Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Holding Pattern (wait? are we moving?)

Uncertainty loomed as I had a spare moment to clean on Tuesday.  It was not my typical routine and I am very much a creature of habit.  Perhaps that's where I first went wrong.  Questions swirled in my head.  "Who am I?  What am I doing?  How do I know what I'm doing? Am I doing it right?"

These pertained to everything.  Parenting, being a wife, my chosen career, where I live geographically.  I questioned myself so much that it reminded me of when I think of a word and say it repeatedly so much that it no longer makes, sense, has meaning and I question it's spelling, definition and whether or not it truly is even a word.  Know that feeling?  Nothing was clear to me yesterday and I can't quite say why.

To make matters worse, my husband had the same mini mid-life crisis in his parallel universe.  Fantastic.

The big questions stared at him, haunted him.  The career about-face.  The future.  "What am I doing, where am I going and why am I going there with all of these people (excluding family of course)?"  It made for quite the pre-bedtime conversation.

Mid-life.  Have fun when you get here if you're not already.  The pressure is on.  Time is ticking.  You are suddenly smacked in the face with how much time you may or may not have seemingly wasted.  You may want to be in a different place both literally and figuratively.  Maybe not.  But you certainly don't want to end up like that guy who is all alone, has only his career left and screams at everyone around him and is afraid to retire because he knows he'll die if he does.  Or you want to figure out all your issues now while you can see them in full daylight so you don't end up panickstricken, anxious and afraid of everything, unable to get out of a chair unless hauled up by three people just to move, or spend all day obsessively checking closets to see if all of your clothes are still there.  Oh yes, I come across people such as this every.  single.  day.

Upon solving nothing by the end of the evening we watched Parenthood and went to sleep.  Here I am this morning, writing this lovely little uplifting post for you recounting it all because today is another day.  The future lies ahead, the past is still there and now yesterday is part of it.  I think I'll file it away under "TBD" and get going.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Starting out

What you do to others you do to yourself.  What you do to yourself, you do to others. ~Pema Chodron (exerpt from "Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living")

Sounds like that old addage we were all taught as kids, right?  I can't tell you how many times I heard it growing up.  Ad nauseum.  The above however adds a different spin.  In all my years of hearing "do unto others as you would have done to you" I never paused to recognize the opportunity for self harm if I didn't obey the rule.  I never thought of the statement in reverse either.  So I like this one a little better.  It is more appropriate for this time in my life I think.

Instead of starting the week with "shoulds" and the nagging guilt that accompanies when I fall short of accomplishing the list of the perfectionist, I'll try instead to start with intention, an open heart and a big helping of forgiveness all around. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The longest week

It is hard for me to protect what's inside.  The emotions, confusions and rigors of patient care break through the barrier that shields me and internal chaos ensues.  I become this person who cannot make good decisions for my own well-being and am easily swayed by guilt.  I get angry with myself.

Luckily my husband talked me through it yesterday. 

This week has been particularly grueling and I've allowed myself to get swept up in the maelstrom of patient panic attacks, poo, paranoia, psychosis, dementia, deafness, dying, dissatisfaction, deadbeat caregivers and more all while trying to maintain a reasonable schedule and make a difference.  It is the juggling act of my life.  It is incredibly fulfilling when I remember I'm capable of doing it well and move forward instead of second guessing myself every step of the way.

Yesterday I took a time out.  It was my only option.  I'd hit a wall and despite there being no more left to do I still felt guilty. I knew I had to make another choice.  There was nothing else left but to run. 

It was the right decision.  I started slow.  I promised myself I wouldn't push too hard, that I'd be nice to myself and not expect too much, that life had already thrust more on me than I could handle.  As my legs hit their stride and my breathing became easy, I felt what had been missing all week, the overused cliche, the one people usually use to justify overspending: I was finally taking care of me.

Today I woke up feeling much better, renewed.  It should be Monday but I'm thrilled that this is how I'll enter into the weekend, energized, rather than withered, twisted and worn out by the week.  And I have this to mull over from Twitter at 5:30 a.m.:

We need to understand how destructive emotions affect us and constructive emotions can help us, so that we can maintain our peace of mind. ~Dalai Lama

Happy weekend everyone.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I am not one to sit still for long.  Oh sure, there used to be a time when I knitted/crocheted many things but that was while I slept (!).  Or, I was up, I was down, I was up, down, up, down, up, and so on.  I move a lot.  I climb in bed at night only to climb back out to my husband's sighs and calls of "where are you going now?" at least five or six times completing any number of tasks I've forgotten.  I don't like to sit still.  It is one of the primary reasons I chose a job where I don't have to.  A desk might kill me.

Lately, I've packed the kids in the car and we've hit the trail walking.

My brain thinks better when my feet are moving, when it has fresh air, when I'm passing that air at a faster rate through my nose, mouth, lungs. I want the experience to rub off of the kids without rubbing on purpose.  I want to catch them by surprise.

For now, I listen. 

my feet hurt. how much longer? are we almost there? are we hiking like 10,000 miles? can we see at the top? ow! I just twisted my ankle. I need to stop. how many people have died here? are there poisonous spiders here? my legs hurt. I'm hot.  I'm cold.  have you done this before?

