enter the doors of my house. On Monday morning. At 2:00 am. In a few short hours, a healthy eager boy will need to get to school early. I want to talk with him and hug him longer before I drop him off and he walks up the stairs to his first grade classroom. There’s a sick boy that needs me at home. At the kitchen table, he handed me pictures he made for me while I was at work. I love his giving heart. I love that he draws pictures for me when I’m gone. He always wraps them up and tapes them together like a package. I love how excited and proud he is for me to open them.

I want to cry. Because I’m so happy to be home. I hate that I can’t be emotionally available yet. I feel so weak. And tired. Physically and emotionally. Thankfully, I have a husband whose compassion and patience for me overflows, especially on Mondays. Somehow it never runs out. He hugs me. It’s hard to hug him back because I don’t want to fall apart. Yet.

This work doesn’t make piles of laundry disappear. It doesn’t help the stacks of bills get magically paid. It doesn’t buy fancy vacations. It’s perks are few and include a discount that you don’t want to need to use. It’s a job that forces a continual reexamination of my faith in God and humanity. It strongly encourages the necessary prioritizing of what matters most and on some days, it triggers the unraveling of my heart. And as I pick up the string and slowly wind it back up, I feel overwhelmed. For good, really good, like gratitude-that-hurts kind of good. For my family. My home. My perspective. It overwhelms me for the uncomfortable too though. It makes it hard to fit in sometimes, hard to hold my tongue when someone says something so unimportant or worries about something that just doesn’t matter. When you’ve seen the wounded. The raw. The so completely and uncomprehensibly painful. And you wonder how will they ever pick up all the shattered pieces. When everything stops flying through the air. And you hope and pray that they have people that will stick around long enough to help them learn to fit all of the pieces back together. Somehow. The most important pieces. When I’m home, its difficult to just turn off my thinking and my feelings. I think if its ever too easy, or too comfortable then I will leave. Just quit. Some things should never be easy.

Today, instead of unraveling completely, I gave myself some time to process. Just to feel. On the ground in my closet. Then, I took a shower. A long one. Then, I made a promise to those I’ve worked with and myself that I will love abundantly, forgive constantly and appreciate the moments with those I missed all weekend. I will try my hardest. Because I’m here now. Today I owe the ones in front of me my focused yet imperfect, unconditional and overwhelming love. They get to have all of my Monday feels.

Full Moon

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There are thunderstorms. A lot of them happen right here in the midwest. We hear the sirens. Take cover. We anxiously or routinely wait it out. Feeling the thunder, winds and rain beat down.

There are winterstorms. We occasionally get a few of these in the midwest too. Crazy amounts of snow and ice dumped in a short amount of time. Everything quietly blanketed in bright white. Snow shoveling galore.

And then, there is a whole different kind of storm. It’s a kind that even the most accurate meterologist cannot predict. You can’t take cover. You have to work through it despite the damage it may cause.

These are the shitstorms.

They tend to happen most of the time at work. Especially if you work in the hospital setting. You can casually clock into work and have no clue what the next twelve hours will bring. You may have a feeling, but there are often no signs outside of the hospital to warn you of the impending doom. The heinous stressful atmosphere inside. Somedays, you would be willing to put your paycheck on the fact that it will be a full moon tonight. You walk outside at the end of your shift and look up. Case in point. Hello there, you big bright moon.

There’s no announcement. No watch. No warnings. No code. And no denying the full force of the shitstorm touching down inside of the walls of the place you don’t like today. Not at all. You actually decided you hate it. You hate it’s sole existence. It doesn’t matter how many brightly colored murals and amusing elevator animals decorate it’s many walls. It’s an easy place to hate on days like today. When you’re caught smack dab in the eye of a shitstorm. Stuck with some of the biggest hearted, most self-sacrificing people you know. And also some of the most vulnerable and dependent children and families. You wish you could protect them all. And if every work day was like today, you would just take cover and never come out. Ever. You would clock out for the last time. It really doesn’t make any kind of sense that you can love a place that you hate so much. And still come back. Over and over. Again. And again.

But you will come back tomorrow.

Today you’ve had many opportunities to master the art of compartmentalizing. Sadly, you’ve created several new compartments. You’re strangely equipped and fully capable of walking into one happy alive room then quickly switching gears as you close the door and walk the halls to slowly open the door to an eerily silent room. It’s what you have to do. Keep going. Don’t feel that feeling.

Especially that one feeling.

Chest throbbing emptiness smothered in disbelief and surreal sadness.

How could you not go home and immediately search for another job? Like tonight. Maybe stocking the shelves somewhere. Serving kids somewhere else. Some place where nobody cries. Some place where no one screams. Or bleeds. Or dies. A place where horrible accidents and non-accidents don’t happen. A place. Any place. Somewhere else.

You’re still close to happy-tear-crying grateful. Because you’re in good company. You’re constantly rescued by the familiarity and love for the people who you have briefly talked with today. Your coworkers. Held captive in the storm with you. You’ve gotten to make eye contact, subtle faces back and forth. Eyes that could say a million words. And express a hundred different emotions. In just one glance. It’s solidarity at it’s finest. Strength, love, comraderie and hope shoved down, yet not buried beneath the darkness. You will find it later. You have to. It’s still there. Always.

It can be hard to break past the debris, the damage, the misplaced, scattered, torn and the forever lost. The forever changed. The anger. The sadness. Disbelief. Disgust. Pain. The unexplainable.

