Monday, March 29, 2021

connect the dots

 Today was ordinary and average in the most magical of ways. Hope wasn't out of arms reach, and the daily mundane had a sugar coated glow. I feel like it's the beginning of something new. A new world. a new time, a new day. There will always be struggle, but hopefully nothing that compares to what the last year of house arrest has felt like. 


God will use the very thing that's meant to destroy you to deliver you. 1 Samuel 17:1


You are a warrior. (So am I.) We've woken up every day and breathed in and out all day long. We got shit done. Felt so many feelings. And as a parent of little(ish) ones, we are responsible for their feelings too. Sometimes it's too much to carry. You feel your familiar frenamies- guilt and anxiety and exhaustion walk beside you and feel like a failure. 


But you aren't. You are a freaking Warrior. Don't you forget it for one second. Say it with me- (First, deep breath, jaw unclenched, shoulders down, eyes relaxed, genuine smile on your face)- I AM A WARRIOR.


I stumbled on some old words of mine. We will call them vintage, because vintage always sounds cooler than old. I want to share them with you...


This is life. A big old connect the dots. We are always in the middle of connecting all these little speckles, leaping to the next one like a frog on a lily pad. That is a beautiful, good thing. It means we are alive. It means we are trying. Frequently there are many things that happen to us in life that don't make any sense. We don't know where the heck we are headed to next, and we are desperately and urgently trying to see, to know, to control the whole big picture. We want to see the image before the dots are connected. The image will be revealed to you completely, but not a second before it's supposed to. Don't think about the final picture, just look for the next number and make your move. Maybe it's time we felt curious and giddy about our own future, instead of anxious and uncertain. 



Tonight we went to the school park down the street from our house for the first time in over a year. 








I forgot about the past year, and I forgot about thinking about tomorrow and forever. I just marinated in the right now, and it's a recipe I highly, highly recommend. It's extra good if you can add some, almost feels like Summer sunshine to the mix. 


The boys were so happy, and their happy also turned into mine. This is life. And for today, that felt ok.


So much love,

Chrissy

Friday, March 19, 2021

nostalgia lane

Lately I’ve been shocked by my middle-aged ness. When? How?! I grocery shop like it's a hobby, and I vacuum daily. I have arthritis and wrinkles. (WHO AM I and HOW DID I GET HERE SO FAST?) My joints and crows feet swear it’s no joke. But right now, as I ponder life and time and purpose and the future and the past- I swear I’m 20 as I listen to The Counting Crows. 




I am colorblind

Coffee black and egg white

Pull me out from inside

I am ready, I am ready, I am ready,

I am taffy stuck and tongue tied

Stutter shook and uptight

Pull me out from inside

I am ready, I am ready, I am ready,

I am fine

(Color Blind, Counting Crows)

Sometimes nostalgia is looking at the past, and desperately wishing something about it was still true. Sometimes the present feels deeply achey and empty. 

But sometimes nostalgia just feels achey, in a way that almost feels like the good kind of sadness. Do you know what I mean?  The line between happy and sad is thin and razor sharp at times. Sometimes nostalgia is just a look back with honor and grief that it’s over, because it was so good- (even the not good parts), even though life now can feel right and good.

If I’m being honest, I do both, but it’s mostly the latter. I love my life now, but boy those other parts of this ride were so much fun, and over so fast. Sometimes I long for old circumstances, and sometimes I long for the me I was back then. 

Lately, I've been traveling down Nostalgia Lane more than ever, yet I don't know why. A "This is your life" type review. Honoring the hard parts, and simmering in the good ones. Maybe the Pandemic has just given me way too much time to think think think. (Do you feel me?)

Driving through Nostalgia Lane is normal, but staying there is a recipe for sadness. All that we have is today, and if you are stuck living in the past, you lose today. I’m realizing I’m the only one who can pull me out from inside. Gimmicks and platitudes don’t work. I must be ready, I must acknowledge the feelings as real and ok, and I must let them go (SIGH).

