Monday, November 29, 2010

Serving > Ben n Jerrys

Today was one of "those days." Today I uttered the following phrases to my toddler: "Are you really eating a bowl of gravy?" and "Oh no you have burrs in your face" among other winning phrases that could be found should my day had an official transcriber. How annoying would that be? I am more exhausted than I could imagine being and I am waiting up for my Husband because he had some rough meetings today and I want to see how that went and share a cranberry cookie with him. Important note: By share I meant we each get our own but we will both be eating one.

Moving on. Even though my day was sort of a ball of lint stuck with burrs and covered in gravy, I am really pleased with it. Allow me to explain. Today I got the chance to stand up again and throw a few punches at life. For weeks I have felt like the pile of goo in the corner of every room but today some rough things happened in our family and I contributed to being the backbone. This comes as a shock to me because yesterday was one of the worst greiving days yet, depression settled in like a fog and the forecast seemed less than bright.

But, today I remembered a very important truth: Serving other people and being Jesus to them lifts you up out of your own funk. This is good advice, seriously write this down, because when you step up to meet someone elses needs you stop thinking about your own. You put yourself in someone elses shoes and think of ways to make their life better and stop focusing on how bad yours is (eve if it is!). Being selfless gives depression a good slap to the face, we wake up and go: "Huh, I'm going through something awful, but so are other people."

I know somewhere, way back in the dusty parts of my brain where I keep all things learned my college philosophy class, I remember someone very negative and crabby saying that you can't do anything selfless. This school of thought asserts that when you serve others, you feel good and hence benefit from it. Your positive result takes away the selflessness of the act. I guess to that guy (who in my head looks exactly like mike meyers from the SNL sprockets sketches) I would say that even if you go to a soup kitchen to serve pull yourself out of depression, so what? There were far easier options if I was the only focus of my actions. Such as eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerrys white watching an entire season of Project Runway. As I have heard some may be known to do...

God has us wired in all sorts of cool ways, but I think one of the coolest is the desire to forget about yourself that leads to serving someone, which in turn results in feeling lighter and brighter in your own heart. If I were more scientifically inclined I would make that into an eqation... somehow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Swimming through pudding and a gray Christmas

Kel just took Noelle to buy Gravy. We are eating some thanksgiving leftovers for dinner and our gravy meter was on absolute zero so clearly this was a life or death WalMart run. This leaves me the first quiet moment I have had in days. My craving for this moment overshadows any cravings I have had for all of the Thanksgiving fare available to me in the past few days.

Let me start by stating the obvious. This holiday season has been and is going to be majorly rough. I have had no fewer than seven minor nervous breakdowns contemplating how to pull off Christmas 2010. The only real thing I have come to know for sure is this won't be the merriest of Christmases. I have my three trees up, which sounds impressive but really they're a grove of trees. And no it's not because I love to relate them to the "three trees" Christian children's book. It's solely because I like them, and I like things in odd numbers. Little known fact: we had to add an extra bridesmaid and groomsman to our wedding party bc I have this strange quirk of loving odd numbers.

So, back to this Christmas season, I am ready for the peaceful moments of it, I hope huge to see some snow before its all over. However, the overwhelming feeling I have going on is longing. I long for a "Glory Days" Christmas. Let me explain: In the glory days my Dad was around to pump out Christmas cheer like a snow machine. He was the king of the Christmas bargain and he turned our house into a Christmas cookie factory. Our family had the sacred tradition of hanging the "cosmic santa" ornament, which is, not surprisingly Santa in a space suit and helmet. Only Dad got to hang him and he had to go near the top. I knew what to expect out of a "Glory Days" Christmas. Tradition, Family, Snow, Comfort.

So here we go, Christmas 2010. Both my parents are gone. The home I went home to for Christmas will be on the market. No one lives there anymore, that home is now dead too and cosmic santa is in a box somewhere, and won't be on a brightly lit tree this year. Although I have dibs on him and will try to make it up to him in 2011. I have a blank slate for new traditions for our new little family, but I long for a comfortable Christmas that was all figured out for me. Many of you will get a comfortable and familiar Christmas. Know that I am a little jealous, but happy for you.

Kel and I were talking today about Advent and how the real nuts and bolts of the Christmas story allows for the gray years in between the glittery ones. I really relate to the story of Anna and Simeon. These were the two older folks who experienced baby Jesus when Mary and Joseph went to the temple to consecrate and dedicate him. They had been fasting, praying and waiting for the savior of Jerusalem their whole lives and generations had done it before them. And when they met Jesus, they rejoiced that the redemption of the brokenness of Israel was starting right then. The Bible tells us they could die happy and at peace having met Jesus and gotten to see with their own eyes the baby boy who would be their salvation. They had experienced many gray seasons of waiting and groaning. But that was their glittery Christmas.

