Sunday, August 14, 2022

Every little thing is alright

Big Breaths


In ……. Whoosh


Out… Ahhhhhhh


You can do it little buddy. You got this.

I have a confession- In this story I am 'little buddy'. And anxiety is coursing through my veins, it’s dancing in my stomach, it’s stomping on my chest. Freaking anxiety. My wingman. My liar asshole wingman (you can’t do this, this is too hard. You are doing it wrong. Danger up ahead) Non sequitur time. (I am superb at those. And bonus points to those of you who use  non sequitur this week in a sentence).

non se·qui·tur

/ˌnän ˈsekwədər/ noun

1. a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.

Michael and I are getting extra life insurance on each other. Don’t worry- it was my idea. Otherwise that would absolutely mean he was just about to murder me according to every single Dateline I’ve ever watched. This process is a real pain in the ass and involves all the things I HATE. Talking on the phone. Talking on the phone to a STRANGER. Talking to a stranger on the phone about private MEDICAL things. Nothing makes me feel older and more pathetic than listing all my ailments- ESPECIALLY as someone who works so dang hard to exercise and eat healthy and take more supplements than I can count on one hand.


Familial high cholesterol 

Hashimotos thyroidistis 

Degenerative disk disease

Anxiety/depression

5 yes FIVE herniated disks…. I’m going to stop now. I’m depressed. 


Then I had to fill out things, and fill out things to get access to my medical records. FINALLY we got a phone call that my account was approved with some changes made to our initial request- a decrease in coverage and increase in cost that they would discuss with me on a phone call.  After playing phone tag for a couple of days, I finally connect with the super nice but for sure ex radio DJ on the phone.

Christina Kelly! I’d just like to go over some information (all said in a booming game show announcer voice). We DID approve you, but not at the original amount because of the following conditions:

  • You are 5 ft 2 inches and weigh 170 lbs.
  • You are being treated for anxiety


My eyes go wide. I feel anxious, even a little ashamed, like I screwed up at something. Ummm…..I don’t weigh 170. 170? It says 170? (I feel like he thinks I’m lying and I need to talk extra to prove I’m not lying.) I can send you a picture. (Stop talking Chrissy).

"I don’t weigh that. I weigh 115. Maaaaybe 117 after a long weekend. Maybe someone confused 117 with 170?" I say.

"I’ll look into that with the department who put your file together and we can get to the bottom of this. Is it true that you are being treated for anxiety?"

"Well… Yes, I do have anxiety and I’m taking medication for it. I don’t see anyone about it though- I should (stop talking Chrissy). So- does that count as “being treated?” (stop talking Chrissy).


Turns out, it does. Which is fine. I didn’t want to ask the guy any more questions, I just wanted to be off the phone. I figured I would ask any questions I hadn’t yet processed to my friend Google in the privacy of my own non-judgemental computer. 


Google said, 
Because anxiety can have a major impact on both your physical and mental health, life insurers typically treat anxiety as a very serious disease, similar to heart disease or other physical ailments that may shorten your lifespan. As a result, having anxiety can make it more difficult to get approved for life insurance coverage — and can also affect what you’d pay for an insurance policy.


WHAT?! My anxiety got worse reading about it. HAHAHA! Why do they even have to include that info? Why do I feel like I did something wrong by having anxiety?! WHY IS ANXIETY COSTING ME MONEY? I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG. YES YOU DID STOP BEING ANXIOUS. This is all out of my control, so I just keep breathing and stop thinking about it. (Anxiety is HARD WORK).


Anywho- flash forward to today. Sunday August 14, 2022. Tomorrow starts a new School Year Schedule change. (We had just, ALMOST figured out our Summer schedule). I used to blame my TOTAL schedule change anxiety on Grey. I just get anxious because HE is anxious. Every autistic kid is different but for Grey it absolutely means struggles with transition and change. Although he does get super duper anxious- I have my very own pot of anxious brewing on the stove at most times, but schedule change brings it from the back to the front burner. I have to work to separate his fear from mine.


WHY so anxious? I ask myself. I want to do it perfectly. I want to support and remember things and times. I want to make each boy a visual schedule which is VITAL for their life when we have any big schedule change. As I type out my specific worries/concerns they look ridiculous to take up space in my brain. That’s what anxiety does, I remember. Lies and tells me every little thing- is NOT going to be alright. 

But it is-right my friend? It is. Every little thing is.