Most days are unremarkable. But those unremarkable days combined equal the majority of our life. So I soak up the goodness when it’s good, and I ride the wave and try and hold my breath when it’s bad. Saturday afternoon Parker and I drove around. The air was 65 degrees warm, the Counting Crows were on, and the windows were down. I had an Iced Chai Latte from Starbuck and the wind was whipping through my hair -and the ache of nostalgia was gone. Yes, here I am, I realized. Age is just your body's number, I am every decade I've ever lived til now. I felt like me- Do you ever feel like it’s so easy to forget you? 

Each decade in your life is like a good friend that had to go away. All your favorite foods, where you lived, what you wore, what you do with your time, all your private jokes- gone as you move on. Move on- because life is moving on. Of course we would miss that friend. We’d sugar coat the hard parts, and in hindsight realize where they strengthened and sculpted us. And no matter how many new good friends we meet- (new years and decades we are lucky to live) and no matter how happy you are- it doesn’t mean that old good friend wouldn’t pop into your mind now and then with an ache and longing so real you can taste its sweetness.

Looking back at college, I remember falling in love for the first time, making amazing friends, growing up, taking a full load of classes, and working my ass off at a Restaurant.




I remember tanning beds being my National past time, and pizza and cheeseburgers being by main food group, (as evidenced by the size of my ass in this picture- I'm far right- and this was the first time Mom Jeans were in). I remember the dorm and making new friends and smoking Marlborough lights like it was my job that I was damn good at it. Listening to The End of the Road by Boyz II Men, and Whitney Houston (I Will Always Love You), and Whomp There it is (Tag Team) and Kenny Rogers and Prince. I made a special mixed tape just for College-ha! It wasn't perfect, but it was beautiful and real and boy do I miss it.

That’s the friend I miss. And time is often a happy story teller, because now I forget not having money and having to drop out of my sorority because I couldn't afford it, and working until midnight and getting up for a 7am class. I forget the loneliness of that first love boyfriend being isolating and emotionally abusive boyfriend and I forget that I had an eating disorder that owned me for a few years. No. I don’t want to go back to that time. (Well, maybe for one day), but my heart sure bleeds from the beauty of it all. 

I could wax philosophical for each decade. Each "friend", because it all mattered to the me of then, and the me I am now. 

Our bodies have an age, but our soul is every age we've ever been and ever will be. And nostalgia is just a reminder, that even the bumpy parts of the ride are beautiful, and the hard parts usually don't feel as hard when it's over. 


I am covered in skin

No one gets to come in

Pull me out from inside

I am folded and unfolded and unfolding

I am colorblind

Coffee black and egg white

Pull me out from inside

I am ready, I am ready, I am ready,

I am fine

I am fine

I am fine

(Color Blind, Counting Crows)

Monday, March 1, 2021

Keep Breathing

What our world values and doesn’t value is painful beyond description. 

Seeing the way my 80-year-old Dad was treated in a Rehab Facility broke something in me I don’t think can ever fully be fixed. Maybe I was na├»ve before. Seeing your Dad being treated like an inconvenience or a burden was painful. He was a prideful, independent man, and it was breaking him. We assume and accept the elderly will be in pain or die, so the urgency to find answers for pain or sickness can feel gone. People blanket them as all the same, when each person has their own incredible story, but so few stop to get to know it. Sometimes at the end, all we have our our stories.

I feel a theme in my life, and lessons I feel God is desperately trying to teach me. The lesson about my Dad was a recurring lesson with my boys. But I didn’t want this lesson, I tell God- because it is much too painful to acknowledge and live. The lesson of the world is this- We all have an outside value- things that make you more valuable to the world. The following is a list of things that make you more valuable to the world:

White

Thin

Rich

Nice house

Nice car

Expensive possessions 

Educated

Fancy job

Advanced degrees

Beautiful

Able mind and body 

Athletic

Talented 

Young

Important Job (Athlete, Doctor, Celebrity).


