Hi there!

I’ve started writing a few times only to delete and begin again…over and over. I’m sitting in my kayak, floating on my favorite small lake. The sun is shining, the water is calm except for the occasional wake from others. And my thoughts are scattered.

Back in May, my gramps passed away. He was 99 years old, and it was his time. Covid-19 was not the culprit, though it impacted his death: only brief end of life visits from close family, one person per day…no service of any kind, and no one was allowed to attend the burial despite the outdoor location because it was a veterans cemetery and the guidelines prohibited it. I’ve decided to write a book about him to help me cope, also though, to honor the extraordinary man that he was. It’ll take awhile, though….

My aunt is dying. She has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She’s 79 now, diagnosed a year ago and still kickin’! She appears weak, fragile, and a little scattered at times, but it doesn’t slow her down. And her attitude is just as feisty as its always been. In my adult years, we have become much closer and if she left this earth tomorrow, I’d know that we spent our time well, and that she knows how important she is to me.

And I have a new baby nephew and I would very much like to meet him…Covid-19 is keeping me away though. I don’t want to risk giving him germs or getting any myself on the way to visit. So I stay away. My fear is that the virus will skyrocket again and it’ll be a year or more till I can meet him…but caring means staying home, right?

And I published my third children’s book! It was a collaboration with my mentor, Louise Dietzel…and it turned out wonderfully! The children love the pictures and the adventure that they get to have along with the story, and Louise teared up when I brought copies to her-she was so pleased. It is not yet in bookstores, but can be found here for now. My illustrator created a website featuring our books which led to me writing a descriptive sentence that I am quite proud of: “Stories that nurture the hearts and minds of young children and that strengthen the spirit of the adults who love them.”

That’s enough for now I suppose…I’m surprising myself these days…eating better, exercising, focusing on building relationships with friends, and by being just…ME!

Remember me?

Sooooo…I’ve been avoiding lots of things lately among this stay-at-home period. One of those has been my blog, and for those of you who actually like to know what’s going on in my brain, my apologies.

I’ve had to work really hard to stay focused on what’s right in front of me. Otherwise, I become overwhelmed and a sort of paralysis settles in. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t spend some of my extra time being lazy…I love a good “fuzzy blanket and cup of tea” kinda day! I’m going to run down a list of some of the tools I’ve been using to stay well and healthy in a minute.

I just want to take a minute to say THANK YOU! There are so many people who are still working to meet the needs of their community and I’m so grateful. Not only are their services vital, their uninterrupted routines give the rest of us worriers a sense of security and hope, reminding us that life goes on and will return to normal again at some point. So THANK YOU!

So here is what helps me when I begin to spiral in this age of unknowns and unpredictability…

  • Advocacy! Helping my fellow providers helps me
  • Reaching out to my favorite people (not just my family, but the friends that make me feel alive and energized)
  • Connecting with nature
  • The ritual of making a hot cup of tea
  • Reading a good paperback
  • Watching tv-helps me turn off my thinking brain
  • Forcing myself into a routine…this is a challenge, and now that I’m doing it, it is getting easier
  • Skipping the news helps
  • Yoga and exercise in general
  • Mindfulness-I tell myself “right now everything is ok” (I only allow myself to think forward if it’s positive, like my next book or my beach vacation)
  • Allowing myself lots of naps and downtime (adjusting to the thoughts and worries that try to creep in and fighting them is hard work)
And this helps too…written by a friend of a friend

Coronavirus and Depression

So as this virus is pretty much the only news right now, colleges are shutting down, the NCAA is banning fans from events, meetings conferences are being cancelled…I’m struggling to avoid a depressive episode.

I know it’s important to stay informed and up to date on recommendations from the CDC and the VHD. And I know how incredibly contagious this is, and dangerous to those immuno-compromised…I know that some of my loved ones fall into the category of highly vulnerable.

I also know that if I think about it too much, I will become paralyzed. I will overthink to the point of hyperventilating, panic attacks, and an overwhelming sense of dread…

So forgive me if I tuck my sea turtle head back into my shell…it’s how I survive and function amid the chaos in the media and my community…I have no choice.

