Archives for Midlife

Tears in My Coffee

Today my son texted to say he would be at my door soon. I assumed he must need something as he leaves tomorrow on an important business trip, and I’m always at the ready with a stocked fridge, natural remedies, stain removal kit and answers to the riddles of life for my young man. I was sure he had a to-do list as long as his guitar-playing four-foot arms, and the stress and preoccupation to go with it. He’s a music producer, performer and writer, stopping at several cities on this particular journey for collaborating and production, carrying responsibility and weight beyond his young years.

A few moments later, he bounced in and declared, “I wondered if you’d want to walk to get coffee; I’ve been wanting to take you out before I leave town!”

I must have looked like a raccoon staring at headlights in the dark, mumbling to find my words…sooo not prepared for this gift. Whenever my children present me with this mom-luxury, I hesitate awkwardly, then my first reaction is to say “thank you SO much but really, you have soooo many important priorities in life, it’s OK you don’t have to go with me or spend your limited time and money on ME your boring old (limping) (click here for the lowdown) mother!”

But I overrode my insecurities and said, “Sure, let’s do it!” I flew into hurry mode, spending just enough time on myself not to be an embarrassing hag-mother. Fifteen minutes max and we were strolling on the sunny side of the street in our urban neighborhood and yes, I was giddy as a schoolgirl. (Funny how the tables turn in midlife.)

I can’t express what it means to have my grown son choose to walk with me on this golden fall day, sharing his thoughts and dreams aloud. My beaming grin tells the world what a lucky girl I am; yet just beneath my smiling eyes, tears threaten because I recognize this moment, this blessed now, this glorious pause and I think, “what more could a midlife mama want?!”

We arrived in the bustling cafe to order. When he pulled the cash from his pocket to pay – that wrinkled well-traveled paper bill representing his thousands of hours of study and preparation, the hundreds of hours of driving cross-country performing his art – that humble slice of green left after the rent, utilities and cell bills were paid, the new guitar strings purchased, the gas tank filled, THIS! the portion he chose to spend on me rather than on himself…

Oblivious to the cashier, his outstretched hand held what represented his very life and here he was, giving it back to me in his love language: a perfect cup of fair-trade, shade grown, single-origin hipster drip, just to bless me, his Mama. I had to turn away because his sacrifice meant so much to me.

We lingered long out front on a bench, rays of autumn sunshine highlighting our deep and meaningful conversation…I hung onto him tight as we strolled home, wanting to freeze the frame, to replay the tape again and again. And I saved the cup until I see him again. A symbol, empty now and yet so full of priceless memories to me, his Mama.

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    Letting Go: the first day of school on repeat.

    There is a season when we control most everything in our children’s lives. That’s the easy season.
    It’s when Jesus takes the wheel when they’re about 17 we begin to lose our hair and drink more wine.

    It seems my new Mama job these days is saying “goodbye.” Can you relate? It doesn’t matter how old they are or how many times they turn to walk out that door, my heart always dips a little and I feel vulnerable and sappy.

    “Mama I’m just goin’ to school! The store! Work! Band practice!” they’ll say.
    You just don’t get it, hon. You’re my baby. Always and forever.

    I never knew fear until I had grown kids. Not the real extended version, that is. The kind that robs you of untold hours of sleep, creates grey hair and indigestion and drives you to the Doc for sleep aids so you can avoid the looney bin and wake up somewhat sane to face the world. (Until you realize medicated sleep leaves you ‘functioning’ in a fog the next day.)
    Yawn. Sigh.

    Today at 7 am, wrapped in my oversized granny robe with hag hair and tired eyes, I followed my son to the front door like an anxious puppy.

    I hugged him tight, reminding him of this and that, urging him to “be safe!” then I leaned hard against the open front door as I watched him get in the car and start the engine. The frigid air confronted me, adding to my melancholy – ice on the cars and streets, frost on the lawn, and I pulled my robe in snug and waited. He hung up from his cell call, fastened his seatbelt, backed out and creeped up the steep hill.
    I didn’t move. I just stood there, shivering, watching him until I could catch no further glimpse of his paid off 90s white Toyota…and I saw my mother in my mind’s eye.

