Fight the Good Fight

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Sometimes being afraid just takes up too much time in the day.

And sometimes, we can fear the strangest things.

Y’all, I am fighting off some gunk lately. It is real, biological gunk as I think I might be getting the horrible plague-flu that is going around the boys’ school. I substitute there, and just yesterday a little sweetheart came up and coughed in my general direction and I swear I could SEE the horrible plague-germs attack me.

Also, sadness and confusion. I am fighting that. And a complete lack of confidence. I am a lump of all of that.

Here’s the deal. I am working on book 2. This is wonderful and exciting and such a straight up gift from God. So, you know Satan has to get in on it, don’t you? Satan’s all:

“This is the worst drivel you have ever written. You just googled The Spice Girls, to put IN your book, are you kidding? Who is going to read this crud? Maybe Scary Spice but that’s IT. And, you know? It’s really, really important right now for you to go on the facebooks and waste about 30 min. scrolling, scrolling, so you can mush-ify your brain a little more, BECAUSE YOU CANNOT WRITE.”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Satan has a very good way of instilling fear, distracting, and then lumpifying me. Allow me to show you in a cool graphic display:

Step One:

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Step Two:

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Step Three:8182018_orig.png

 

Also, this morning I received an email rejecting my writing. It happens. It happens a lot, actually. If you want to be a writer, oftentimes you have to hold your writing out for others to see, and that merits some rejection.

Still hurts, though. Still makes Satan just rub his hands together in glee, so he can now sprinkle “SEE? I TOLD YOU SO. YOU CAN’T WRITE. GET A CLUE AND START FILLING OUT APPLICATIONS AT JC PENNY” onto my already mushy brain.

Not that working at JC Penny would be terrible. It’s just… retail does not really speak to me on a creative level, you know? And I decided, some years ago, when I laid down the wine and said, “Enough,” that my new addiction would be creativity. So, I have to have it.

I just have to. Or I wither.

Here’s the deal. Satan tries to wither us at any corner, any small space, any bit of emptiness he can wiggle into. He slides in, sneaks by, infiltrates oh so slowly, and next thing you know? You’ve start to feel fear. And then, you react.

I react by throwing a blanket over it, so I can pretend it’s not there. I try to numb it out. I poke my fingers in my ears and sing “La la la la la!!!” like I’m six.

I try all of these things and scroll on the facebooks too. It does the trick, for a while. But all the time, the fear is still there, shrouded, and waiting. So very, very patient.

Instead? Well, I want to breathe in God and breathe Him out and just sit with Him and talk about all this stuff. I forget to DO that. Such a simple thing.

Kelly Balarie’s book, Fear Fighting, gives us reminders and wisdom about all of this. It is a book that speaks to those of us who long for Control. Who Worry. Who hate Waiting. Who have felt the sting of Rejection. (These are all her chapter titles, and I re-read “Rejection and Opposition: They Have Issues just this morning.)

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I also want “rhythm with God.” I want to sit with Him in all of this, and then, get up and walk with Him and work it out. I don’t want to evade or cover up or sink into mushy, distracted, tired brain.

I am grateful for this book and for Kelly’s compassion. She’s been there. Oh, has she been there (Read her book; she’ll tell you all about it. )

Go do something un-mushifying today. I will too, with the help of too much coffee, Jesus, some good music (Sara Groves, of course) and this book.

Join the good fight. #FearFightingbook #DolifewithGod

And all God’s women said,  Amen?

Amen!

 

Willy Nilly Parenting. Yes It’s a Thing.

You guys. Parenting should never just hope for the best and lean on fate. It should never overplay its hand. Or wait for the luck of the draw. Basically? Anything related to the word “gambling” should not be in the same suit as parenting

(You saw that, right? Are we not in total awe of me?)

Parenting is a science, y’all. And for those people out there who say gambling is all just science and math and numbers, well, you go, Stephen Hawking*. I’m not gonna argue. I  don’t even have the time to elaborate on my metaphor and plus, science is much too thinkie for me right now.

Oh, you know it. I just said it. I am anti-thinkie today. And you wanna know WHY?

CHILDREN. CHILDREN, THAT’S WHY.

If you please, I would like to present to you my plan to stop thinking about my parenting because I only have a few years left on this planet and if I don’t want to end up a mumbling heap of wrinkles in ten years, I am going to start NOW.

MOMSIE’S PLAN TO STOP THINKING ABOUT PARENTING:

AKA

LET’S JUST DO THIS ALL WILLY NILLY.

I know some of you read some parenting books, just like me. I read most of them right before cherub #1 was born and I took notes and journaled and planned and was READY to get ON it with the parenting. I was a thinkie beacon of parenting light, I tell you.

