Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Here Come the Holidays... Run!

The season of EXTRAS you never had margin for in the first place is galloping upon us.

I'm already feeling its effects.

Halloween costumes.

They're so fun. I LOVE Halloween. But, you know, you have to either make them yourself by the sweat of your brow, or work overtime to pay for Walmart polyester confections, lovingly sewn by children in Chinese sweat shops. Trade offs. Either way, there will be sweat.

As a kid, I thought that holiday joy sprang fully formed from the pure magical force of the season. Christmas came trotting into the calendar year with treats and twinkles automatically grafted into its innate species. Magic was not created. It simply rippled out from... from... somewhere.

And then I Adulted. And I realized--to my great woe--that holiday magic, no matter the season, is created by an elite fighting force of holiday cheer known as MOMMIES. (Which probably stands for "Makers Of MerriMent In Excruciating Situations".)

Holidays are no longer the effortless experience of magic moments that pop up spontaneously like fizzy bubbles in soda. Costumes must be made. Meals must be plotted and budgeted for. Presents must be sleuthed with screaming toddlers in tow and then shipped through angry postal workers who hate their lives. It's fun... but it's less fun than someone else doing it.

Today I'm just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Chronic fatigue and severe back pain is getting me down. (Saw the chiro. Taking vitamins. Working on it.) The house has descended into deep mess. My 8 week workout quest culminated in an inglorious 1 pound lost. My husband is working 5 twelve hour days in a row, and the only night he has off, he is going out for guy's night. Plus, to top it all off, the sermon on Sunday was about how we should be sacrificing so we can support the work of the gospel and I'm like, "I don't want to give up the $20 a month I spend on Chick-fil-A!!!!! It is desperate times up in here!! Jesus take the wheel... but not my CFA money!!"

And in the midst of it all I'm supposed to make Halloween costumes.

Then I'm hosting house guests until the end of the year... so I guess I'd better start planning Thanksgiving and Christmas ahead of time.

Could we just designate an official Holiday Planner to take over for the rest of us? When it's our year, we promise we'll rock it out. When it's your year, we'll be so thankful!! We can restore the magic of the holidays. And sanity! And liberty and justice for all!

But seriously though.... I know that the secret is to simplify expectations. But I also want to craft magical memories for the kids and myself. The struggle.

I have no answers... only this: While your head is spinning around for the next three months, while you're trying to do too much in too little time, while you're striving to make magic happen in un-magical circumstances... remember that true magic is in rest. Your rest. Their rest. His rest. Our rest.

Your children don't want perfection... they want you to smile and shrug and say "Sure. Let's do hot chocolate and cereal for dinner."

Your husband doesn't need a better turkey with six homemade sides all hot at once... he needs a quiet moment on the sofa looking into the eyes he married... being distracted by the avocado that's probably smeared on your face from lunch.

Your mother in law doesn't need the perfect pair of hand knit socks... she needs a note that says, "Thank you for raising this man that is now my husband. He aint perfect, but dude sticks with. Bless you. He wipes his own butt and pulls his pants up by himself, so... you're a radical success in my eyes."

The tree doesn't have to glitter with perfectly color coordinated ornaments... it's really just an opportunity to come together and reflect on our story together.

The costumes don't need to win Project Runway Neighborhood Edition... they just need to not fall off. For an hour. Maybe less.

If all else fails... I say cut a head hole in a paper bag and go as a sack of groceries.

The meal doesn't need to be bloggable.... just edible.

Put down the iPhone & back away from the Pinterest.

This is going to be a rough couple months, no matter how you slice it... but the thing that will make it the best holiday ever for you, for them, for us... is grace.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Giving Depression the Slip

Depression is a sneaky ass hat. Before it ever swallows your mind and your heart, it spends months biting at your heels and breaking down your defenses.

It wraps you up in its arms and rocks you. You start to feel sleepy, so sleepy, because everything is exhausting. Adulting and Moming and Wifeing and Friending and EXERCISING OMG is hard.

Hopelessness starts to seem like a way out... like giving up would be easier than this hamster wheel. Hopelessness starts to look almost like a hope. Quit now. It's not worth the fight. Sleep it off.

Once depression has you in that tempting warm embrace, it squeezes!
Tired? Ha! Well, now you can't sleep.

It's like the hypnotists from old fashioned movies with their swaying pocket watches.... "Yooou're getting sleeeeepy..... SUCKA!!" And then the hypnotist punches you in the throat.

