Friday, December 6, 2013

Why do we have to choose? And how do we decide?

In the past month or two I've seen a lot of posts about relief work and relief donations.  I've seen some I've found to be almost offensive.  So I thought I would take a moment to offend inform people about a few things. 

I shall begin with a few stats. 

Phillipines Typhoon Haiyan

Some people may not be aware that prior to the Typhoon there was a decent earthquake, pretty much directly in the area where the typhoon hit. The death toll I last saw about October's earthquake there was 183.  (source) That being said, when the typhoon hit, there were about 350,000 people living in temporary shelters or tents as a result of losing their residence in the earthquake.  You can get an idea of what those generally look like by going here

Ok, so now you have a picture in your head of the pre-typhoon Philippines.  So imagine that a month or so after losing everything in an earthquake, there is a typhoon headed to your temporary home?!  Hard to believe right?  But it happened.  Death toll in Typhoon Haiyan is 5,719, and they are still having trouble recovering bodies, so it could be even more.  1,779 people are still missing.  Its hard to fathom.  (source)  To put this in perspective, in the town where I grew up, the number of people that died in the storm is like wiping out the population of both the public high schools, which have a combination of 5,748 students. (source and source).  Imagine what that does to an economy, damaged buildings and businesses aside.  What does that do to a community? And this doesn't even factor in the additional 1,779 people that just disappeared. 

Moving forward days after the typhoon another earthquake happens. ( source)  Then a couple of days ago another earthquake in the Philippines which so far has caused no damage, but will expose an already fragile country to additional aftershocks. 

So this is a rough picture, a very rough picture of what the Philippines has endured in the past couple of months.

Illinois Tornadoes

The American midwest has a historic outbreak of tornadoes. Illinois felt the wrath of 24 tornadoes.  In the state of Illinois 2 of the tornadoes were the strongest November tornadoes ever recorded for the state.  Six people died.  2400 homes were damaged or destroyed.  In the state of Indiana there were 28 tornadoes and no recorded deaths. (source)  

Both regions have been through so much.  Both deserve funds and support.  As an Illinois native I too was heartbroken by the devastation I saw on TV when I heard about the tornadoes.  I was touched by the rallying of my former neighbors to get donations and bring people what they need.  I couldn't go help so I shipped diapers.  I contacted companies to get them to donate.  I was equally, if not more upset by the complete destruction from Typhoon Hayain.  And helped how I could for that as well.

There is something that I cannot comprehend, nor can I let it slide, especially as a person of faith.  I can't reconcile the idea that help at home is more valid or important than help over seas.  Those who HAVE, have a distinct duty to help those in need, no matter where they are.  We do not live in an era where we have the luxury write off an entire nation because something is happening here on a vastly smaller scale.  When I see comments like, why is Facebook helping the Philippines? But they are not helping Illinois, something inside me shudders.  There is no room for small mindedness in charity.  Let's stop picking and choosing who is deserving of help and who is not, and let's just start a cycle of doing good wherever and whenever you can.  It really doesn't matter what it looks like when it comes down to brass tacks.  I'm so proud of the people I know that are ever ready to dive in and help, and I just really wish there were more people like them. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Finding Community

I have been in Central Florida now for roughly 9 months or so.  Give or take.  Being away from every single person I know, and thrown into a completely new environment has been a struggle to say the least.  The culture here, though I wouldn't expect it do be, is vastly different from that of the friendly Midwest.  You don't talk to strangers because it might piss them off, and you definitely don't honk the horn at someone for a traffic infraction, because they might shoot you, or at least they get scary enough that you think they might.  All of the neighbors hibernate all summer long, the exact opposite of the Midwest, and you might see them during the winter when the weather cools down, but there are no guarantees.  So where does that leave someone that thrives on strong friendships?  I definitely don't know, but if you figure it out, please send me the info.  I'd love to have the in on that.

Perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but people do tend to keep to themselves way more than in Illinois.  In the short time we've been here, the two families that we've become friendly with have either already moved, or will be soon.  I've never seen such a transient and diverse mix of people all shoved into one region, but I can tell you that its really lonely for someone so used to a mix of friends, some that span decades and live within a 30 minute drive, to friends made within the last 5 years that served as a life raft through pregnancy. They fed me with more than food as I struggled through postpardum depression and a traveling husband.  What do you do when you feel like a huge part of you is missing? 

I'm still trying to work that one out.  I've joined a playgroup and I go to church, but everything here just feels so vastly different.  People are more guarded, and that leaves me more introverted.  Its really like a Catch 22.  I don't want to latch on to the first person that invites me for coffee, but at the same time, I'm so used to having a bestie in close proximity.

All that to say, I'm really not as unhappy here as I had anticipated.  Lonely sometimes, yes.  But miserable, no.   I'm looking for ways to meet people all the time, and I'm trying to be authentic with people that I meet, so that connections can be fostered that are genuine.