And then that little dude came out of my nether regions and all of it just went south. Nether regions too.

Here. Let me provide a visual to explain:

(NO not of the nether regions! Good heavens. )

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I no longer have a plan. I fly by the seat of my pants, people. My kids are a bit twitchy, but they’ve survived. In fact, in some ways, the Willy Nilly model has served them well. Just the other day I heard Blonde kid (#1, he started this whole mess) clock Red over the head with his light saber and then they were all mad and hated each other forever and then within FOUR minutes giggling commenced because one kid called it a fart saber. I don’t even know which one did it, but it certainly provided some comic relief. And so, logically…

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*I am pretty sure Stephen Hawking is all about physics? Not so much gambling? But he’s super smart, right? Anyhow, I wanted you to at least know that I knew that.

Connection

 

Linking up with my favorite people today! Five Minute Friday.

The theme?

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Ok, there are two ways of looking at the world:

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and…

 

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Ok.  I do realize this MIGHT just be a bit over-simplified. I haven’t done any actual research on it. But I am super smart so you know? Trust me. Two ways.

So, I wrote a book. And started writing more articles. And, along with that, I started speaking. Not just randomly speaking, like in the car, or to the grocer guy, but

PUBLIC SPEAKING. Like, IN FRONT OF GROUPS. 

(Say it with an echo after; helps the effect.)

Anyhow. It makes me a bit… twitchy. I am a shy person (this is when some of you who know me burst into peals of laughter). I AM. Shy people just know how to accessorize with nutball behavior and a penchant for snort-laughing in public. This shy thing has been around for a while. I covered it up once with lots of wine. Now, I speak about how I covered it up with lots of wine. This is very ironic, eh? Irony happens to me ALL THE TIME.

My last gig was wonderful and amazing and here is why:

1. The first speaker (sharing about a home for recovery for women in the area) used this phrase: “You have to learn to care for yourself before you can care for others.” This is the exact same thing my sponsor told me at the beginning. At this point I feel a tiny nudge.

2. The musician, Emily, apologized for her first song choice. “Not the best for a snowy day,” she smiled. And then she sang the song that I have always thought of as my “theme song” for getting sober. I Can See Clearly Now, by Johnny Nash.

            Hmmmmm.

3.   And then, the sweet lady next to me, right before I spoke, said,
“You’re up next, and just so you know I’ll be praying for you the whole time.”

God’s leaning in.

4. And finally, the closing song:

I Need Thee Every Hour.

The song I used to listen to and whisper/sing/cry to as I rocked upstairs while by boys slept. My version was on a Fernando Ortega cd. I would sing it, pray it, as tears dripped down my face, sometimes with a sleeping boy cuddled up, all heavy and warm and snotted on, in my lap. That song told me it was ok to be sober, an hour at at time. Not even a day at a time. Just an hour. I just needed to keep saying, “I need you.”

I connect with others through my speaking and writing. It’s part of my job now, to reach out, to speak, to connect even when a little shy or tired or tongue-tied. And, I love to do so because I am learning that the reaching out, the connecting? It helps me. It keeps me sober. It keeps me pointed true north.

But yesterday? God wanted to make sure I knew that He was connecting with me.

I know. He is available all the time, but on some days? Like yesterday? My sweet Lord sent me a Hallmark card, a letter, a telegram, an airplane banner in the sky:

“Hey! Dana!” says the banner. “I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK, DID YOU KNOW THAT? PROBABLY MORE. I SHOULD KNOW, I MADE THE MOON.”

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And also, this. I am thinking a similar outfit for my next speaking gig. No? Too much? Ok. Probably too much.

Resolutions are not useless and here’s why:

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Ok, so I write for a fabulous magazine called The Cov. It’s a good gig. I get to talk about Jesus and often, they allow funny.  At the same time. I have a good relationship with the editors. I know this because I can send them kitty memes about procrastination and they seem to appreciate them.

Like:

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And this one, which neatly sums up the process of trying to edit:

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And this one:

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Which really has nothing to do with writing but it cracks me up. Also this:

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I know. I need to stop. So, the other day we were talking about a January column and I was all:

“HEY RESOLUTIONS! NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THAT BEFORE, RIGHT?”

And my editor, who I shall call Larry, said,
“Resolutions are hokey.”

Oh, it was on.

Actually, no. It was not on. I was all, “Oh, sure… right Larry, I totally agree.” I didn’t argue because he is kind of my boss, but NOT without muttering under my breath, all passive aggressive:

“You will rue the day, Larry.”