    There she was back in the 70s, all five foot two of her, standing on the front stoop of our Midwestern rambler in her faded cotton robe with no make-up and greying pixie urging me with her timeless mantra, “Be careful!” and a hug. Then she would stand there for the longest time, while I started the car, organized my seat belt and piles of stuff, backed out, and gassed it up the hill. There she’d be, still standing with the door cracked open…it could be 30 below zero and she wouldn’t budge until I was clear out of sight. I never understood why, until now, as I watch my son do the same…

    How we linger, hug twice, say things like,
    “Be safe! Drive careful! No loud music, no texting, and please don’t go the interstate! LOVE you a million billion zillion!!!” while madly blowing kisses.
    When actually we’re saying,

    “Please let me look at you as long as I can. Please don’t get hurt. Please don’t ever not come home to me. Please choose your friends wisely. Please forgive me for when I’ve been a bad mom. Please know the depth of my love for you. You are my everything.”

    As I fixed my gaze on my twig-thin teen-aged college student loaded down with his thirty pound backpack heading out into the fray, little did he know what my heart was communicating. How could he? He’s only a boy, learning of life, oblivious to the real dangers…the risk of driving up that hill.

    At that moment I understood my mother and her annoying, clinging, obsessive behavior and I appreciated her caring so much for me, so many years ago.

    Yep, full circle. I get it now.

     

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    This Is Us. What I’m Sure of After 37 Years of Marriage.

    Lying in bed tonight, I reached over to touch my Gregory.

    I felt his warm skin at my fingertips. That same firm, broad muscled shoulder, same manly smell I’ve known for 37 years, and I wanted just to lay there, knowing he wouldn’t leave….kind of like clinging to my pink blankie.

     

    Comforted and assured.

    All is well with me.

     

    Seeing him across the room, time and again over the years engaged in conversation…behind a podium, earnestly addressing a crowd…tickling my granddaughter, chasing her about as she giggles wildly, or sitting, brooding over sons by number…each boy furrows his brow over one thing or another….or Bible in hand, pen poised, awaiting the next underline as he reads for hours.

     

    This is my man. 
    The one I’ve known and watched and smelled and touched and loved and hated and boxed with and screamed at and cried to as he held me tightly to his chest.

     

    Don’t ever be gone.

    Don’t ever not be there for my fingers to reach.

    “I never want to be away from you,” he said in the car today as we drove from Walmart. “Even though sometimes I want to kill you,” he chuckled.

    “Touch my neck.” For he loves my hand on his skin just to know I’m there.

    We have had our ups and downs.

    Extremes, like in music scores; highs and lows.

    My recently-degreed fifth born said without the lows you wouldn’t have the highs and vice versa. You need them in music, in movies, in photography, in color, in sound, in life.

    It’s what makes life alive.

    A flatline isn’t a good sign.

    The dance of marriage is the ebb and flow, the dark and light, the valleys and the peaks.

    “Husband and wife, pulled taut like rubber bands, then crashing into one another with a squabble, loving feelings rekindled, pulling back again to retract for space…repeat.”

    But he doesn’t look for space from me these days.

    Any space is too far.

    Even as my thoughts wander, he intuitively knows and will softly say, “don’t leave me.”

     

    Hiding in my office for hours, days, to write my articles and books, then emerging to grab a snack or drink…he will look up as I walk by as if the sun just arose to break through his gray clouds…countenance lift…just to spy me there.

    And then he’ll ask me a question like always to solve a mystery of his.

    To get some practical info.

    To cause me to linger a while longer.

    That’s when I playfully call him the ‘yard frog;’ that decorative garden creature at Home Depot who ribbits as motion is detected.

     

    At times his doting is more than my crowded, busy, driven self can bear and I wish him away…but now I don’t do that.

    I wish him here.

    Not just til morning, or the next night, or til the weekend or over the holidays; not through the upcoming family festivities or Happy New Year, but forever.

    I don’t want to be the widow who rolls over to a cold pillow next to me.

    I don’t want the same for him.

    I resist the pull of such melancholy, yet I’m sobered by my thoughts; this deep affection is so real to me at this moment.

     

    I roll to the left to snuggle to his back until I doze, even through his numerous, irritating restless movements, late night games of solitaire on his iphone…to cling because I can, until he stirs so that I cannot sleep, then I roll to the right and he turns off his light and scoots up to my back and clings to me.

