Friday, April 28, 2017

I really don't want to write this.

 But I will.

I don't even know if this is going to have form beyond stream of consciousness,  but I know it's good to share,  blah blah,  stigma,  blah blah,  awareness,  etc.

Over the past 6 years,  we've had a lot of loss; a lot of transition and change. Not all bad,  but still stressful and it piles up.  And,  yes,  I know that there are people who have it a lot worse,  but this isn't their blog and I'm not carrying their pain.

Have a list:
Became foster parents
Loved and lost kids we thought we'd have forever
Started homeschooling
Only man I've ever called Grandpa died
Father-in-law died
Moved to Hawaii
Left California friends
Left California church
Dad diagnosed with cancer
Spent 3.5 months away from Hawaii
Brother- in-law died suddenly
Spent a month in Michigan without my family
My dad died
Went back to Michigan for a week

Also included: finished grad school (what the fuck do I do now?)
Haven't found a church in Hawaii
Pretty sure I've lost part of my mind
Ruined friendships
Midlife unraveling
Generally fucked up a lot

The clinical depression I've carried for decades now has all these layers of stress, grief,  and loss on top,  plus ADHD & anxiety (no, YOU'RE the basket case!), and I'm here to tell you I'm the most suicidal I've ever been.  Even more than when I attempted suicide 24 years ago.  That was more impulse on top of depression and hormones and starting college.

The kicker is that it's not like it makes sense.  I'm not thinking,  "Oh,  my dad is dead! I can't go on living!" No,  the shittiest part, the part that makes me hate myself the most,  is that my sadness is rarely about my dad.  It can turn into sadness about him,  but it rarely starts there.

I barely recognize myself sometimes. But it's me and sometimes I like it.  I like my new scars.  I like the few things that make me feel alive right now,  even if they're not awesome.

I've reached out on my scariest days.  Seth takes the meds with him to work now.

I don't know.  If you've never known this about me,  I'm sorry.  Don't be afraid.

Please don't comment about how much I have to live for,  try to encourage me,  or tell me you'll pray for me.  But,  yes,  do pray for me.  Just...I don't know.

I know I have to get out more.  See my friends. So my Hawaii peeps need to bug the shit out of me so I'll get out of bed,  okay? Know that I will be super annoyed with you.

So there! Transparency,  awareness,  you're not alone!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Battle Cry of the Formerly Lazy

I've been pondering this post for quite a while now; possibly a year or more. It's in response to the thoughts some people express online and I know that more harbor in their dark, inky hearts. Those thoughts are along the lines of, "We get it! You went for a run. We're all proud of you but apparently not as proud as you are of yourself. Shut up!" 

The problem is this: we are proud of ourselves. Very. I would guess that 95% of the people who post about their workouts on FB have historically not been regular exercisers. Their lazy days may have been a long time in the past, and maybe now they love working out regularly, but that doesn't mean that it's easy to do every day. That doesn't mean that there isn't still a lazy, wheezing, overweight kid in the back of their minds, trying to get them to just sit down and watch TV instead of going to the gym. (For a great perspective on this, read Matthew Inman's Oatmeal entry about why he runs.)

When I started writing this post a long time ago, I had pictures of charts ready to go showing how much I'd exercised that week and how that was such a miraculous change from my past. I had to remove them because now my charts would look like janky hammocks strung between the days when I had the time and inclination to lift or run. When my kids were in school, they'd ask me what I did during the day while they were gone. I'd tell them that I ran or went to the gym, and they'd say, "Well, duh! You do that every day!" It filled present me with joy and high school me with shock to hear that. I couldn't believe how much I'd changed my life. I had changed my body so much that, even though I wasn't skinny, I didn't gain back any weight that I had lost after 6 weeks in Michigan last summer, barely working out and eating all the food of my youth. My body makeup had altered.

Just eating thimbleberries wouldn't have been bad, but thimbleberry jam on nisu, on ice cream sundaes, etc!!!

Now I'm back to the sluggo days. With the stress of preparing to move and then getting here and finding a place to live, my workouts have been very sporadic. I'm back out of shape and have to basically start over with strength and endurance, especially in the Hawaii humidity. My right leg really doesn't enjoy running, even though my heart and mind do, so I have to find other cardio. Last week, I decided that it was going to be jumping on the trampoline. Which sucks. I didn't make have time to do it over the weekend after that first time, but I did do it yesterday. IT SUCKED. I'd rather go on a walk for twice, heck, thrice! as long. But I did it. I know it will get easier eventually. I set that stupid timer on my phone and I freaking jumped until it was done. I was very proud of myself. So, yeah. I posted about it this time, too, but on twitter.

Another thing you need to know is that, for the most part, the running/biking/racing/lifting/gym rat/whatever community is VERY supportive. When runners pass each other on the trail, they give each other a thumbs-up or even say "Good job. You got this," especially if they see someone struggling. If you've ever participated in Team in Training, you will forever shout, "Go Team!" when you see anyone in a TNT shirt working out. So, even if someone does tons of races or has been naturally skinny their whole lives, they're usually trying to encourage others rather than shame them.