Not really sure where we’re going here, but I made MY OWN RESOLUTIONS ANYHOW ON MY BLOG! WHO’S THE BOSS NOW LARRY? HUH?

I know. I have to assert control somewhere.

MOMSIE’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2017:

  1. Maintain a good working relationship with Larry.
  2. Stop putting my coffee in the microwave, zapping it for twenty seconds, and then leaving it there to ponder its uselessness until forty-eight hours later.
  3. I’m going to use this book on my children. 51MF3u-JPAL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_-1.jpgI will hold them each in my hands, ponder them for a minute, and ask them, “Tell me, small Red who has once again left a swath jelly behind in the kitchen like its own sticky Exxon Valdez oil slick, DO YOU SPARK JOY? DO YA, PUNK? DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?
  4. I will figure out how to number things on my blog.
  1. I will not actually donate my children, I promise. But you gotta know, MARIE KONDO DOES NOT HAVE CHILDREN. One day, if she does, she will grab some sort of useless plastic toy in her hands and start pondering it, and ask, “Small useless piece of plastic from The McDonalds, do you spar-” and her wee child will start crying and Kondo will just roll her eyes and toss it at the baby. You know she will.
  2. I will brush and floss every day.
  3. Freaked you out with that one, didn’t I? You were wondering… “Wait. She DOESN’T brush every day? Why am I even reading this?
  4. I will stop overusing “skin fixing illuminating age defying serum that costs shackamillion dollars.” I figured since the packaging said it erases fine lines I should just, you know, slather it all over. And now I head out for my day every morning looking like I’m J Lo.maxresdefault.jpg
  5. Actually? Scratch that. If I want to look like J Lo I can. Say hello to my glowy little friend:

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10. I will also try to get a handle on this:6a7c885b9a3b9476370d6de5a1b7c0ebd4d3d0359d90b8c1d9693788f25a6482_1.jpg

Betcha can’t guess what type of personality I am? I’ll give you a hint: I often have slanty eyebrows and I rhyme with “SLAY.

11. I WILL STOP SAYING ‘BOYS, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?’ CUZ EVERYTIME I DO THAT A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST AND EVERYONE HEARS IT.

12. And finally, as God is my witness, I will stop buying the bargain toilet paper. Life is just too short, people.

Here’s the thing (YOU KNOW I can’t write a post without some sort of “Here’s the moral to the story” moment? Right? Larry tells me I do this. It’s my thing. Alas, I often have no idea what I’m talking about in terms of morals, but I WILL CARRY ON.)

Anyhow, here’s the thing. I think this year I want to stop trying to lose things. I want to not try to lose weight or lose wrinkles or lose the clutter or lose my mind or whatevs.

I want more. I want enough piled on enough.

More, please!

More: Jesus. Family. Special Locked Door Husband time (yes, that’s code for nookie). Laughter. Small children who have impossibly long lashes and a total inability to eat without making the kitchen look like a crime scene.

More cuddling with this huge fat furry fluff of goodness:IMG_6138.jpg

This picture illustrates that Steve is two things:

  •      A bit of a risk taker.
  •      Really doesn’t mind pencils. EduCATed. Har har har.

I will take more naps:IMG_6131.jpg

I don’t have a picture of ME napping so these are stand-in, blurry nappers. Look carefully for the dog, he’s at the end of the couch and is basically really really hurt because Steve has his spot.

Also, we’re so healthy! V-8!

I will take my kids sledding, even when there’s only about 2 inches of snow. We will still attempt it. IMG_6222 3.jpg

I will stay up a little later, act a little sillier, and hug even tighter.

Also, I’ll listen to the Xanadu soundtrack more often.

Oh, and I won’t drink. There’s always that. That’s one minus I will happily keep adding to my life.

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And, I will write. I’ll even pen some resolutions. I will always, always love the re-set button that is January 1.

Happy New Year to you. May God richly bless you. You have been a HUGE blessing to me.

Even you, Larry.

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That’s not actually Larry. Love you, Larry!

Here is Why My Children Are Weird.

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This is stunt cinnamon toast. Mine doesn’t look this good.

Hi everyone!

Welcome to another fascinating installment of:

My Children Are Weird. The Food Edition

Season 4 Episode 786

So, this morning I make cinnamon toast for the babies. Why? Because I am simply the best mom ever, and I have it on good authority (past roommate) that I happen to make the best cinnamon toast in the nation. Maybe all the nations. My cinnamon toast is the kind that divides and conquers, y’all. It’s the Cinnamon Manifesto of toast.

Anyhow. This conversation follows:

Red: Mom. I don’t want the toast.