Today the most perfect words found me at the most perfect time. It’s a Ted Talk by Caroline Myss- Choices that change your Life. This 25 minute ted talk is Liquid Golden sunshine. You must listen.



She shares, "I want to emphasize the power of choice. And perhaps there was a time when we wouldn’t even talk about it, but we have to talk about it today.

Because choice is a fundamental power of the human experience. We need to put choice as an authority, as a power that is so huge, that if I ran the world… I would make studying the power of choice part of every e school curriculum .That everyone should learn, that the power of the choices you make have infinite consequences. From the littlest choice to something that is great big, huge- and that – here’s the paradox, you have no idea what a little choice is, or a big choice. What we are used to doing, is believing that a big choice is an obvious one: buying a house, getting married, getting a divorce. In fact, those are your small choices. The choices that actually matter when it comes to your health, when it comes to healing, when it comes to positioning yourself, empowering yourself, are the tiny ones that-or the choices I should say, that you think have the least power, that you make in the privacy of your own company, that perhaps you think are the most insignificant, I have found repeatedly, repeatedly, are the most powerful choices of your life, the most powerful. That have the most powerful impact on your biology, on your soul, on your sense of who you are, on your well being on your whole life map

You can watch the whole talk HERE.



Myss talks about looking to the future to make choices, because the past us no longer exists. “Be in the newness. Not afraid of it. Be in that newness. Be there.”


The switch flipped in my head as I walked to the bright light of the newness. I showed Grey his new schedule and I comforted him as his hands shook and big old globe sized tears chased each other down his cheeks. He went to his Summer Schedule (which had less hours of work) and said, “This one, this one, this one” over and over. I remembered we had a choice.


Now it's time for new, and there will be good things in it. That schedule is over. And this week will be hard but then it will get easy. You can do this, because you are so smart and so strong, and I am here to help you. 



We slid into my bed, turned off the lights and closed the door. "Do you want me to go or stay here with you? I asked him. "Stay here" he said. So I did. And we breathed in and out and remembered every little thing WILL be alright. It always is.

Good luck to you in your life transitions these next few weeks too my friend. 

XOXO,
Chrissy 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

the lost art of story telling

My goal in writing this blog has always been one thing. World domination. 


Ok, fine, I’m kidding. But I do want to reach as many people as humanly possible with my words on this screen. I want to talk about capital L Life and connect with like and opposite minded people. Genuine connection. Genuine conversation. I want to talk about Diversity and autism and acceptance, because boy have my boys taught me more about the human experience in ten years than I learned in my entire life before that. I want to talk about the difficulties in accepting the differences in our own selves, because how can we truly celebrate diversity in others, if we hide our own differences in shame? I am a big old work in progress, and I believe examining and understanding our own patterns in life can help us see where we are stuck or holding ourselves back. We all deserved to be loved, exactly the way we are. 

I love a good story. Reading takes me places the world can’t or won’t. It takes my brain out of its overthinking circle. When I read, I am free. I love writing almost as much, although it takes more effort. It’s a way to release, to connect, to organize thoughts and to make sense of things that don’t always make sense at first. It’s kind of like working out- I often dread it before, and then once I start I wonder- why don’t I do this more?! When I’m writing, I feel most like me. 


When do you feel most like you? I think that holds very important answers to questions we don’t ask ourselves nearly enough.


Recently the boys and I participated in a promotion for our local mall. Basically, we got to go shopping and then I shared about it on social media. Like many of you, I have a love/hate relationship with Social Media. I love the education and the connections it provides, but it also often opens the doors to comparisons that leave me feeling annoyed or less than. It feels like so much of it now is a person selling only a product with an image of themselves or their life in a way that feels incredibly inauthentic. There’s a huge focus on what we look like, what we buy and what our life looks like from the outside in. Much of it is curated to be on trend and on brand, to look perfect and to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I love beautiful pictures, but also long for a big dose of reality mixed in.


As I was putting together a reel of our shopping experience, I decided I would enjoy the experience of storytelling through pictures and videos. I’ve always run full speed away from anything remotely “influencer”y. (Ironically, I am easily influenced and let Instagram tell me what I need to buy on the regular.) But over the past several months, I found myself wanting to engage in that realm with my boys. 


