When the routine is all we have.

Linking up with my people at Five Minute Friday today.

The theme?

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There are days when I get up, I get dressed, I swig some coffee, and I sashay on out to the world and say,

“World, greetings and salutations! I just had some coffee and my kids are dressed with 75% of their clothes facing the right way, and I’m PUMPED. Let’s DO this!”

Today friends, is not that day.

Today was a wake up, stare up at the ceiling, wish for more sleep, more coffee, more time when my brain didn’t seem to hurt so bad, kind of day.

I was not ready to face it, the day, or anything else for that matter.

I just wanted to pull my covers up over my head and hope for sleep and chocolate and perhaps a Corgi puppy. A puppy would help.

That would get all messy, though. And you know the puppy would also eat the chocolate which is bad and there would be stains on the bed and UGH WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SO HARD EVEN PUPPIES.

And that’s when I start in on the whole exhausting mental checklist of Doom:

  1. It’s sunny, but I’m still sad.
  2. My children are healthy. Yep, still sad.
  3. Chocolate is in the house somewhere. SAD. SAD. SAD.
  4. We are fed, watered, have a roof… and still there is this horrible dreadful SADNESS. GO AWAY.

I have no reason for this sadness. And I really hate that. I want it to go away. I want to fight it. But the more I do, the more I get stuck in the sadness. Do you remember that verse in the bible about temptation? It says not to engage. Don’t make eye contact. Just RUN DA HECK AWAY? Well, that’s what I need to do, I think.

But I’m too tired to run.

I hate this sadness SO much that I have a tendency to hunker down and listen to a sour, angry voice inside my head that I like to call my “Inner Asshole” (sounds so inappropriate and kind of gross, but really? It’s just who he is). And he says things like:

“You’ll always feel this way. This day is gonna suck so hard it will just be impossible to even MOVE and your kids will hate you and everything is awful and why even try. Nothing matters except that you know that you are a failure for feeling things so hard that they make you immobile, so for the love of Pete, MAKE SURE YOU DON’T MOVE THEN. It’s super important when feeling immobile to KEEP ON BEING THAT WAY.”

But this morning, I did this:

“Hey, Inner Asshole, shut it. (Again, kinda gross.) I gotta go teach a bunch of college kids how to write good.”

And I got up, got dressed, even brushed and flossed (win for me AND the college kids) and got to work.

I didn’t want to.

I really just wanted to stay home.

I kinda hate parenthetical citations, really.

But sometimes? The routine is all we have. And we get up, and floss, mutter the serenity prayer six times, and talk about parenthetical citations, and we hold onto all that stuff as a tiny, bobbing life preserver.

Not a big pink floatie in the shape of a flamingo, folks. Just a tiny, yellow, beat-up life preserver. That’s it. That’s all you get.

The sharks are still out there, but by goodness, I am going to float the heck out of that preserver and paddle on. 

NOT TODAY, SHARK.

NOT TODAY.

 

 

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Joy in the Midst of Heartache

Well, that’s a downer of a title, isn’t it?

Stay with me.

Linking up with my favorite bloggie family: Five Minute Friday.

The theme for today?

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Ok, so, right now the world has that extra bit of merry and bright going on. This makes total sense. We are counting the days before our Savior’s birth.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of Year, after all.

But, I notice a few things:

I have lights up, all over the house, inside and out. Strings of them, colored, white, all aglow, all day long.

Christmas music plays non stop. Mostly, I choose the soft, lingering melodies of George Winston. They are soft and soothing and I keep them on all the time.

I go to bed pretty early these nights, usually around 8:30. Flannel pajamas are my thing.

Next to my bed is a pile of books and my Ipad and Hershey’s kisses. I keep them stockpiled, and crawl into my bed as a sort of cozy fortress.

I take naps more often.

I make comfort food for dinner. Rich, heavy dishes with lots of calories. Salad does not happen. Chocolate happens.

I watch endless Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. My husband will not watch them with me, but the dog does. Hosmer loves the story line, mainly because they are all very similar. He’s a simple dog, with simple tastes.

I love this time of year. But, you know? It reminds me of those who are gone. It only makes me miss them the more, and I cannot think of Christmas without my brother.

Sometimes all this merriment makes it harder.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come.

So, let me receive it. Joy is deeper than all of this and the Joy Maker is through it and under it and above it.

Joy is all around.

Happiness, bliss, merriment, festivity, those might wane. We might experience a soul poverty at this time, but Joy is not from us. It’s from Him.

