Waiting…

Is there anything worse than waiting?

Seriously.  Waiting for the next big thing?  Waiting for news from a doctor, a friend, a boss?  Waiting for dessert?  Waiting for Christmas morning?  Waiting for the repairman?  Waiting for your kids to find their shoes?  Waiting for everything to be “just right?”

Waiting.

It feels like we’re always always always waiting.

Ugh.

Waiting to make one decision based on the answers from another – which we’re waiting on the results from…

Seriously.

I’m a fairly patient person – or, at least, I used to be.  It seems like the older I get, though, the less patient I am.  Maybe it’s the pressure when you realize your life may be half over.  If there are things I want to do, I better get to them!  Life is short.

Ugh.  Waiting…

Maybe that’s why the horizon gets lost.  Maybe it gets lost in the fog of always waiting…  Hmmm…

What are you waiting for?  What’s one thing you could do today to move forward – and not just wait – but if you must wait, how can it be a productive waiting period?  I’ll be pondering this question today…

 

Things I am grateful for today:

  1. Friends.
  2. Sunday night dinners.
  3. Campfires on cold fall nights.
  4. My little boy finally wanting a dog.
  5. Puppy paws.
  6. A quick overnight visit.
  7. Music.
  8. Leftovers.
  9. “Room on the Broom” kids’ book and movie.
  10. Backseat chatter from the kids.
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The Horizon

Have you watched the new TV show “A Million Little Things,” yet?  It’s a show about a group of friends, each going through their own midlife crises, and one of them commits suicide (it happens in the first episode – it’s ok, you can know!).  As the show has progressed over the last 3 or 4 episodes it’s done such an interesting job of talking about depression, feeling lost and alone, and what the world looks like to different people as they navigate these feelings in different ways.  It turns out, a second character was ready to commit suicide as well – but was stopped when they found out about the first.  So, one of the plot lines of the show is how this person comes to grips with where they are in life… and how to keep going.

This plot line has been so eye-opening for me.  There were two conversations that happened on the show that have stuck with me.  One, in which the depressed character talks to a therapist about what he’s been going through, and this is her response:

Maggie: Maybe he just lost sight of the horizon. I was watching this documentary on JFK Jr. You remember when his plane went down? … Anyway, Kennedy was a novice pilot. He was flying at night, and the clouds came in, and his instruments were telling him which way was up, but he didn’t trust them. The truth was right in front of him, and he couldn’t see it. He lost sight of the horizon and nosedived, and by the time he realized what was happening, it was too late, and he couldn’t pull up. 
Gary: What does this have to do–
Maggie: That’s depression. Now maybe he wasn’t depressed; maybe something else was going on. People keep secrets from loved ones, and sometimes, you don’t even know they have these secrets until an event like this happens.

He lost track of the horizon.

Another moment that has been rattling around in my head is from another conversation between these two.  The therapist tells the friend she’s read studies about people who have tried to commit suicide and failed.  And this is what she says:

One of the survivors that they interviewed said something that I have been thinking about, uh, a lot lately. She said, “It’s not that I don’t want to live, it’s that I don’t want to live like this.”

Now, I wouldn’t say that I’m depressed.  I’ve been there – a long time ago.  I know how that feels – and I’m not there now.  But.  These passages screamed out to me.  And I believe when that happens, it’s time to pay attention.

I do feel like I’ve lost track of the horizon sometimes.  To everyone else’s eyes, I have a perfect life.  Stay-at-home-mom to two smart, funny kids.  Loving husband.  Beautiful home in a lovely neighborhood.  Close family.  Occasional travels and adventures.  Friends that I adore.  Faith.  How could I lose the horizon, right?

But, sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe.  It’s claustrophobic. Every minute of the day is spent doing things for other people (hence, why I now get up at 6am and pray to God that no one else does!).  All my dreams and wants and hopes get put on the back-burner until they make sense.  Until finances are figured out.  Until there is more time in the day.  Until…  Until… Until…

Is this a midlife crisis?  Probably.