Our beautiful Christian faith has room for Gray Christmases and in the story of Anna and Simeon the gray ones outweighed the . But the one far made up for all the years of pining and waiting. Now, I don't expect to have decades of tough Holiday Seasons before I have one that is lively and cheerful. But, I do expect this one to be as easy as swimming through figgy pudding, or banana pudding. I have never had figgy pudding so I'd rather relate to a pudding I know I enjoy. And as tough as this is it's good to know that the hard years come, and I don't have to fake the cheer, I can have my Christmas and be where I am at, it's in the bible folks.

So this evening, in the quiet space of my living room I take as big a breath as my very pregnant body will give me and I commit this Christmas to my God, to honesty, to lots of grace, and to the full knowledge that just because he came to heal all that is broken, does not meant that all that is broken is whole this year. Is there anything more beautiful and cozy than that truth in the midst of a painful gray Christmas? Not for me there isn't. Not even a huge bowl of banana pudding.

Monday, November 15, 2010

beauty and pain

On an hourly basis I am amazed at the blend of beauty and pain that can exist in life all at the same time. I can be experiencing a moment of deep aching pain over loosing my Mom, and at the same time my daughter can be twirling and dancing in the same room, and then stop her dance to come and give me a grin and a kiss. I carry my son and he continues to grow and approach his grand entrance into this world while I mourn my Mom's exit from it. There is not near as much black and white as I thought there was. You can have both polar opposites at the same time in the same room. Amazing, painful, joyful, amazing. The weird thing is I feel like I am observing these polar shifts instead of feeling them.

I think my subconscious response to these dramatically different sides of my life has been a numbness to all of it. It was best described to me as the fizz going out from life, like a bottle of soda, still all the flavor and sweetness, but the bubbles aren't there. I actually hate the numbness because I feel like the intense feelings would be so much more comfortable. It would seem normal to be aching and crying all the time, or to feel really big joy when I fold a tiny blue onesie or look at the latest ultrasound picture. Instead I just go "huh" I can't believe all this is happening to me.

Even my favorites are blander. I just ate pumpkin cheesecake ice cream for the first time. The texture was perfect, Ben and Jerrys knows their shizz. But the flavor, while it was there, didn't explode in my mouth. I want the fizz back. I want to have a food-gasm, or fall into a deep and restful sleep. Instead I feel like I am drifting for now. Just drifting through the fall, drifting through my pregnancy. Like I said I would prefer the intensity, but for know I guess I will drift.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The New Normal

Right now I am camped out in the valley, life isn't okay right now, what I am journeying through is a journey consisting of miles, different states, maybe even countries. I am not going to arrive at any sort of all better place in the next week or so. Now, what does this mean?

It means that I have a hard time being in large groups, I feel small and without skin. What I have on my mind doesn't always lend itself to an atmosphere of mirth. It means that a lot of times I would rather be home, in an environment that quite generally I know and can control. My entire life feels out of control but the walls, floors, furniture and fridge contents of my house I am generally pretty comfortable with. For now at least it means I don't want to put on make up. It may have something to do with the fear of crying off all the mascara. Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that I don't want to pretend to be at a spot of "all good" and for me eye shadow and eye liner flies in the face of how I feel.

This also means that I welcome the company of people who understand the space and time it takes to heal from a loss like this. I relish and savor a conversation about having Faith in the tough spots. I want to surround myself with people who understand that in things like this, God isn't up in heaven teaching me a lesson. He is down on my level holding me and his heart is breaking in sync with mine. Small theology that consists of only rainbows and sunshine are not helpful right now, although I have a grace for all who try to help, comments can certainly be made that are harsh in their simplicity. So I am guarded with who I go to the deeper darker places with, but I am not bottling, I do go there with friends.

I also need to make myself aware that while I will move through this, I cannot go back to the way it was before. The way it was before is simply not an option anymore. I will keep living, keep savoring the moments, keep choosing to see the joy in my life. But I don't have the luxury of being "before me" ever again. I only get to be "after me." This is one of those events on the time line of my life that can be used as a reference point. There are things that happened before this, and things that happened after this. I am now living in the after. And I am okay with it. I could be angry, and demand that life go back to the way it was before. I certainly want that, but in 28 years of living within the boundaries of space and time I am painfully aware that I cannot. I cannot go back to the night my Mom died and talk her out of it. I cannot go back and change the events that led to this pain. I can simply heal, and keep living.

So thank you, for having grace for me, for giving me time to be in the valley. Such a loss merits valley time, and there is no prescribed limit on it. I see myself picking up my tent in stages and moving it out of the shadows slowly.

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