At some point the questions turn to quiet wonder as long as our feet keep moving, as long as we keep passing the air through nose, mouth, lungs. At some point they see what there is to see, feel what is here and take a part of it home, where they will keep it deep inside to be accessed when needed, pulled out when they most desperately need to take a deep breath.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


One hundred seventeen. 

~the estimated number of rings I counted on the main trunk of one of three trees that fell about a week ago

~the number of times I may or may not have griped in the past about having to pay insurance of various sorts

~the number of times I'd like to say thanks to our insurance guy for coming through in a big way and covering everything from tree removal to replacement costs of damaged goods (pictured and not) and the associated labor costs to repair

~the number of little leaps my heart took after registering for a little retreat by a favorite author (because when things come crashing down, why not go meditate?)

It has been a busy week with 117,000 other things going on and the tree, well, let's just say I'm not surprised.  I know enough to know by now that when things are crazy they just get crazier in ways we never see coming.

Don't get me started thinking about the other gigantic trees that are right up next to the house that could splinter it into 117 million pieces.  We hope never to see that day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

'Member when?

Remember when I used to knit?

...and crochet?

I was pregnant with baby #2 and got a wild hair and decided I needed to learn how.  So I taught myself.  I marched into Ben Franklin, infant #1 in stroller, bought a book and supplies and painstakingly learned.

After a year or so of making tons of mistakes and finally getting it, I figured I should teach myself to crochet.  So I did.  I made lots more mistakes.

I made way too much stuff to throw at my family and friends so I decided to sell it.  I made my own patterns.  I went to farmers markets.  I heard of a little thing called Etsy.  It was a lot of fun.

I started a blog somewhere along the way and wrote in it.  I took pictures with my little point and shoot.  I upgraded my camera.  I had some blog help from a good, kind friend.  You should know about her.  You probably already do.

My business was always in the black.  It was a good feeling.  I was busy.  I was tired.

The booties and baby hats were my bread and butter.  Especially when they showed up on popular websites like Ali Edwards and Cool Mom Picks.  I had no idea what I was doing.

I made baskets for people in Scandanavian countries.  I wished I could see them in use.  I sold stuff all over the world.  People in Australia buy alot off of Etsy.  Not sure why.

Then I quit.

I decided playtime was over.  I called myself a physical therapist again.  I took off one hat, put on the other and went back to work.  I packed up my knitting.  I packed up my yarn, my needles.

Lately I've been inspired.  Maybe it's the change in the weather.  Perhaps it's a new outlook.  Whatever the case, I knitted this last night.

Still fast, guess I've still got it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hamsters and gerbils and fish, oh my!

Could someone please get rid of the roosters?  One would think there'd been time, after all, if you've caught, kept, killed and cleaned a large fish you've done worse than what my husband did to that rooster.  But the rest still wander the property and pick up hookless plastic worm fishing lures and utter pandemonium breaks out fighting over the things because we haven't had time to send the rest of the birds to rooster heaven.  The "to do" lists are just too long and the cock-a-doodle-doers (though there are five of them) are not top priority.
Ours is a revolving door, opening for work, school, work, errands, work, extra-curriculars, work, life, work, cutting grass, work, laundry, work, cleaning, work, homework, work, repairing blown-up generator, work, fixing blown-up riding lawn-mower, work, fun, work, you get my drift.
What I tell myself I want to do is live on that boat you see in that picture up there.  Sell the house, put stuff in storage, pack up the kids and go live.  Live free and open and clear and worry about the big things like making breakfast and watching stars and reading books, laughing, swimming, discovering, dreaming.
I know, I know, you don't have to say it, running away doesn't solve anything.  But it's time for some serious change around here.  I don't mean the addition of Miss Tibbles the hamster, Jerry the gerbil and Poseidon the goldfish.  I'm looking for the 'less is more', minimalistic kind of change.  Feet in the sand, head in the clouds, let's go live in a tiny house kind of change.  The tiny house cultural shift--it's our retirement plan and I think I'm ready for it right now.
So I guess I am rolling over and having that great big pity party I said I wasn't going to have, not about my choking experience, but about this place we're in and the pace at which we're going about it all. I don't mean physical place because that's all kinds of pretty and farmhousey and my office is serene and I love my new, ice blue rug I bought for it and I'm starting to get organized in here bit by bit and that feels really good.  People say they ride by our place and think "oh, it looks so nice, so set back in time, so peaceful, like a different world", well that's what they tell me anyway and then I have to wreck their fantasy world and tell them that we're just as stressed out as they are, my husband isn't just a god who fixes everything that breaks and that nobody has a perfect life and ours is full of flaws and our kids do fight just like theirs do and they aren't perfect all the time and lord knows neither am I, my meltdowns are showing up on a regular basis.
But amidst all the chaos I have to remind myself how good we've got it.  Run down the list of haves and I sound like a big ol' crying baby to complain about any of it.  It's the pace that has me all withered up and worn.  I look and feel much too tired.  My husband and I see each other in passing and then pass out from exhaustion when we do.  We've done it to ourselves and it's time for some un-doing before I (we) come completely undone.  There's a book by Wally Lamb with a similar title, maybe I should read it.  Maybe in my next life, on my boat. 
{all kinds of farmhousey}