I am beyond grateful for the life I have.  I have no desire to exit this life.  I’m blessed beyond measure.  I know that.  I appreciate that.  I just wonder….  If there’s another way to do it…  A way that feels like I don’t have to give up so much of me…?  Is that selfish?  Maybe…  Moms, especially, are supposed to be selfless, right?  Sacrifice all for the sake of our families?

Buggers.

“It’s not that I don’t want to live, it’s that I don’t want to live like this.”  So, what now?  Can you relate?  Have you felt this before?  What little things – a million little things – can we start to change, to be able to breathe again?  To find the horizon?  I’m going to start here:

Imagine you went to bed last night, and a miracle happened while you were sleeping…  You woke up this morning and everything was different!  Everything is perfect.  So, what changed?  What one thing would make things better?  And how can you try working towards that change?  That’s my question to ponder today….

 

Things I’m grateful for today:

  1.  A perfect fall day yesterday.
  2. A trip to see the new pup today.
  3. Sticking to my cleaning routine around the house!
  4. TV shows that make you think.
  5. Looking forward to going to the pumpkin patch this weekend.
  6. Looking forward to a visit from friends this weekend.
  7. Pumpkin pancakes.
  8. A goodnight’s sleep.
  9. My little boy’s lanky body in his too-tight jammies.  
  10. Pink night-lights in my little girl’s room.

Ha!

So, after writing yesterday’s post, the kids and I decided to go visit my mom and dad for the day.  You know – hang out, play games, read books, watch a movie, have lunch…  Typical day.

Well, it didn’t quite end up that way.

As soon as we arrived, my dad was showing the kids and I pictures of Goldendoodles on his phone.  When I asked what was up, he told me he was going to meet one or two of them.  In an hour or so.  Well, of course I wanted to go with!

Mom agreed to watch the kids for the afternoon so I could go check out the puppies with my dad.  We drove out to the country, a good hour and a half away, “just to look.”  As we talked and laughed in the car, I finally turned to my dad and said, “You know you can’t hold a puppy and not bring it home, right?”  To which he responded, with a mischievous grin, “Well…  I did bring a check…”  I laughed.  Dad and I are so alike sometimes!

We got to the farm and walked in to see two female Goldendoodles huddled together.  Red, copper fur, soft like a teddy bear.  They’re already 12 weeks old, so bigger than our last two poodles.  They’re eyes big and brown and full of curiosity and love.  Ahhh…  Heart melting.

One of the dogs liked to run around, full of energy and a little crazy.  She would run by me and give me drive-by kisses on the nose.  I instantly fell for her.  The other one was nervous and tired after having a bath.  We had to earn her trust…  But once we did, she snuggled into our arms, head tucked in the crooks of our necks.  Her big brown eyes would just look up at my dad the same way he was looking down at her…  It didn’t take long before I knew she was coming home with us.

We spent a good 45 minutes with the pups.  She never left Dad’s side.  It really didn’t even feel like a decision was made.  It was a given.

On the drive home, she snuggled in my arms, nervous drool soaking through my sweatshirt, but comfortable as can be.  She never made a peep.  Never acted like she didn’t want to go.  Just snuggled.

At one point, Dad reached over to pet her and said, “She doesn’t even feel like a stranger.  It feels like we’ve always known her…”  It was true.  I had the same feeling about her.

We stopped at the pet store to get everything stocked and ready to go.  A new bed, new toys, puppy food.  A collar to to make it official.

Then, we finally made it home.  Mom was there to meet us outside.  My kids rushed up, excited to see the new puppy.  So many smiles.  So much laughter.  A name was decided – Maggie.

I woke up yesterday, thinking about my pup.  Missing her and realizing that the hole that was left by her would need to be filled sooner rather than later.  I’m just not me without a dog.  Mom and Dad had been having the same conversations over the last week.  While I’m not in a position to get a dog at the moment…  it certainly was a gift to go along with Dad and help to bring Maggie home.  My heart was bursting.  And in her eyes I could see Dad’s old dog, Hershey, and in her snuggles, I could feel my old dog, Bailey.

It was a good day.  Thanks for bringing me along, Dad!