None of this is new news to anyone. It certainly wasn’t to me. Until I had two sons with autism, I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to it. (That’s called privilege- not knowing the extent of discrimination affecting someone because it doesn’t affect me.) I never stopped to really think about the people who the world usually does NOT value. They are people that most likely are:


Less value:

The Elderly

Not white

Black

People with Disabilities

Homosexual

Overweight 

Unhealthy

Uneducated 

Poor 

Not attractive by traditional standards


The less ticks you have on List One, and the more ticks you have on Two, the less valuable your life is according to society. That’s so messed up but it’s true. You know it and so do I. But knowing it, and seeing it is so different. 


It’s what I’ve experienced through my boys, and the amount of sadness and pain this registers in my heart cannot be adequately described with words. There’s been many times it’s leveled me, and left me in bed for 24 hours. A truth I want to unsee. A reality.


Sometimes they are bothers- inconvenient nuisances. Sometimes they are invisible. They are forgotten without consequences. Excluded. That is not the exception- that is the norm. It can happen in friend groups, in neighborhoods, in schools, in jobs, in clubs, and in everything that connects people in life. You get weekly, and sometimes daily reminders of this. My boys autism has opened my eyes to this. But it's what all people in marginalized groups have experienced and experience today.

I wear a bracelet that says, “Change the World.” Some days it lights a fuel in my soul. But after years of trying to change the rules of inequality, I think of Ingrid Michaelson’s song, “Keep Breathing” when she says, “I want to change the world, instead I sleep”. Sometimes it just hurts less to sleep.



To me, they are perfect






I am learning that loss isn’t just a part of life-it’s a requirement. We can’t have happy without sad. We can’t have high without low. We can’t have living without losing. Without death. It’s a lesson we know in theory, but it still knocks your socks off. And we can’t have equality without first suffering from inequity. I don’t know why they are the rules, but they are.

So, I fight to show you the beauty in my boys, and ask that you reconsider what matters to you in the world. We all say we love and accept people who are different. And I think we mean it. It's so easy to love people in words, but so much harder to do so in action. Because there's usually an unspoken parenthesis after saying "I love and accept all people." A parenthesis that says- as long as I am not disrupted or inconvenienced. As long as you follow my same morale compass. As long as you don't look different. As long as I don't have to invite you to my birthday party or my house. As long as I do not have to hire you. As long as I don't have to sit next to you. As long as I understand why you do what you do. As long as you do not make me feel uncomfortable. As long as you don't interrupt my status quo.

I’m so lucky that God opened my eyes to this pain- and it doesn’t just affect my boys- it’s everyone that must fight extra hard- the people on list two. It’s like a deeper, more beautiful part of the world I didn’t see before. Sometimes I mistakenly think it's a burden, but really- it's a gift.

Rumi said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” I realize I still have a lot to learn about marginalized groups. I have a lot to learn and do. 


I will just have to start with me, and hope it’s contagious.


I want to change the world, but instead I sleep

I want to believe in more than you and me

But all that I know is that I’m breathing

All I can do is keep breathing

All we can do is keep breathing

Ingrid Michaelson- Keep Breathing


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

cherish the bud

The less I have to do, the more exhausted I am. Why is that?! Give me a full to do list and I'm on it. But give me one or two, or God forbid, 0 things I need to have done during the day, and I am so tired from doing absolutely nothing. That's why the current world and life has felt so draining lately- I am at home allllll the timmmmme. I was thinking about my past life and working outside the house. I don't miss it- like at all really. But I do miss feeling smart and productive. I miss interacting with like-minded professionals. I miss having a project, working hard on it, and finishing it. The buzz of accomplishment is so very invigorating.

Being home with the boys has always made me feel like I still had a purpose. But post-pandemic (ALMOST A YEAR NOW!) it doesn't feel that way much anymore. So I am left longing and wondering what else there is out there for me. So far, God hasn't answered (I've asked for signs), but he knows I am ready and waiting. 


