Resist

I’ve been sitting here staring out the window to my backyard for about 3 minutes with my hands resting on the keyboard.

“I don’t have a clue…” I think to myself as the sun shines through the trampoline screen that is now a semi-permanent fixture right outside my bedroom window. Dog hair litters the floor, the sun highlights the fact that I haven’t had the energy or inclination to vacuum lately, among other things.

I don’t have a clue. There is so much noise right now. Many valid points, but it’s as if everyone is screaming at everyone else with their hands over their ears, no one hearing anything but the sound of their own anger.  Not my president, get over it, pro-life, pro choice, anti-this, anti-that…..I feel like the kid in the middle of a horrendous divorce. The issues are plenty and every participant wildly passionate.

I find myself pushing. Pushing away.

Resisting.

When the anxiety gets to the point of overwhelm, I have found that I have to resist.

Resist the idea that there is only a this or a that. The black and white thinking that there is only a right or a wrong, an option A. or a B. You are either pro or anti. No. Not with everything. Many things are multifaceted and require investigation into grey areas.

Resist the inclination to know everything, to be certain. I love having a plan and executing it. That’s where I’m comfortable. Whether it’s a recipe to follow, food plan and prep, an exercise regimen, a life philosophy, faith, or anything else – I am wary of people so certain that their thoughts are right and everyone else is wrong. The older I get, the more uncertain I feel about so many things I thought were long ago nailed down. To be certain feels a lot like a mind closed.

Resist the temptation to sit down, be quiet and not think critically.  Despite the appeal of sticking one’s head in the sand, that’s not a solution for anyone.

Resist responding with angerAnger is draining. I have to respond with curiosity, love and a genuine desire to learn. The alternative is to join the deafening chaos of the crowd and I won’t do that.

I look at the trampoline outside my window once more and visualize my laughing, screaming minions bouncing around, as they will no doubt do again this evening, just like they did yesterday and the day before.

Resist doing nothing because everything feels overwhelming. Glennon Doyle Melton said something that struck a chord with me. “Do not discount the work that you do at home with your children.” I may only be able to show two little people what love and kindness looks like, but eventually they will grow up to be big people and they will in turn show love and kindness in their school, in their work, and in their communities.

 

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”

-Mother Theresa

 

Daily Prompt: Resist

Inspiration

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Feeling a little blah after the holidays I’ve been not so inspired to write lately, about food, fitness or anything else. I have officially stopped working at the gym (my choice, all good) and have been getting into the new routine working out and doing the mom thing.

A friend of mine started a blog Fiftytwoin2017 in which she posts recipes she makes for her family – but adds her take with humor and practicality! I thought it was a great idea, but still not enough to get me off of Netflix to put some ideas down.

Last week our son had a multi-cultural lunch where each student brought a native dish from their country of origin, wrapping up a 6 week unit studying their heritage. I made Irish soda bread and brought it to the party, and of course Jacob tried one bite and said nope, and refused to try any of the the other dishes, not so shockingly. I picked the bread for it’s plain flavor and relative ease, but also knowing that there was no way my son would ever get near corned beef and cabbage. (For the record, anyone who has no taste/texture issues – the bread was delicious!)

At lunch with my husband today, we tried out a new restaurant. He is not a huge fan of Mexican food, but can usually find something he likes, mainly enchiladas. While he likes many foods I do not care for, he is often hesitant to try new things. (It’s really a miracle that our family ever eats at the same time as we are all food incompatible with each other!) Chuy’s, based out of Austin, was our lunch spot and it was delicious! His enchiladas came and had a tomatillo sauce on top. The look on his face was one of apprehension and worry. (Gah! Green! The horror!) Reluctantly he tried it – and liked it, even saying he would order it again! Win win!

Looking at the Facebook “On this day” feed, I saw that a friend had posted a recipe that I simply HAD to try – 2 years ago. It was a recipe for borscht, the Russian beet stew stuff. Hmm. I suppose after razzing Eric about trying new things, I should probably buck up and do the same. I scanned the ingredients and had most of them…all this cooking and different cultures swirling in my mind I decided to give it a go! Better late than never, right!?