I didn’t grow up knowing much at all about “Special Needs” anything. When I was exposed, I was uncomfortable. Back then the world rules were- “Don’t stare and don’t ask questions.” There was an unspoken, (and sometimes spoken) message that these people were broken and to be pitied. We mustn’t make them feel worse than surely they are already feeling! Anyone who engaged with these individuals as parents or teachers were “Saints!” and “Angels”! 


Fast forward to three months before my first-born son-Greyson’s -Third birthday, diagnosis day. The day I realized we were part of that club, even though we never asked to join it. There was a long parenthesis of time after that contained mourning and fear and deep sadness and loss. We had no choice but to go through the motions of living life. And in doing so I slowly began to realize- in so many ways- that the story I had been sold about Special Needs and Disability was wrong, and that we could still have a beautiful life. I searched online far and wide for someone who could show me- yes, life will be hard, harder than most- but it will also be MORE beautiful too. I couldn’t find it so I began relentless photographing my boys and writing in this blog to remind myself- and to show others, that life is whatever you set out to make it. I wanted the world to see as much good in my boys as I do. 


It’s been ten years now. And I’ve forgotten and remembered my purpose too many times to count. I’ve let the world leave me feeling defeated, and confused. The irony is that my boys’ diagnosis isn’t what leaves me gutted- it’s the world who isn’t always accepting of different. A world that loves hashtags about diversity and autism inclusion once a year, and then goes back to being its regular mean girl self when the month on the calendar flips. I’ve realized there are so many more good folks than bad, but like the iconic scene from the movie Pretty Woman says:

Vivian: People put you down enough, you start to believe it.


Edward Lewis: I think you are a very bright, very special woman.


Vivian: The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?

The bad parts are easy to remember. 


I wrote about Diversity in Advertising in before it was “on trend” (must be said with a snotty accent) back in 2014 HERE. In it I share:

But the world still needs more real and less perfect. I want to help you show the world what we as their parents already have the privilege of knowing- These are some of the most amazing and beautiful children in the world, and they deserve to be seen and celebrated. These kids struggle to overcome things that come so easily to the rest of us. Things we take for granted. They teach us about patience, hard work, unconditional love and how to find the truest of beauty in the unexpected.


And recently I realized- Being an influencer is actually perfect for us! It doesn’t have to be synonymous with fake and expertly curated. It exposes people to Special Needs in ways I wasn’t growing up. It gives other people with Disabilities someone who is relatable. And I get to control the content making sure it’s in line with things my boys do and love anyway. I can combine my love for telling a story and taking pictures. Here are some outtakes from our afternoon...



Will Work for Ice Cream 



I’m trying to learn how to connect with an audience who doesn't often value the art of telling a story in more than one slide or ten seconds.Time Magazine wrote an article You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish.

"The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

But I’m committed to keep living our story, and to keep sharing it while remaining true to my boys and myself in the hopes that one day the world will see what I see.





Plus, we get to have fun while doing it. I think there are more of us who love a good story here on earth still than we realize.

XOXO,

Chrissy


Here's our final Reel HERE

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Life: Part Two

Hollywood loves a sequel. 

Grease, National Lampoon's Vacation, Father of the Bride, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lethal Weapon, Shrek, Three Men and a Baby, Thor, Star Wars, and many many more movies all have sequels. Sometimes even part 3's and more. I won't be shocked if there is a Toy Story 68 by the time my kids are grown.

We just watched Top Gun Maverick, and it was a downright magical experience. Maybe it was because I haven't been to the movie in years (thanks C word). Maybe it's because it was my first experience in a 2DX theater. 



ScreenX is a multi-projection theater which surrounds the audience in 270 degrees of visual media for an immersive movie viewing experience. It was explosive, the kind where you feel it in your chest while getting tears in your eyes. The boys loved it.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about where I am in life now. What about the middle aged? Do I get a part two? Part one was all planned out for me by the world before I was even born. Elementary School, High School, College for some, "real world" or Trade School. I got my Bachelors Degree in Communications Manangement at Southwest Missouri State- now Missouri State University. Isn't that the most made up sounding area of expertise ever? I can assure you, I can empty the dishwasher and fold laundry so much better because of it. 

Life Plan: Have an ambitious career! Get married! Buy a house! Get a dog!  Have kids. Congratulations! You are the starring role of your one life! Bravo! 

I didn’t realize how powerful of collateral youth was, until mine was spent. Don’t get me wrong- I spent it wisely- simply by living. Being passionate about school and career. Moving from Missouri to California. Kissing a lot of frogs. Living on my own. Trying new things. Screwing up and trying again. 