We all know that we need encouragement and accountability, so that's another reason people post about their work. You're likely to see someone post on FB that they're going to work out later so that they can't punk out and certain buddies will ask them if they did it. A friend posting, "Just did an easy 10 miles," might make me want to vomit because I have never called 10 miles easy, but it will also get me off the couch just like someone posting, "Just did a crappy, slow mile, but I did it," will get me off the couch.

So take it easy on our fitness posts, okay? Unless you're friends with the cast of the Jersey Shore, people aren't trying to simply show off. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to jump on the crap-o-line AND do a bodyweight workout tonight. I don't want to, but I will. And I'll be real proud of myself if
when I do.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Things that don't work

I posted this on my facebook this morning. I was determined that I'm not going to be counting down Sundays and crying all the time. But then I walked in, and I saw all my friends, and I knew that I was leaving them soon. I cried and cried because I'm finally mourning all that we are leaving.

For so long, I've just been really excited about moving to Hawaii. I was wishing that I didn't even need to come back here from Texas but we could just magically be in Hawaii. There is so much left to do that I'm just overwhelmed. I wish we could just be there in our new life already.

I read this quote from Walden last month, and it really grabbed me: 

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.

That's how I feel about Hawaii. About the ocean. I'm excited to get rid of almost all of our belongings and to start over. I want less stuff so we can have more life. I don't want things that don't matter. I don't want to be busy all the time. So I've been excited to leave.

But today I finally started facing all that we're leaving behind. Almost 10 years at church, making friends, teaching, being part of lives as kids grow. We're going to walk into a church (likely quite a few churches) in Hawaii and not know anyone. Students will walk by and I won't recognize any of them. We won't know the pastors or have gone through years of drama and change and growth with the church. We'll have to start all over.

We have so many friends here that are like family. People who know us so well and are always there when we need them. People we've laughed and cried with and kissed their babies and chatted with their parents. 

A church that values its people so much and constantly creates opportunities for adults and kids to feel God's presence in different ways: we're leaving it.

I know that we're going to be happy in Hawaii. We're going to find a church home and we'll have new opportunities and friends. But it will take time. Sometimes I think I'll relish the change, but I know it's going to hurt sometimes, too. 

So I lied this morning when I said I wouldn't cry every week. I probably will. I sobbed today and I'll sob on July 19th, our last Sunday here.



Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Shop So You Don't Drop

"Retail therapy" is sometimes used in a joking way by (mainly) women to describe the times they feel like they need to shop. It's sometimes used by others, both men and women, in a sneering way to shame those people and make them feel frivolous and selfish. The implication is that no one needs to go shopping or buy new stuff.

To be fair, there are likely few instances in which something brand new truly needs to be purchased instead of something used or simply making due with what you have at home, but that doesn't mean that shopping for an emotional reason is without merit.

What we often forget is that clothes matter. What we put on our bodies can carry real emotional weight. You don't believe me? Go watch almost any episode of What Not to Wear, How to Look Good Naked, or even go all the way back to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. What you'll find is men and women truly transformed by being shown that they can look great. And it's sad but true to say that human beings (and lots of animals, for that matter) equate looking good with having worth. So when people who used to hide their bodies or hang their heads are shown that they, too, can preen and shine along with everyone else, it changes them.

We're status-driven. It's a simple fact of human nature. So even if someone goes out and doesn't buy clothes but, instead, something cute for the house, that still can build them up for a while. "Look what I have! Don't I have good taste?" Or maybe you saw something that reminded you of your grandma's house or that just made you happy when you looked at it, that feeling is real.

Obviously, this feeling can become a black hole of addiction; masking other issues that make someone unhappy, but as with most everything else, it's benign in moderation. So if those new shoes put a spring in your step or that funky bird statue makes you smile every time you see it, don't feel shallow. And don't make anyone else feel shallow, either.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I was made not for the cold but for the heat.

I dreamed of Hawaii last night. I had to go to Oahu realquick and I was so happy. It was just a small, beachy, tourist town and I was running (as in the exercise) up and down every street just thrilled.

I want to go to there.

I digress. This morning I was sweating in my house, so I figured it was hot out. I was going to work out, so I put on shorts and a t-shirt to walk the dog before I went to the gym. With the change in weather, I'm much happier being outside and I enjoy feeling like a good mom and taking the kids to the park or for a walk after school. Today I thought, "I think I'll get the kids and we'll go for a walk at the Laguna after school. It'll be great!"

Alas, it didn't happen. I walked outside, and it was cloudy with a cool breeze. Screw that. I hate being cold. We weren't going to the park.

