Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Restless Brain Syndrome

My brain is incredibly restless. Sort of like Restless Leg Syndrome, only entirely in my head. Not that it isn't real, but when you say something is "all in your head" it tends to sound like you are imagining something that really doesn't exist. Except in your head. Which sort of means you might possibly be just a little bit crazy.

I always get this way when my life is like this. It's my brain's way of trying to settle into the things that aren't yet ready to be settled because they are completely up in the air. I crave normalcy. I want a routine. I want things to just be figured out right now, rather than on some random day after I completely exhaust my ability to be patient. Which is funny because of all the adjectives that could be used to describe me, "patient" just isn't on the list. In my heart, I know that's why I have to wait for the things that I want. Because I need to learn to be patient. Patience is one of the greatest lessons life could possibly offer; with patience comes grace and peace. Those are the feelings that we come to know when we know that we have no control over most parts of this life.

That's probably why I find myself drawn to the Serenity Prayer. You know, the one that tells us to ask God for the serenity to accept that which we cannot change, the courage to change what we can and most importantly: the wisdom to know the difference. Almost all of the frustration I feel in my head is from not bothering with the knowing the difference part---that sort of wisdom is irrelevant when we're in the throes of a frustrating experience. We can't see the difference.

But the difference is this: when you have done everything right, expending the energy required to secure the things you want most for yourself, the rest will happen in time. Maybe not on your time, perhaps not immediately, but it will happen. Just as it was meant to happen. After you learn the patience required to appreciate the things you want when they do arrive into your life.

As for me, I'm still waiting. I'm waiting for a lot of things, both big and small. And I'm still working on the wisdom part. That part, the one I lack almost completely, reminds me that when you want something incredible, waiting for it only adds to the experience. If you wanted something amazing and you didn't have to wait for it, would it still be amazing? Or, would it just be a stroke of luck or a random coincidence that you took for granted?

Maybe the more special something truly is, the more patience is required. And the less patient you are, the more you will have to wait. Because life isn't about an easy ride, it's about filling up the empty spaces.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TOMS for Tom

{One good TOM deserves another.}

Today is my dad's birthday.

His name is Tom*.

Which is why I'm wearing my favorite pair of TOMS shoes, in his honor.

I also plan to do other things in his honor that he enjoys, like brush up on my American and World history, collect antiques and significantly increase my music-based knowledge. Also, I will fall asleep on the couch while watching television and wake up periodically when my head falls down suddenly. Afterwards, I will visit the thrift store and local Asian market to peruse for interesting items that may or may not be edible. Like pickled cactus. I'm serious.

Happy birthday, dad!

*Technically, it's Thomas. But everyone calls him Tom. So, really this asterisk is completely irrelevant.

Monday, March 28, 2011

In the Chaos, I will Thrive

Some days, it's all that my body can muster to simply expend the energy required to keep my head above the water. My legs paddle furiously, just trying to keep up. Life is chaotic. Full of change. Chock with scary unknowns. But truthfully, it's never been more wonderful.

I thrive in the chaos, despite how it may appear on the outside. It feeds my soul in that funny way that lets me know I'm still alive. Still surviving and making my contributions to this world. It can feel like I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm headed, but I do know one thing: I'm doing the best I can. It's never more obvious to me than when I lay in the quiet darkness in my bed before drifting off to sleep. In those moments, the ones where I think about my day and likewise my life, I realize that the chaos has actually created purpose in my life.

It is the quietness of my life's empty spaces that remind me of my empty house. The one that is silent and has bedrooms that lay empty. But, it is the overwhelmingly full calendar and many ways in which I'm being stretched remind me that in the end, my life is still full. Full regardless of what it lacks. Filled with purpose and likewise, with all the things I need now---not the things I'll need someday in an unknown future. It is enough.

Chaos is purpose and a full life served to us in a not-so-pretty way. It's dumped onto our laps while we're in the middle of an incredibly important meeting and we have to sort through the pieces while still staying focused. Chaos doesn't really care if you're busy or broken--it arrives whenever it pleases. But likewise, it presents the opportunity to make something beautiful out of something terrible. To spread our wings and realize that life has always been about taking chances, not living in the protection of the familiar. Even when it scares us---especially when it has the potential to turn everything upside down.

If I am completely honest, the chaos that fulfills me also leaves me feeling scared. Frightened, even. Because it often makes me wonder if I am making the right choices as the chaos swirls. Can we still make the correct choice when it feels like the chaos is in charge?

For me, it's simple: I have to have surgery. I could choose the type of surgery, but that's the only choice I had in the matter. Essentially, I could choose the easy way or the hard way. As in, a harder recovery and more intensive surgical procedure. I chose the hard way. Because ultimately, it was the right choice. As it often is in life, the right choice isn't always the easy choice. It's the scary choice. It's scary because it brings the unknown into our lives but in the end, we know deep down that it is the correct path.