One of California's top agricultural exports is almonds- and most of them come from right here in the Central Valley of California. (I feel really proud about that, even though I have absolutely nothing to do with it(!) For the tree to produce flowers, the buds first have to go through a period of cold weather. Sometime between late February and early March, almond tree buds burst into beautiful light pink and white blooms in preparation for pollination, and let me tell you- it's absolutely beautiful. Like an explosion of white with petals that fall like snow. We go every year.

2013

2015



2016


"The Central Valley is now in bloom," I heard on the news last week in the background noise while cooking dinner. It was the announcement I was waiting for, so over the weekend we all went to see. We got to our favorite spot, and as soon as I saw the trees I whispered, "shucks" under my breath. (Except with an f). I saw a handful of blooms, but mainly bare trees.  I looked closer, and noticed buds all over the tree branches. We were too soon for the blooms that must be happening somewhere else in our valley.


Since we were already there, and the boys were just excited to run free, we went to explore.




I realized,  part of what makes the trees so beautiful- is the feeling of wonder that is created when you see row after row after row of trees...they are beautiful alone, but together, they really stand out. I never fail to be in awe when I realize how much life and nature has in common.







The flowers get all the glory, but I began to realize on our adventuring, just how beautiful the flower buds actually are. They are the in between. The not knowing. I feel like it's the longest chapter in the book of life- The waiting combined WITH the not knowing. It's a recurring lesson in my life, which means it still delivers a message I am supposed to, but haven't quite learned.


Now we know these buds will bloom, like an outsider looking in usually does, but with nature and life, there are no guarantees. The buds are the hard work and the holding on to hope. The buds are the not giving up because it's hard, or because it hasn't happened yet. The buds are the maximum amount of work, without the celebration and glory. We fail to see the beauty in the bud, if we are only willing to see the beauty in the flower. 

What if, we were willing to see the beauty in both? 

Today I looked back on old pictures to gather for this post, and I saw so many bud times in our life- many Seasons of the in between. I see so much beauty in them now: time is a brilliant story teller and one that often filters out exhaustion and fear and heartache and pain. Yes, flowers are beautiful, and easily recognized by others, and celebrated. But I urge you to cherish the buds too. The place where the magic is being created, even if it isn't visible yet. Sometimes the in-between is just as beautiful too.


So much Love,

Chrissy

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Status Quo over chaos

 I was waiting for something interesting to happen to write. And this morning I remembered, nothing interesting has happened here for a long, long time, especially almost a YEAR into the world's current quarantine-ish thing going on. Don't get me wrong, I'll take uneventful over chaos any day or week or year. But if I had to describe our current life in food forms, it would be luke warm oatmeal. No one really wants to talk about luke warm oatmeal- the kind without brown sugar and other fancy things on top. 

All of our routines were stripped from us a year ago. So we started to form new ones, and we hold tight to these to keep our sanity. Maybe that's just me and my sanity though. My alarm goes off at 5:30am each morning. I am not a morning person- but I am an alone time person. And I hate not having recharging, meaningful alone time more than I hate waking early. It's amazing what our mind and body are capable of. Especially when you don't let your mind trick you into being or thinking a certain way. I sit for the first hour, drinking a magical first cup of coffee, while breathing, scrolling through my phone, and thinking about the day ahead. What I love about 5:30am, is that no one can take it away from me. There will be no doctors appointment, no meeting, no therapy, no errands, no nothing that can compete. The time has become sacred to me. I need exercise as much as I need alone time, so at 6:30am, I work out. Clearing the cobwebs from my mind and body. I stretch each morning and feel blood and oxygen flow to my muscles, and I truly cherish that feeling of being capable and alive. It worries me to think about what would happen to me if I couldn't move, couldn't stretch, couldn't exercise. A couple of weeks ago I saw many folks with snowy gray hair, being wheeled around in wheel chairs and I remembered to pause and thank God for my ability to move. Sometimes the only thing holding us back from feeling genuine gratitude in our life is our own perspective. 