In the prime of my youth, I didn’t think- Oh I’m 28, I’m lucky and healthy and my knees aren't shot so I can run! I thought- I’m 28 and not married. I still have ikea furniture. Aren’t I supposed to be established by now? Why can't time fast forward?

I don’t think we can truly Master a level until we can examine it in retrospect from the next one. I wish we could watch it like This is Your Life- For the youngens, this was a TV show in the 1950's that surprised guests and then took them through a retrospective of their lives in front of an audience, including appearances by colleagues, friends, and family.


What if we got to experience our previous decade that way? I think we would have so much more empathy and awe for ourselves. Oh yes, that was smart, Chrissy. Boy did you screw up there- but you knew it and your learned from it. And that comeback sure was incredible- so resourceful! 

Actually- we don't spend a whole lot of time looking back at the remarkable things we did or went through. We don't honor the struggles and celebrate the triumps. I would say that's because life is just moving too fast. But boy do we spend a ton of time focusing on what went wrong. I wonder why that is?

In an effort to look younger, I got some Botox and filler in my lips over the Winter. I've done it a handful of times before, usually after looking at myself in a picture thinking- when the heck did that happen? A few days after the injection, I woke up with the right side of my face burning and itching like crazy. I had Shingles (thank goodness just the nerve pain, not the rash). 


Shingles! SHINGLES. WTF, an old people disease that I got from trying to look less old. This was my second time getting Shingles, and I realized the first time was after Botox too. So I guess that's out of the question, apparently I'm supposed to grow old a little more "gracefully". Hmmmpf. 

I think we should grow old however the hell we want. You want crazy plastic surgery and every injection known to man? Why not. It's your face, and just because it isn't for me doesn't mean it's not for anyone. 


I'm still figuring out how to grow old,  I get it. 



So here I sit, with my crows feet that honest to goodness go from my eyes to my mouth. Big bird feet I call 'em, examining my Part Two and trying to figure out what it will hold. I still get to be the star of it. Mine will be a little different from most others, I don't see my children leaving the nest and bringing home Grandchildren to visit. I'm learning that whatever it looks like, it will be ok. Most amazing movies don't follow the same old path everyone takes anyway. That would be an awfully boring movie. Amazing stories are always the ones that look completely different from Status Quo. 

I know Part Two is less about ambition and attaining. It will be more about: appreciating your present, creating things, engaging in things that feed my soul, surrounding myself with likeminded people, connecting to things that don’t plug in, stretching to the point of uncomfortable when I am in the headspace to do so, reading, learning, leaving everywhere better than I found it, saying get instead of have (I get to take the boys to therapy. I get to go to the doctor.) and going easy on the girl in the mirror- she’s amazing. So are you.

Keep that in mind if you feel like you've fallen off a traditional path. Your Part Two is waiting.


So much Love,

Chrissy 



If this post had a theme song it would be THIS


Night Changes by One Direction:

We're only gettin' older, baby

And I've been thinkin' about it lately

Does it ever drive you crazy

Just how fast the night changes?

Everything that you've ever dreamed of

Disappearing when you wake up

But there's nothing to be afraid of

Even when the night changes

It will never change me and you

PS- I made the font bigger on this post in case your eyes are going to shit like mine. You are welcome.)



Tuesday, July 12, 2022

the search for silver linings

I can see his head," she announced. "Your baby has blond hair". 

He was real, and her words made it so. I think her name was Donna... the woman staring intently at my vagina. She wasn't a complete stranger, we met briefly earlier in the day when she did rounds as the 'On Call' Physician for the OBGYN Womans Practice in which I was a patient.

I arrived at the hospital around 7am, 12 hours prior, and now I was finally in the final stages of labor. Jessica the Labor and Delivery Nurse was counting the ten second push duration with each of my contractions.

My hospital grippy socked feet were planted on the foot holsters and numb, due to an overzealous epidural that at first didn’t take. One foot would occasionally flop haphazardly off, while I would grin sheepishly, nudging Michael. Hey, my foot fell off again. Can you fix it? It was the weekend, the sky cradled its full moon. It all was unreal...a dream. I somehow still quite couldn't believe there was an actual baby inside of me. No one talked about that part. The bizarreness of it all. Or maybe just no one else found it bizarre. I found it straight out of a sci fi or zombie apocalypse movie. A human growing another small human. ( I was growing a penis. How is that even possible?! ) And oh yes, when the small human is done growing, it flies out of your vagina. 