 

Things I am grateful for today:

  1. New beginnings.
  2. Puppies.
  3. Mom and Dad deciding to get another dog.
  4. Mom’s willingness to watch the kids so I could go with.
  5. The kids were actually really good for her!
  6. Halloween bingo.
  7. A drive in the country on a beautiful fall day!
  8. The TV show, “A Million Little Things.”
  9. A good night’s rest.
  10. Maggie!

Letting the Sun Come Out

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I’ve decided to get my walk mojo back this week.  We’ve had some beautiful fall afternoons and it’s inspired me to get back outside.  Move my body.  Feel the sun.  Take in the colors of fall.  Enjoy the quiet and time to myself.

It’s been a little over six months since I’ve walked my favorite trails in my neighborhood.  Well, I’ve tried a couple of times…  but ended up doing the walk with tears trailing down my face.  Not exactly helpful most days.

It’s amazing how much losing your furry friend can affect even the simplest things.

Bailey was my furry sidekick for 14 years.  Over a third of my life.  She was my fur-baby before kids.  She slept on my pillow.  Was my co-pilot in the car.  She walked and hiked with us.  Caught frisbees for hours on end.  She threw fall leaves in the air and left race tracks through fresh fallen snow.  She sat too close to our campfires… until she couldn’t, then curled up on my lap.  She knew when I was sick before I did.  She sensed my pregnancies before I did.  She was attached to my hip (or my calf) all hours of the day and night.

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And when she died last spring, it felt like I lost an arm or a leg.

So, I’ve had a hard time walking the trail I used to walk with her…  in more ways than one.  Life has seemed more than a little stressful since she passed.  She used to be my peace in a chaotic day with the kids.  As things got crazy and I was about to burst, I could scoop her up for cuddles and unconditional love – if only for a few minutes.  She knew how to calm my racing heart and slow my frustrated breathing.  She made me laugh when things got too serious – with a tilt of her head, a Chewbacca sound, or by dropping a tennis ball at my feet.  At the end of a long day, she’d snuggle in and her warm little body would fit just right next to mine…  Love and grace and trust all mixed in with her fur.

I miss her every day.

But…  I feel like I’m finally starting to miss her with a smile, and not just tears.  Walking our trail this week was making headway for me.  And it helped, that both days, a couple of Bernese Mountain dogs (one of my favorite breeds) came bounding up the trail, stopped next to me, leaned into me for cuddles and attention, and even gave a swift kiss when I wasn’t expecting it!  They made me smile and laugh…

I’ve watched friends lose partners and parents this year…  and I can’t imagine the bottomless sadness that comes with such an experience…  I know my loss was “just a dog,” but the emotional impact is more than most people admit, I think.  And it’s hard, because you feel like you can’t dwell on it, or talk about it.  I listened to a podcast of Barbara Brown Taylor this week, talking about her book Learning to Walk in the Dark.  I was reminded once again, that it’s usually the saddest, darkest times in our lives, when we learn the most about ourselves and God…  so I’m trying to embrace the dark a bit these days…  Waking up at 6am to meditate and write is one way to do that.  Maybe, Bailey is with me in this dark hour…  curled up at my feet, nudging me forward into new things.  It’s a nice thought, anyway.

If you’ve lost a furry friend, take the time to grieve.  Allow the tears.  Their love was real, too.  Their loss leaves a hole, too.  I’m learning to “walk through the dark.”  Feel it.  Learn from it.  Know God through it. The sun is coming out again.  The hurt is slowly healing.  And one day, I’ll have another furry companion – when the time is right.  For now?  One walk at a time…

“Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.” 
― Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark

 

Things I am grateful for today:

  1.  Walks in the sunshine.
  2. School days for the kids – they LOVE school.
  3. A friendship that bonds over Outlander.
  4. The kids giving me “two thumbs up” at dinner.
  5. Two days in a row, up at 6am!
  6. Watching the sun come up – the darkness turning to light before my eyes.
  7. Old, comfy sweatshirts.
  8. A plant that was given to us the day Bailey died, still going strong.
  9. The movie, “The Star.” (A kids movie about the first Christmas – my son is obsessed.)
  10. A house full of crazy love.