Surgery will hypothetically heal me. Heal parts of me, at least. You know, those broken and painful parts that I've lived with for so long? The ones that hurt and twist my insides have actually become familiar. Easy, even. So, expending the energy and healing to fix them scares me. But, like they say, it's never about what it's about--being broken and living in the place where I have made peace with my broken-ness is also familiar. Easy. And packing up my bags and heading somewhere else is frightening. I don't want to get my hopes up. I don't want my heart to be broken again. I don't want to have to move my heart somewhere else, in some sort of limbo between hopeful and at peace.

In the end, though, it's about doing what's right. Not doing what's easy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Irish Dog

{My two favorite things: baking in the sun & wearing holiday-themed bandanas.}

We don't know exactly what Rudi is, but the veterinarian likes to call her a "Retriever Mix." We like to call her a special blend of savory spices and breeds. Which, I'm sure includes some Irish somewhere. Everyone has at least one distant Irish relative, right?

Rudi went to the groomer yesterday and received a lovely St. Patrick's Day themed bandana during her stay. She also heartily refused to be placed in a cage after her bath, so when I went to pick her up she was chilling in the corner. With a dunce cap on. Kidding.

But when you're a giant spoiled baby with an attitude problem, you deserve a dunce cap. Or, a really cute bandana. Either way, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The cracked post

One of the posts on our front porch is cracked beyond repair. It's been that way since we moved in nearly four years ago. Despite my best efforts, I can't get it to look like it's not cracked. It has become an impossible task. Yet every year I break out complaints to my husband, followed by spackle, a trowel and a gallon of white house paint. It has become a tradition, really. Every spring, I repair. Then, every winter it falls apart again. After months of standing tall again the elements, the cracks in the post begin to show again. Slowly but surely, we are reminded that it is damaged.

For some reason, I find this post situation incredibly frustrating. I just want the post to be fixed. I don't want to have to continue to perform a "patch job" every six months in an effort to make it look like it isn't broken. Despite my best efforts, no amount of patching will ever fix what is likely broken beyond repair.

After a harsh winter, the post was looking especially terrible last week as I opened the front door to gather a package from the front porch. As I began to survey the damage with my overly discriminating eye, I realized something: I am the post. With its deep cracks and peeling paint, I couldn't help but see our similarities that currently hang out there for anyone to see. I'd rather those things weren't on display, but it seems that they are--that's just the truth of the matter. I ran my fingers over those deep gouges, realizing that the post wasn't just about the post; it was about me.

I cover up my cracks with spackle and paint too--but that does not negate the fact that deep down, the cracks exist. Like anything else, standing tall against the harsh winds and punishing winter have left me battered and weathered like the cracked post. I look at the post and feel a sense of urgency: I would hate for anyone to see that post and think it is a reflection of me. It would, for some reason, be unbearable to consider that someone might judge me for having a cracked post on my front porch. I instinctively went downstairs to grab my spackle and paint to prevent that situation from playing out in my front yard.

Standing in front of the shelving unit in the basement, feeling the cool concrete against my bare feet, I paused. It was probably just a moment, but it felt like an eternity. Thoughts began swirling through my head.

What's the worse that could happen?

What would be so awful about someone--anyone--seeing the cracks?

At what point do I realize that I'm fighting a losing battle?

Like the post, I realized that fixing the cracks isn't about patching them up--it's about working to heal them from the inside. The post is probably rotten inside and needs to be replaced. But for me, it isn't quite so cut and dry. Fixing my cracks is about making the right choice to have a chance to heal myself on the inside. Like any choice, though, the right one is not usually the easy one. But anything in life worth having always involves hard work.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The pain difference

{Sheen has Tiger blood. I have Advil blood.}

It seems there is not always a clear-cut difference in this world between the various types of pain that can nestle themselves into our lives. We lament about our physical pain, we proclaim that someone is a pain in the butt and we feel the pain of heartbreak--but at what point do the lines between our hearts and our heads become so blurred that we forget the difference?

It's easy to forget the pain, physically speaking. You can recall that something hurt, but the memory is distant and fleeting; it's impossible to remember actual pain. But what if your pain is real, ongoing and constant? Do you become so used to being in pain that you forget what a pain-free life feels like? What about a broken heart or the feeling of a painful loss? That pain--the hurt that hits us deep within our souls--is often easier to remember, more familiar to us in some way because we remember exactly how it feels. We are all too familiar with the moments and objects associated with our pain, causing it to sometimes return in familiar waves when we least expect it. A piece of clothing, a familiar smell, the words of a friend; all too quickly, they bring us back to a painful moment in time.

But what if you are experiencing pain in both body and spirit? The lines can become completely blurred when we feel pain physically that evolves into a living reminder of the pain we feel emotionally. It's as though our heart and body have joined forces in a vast conspiracy against us, working in concert to destroy our spirit entirely. That moment, the one where our pains crossed paths and became one, is a time that quickly dissolves into the past. While we were there to witness the union, to experience the joining of forces, it isn't something that is particularly familiar to us anymore. It becomes foggy with the passing of time.

