Thursday, October 24, 2013

your gift

Tonight I high-fived Fall by whipping up a little Pumpkin Chili. A perfect dinner for this time of the year. Zesty and amazing, just the right amount of sweet and spice.

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And since I was feeling creative and chef-like already, I ventured out further and created a Salmon, Arugula and Cherry Tomato Linguine.

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But the accomplishment I am MOST proud of today is the fact that I FINALLY put together my little writing nook, where I can create and share these words with you.

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And now as I sit here and type, I am positive of one single thing...

Pictures lie. Don't get me wrong- sometimes they absolutely tell the truth, but never ever forget they also have the ability to be nothing more than our own mental creations of what we think is happening. Of course I didn't do any of those things today! But yesterday's post about the amazing, cooktastic, craftastic, organic fabulous Mom got me thinking... And looking for the pictures (on Pinterest!) made me realize something. It's important, you may want to write this one down...

Some of our gifts can't be photographed

Pictures just don't do it justice. They doesn't mean they don't exist. Some people are amazing at taking care of people. They show up during hard times with cookies and love and lasagna and leave you left remembering you are never alone. Some people are good listeners, they pay attention, without thinking about what they are going to say next. They don't look at their phone or try to remember if they paid their utilities bill this month while you are sharing your heart.

Some people are amazing empathetics. They feel so much that it kind of hurts sometimes. If they haven't walked in your shoes, they try them on. They don't say the wrong, stupid, insensitive thing ever. Because they have been able to imagine, for a second, what it's like. They are the person at the birthday party- that sees you frazzled. They feel the sad in your eyes. They touch your arm and without being too suffocating or weird- gently ask, Everything okay? With enough love in their eyes to make you actually suddenly be okay for reals.

So, even if they aren't Pinterest-y or picture worthy, we all have them. Our brilliant gifts. Every single one of us. I've never met anyone without a gift. Sometimes it takes a while to find them, but they usually rise to the surface. They can't be hidden forever. Some people can't find their own gifts, because they are too busy doubting and noticing which gifts aren't theirs. But however we are right now is enough. Our gifts are exactly enough just the way they are.

I'm a good Mom. That's one of my gifts. Not because I clean or cook or can decorate worth a crap, but because I love my boys. Exactly the same amount but in a million different ways.

I loved picking Grey up from his typical preschool experience. Today was the first time I walked in and he was comfortably sitting in the circle with the other kids. My face hurts from smiling so big.

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It's often really, really hard for him to be there, but today- I couldn't even tell.

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My little home skillet NEVER wears hats. His Special Ed shadow was so excited to show me this one!!!!

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Teacher Amber's gift is speeching. I'm constantly amazed by the people who teach our babies. Here Amber is using a tactile prompt (a grape flavored wooden stick) to facilitate an open mouth position. Parker has a harder time making ahhh and ohhhh sounds versus closed mouth positions, like duh or bah. Today he did AMAZING at attempting to repeat the write words and sounds. It doesn't usually sound like it's supposed to sound like- but it is consistent and at least a part of it sounds right. (Dee- drink. Baaawww- ball).

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I haven't run in months. Days and days and days that suddenly turned into months. This hasn't happened since I started running about 17 years ago. I will always remember 39 as the year I broke. I hope 40 is the year I get fixed, but that's too far in the future to think about.

And it's hard. It's still hard not running. That's where I always leaked my crazy. Running is what reminded me I was strong and capable. Running helped me deal with that unhealthy feeling that my body will never be just right. But a few months ago, after the headaches and shoulder pain, my knee started to give out. Some days were hard and some were unbearable. The days I could walk free of pain made me grateful. The days that walking made me wince made me angry. And the past few months I've had MRI's and blood work-- looking for Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis or blood disorders. And I am happy and relieved and grateful that they found none. They think I just have Osteoarthritis. I have really crappy joints and combined with years of running I just started to unravel. Gray hair, arthritis, and two new zits when I woke up today. Teenager or Grandma? Identity crisis.

And at first not running was unbearable. I wanted to claw my skin off. I couldn't organize my thoughts or rationalize my fears. My heart would pound and I had no where to get it out. All of it.

I remember talking to my trusted therapist in LA, Bonnie. Despite the fact that she had a slew of initials behind her name- she still went by just Bonnie. I liked that about her. She asked me what I did for me- to fill me up. I mentioned running or reading or taking a long bath or buying something new.

Uh huh... She said, her eyes intent, her pencil still on the yellow legal pad she held in her lap. I knew when I gave the right answer the pencil would explode with kinetic energy.

Uhhh, I get a massage? A mani pedi? I told her, all things I regularly did.

And how does that make you feel when you do those things? She asked.

Hmmm. Good? Relaxed?

Yes, good. That's good. And how long does it last?

Ahhh... Ah ha. Not. Very, I realized.

And together Bonnie and I dove into waters deeper, looking for things that filled holes bigger and darker that you pick color ever could. And I started to explore my insides with no map. And sometimes that's scary- because maybe there was a part of me afraid that there was just maybe nothing there? And some of those lessons I still hold in my pocket today.

Running is good, but it's temporary. Sometimes it helps me, but sometimes it masks what I need to be feeling. And ever so slowly, I am feeling my feelings. And sometimes it's really hard. Sometimes I am desperate to run them out instead of feeling them out. But I know there are lessons for me to learn in this time of in between. And the faster I learn them, the quicker I can move on.

Do you know what fills me?  I like helping people to be okay. I need it in my blood. Trying new things fills me up. Messily, imperfectly, courageously trying new things. I want to be a story teller. True stories. I need to tell the truth, it's not a want. I want to talk about real and honest and sometimes imperfect things and feelings and share the dusty little nooks in the unexplored corners of my mind. I need to feel and share and laugh and cry. Often. A good cry. A sad cry. An honest cry.