 

It’s 6am.

It’s 6am.  I set the timer on my coffee last night so it would be made when I rolled out of bed this morning.  My glasses are still on, hair unbrushed.  I’m sitting in my home office, one little light on.  It’s pitch black outside my window.  I’m scared to breathe for fear one of the kids will hear me and come running downstairs, ready to start their day at full volume and mach speed.

But…  I decided to give this a try.  I’m not a morning person.  Not even close.  But everyone talks about, especially when you’re a mom, “just get up an hour earlier – do something for yourself!”  I’ve battled that thought for almost 5 years now…  And today, I decided to give it a try.

I gotta say…  I like the peacefulness.  The quiet.  That’s a rarity in our house these days.  I’ve always wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning while reading or writing.  So…  That’s nice.  I like giving myself a purpose first thing in the morning, and being able to wake up slowly.  I like the cozy light on my little lamp.  I like the idea of getting some ideas out of my head – before I forget them in the chaos.

So, here I am.

Since the last time I wrote, I’ve discovered, I did a pretty bang-up job meeting those 10 goals I set for myself (in June 2017)!

  1. Read one book a month.  (I managed 10 for the year.)
  2. Get outside.  Everyday.  (Had a fantastic year of hikes and walks.)
  3. Walk 3 miles, 3-4 times a week.  (Yes!)
  4. Meditate.  (Managed about 6 months, then fell off.  My meditation pillow awaits, I’ll start again!)
  5. Eat healthier.  (Did Whole30 in March, then switched to Paleo for a year.)
  6. Start strength training.  (Was consistent for about a year.)
  7. Get back in the habit of going to church. (On it.)
  8. Have a social outing with a friend at least once a month. (Yes!)
  9. Date night (or day) with the hubby at least once a month.  (Still not good at this one…)
  10. Complete one project around the house each week.  (Trying.)

 

I think it’s time to set some new goals…

  1.  Get up one hour early 5 days a week.
  2. Write something – anything – on those days.
  3. Start going for walks again.
  4. Maintain a weekly cleaning routine around the house.
  5. Give up gluten…  Again.
  6. Drink half my body weight in ounces of water every day.
  7. Host Sunday night dinners at our house with friends.
  8. Write 10 things I’m grateful for.  Everyday.

It’s been a hard year…  In fact, I’m kind of done with 2018 already.  My dog died, a friend died, another friend has cancer, two friends have lost a parent, job situations are tenuous right now, money is tight, kids are insane, the general climate of our political and social world is toxic…  It’s hard to maintain an upbeat outlook these days.  It’s hard to be the positive me I once was.

So, back to finding my footing.  Back to seeking out what is important.  Back to grounding myself in friends, church, health, and love.  Will you join me on the journey?  I hope so…  What are your goals this month?

 

Things I am grateful for today:

  1. Starting the day in the dark and quiet.
  2. Coffee timers.
  3. Funny texts sent late at night and found upon waking.
  4. Books.
  5. Podcasts. (Oprah’s Soul Sessions with Barbara Brown Taylor about Walking Through the Darkness was very good!)
  6. School day for both kids!
  7. A fun visit to the dentist yesterday – both kids were excited, brave, and confident!
  8. Music.
  9. Sunshine and fall colors.
  10. Yesterday’s walk and meeting two Bernese Mountain dogs along the way.

Smelling the Flowers

IMG_4003How often do you “stop to smell the flowers?”

No.  Seriously.  We toss that phrase around, but do you ever actually do it?

Both of my kids have developed their own habits, without much direction from my husband or me, to always stop and smell the flowers.  (And hug trees.  My boy loves to hug trees.  And now, his sister does, too.  I love it!)

We can be out on a walk, in a parking lot, at the zoo…  Doesn’t matter where.  If the kids see flowers, we aren’t going anywhere until we stop to smell them!

And it’s pretty great.

What might be a rushed, stressful moment, suddenly turns into a deep breath, a beautiful smell, and a reminder of what is sweet about life.  The kids take a deep breath and smile and giggle.  They get excited over the prettiness of the flowers.  And even when the flowers don’t smell, they’ll tell me how ‘yummy’ they are!