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

454 g ground pork (optional)

I used the pork. Delish. Bonus – Protein!

3 medium beets, peeled and shredded

Shredding was a pain. But worth it. You could also dice them, but cooking time would need to be extended.

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1-6 ounce can tomato paste

¾ c water

½ head of cabbage, shredded

1-8 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste I recommend more than you might think, approximately 1 1/2 tsp each. I ended up wanting a tad more on my serving. 

Raw sugar to taste, approximately 1 tsp

I skipped this ingredient. Don’t need more sugar, but for as much as this recipe yields, it seemed insignificant. 

Sour cream and fresh parsley for garnish

This would have been nice, but I’m not a huge sour cream fan. I would make these optional.

Directions:

Brown ground pork over medium heat until no longer pink, drain and set aside. In a large soup pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add sausage and beets – cook until the beets have lost their colour. Add carrots and potatoes, cook until tender. Add cabbage and canned tomatoes.

2 liters = about 8 cups.

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Pretty beets. Pain in the butt to peel, but worth it!
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Looks like I slaughtered something – oh! It’s beets. (Notice that the last one is diced instead of shredded? Yeah, I’m not into shredding and neither are my knuckles!)
In a skillet, heat oil and cook onion until tender. Stir in tomato paste and ¾ c water until smooth. Add to soup. Add garlic, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes then season with salt, pepper and sugar. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and parsley if desired.

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Regular white potatoes about to turn red!
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Getting there!
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And kid approved!
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Delicious!
We ate it with mini saltine crackers (classy, I know). This would be amazing with some toasted french bread. (Of course, french bread is always good, I’ve never met a loaf I didn’t like.)

Tex-Mex for lunch and Ukraine for dinner! How’s that for around the world cuisine?!

Something Beautiful

“Show me something beautiful today,” my whispered prayer a quiet plea uttered in reaction to the ugliness of the past few days.

I walked the dogs which usually brings me peace. Being in the fresh air forces me to look externally – to get outside myself. It does wonders for my state of mind. For an hour we walked, looking for that ‘something beautiful’ to notice, to appreciate and feel grateful. Desperate for anything – butterflies, the dogs’ behavior, anything. But nothing of any significance presented itself. When I pray things like this, it usually hits me like a ton of bricks. 

Returning from our jaunt, I loved up the fur babies and got myself changed and ready to pick up the minions from school. Every day after school we stay and they play on the playground, “getting their sillies out”. I watched them play, I glanced at my phone, and chatted with other parents. My morning request long forgotten, it was an uneventful play time.

Ready to leave I asked the kids if they’d like to get a scone/donut. This is a rare treat, but I REALLY wanted a scone from my favorite coffee place. Of course they did not turn down such an opportunity! After stopping for a scone for Hannah and I, we continued to the donut place for Jacob.

It was closed.

No worries. We live in south Texas – there are donut shops EVERYWHERE. So off we went to option number two.

They were also closed.

I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me – donuts are typically an early morning thing. But we still had another option. Instead of the local places, we opted for the place we usually don’t go.

“One plain glazed, please,” I spoke into the speaker box.

“Sure thing,” responded the voice, “We’ll have that for you at the window.”

“Thank you,” I said and then pulled around the building to the window.

Stopping at the window with my dollar bill ready to pay, the window slides open and a young man leans out and hands me a bag and with a giant grin said, “Don’t worry about it.”

“What?” I ask, dumbfounded.

“Merry Christmas! It’s on us. There needs to be a little more happy, don’t you think?”

I blubbered my teary thank you and agreed, that yes – we could all use a bit more love and joy. The kids laughed, shocked that we got our order for free. I pulled away stunned.

“There was your something beautiful today.”

“Thank you,” I whispered.

Thank you first two stops for being closed today. I needed that.