I'm reading a fantastic book called Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, and so many times as I've scoured a page, I find tears welling in my eyes as I am overwhelmed with the feeling that someone gets it.  Someone knows that ache for little ones that felt communal, loved like one of your own that are now across the country.  Someone knows the sadness of hearing happy news that's happening worlds away, as life goes on in another place and you find yourself where you are, though its not where you want to be. She understands how eating with others can feed the body but ignite the soul. Live is ever changing, and its easy to forget that its still happening where you are, as much as its happening for everyone else back home. For now I am still hopeful that things will come together and that we'll find our niche in community that we can both contribute to and benefit from.  Until then I'll absorb myself in books and reach out when it seems appropriate.  For now my new best friends are authors I never had time to uncover when I was working. 

Currently Reading:  Bittersweet
Currently Eating: Vegetarian Pumkin Chili
Current Favorite Quote:  "It doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen the moment you decide to make the call or show up at the group.  But I'm finding that its there waiting for you in all sorts of unexpected places, that when you do what you love with people who love the same thing, something is born into your midst and begins to connect you"  Shauna Niequist

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I wish I could love myself and see myself the way my husband does

Please take this post with clear eyes and a non-judging heart.  Its hard for me to write, but it is my current struggle.

I wake up each morning trying to decide whether I will like myself today.  Whether I will be OK with this human body, with its weaknesses and frailties.  I wake up wondering if I will ever see myself the way my husband does.  Or the way that God does for that matter.

I am a bitter battlefield of hope and self pity.  I look in the mirror as I brush my teeth, wondering where the happy, thin girl of my youth went and whether there are glimmers of her still in there.  I oscillate between trying to accept myself the way I am, 20+ pounds overweight, mother of three, skin of  a Shar Pei if seen in a two piece swimsuit.  Having three kids in a 5 year span does things to your body and metabolism that you can't really prepare yourself for.  It makes me scared for the mother of all those Duggar babies.  How isn't her uterus dragging along the floor?  Or maybe it is underneath the long skirt.  Right behind the flap of skin that's been the home of so many children.  Before my first baby I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted.  I was right on par with my weight, pretty happy in my body with the exception of my inherited small boobs.  Thanks to my mom's side of the family.  After my first child, I lost the weight right away.  I was back to my pre-baby weight pretty quickly, though my jeans never fit the same again, with hips now that were wider than I'd ever had, from carrying an average size baby in my small frame.  But I was OK with it.  I was a mom and that's what I'd always dreamed of.
 Me post Maggie.

My second baby did things to my body that I did not expect.  Having never really cared for bacon and always harbored an extreme distaste for cake, the daily pile of bacon and slice of Portillo's chocolate cake brought a lot of weight gain with that pregnancy.  I expected that, and I ate it anyway.  I paid for it later.  I still lost the weight post pregnancy fairly quickly, a couple of pounds hanging on until I stopped nursing my toddler, a little over one year old.  I started running and got to an acceptable weight for myself, pretty close to pre-pregnancy weight, and while I wasn't 100% happy with myself,  I felt better after I stopped nursing.

 Me immediately after Miles. Like the next day.

Baby number three bit back hard.  It was a difficult pregnancy.  I lost almost 15 pounds in the beginning from being so sick.  I almost had to work with a dietitian to bring my weight up.  I threw up multiple times every day for all but 2 weeks or so of the pregnancy.  I ended the pregnancy about where I started the pregnancy, maybe slightly more, but not by much.  I was beat.  I was drained, exhausted and emotional strapped all the time.  I went into preterm labor.  It was stopped.  She still came at 34/35 weeks, healthy and strong but tiny.  She was fiery and full of angst.  She cried all the time, and so did I.  I was a mess.  She was colicky.  We were all suffering.  I rewarded myself for getting through the day with chocolate, and fast food, and whatever I was craving in the moment that would create that calming, soothing endorphin rush of pleasure when the taste touched my tongue.  I had post partum depression and did work with my doctor on strategies to address the issue without medication, ready to take it if needed.  Luckily asking for help and going on walks in the sunshine eased my anxiety and gave me a break.  I started to feel more like myself, but I was still making so many poor food choices.

My constantly crying baby. (I almost posted a video so you could hear the scream that used to come out of this tiny being, but I thought I'd spare you the pain.)

Me looking a hot mess because she NEVER let me put her down and I never slept.