It makes me think of this carol, one of my favorites:

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him –
Give my heart.

Christina Rossetti

I have not posted in so long, and so wanted to come in with trumpets blazing, full of fun and funny. But instead, I wanted to write about the deep joy that answers all the questions.

What can we give him? Just give Him our hearts.

Banish Worry and Anxiety in Five Easy Steps!

Gotcha.

I hate to say it, but worry doesn’t go down that easy. It doesn’t do “steps.” Sometimes, it doesn’t even do logical.

And it doesn’t play fair. Does it?

Some of you know my whole story – the one that digs back behind the funny parenting posts and tells you that I am an alcoholic, in recovery. And here is the rub:

Worry was my THING.

And sometimes, it still is. The holidays are a time of festivity and lights and our Savior’s birth, but did you also know? For a lot of us, the holidays are fraught with fear, anxious thoughts, worry. Sadness. Depression. A whole cocktail of tangled thinking stirred with a cute little swizzle stick of “We SHOULD be totally happy right now! It’s Christmas! NO ONE can be sad at Christmas! It’s un-American!”

In some ways, worry is an addiction all its own. It can be picked up and put on, like one of those big puffy coats that make you look like the Michelin Man – it buffers you from all else. It wraps and constricts and, at the same time? It might just be what we think keeps us warm and safe. If we worry, that means we just might have a shot at fixing whatever worries us.

We think we can fix, with worry.

Instead? We only damage more.

Lately I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this:

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Here is a bit of wisdom (in the form of a list! You KNOW how I love lists!) from the author, D. C. Berkel, CPA:

Worrying has never:

  • Paid a bill
  • Turned around a failing relationship
  • Made a sick person well
  • Improved anyone’s physique
  • Changed anyone’s mood to one more positive
  • Made a job more fun or secure
  • Taken out the trash
  • Mowed the grass
  • Painted the house
  • Or kept the mother-in-law away

Now, not all mother in laws are worry-inducing. But, this list? It makes sense. We worry. We worry about all sorts of things. And Christmas? Sometimes, in all this joy and celebration, it crashes up against us and makes the worry hit back. This workbook? It has a lot of help to offer. It defines anxiety, and worry, and tells us why we sink under it. It gives us some very practical advice, in a written workbook format, step by step. It takes it slow.

And that’s how we deal. We need to take a breath, do some writing, some thinking about our past, some work. Maybe because we owe it to our future.

I still worry. But, I don’t let it control me. And I don’t suffer from it, like I used to. It doesn’t cloak me, and my life, like it once did.

Did you know? About six years ago, every time I got in a car with my family to go on a road trip, I would envision our little vehicle ending up in a terrible crash. I would see it, the metal on the road, the ambulances, the terror. I would breathe deep and clench my fists and pray like crazy, but that, my friends, is some palpable, evil anxiety to deal with. So, today? I do every thing I can to work on it. I gather my tools and I keep them close. God asks us pursue wisdom, and knowledge, and live right.

This book is one of those tools to live right. I highly recommend it.

If you are interested in getting a copy, click here.

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This is the best writing prompt EVER:

Linking up with my people today because, as you know…. (drum roll)

It’s FIVE MINUTE FRIIIIIIDAY with the lovely Kate Motaung.

AND TODAY’S THEME IS JUST TOO GOOD:

 

 

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Ok, let me tell you about eating.

There’s the good kind and the bad kind. Lately, it seems to be tipping over to the bad kind because last night I was writing until about one in the morning, accompanied by Halloween candy.

The Halloween candy didn’t do a very good job of keeping me company. It was all sticky and I kept sitting on the crinkly wrappers. You know what happens once you get into the Halloween candy, don’t you? You KEEP getting into it. It’s like once you start doing Amazon One-Click of sugar addiction.

But, y’all? There’s good eating too.

I was thinking about food and my family, and all the dishes that I remember, where food becomes not just food, but something more. Something fragrant, with love added in.

So, here’s what I thought of:

My dad, every Thanksgiving, smokes a duck in his kettle grill. I go out and talk with him as he watches the duck like a hawk (so many bird things going on here). He uses this special marinade that he has been making since I was a child, and no one knows what’s in there. I don’t think he’ll ever tell us. Maybe the recipe is in some vault somewhere and we get to access it after he is with Jesus, and then we can start selling the stuff and we’ll make millions. Yes, dad, I know I just sort of gleefully referred to making money after you meet your maker. I know. That’s OK, though because I know how fond you are of the money thing.