     

    This is us.
    This is our love.
    This is our silent cry never to be apart, never to be forced to fall in love with another because one’s left.

     

    How can I possibly articulate these deep feelings to those wandering souls who pledge their love, fingers crossed behind their backs as they hold stubbornly to their independence? Living with their options open— this language I speak is foreign to them, the country I live in is not theirs, and yet…our apartment is three doors away.

     

    How can they know that sex and relationship are only two-dimensional without a love that’s birthed through the darkest of days, over time, children sick with fevers burning hot in the night, bills, oh bills, fears, anguish, anger, multiple birthdays and anniversaries, the drone of the dailies, the tempo of tedium…way beyond goosebumps, convenience and frivolous emotion?

     

    How can they understand what it means to stay…when they keep leaving?

    How could they relate to my eighty thousand family pictures and videos, packed carefully in a myriad of cartons and boxes, copied on hard drives, all taken since 1980 at our inception which I’ve dragged across the map of our innumerable moves?

    Young, strapping, serious, muscle-bound dark-headed man takes vivacious, optimistic bouncing blonde girl to be his lawfully wedded wife. Then comes one boy child, then two, then three, then four and five…photos show the same man, now graying, the same girl, now a grannie, both slightly rounder, in 37 years’ worth of family albums, yellowing around the edges.

    Same immediate family unit intact.

    Stuck together like glue.

     

    Years and pain and marathons soften the edges of our personalities, making us flexible enough to surrender, despite our intense displeasure for the moment, knowing somehow this too shall pass and we shall love each other fresh, yet again.

     

    Now, my wish is his command.

    He is smitten, as am I…no end in sight. We are each other’s muse.

    I’ve been trying to get back to my borrowed, downtown Seattle writing retreat and my solitude, but I’m finding it so very difficult.

    I’m afraid.

    I wish I could call my recently deceased almost-ninety neighbor, Joyce, on the phone and commiserate.

    I used to find her so irritating at times as she clung so tightly to Paul, her husband of 63 years. She would almost certainly strangle him under her iron grip…for she feared losing him. Every breath, every second, every jaunt, every move he made was under her watchful eye with baited breath and subject to her random and irrational outbursts and rants.

    Now, at this moment, I feel her anxiety.

    I don’t know where to be at times for I fear I will have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and will look back and wish I’d stayed, or that he went away to give me space and never came back and why did I wish him away that weekend?

    We are no longer in our 30s or 40s; as the wrinkles define our features and our hair thins, our mortality is highlighted.

    I don’t want to face the day he is not there when I reach over for him.

    Who would rescue me from my haunting nightmares as he has, jolting me from my blanket of terror, wrapping me in his safe arms of love; reassuring me?

    I sleep differently when I know he’s there. My whole body sleeps.

    Without him, only my eyes sleep — the rest of me doesn’t rest.

    He is the Papa our three-year old granddaughter hotly pursues through the house until she finds him, calling through the locked bathroom door or interrupting him as he studies, his earplugs in for soundproofing.

     

    He is the steel beam holding up our dynasty — invisible on many days but more necessary than could possibly be imagined.
    We would be lost without him.

     

    In the light of day, funny how every car whizzing by grabs my attention…then my eye turns to see…is that him?

    And I feel elated to think that he is coming home to me…again…predictably, like a horse to the barn these 37 years. And as happy as I was that he was out and about all morning, giving me much-needed solace…I’m more happy to hear his familiar gait as he makes his way into the house all kerfuffle. He’s Italian, after all…not the kind of guy who tiptoes around in life.

    As I watched him in action today hoisting items, shifting, working, as we relocate yet again, replay kicked in on my inner reel.

    How many times he’s organized, lifted and shifted over 37 years of progress and forward motion.

    Now I know these movements and sounds as a comfort.

    My strong man exists to make things right, to adjust the crooked and toss the needless and prepare what’s necessary. To bark out commands and get things done.

    Such a masculine man.

    A visionary.

    A leader.

    A passionate soul.

    A deep thinker.

    An intentional man.

    Perhaps I could find a warm body to snuggle; a well-heeled businessman to pay my bills and care that I’m on his arm, to buy me dinner anytime, anywhere. To never complain about my spending.

    But this is My Man. He is not simply good looking or stylish or sharp or clever, he is The One I have loved more deeply than I thought possible.