It's easy to forget what fills those deeper waters and bigger dreams. And it's crazy to me now...painfully outrageously wondrously crazy...that writing this blog helps me be and do all those things. Thanks.

What do you do to fill up you? I'd love for you to tell me. And if you don't want to share it- that's okay, I understand. But make sure you at least take time to figure out the answer.

Catch you at the end of tomorrow.



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  1. Hi Chrissy...I love your blog and your courage and your perspective. What fills me up is writing. I write about my family and our little hurdles and our big wins. I write about writing and how vulnerable and alone I feel puttng my stories out there, even when I have a parade of support trailing me with drums and cheerleaders. I write to encourage others to record the moments that matter. What fills me up is filling up my written scrapbook with messages of love and faith, family and friendship. Thank you for asking and thank you for sharing. -Jenn

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  3. Hi Crissy, I really do love your blog and get excited when I see a new post first thing in the morning.

    I've actually been thinking about this recently. I love when I am able to help people. I totally understand the idea of hurting when someone else hurts. My husband thinks I do this to a fault. For me, it's hard not to.

    This morning I am hurting exceptionally. Some of my very closest friends found out with about four weeks left in their pregnancy that their baby girl had a very serious birth defect. She has been in the NICU the past three weeks and last night I got a text from my friend that she was going to meet Jesus. It's just so completely unfair and I know the whole "life isn't fair" thing, but STILL. This is a baby! Why do babies have to die? I am now hurting for them and I feel like my hands are tied with nothing to do. If anyone else sees this and has any suggestions for how I could help them, I would really appreciate it.

    1. Emily I am so sorry to hear about your friend hurting. Another blogger I follow contributed to this book on grieving mothers. Perhaps it would be a good gift for your friend:

    2. I was thinking of that book too - glad you posted it.
      Also I just saw Anna mentioned this post was shared on that book's Facebook page today. This might help you Emily - very sorry about your friend and her baby.

  4. Chrissy- thank you for this post. I also tend to do things to fill me up that are temporary. My latest indulgence is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I can't get enough and I don't know why. I think it's important to look for something inside myself but am still learning how to do that.

  5. Hi Friend. I'm still on the journey to find what fills me up, or maybe how I can do more of it. My passion is helping people reach goals. Helping them achieve that thing that makes their life better. I haven't figured out how to do that very often.
    So, right now it's cookies & whining.
    PS - I TOLALLY knew those things were false. I was going to give you the Pumpkin chili but the multi ingrediant linguini busted you out. youmeccamelaff!
    Love & happiness to you sweet momma <3 Jen

  6. I have to tell you that my first reaction at the pictures of the beautiful food was disappointment! I hadn't read your post from yesterday so I thought, hmmm. I dodn't visit here to look at food or recipes. I thought you were getting soft. ;) But at some point in the future if you feel the need to take a day off and post a pic of your dinner, that's totally ok, I'm not trying to put pressure on you, ha!

  7. Your post resonates with me in a big way. I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis / Ankylosing Spondylitis a few years ago. (If you happen to have psoriasis, you may want your rheumatologist look into psoriatic arthritis, as it's seronegative.) I started blogging ( to help me process everything I was going through. I was always full steam ahead - my life (and my five homeschooled children's lives) so FULL of activities and gatherings and doing doing doing. My major psoriatic arthritis flare has been my biggest teacher over the past few years as I've sorted out other medical issues and found treatment that works for me (and keeps me out of a wheelchair!). I've found that being is a whole bunch better than doing. Not that I don't do anything, but that we do the important things, the things that nourish our souls and inspire our spirits.

    I love hiking. Hiking is where I can sort things out in my mind, find clarity - and then work on the emotions and moving forward afterward when I get back to "real life.". By hiking isn't always possible with arthritic damage in my back, hip, knee, ankle, and foot. A few weeks ago I found that kayaking does the same thing for me that hiking does, and I don't need to rely on my legs to do it. It gives me the calm I need for my brain to be constructive - not racing and jumbled. It gives me time to find perspective and to pray before I act.

    What fills me up? Laughing with my children. Sharing our highs and lows of the day every night with my family. Being with other people with no agenda other than to listen, to support, to laugh, to cry, or whatever feels right and is needed at the time. Taking time for me each day to center myself, take some deep breaths, pray, and give thanks for the myriad blessings in my life - including my disease.

  8. Oh I so look forward to your posts but rarely comment as I usually read them before I go to bed or as soon as I wake on my iPhone (and it doesn't let me post comments). Your truthful storytelling is so relatable and comforting even though our stories are so different. I'm so glad it's what fills you up as that means you'll continue! It's a good thing to ponder what fills me up as I think I've been so overwhelmed just trying to tread water - trying to not sink. My marriage has been rough lately and seeing the impact on my kids breaks my heart.

  9. And here I thought this was a post about chili! I should have known that on your blog, you're more about feeding the mind/soul/heart thany anything else. Thank you so much for writing this blog. Your writing and your photos are so beautiful - but most of all, the glimpse into yours and your family's lives is a real gift. It feels like a heartfelt coffee with a friend and I don't get that too much in real life.

    Anyway, what do I do to fill myself up? Well, I run. I'm 46 and have run 5 full marathons and about 17 halfs. In general, DOING fills me up (as much as it simultaneously depletes me). Doing for my children, doing for my family, DOING at work (I'm a lawyer who works long hours). ... but honestly, althought it all fills me up, there is not much joy in it. I need to work on that!