New Chapter in Life, New Blog
Three things to ease back into this…
1. I am yoga-ing consistently again. Found a wonderful class at the Y. I know who would have thought?! Twice a week usually and kicking my butt all over the place. I never regret going. The instructor is awesome. I am finding my strength and flexibility again. Turns out I didn’t loose everything and the body remembers quickly.
2. With the return of yoga came the slow but consistent return of running. I have struggled with injury for months now. Taking weeks and months off even with little improvement. I am back to square one nearly but it is happening. This morning was a very slow 4 miles. Oh morning running how I have missed you. But I was pain free and that is all I care at this point. The rest will come with time.
3. August 25th. The love of my life, triathlon partner, awesome dad with my kids, absolute best friend and I will be saying yes to the rest of our lives together. CANNOT WAIT :)
Turning 34. There was a breakfast, a day of work, a good workout, presents and church. Not a lot of words these days. A lot of things happening. Settling into a life that looks very different. But yet much like the picture I always imagined.
I had intended to sit down and write something last night. Something witty and insightful reflecting on life; as of late I have more stories floating in my head than I have time(or energy) to write them. Regular life intervened once again. The dog cut his paw and instead of writing I spent the evening cleaning up blood and searching the internet for solutions to the problem. There were a few harried moments and the floor looked a bit like the zombie massacre had occurred in my kitchen. I am not the best when it comes to blood, especially from a creature who can’t tell me how badly he is hurt. All survived though, me included. D had been on his own critical call at the hospital(his job) and missed all the fun. We are all adjusting to new roles. I am doing a lot of new things these days. I am spending a lot more time parenting in different ways, household running and making sure all the various people are fed or have lunches packed. The refrigerator wipe board and Gmail calenders of “who is where when”, more useful than you would know. I considered it a triumph that I spent 45 minutes in the gym today while the kids had art class along with a walk at my lunch hour. This season of my life is a little different than the last few. I know triathlon will make an appearance again in earnest. The unseasonably warm weather of late has me itching to get my bike out on the road. My road bike went to the shop for a tuneup on Monday. I am aching for a long Saturday ride through the countryside and lake venues. Sweet wonderful hours spent traversing the terrain in my favorite way. I rode here a few times last summer in this new location but this summer will be all about exploring and mapping our new world.
The night ended with the dog settled in his chair, seeming no worse for wear other than a tender paw. The youngest two had showered and fed themselves snacks and our teenage addition rummaging through cupboards for dinner number two. All three winding down in the living room watching TV without much intervention from me. Sending the youngers to bed I sat down on the couch, beer in hand with the Ipad for some senseless game amusement. Watching “Mythbusters” with D’s boy and enjoying the calm. The inspiration to write had faded into sleepiness. Commentary on the show between us until I dozed to sleep. D later than expected and his boy finally turning in. I faded into the couch until it was apparent D was going to have a really late night. Carrying the dog up the stairs after setting the coffee pot for the early hour of the morning. These are my days, let me rejoice in them.
Since moving into the new house there are many new things in my life and some old ones I have rediscovered. These are my favorite things these days:
1. My cast iron cookware. When I moved back into this house I bought a gas range again. Oh how I love thee! I have my grandmothers cast iron pans to cook with and I am so thrilled lately. My old non stick pans need replaced and really aren’t in the budget right now. It has forced me to pull these out of the cabinet and I have not been disappointed yet. From fried eggs on the stovetop to cornbread in the oven they have been well used as of late.
2. Netflix. Yes I had been tv free for awhile other than occasional internet viewing. We still don’t have cable or local channels but I admit I love my Netflix. We also have amazon prime videos to round things out. I admit to having more than just a passing fascination with “Hoarders”, “Intvervention”, and “American Pickers”. The kids like to watch occasional episodes of “America’s Funniest Videos”. That always reminds me of Sunday evenings in my childhood. There are still some days the television never gets turned on but I am enjoying the viewing freedom.
3. The dishwasher. I am not sure how I even survived before you. We rarely to never eat out and many times I am cooking for 5 of us. I can host parties of 10 or more even without concern. I have become a very efficient dishwasher loader. The best part- two small children who’s job is often to unload it. A little slice of heaven.
4. IPA beer. I was always a beer snob having worked in a bar with a decent beer selection. Add to that equation D and his friends. Build your own six pack has been fun. A luxury more than a habit with the kids and regular life keeping us busy. But it is a fun adult diversion.
5. Bike Trainer. Netflix loaded up, and I will gladly put in some time. If I have to stay in this is still preferred over the treadmill. I am still dreaming of warmer days and open road. While it has been a mild winter on the whole it is still too cold for my fingers and toes given my circulatory issues. But we are getting close to that temperature edge. But until then mindless pedaling in the basement or my living room will do the trick.
6. My huge dining room table. It was free. Side of the road salvage my mother found. Big heavy wood table with only a few flaws. Expands to seat 10 or more. Family dinners, many kids doing homework, ping pong, board games, sewing space, home office. It is the centerpiece to our lives these days.
We are beginning another season of Lent. Last year it was the catalyst of where I sit right now. It has been 6 months since I moved into my house with the kids. It is hard to imagine that much time has passed and in another breath it feels like we have always been here. So often what has been a day feels like a week. What has been a week, a month. Not that it has been completely bad, just intense. I am still discovering things I need to buy for this house, The basics you often forget about. Last week it was salt-n-pepper shakers. The list is long and I afford myself a few purchases each pay period. In a year maybe I won’t lament that lost pan or laundry sorter. Until then there is joy in picking out of a set of colorful dishes to accommodate my growing family.