    The love of my life since my teens.

    Child bride was I.

    Next to me as I birthed each of our five sons, then next to me through postpartum blues, baby fat and my copious stretch marks he calls “beautiful.”

    Every morning for the last 13,505 mornings I have waked knowing…he is.

    Trusting.

    Assured.

    Together with him.

    My husband, my friend, my co-laborer, my covenant man.

    I’m so glad we’ve endured the hardest things in life to get to the sweetest things in life.

    You are my heart, my life, my ballast…my home. Happy Anniversary, my love.

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    The Magnifying Mirror of Marriage

    When someone next to you is shining brightly, it reveals what needs to change in you.

    Recently I’ve had a fresh glimpse of the good things in my man…this man I’ve lived with for nearly four decades.

    His quiet, unabashed confidence and backbone of steel.

    His insane ability to streamline and organize-to ruthlessly purge clutter of every kind, bringing peace and productivity.

    His stick-to-itiveness, resourcefulness and dogged determination when his eye is on the prize.

    His dependability – he plans ahead and shows up on time every time, never leaving me wondering of his whereabouts in body or in heart.

     

    His wholehearted devotion and uncompromising loyalty to those he loves.

    Jim Rohn says, “Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.”

    My husband has never been ‘an easy crowd’ sort of guy; just being in his presence places a demand on those around him to excel. It’s born good fruit in my life.

    And as his wave of glory overshadows me at the moment, I’m confronted with my own shortcomings.

    Marriage is like that.
    We take turns being wonderful and just when we think WE are the shizz, the tables turn.
    And we are humbled.
    It’s sort of like taking a naked painful look in a lighted 10X mirror in midlife.
    Ugh.
    We want to look away, hoping the imperfections we see aren’t real.

    But they are.

    And we swallow hard and thank God for the unbelievable grace we’ve been shown.
    And then we get out the relevant DIY kit and make efforts to adjust what needs a tune-up.

    This is the beauty of covenant.
    His strengths balance out my weaknesses today…my strengths balance out his weaknesses tomorrow.

    No one’s going anywhere.

    I have to wonder if millions of people quit too soon on their mate…just before their ‘wonderful’ emerges?

    The Bible says, it’s good for two to walk together then, when one is weak, the other is strong, and they help each other.
    This is marriage.
    This is covenant.
    This is genuine love between a man and a woman.

     

    It’s not Father’s Day, or our Anniversary, or his birthday; it’s just another day in the unfolding story of Gregory and Denise and Co. And I had to mark this spot and highlight it, before we turn the page to tomorrow.

    Love you so, my man.

    Your Two-Minute Takeaway

    1. Pause and ponder: Life is busy, demanding, and often incredibly stressful. Our marriage relationships bear the brunt of all the overwhelm of modern life. How you ‘feel’ today may not reflect the truth of your commitment to your man or woman. 
    2. Make a list right now of the things you appreciate about your partner – what was it you fell in love with in the beginning? It’s still there, even when it’s hiding under the noise of negativity.
    3. Dismiss what’s bugging you about ‘them’ for a moment and look humbly into that ‘magnifying mirror’ and consider what you could adjust to make your relationship to your mate even better. Then, act on it asap!

    Thank you for reading – I’m honored! Want more? Subscribe for exclusive content and grab my spring freebie HERE>> How to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Homelife

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    Panic Room in Midlife

    In midlife, sometimes
    anxiety like a vice grip, comes to crush you.

    Overwhelm like an ocean swell, looms large…
    reminding you of all that’s undone, imperfect, incomplete, in disarray, off track.

    The ‘whys?’ pile up, the pat answers aren’t working, the mountain before you seems higher, despite your furious toil.
    Unsure of who you are, exactly, or what you’re doing or accomplishing…you’re busy piecing it all together sort of randomly with good intentions – but what is it you’re actually building??

    The chaos whispers in your ear, taunting…
    is this what failure feels like?

    questions
    fears
    uncertainty
    disappointments

    The buzzer on the call pad jolts you from your inner downward spiral of contemplation…
    and in the hand of an unsuspecting soul, a gorgeous bouquet appears. An everyday miracle revealed in this crucial moment. Life and beauty and color and fragrance, wrapped in love.