When it comes to worry, I am not a procrastinator. No siree. (What if I get old and can't walk? What if I become wheel chair bound? How would I recharge? What if I couldn't get around independently? Who will watch the boys when I'm old? How about when I'm dead?) I have to work hard to quiet that frenzied part of my brain. The part that doesn't create, doesn't take deep breaths, doesn't reassure, doesn't allow me to feel gratitude. Sometimes it tricks me into thinking it's my friend, because it's helping me be "prepared" for every worst case scenario ever created, but really- it's just a peace thief. Good things can't come from paranoid frenzy. So I take a deep breath and I move back. I settle into the day. The ACTUAL day, and not some arbitrary future one. 

The boys have been conquering some big hurdles over the past few weeks. We had our first same day- same time haircuts. I had to make myself pause and reflect over how far they have come. What used to be a huge source of sensory torture for them, has become doable. It's pretty incredible. 




What if they can never get hair cuts without screaming and crying? What if they never interact like brothers do? So so (SO) many of our what ifs never, ever even come true. 

We also went to the Dentist for the first time in years. They were able to get xrays for the first time. Parker even let them clean a few of his teeth with that gritty, pastey junk. Unfortunately, they have a Mother Load of cavities (especially Parker), so there will be a visit to Valley Children's Hospital for lots of work while they are put under. I'll deal with that when I have to deal with that. Not today. Nope- not today. 




Lately, I've been soaking up the lessening drops of being needed by them. The random butt wipes, teeth brushing patrol, kissing of boo boos. The need is dwindling, and although I love their independence (and mine), I see the era of needy little ones is ending. What an exhausting, beautiful and wild ride.

It's time to go wake the boys for morning therapy. Thank you for spending some of my alone time with me.

XOXO,
Chrissy

 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

the work of your soul




I remember reading these words and resonating with them completely: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


But sometimes in the race of life, we can get things so backwards. I don't know why, but we DO make it a race, even though the only real end is actually the END end. And I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to be there yet.


I've thought a lot about the soul after my Dad died and my sisters and I were compiling pictures for his funeral. We have our body, which of course has an age- the number of years we've been on the earth this go round. But we also have a soul. It has no age, it's every year we've ever been and ever will ever be. 





I realized my Dad's essence was always the same. I saw him as a toddler, riding a pony, and as a teenager sunbathing on the driveway. I remembered him bringing us home Luden's Cherry Cough Drops as a treat sometimes in grade school. I remember dancing with him at my wedding, and years later, watching him be a Grandpa to my kids. He isn't an old man who started asking, 'WHAT?!" a little more frequently as he got up there in age- to me. He was the him he always was, he is his soul to me, and that can never die.

Our passions and hobbies and favorite foods and abilities and jobs and nouns (wife, daughter, Teacher, Doctor and more...) may change, but our soul is forever. It always was and always will be. It's our guide when we feel lost. Our hope when we think we feel none. Our cheering squad when we feel empty. It's music and white twinkle lights and puppy breath, and deep breaths and rain on pavement and calm. It knows who you are, even when you forget. 

Our soul can get so muddled by our human experience. So muddled we may forget we even have one. We need to eat and poop and grocery shop and change the oil in our car. There are many elements that can't be ignored for long. We can't go about life only hugging trees and writing in our journal, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't leave space for the things that honor our soul. We must nourish our soul like we must nourish our body. Don't let your soul be starving. I really think that Depression (whether chemical or circumstantial or both) is simply a soul that is starving for life to be in color.

Most people don't talk about their body in favorable ways. Our butt is too this or not enough that. The weight on our scale dictate how we feel about ourselves. Sometimes we take such little care of our body that we start to quiet our soul. We get it so backwards. Here is your reminder to focus on what matters most to you and your world. This is not about working out or eating healthy. It's about a layer so much deeper.