You see…I care for young children. All they care about is getting to their favorite toy, or climbing a tree…they want to feel safe and secure with their care provider. If I’m a mess, they will be too.

So this turtle will stay the course and keep herself safe…please don’t judge me. I am doing the best I can.

Here’s an article that may help

(And on a professional note, I’m taking this virus as seriously as I can in my role as a child care provider)

More tv as I try to turn off my thinking brain…it didn’t work

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper; but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

Proverbs 28:13

Chicago PD…this was part of a eulogy for a young addict who was killed. Her brother said it, as he felt he let her down. He follows it up with this:

“It’s a lie …you can’t just recite a passage, say a few Hail Marys, and then wash away your sins…we shouldn’t be able to…we should be required to carry around our sins for the rest of our years…all the pain and guilt too. We need to feel them so we can do better next time, so we can be there the next time someone screams for help.”

And what he followed it with resonated, though I don’t necessarily agree. I think we need to carry our mistakes, our guilt, our sins while we process them and learn from them. But I think once we have learned a lesson or gleaned some kind of meaning, you have to set it down. If you hang onto it, you become stuck…so carry it for awhile, learn from it, and then let it go…

What if I’m not strong enough?

I can do this

I got it

Just break

I can’t

(Feeling weak, not feeling strong enough)

What if

I get it, the fear is still there. You can’t let it paralyze you.

What if I can’t?

That’s why we’re here, that’s why you invited us here…when you don’t feel strong enough, we lift you up

So many times I thought I couldn’t make it, this guy was there for me

I just helped her find the strength she already had

And now we are all here supporting you

Whether you like it or not

ABC’s a million little things…this show!! It’s like they are in my head sometimes…only more concise and articulate.

A couple months back, I was invited to join a women’s group on social media. The goal of the group: to support each other, to show up for one another in whatever way we feel comfortable. Gatherings are offered, though mostly we post and comment uplifting messages and advice.

The reason I mention this is that in this unraveling I experienced, I found myself, I found my people, and I found that lifting others makes me happy as well. But it doesn’t happen all by itself…we have to invite people into our circle, our world.

You can’t have the reward if you don’t take the risk. There’s a quote that sums it up beautifully:

When we are hurt or in pain, it’s tough to see the truth in this, I know. I truly believe it though, and the version of myself that I used to be was scared to take a leap, afraid of rejection, of judgment. These days, I’m still afraid, yet it doesn’t stop me the way it used to.

So I invite you all to cheer me on, lift me up, allow me to be part of your circle, and to let me show you your superpowers when you just can’t find them. It’s scary and it’s tough, and sometimes feels a little weird…just try it.

Dreams…energy…fear…

I just woke up seeing a name on my email, in my mind. And I sat up and felt something so strong, but confusing. And I also awoke with a nasty stomach ache.

Let me backtrack a little though…back in…hmmm, maybe 1991, a friend of our family lost a loved one to a heart attack. He died in the middle of the night, and that same night, right around the time it happened (we would later hear), our clocks went haywire in our house. All the digital clocks were messed up, and as it turned out, my sister was getting up to take a shower since her alarm went off. She was usually up first to get the hot water first thing. But it was only 2:30 am.

He was a charismatic and charming older man, and a lot of fun. We had really only just begun to know him. And that leads me to his wonderful wife. She moved up to be with her son and his family, my parents’ best friends. I remember thinking how her sadness was present, but not all consuming like I may have expected. She eventually got a dog, her new companion, and became a warm and nurturing presence in all our lives.

She passed away a few days ago. She had her family all around her, and she was nestled in her bed at home. She was a kind and funny and adorable woman. I hadn’t spent much time with her in these last years, but in my teen years and early adulthood, she was a consistent presence when I’d come home for holidays, or stop home during college for a family visit. She was always smiling, laughing, and friendly.

So where am I headed? I don’t believe in God, Jesus, Heaven…I do believe in energy of those that have touched our lives. And though I can’t really explain any of it, I think the name that came to me and the stomach ache I have is related to the loss of this sweet lady. Not sure what to make of it really, and it makes me worry. Makes me a little fearful that something bad might happen to that person…so I will do what I always do: I will be me. (Translation: I will reach out to that person and make sure they’re okay and let them know anything that comes to mind.)