It was 66 degrees.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not a Word from Your Sponsors

Saturday night, you could see the following type of exchanges happening on facebook for those of us in Santa Rosa:
Does anyone know why [highway] 12 is closed?
I heard there was a big accident.
Yeah, a bad crash with 2 fatalities. (links to local paper's website)
Oh, man. That sucks.  end scene, go on with your night
Sunday morning, those of us at church arrived to find out that those "fatalities" were our friend, Sue Hufford, and her mother-in-law, Sharon. I'm not going to recap the whole thing here, but they were killed (hopefully) instantly when their stopped car was crushed by a truck going 60mph driven by a young man who was high and looking at his phone at the time. Her husband and father-in-law were taken to the hospital with injuries, but they lived.

I cannot claim to have been close to Sue, so my pain is only a fraction of the pain of her many students, mentees, closest friends, and family. But we liked each other a lot. We were co-leaders (called "sherpas" in our church youth group) of a group of 12-21 (depending on the week) high school girls about 4 years ago.
Our silly group, with Sue being the non-redheaded adult there on the left. We made our shirts, which say "HOLLA" big with (lujah) underneath. We thought they were REAL funny. Some of the girls are also making the Michael Nunan stinkface. 
Sue was quiet, especially when you first met her. Her closest friends may have seen her differently, but I always thought she was quiet. It surprised me that she wanted to work with high school girls, and also that she was an elementary school teacher. I felt like she was such a real adult compared to me. She wasn't very silly that year, and I often thought she didn't like me. (We won't discuss the game involving plastic wrap and a furniture dolly which sent her to the hospital that first night of youth group.)

Over the years, Sue and I chatted from time to time about how she and her kids were doing, but it was really after I became a foster parent that I think we connected more. She was always happy to hear about what was going on in our new lives as parents. In this past year, I had a number of really nice but short times with her. I saw her smile more than I'd had call to in the past. At our women's Open Mic night last year, I would have been thrilled if she really had been the one who could cackle like the Wicked Witch of the West in the game of To Tell the Truth that she participated in, and she awed us all with her talent when she played a few songs on the violin. Why were we surprised that a music teacher was so talented?

We sat and talked at her youngest's graduation party, and ran into each other at The Human Race, where she was raising funds for her salary like a sort of missionary of elementary music. Just the week before she was killed, I got to sit with her twice at different events. I sat with her and Jay at the Eagle ceremony for a young man from church. Even though she was wearing an Eagle Scout shirt from when one of her sons had achieved it, we knew each other well enough that I could lean over and mutter, "This is SO not my thing!" and she just laughed and said, "Yeah, it's a bit over the top." When I showed up for the first practice for Easter choir, I was so happy to see that she was there. She sat by me and, again, I was impressed by her talent and was glad to know that I could sit by her each week and be sure I had the right notes since I'm not a good music reader. We weren't close, but she was my friend and I'm just so sad.

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support and love and even outrage expressed over how they were killed. So many people have shared the news stories, even people who never met her, because it was a tragedy that didn't need to happen. This is good. I suppose that's a way that her death won't have been completely pointless: if people will stop texting and driving and be more aware; if other lives can be saved. A lesson can be learned. I know. I know this is important, but it also hurts a little bit. Amid all the "sorry for your loss"es and "can't we put away our phones?" I just want to yell "DON'T YOU GET IT! THIS IS HORRIBLE. MORE HORRIBLE THAN THAT! SHE WAS OUR FRIEND AND NOW SHE'S DEAD! SHE'S MORE THAN YOUR PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!" I'm afraid that her kids will heal hardened instead of tender. I'm afraid that I'll never see Jay smile and cracking a joke like he was every single time I ever saw him before this.

I know. I know. I'm being unreasonable. Maybe all humans are kinesthetic learners: we have to touch something and feel it before we can learn it. Our behavior isn't going to change until something is personal, and I hope that the degrees of separation between these deaths and you are few enough to do that for you. Personally, I have changed my phone behavior in the car, so I'm receiving the message, too. I can't make you cry for my friend, but I will accept that you have been affected by her story and will honor these deaths by changing your behavior and encouraging those around you to do the same. Let's do a better job of taking care of each other, okay?

Monday, January 06, 2014

Keep Christmas With You...

If you now have a sad Sesame Street Christmas song running through your head, you're welcome.

This was my #365grateful picture from yesterday, and I know that may be weird. I noticed my feelings on this when we went to a friend's house and they had their naked Christmas tree on the porch, ready to go away, and it made me happy to see it. It didn't make me sad, but happy. And then, when I saw these trees outside our apartment, leaning against the dumpsters, it still didn't make me sad. Perhaps that's just how much power Christmas & it's traditions have on me: even stripped of decoration and discarded, these trees have the power to make me smile. I love Christmas a lot, and it makes me sad that stores start the season artificially early, so that most people are ready to chuck it all out the door on the 26th. But the 12 Days of Christmas starts on Christmas. Today is Epiphany, when we celebrate the Magi bringing their gifts to baby (or possibly toddler) Jesus. I'm not ready for it to be over, but I'm not sad, either.