    God comes in many forms, and it is Him,
    and He reminds you of exactly who you are, what’s important, how much you’re loved, and that He sees all the hidden things others don’t see, all the seeds you’ve planted, all the love you’ve tried so hard to express, all the sacrifices and genuine efforts you’ve made, every fervent prayer you’re praying.
    And you exhale…
    and peace comes with strength and fresh determination.
    Oxygen to fuel your fire yet again – the flame rekindled.
    And you press on, even more determined.

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      No, I’m Not Psychic (Part 4)

      You could call me intuitive. It’s the way I’m wired. I sometimes get a sense about things before they happen. And sometimes I wish I didn’t know.

      A few weeks before our recent move from California to Washington State, I sensed a foreboding of sorts. Nothing alarming, just very real to my heart. Hubby and I were riding our bikes on a trail near our home when I casually announced,

      “I feel like I’m going to go through a narrow place in our new city.”

      He gave me a quizzical look and in typical black-and-white man-fashion with an Italian twist blurted out, “what does that even MEAN?!” as he went on listing every positive, wonderful and practical reason my thinking was flawed on this matter.

      After all, this wasn’t his premonition or revelation, it was mine. About me. So I didn’t get defensive, I simply replied,

      “I don’t exactly know how to describe it, but in my heart I understand it.”

      And I knew in my knower that this was a thing and it wasn’t going away and it wasn’t gonna be easy. And in typical emotional-woman fashion, I cried. A lot.

      The rest is history as you might know from my previous blog posts. (Click>> HERE for all the juicy details!) The week of our move I broke my [driving] ankle in two places and was immediately ushered into a very narrow existence, beyond what I had anticipated.

      House arrest. Handcuffed by pain and swelling, crutches, then a cast, a second cast, a scooter, and now – the human cone of shame – a walking boot…in the middle of one of the biggest, most complicated moves of my life – my MIDLIFE mind you! Restrained not only by these earmarks of injury but by my utter and often humiliating dependence upon others; their schedules, their intuition, their personalities, their moods, their decisions…and their Costco runs! Thanks be to God!

      Narrow? Try suffocating. At times, infuriating. And yes, in particularly helpless moments, depressing. (I may be whining. Sorry.)

      Then, the property I felt really excited about (that was potentially gonna earn me boatloads of cash) I tried to buy twice – didn’t come through twice. Sigh. God always answers our prayers, just not always on our timeline or in the manner we expect or with the answer we want, despite our begging. Sometimes the answer is silence. Sometimes the answer is ‘no’. I don’t like ‘no’ except that a ‘no’ is protecting me from the wrong thing, so a ‘no’ is a good answer, right? And sometimes the answer is ‘here, take a break while I work on that.’ #bigeyesemoji

      Consequently we decided to rent (which means now I get to move twice, hallelujah) and moved into one of the cool old mansion-turned-apartment buildings in our city; walkable, bike-able…if only I still had my bike, the one I’ve used for 10 years, my faithful companion through the trails and trials of Northern California, but it was stolen. Along with my laundry. My newest most beloved summer pieces – they left some nice ones, too, which made absolutely no sense. (WT? You don’t like ALL my clothes??) Because yes, now I live in an urban as opposed to SUBurban apartment with communal coin laundry a few floors down. I know, QUARTERS! It makes me feel like I’m at a resort LOL. And hubby and I share a bathroom for the first time in….hmm 36 years. That’ll test your marriage. And my scooter doesn’t fit in there. Talk about narrow. Sheesh. And as I hobble about my new city and my new small spaces, I surrender to the burn of the pressing narrow of my now. Hand me a tissue somebody!

      A thought came strongly to me the other day, “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Hmm. Ponder that. I think that’s a verse from the Scriptures. Haven’t read that one in ages. Gotta look that up. Yep. Isaiah 30:15.

      Lord knows I’ve experienced lots of quiet and alone places in the past 2+ months, and as I reflect upon my adult life, I’d have to say it’s the quiet alone places I’ve found to be the seedbed for the wonderful things in my life. Solitary places of meditation, prayer and repose – I can envision those actual physical, geographical spots even now – scattered literally across the globe the past three decades, which have been places of preparation, even launching pads, for my future.

