Birthday

Dear Big Brother,

Today, you would have been 58 and in a few short weeks, I’ll be 50… You could see 50 so closely the day you left this world, were you excited about it?

This is such a weird journey on my own. Yes, I have lots of people in my circle, many of the names and faces you would remember. Our family-circle has shifted and changed and it still isn’t right without you here. Even though we not super involved in each others day-to-day life; I always had the promise of you. I always knew you were at the other end of an email or phone call. And now, now I can’t help but feel a little lost.

So in true Little Sister fashion, Big Brother, I have a few questions…

Is there Bingo in heaven, if not, I bet Mom is super pissed

Has Dad made peace with God yet?

Is Grandma Hedges still gloating over all the times she gave me the wrong ingredients to a recipe, so I’d fail and she would be needed to make it right?

Is Uncle Stan still playing the piano and telling bad jokes?

Did DiAnn make in the gate ok? She probably gave Saint Peter a rough time

I don’t remember Grandma Blanchard, does she remember me?

Does Jesus still do the water into wine trick? Golly, I hope so

Uncle Hink still has a harem, doesn’t he?

Will you save a seat for me, next to you? I’ve got a lot of shit yet to do here and lots of people to annoy.

Miss you much.

XOXOXO,

Me ❤️

p.s. I still haven’t forgiven you for locking me in the dryer, but we’ll hash that out when I get there

A Five Second Prayer

I recently attended the (2nd) book launch for my pal, Tom Zuba. It was so horribly out of my comfort zone, to walk into an event by myself, but I did. I didn’t know a soul (besides Tom) and sent up the smallest of pop-up prayers and text my hubby that ‘I won’t be long, I don’t know anyone’.

A kind man, with a delightful British accent, approached and introduced himself and began to ask about how I knew Tom. I explained, a mutual friend connected us to help mentor me and be the kick-in-the-pants I needed during my book writing process. Accordingly, the conversation shifted to my book. I have forgotten my “elevator pitch” about Faith, Fat and Other F-Words. I hadn’t forgotten “f-words” but I have neglected it and it’s purpose. I thanked the chap as Tom approached and led me to a table of ”cool people”.

A table with a couple of chicks that were cool indeed. The conversation came easy. The connection made. Smiles aplenty. The conversation again came around to my book. Starting to remember the “baby” I birthed and speak with a bit more passion. A couple of photos with the cool chicks later, I thanked them and set off towards towards the one other human I recognize.

As I’m walking the 15 steps toward my friend, the Kind Brit’s wife approaches me and introduces herself. She’s stunning and articulate and I feel a little small. AGAIN, the conversation shifts to my book and the prospect of a second book. She cheered, “brilliant”! We spoke more and more about being a 50 year old, the life of a mom, and being a chick in general. I’m breathing deep and with a bit more confidence.

I eventually make my way to my friend and hug her ferociously. We chat briefly and walk out of the event together. As we are walking, a kind faced woman approached and asked if I was Annisa. I have a familiarity while looking at her, but cannot discern from where. As she hugs me, she whispers her name in my ear. She was my counselor during some really dark times. Her face shone bright and I am instantly at ease. I had such trauma and darkness in the season I spent with her, I had zero recall of her face. She spoke beautiful things over me and filled my soul.

As I’m walking out to the car, with my friend, I could practically skip I’m so filled with peace and joy. I hug her goodbye and promise to be in touch. It’s only when I get in my car do I realize what has just happened…

That little pop-up prayer was answered, but in His way. It may have been really easy to miss since it wasn’t the solution I asked for, not in the slightest. Many times when we ask Him for a solution, He sends people.

People who will feed your soul.

People who will speak kindness.

People who will cheer for you.

People who will remind you how far you’ve come.

Look around you, realize that the people around you are there for a reason.

They may be only there for a season.

They may be the solution.

They may be the lesson. (Ugh)

They may be the hand that leads you to your next step.

They just may remind you of your purpose.

Thank you God for not giving me what I asked for, but for giving me what I needed.

One Word

2017 was the first year I purposefully set a “one word” into being, rather than offering up a well meaning, but never fulfilled “resolution”.

My word for 2017 was Boundaries. I totally lost sight of my word, allowed myself beyond boundaries that were healthy or helpful. My word rediscovered me, revealed itself where I had least expected, and showed me lessons learned while I wasn’t looking.