And so here I am today, 1,000 miles away from all the friends I love, and extended family I'm so accustomed to.  I constantly crave childhood foods and comfort foods.  I think they ease the ache of being so alone.  I have a foot injury that limits my physical activity, though I fight through the pain sometimes and do what I want despite it, paying later when I over do it.  I've spent over a year working with different doctors and practitioners to try and address the pain, but have so far been unable to do so.  So now I feel stuck.  I don't want to completely stop eating foods I enjoy.  I don't want to take a bunch of meds so I can't feel the hurt in my foot.  I try to eat healthy, but allow myself to eat what I want when I'm feeling blue.  I have cut so much pop out of my daily habits, and rarely eat out.  So now I feel like I have to decide what I want to focus on.  Do I want to count calories all day, fight with myself over ever bite I take, calculate every activity I do to measure the intake vs. output?  Did God make me the way I am?  Is my discontent with myself ingratitude for all that I have?  To what point do I want dieting and working out to impact my  life activities?  I feel so conflicted.  I need to understand in part that my body will never be the same one.  I'm getting older and I have given birth to three kids.  Is it possible to work out a ton and restrict my diet to get to the pre-baby fitness level or even better?  Absolutely.  Do I want to commit that much of myself to the task?  Am I motivated enough for it to result in even a modicum of success?  I don't know.  And that's where I stand.  Firmly on a line of wondering if I want to be thinner or whether I should be happy with my body the way it is.

All I know is that when my husband looks at me, he doesn't see all that nonsense.  He's not looking at my meals and assessing how it will impact by butt. He doesn't pay attention to the weight I've gained over the years.  He sees his wife, the woman he loves, the  mother of his children, and he's happy with that.  I'd be wrong to try and guess what God sees when he looks at me.  But I know that He loves me warts and all, and is happy having me as his child. Why can't I see myself the same way?  Truly I don't know.  And that is where I stand for this very moment in time. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Where I am Right Now

This post has been sitting as a draft for a bit now.  I've been holding back, and waiting to post because I'm so unsure about it.  I don't want it to come across as ungrateful or complaining.  That's not what this is about.  This is about being real with myself.  With you.

I'm in a different place than I used to be, and its hard.

I've been a full time employee sans children.

I've been a full time work outside the home employee + mom.

I've been a part-time work outside the home employee + mom.

And now I'm a work my butt off staying home with the kids 24 hours a day mom.

All of them are hard.  None of them are easy.  But I have to be brutally honest.  Nothing has made me feel like more of a failure than what I am doing right now.  No one can make you feel as inadequate as a 2 year old that can't yet articulate what she wants, but won't settle for anything less than she is asking for.  Nothing can push my buttons, and have me seething as quickly as a four year old that doesn't ever do what he is asked to the first time he's asked.  Nothing makes you feel as low as your children telling you to go away, they don't want you or you're so mean to me all the time.  Nothing makes you as guilty as the look on your 6 year old's face when you get frustrated with them because they are chasing their siblings around screaming and laughing and having fun.  The times when my children melt down are always in public. The hard work, the discipline, the constantly feeling like you are not enough for your kids is draining.  I am more tired than I was working 12 hour days and spending 2 hours a day with my kid. For me, that life was SO MUCH EASIER in so many ways.  But it was never easy to kiss that sweet little face goodbye in the morning, or goodnight at bedtime.   I'm more insecure than I was juggling my part time job and my three children.  I feel like this is all I do, and none of it is ever good enough.  I love them, but sometimes I yell.  I make stuff home made from scratch and they want chicken nuggets from a certain arched-nemesis.  I plan out fun games and crafts for them to do, but when they fail, I turn on the television in defeat.  I sometimes eat cereal for dinner at 9:30pm when my husband is out of town, because its the first chance I've had to sit because no one wanted a nap.  This is my life now, and I always feel less than enough. When I was working I felt guilty for not being at home.  Now that I'm home I feel guilty for not working, and guiltier for missing working.

Thank God for grace.  His grace, because I sure don't give myself enough of it.  I don't give my kids enough of it.  I'm sure that other people feel the same way.  So we sure need a lot of His grace, and we are so thankful for it.  Despite sick kids, today was a good day.  You get those here and there, and they make the hard days more bearable. But I don't know when I'll stop guessing myself.  I feel like I'm daily adding to that which my children will be discussing with their future therapists.  I feel like I have friends out there that want kids but can't have them, and they would be doing things so much better than me.  I look at all the pictures online and read all the articles about attachment parenting (which I'm not sure I totally agree with), and wonder if I'll ever get things right.  Here's to finding out in 20+ years.  In the meantime, I'll have a drink after I put the kids down to bed tonight and try and give myself a break. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Finding a memory at the resale shop

My mother was an antique dealer.  She dealt in wares from another time and place.  1st editions with yellowed pages and a faint musty smell.  Dolls with cracked paint on their rosey cheeks and eyes that still opened and closed if she was packed away properly.  Worn, golden wedding rings that had long since said goodbye to their wearer.  Postcards with a picture of an old family store and ancient scribble across the back.  She gave history new life with each sale.  Each carbon copy receipt carefully filled out to designate the dealer, amount paid, and item description. Our house sat stacked with boxes of antiques filling the basement, and really wherever there was room. A jukebox sat in the front foyer, and African masks hung on the living room wall next to a collection of Native American arrow heads. The dust bothered by asthma, but my fascination with the old stuff never faded.  I still love the smell as I walk into an antique store.  The slight mustiness, the history of someone else's furniture.  Or maybe its their memories, lingering over their discarded possessions. 