      And I’m reminded that lots of vital and precious substances like coal, zinc, platinum, pearls, gold and diamonds are created in narrow, dark, alone places. In truth, despite the torture of my narrow, I’ve found an oasis of serenity being stuck on my arse without the usual options I enjoyed in my former existence. And I must confess…….I’m almost afraid to go back.

      Sometimes you have to go through a narrow place to get to a broad place. Think butterflies and babies.

      And sometimes the road gets very narrow right before the break through. And I have a hunch that before long I’m going to understand the importance of this season, my Summer Break on the Isle of Immobility, and I truly hope my struggles have benefitted you somehow. See you next time…

      (If you’d like to read the entire series on this topic or share it with a friend who’s going through the process of rehab from injury, click here. Thanks for sharing!)

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      Yep. I’m a Rockstar Mom.

      So funny how the tables turn when we reach mid life. I always thought my job was encouraging, prodding, pushing, and exhorting my five sons, but now, they’re my heroes. They have challenged me, strengthened me, comforted me, quelled my fears, stood with me, called out my best qualities, reinforced my faith, and given me more than I could have ever given them.

      I’ve written myself so many little snippets of rebuke and encouragement.
      “Nothing is done without resistance and challenges.”
      “No one can do this for me.”
      “Ruthless focus.” on sticky notes on my desk.
      Little impassioned mental ‘fist pumps’ to charge my engine in my effort to get my projects completed, as I’m seemingly running in place at times, unable to get the traction I’ve so desperately needed to move forward.

      And then, I’d ponder my five sons. 

      They work themselves silly to achieve so much and never, ever, EVER quit. Watching them burn the midnight oil countless times over the years while they tirelessly study, practice, employ the wisdom of others, learn the app, watch the YouTube, read the manual, whatever it takes, and they believe until they reach their mountain tops – they’ve reached several and are always reaching for higher and more difficult ones.

      They’re entrepreneurs and businessmen; creative and inspiring souls and philosophers extraordinaire. They’ve walked the plank despite the incredible odds, multiplicity of discouragements, crows cawing and haters hating. They’ve taken BOLD and daring leaps of faith time and time again, and often very much alone and under incredible pressures both internal and external. Blows my mind.

      I’ve thought of them so much while fighting my own tears of frustration, doubt, and fear, as I’ve been in the black hole underground, in isolation, digging the foundation for the project I’m working on. The daunting pressure I’ve felt has seemed indomitable and the heavy cloud over my being has, at times, been palpable, but throughout the fight I “see” them in my mind’s eye engaged in their challenges the many years I’ve lived life around them, and I’m reminded that this dumb little hill of mine is DO-ABLE.

      Today is one of those moments.

      I was sitting at my computer chipping away at my personal ‘Mt. Rainier’ just an hour ago when I got the news that SURPRISE! they’ve been invited back for Day Two of the prestigious 107.7 The End annual Seattle music festival, Summer Camp 2017, to perform yet another, even longer set of their all-original music. They kicked off the festival as the opening act yesterday on Day One, and in the words of 107.7 The End radio station,   “After absolutely crushing Summer Camp Day 1 at Marymoor Park, The Fame Riot are returning to play Day 2…” <<< click here for story!

      A laundry list of bands could have been chosen from the deep bench of available, excellent Seattle musicians, or they could have selected from the illustrious headliners like Metric, Vance Joy, Bishop Briggs, Missio, New Politics, Sir Sly, K.Flay, who traveled thousands of miles to be here, but as fate would have it, my boys were the ones chosen to fill the spot.

      They are my heart, my life, my very own personal rockstars, and I celebrate with them at this wonderful opportunity that they’ve worked so hard to clench, and I’m reminded again to press on toward the mark I’m shooting for.

      It’s Do-able. (Thanks again, boys.)

       

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      Prisoner in a Minute (Part 2)

      I’m kind of like a Jack Russell Terrier. Perpetual motion. Fitbit freak. Perfectionist. Until I broke my ankle in two places seven days before the moving truck arrived.

      In a minute, I was banished to the Isle of Immobility at perhaps the most inconvenient time Providence could have allowed. I became a prisoner of my physical limitations.