Let go of beliefs about yourself that don't serve you. If you can't change your circumstances, you must simply find a way to accept them. There's really only those two options, and once you realize that, a weight will be lifted. Buddha said, "In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Those words feel like balm on my soul.

Our souls are energy and forever. They are not rich or poor or fat or anything surface and fleeting. I don't think the right adjectives have yet even been invented to describe souls. Souls are precious and perfect and curious and calm. They aren't introverts or extroverts or female or male or able to be filed by a noun. They are not controlling or afraid or battered by life. Souls are the opposite of your mean inner voice. Our souls love music and to be outside and don't mind getting dirty. They don't feel guilty or angry or tired. They love swinging and coloring and finding a patch of sun to sit it. 

Dogs are pure soul.

And so are kids. Pay attention and unlearn with me.



Think about what makes your soul come alive. I started to write a list the other day so I could remember. (Music, Essential oils- and really just paying attention to all good smells, Exercise- bonus it works on my body and soul, connection with others, writing, advocacy, my morning routine).

What makes your soul feel like you? Let's work on our lists, my friend. It matters. 


XOXO,

Chrissy

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Coincidence is God

I bought one of those tear off Inspirational Calendars after Christmas. Words motivate me, and I love sharing them with my like-minded friend Wendy. I sent her this one.




I said my favorite quote of Arnold Schwarzenegger is this though, "The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens." I channel those words when I'm working out and when I'm lifeing and can't give up. I don't want to be the best at anything- but I want to be my best at the things I care most about.


This week I had an appointment with the Physician's Assistant at the orthopedic office I go to for my knees and shoulders. Every year or two I get injections in my knees to temporarily replace the cartilage that I've lost. I try to do it before I'm in pain, because bone scraping on bone is pretty brutal. On appointment day my shoulders were extra achey and I seemed to have an accompanying head ache daily. I wasn't able to reach my arms straight up, so putting shirts on, or reaching in the cabinet for a glass hurt. I got some xrays done, and waited for the PA- let's just call him "Doc." 

I wore jeans to the appointment like a rookie, so got these shorts FOR FREE so I could have xrays done. They were so hilarious and huge that I had to make a "Wear it Three Ways" post for Social Media.


I've seen a few specialists in this building, and left appointments feeling not listened to and frustrated. Waiting until I got into the car to burst into tears. Being in pain, especially for a pridefully independent person is a really scary and vulnerable feeling. Especially when you don't know exactly what is wrong with you or how to fix it.


Every appointment with Doc has been perfect. He always walks into the room with bright eyes and a smile. He reviews his notes and records, asks questions, and really listens to your answers. You can tell his not a one sized fits all guy, and really tailors what he does on the each patient. As soon as he walked into the room my blood pressure dropped, and I knew he could provide some insight on what is wrong, and what we can do for it. As I sat on the paper lined table, I tried to remember just how long it's been that I'd been coming here. I remembered a post I'd written years ago where Doc had written me a prescription that I will never forget. I searched my blog for the post so I could check the date. 


Something told me I should tell him about this. "I write a blog, and I remember writing about seeing you- I just checked the date on something I wrote and it was from June of 2013!" We remarked on the rapid passing of time. "I want to share with you what I wrote- 


"In the treatment room, the walls are covered with pictures of athletes who have been helped. After you fix me- I'm going to give you a picture of me to hang on your wall, I told him. Mom-ing is one of the toughest sports there is... He agreed. See- he's a smart guy.

He came up with a protocol for me- and said - Based on your symptoms and commitment I'm actually really hopeful and optimistic that we will get you feeling better. He said it with such kindness and such honesty in his eyes that I had no choice but to believe him. But just to be safe, I asked him to write me a prescription. 


Hope and Optimism Daily... Unlimited refills..."

 Unexpectedly, my voice started to crack as I read it aloud to him and tears filled my eyes. "Wow, I'm trying not to cry, this is making me emotional," I said. 