I feel this way often in new stages of life. Like I am some alien life form confused trying to process it all. It seems like everyone else can at least pretend like they know what the hell they are doing. I can't even pretend. I need extra processing time.

I look back on old blog posts, written as I processed many moments in autism land. Everything was different compared to my view of others. Aching sadness usually turned into silver linings. It felt normal. I don't need our life to be normal- but I do need it to feel like our normal. 



Now the boys are older and I feel the familiar pang of transition. Greyson is 13, and Parker is 11, and their opportunities to interact with typically developing kids their own age are scarce. Over the past few years our Universe has shrank. Relationships have changed, as they often do. The more isolated we are, the more I forget how different we are in direct comparison. 




Sometimes life feels like a party that we are just not invited to. 

It’s easy to throw a bunch of 5 year olds into the mix, playing at the playground, balancing their tricky emotions- mainly tired or hungry, eating snacks and blowing bubbles.We went to a July 4th party at my dear friends house and I was deep in my head when a little after we arrived.

When I saw the Grand Canyon divide, it took my breath away. I watched Greyson and Parker sit alone by the pool minutes after we arrived. (Should I go out there and help them interact? Do they want that? Do I want to do that? What should I do?) My suddenly one track mind wanted desperately to just sit and process these feelings, and I had to remind myself- live in this moment with your friends. You don't need to be therapist- just be Mom. 

It's an honor watching my friends kids grow up. The boys are getting deeper voices and bigger man-like bodies. The girls seem to have skipped the insanely awkward stage that I excelled in at their age. 

These kids move together like the tide. They go to school together and hang out together. I sit on the sidelines and watch, unable to contribute to conversations about baseball and high school and that life that sounds like a foreign language. Those kids graduated from Yo Gabba Gabba over a decade ago. This is development, I realize, and although my boys are developing constantly too, it looks completely different. Their future isn't as solidly defined. 

I sort through these feelings… is this sadness or just the need for feelings that need acknowledgment? Do you want this for them or for you? Do you want this at all? What is this ache? I don’t envy the big talks and fears other parents must have- drugs, and social media and sex, and high school… but it can feel so lonely being 'other' looking in.

Greyson and Parker don’t know how, or maybe even want to be like those other kids, but I know they want to flow with their own tide of friends who do what they do, who love what they love, who see the world as they do. I think we all long to be seen. To be truly seen. I wish desperately I could buy it for them, no price tag would deter me, I’d find a way. 

So many of us experience our own ache of other. We just don't talk about it alot. I don't know why- maybe we don't want to interrupt Status Quo or make the Majority think we are criticizing or resenting them. Single people in a room of marrieds, kidless someone in a room full of parents, someone dealing with an illness or disability, a tough family, a life problem or situation… people who are on the less traveled road. We all have our quiet moments of processing the loss of something it seems like everyone else has. The answers often come with time and aren’t necessarily ones we would choose for ourselves or our people. There is where our ability to be great comes into play- 

Will I accept the answers I can’t change? 

Will I examine these feelings without judgement or guilt so I can process and move on? 

Will I search for silver linings? 

As I look at these pictures I remember, yes- this is exactly right- the life we are living. I sit and take deep breaths and finally can regard my big feelings without judgement. Acceptance in, bad feelings out. Whoosh. Yes, yes, yes, to all of it. I will search for the silver linings. I can’t imagine it any other way. But sometimes it takes me a minute to get there. 


Monday, July 4, 2022

Clarity

We had just arrived after a six hour road trip from Central California to Redondo Beach in Los Angeles. Set timer on phone go home, Greyson requested. I have to work to separate his fear from my own, sometimes I feel it so big. I try to do the math backwards- ummmm- I think that will be a 16 hour timer? 

Elenor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”  Fear is required- a characteristic that keeps us safe and alive, warning us to potential harm. However my anxiety is able to paint even the most innocuous in a bright color of fear. 

THAT'S A BAD IDEA!

THAT ISN'T SAFE

YOU CAN'T DO THAT.

YOU WILL LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT

Sometimes inner me is the wettest blanket.

My first instinct regarding the unknown, the never done before, the new to me things- is fear. I like to honor the fear and then shove it into a box out of my view. Yes, it’s there, but let’s not focus on it- k? I realized recently how quickly you can accumulate boxes. 