      Crutches. Handless. Left foot only. Carrying stuff around my neck, in my pockets, held between my teeth…determined, yes, but decidedly deterred.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Messes everywhere.
      Sticky counters, clutter, crumbs, moving boxes, bubble wrap.
      I hobble past the mess and groan because I can’t fix it.
      So I sit, powerless to handle things my way, the only way I do things, my preferred methods and outcomes no longer my reality.
      Deep sigh.
      Asking for Every. Little. Thing.
      “Calling Strategic Command Center…I just want my supplements…to get the mail…change the sheets…shower…pack that closet…do 3 errands in 20 minutes…tidy the house…need COFFEE!…get my cord, NO! NOT THAT CORD….my crutches….I’m thirsty… I just want to ________________” times a million. Hurry up and wait. I’m aging.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      The most basic tasks have become tedious brain busters; complex and time consuming. I don’t give up. I have crawled, rolled, hopped and scooted for hours. On moving day my Fitbit registered 6.7 thousand steps on one foot. (clapping)

      At moments I’m like a toddler who can’t move her blocks. I’m ramming a box furiously with my crutch and it’s not budging. I want to run away but I’m stuck so I fume and fuss and scream inside.
      And I cry; a good cry or three or ten might help.
      Tears in front of my friends, my children, my husband. Tears, tears, tears.
      What’s wrong with Mama?
      Help me, God.

      Silence.
      No one can rescue me.
      No one can relieve the pressure inside and comfort me.
      Venting brings relief, but then I feel guilty for ‘complaining.’

      I’m not depressed. I’m hindered.
      Activity is my personal drug of choice.
      Serving is what I AM not just what I do.
      I am being denied my SELF. My identity. My very wiring is being blocked.
      I’M SHORTING OUT. LIKE AN ELECTRICAL IMPLOSION.
      Poof.

      “Oh, Denise, enjoy the rest, read a book!”
      As if I’m in my home where everything is in its place. No. I’m sitting in the middle of chaos where my stuff is out of reach, still in boxes – in the vast unknown – in my storage unit across town.
      My body may be ‘resting,’ but inside I chuurrn.

      This temporary double break in my foundation is not without purpose.
      Introspection.
      Thinking. Asking hard questions inside my head. What is this about? What am I supposed to see and change that needs to be addressed? I don’t waste experiences. I need to know. Is this the proverbial winepress? Am I the grapes? Is this where all the good stuff comes out? Some good stuff next time.

      Stay tuned... (Click here for Part 3 ‘From the Winepress’)

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      My Left Leg (Part 1)

      It was June 9th, T-7 days until our big out-of-state move as I played what would become my final Friday tennis match at my favorite sport spot on earth, the club two blocks from our home, just hours before my going-away luncheon with my precious peeps. Corinne and I were holding our own against a badass doubles duo and I wasn’t going to let a point get away on my watch. I hate losing. And I didn’t want to let Corinne down; she’s the kind of gal who makes you want to fight to the finish. I planned to leave it all on the court that morning…

      Suddenly and unexpectedly, two sets in as I went for a ball, I fell to the ground. It was as if time were suspended as I watched (and felt, very clearly) in slow-mo as the full weight of ‘me’ came crashing down upon my right foot. The first thought that entered my mind was that 4-letter word itself…M-O-V-E. Ugh. Bad timing.

      All the mothering instincts of 11 women on three adjacent courts converged around me in a mili-second with offers to wrap, wince, ice, massage, give Advil, advice, rub Icey-hot, commiserate, and drive me to the nearest Urgent Care. I writhed in pain like a wounded animal, uttering guttural sounds and clearly instructing them not to even think about touching me. I knew it was only a bad sprain (call me Dr. Denise) and, once the intensity subsided, I insisted on dramatic photo-ops and a “YES! the party WILL GO ON! Don’t even consider taking me to ER!”

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Thus began my truly bittersweet journey on one leg, as I hopped, groaned, iced, cried and crutched my way up and down stairs, through hallways and into the dark recesses of my mind, at moments entering into brief mental madness over my suddenly out-of-control impending move, continuing to ‘sort of’ attempt to pack up the house and deal with my new status of handicapped. My husband assured me I had a full week to recover, no worries, I’d be good-to-go!
      I didn’t believe it for a minute; my body was telling me an entirely different story. And this time, I was right.