Now, when I’m out by myself on a walk or running errands, I often find myself taking deep breaths as I walk by planters and gardens.  I may stop to look at an unusual flower or enjoy a bigger whiff.  And I enjoy the moment.  Just that one small moment, for what it is.

I love that my kids remind me to enjoy the little things.  It’s easy to forget and get sidetracked…  But those little hands and little faces draw me in every time.

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So do it.  Take a moment to “stop, and smell the flowers.” I dare you!

Weekends are… Messy

I’m a neat freak.  Organization nerd.  Simplicity geek.  I love a clean house, where everything has a place.  I love clean floors and sparkling countertops.  I love for my home to be “pretty.”  That’s when I am totally relaxed.

Or…  When I used to be totally relaxed.  With two toddlers running around, the house hardly looks like that today.  Or…  Ever.

Today, as I was cleaning up lunch, I glimpsed our living room – the remnants of a blanket fort falling apart.  Costumes and cars all over the floor and chairs.  Shoes and socks thrown about the kitchen floor as the kids headed upstairs to naps….  And all I thought was, “yep.  It’s the weekend.  This is what weekends are for.”  Smile.

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me, “If at the end of the day, your house is still a mess, still dishes in the sink, laundry to do, and dinner to be made…  Do you feel guilty?”  She, too, has two small children at home.  I knew where she was going with her question, but all I could do is laugh.

Guilty?!  Nah…  Life’s too short for guilt.  I may cringe.  I may feel a cleaning sprint coming on before bedtime.  I may have to take a couple of deep breaths and give up a little free time to get some of it done.  But guilty?  Nope.  Not a bit.

My house is not what it once was.  It’s not a quiet, beautiful, serene sanctuary from the rest of the world anymore…

But.  It is: comfortable.  A place full of laughter and energy.  A place where imaginations get sparked.  A place where forts and rockets, baby dolls and stuffed giraffes rule.  It’s a messy kitchen full of healthy meals.  Laundry that shows a love of the outdoors – dirt, grass, puddles, etc.  A place where markers, paint, crayons, play-doh and shnibbles of paper show up in the carpet (!).

Is it perfectly pretty?  Nope.  But it’s perfect for us.  And that’s all that matters.

When you look at my list of goals, none of them have to do with having a clean house.  Get projects done?  Yes.  Continue to make this house ours?  Yes.  But perfectly clean?  Nope.  (As much as the neat freak in me loves that idea…)  Nope.

Life is too short.  The time with our kids learning to play and imagine is too short.  There are some things you just have to let go…  And this is one.

Weekends are messy.  That’s what makes them delightful!  Will I feel guilty about that?  Not in the least…

Now, excuse me while I straighten up just a bit before the kids wake up…!

Goals

Goodness!  A week and a half has gone by already…!  Life is busy with two little people running around the house… AND life is busy when you start implementing some goals, right?

Earlier this year, as I started to get my mojo back and was getting excited to find some time for “me” again, I made a list of seemingly-easy-to-achieve goals.  Things like:

  1. Read one book a month.  (I’m one month behind, but have two going right now!)
  2. Get outside.  Everyday.  (Doing it!)
  3. Walk 3 miles, 3-4 times a week.  (Yes!)
  4. Meditate.  (Currently doing about 4 days a week – looking to do 7.)
  5. Eat healthier.  (Did Whole30 in March, then switched to Paleo.  Feeling great!)
  6. Start strength training.  (Started strength training on Monday!)
  7. Get back in the habit of going to church.
  8. Have a social outing with a friend at least once a month. (Yes!)
  9. Date night (or day) with the hubby at least once a month.  (Yes!)
  10. Complete one project around the house each week.  (Yes!)

This past weekend, I crammed all of these things in!  Finished a book – “A Man Called Ove.”  LOVED IT.  Camped out in the yard with the family, complete with a filled kiddie pool and campfire with marshmallows!  Walked.  Meditated.  Tried new, yummy Paleo meals.  Joined the YMCA.  Went to church to celebrate some of my former youth group students graduating high school.  Went to a concert with a girlfriend.  Worked on pretty-ing up the front porch.  (Only thing missing was a date with the hubby!)