A Peek Behind the Curtain

Not just because of an election season that has left most of us feeling like we’ve been sitting in the spin cycle of a washing machine all wrung out, and not because of another public shooting, or other tragic event.  Just the d-word in general. Depression.

I started writing about my own experiences with depression a couple of years ago and it’s been sitting off to the side ever since:

As I’ve gotten older, I have noticed seasons come and go where I was more myself, light-hearted and easy going. There were dips when I made poor choices in relationships, knowing it wasn’t going to lead anywhere good. Job changes, promotions and other events gave cause for the usual ups and downs of life. Overall, I had a hopeful outlook  – and that things would always work out even if I didn’t love the crap out of every single day.

I got married when I was 23. 8 years later I felt the weight of postpartum depression come crashing down on me in the shower as the water rushed over my now-foreign body, the sound of my hollow sobs echoing against the bathroom walls. Would he ever stop crying? Would my nipples ever stop aching? Bleeding? How was I ever going to be a functional person again? It was all so very overwhelming and completely unexpected. No one tells you about this part of bringing a baby home. No one told me there would be a “new normal”. I thought my new normal was insanity and a deep, dark hole that seemed insurmountable.

A few years and another child later, my husband left for what would be in total a 15 month deployment with a couple of weeks off during the holidays. That was a rough couple of years. We didn’t know then that our son would later be diagnosed with HFA (High Functioning Autism) or Asperger’s. We thought he was defiant and strong willed. I felt like a total failure at this parenting thing.

And now, here I sit. In the middle of it again. Our oldest is now 6 and our daughter is 4. Every day seems like such a struggle. They are bigger kids, but they aren’t quite big kids yet, so they are pushing every boundary and testing every limit. They don’t listen like we think they should. Our expectations are often more than they are capable.They fight with each other. Both my husband and I were the youngest of our own families and were much younger than our siblings – so we were basically raised as only children. It seems we don’t know what we are doing, daily. I have a book on my bedside table called Stop Arguing and Start Understanding…but it seems so exhausting to put forth the effort to read it. I’m so tired. I’ve been exercising daily, as I know that it is my tether to sanity. But I’m lonely here. I don’t have many friends yet, and I don’t have the gumption to really put myself out there to meet people. At the end of the day, I often feel like I can barely give enough to my kids and myself I just don’t have anything left over to offer in terms of friendships. I would be a taker and it just would be so much effort.

Yes, I know, I’m worth it, and I matter, and all that. My hope is that this is just a season. I really do. And I want it over. I don’t usually like to rush the time with my kids, but there are a few phases that I would love to just skip over entirely. This would definitely be one of them.

I wrote this in a draft 2 years ago. The kids are older and some things are easier with them. They are more independent and we are moving forward with evaluations for our son. I have peace about the things I was unsettled about before, but there are other things that seem so much the same. I feel it coming again. The heavy blanket that I know is not good, but feels so comforting. It’s deceptive in the way it makes me think I want it. I want the heavy blanket to wrap itself around me. “Sleep…” it whispers. “Don’t fight it…relax…” And rest is what I crave. It always knows what to say.

In my work as a trainer, I often fill the role of encourager, cheerleader, or simply the friendly instructor who is quick to smile and offer a friendly good morning. Exercise and physical activity has, and will continue to be, my method to maintaining mental health. “We leave all the stuff of life outside those doors,” I tell participants in my group classes. “Turn off the phones. Whatever is needed of us will still be there in 1 hour. Take this time – it’s yours. If you are anything like me, we need this time,” I say. Lately it’s been a struggle to be the encourager. How am I supposed to help others when some days it feels like I can’t even help myself?

Part of it is the season. Part of it is less sunlight. Part of it is – I just don’t know.

And I don’t care.

That’s what scares me.

Depression is the not caring that you don’t even care. I just want to sleep. I want to numb out. I want to drink and stay in that perfect buzzed state where you know you won’t get sick, but have enough that you just don’t give a shit or have to think to deeply about anything.

Sometimes I think those of us that feel things deeply have to go through periods where we numb out for a while to turn it all off. The feeling of everything just gets to be too much.