      Two bones were broken and this gal – the indefatigable, ever-productive, constantly thinking, doing, moving, and yes, a little ‘loco-in-motion,’ obsessive compulsive, over-achieving ‘can-do’ chick got sat down on her butt until further notice.

      My left leg soon became my best friend, and my M.O. was abruptly adjusted.
      And next time, I’mma share some nuggets of gold I’m mining during this awkward season. Stay tuned and along the way, please chime in about YOUR difficult journey – I’d love to hear from YOU! (Click here for the next installment, Prisoner In a Minute)

       

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      Breaking the Rules on Sunday Morning: A Soul Set Free

      My tasks are lighter and accomplished with more grace and laughter when I listen to an audio book. But today I’m not laughing. I’m listening and re-listening to the same passage because it’s scrubbing my soul as I’m scouring my tub.

      I grab and suds the sponge again, press, press, pressing with a fervor over every inch of the soiled surfaces, up the sides of the shower walls, in the crevices, repeat, as I listen yet again to the story of the invalid lying helpless on the ground at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem in John chapter 5. I’ve read it almost as many times as I’ve cleaned this tired ole tub and yet, I hear it this time for the first time, fresh.

      And I relate.

      I relate to this poor, broken, lame guy lying helpless and humiliated on the ground for 38 long years, trying to find a way to be fixed, to walk, to leap, to run absolutely free for EVER. And all the other worn out, over-taxed, underpaid imperfect sad souls who long to be free of his or her encumbrances, dark thoughts and regrets, mistakes, bad moves, oblivious moves call them what you like they just sort of linger and throb as they multiply over time. That marriage, that divorce, that wayward child, that business deal gone wrong, that purchase, that bill, that bankruptcy, that relational breakdown, that hashtag fail.
      Sigh.
      All the drinks he’s poured which filled the void for a moment but didn’t quench his real thirst. All the tries that hit that cold hard wall of life. Sigh. I feel his pain at this particular moment in time.

      And I ponder my own weaknesses and needs and brokenness and long to be fixed, too. Don’t we all, in the dark of night, staring at the ceiling, asking God, try try trying so hard but seemingly stuck, sometimes, in ways that torture us?

      Jesus asks him if he wants to be made well and he doesn’t just give a straight answer, but he endeavors to paint the picture of his sincere attempts to get healed….and his weary spirit speaks for the whole of the human race.

      “I HAVE DONE ALL I CAN DO AND IT’S NOT WORKING. Do I want to be healed? Hell, yes, I want to be healed and where have YOU been hiding through all my pain, my humiliations, my poverty, my struggle????? You are omniscient omnipresent OMNI EVERYTHING SO WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME SUCH A RIDICULOUS QUESTION???? S.O.S. like times a million, is that enough to convince you? YES! YES! YES! today would be a nice day for it. I’m IN!”

      Squeeze, suds, scrub scrub scrub….sometimes we can’t get the surface clean enough or is it just therapeutic repetition?! Rinse, polish. Sigh. Glistening. Welcoming the next patron at the Mira B & B.

      I move on to the floor, sweeping and washing, on hands and kneepads, pondering how so much of life is quiet, humble, low, exhausting toil for the joy set before us. And when I exit, admiring my beautifully rolled TJ Maxx fingertip cloths and freshly laundered towels and rugs, I smile inside with a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

      Hard work is good.

      And it was a Sabbath that day and Jesus wasn’t supposed to be working on the Sabbath but he healed him anyway, told him to pick up and carry his mat and “go” and he took crap for it because he broke the religious rules yet again, one more reason I love Him…and as I clean on this Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. when all my adult life since the age of 17 on pretty much every Sunday morning of my existence I would normally be planning and prepping and primping for church meetings, lists of responsibilities in hand, nursery workers phoned, corralling my five sons into the van to get the buildings unlocked early and tidied for the crowd about to converge…

      But on this modern ‘Sabbath Day’ instead of preparing communion trays for crowds, I’m breaking the rules and communing with Him, alone, as I prepare for one special guest so dear to my heart to arrive; instead of washing feet at an altar in a building called ‘church,’ I’m washing toilets and sinks and sheets and in my heart I know it is every bit as holy as my former Sunday morning activities.

      I’ve heard his voice and I pick up my mat and I go, changed yet again, more whole and more free.

      Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to be notified of new articles and free exclusive offers for my subscribers, please join me HERE

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