Me: Ok. Uh. You do realize my toast is going to conquer the world, right? Like, if you take one bite it actually makes it possible for you to leap tall buildings AND always aim correctly, ok?

Red: Right. Anyhow, I don’t want the toast. I want cinnamon bread. The toast is too hard.

Momsie: Since when did we decide toast was “hard”? Yesterday I caught you gnawing on peanut brittle like a crazed squirrel.

Red: Yes. But that was after lunch. After lunch I can do the hard things.

Blonde: Also, I don’t want the cinnamon toast.

Momsie: Bread? Cinnamon bread, I suppose?

Blonde: No. Not at all. It makes my stomach feel funny. You see, it’s too sweet.

Momsie: Is this when I get to throw up my hands in despair and stalk out of the room, or is that later?

Blonde: I know that yesterday I had two cookies, some fudge, and about fifty Hershey’s kisses. Also that fruit tape stuff that tells you it’s all natural which is just a gateway food into understanding how everybody lies to us. But as for right NOW, especially since you have already PREPARED the cinnamon toast with a lot of care and not enough coffee,  I am saying no. No, I don’t want the cinnamon toast.

Momsie: So…  If I had not actually made the toast?

Blonde: I so woulda eaten that.

Momsie: So. The toast is a symbol.

Blonde: The toast is a symbol. Yes. I told you, everybody lies. It’s a hard lesson but I am here to teach it to you. In a cute way.

Momsie: I am so depressed right now. But here, Red, here is your… cinnamon… bread.

Red: Brace yourself. I am now going to push the plate away like you just brought me a steaming bowl of bird poop. And then I’ma gonna lay my head down on the table because you have betrayed me.

Momsie: Thank you for that poop visual, son. It takes a lot of birds to get a bowl going on in that one.

Red: I know, right? But back to me. This bread. It’s too buttery. And you know I don’t like buttery.

Momsie: Surely there is some sort of reprogramming center you can go to for that. Not liking buttery? This is shunning material here. Also, you don’t like to dip your carrots in ranch dressing. You like carrots, just NO dressing. This proves you are an imposter.

Blonde: I like buttery! Just without the bread. And the cinnamon. So, just some butter with sugar, please.

Momsie: I think it’s time.

Blonde: Yes. Yes! That’s your cue. Now is when you can throw your hands up and walk out of the room. But don’t leave too long, for as much as we are irritated with you right now, we still want you to always be in the SAME room with us as all time.

Red: I agree. It’s in our nature. We are heat-seeking missiles and you’re the underpaid target, lady.  Oh, and? When you come back I am going to repeatedly ask you to scrape the butter off of my bread but still, somehow, leave the sugar and cinnamon intact. So, defy the laws of physics. Before 8 am. Just a head’s up.

The end.

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Have Yourself a Merry Little- Oh Never Mind.

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So. Christmas is over.

Not really, I know. Christmas is really an all year long thing, as you well realize. But right now, that’s just one Hallmark card short of rubbing it in a little bit. I can’t help it. On December 26 I find myself in a taking down of all the decorations frenzy. Our kitchen seems to offer up only one food group anymore – fudgey items – and I seem to crave… salad. Who knew? If you eat nothing but pie and cheese for a week that spinach might start calling your name?

Also, taking down Christmas decorations is weird. It’s like, I love all the sparkly bits all over the house, but keeping them up just REMINDS me that the sparkly bits will need to come down. It’s like visiting Paris and knowing that in a day or two you will be getting on a plane and ending up in the Newark airport. So, let’s just take down all the sparkly bits now. Let’s squash those hopes of Paris, ca va? Paris is overrated.

My boys greeted me this morning with this nugget: “So, what’s the NEXT holiday we’ve got, Mom? And, are there presents.?”

Speaking of presents, right now I am listening to this:

“Red! RED! Whack the droid with your lightsaber! Use the force. THE FORCE, RED. NO, NOT THAT FORCE, THE OTHER ONE. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, WHACK THE GLOWING CRYSTAL THINGIE WITH YOUR FORCE!”

USE THE FORCE AND THEN RUN AWAAYYYYYYYY!”

Yep. We drank the Kool-Aid. The boys got a Wii for Christmas (we’re only a few years behind on technology. We take it slow here. Just a few months ago both boys were running around with the BOXES to their dad’s iphone pretending they were their OWN phones. It was kind of pathetic. I wanted to encourage them on being so creative and imaginative but I also felt a bit embarrassed about it all.)

And, I know for a FACT that no Jedi would EVER whack ANYONE with the force and then run away. That’s just silly talk.