This has been a time of reflection and discovery. There are things which had been really important in my prior life but now languish on the side. I wiped the slate completely clean. No rules to follow. It has taken this much space away to realize the number of rules I lived under in my past incarnation. Walking away from there has been humbling. Admitting that I walked in a world that did not always honor my being at times. No wonder my anxiety was sky high. Do I still struggle with eating issues? Yep. Are panic attacks still a part of my life? Yep. I wish that simply a change in life circumstances could vanquish the acronyms of dysfunction from my life. I have learned there are ways I can better manage my anxiety. That unlikely boundaries can be a huge part of that change. There is a man in my life who has walked through the fire with me these last months who accepts this is the beauty that is me. My brain literally lies to me at times. That is unlikely to change, at least anytime soon. Rebuilding neural pathways is lifetime work. It is my job to better interpret the crazy signals and develop ways to live with conflicting information. It makes me unique. I could medicate some of it away but the risk of losing parts of myself I cherish in the process is not a chance I am willing to take. D has learned to understand some things are beyond my ability to deal with but that I have gifts in other arenas that astound him.
Some days moving through life is simply exhausting for me. I experienced my first panic attack in the 4th grade. I remember it quite clearly. There is nothing more terrifying than thinking you are going to die when you are 10 years old because you can’t breathe. Sitting on my bedroom floor in front of my bed wondering why I couldn’t move. More than two decades later I understand it’s origins. A perfect storm of biology and traumas, big and small. I have developed ways to move in the world to compensate for the feedback my brain often gives me. Some better than others. On the outside I can appear very well put together. And there is truth to that. I did graduate from college with two majors and honors distinction. I have two kids who I adore and are successful little people in their own right. I am sure those close to me could add to the list.
I worked hard for those things. There have been many days of mental will just to make it through the hours with a racing heartbeat and shallow breathing that just won’t fade quickly no matter the inconvenience of circumstances. It would be easier if I was walking around with a broken leg, at least others would recognize the daily struggle. I cry more easily than I wish. I am definitely not raising stoic children. Pushing those tears away for years as they often make others uncomfortable has many times further exacerbated my struggles. Tears are simply the biological resolution to the situation I am experiencing. Shoving them down only prolongs the process. This has been a hard lesson to learn. Walking in life now with a person now who is a safe place for all those tears has healed many wounds. These are all my experiences. I wish it were easier but I have lived it so long it has shaped who I am. It is delicately intertwined with all the facets of myself I celebrate. I wouldn’t change a thing.
So what is different these days? Everything and nothing. There is much joy in simply being. I still struggle but moving in life is infinitely easier. I expect that will continue. Lat year Lent was a time of incredible terrifying change. This year it is about delving into what the heart of Elizabeth really desires. Understanding that God had purposed me in ways I never dreamed. That even screaming in my ears anxiety can bring me to amazing places of joy. One of the spiritual practices D and I are practicing these 40 days is rising early each day. To write, to read, to clean, to exercise, to feed our souls. We are making way in our hearts for things yet unknown. Welcome to an amazing Lenten journey once again.
I was having dinner with a friend the other day and she commented this time last year I had disappeared. My world had gotten so dark that while I may have shown up physically to church and life that was about it. In a few weeks I begin passing a series of anniversaries of trauma and recovery. I expect there to be a lot of quiet reflection. Very clearly my world looks completely different than one year ago. There are a few people and situations that remain but mostly somewhere last spring my life hit a complete reboot button. It was set in motion long before I realized that was where I was going. Hindsight allows me to weave together that narrative of seemingly unrelated events until they converge into the place I stand today. Many times I have forgotten the larger story. While living these intense moments and flurry of decisions it is easy to forget the story is deep. Deeper than those dark days of last February.
Last night I left work, two children in tow. We stopped at the downtown library a few blocks from my office. My youngest had a school project he needed books for. These are the projects I love having been the English major. Some days I think I missed my calling to be a Librarian. His sister wandered off into the stacks and he and I did the necessary research. We ambled and talked, no hurry to our pace. Him surprising me with his own knowledge for his 7 years. Gathering all we needed we headed down for mom to choose a book to escape in. Scanning books on their own cards, using technology all by themselves. We stopped only for a pizza a block from the house, procured by a very proud 7 year old. Worried he won’t be tall enough to see over the counter to order but grasping the money in hand and gleefully returning triumphant, aromatic box in hand. I unlocked the front door no later than 5:00pm. I enjoy the shortened commute every time. The many resources of city living that I usually over look and under appreciate.
The exuberant puppy greets us when released from his crate. Nothing makes us smile bigger. Kids take care of Oscar and I dish up pizza. They eat, I play with him and wonder how it suddenly got this simple. They chatter and bustle, excited over books and growing up into school projects. The dog fetches and fetches. We laugh, a lot these days. Oscar often being the source of silly joy. He has been an addition that filled a hole we never knew we had. Their needs taken care of I head down to my bike. Time on the bike trainer, book in hand. Ready to just be for awhile. Kids watching the dog and their own reading material. I am joined midway by D, off from work early. Having not had more than 10 minutes to talk to each other in at least 36 hours it was a delightful surprise. Each of us pedaling and sharing our days. It’s complicated, and messy at times. Loose ends flying all over the place. We both wish it was a prettier picture but we are learning their can still be beauty and joy in the ragged edges. At dinner the other night that friend also said I seem better…why yes. That could be an understatement. Even in the midst of other challenges. February and beyond will have a new story. I can say with all honesty I have no idea the details. I’ve stopped trying to predict. There are some kids, and a dog, friends, some family and newly found sisters, a deep and abiding love and always God. The rest will work itself out.