When it comes to humaning, I like to take inventory, and examine limitations that hold me back from the life I know the real me can and should be living. I often hold anxiety with shame- like I SHOULDNT be so weak, or chicken shit, or negative, or let it affect my life so so dearly. I can make a trip to the grocery store stressful (should I go now or Tuesday? Before or after I drop off the boys? Can I wait until Thursday? What if we run out of turkey?) My monkey mind spins constantly, its hard to shut it off to relax.

For the first time, probably since Grey was 2 years old, the boys are free from therapy on Fridays. I knew I wanted to take advantage of that time off, and I thought about visiting my friend Wendy. She moved into her house three years ago, and I still hadn't seen it. Cue the insessant thinking... (Take the boys away for a night, don't let your fear limit them! What if she's busy? I don't want to ask her if I can stay at her house if it's going to inconvenience her. What if we get into a car accident? We can't drive 10+ hours in a little over a day. Can I keep track of both boys?! Grey will hate not being at home.) 

My new thing is, instead of letting that inner voice decide things for me- I instead ask- What would I tell my friend in the same situation to do? I give much better advice to friends than I do to myself. So, from that headspace I texted Wendy. And the next thing you know, we were on our way.


We listened to John Mayer on the way... The song Clarity felt like our road trip anthem...

I worry, I weigh three times my body

I worry, I throw my fear around

But this morning

There's a calm I can't explain

The rock candy's melted

Only diamonds now remain



Parker wrote us a schedule for in the car while I was pumping gas.

The older we get, the less willing we are to be uncomfortable. I watched my boys in the freezing ocean until 9pm at night. How can they stand it? Wendy and I discussed while we curled into ourselves, teeth chattering. 





Parker’s blue lips reminded me - they FEEL the cold, but the joy of the adventure is greater than the fear or pain it might also bring. At what age does that scale flip? No- I’m too cold. It’s too late. It’s too expensive. It’s too dangerous. I’m too tired. No one will come. I'll look like a fool. What if I fail?


This was the most perfect Therapy Free Friday ever


Love you Wendy! I love your house and I am so proud of you! 


By the time I recognize this moment

This moment will be gone

But I will bend the light pretending

That it somehow lingered on


I bring a load of stuff to my car as we get ready to make the return trip home. As I walk back inside, I hear my phone buzzing like an alarm was going off. I realized it was our Go Home Timer, set in what felt like a million hours before. Something about us all was different now. We had the special confidence that only facing your fears can bring. And if we can do it- so can you.

So Much Love,

Chrissy



Monday, June 27, 2022

Leaving the nest

Sadness spread like wildfire in my heart. I stared out the plane window as we made the decent home- Fresno California. In April, we visited the place I am proud to call my hometown, the place where I spent my first 25 years of life- St. Louis Missouri. My chest fills with sadness and my eyes with tears.

I haven't lived there for almost as long as I did. I don't remember what is where and which highway is which. I haven't been to a St. Louis Cardinals Game in decades. I feel so removed from the girl who lived there and that makes me so sad.

I felt homesick for a home that doesn’t exist the same anyway. My dad is died three years ago. Being there without him still feels sharp because in California I can still pretend he is just a flight or a phone call away. My numerous (we moved a lot) childhood homes are long gone, filled with other memories and other families. Neighborhoods and shopping Centers are unfamiliar. My Mom moved about an hour away from the city. It's all so different.

People assume moving far away is easy on the mover- it was a choice, so it isn’t hard. That statement lies far from truth. The older I get the more guilt and sadness I feel living so far away from my family. I don't see my niece and nephews grow up, and they miss that time with my boys too. Michael and I have talked about moving there, if all the right stars lined up, (most importantly, a job transfer because he wants to stay with his amazing company.) Moving back home is a  thought that fills my heart with excitement and terror. I don't know anything about Special Education and the School Districts there. How do we just pick up and leave our many therapists? How do we start over from scratch? 

The truth is, we long for something more than we have here, it's lonely without roots. I pray that God will give me us answers, whatever they might be. 

There is an amazing shop called The Minifig shop in Kirkwood.  A 3,500 square foot showroom featuring new and collector legos that were so much fun to see. You need to check it out if you are in St. Louis!


Watching the boys with their cousins was the best part of the trip.





My Sister Lisa, My Momma, Me and my youngest Sister Katie.

Anywhere with chips and salsa and tequila feels like home. Ha!