And it feels good.

I’m starting to find a groove again.  I’m more patient with the kids – and myself.  Summer is here, and I’m hoping to take it a day at a time and enjoy it!

What are some goals you’re working on?  Small things.  Easy things.  Things that only require you to make a small chunk of time and prioritize it?  (Notice my goals aren’t “lose 30lbs” or “learn to play guitar,”  Lovely ideas.  But, I need achievable right now.  Things that bring joy – that don’t lead to failure or let down.)  It’s a great place to start!

It Is Time to Take a Look!

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Life with two toddlers has gotten crazy.  Like, really crazy.  By the time both are in bed, I go to bed, too.  No personal time.  No time with the hubby.  No time to go out and have fun without kids.

I’ve had enough.  Time to start claiming my piece of the pie, again!  Time to re-examine my priorities, schedule, routine, and practices that help me be my best!

And this is where I’m starting… Time to take a look:

1) What are the things I wish I could do on a weekly basis? on a monthly basis?
2) What are the things I have to do?
3) What could I let go of?
4) Where could I ask for help?
5) What do I want to learn?
6) Who do I miss?
7) How can I find a little more peace?
8) What can I do to physically feel better?
9) How can I feed my spirit?

10) How can I change my environment to make life a little simpler?

If you do these questions, too, let me know your “ah-has!”  (I’ll post my answers, too, in a later post…)  Let’s find ways to encourage and support each other on the journey!

This Is How It’s Done, Fellas.

All week, I’ve been looking forward to today.  My husband had the day off and promised me a morning to sleep in.  That alone was worth gold.

But then!  I slept in today.  When I woke up, the kids were dressed and had had  breakfast.  My husband made me my bulletproof coffee and my breakfast.  When the kids started circling like sharks and whining and fighting…  I started to give in to them.  But then!  My husband swooped in, saying, “you get to eat your breakfast and drink your coffee uninterrupted today.”

He then took both kids to drop off the oldest at school.

…It’s a school day and I’m alone.  On a beautiful morning.  Coffee and breakfast in hand.

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A great day to enjoy this time outside on the deck, with my dog.  We watched the birds on our bird feeder – gold and purple finches, indigo buntings, sparrows, red-wing blackbirds.  Watching the dance of who gets to perch on the feeder, and in the tree, when. As I was watching them, I heard a commotion down at the pond.  When I got up to look at the water, there was a mama Hooded Merganser duck with 8 babies swimming and diving.  Bunnies were pouncing under trees.  The river otter made an appearance for a moment.

The sun shone.  The breeze blew.  Bailey, the dog, snored away…  Ahhh…  This is the life.

When my husband came home, we chatted for a bit on the deck.  We put the littlest kid down for her nap.  I went for my daily walk and he finished painting our mailbox and cleaning out the garage.  After my walk, he went to pick up Sawyer from school and I got to take a nice, long, hot shower.  Pure loveliness.

Do I share this story to brag about my hubby?  Yeah, maybe a little.  He’s pretty great.

But also – I wish more spouses were like this.  I know I am lucky.  Very lucky.  He sees me. Like, really sees me.  He knows when I need a break.  He knows when I need to be pampered a little.  He knows when I feel out of control or overwhelmed,  He knows when I feel a little bit beaten up by my daily life.

And he does something about it.  He gives me space, time, and the ability to address some of my own needs and wants for a few hours.  As an introvert…  He knows I need time to recharge on a regular basis and he steps up to allow me that time.

Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without that.

Marriage, and relationships, are so important in our daily lives.  They connect us to others in a way that allows someone else to truly see us – and what is better than that?  But the next step, beyond the seeing, is appreciating who the other is and doing what we can to make each other’s journey a little less burdensome.  Help carry the load.  Help share the joy.  Make him or her smile.  Remind them how lucky they are to have you.

Be a blessing and be blessed.