Friday, September 7, 2012

I almost died

{the scene of the crime}

With all the confusion around here I forgot to mention I almost died the other day.  Not kidding.  I pictured the headline:
Forty-two Year Old Wife and Mother Dies Running
There are plenty of scary running stories circulating out there where people (women) do die and mine in no way is an attempt to trivialize any of them.  People are abducted and killed, victims of hit-and-run accidents, mountain lion attacks in California and states of the like all the time.  But who has ever heard of someone running and choking to death?
I'll set the stage by saying I have a bit of reflux and had had a particularly heartburn-y afternoon.  I skipped the Prilosec that I forget regularly and am mad I have to take because I am just that stubborn and stupid.  I went running anyway (what could be the harm?) and somewhere around mile 2.5 a foreign object launched itself up and down the exact wrong way and lodged in my windpipe.  I gasped, I coughed, I made a god-awful high-pitched airway-blocked sound that I've only heard described in my CPR classes and was coming from me.
I panicked.  I couldn't get the air in.  I felt like with every muscle in my entire body I was trying to drag in enough air for a wind-tunnel through the tiniest of pinholes.  It took every ounce of effort I had just to breathe.  My throat tightened, my head felt like a balloon ready to burst as I gasped and coughed and made that life-threatening sound and tried to wretch and couldn't and squeaked and desperately, desperately gasped for air.  Awful thoughts raced.
I was on the trail behind our house, hidden from view and didn't have my phone of course because...I was at home!  I began walking as fast as I could toward the house but knew if I didn't get my airway clear I'd pass out before I'd make it to the house.  The kids would find me blue.  My husband wasn't home.  I didn't want to die.  I knew I couldn't go to sleep.  I had to stay calm.
In a split second I thought about all of the patients I've worked with who've aspirated on their own stomach contents or things they've swallowed and shouldn't have, but this was happening to me.  I'm not an 85 year old stroke patient.  I'm young, I'm healthy.  This should not be happening.  What  would people think?
It was a scary and tense several minutes of body-wrenching gasps to try to get as much air in without blocking my airway completely so I could force out whatever was lodged with cough after cough.  I thanked God I could still move air.  I was pissed my body wouldn't throw it up, whatever it was.
Clearly I survived.  I squelched the impulse to text my husband and best friend.  I didn't want to freak them out.  I saved my little story for dinner conversation when we all met up later that night.  They were a little disturbed.  More than I expected.  I haven't told the kids and won't.
I realized during and after the event that it's much more terrifying to watch something awful and life-threatening happen to another person, especially someone you love dearly than it is to be in the situation yourself.  There's something about the visual, movie-like helpless quality of being the voyeur that adds drama and sheer terror.  Perhaps love's got something to do with it too.
"What'd you do then?" my friend asked.
"I made it to the house, I recovered, I waited till I was breathing normally and stopped shaking.  I drank some water and finished a four-mile run".  She was surprised.
What was I supposed to do?  Roll over and have a pity party?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Our youngest writes:

"Declaration of indapendence.  I should be indapendent of...
having a hamser
waking up whenever I want
eating spagehti
eating cassarole".

She tore it straight in half when her father went to talk with her about her "declarations".  Apparently it was for her eyes only. 

We are reluctantly gearing up for the addition of three new pets this weekend, as if the current wildlife isn't entertaining enough.  Yesterday my husband found a well worked-over dead oppossum hidden under the butterfly bush in the backyard which would explain the rank smell on the border collie for the past several days (and the slimy ick to boot).  He also nearly escaped a dive-bombing attack by one of the white roosters who reportedly came flying at him from 10 feet above, wings spread, jaws agape, squawking, talons at the ready while on the tractor cutting grass near the coop.  He screamed (I guess boys don't scream, they yell), swerved and batted it away.  No, we haven't had Sunday dinner with the rest yet.  One thing at a time, or make that fifty that stand in the way of us and rooster neck-wringing.

The sixteen year old cat is failing.  Her loud meowing throughout the house at four a.m. is not pleasant, nor are the little packages she's been leaving about.  I just hope she doesn't mess with a hamster, gerbil or fish, or whatever else comes home.  She's about one of the few things that can scare the roosters, all six-and-a-half pounds of her declawed, nearly toothless self.

But the kids are focused, they need pets, they argue.  They have researched, they have cleaned rooms and spaces for cages, they have vowed to be religious caretakers.  We have agreed to give it a go.  I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Water times

We went back to the place of perfect mornings, still water, kayak excursions, tubing with wild abandon, massive wipe outs, skiing, the relentless search for crabs with net.

Children are easily swept away in the magic of it all.  Adults give time and remember through child eyes.  We follow the recipe that calls for water, sun, sore muscles, laughter, friends.  Toss in bowl, stir.

Friends become brothers, aunt and honorary set of grandparents who have an indelible place in our story. We cannot illustrate it without them.