A year ago now I was struggling with horrible pain in both shoulders, despite arthroscopic surgery, injections, nerve conduction tests, acupuncture, cupping, physical therapy, anti inflammatory supplements, and Advil out the wazoo. I finally found answers, although it wasn’t the answers I was hoping for— I have three herniated discs in my cervical spine. I was crushed, exhausted from pain and so low on hope. Then my lower back started hurting and I knew I was screwed. My primary Doc requested an MRI which then showed two impinged lumbar disks. 

FUUUUUUUUGGGGGDE.

I called my friend Wendy because she helps me make sense of the nonsensical. I started working with a personal trainer to strengthen my neck and upper back. You can’t fix joints (which the spine is technically) once they go bad, but you can strengthen surrounding muscles which can take pressure off an angry joint. I realized how extra important it is for me to focus on making health an essential part of my life.  It took a few months, but I’m no longer in intense pain. I stopped taking Advil. Most days I’m a 1 or a 2 on a pain scale from 1-10. I can’t raise my arms all the way up too quickly.  And although it is probably inevitable, surgery can and should (according to my doc) be put off for now. 

Sometimes life changes instantly with horrific news, cancer, death, loss. But sometimes, not usually so fast- life changes for the good. It’s easy to forget to notice. I just realized how much better I feel.

Feeling better after feeling bad gives you a new lease on life. Carpe the freaking diem. I realized the pan-stupid-demic had made us all hermits. I am a capital H homebody- but this was next level, with a toe grazing depression. After focusing on being in pain for so long, life felt so completely unfun. I felt completely unfun. Parker was constantly begging to go away-every day it was somewhere new. Mom- Can we go to Disney Land? Mom, let's go to New York! Mom, we are going to go to Paris!!!  

I knew it was time to rip out of my comfort zone, and that's when we booked the trip to St. Louis. It had been three years since I had been back and I missed my family so much. 

We also went to Disney Land in January...




And Universal Studios in May.



We are so lucky to live in California with access to so many amazing places just a road trip away. Everything has a season, and I will continue to live the one we are in now with intention. Each time we go somewhere it gets easier and easier. I'm remembering that life is so much more than pain and obligation, and that childhoods are for making magic when possible.

Monday, June 20, 2022

writing to make sense

I start typing, and then go back and delete my sentence, trying to figure out where to begin. I haven't written in almost a year and I'm a little rusty. But I have so much to say in my heart and it's been building up, so I try and try again to get it out. I don't want to overflow.

I've been deep in my head lately. Thinking about big life stuff, and trying to look for a theme or a thread to make sense of it all. I think that's why people are drawn to God or spirituality or whatever it is that floats your particular boat- we want all of this to make sense. To have purpose and meaning. To matter. It's easy to feel lost. That's why I write, to help it all make sense.

I'm scared that the best of times have already passed me by. I'm scared when I see under my eyes are getting tissue paper crinkly, and my actual eyeballs themselves don't work as well when reading things close up. When did the text on directions and instructions get so small?! What the heck- aging is so weird. I mean- technically, if we are alive we are always aging- but this is next level. It kind of feels like you are slowly disintegrating. (All the 60 and 70 year olds are laughing at me saying, "Just wait!") Is it vanity that bothers me, or my mortality? I don't know. Probably both, I think, but I'm not always the most reliable narrator. I tend to feel things so deeply that sometimes they magnify. 

We just returned from a weekend trip to Hermosa Beach,California: Population 20,000 packed into1.43 miles of space. Somehow it still feels so open and roomy. Big enough to stretch my arms out to breathe. Nostalgia is a constant companion when I travel to places I used to live. 

We packed up our condo, and moved when Grey was just a bitty thing figuring out the world, while I desperately figured out how to mom (still working on that, I'll let you know if I figure it out). Parker didn't even exist. 


And now, Greyson just turned 13, and Parker is 11. I stare at them, astounded by limbs that lengthen overnight. Hands that lost their familiar dimples years ago. Tiny chicklet teeth replaced by humongous big people ones. Still madly in love with them, what a ride. Are the very best years of my life gone? I wonder. That question I don't have an answer to.

In Hermosa, I spent time with a dear old friend, precious quality time with a pal that left my life and has been replaced with 100 different versions of me. I am the friend. A friend I speak much too harshly to at times: a friend I love dearly. A friend I forget to love dearly over and over again. I would wake up early and walk down to the beach alone, grabbing a Starbucks before 7am. Ocean and people watching in awe. I love morning Hermosa. The only people awake are old people, dog people, and athletic people. Check, check, check. The energy is healing and intimate. I stare hard trying to soak it all in.