My word for 2018 can be found in the waiting; for my 3rd grandchild to be born, for a BIG birthday year, and the vision of a 2nd book (yet to be written).

My word can be found in the hoping, believing in better health solutions and for relationships restored.

Yes, I can safely say, 2018 is to be filled with Expectation!

Cheers to 2018! And all that you are expecting!!

My Life in Shingles

We have been anticipating the work of a new roof for several weeks. Spring rains have been a beast and prevented much work being done outdoors.img_1155-e1496258786125.jpg A couple of pallets of material have been sitting in my driveway awaiting their purpose in the roofing project. Nothing as dramatic as ‘baited breath” but all await the element of newness and covering it will provide. As a ‘renter’ we were not a part of the decision making process. So as these stacks of material sit in my driveway, I have no idea the color or design that hide beneath their wrapping.

The day it finally begins, naturally, is my day off. The workers arrive around 7am (prompt fellas) and I a bit too eagerly go outside to greet them and offer them coffee. [Yeah, well,  I’ve never been a part of this type of project and I just assumed that’s what I’m supposed to do.] They decline and I’m sure there was a bit of eye rolling as I turned on my pale-blue fuzzy slippers and return inside.

Now, my logical brain fully understood what was about to happen. They would be tearing off all of the old shingles, do some repair work and then place new shingles on the roof. Somewhere between logic and reality is where I tend to reside and this bliss (usually) keeps me content. This day, holy guacamole, bliss it is not.

The workers walk the perimeter of the house getting things moved from harm’s way and laying out their tarps. This is when I discover my family room is pretty much a fish bowl, me looking out, them seeing in. I know they are doing their best to not look in and judge my dirty floors or how desperately I need to vacuum. I wait for them to move to another spot, so that I can close the curtains without being rude. The woven curtains are really glorified sheers, and offer a pitiful amount of coverage. But I at least, feel less obvious.

Loud….Sweet Jesus, it is SO loud. I’m not sure how daintily I imagined they’d be removing the old roof, but this sure-as-shit is louder than I figured. I tried to busy myself, wash dishes – “oh hi, dude right outside the window”, I tried to paint my nails –smearing them as I jump at every overly loud sound. I surrender to just well, surrender my day. While I’m wondering how I will survive this day, it dawns on me; the analogy in this process. This process, is the process of my life.

Like life, damage isn’t always visible. I didn’t seem to notice there was roof damage, inspectors surveyed the roof up-close-and-personal and discovered the damage. Sometimes we keep people at a distance so they don’t see our damage. We think we are doing a good job of keeping up appearances and all the while, something is faulty below the surface. Perhaps it’s something that occurred during a storm or time of trouble in the atmosphere. Perhaps it’s because of a repair-job in the past that wasn’t up to par.

We may have invited the inspector to assess the damage, hoping we can fool them or hope that they’re lousy in their job. We are so incredibly vulnerable up close. Under scrutiny. It’s when they find a chink in our armor, our protection, our covering, our roof; that the real work begins. A crew will arrive and set your world spinning, and it certainly won’t be quiet. We hide behind coverings and partially sheltered windows, keeping our damage, our hurts, hidden from view. But as the discovery crew mingles around our perimeters, they see through the meager sheers. While they may not fully see our damage, they can see our frame, our shadows.

The noise level inside my home is beyond a nuisance or annoying. It’s painful. As a headache begins to pound, I understand more about the daily noise we live with. We busy ourselves with activities and tasks. We hear the clamor of a washing machine or dryer, but it’s familiar. It’s a white noise; almost lulling us into contentment. This racket, geez, it’s unpredictable, unfamiliar and unwelcome. While I know that progress is being made outside of my view; I can’t help but wish them away. I begin to justify myself – it couldn’t be that much damage. They don’t know need to replace the whole roof. Couldn’t they just patch it up?

I’ve become a master of patching-it-up. Patch on a smile or a new hair color, all the while I’m leaking somewhere below the surface. The litany of my shingles that are in disarray are as tall as a ladder going to the top of my 2-story house. I can choose to repair one or two, here and there, but they won’t match. I can replace just the shingles on one section of the house, but the other sides have faulty shingles of their own.

The tarp the crew has laid out to protect the surfaces around my house will also help in the clean-up process. They will soon have the ability to gather up the tarps and discard of the junk easily into the dumpster. However, in the meantime, it is a hot mess of scrap and debris and an overturned garbage can. Much like the debris of my past, it seems to be an overwhelming disaster zone. I can gather it all up and discard it and present the illusion of nothing having been overturned. You know as well as I, no one is ever truly fooled by this swift-swoop-and-chuck routine.