I will never forget that Season in life. Within a period of just a few months, my right knee couldn't bend without horrible pain. 


The boys were this age, and this age is HARD, as many you know.

Parker was two, and he was a RUNNER, so me not being able to be a RUNNER was a problem. This was a kid who would dart into busy traffic, so not being able to chase him was a problem. I also had shooting arm pain when I tried to lift my right arm. Also- not an option for a mom who had no sick leave and little ones to lift in and out of carseats and bathtubs. Little ones to rock to sleep at night, and pick up to cuddle in the morning. Parenting was in the thick of being needed for everything. 

I thought about what happened after that appointment. It took trial and error and Physical Therapy and MRI's to finally get to the bottom of it. It wasn't overnight, but it happened.


Because of him, my knees are awesome now. They are super happy and maintained well with their injections. I ended up having arthroscopic surgery on my shoulder for an impingement (it was called a Distal Clavicle Excision if you are into details.) After surgery and some more PT, I was back to fully capable Mom mode. The medical care was invaluable, what was most remarkable about the experience was to know I had someone on my team- someone who knew their shit, was passionate about their job and people and was an optimist. Someone who sat down in the room and made you feel like they weren't going anywhere without a next step and a plan. Someone who treated you like a human and not just a name on a chart. 

That's why my voiced cracked when I was reading the old post to him. Because I know the back story. We sat in silence for a second, even behind his mask I could see him processing. He shared that he was so humbled that he made "a small difference in my life." 

"It wasn't small...it was huge. It IS huge. And I know I'm not the only one. I imagine if you could see a big room filled with the people you've helped- you might be able to grasp what a difference you've made." 


He shared that my words were very meaningful, especially as he transitioned into his next phase of life. He's not retirement age- so I asked what that was going to be. Turns out he's going to help run his family farm that is many miles away. My first thought is- YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME! I WILL FIND YOU. My second thought was- "Wow, that is the coolest and most authentic thing I've ever heard." Most Act Two's in life aren't so completely different that they might not even be the same play. 

I went to my car after my appointment- which was perfect as always. (I got my shoulders injected with some kind of magic potion and each day they feel a little better already.) I read the entire post that I shared with Doc. And my teeth tingled when I saw the quote I shared in this post...


I've had a headache pretty much every day since June of last year. Despite numerous physician visits, physical therapy, Chiropractor visits, injections and lotions and potions we've yet to alleviate the cause. Whatever it is- I've tried it. And now muscle pain has moved into my right shoulder and knee.


I don't talk about it much because when I don't talk about - or think about it- the pain is not as bad really. I can deal. Today I had a follow up appointment at the orthopedic office- and I was forced to think and talk about it. And as I was talking to the Doctor my eyes welled up with tears and then over-flowed. I realized- it's not the pain that makes me cry. It's the what if this pain never goes away thoughts. But the pain always goes away- doesn't it? Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes it takes a year, maybe even longer. And sometimes you just have to find a place to put the pain while simultaneously creating extra joy to counteract the pain's power.


Arnold Schwarzenegger said, The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens.


And I am a champion- so I will go through the pain no matter what in order to get out on the other side. I need to continue to work at healing myself with passion. 

 

I felt God in the car with me. Life isn't random. Pain isn't random or without purpose. And Coincidences aren't coincidences at all- they are God, reminding us he's always here. 


(And to the amazing, Greg Mellor PA in Fresno at Sierra Pacific Orthopedic Group- I hope these words find their way to you. Thank you for sharing your talents with me and the world.)

Saturday, January 23, 2021

what color are your emotions?

When I was younger, I always wondered why old people spent so much time talking about their physical maladies. Now that I am approaching old people in age, I get it. (kind of). But please intervene if I only talk about everyone who I don't really know- and you don't know at all that died- ie- "Remember Sally who I used to play cards with? Well her neighbors husband had a heart attack while mowing the lawn and he died. And Stan from the Meat Market just had a quadruple bypass."