I struggle both inwardly and outwardly with pain. Monthly physical pain, debilitating and excruciating in its very nature, has plagued me for many years. The handful of doctors I have visited over these years cannot explain my pain away with surgery or medication; one even suggested I simply "learn to deal with it." I typically wash it away with entirely too much Advil, but it has taken on a new meaning for me in recent years because of what it has come to represent in my life. An outward reminder, if you will, of my inward pain. My inability to conceive is painful, in that hurts-my-heart kind of way, while my physical pain continues to hold me captive in a prison of my body's own making.

It's hard to move past that pain when it feels like the other pain refuses let you go. Sometimes, it's almost as though my heart begins to heal and my body screams "Not so fast!" and pulls me back into that place where I'm still broken inside. My body, the one that allows me to do so many things I love with ease, is the same body that tortures me too. Your body just doesn't want to work properly, my reallywonderfulbutpregnant doctor told me last week, when I come in for another ongoing problem that is equally a pain my lady parts as the ones I started with.

But why? Why would my body just decide it doesn't want to work properly? Couldn't it just not work and then leave me the hell alone? Why add the insult of torturous, physically painful reminders to round out the invite list to this party? For some reason my body, the one that I treat with such kindness, has betrayed me. Because that's just what it wants to do. Really?

More than anything, I realize this: pain is complicated. The physical, the mental--their combined power cuts me much deeper because they ultimately leave me feeling weak and exhausted. Pain has a way of doing that to you; really cutting you to the core of yourself, testing your spirit in ways you couldn't imagine. Urging you to keep pushing, to continue trying, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts. Which makes me wonder: is all of our pain there to teach us something?

Perhaps we're in pain because our body is telling us something. Or, because God is trying to teach us something. There must be a lesson in here somewhere.

So, I continue on with both of my pains because we have to learn to live together. It's the only way. They have grown to be familiar, the pain that tears through my body and the pain that plagues my heart, because they are so tangled up in each other that I no longer know who is who. It's just too messy and complicated to figure out which pain belongs in which box; it's easier to just let them exist together for now. Knowing, in that bright spot in my heart, that I won't be in pain forever.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chicken Dinner

Today's lucky winner of my CSN Stores giveaway is....

AubreyLaine said...

I follow you on Twitter @ aubreyfick

Congratulations to you, AubreyLane!

Please send me an e-mail at for your prize.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hormones & Making Decisions: A cautionary tale

I'm pretty sure it was Confucius, the ancient Chinese thinker and educator, who once told the world that no woman should be permitted to make major decisions while in a hormonal state. Probably when his wife wasn't around though, so she couldn't scream at him for telling the world about her cycle and likewise her ever-changing moods. Seems possible to me.

I recently decided that in the effort to save money, I was going to dye my hair using products purchased at my local drug store. You know, because all that professional highlighting jazz was so expensive and it made my hair look entirely too good. Too good for its own good, really. It started out well. Really! Swear! I used this amazing stuff in the shade Magnolia. They don't use the word "Dream" for nothing, you know.

But then, my local store stopped carrying it all together. Probably because I was the only person buying it. Likewise, my life turned into a nightmare in the hair color aisle. Have you ever been the hair color aisle? It's already a nightmare. Also, it's a requirement that you spend at least 15 minutes in that aisle, deciding the fate of your precious hair. There are approximately 283497234124 shades of color to choose from, all with pretty ladies on the boxes and fun color names. There are a lot of questions to be asked in the hair color aisle, like:

Do I see myself as more of a Midnight Chestnut woman or a Auburn Mist lady?

I think Beyonce uses this color and she's married to Jay Z. What color would Jay Z like?

Maybe I should become a redhead. Do they garner more respect than blondes?

If I buy the $10.59 color will it look better than the $8.44 color?

I should get an arm tattoo of some kind. Maybe a Sans Serif font type word on my wrist?

It was overwhelming for me, mostly because I was hopped up on progesterone pills, but also because I was convinced whatever I bought would look awful and make my hair fall out. In protest of my awful decisions really. Because that's what hormones do!

After holding back the tears for my mandatory 15-minute stay in the hair color aisle, I chose the L'Oreal Excellence Blonde Supreme Creme Haircolor in the "Extra Light Ash Blonde" shade. Mostly because there was a pretty new model on the box and because seriously, who doesn't love ASH? Molten ash is great, volcanic ash is totally awesome; what could possibly go wrong?

Well, you could turn your hair to a lovely ASH shade of purplish-gray. You know, because that's what ash is---a GRAY and PURPLE hybrid. Or, you could aspire to become a My Little Pony.

{Self-portrait. Photo.}
That's me. Aren't I pretty? Don't you just love my faux fur vest? It's totally bah-nanas.

But seriously. I'm not going to show you a photo, because this crazy Ashen-haired lady is still recovering from the trauma. One shampoo at a time.

P.S. Did you enter the CSN Stores giveaway yet? I'm picking a winner tomorrow (3/2/11) at Noon EST.

P.P.S. Don't worry mom, I didn't get an arm tattoo. I went for a face tattoo instead.


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