Even as the destruction-construction crew takes a break, I sit in anticipation of their return. I’ve lived many years, with a certain level of nervousness, a palpitation of anxiety in my ears; a vibration that hums below detection or description. It is like the dog whistle who’s pitch is undetectable to human ears, but to a dog, [I’m assuming] it’s torturous.

As predicted, the peacefulness of their lunch break has succumbed to the pounding of a thousand hammers (maybe 6 really). Even as I focus on my own thoughts, my brain wanders. It sits down and protests forming 3 cohesive words. It causes me to wonder the weirdest things, they converse and laugh. A random wohoo seeps through the rafters. I of course, come up with clever conversations and challenges that would evoke a ‘wohoo’, but let’s be honest, they probably just evaded getting pooped on by a bird while atop the 2nd story roof.

The process of remodeling one’s life is likely akin to this roofing process. Damage. Inspection. New material. Destruction. A LOT of noise and mess…but you see, this process is not yet complete! I’m in the middle of it. My home is in the destruction and mess phase. My life is in the understanding of repair needing to be done. Both home and life require core repairs to stop from future damage taking hold. While the new shingles are still under wraps and protected from the elements (and from view), so too is my future. Oh yes, it’s tempting to peak past the packaging to see the new shingle color, but the end result will be so rewarding. Likewise, as each day dawns, I have the opportunity to view it with no wrapping obscuring my eyes. To view each opportunity as a mess and destruction or the reward of a job well done.

 

 

When Everyday Life is the Biggest Puzzle

Imagine your life as a jigsaw puzzle…

The information on the puzzle box is incredibly limited. It does not tell you how many pieces are inside. The photo on the outside of the box is just blue sky, scattered with soft focused clouds. As you look at the photo on the box, you mutter, “This is going to be so difficult to put together.” Every puzzle piece looks identical in color. The theory, in any time you put together a puzzle, is that the puzzle will look EXACTLY like the photo on the outside of the box. Your hands steadily open the box of the puzzle-of-life and remove the lid to see the contents. Much to your surprise, there are pieces of strange colors and of strange images, not all blue sky as you assumed.

My strategy, in putting together a puzzle, is to search out and place all the straight edges and corners to build the framework first. The beautiful blue frame stares back at you with the promise of many days yet to come. Your logical brain knows that life isn’t always going to be blue skies, it is a certainty that there may be clouds, maybe even a storm or two. As you fill in the pieces, you uncover a piece with an image of children. That’s pretty cool, not sure where they fit in, but it makes you smile. As you stir through the pieces, you discover an image of a lovely garden, again not sure where it fits, but pleasing nonetheless.

As you stir through yet more pieces, turning them right side up, you find a heart. Not just any heart, this one is broken. Oh! if only you knew where it fit, you could possibly prevent it from breaking. The next piece turned over, a hospital bed. You can assume that it must fit before the kids, after all, children are born in hospitals. But this piece is not even shaped like any of the other pieces. It is so random. You keep it within eye-line, always in sight, wondering when and where it fits.

You realize that you have excruciating back pain, you pass it off as having been sorting and searching for so long. Some hot packs and Advil with surely take care of it. There is a much bigger task at hand, making sense of this chaos. Hours and days blend together, as you piece together the story of your life. A little piece with a pill comes to sight, and another, and yet another. It seems as though the medications have multiplied and don’t resemble each other. You group them together and push them to the side.

You’re surveying the pieces before you. Some are brightly colored and some have dark murky images. A gloomy image of two people sitting across from each other in what looks like an office setting. These people do not look happy. One person with their head in the hands, the other holds a clipboard and pen. Unsure of what this means, you begin a new section of puzzle pieces.

Another shadowy piece is a bottle of poison, or so you think. When you look closer at the label, it appears to have some biohazard looking image on it. Is it a warning of something dangerous? Off to the side with the other dark pieces…

If only we were able to see all of the pieces of our life laid out in front of us. To see the timing and plan, the purpose of it all. Our sense of control would be so overwhelming, we would manage and manipulate the puzzle to fit our plan. Our way. Had I known that the piece with the broken heart would surface more times than I can count, I would have maybe withdrawn. Not allowed myself to love so ferociously. That would have been the worst, not the broken heart, the lack of passion in my life.

