Real Life

Phew. It’s anxiety today. Man, it’s anxiety a lot of days.

I’m tired of anxiety. I think I’m starting to have anxiety about whether my anxiety will ever pass.

Why does anxiety feel like running around in circles? It feels like I’m running around putting out fires constantly, except there are no actual fires. I’m putting out imaginary fires. THAT is frustrating.

And futile.

Lately, I’ve been longing to have a job besides mom. You know, something to consume my time. The idea of going somewhere, working and having my focus be work is really appealing. I think I’m desiring a way to take my mind off of my family things.

The family things are heavy.

I’m homeschooling our oldest. She had a terrible year of bullying and just needs some recovery time. But, god damn, its a lot of responsibility to parent someone AND make sure they learn algebra.

The toddler toddles and whines and is currently attempting to roll up the 8′ x 10′ rug onto himself. He’ll probably get stuck soon…

I get a call, text, email about Evan every day. It’s okay, nothing too catastrophic, but I feel like I’m the teacher’s personal OnStar representative. Like she can just hit the button and I’m there. I suppose I should implement boundaries. I tried that last year…that’s when he got suspended. Sigh…

I think this just might be life.

Yesterday, Tess asked me “Why can’t things be less stressful?” She was referring to her dance class where she is learning something new every single week. It’s stressful for her. In my sage wisdom,  I responded that she wouldn’t become a better dancer without the stress. Someday, once she knows this whole dance, it will go back to being just fun and free. Until then, its stressful.

Maybe life feels so stressful to me, because I’m learning something new. My new medicine has my mood swings controlled and so I’m finally feeling what I’m told is “normal”. Except it feels damn stressful, because I can feel all the things and numbing doesn’t work like it once did.

But maybe, if I take my own advice and learn to handle this anxiety and stress? Maybe then there will come a time when I can dance the routine of life with fun and freedom.

Until then, I’m just learning how to cope.

Candidly,

Ash

In the Doldrums of Toddler-dom

Today, I wish that I had some sage advice or interesting perspective on raising a toddler. Did you know that you can comfort these little creatures and they will still cry for what seems like an eternity?

I sad. I sad. No. I sad.

This is my morning dialogue with the two-year-old. Its set to the tune of scattered breathing, sniffles and full-on wailing.

What troubles the child?

I gave him fruit loops for breakfast. I have no idea why this is displeasing, but it seems to be the issue. He walks in front of the pantry, bangs on the door, then collapses onto the floor in a fit that rivals the appearance of exorcism.

Why does the answer have to be no? Why can’t I just go offering things up from the pantry like a bonafide waitress?

Some people say that you should always look for ways to say “Yes” to your children. You know, to say yes when you can, because these are small humans here. Their requests are usually simple and accommodate-able. Also, something about picking and choosing your battles.

Others say that children need to hear “No” frequently so they can become accustomed to it. In other words, so they don’t freak out when their parent says ‘No” in public.

Well, these are all really interesting theories of parenthood. This morning, I simply don’t feel that fruit loops should  be boycotted and I don’t want to make a different breakfast. This morning I’m a “get what you get, don’t throw a fit” sort-of parent.

I’m not always this way. Just when I feel depleted, which as of late is a thing. You see, I’m starting to feel a bit held captive here in this house with this small person. Frankly, that’s perfectly reasonable and normal for stay-at-home parents.

I’m sorry, future Rhese, that I wasn’t 100 percent all of the time. At least you learned the lesson of limitations early.

Candidly,

Ash

From the Lost Child

Recently, I haven’t wanted to sit here and write. I haven’t wanted to be on Facebook. I haven’t wanted to go meet with friends.

For most of my life, all I’ve wanted was to be seen or heard. As the youngest child, I was doted upon until adolescence. Then, I was the only child at home and quite lost. You see, other things were happening for my parents and I was a good kid — so not much needed to be done.

Yet, I was so lost. Even now, I think of how lost I was and I tear up.

I just wanted to be heard, to be noticed, to be affirmed.

I’ve spent most of adulthood searching for those same things. Grace brought me a friend blessed with hearing, noticing and affirming skills.

Grace also brought me the gift of writing.

To be honest, I don’t write this damn blog for anyone but myself. It is a way of speaking up, doing my part to be heard.

But its only a half-measure, because I can’t guarantee affirmation from it or even that anyone besides my one precious friend is reading. I don’t want to do the attention-grabbing things and Facebook posting anymore. I’m tired of exerting effort to be heard.

Just writing here, that needs to be enough for me right now. Just being candid and true.

I wish I could afford to hire someone to do all of that heavy-lifting – to submit my work in different places, manage my social media.

But I can’t. So I’m going to be content with just writing the words, having them read and affirmed by the select few.

Maybe, maybe someday, all of the hearing and affirming will seep into this deep cavernous soul of mine.

Maybe then, I won’t be so lost.

Candidly,

ASh

Healthy, Vital and Strong

One of the mantras on my guided wellness meditation says, “I see in my mind’s eye a picture of myself that is vital, healthy and strong.”

When I hear this line, I can see her, but damn she’s easy to lose track of.

My health has been an ongoing struggle this year. I am literally still working on my New Year’s Resolution.  It’s September. I should have met the goal or given up by now.

Perhaps I should be proud that I’m still trying to lose weight.

Mostly I just feel angry.

I’ve tried a lot of new things this year – exercise, food, approaches to food, mindsets. I should be a damn Jillian Michaels by now.

