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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Joel & Julia...too close to home

It's been a long time since I've written a "PYHO" post, but this was on my mind and my heart. A good friend and excellent writer recently wrote about good writing being that which scares us the most to write. The two things came together and, well, here I am, pouring my heart out. Please be gentle with it.

Whether it was adrenaline from having watched "Captain Phillips" or it was too many Diet Cokes (yes, I'm off the wagon), I stayed up much too late on Saturday to watch three episodes of the TV show "Parenthood." One continuing storyline is the decaying of the marriage of Joel and Julia. Without going into a lot of detail, I'll bring you up to speed by saying that Joel has decided to move out of the house. That was hard to watch because it hit too close to home.

It was, in the relatively recent past, me and my husband sitting on opposite sides of the room, opening a conversation with our children with the words "First, we want you to know that we both love you very much." Honestly, if you hear those words, brace yourselves. Hard times will follow.

The reasons that Mike and I separated were different that what is being played out on the television show, but I recognized the look that Joel and Julia gave each other as they were wrapping their arms around their children, attempting to make it all better, even momentarily. It's that look that says "What are we doing?" and "This is how it has to be" all at the same time. It's really an awful feeling, one where you want to show a loving, united front to your children when what you feel is torn apart at every point where you used to be connected.

I wish I could tell you if my kids reacted the way the children on the show reacted, but honestly I don't remember. That probably makes me a bad mom, but I was so wrapped up in -- and broken down by -- what seemed like the end of my marriage, I can't tell you what my kids said or did when we delivered the news that we were separating.

Then, there were the days and nights that followed. The ones that were so full of relief it felt as though this must certainly be the first breath I'd taken in months. And the ones that were so empty that no amount of television noise or bowls of ice cream or Facebooking could fill them.The kids would ask "when is Dad coming home" and I wouldn't have an answer that satisfied them, in part because he was away because that's where I'd sent him.

There were moments of uncertainty, when prayers where hastily thrown up with hopes that they would stick. And there were moments of enormous grace, when prayers were answered in ways we least expected.

I don't know what will happen on "Parenthood" with Joel and Julia (and I don't really care). If you'd told me that at this point, my story would have us living again as a family of 5 under one roof when two roofs -- permanently -- seemed like such a certainty not that long ago, I wouldn't have believed you. I can't even tell you what happened to bring our family back together. My only explanation is that same enormous grace...delivered moment by moment in prayers whispered and cried out, by me, by Mike, by plenty of people who love us. Grace that gave us each the courage to trust and to forgive, little bit by little bit.

Yes, it was hard to watch Joel and Julia walking that path, but nowhere near as hard as it was to walk it myself, not knowing where the road would lead. We are not far enough on the other side that I can be grateful for it having happened, for it shaping me as a person. But I'm grateful we are, indeed, on the other side.

To read more PYHO posts, click the graphic at the top of this post.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I feel like dancing

For all that worry, I made it to work just fine! I waited until the end of rush hour before leaving. The side streets were a little like driving on the surface of the moon. The highways were a little slow, but mostly clear. My 40 minute commute took me about an hour, but that's not too bad, considering.

And now? Now I feel like dancing:


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why did the chicken cross the road?

 photo 46ce514e-99cf-48a3-aaf8-8b1e77f43e30_zpsb3eb1050.jpgWell, in this case, the chicken would be ME. And the only reason I'm crossing the road tomorrow is that I have to go to work. And to a post-op doctor's appointment. And I'm certainly not chirping about it. In fact, I'm "bawking" at the prospect.

I really don't like to drive -- and that's on a good day. Tomorrow, I'll be setting foot -- more accurately, minivan -- on roads that have been described as bumpy, slick, ice ridden, rutted, dangerous. I wouldn't know myself; I haven't left the house since before noon on Saturday.

"Go slowly," everyone keeps saying. I have a 40-minute commute, so do I plan for 90 minutes tomorrow? I'd rather work from home and save myself an hour and a half on the round trip. But I really need to get back to the office. I haven't been there since December 16, the day before my surgery. There are things I need to check on and people I need to see and a frame of mind I need to get back into. Sigh.

Of course that neck surgery is another thing that is nagging me about the whole driving thing. What if I get into an accident? I envision little titanium nails popping out of my vertebrae and my spine wobbling like a Slinky. Realistically none of that will happen, the accident or a Slinky spine scenario.

Mike offered to drive me to work and if it weren't for the mid-of-the-day post-op appointment, I'd let him. Besides, there are plenty of people who have been out there, driving to and from work and surviving just fine. I know (I think) I can do it. I just don't want to.

I hope by this time tomorrow, I'll be laughing at myself for being so nervous to drive somewhere. Or maybe my nerves will be shot from the experience, which would of course make me a...wait for it...fried chicken.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Oh the pressure of the New Year

http://gigaom.com/2013/01/09/8-iphone-apps-to-help-you-chill-out-and-de-stress-in-the-new-year/The beginning of a new year…oh, the possibility of a blank slate, the potential of dreams yet unfulfilled, the pressure to do it right. When Mike left for college, his very well-meaning grandfather stood in the driveway, waved goodbye and called out, "DO EVERYTHING RIGHT!" That's what the New Year feels like to me.


The New Year kind of stresses me out. Not in the way it stressed out my mother-in-law, who wouldn't go anywhere after 5pm on December 31 because "everyone out there is drunk driving." What stresses me out is the pressure to perform. 

Lose weight.

Spend less.

Save more. 

Have a cleaner house. 

Eat like a caveman. 

Reduce your carbon footprint. 

Pray more. 

None of those things are bad. No one would argue that any of them would lead to bad things. But the bandwagons that are circling for those things make me more nervous than a kid whose needle-wielding doctor just said "this won't hurt...much."

It's not that I don't see areas of my life which could use improvement. It's that I see too many areas that are begging for attention. Lose weight. Spend less. Save more. Be more organized. Be present more. Pray more. Covet less. 

Maybe I need to get more comfortable with the idea of goal-setting. Maybe I need to be better about creating a plan by which to reach a goal. Maybe I need to print signs -- "encouragements" for you Fault in Our Stars fans  -- to hang around the house. Would any of that make me embrace the possibility of the New Year any more than I do?

Last year, I decided that in the New Year I wanted to simply be kind, spread joy. I think I succeeded for the most part, extending kindness outward. 

This year, I'm feeling a pull to turning inward, focusing on our family, our interactions with one another, our stewardship of those things which we've been given. Maybe its the realization that we really only have Annie at home for another 18 months. Maybe its a natural tendency to gather my people in when they are, quite naturally, moving into circles further from our home base. 

I don't have any real resolutions to offer, just an awareness of a direction in which I want to move. No pressure.