For me, I wait this out. It passes. I let go of what I can. I take a deep breath and try again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Inevitable

I entered the school cafeteria with my brave I’m-not-really-a-volunteer-type-person-but-I-want-to-be face on. PTA? Ugh. Being one of “those” moms? Please. Not for me. Always put together with makeup and hair completely in place? Not hardly – even if I wanted to be!

Exhibit A:

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I do not have the hair to pull off being one of those moms. Think Christina Applegate’s character in the film Bad Moms. Plus – I’m just not that good at pretending. I’ll take real and authentic any day.

I was shown how to ring up purchases at the school book fair, where things were and we were off and running. A couple of the volunteers were chatting about their kids, life, and some family dynamics. Then they came to the subject of one of their son-in-laws.

“But is he a good person? Does he love your daughter?” the one volunteer asked the other.

“Yes, but…” the other hesitated, then continued, “Basically – we think he’s autistic,” she said laughing. “He’s so abnormal. Just weird…and awkward…”

And that’s where I stopped listening. I figured it would happen eventually. Heck, if a presidential candidate thinks it’s okay to mock people…why would it be a big deal? I guess I just wasn’t prepared for someone to say it like that, in a school setting where there are likely far more spectrum kids than just mine. Never mind the fact that I had only met these women 30 minutes prior.

I had visions of being snarky and speaking up, but I didn’t. Should I have? Perhaps. I still had 90 minutes of a shift left so selfishly I chose to be quiet and remove myself from the conversation.

We sold books to kids, we straightened and organized. I volunteered and got out of my comfort zone. My retail and banking skills came right back. I came back the next day and volunteered some more.

It is inevitable. People are going to speak without thinking – myself very much included. Sometimes if just kind of sucks.

I Just Don’t Know

I am simply at a loss.

They’ve apprehended a suspect in the town we were last stationed in. The suspect worked at the commissary where we shopped for groceries.

I wrote about another senseless shooting and felt the same numbness, but as others have written; this feels personal. This time it was my state. My hometown. The town where my parents currently live. In a mall that was built when I was in the 7th grade. The mall where our senior prom was held. A store that I’ve shopped in more times than I can count.

Sadly, I’ve watched the coverage online and read comments. The vile, racist, ugly and unfounded speculations abound.

As usual, we seem to be left with more questions than answers.

When the shooting in Columbine happened, I remember sitting transfixed in front of the television, mouth gaping at the scene unfolding. “How is this happening? And at a school?!”

And now?

The shooting incidences seem to happen regularly. And like every other time-we will hold our vigils. We will say our prayers and promise to hug our loved ones a little tighter. We will shake our collective heads and remark about the sad state of our society. We will mourn.

And do nothing.

Just like last time.

And the time before that.

And the other one before it.

I just don’t know how it’s ever going to change. What possesses a person to inflict such carnage? Has a moral sense of right and wrong been eroded? I really just don’t know.

Fragile

Be careful with my heart.

I know how you look at me when I’m wth my children. I see you watching. I’m aware. I know what it looks like. I’m a fragile mom, yes, but a mom who is battle-tested and will no longer shy away from meeting your eyes. I will not be shamed. I will not let you tell me with your look and your eye roll and your mutterings under your breath that are just loud enough for me to hear that I am a bad mother.

I still feel the sting of your gaze.

Do I wish it was different? Sure. Do I wish life was easier for him to navigate? Without question. Would I change him if I could? Nope.

I used to think the Autism diagnosis would somehow be the worst possible thing ever about being a parent. I remember speaking with another expectant mom friend at the time, “Can you imagine? What if the baby has autism?” As if it is the worst possible fate.

It’s not.

It’s exhausting and challenging and rewarding – times that it sucks, and times that it takes your breath away with the amount of determination and persistence it takes to overcome challenges – that pride in the littlest of successes will be like nothing ever experienced before. But it’s not the worst possible thing to happen to a child.

I may have a fragile heart, but we are far from breaking.