Just watched Welcome to Marwen…

See the movie trailer here

I’ve been wanting to see this movie for awhile, and I’m on a mini vacation all by myself, so I finally did. It is based on a true story, though I didn’t realize that till it was over. Anyway, it’s the story of a man who suffered a huge trauma, and he retreats into a make believe world, creating artistic works as he moves through the complicated process of healing.

See the trailer for the actual documentary here

Here’s what struck me about the movie, the story, really…(spoiler alert)

  • He sees women as fierce protectors, warriors, safety and security providers, as sex objects as well, but that’s not what resonated with me.
  • He was brave enough to be himself, to be vulnerable and real, even after being beaten for being different.
  • Healing won’t happen until it’s time, and it isn’t something that can be done for you.
  • There is no wrong way to work through trauma, the right way is whatever helps a person move through the feelings.
  • Each person who comes into our life has the power to leave behind a trace of themselves in our minds, on our hearts, in our dreams, and deep down in our bones. We each have the capacity to allow or disallow those traces to impact our daily life. When Mark made his statement to the court, he said his attackers could no longer hurt him no matter the sentence they were given. And conversely, he extends the name of his make believe land to Marwencol to reflect the impact his neighbor had on him.

This last bit is what really struck me because of what I’ve been trying to do with my overthinking brain. I have to choose what I allow to influence my thoughts, actions, and attitudes. I can carry the heavy burdens or I can let them go. I can instead pick up the flecks of gold left behind by those that flutter in and out of my life…Today, I’m this moment, I choose to be rich in gold, rather than suffer with a backache.

A beautiful snowy morning…

It’s my birthday today, and as I was out walking with a friend and then shoveling my driveway, I was overcome with a sense of gratitude. It was so quiet and beautiful, so I decided to make a cup of tea and sit on my front stoop for a bit before getting ready for work.

Just a couple of years ago, this scenario would have exhausted and overwhelmed me…just the thought of having to shovel and then do my work…EXHAUSTING. That’s the thing about depression, though. It makes everything harder than it has to be.

So today I am grateful for good friends, dedicated family, but mostly for my mental health and continuing recovery from depression. This life is a privilege, one denied to so many, and while my behaviors and attitudes could still use some improvement, I choose to enjoy this snowy morning. I choose to be grateful that I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and a lovely life.

*and to those of you who have shown me kindness, thank you. You know who you are.

Big News

After all my months and months of pain and heartache and joy and love and reflection and…

My therapist told she is proud of all the work I accomplished and said she didn’t think I needed to come back, I could always call if I need her, but she thinks I’m going to be alright.

I know I still have so much work to do, I just feel like I’ve got a handle on it now. A good friend of mine just came over, right after my appointment, and telling her about this news made me so happy so I’m sharing it with all of you!

I hope all of you keep reading me, and learning and growing, and struggling and…remember to incorporate gratitude as well…I feel like it has been so valuable to my recovery, even though it was a little late to the party…

Watching The Bucket list…

See the trailer here

Love this movie-it’s hilarious and thought provoking. Though my bucket list is for when my husband kicks the bucket, which I know is terrible, but that’s how I cope with his continuous unhealthy choices despite his family’s history of strokes and heart attacks. It’s too painful otherwise, so I make jokes saying, “When my hubby kicks the bucket…”. Anyway, when he kicks the bucket, I will get a big fluffy dog, a real Christmas tree for the holidays, and…that’s all I want to share for now.

In the movie, Carter asks Edward to answer these questions, and it got me thinking…

Have you found joy in your life?

Have you brought joy to others?

These two questions are my bucket list for my own life…I want to make sure that I’ve found and brought joy. It’s tough to measure, and a process…

I also view my work with children, families, and colleagues as my legacy, my mark left on the world.

And then there’s my son. I’m the voice in his head, the smile on his face and I’m those rolling eyes!

And of course…this blog. I hope it helps just one person…of course, it has helped me which has made me a better mom, wife, daughter, friend…so I guess I’ve achieved that goal at least!

…I know that when he died, his eyes were closed and his heart was open.

-Carter Chambers

…I’m deeply proud that this man found it worth his while to know me.

-Edward Perewin Cole