Sigh. I really hope he doesn’t take this the wrong way.

Anyhow, the duck. The duck is a thing. It’s our thing. It’s delicious and it’s my dad out there in the cold and me going out there and talking and discussing life and how many meetings I’ve been going to and how the lawn looks great.

Also, this: the last time I talked, really TALKED to my brother, was out on that back porch, with dad’s duck, Thanksgiving. So, you know, the duck. It’s special. It’s sad and happy.

I know. That sure is a lot of feelings to attach to a smoked duck. Who knew poultry could be so meaningful? But it is.

And my mom. Now, she’s like the best cook ever. And I mean EVER. But I’m not going to talk about all that right now because I want to talk about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I had just given birth to Blonde. I was sinking into post-partum depression, didn’t know it yet, at all, and was also just really really REALLY tired. My mom told me to go lay down, and I did. And then, she brought me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk.

And I ate it and cried and it was the best sandwich I have ever had. My mom used to bring me Sprite with a straw when I was sick, and let me lay back on her bed and watch Electric Company. I felt kind of like her, that sick little girl, and my mom was bringing me food on a tray. And it helped.

Incidentally, my mom was the one that helped me figure out that I was actually dealing with something perhaps a little bit more severe than just the baby blues.

Happy and sad. A peanut butter sandwich with a lot of meaning. Again.

Don’t even get me started on my sister Jenni’s birthday cakes. Or my other sister Sherry’s crescent rolls. Don’t even.

Food. Family. Love. Memories. Some of the happiest, and saddest memories are tied to what we eat, but you know that. You know because maybe you always make your kids Mickey Mouse pancakes on Saturday mornings. Or you always have popcorn and candy corn on movie nights. Or your husband always asks for your peanut butter balls and swears it’s his love language. And you make chicken soup for him when he’s sniffling and something about it makes you feel better too, as you chop and mince and stew.

This post makes me want to go make oatmeal cookies. 🙂

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PS:  Dad, I really do love you and if I had my way you and your marinade will be around until forever.

The road to Slugville is wide and slimy.

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Friends, I am now on day two of my re-route from Slugville and I have to tell you, it has been one orange construction cone after another.

Actually it’s been ok. But not great. Like, I am not all that jazzed about it. Because, Slugville is so easy.

This road? Away from Slugville? It isn’t easy.

So, let me just say this isn’t one of those posts where I’m gonna turn it all around for a glorious big finish, and you end up all “Heck to the YES! I too am feeling so TOTALLY ON FIRE WITH IT ALL! I’M A ROMAN CANDLE OF MOTIVATION!

I TOO SHALL FIX ALL THE THINGSSSSS!”

Nope. Not really that kinda post.

I have continued on my slow clunking along. I’m getting more sleep. I’m reading more happy things, things that feed the soul. Life is just basically putting one foot in front of the other.

So, yesterday I got an email that was a big “NO” to something I had tried for. Here’s a hint: It’s like a speaking gig? One that rhymes with “Bed” but with a “T?”  And also? I can’t come.

I was so disappointed. I really wanted to be able to write this to you, today:

“Oh my gosh! I have been so in a FUNK lately. But yet, here is this big, huge, gigantic wonderful email that is telling me I am chosen. Like, I AM THE CHOSEN ONE! Too much? Too bad Star Wars movie? Well, whatever. REDEMPTION is ALL UP IN HERE, y’all! It was all for a REASON! The sadness! The slime! I got through it and here is the big huge fat REWARD! YEA ME! This is how life works, y’all. You do the time and then, BOOM, Obi Wan is at your door waving a big, fat, Publisher’s Clearing House check and life is all unicorns and  kittens and endless guacamole!!!”

And here’s the other thing, though,

I didn’t make it by two people. Two. I was like so close.

The guy who emailed me was very nice. He was encouraging. He told me to try again. And I was all, “But I didn’t get it! How can I try again when I am so upset!? I am UPSET! There is no pulling up by bootstraps here! I was all Anakin Skywalker in my head for a moment! Chosen. One. Did I mention this is UPSETTING!”

Y’all. Two years ago, if you had told me I would have missed getting a Bed-with-a-T talk by two people I would have laughed at you. A kinda crazed, maniacal laugh. The kind where you throw your head back and cackle, like Vizzini in Princess Bride does. INCONCEIVABLE.

