Tuesday, April 8, 2014

what ifs

I'm a list maker. Whenever I start to feel unbearably out of sorts in my head, I make a list and it makes me feel so much better up in there. Things get sorted and categorized and urgent voices get hushed. The items on the list are never as big and scary as they feel in my head when I get to hold them and rub my finger over their smooth surface. I've been listing like crazy lately. I need listers anonymous. Lists in my special lists notebook. Lists in my bedside notebook. Lists on spare receipts and napkins. On whatever I have around with whatever I have around.

You see, the thing is- I get scared. A lot. Autism has taught me that despite the scared you need to do it anyway. That makes me angry sometimes- because I like to feel safe and swaddled by life. I want to stay in this warm womb I've created. And there's a part of me that is just like that naturally- and there's a part of me that turned into that because of life. There's this post traumatic stress part of me that feels like I must keep everything exactly safe and just so- because I can't bear to have my mind blown one more time in any big or small way for the rest of this lifetime. I guess the whole of life is about scared but doing it anyway. So this past year- with shaking legs I've been going out onto the limbs to get some of the sweetest fruit.

It's time to do it again. . This weekend I'm going on a writing retreat on the Orcas Islands in the Pacific Northwest. When I first saw the announcement it felt like the best idea anyone has ever had in the world. I was certain God created it just for me. I knew I would have just received Parker's autism diagnosis, and I knew I would need the trip to save me. To remind me that life is big and I am small. To remind me to dream big and believe anything is possible. Taking time to think about whether or not to book it wasn't an option- there were only 25 spots. Kelle Hampton from Enjoying the Small things blog and the book- Bloom will be presenting, as well as Claire Bidwell, author of the Memoir  The Rules of Inheritance. I knew the spots would go in an instant. Practical me wins over fun me in 9/10 arguments. But this time- fun me won. Fun me did penalty-worthy excessive celebration in practical me's face. BAM. Immediately after signing up it was the worst most horrible idea anyone has ever had in their life. And now that time has passed I go back and forth, depending on the day. Throughout the past 4 months there have been days the thought of this trip has gotten me through. Days when 5:30pm feels like midnight and I don't know how many more decades I can wait until bedtime. It's saved me from many, many moments of despair. 

And now that it's oh so close I'm back to the worst idea ever. Sharing a house that sleeps twenty - and even sharing a room with another person. What if I need alone time? What if I have to poop? What if I miss the boys so much I disintegrate all over?

And now that I'm leaving soon everything they do is perfect and hilarious and adorable.

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I could watch him eat frozen yogurt all day long.

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The what ifs are killing me. 40-year old what ifs that never would have occurred at 22. Yes, I've needed to grow up- make good choices, spend money wisely and put others first. But where do you draw the line and just let go of control?

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The time is now. For every one of us. The time to let go of the bad what ifs and turn them into good ones. What if I have the time of my life? What if I laugh so hard it hurts my stomach? What if I create incredible friendships that last the rest of my life? What if this adventure leads to many, many more?

Sometimes to change your world all it takes is a shift in perception.

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I know, I know friend- It will be an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. I will come back bursting with life and so very grateful for the experience. Sometimes it just takes me a little to get there. I'll be sure and put Have fun on my list for while I'm there.

Big Fat Hugs,


Join me on Instagram @lifewithgrey


  1. I'm a fellow "what-if-er". It is a crummy habit, and hard to break, that's for sure. I think you are right about turning them into positive what-ifs. I am going to try doing that more often. :-) Thank you!!

    Oh you're going to have a great time, I'm sure! I've been to San Juan Island (which is next to Orcas), and it was beautiful! And I could just about wave to you from my house... okay, almost from where I used to live... the angle is a little off, but close! I love the picture of Greyson... I don't know what he's looking at or what he's thinking, but it looks like "OH THE POSSIBILITIES!" to me. :-)

  2. I think this is a GREAT idea. I so admire you getting out of your comfort zone....sometimes daily. :) Enjoy some time....us Mama's need some down time.

  3. I love this post because I too booked a girls getaway for this weekend months ago and thought it was the BEST idea ever, now I'm clearly freaking out at the thought of leaving my boys. What if my plane crashes and I never see them again? Who will make sure everything in their life is OK and my son continues to receive all of his service etc... I MUST write a letter before I go with all my wishes for my sons just in case I don't make it back... YES.. I really think these things! So you are not alone! Let's hope we both have an awesome weekend- we mommys deserve it :) - K

  4. You earned this. This is your retreat to hone into your very own super powers. I follow your blog and ETST and babybythesea. It is like all of my favorite people who I actually do not know personally but feel like I know will all be in the same room, becoming fast friends, being vunerable and scared but creating something AH-mazing! I am completly jealous! It is easy to stay in our bubble keep doing what we are comfortable with but that is not what quotes are made from. It is we can do hard things. Enjoy and Have Fun!

  5. ENJOY each moment (I'm sure you will!). As Jorie said "it is like all of my favorite people who I actually do not know personally but feel like I know will all be in the same room". So true. You, ETST, DigThisChick, and I'm sure more. I really look forward to hearing about your trip!

  6. Thank-you so much Chrissy for writing this post! I have sent it to everyone I know to help them understand what my son Haydin and so many others are dealing with. When i was reading and I saw that picture of you snuggling with your two boys the tears just flowed. That has to be the single most beautiful picture I have ever seen! The love between you and your boys is inspiring. Please keep putting yourself and your writing out there. It is helping so many! I know it must be scary but it is awesome!

  7. I just realized my comment went to a different days post! :) I had meant to post the comment on your 'what is autism' post , but I love all your posts so I guess it doesn't really matter! ha ha

  8. What if you laugh until your stomach hurts and make lifelong friends.

    What a great what if.