There is no way to compartmentalize life. There is no way to neatly organize our darkness or create nice, neat edges. The dark image of the people facing off in an office could represent many facets of my life. I’m not exactly sure which piece is which, perhaps it’s the conversation with a lawyer during my divorce. Perhaps it’s the conversation with a doctor that is just not listening to me or hearing the cry of my body. Perhaps it’s the conversation with a trusted friend that doesn’t understand or believe the abuse of my past. In any scenario, I’m was left feeling defeated and dark.

The dimness of a hospital bed, in this puzzle, served my parents, so many days and nights sitting around a hospital bed praying for better days. Cancer and disease are beasts that we try to tame. Days into months of lingering illness and pain. Some never know the victory over the beast. Little did I know, that in their death, I would learn about strength.

The ‘pill pieces’ have been present most of my adult life. I’ve battled depression and anxiety to epic proportions. I’ve had seasons of quiet and seasons of mayhem. Those manic seasons come and go, but never completely disappear. It’s in those season that I’ve craved peace. Sought it out and chased it. Peace is elusive. What you are certain will bring you peace, may be the core of chaos. While it is imperative to seek peace, seek discernment and wisdom equally.

In your busy-ness of life, you learn to pass off the little moments of discomfort as nothing more than nuisance. The back pain that stops you in your tracks can be attributed to a zillion things. Your weight, poor posture, an occupation on your feet all day. Never would you assume that your back pain may be the root of a deeper more invasive disease. Too busy to give it light, you pass it off as that, passing. When putting together the pieces of a puzzle within a puzzle, you discover you have an autoimmune disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis.  It’s when you understand your ‘biohazzard puzzle piece’ is not a warning of danger ahead, it is the treatment for the disease that you [and multiple doctors] failed to see. It’s the victory and defeat. You now have a name for the disease, but the treatment is another chapter in illness that you wouldn’t wish upon an enemy.

But in this tabletop view of life, you can see that these dark puzzle pieces are but small segments of a much bigger picture. Yes, they are visible, but they are surrounded by light. Not always sunshine, but light that gives purpose and life. Your life is that, purposeful. Breathe in the moment of right now. Un-burden yourself of the chaos and quest for having all of your pieces organized just right. Let go the pain of a season of dark days. Look for the lessons learned in those moments. Yes, even the darkness has a lesson to be learned. Sometimes it’s as simple as learning to not do that again, or it’s as complex as finding the voice within to stand up for yourself or a loved one in their dark season.

No, sunshine and blue skies would be too boring, for this girl. I will lean in and learn about love through the pain. Healing in the brokenness. Learn to slow down when my body tells me to. Life is to be lived, discovered anew. Throw the box away! Throw away the picture in your mind of how it should be. And, if life ever gets too blue sky, take a Sharpie and write cuss words across the pieces. Live life – out loud!!

 

 

That’s Not News

I miss the days of the 6 o’clock news. The days before CNN and other ’round the clock news channels. When the news was a matter of reporting facts. The stuff that happened, the weather and sports. Simple. 

In my little community, our newscasters were rockstars. The female weather caster with instantly recognizable hair, became the go-to hairstyle for many a local lady. 

We would see the lead newscaster out and about in the grocery store and lose our mind. We’d begin conversation like we were talking with a movie star, I wonder how many autographs were signed in the produce aisle. 

Today we report on the celebrities and the stupid crap we are supposed to be impressed by. We’ve made people famous for being absolutely shameless attention whores with zero talent. I just don’t get it. 

Athletes making more money than any human aught-to for playing a game.  Their political opinions and shenanigans shame their team. If any one of us were to behave so audaciously on our jobs, we’d be canned immediately.  

Take back your/their opinions and agendas. Take back your reality tv. (Or the perception of reality.) Take back the tv that does nothing to feed your soul or fill our life. 

Give me back my 6 o’clock  news. Give me back the way meals were shared around a table, as family. Give me back the ability to see facts and truth played out on the news. 

Give me back my Saturday mornings. Start the day with Davey & Goliath and a little bit of principles and values. Give me back, Mr Mustache and the simplicity and silliness of my childhood. The absolute awe and wonder of puppets and turning a letter of the alphabet into a cartoon. 


I don’t want to be a child again, just have a childlike joy and faith. Simple. Before the world spun out of control. Life. Simple. 
Photo credits:WIFR