I have arthritis and degenerative disc disease. It's not really a disease, it's just your spine getting old- even if you aren't old. Basically, the discs that cushion the vertebrae begin to dry out. Discs can also get damaged from normal wear and tear or an injury. I figured this out soon after I turned 30, and I had a ten month long severe headache. Turns out, I no longer had the spongey matter in between two cervical discs, and I had to get them fused. I made that sound like it was easy- it wasn't. It took months and months of advocacy and trial and error and medicines and procedures and specialists. 

Sometimes there is no silver lining to the pain we are going through in real time, however, we might be learning skills that we will need later on in life. That research and advocacy and relentless pursuit for answers has served me well since then. 

Did I tell you I had scoliosis as a child? Yep, I got to wear a real fancy BACK BRACE for years. Let me tell you, that sure was a blast. Especially around puberty where you already feel awkward and ugly. The brace didn't do its just (probably because I would go to school, and take it off and hide it in my locker for the day), so I ended up having my thoracic spine fused right after I graduated from college. I've got an 18 inch scar and unbendable steel rods on either side of my spine. 

Now I can add arthritis in my knees and shoulders. And for the past month, my shoulders have been aching like crazy. Something to do with winter and rain and barometric pressure. I can't lift my arms straight up without wincing. My neck muscles feel like rocks. I've been doing lots of stretching and strengthening and popping advil like crazy. Sometimes it all depresses me. Sometimes it gives me something positive to focus on during the many hours I spend at home. 

The other day I was able to get an appointment at a local Physical Therapy office for a massage. My first one in over a year. On a scale of 1-5, I like a 10+ when it comes to pressure. Please, get in deep, make my muscles feel like they are about to bleed and bruise pretty please. The amazing masseuse did an incredible job, and even went several minutes over our scheduled hour. I got in the car after to let Michael know I was running late, and I just started crying while talking about the massage. I started laughing while I was crying. "I don't even know why I'm crying." I said. Technically, I know it's called an "emotional release." It is because massage accesses the soft tissues of the body deeply, and it can unlock emotional energy locked in those tissue. I think that we think of emotions as arbitrary, ghost like things because we can't see them. But they are so very very real. 


Sometimes life is hard, but sometimes it feels easy. Right now it feels easy. Don't forget to notice the easy. Here are some scenes from regular old ordinary life, which is my favorite. 











This one made me laugh because it's so Parkery.




And this kid...his eyes still take my breath away




I shared the following story on Facebook the other day. There are many stories like this burrowed deep in my bones. Writing helps get it out.





I was sweating in the small booth, hands shaking while holding two year old Greyson tightly on my lap. We were at a Hearing Evaluation, and they wanted to see if he would at least orient towards the side the sounds were coming from through his head phones since he couldn't point or tell them. He struggled against the head phones, and I just knew the entire thing was going to be a bust. 

I started to feel claustrophobic inside that booth and inside my head. "Michael- you come in here and hold him, and I'll see if I can help keep his attention on the outside?" There was a big glass window where the evaluator was running a switch board that appeared to be older than me. 

Sitting still and Greyson were never used in the same sentence, and he was struggling. "Some kids are talkers, and some kids are do'ers" the evaluator said. The words felt like aloe on a sunburn- yes, my mind said. That's what must be going on with Greyson. He doesn't talk yet, because he's a do'er. 

This was one step out of 100 that we had to take to get answers. It took so much work, and a willingness to change my own perspective to realize Greyson is exactly who he was meant to be, and as his Mother, unconditional love means accepting every single part of that. Imagine how sad you would feel if someone who you trusted with all your soul was constantly wishing you were something or someone else. 

It's been almost ten years since that hot sweaty booth, and my throat hurts when I think about how scary the beginning was, and how different things feel now. Remember that if you are at a beginning of something in your own life. I promise things will look and feel different soon.



What are you holding inside right now? I think if we could see our emotions- like if they showed up as a color, we would realize how very real and how powerful they are.