And since it has you all wrapped up, and weary-so-weary... your hands are tied. You are in no position to be reaching out for help. When you should be flailing and screaming, "I'm drowning!!!!" depression has you muffled and too exhausted to move. Or ashamed. "Again? I can't be that one putz who is a mess again. I'm a waste of oxygen."

There's only one way out of depression quicksand.....

You have to lay on your back and float to the top. It's this delicate balance between intentional/working rest, and gentle/persistent hopefulness.

You have to actively disbelieve the lie that giving up would be getting a break.

You have to pull your puffy eyes open a little wider, look depression in the face, and say "I don't believe you. You're not my answer. You don't own me." Then take a nap. A real one.

You can't claw your way out of this mess. That would be more exhausting. That would use up more of your finite resources and leave you gasping.

You have to rest your way out of depression.

You have to mercy your way out of depression.

But most importantly, you have to hope your way out of depression. Not a clawing, snatching hope that grabs desperately for anything and holds on with a death grip. Not Donald Trump "Make America Great Again" hope. Eck!! A quiet, patient hope that says, "I'm rising. I'm rising to the top of this. Maybe slowly... like rising through molasses, but the fresh air is coming. It's up there. We're getting closer every day."

Depression tells you, your arms are too heavy to lift. If you can lift them, let them float up to pray a prayer of release. "Father of Light, you see me, and I am burdened. But if I can keep peering through fog and spot light, I can keep moving forward. Do not let me be swallowed by the fog."

Then drop your arms and believe that rest is for you. Let his arms do the heavy lifting. The lifting of judgement. The lifting of criticism. The lifting of Not Enough. You choose hope. And let the Lord fling away those demons.

It's a hard balance. And your balance is off. So that doesn't help. But limping lambs are the strongest ones... they stagger on rocky ground, while others skip on an easier road. They haul their battered hides five feet, while others have run a mile. But when they reach the Shepherd's green pastures, they know better than any other how green the grass is here. Their struggles make them thankful. And beautiful. And wise.

This is your journey. You can do it. One moment, one hour, one day, one week... you can slip out of depressions grip and rest.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Breathing Life into the Future

Today I wrote an email and I was so happy with it because it held the genuineness of my own voice telling the truth. It had that tone that I feel like I've lost touch with for a few weeks.

I've lost my confidence recently. I have 6 unpublished posts lined up because I can't grasp the confidence to put them out there. They don't feel right. My voice seems to lack it's ring of power. But that email had the things I want to tell the world in it.  So I'm cheating and posting part of it here. (I hope the dear sweet soul I wrote it to doesn't mind.)


I was sitting on the floor nursing and staring out the window... just thinking. What probably draws me to writing is the desire to last. Life is just so short. So much of what we do is just undone or disappears. But if we write.... it lasts. Much longer. Longer than dishes or projects or anything. I don't think about this while I am writing.... but when I think "Why am I so obsessed with this?" I think that's the best answer I can find. Because it lasts.

This is part of the beauty of children too... I live beyond myself. Not in a selfish way. Not that I have to push my life into theirs... or that I use their lives to define mine and give it meaning... I just know that my life means more than serving my own dreams. I'm blowing a kiss of life into the future. No matter what scars I leave on my children (because, of course, I will) they will know that they are brightly, deeply, delightedly loved. They know that they can screw up and be loved, flourish and be loved, hate me and be loved, love me and be loved. They know they can stagger out into the world and stagger home again where they are loved. I really believe that this kind of unconditional love can shape history. I know that love can cover over a multitude of sins. I love the whole world while loving my kids well. 

I know you are not sure about having kids. I wasn't sure how to answer your searching questions before... I've thought about it... I wouldn't ever try to talk anyone into having kids or out of having kids. That's up to you and the universe. All i can say is that it is an act that makes you more human, more spiritual, more whole than any other act. It grounds you to the earth and spirits you into the heavens. It puts you in touch with your animal instincts and drives you to a blind faith more genuine than you ever imagined. 

People don't want to have children for many reasons that I deeply respect.... especially not being an especially child-goo-goo-ga-ga-loving person myself. But I have looked at Eames in the middle of his most difficult times and said, through tears and depression and everything, "I would go through the worst of this 1000 times just to be your mother again." There's magic there.

Don't make a choice "Yes" or "No" about having children. Just take what comes and look for the magic. 

Wishing you all the love. Lots and lots of love! Twinkling love. Earthy love. You have a great capacity for love. Mwah.