Also, there’s this rather illuminating bit of marital knowledge: When you tell your spouse, “Really, there is nothing I want for Christmas. Just skip the gifts, ok?” you must remember this later. You must remember that you said it and you believed it about as much as you believe that elves make cookies in trees and that The Walking Dead is gonna have a happy ending. You need to maybe clarify this statement next year like this:

“Ok. I’m going to tell you that I don’t want any presents. But, when it is 7:35 am and I’ve had about four hours of sleep and the boys have reached a sort of unwrapping frenzy that makes you think of really cute sharks circling in the water, trailing ribbons, I might want a small gift. Just a wee morsel. Something shiny. Like four thousand dollars.”

I told the husband “no gifts.” And then, of course, I got him candy, a Popular Science magazine that he will never find time to read, and a gadget that doesn’t work. And for me? Nothing. Nada. He really actually listened to me.

This is so very rare.

Why is it he does not listen to me when I say things like, “Honey? There is a spider the size of New Jersey in the laundry room?  I tried to friend him on facebook, but he says he’s not on social media and could he just eat me instead? COULD YOU COME HERE AND SMUSH HIM????”

Nope, he doesn’t hear me when we are all about to be ransacked by big, hairy legged monstrosities in the laundry room. But he TOTALLY is all, “I’m the best listener EVER when presents are involved.”

My husband says there are too many caveats in marriage. Too many unwritten rules added to the written rules. I tell him that’s what keeps it fresh. Being married to me is your very own Clue game, only no one dies by candlestick.

The only recourse is to eat some of the candy that I had bought him. I am so over wanting salad now. There is peanut butter in the candy so it’s healthy.

So, my afternoon will be spent with a chocolate hangover and that weird, “there is too much down-time now” kind of feeling hanging over me like a needy roommate. On one hand, I want to deal with the roommate by washing all of her clothes and cleaning house from top to bottom. But the other half of me wants to watch my boys’ bludgeon each other with the Force and run in weird circles in that prancy way that Lego Star Wars characters do.  At one point it looked like Obi Wan Lego guy was doing the Hustle.

And… Lego Star Wars has won the battle for now. The force is strong with this day.

 

While Dreams of Martinis Danced in My Head.

Y’all. Christmas used to mean drinking.

It meant Bailey’s Irish Cream. And mulled wine (totally gross, and it involves the extra step of actually heating up the alcohol, which, if you think about it… why not just throw that stuff in the microwave if you must, but without the cinnamon sticks). It meant eggnog and rum. I think this is perhaps the most heinous of Christmassy drinks, but it was all “’tis the season” this and “let’s raise our glasses” that and I usually had my one cup of tricked-out eggnog and then just headed for the wine, like normal people do.

Anyhow.

I forget if I have told you…. have we had that whole uncomfortable, hey, did you know this little tidbit about me thing where I unload my personal history and tragedy, but in a totally “it’s all cool” kind of way – like if you came bopping up to me and said “Hey! Hi! Cute shoes! Did you know I used to steal cars?”

What I’m trying to say is: My name is Dana, and I’m an alcoholic.

I don’t drink anymore. But Christmas? Christmas is a time that I really remember it all. The insanity. The lying. The situation that somehow I had gotten myself into, me, an intelligent, “had it together” mom of two. Me. Hiding vodka in my closet, tucked away amongst all those cute shoes.

Christmas is for a lot of things. But for me, drinking is no longer one of them. Tonight, Christmas is for sneaking around with wrapping and tape and a La Croix, and lots of whispering and staying up way too late. It’s for eating yummy things and crying while I watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I always cry. It’s the law.

Christmas is all about second chances, after all. George Bailey understands that, I think. So does Christ. It’s his birthday and He is so happy celebrate it with all of us. Christmas is for playing endless board games and making candy and hoping the roads aren’t icy and splurging at the store to buy your kid a ridiculous Pikachu shirt because that odd yellow creature speaks my kid’s love language. I dunno. I don’t get it. But when I was a kid I went nutball for the Superfriends, so perhaps we’re just repeating ourselves.

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Christmas is for seeing how a baby gave us the colossal reset. It’s for taking a breath and realizing goodness and right is still in charge. Still good. Still right.

And still right here.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Mine will be spent playing bingo and eating cookies and probably forty thousand other things, all with family. For those with family far away or an empty chair at the table, I know. And I know for some, hanging up that one thing that plagues you so is still not part of the plan for Christmas. Do yourself a favor. Give yourself the gift of freedom. Set down the glass or the pill or the shopping or the comparing of the gambling or whatever it is that keeps you stuck.

Set it down and enjoy the best gift. Life.

Love you and Merry Sober Christmas.