I am by no means Jillian Michaels.

In fact, during my last three months of trying to lose weight – I gained 25 pounds. How is this possible? Well, I started a new medicine that has a side effect of weight gain. It has definitely played a role in the weight gain. My doctor even said he was impressed it wasn’t worse given how quickly we increased the dose.

But damn it.

I know I could have done better.

And I’m angry at myself. The picture I hold in my mind’s eye is heavy, pissed and unhealthy. Maybe meditation is over-rated.

The truth though, and I think this is what the writer’s of the meditation had in mind, is that we can view ourselves in a way that will lead us towards a better future. The girl – the healthy, vital and strong girl – does exist inside of me. She spent over 80 hours on her rowing machine. She ate her servings of vegetables 5 out of 7 days for months. She quit Mountain Dew (that’s huge for me)!

She exists.

I can focus on her or I can focus on lazy-ass heavy girl. Well, that’s not a hard decision.

Candidly,

Ash

Letting Go of Worry

I don’t know what to write today. More about how I’m anxious? It’s getting old.

Sometimes I wish that I could control what thoughts come into my mind. Unfortunately, there is a significant body of evidence out there which says most of our hardwiring is completed by age eight. I can’t control the thoughts that come to my mind.

I can, however, choose which ones to focus on. I can choose to let go of a thought.

While that is powerful and a worthy topic, I just want to talk about the fact that choosing gets old. I can choose to let a thought go, only for it to return moments later. It doesn’t mean my earlier choice wasn’t true or with full effort. It’s just part of the process. Thoughts come and thoughts go. Choosing to let go has gotten easier. Choosing to let go on repeat?

That is hard shit right there.

This morning I was reminded by a friend of the words in I Peter 5:7

Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you.

Literally translated, the word “cast” actually means “to throw upon”. Throw all of your cares and worries upon Him. I don’t know about you, but throwing seems a lot better than casting. Casting reminds me of fishing. If you cast your line or net into the water, then you also bring it back in (presumably with fish on it). I don’t particularly want my worries to come back.

But how do we throw our worries instead of casting them?

In many Christian traditions, a person will go to the chapel to pray for loved ones. Upon praying, they will then light a candle and allow it to burn as a symbol of their ongoing request being received into God’s hands. I love this symbolism.

I think maybe when I’m throwing off my worries to God, I might start finding a way to symbolize the worry leaving my hands and entering His. Maybe I’ll burn candles or maybe I’ll pour water down the drain of my sink. Maybe I’ll jot the worries down and then toss them in the trash.

Maybe, maybe this will help.

If not, then I’ll still be over here trying to let go, again and again.

Candidly,

Ash

Humanity is Hard

Butterflies are in my stomach frequently these days. It’s a new feeling, because my mind is aware of all that is happening around me…and it’s freaking out.

This could be called anxiety, but I’ve sat with it some and realized it’s simply my brain trying to cope with new information.

It started about a week ago when we increased the dose on a medication that has been working well for me.

The first thing that happened is that I started to find the games on my phone boring, which I admitted was probably a good thing. Then, I noticed that I couldn’t nap on command, my body was too aware and awake to zone out.

This is when I realized, “Holy crap! I’ve been zoning out A LOT!”

But now that I’m not zoning out, I’m also aware of things like boredom. My brain has a tendency to think boredom is actually bore-DOOM. It knows that if I’m bored then there is space for something to happen. Emotions can happen!

So I began busying myself, even when I didn’t want to be busy, because bore-doom needed to be avoided. Unfortunately, this, like my phone and napping, no longer kept those emotions nicely suppressed.

So now, I have this medicine that is helping me feel like a human being again…and the truth is, I’m not sure I want to be human being. It’s hard! I prefer zombie mode.

But I’m sitting with it, sticking with it, not running. Gently pressing into this wealth of feeling and trying not to be overcome. I wait for the shoe to drop with the next wave of unfamiliar emotions, the nerves in my stomach tightening with the sensation of butterflies.

The butterflies will pass. The pain/fear/anger/sadness or whatever emotion will come.

Then, it will pass. The feelings will pass. I will still be here.

Yes, I can handle this. I think…

Candidly,

Ash

Perhaps Tomorrow I Will Know…

Morning at Panera is the best kind of way to start my day. The light is just beginning to cascade through the windows and it feels like the day might actually prove to be something new.

New.

I long for new. Different. Anything that might cause wonderment or hope. I long for those things.

Soft acoustic rock is exactly what I need in the morning. Driving, methodical beats that don’t affront the ears.

I’ve been longing for this. Panera at the right time of day. I’ve been coming and finding disappointment for months. Perhaps I just wasn’t coming at the right time of day.

Perhaps I just had writer’s block.

It felt more like a soul block.

What I wanted, what I needed, and what was – they were such disparities. I couldn’t write from that place. If I did, then it was a lost sort of writing, a questioning writing, a disparate writing.

Dave Matthews chimes overhead, “Where are you going?”

The truth is none of us know. We have ideas of how we want the future to be, five year plans and life maps.

But we don’t know what will come along to alter the course. We don’t know if we will change our heart’s desires. We don’t know if maybe, maybe life will hand us immoveable boundaries.

Where am I going?

Perhaps tomorrow I will know. Today, all I know is the day is new, the light is right and I feel a little bit okay within my skin.

And that is truly new.

Candidly,

Ash