I guess the thing is this:

I am still trudging along. I am moving slow in traffic, past all those annoying orange cones, and did you know?

You aren’t supposed to speed in a construction zone.

Oh. And?

All of life is a construction zone.

OOOOO. That’s good. I think I will have to make a meme.

Yea… and then Glennon will tweet it and I’ll be famous! By the end of the day! That’s right! IT. COULD. HAPPEN!

Oh good God.  I need to get a grip.

I’m gonna go clean the cat box, people. That always tends to bring me smack back into reality.

 

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Choosing to Change

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Y’all. All of life is a choice. All of it. And lately?
I have been choosing to take a slow train ride to Slugsville.

Slugsville is a pleasant, albeit slimy place. It is a place of stillness. There’s lots of carbs involved, usually the ones with the double-stuffed centers. There’s a lot of pillows.

Also, some self loathing. But, the milder kind. Like, the kind where you watch twelve straight episodes of Property Brothers and think you should get some granite counter tops because everyone else has them, but first you might have to clean the kitchen first, but we just had breakfast so it looks like a crime scene, and maybe you will just eat half a box of Nilla Wafers instead. That kind of self-loathing.

“One day,” you think, “One day I will FIX ALL THE THINGS.”

So, I’ve been in a rut. It’s kind of understandable. It’s summer and I’m surrounded by nutball boys and wet swim suits and the endlessly tedious job of Putting Tiny Legos Back Where They Don’t Really Belong Because There Millions and They Keep Having Lego Babies.

Also, I have been a bit heartbroken about our world. So there’s that. And being a “little bit” heartbroken is kind of like saying, I’m just gonna watch E.T. and I might cry just a “little bit.”

Change, it seems, can be good. But, as one who has dealt with a “little bit” of depression all my life (yes, I know, I am being rather blithe about the depression thing, but not really. I am just talking about it in the way that is familiar and chatty, because we are very, very comfortable with each other, depression and I, and I am NOT going to write a depressing post today about depression. There is enough angst already, y’all, on the internets.)

ANYHOW.  As one who has dealt with depression, I recognize the road to Slugville.

And I want to turn the heck around.

Here is what I do when Slugville looms on my horizon. I start to make little changes – watching my sleep. Reaching out to friends for lunch dates. Baking cookies. Making sure I walk the dog every morning. All those little shifts in the daily in and out help.

But also? I read.

Well, I read all the time, anyway, but I make a point to find something new, inspirational, and probably waiting in the large pile of books by my bed anyhow, just sitting and waiting patiently for me to open its covers and get some help.

And so, I present to you:

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*Truth? It is an e book so it wasn’t waiting in the pile by the bed. It was waiting in the computer. Same diff.

I met Tam when I spoke last year at the Whole Women’s Weekend in Maryland. She is adorable. And she is really funny. AND she is a powerhouse for Jesus, so my goodness, she is just straight-up GOOD PEOPLE.

And here is what her book is like:

You know when it’s been a hot, muggy summer all… well, summer long? And then one night there is a really huge, torrential downpour, and you go out onto your porch before dawn and you can smell it, a coolness, a hint of Autumn, and everything is washed down and clean and even the flowers seem to stand up straighter?

That’s her book. It’s a deep breath. It’s a shift in the weather. It clears out cobwebs.

Tam starts out by asking three simple questions:

  1. What do need to CHANGE?
  2. What do you want to BECOME.
  3. And when will you CHOOSE to begin?

And then, she answers with three truths. And I’m not gonna tell you any more because the book is super short and super good and I want you to read it for yourself!

Tam’s book is available on amazon if you want to take a look. Click here.

Also, if you want to know more about the lovely Tam, click here.

What do you have to lose? Because, despite what the slugs say,

“Change is good.”

 

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The Funny Thing About Depression

 

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My friend Bethany would ask: “Uh.. funny, ‘Ha, ha’? or funny, strange?”

Well, both. At times. Or neither. You know, just to be clear.

 

Since Christmas, I have had a slow fade back into depression. This is something I have struggled with, off and on, since my teens, so, if you know how old I am, that’s a very long time.

And, well, I woke up yesterday to that once again sinking feeling of dread that seems to wrap itself around my brain in a vice grip of fuzzy thinking and gloom. I just laid there, staring up at the ceiling fan.

“Please, Lord. I can’t do another day like this. I’m tired of trying to feel better.”