It feels like home. I immerse myself in memories and feelings and air that feels like a comfortable hug. I stare at the Ocean in awe, its sounds and vibrations clearing the stacked up clutter from my brain. 

"This is my happy place", captions everyone at the beach and it always makes me laugh. Uh, DUH. I'd say that's true for 98% of people. Just once I want to see someone take a picture with a bunch of dumpsters, amongst the funk and smell and taste of garbage and claim it to be their happy place. In the hospital awaiting test results saying,"This is my happy place". Because it’s just too easy to be happy at the beach but the true test of mastery, is how well you can seek happiness amongst the chaos and pain that real life often holds. I'm trying to love the in between times, the unexpected hard places, and even my wrinkled skin and faltering eye balls. 

My happy place, stinky dumpsters by Hermosa Pier

Some scenes from the weekend...




Grey's happy ice cream dance







Parker discovered a new and desperate love affair with body boarding for the first time in his life. For hours he paddled out, got pummeled with salt water in his face, waited and waited for the right wave, and took off. Over and over again. So much hard work for small moments of exhilaration- kind of like life. His lips were blue and his teeth were chattering and he would still yell, 'THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!" as the tide carried him in. Magic.


Grey preferred getting in ankle deep, and drawing in the sand



Sometimes all of life just feels so boring and complicated and hard. But sometimes I have moments where I think, "Aren't we so damn lucky to be alive?"

Today I sit with a homesickness in my heart for Hermosa, and gratitude for where we live now. Easing back into real life. I learn more every year. And every year I also learn just how much I really don’t know. There's still a lot of living to do, for every single one of us.


XO,

Chrissy

Friday, July 16, 2021

no more waiting

It was such a privileged conversation, that I hesitated to share this with you. But there are lessons and heart ache and honesty and wake up calls that we all need to hear embedded inside, so I will share these words with you, knowing that you will hold them with the same tender care that I do.

This morning I was at a Physical Therapy appointment, working on my wonky shoulders, while I await results from an MRI on my neck and right shoulder. I pedaled the dumb arm bike. I seriously am growing to hate this thing- it's irritating my already irritated rotator cuffs. 

"I'll be working with you today, is there anything special you want us to work on?" a therapist asked the silver haired beauty slowly pedaling a stationary bike next to me. She was a strong woman, tall and sturdy, but there was such sadness in her eyes. They discussed treatment for a moment. 

After a beat, the older woman said,"Honestly, I don't know why I'm still here." And the gravity of the sentence hung in the air for just a small eternity. There was no doubting that she didn't mean here at Physical Therapy, she meant life.

"My husband died in 2012, and I'm alone. Most of my friends have passed away. I used to be active in my church, and have lots of things going on- but I don't anymore. My daughter calls me, and that's nice. But my son...I don't hear from him much. He's so busy with work. I used to have so many things, but now I have nothing." 

My eyes were filled with tears, so I kept my head down in the hopes no one would see them spilling out.

What a potent message... For you and for me. The time to be alive is now. Right now, my friend, in the smack dab middle of chaos and all the inconvenient in-betweens. We spend 95% of our life waiting for the 5%. Think about it, really think... Waiting for our vacation, waiting until we lose weight, waiting until we get a new job, waiting until we fall in love, waiting until we sell the house, waiting until Summer starts... So much waiting for life to pass quickly by, so we can reach that 5%. 

And one day, the roller coaster ride stops with one loud final screech of the brakes. We finally have all the time in the world to exit the ride and stretch our legs. But we may find that what we really want, what we really really want, is to go back. Because now, when the calendar is clear, and all the ducks finally line up (with no where to go), we realize that the 95% is where real, beautiful, messy, hard, complicated, oh-so-precious life is truly at. And the good news is, we don't have to wait for the 95%. Chances are, you are in it right now.

Scenes from an impromptu, chaotic, so much fun arcade trip with the boys.






So I'll be over here- not waiting for results of my MRI, or waiting until my shoulders get better. I'll just be here living, right now, with gratitude that I have the chance to live at all. 

Go hug your people, go call your people, go live your life. It's waiting, but it won't be waiting forever. 

So Much Love,

Chrissy