I shopped at the Salvation Army yesterday.  Every once in a while you will find something there that doesn't belong with the rick rack and stretched out sweaters.  An ancient Christmas ornament tucked away with chintzy wall art or old chipped dishes. A milk glass candy dish carelessly stacked with cheap flower vases. I was there to find inexpensive frames to spray paint teal, and I did, but with it I found a memory.  As I scraped the sticker gently off the glass of the frame, I was suddenly transported to one of the many moments I helped my mom prepare her goods for sale.  A quick spray of the Pledge on the sticker.  The oils loosening the stickiness of the price tag.  Softly scraping the sticker away, and cleaning the glass to a perfect shine.  The smell of lemon pledge is like time machine.  The memory warmed my heart and a wave of homesickness and grief washed over me, unanticipated and brief.  In a flash it was gone.  So many times that's how it is these days.  As her laugh has faded to a distant echo.  Her voice lingers in my mind, but I wonder if its the right one.  If it sounds like she did, or only as I remember her.  I suppose it will always this way.  Moments will forever sneak up on me, reminding me of the magnitude of my loss.  But at least now they are brief glimpses of the past instead of days of lingering upset.  It still feels like a punch in the stomach when it happens though, the wind knocked out of me, and I always struggle to catch my breath again, but once I do its like it never happened. 

When I think of everything that's made today I'm saddened by the fact that nothing lasts as long as those old wooden rocking chairs or musty trunks with heavy brass locks.  I'll always cherish the memories of sitting in the back room of an old building eating a plain Hershey bar and wondering at the antiquity of all that surrounded me. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What's Mother's Day Got to Do with It?

Mother's day.  It is what it is right friends?  I just have to take a moment to acknowledge something about mother's day that people often forget.  For so many of us it is a day of grieving and loss.  It may be that someone is trying desperately to become a mother, and thus far, are grieving the loss of motherhood in general.  There are some teen mom's grieving the choices they made that got them to the point of single motherhood, thankful for their baby, but wishing they'd waited. There are some of us aching with the loss of our own mother's.  It may be that someone that a miscarriage has left someone broken at the idea of what could have been.  There are women who gave up their babies for adoption, knowing it was the right choice for them, but heartbroken at the idea of their child calling someone else mom.  There are women that didn't go through with pregnancy, regretting that they made that choice.

It is great to celebrate motherhood and mothers in general, but please friends, be delicate.  Don't complain about your Mother's Day gift or all the ways you wished it had been different.  There maybe be people that would give up a 100 Mother's Days to be where you are, or 100 more to have their mother back.  I'm so thankful for my beautiful family, my wonderful husband and three kids, but every year, no matter how many pass, Mother's Day is hard for me.  Don't forget the broken hearted around you on this special occasion.

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Who do you know that may be struggling with Mother's Day?  How can you comfort them?

For all my friends that are grieving or seeking comfort in loss, I'm thinking of you and praying for you as Mother's Day approaches.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I've spent days sifting through my feelings about what happened in Boston.  Tragic events like this always stir up emotions about my own tragic experiences.  Feelings I thought I'd dealt with, but always resurface from time to time.

I am beyond broken hearted by these events.  The thought that someone could take a day that so many people worked so hard to prepare for, to train for, and turn it into a day of tragedy is firmly beyond my comprehension.  But let me say this.  Before this bombing occurred, these people were heroes to me.  I can't imagine the dedication and commitment to their goals that these runners have, that their families have in support of their passion.  I've never had that kind of drive. They are more so my heroes now than they ever were before. 

I can't help but think that the bombers intentionally planned the bombs to injure runners in a way that would break their spirits and to try and take away their ability to continue doing the running they so love.  So many of the injuries were of the lower extremity and amputations. But the cowards responsible for this attack far under estimate the resilience and tenacity of the human spirit.  The type of people that run this sort of race will never let you keep them down.  I'm betting that they all show you up and run again in this same marathon some day.  My prayers are with them all.  And I know they will shine beyond this experience and put to shame those responsible for this senseless violence.

So many other people/bloggers have echoed this sentiment, but its so true.  There are so many more of us good people than there are of the bad.  The love will always outshine you.  People gave away their medals to others that were unable to finish the race because of all that went on.  Runners ran to the hospital to donate blood.  Soldiers running the marathon stopped what they were doing to help.  Fans told to evacuate the area held the hands of the hurting.  You only served to show the world how decent and kind and good so many of us are.  Your hate hurts, but our love heals.