Later that day, after I had gone through all my usual list of go-tos for depression squelching:

Praying – but not too much because I get all super focused on meeeee, so:

Praying for others

Gratitude lists

Chocolate for breakfast

Yoga

Good Housekeeping. Netflix. Couch. Rinse. Repeat.

Knitting.

Lipstick. Bright red. Goes well with my eyes.

Hot tea, like every flavor, about forty cups, until I was sloshing

 

I just sloshed over to my computer and knew I needed to post, but darn, it was hard to be funny. It’s really hard to be funny when you’re doomed forever, did you know that?

But then I thought, “Well, you could write about it.”

Ok. So here’s the deal. I am going to write about depression. Yea! And it won’t be hilarious, but at least it will be truth. And, here’s the other part: I am writing about this topic NOT because I am hoping it will make me feel better.

That’s the deal with depression. You have to stop wanting to “fix” it with one easy step. So, posting this is not going to solve it. Just like drinking a small bath tub of soothing camomile tea and listening to Praise Baby Pandora (don’t judge, I like it), and eating chocolate muffin in a mug for breakfast won’t fix it.

Depression doesn’t just kick off one day and say, “Oh hey! My bad! I know I have totally worn out my welcome, or wasn’t really welcomed at all, so I’ll be off.  Thanks for the hospitality. I’m going to move in with the neighbor lady down the street for a few months and see what dread I can inflict on her there.”

Nope. Depression doesn’t follow basic rules of civility. It doesn’t play well with others. It has no set goals or mission statements or any sort of POINT, a lot of times. It couldn’t tell you at all how it sees itself a year from now. It doesn’t really care.

You can try to figure it out – is it hormones? Or bad memories? Or that I can’t drink anymore? Or that I am slowly going crazy?

No. And yes. And maybe all of these, combined, in different amounts. But sometimes. Sort of.

So, you see?

Depression is such a pain in the ass.

(I am SORRY. I know. I rarely use the potty words here. But this time? IT IS SO MERITED.)

Here’s what I DO know about depression (for me):

1. It makes me immobile.

2. It makes me want to cry a lot, which is kind of weird, like when you’re at Scott’s and they are out of your favorite hazelnut creamer and you tear up like one of those sad soap opera women but with less makeup.

3. It makes me feel like having very basic conversations like this: “Hi! How are you? Isn’t it a pretty day?” is about as impossible as if you were in one of those bad dreams where you had to speak Swahili, while naked, in front of an audience of angry people.

4. It is really good at convincing you that you will never, ever feel better.

 

Here’s what I don’t know about depression:

1. Why?

2. When?

3. What the what?

4. HOW?

 

I have tried. I have read books, gone to counselors, researched, asked questions, got my hormones read, got my palm read (not really but I considered it), and basically busted my hiney trying to lick this thing.

And here is what I have deduced, after all these years:

Sometimes it’s hormonal. It helps me a lot to keep track of my monthly, you know, visits from Auntie Flo (so trying to be delicate here, right? Because calling it Aunt Flo is sooooo cute too). I put a cute little  Satan emoji on my google calendar whenever that fabulousness hits my uterus.

Sometimes it’s attached to bad stuff. When my brother died, I kinda walked into a pit of despair for some months. Of course. Eventually, I escaped. And for that I am sure Chris would be happy.

Sometimes it is attached to my recovery. If I haven’t been to a meeting in ages, or I am triggered, or I see one of those beer commercials on tv during a Chiefs game and then, “Lookit! All THOSE people are drinking a lot and they are all so HAPPY! And cutely DRESSED. And they keep high-fiving each other!  I wanna wear sparkly tops and high-five people in a bar too!”

Anyhow.

And sometimes? I have no idea. I have no freaking clue. It’s like the weather in Kansas. We can try to predict, but sometimes? Our weather just be nutball, ya’ll.

No, I am not saying I am nutball. (The lawyer just rolled his eyes.)

For those of you who are going to worry:

Yes, I have counseling in place and yes doctors and yes even a serotonin med, and yes, my sweet Lord has helped me with this all my life – He’s not going to stop. And neither am I.

I’m not going to stop trying to feel better. But on the days when I feel like crap, I at least pray:
Dear Jesus. Lord with me. If I have to feel lousy today, fine. I will put my tools in place. I’ll do the next best thing. But I am so glad, even in my sadness, that You are here to be sad with me. You get sadness, I know.”

And, the funny thing is? Depression has taught me more about happiness and contentment than I ever thought possible.

 

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