You have the intermittent overthinking moments. Wresting with the overwhelming feeling of trying to lift the invisible gargantuan weight of another’s pain. And knowing that you can only do so much. Or so little. You can’t reveal that sometimes it’s too difficult to carry. Not here. Not yet. Switch gears again. Focus on stopping the heavy incessant thoughts of your own world outside of these walls.

There’s a constant struggle with hospital work. It’s internal. A good versus evil tug-of-war going on inside of your heart. And in your head. Throughout the days. And nights. A brain overfilled with thoughts. A heart bursting with emotions. Temporarily tied up. It’s bulging at the seams. When you drive home, you will began to untangle the knotted twine capturing the feelings that have not been felt yet. It often gets messier before you get the knots out. You know you should try to feel the feelings now. While you’re in control. Outside of the walls. While everyone sleeps.

You survived. Again. Most will not know tomorrow what you’ve endured these past two shifts. Because you will do what you’ve learned to do. Cope. Compartmentalize. Keep on keeping on. And hope for tomorrow. Then wake up to a new day with a post-shitstorm perspective. Grateful and readily available to engage in the life-filled moments with those you love the most. Because you’re resilient. You’re a survivor. And for today, the shitstorm is over.

That Old Loyal Bra

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I know it’s a little strange to think that an inanimate object, like a bra, has feelings but that doesn’t change my irrational thinking. I can’t help but feel sorry for replacing my old loyal bra. I really detest clothes shopping. I don’t like the process of trying things on that don’t fit. Repeatedly. And clothes are expensive. I get a little claustrophobic in the changing rooms. Especially when three little boys are with me, bumping into the door or curtain, mirror and walls. A few months ago, I had to abandon the ill-fitting bras at Kohl’s and get the heck out of there. My youngest boy gave me about a thirty second warning. He had to go to the bathroom. BAD. I knew that I could just keep wearing my old loyal bra.

I’ve been putting off or neglecting the task of shopping for a new bra for a while. Like several years. I’ve had this one loyal bra that was there for me a long time ago, before I got pregnant with twins. Eight years ago. It patiently hung out in my drawer as my breasts grew to gigantor twin pregnancy and post-pregnancy nursing sized breasts. Then, the nursing bras took the reins. I never knew my entire teenage and adulthood life the trials of running with bouncing breasts or the bother of strapping down milk jugs, for fear of the let-down. More accurately described as the milk sprinkler system. Holy cow. Look out below.

All the while, my temporarily forgotten sad loyal bra waited patiently in my drawer. It even got repeatedly shoved to the back by the bigger, fancier role players.

When you get done nursing several kids, sometimes you look down in the shower. What the heck happened? Gravity? Age? Nope. Kids. Straight up kids. There’s no denying the changes in your once small, yet full-of-life before pregnancy and nursing breasts. And with most potentially self-esteem lowering body issues, I try to find the positive. Love on myself. Especially my imperfections. I nursed three dependent scrawny babies into walking, talking boys. That’s pretty huge and amazing. And as you endure anything time consuming, sacrificing and hard in life, there are going to be scars on the inside and outside. Mother battle wounds. Tired nipples that literally have had the life sucked out of them.

There were so many challenging moments of trying to get preemie twin boys to latch on to my cantaloupes, maybe they were more like small watermelons. It was me crying, the boys crying, milk dripping or spraying everywhere. A luke-warm mess. Literally and emotionally. If not for numerous lactation consultants, my mother and sisters, and my uber encouraging and supportive husband, I would have never made it past the insanity to the beautiful gift of breastfeeding. The moments where my infant twin boys would hold hands. The moments where my third baby boy would look up at me and grab my mouth. Or my hand. All of the middle of the night moments where I could comfort and feed my children because my body did this crazy and amazing thing of making the exact nourishment my children needed. My broken and diseased body did something so perfectly and beautifully right. That’s a gift. Something to be proud of. No matter what.

I headed to the mall last week by myself. I took a detour from my search to buy some pants for my boys that would not get holes in the knees. That really was an impossible endeavor anyway. I bypassed the shoe section and rode the escalator up to the third floor of Nordstrom’s. The kids section. And the lingerie section. Honestly, I was a little hesitant when the kind, young bra fitting woman asked me if I needed to be fitted. I wish they had a designated tired mom employed there that had nursed a boatload of kids and would kindly share that with you when you got that insecure look. Time to be fitted. Strip down. Oh, man. Cue the diarrhea of the mouth. I think this exact moment was why I had tried on awful fitting bras in Kohl’s with my three boys. By myself. I know she recognized the hesitancy in my voice. “You can turn and face the wall, if you want,” she said. Okay. Less awkward than looking her in the eyes as she measured me. She left and came back with several really cute bras. Three of them fit. I put my loyal old school bra back on. Then, I felt a sense of conquering a beast and a sense of sadness for my bra that I don’t even know the size or brand of anymore because it’s so worn out.

Shhh. I do have to admit that I feel proud to wear my new bras. Accomplished. Impressed that I finally went shopping for something for myself. Even though, it’s not a new pair of shoes or anything visible that anybody except my husband sees. But, a part of me also feels a little sad to shove my old bra to the back of my drawer. Again. I know it’s absurd, but I’m not throwing that bra away. I just can’t. Who knows how long these new ones will last anyways? They just don’t make stuff like they used to. I may just need that old loyal bra again someday. You never know.