In Bed All Day

Knowing Brian’s surgery was scheduled wasn’t a huge deal until it was three weeks, then two weeks, then a couple days before it was time. It wasn’t heart or brain surgery, but serious in that he would stay in the hospital and there were multiple what-ifs, and I was the one who was to wait and wait and wait. I was having to wait on my person–to see if my person was going to be okay (and really, the “I don’t want to be a veggie” talk the night before didn’t make for peaceful sleep).

And work has been, well, work. Busy and unbelievable at times. The work of an elementary school counselor is fascinating and never, ever dull. Classroom lessons and meetings might be scheduled, but all that falls to the wayside at a moment’s notice, depending on a parent who walks in and needs to talk now or a student who is worried about something–anything–dear to him. Needless to say, things have been a little hairy lately. Stress does a lot to us, makes us forget things and send repeat emails (I think I told that teacher what I needed to…), and the impending surgery and pumpkin spice lattes (decaf even) didn’t help.

I have said “I just want to stay in bed all day” oh, I don’t know, maybe ten times this month. Weekends are always nice–too short, of course, but busy, anyway. Even when nothing is planned, the thought of really hanging out in bed all day has been laughable. There’s always something that needs doing and why not not now, while there’s time to take care of it. It’s a thought that sticks in my mind and isn’t easily removed like gum on shoes. But, bed calls, and sometimes you just know you need rest in a big way.

from Google Images

So, Brian had his surgery, and I stayed all day at the hospital with him. I went home at nights and slept there, thinking it would be better for both us. The next day in the hospital, he felt like sitting up more and needed something to do. Patting the mattress, he asked me to join him there. Happy and grateful that we were passed that awful place of what if?, sitting together under the blankets in that gray room, and with absolutely nothing else that I could have busied myself with, we watched movies. I had to smile. Those long, anxious weeks before, I would have never guessed that in that place, under those surreal circumstances, I was going to finally be able to stay in bed all day.

Like Oil and Water

But I don’t want to jump into something new!

Funny (or irritating really), this pattern I have noticed. It has become fact that when I post something, my words slap me in the face the next day or few days or over the past week. It stings a little and sometimes a lot, mostly because I feel like I have figured out some things.

For example, I called my last post Nothing Changes Unless We Do, so naturally, most of last week I wanted to rant and complain…about the change that was coming, ready or not.

I love my job working with children and parents and teachers. Like any job, there are good and tough days. For me, I am blessed that the good widely outnumber the bad.

However.

This summer has been amazing (as summers usually are). I have relished time for me, time to sleep, time to write, time to travel, time for friends to visit, etc., etc., etc. Over a week ago, I went back to work–to school in July.  I know, I know, all of you who read this and work year round have no sympathy, and I get it. Just try to understand.

I DO NOT like change.

Change and I just don’t go together like oil and water. Last week, I turned into a whiny, teary, dramatic weirdo. I was exhausted and felt annoyed, oh, about just everything. You know, it was like wearing a tight, itchy sweater with sleeves that are too short.

In less than a week, I felt overloaded by things I routinely would have done and haven’t (including a blog post) or all I hoped to do and still haven’t (blog post done!). Suddenly I felt like I was complaining constantly and worrying– tightening my grip around all I could. I must have apologized to Brian at least 10 times…and then turned around and had to do it all over again.

So, over the weekend, I realized again (as I do every time I go through this) that awareness is part of the process. Just recognizing that I need to be open to the change rather than fearing it is important. Then, opening my mind and heart, loosening my grip on everything, and asking God for peace and strength and direction make a world of difference. After all, the dread over the coming change is ridiculously inflated in relation to the actual event.

Yesterday was the first day of school for our students, and I loved seeing the smiling faces I realize I’ve missed over June and most of July.

I think I’ll go back tomorrow.

Nothing Changes Unless We Do

Based on a recent phone call, I am aware that my last post on seeing all people as precious brought up some stuff. So, here’s my response:

1) Yes, I am aware that most of us have driven past someone who is stranded on the road.

2) I don’t know anyone who gives money to everyone on the side of the road asking for it.

3) I do not expect to and know I cannot possibly help everyone I see who is hurting in some way or another, but…

4) I can do MORE to help make this world a better place every, single day.

We’ve spent months hearing the news regarding the Penn State sexual abuse scandal and then the devastating Colorado movie shootings last week. Every day, it seems there are tragedies that remind us that life is short and unpredictable and messier than we thought the previous day.

At the gym the other night, I wondered how many people were there trying to relieve stress. It’s ironic that the day’s headlines were plastered on practically every flat screen TV that spanned the enormous room. It seems even at the gym we can’t escape the negative yuck that is swirling around us. Sometimes, we may even feel like there is nothing good or safe or happy in the world. While we can’t ease everyone’s suffering or snap our fingers to take away pain, all hope is not lost.

My God calls us to love one another. There are big ways and small ways we can do this. Every day, choosing to make more of an effort to show love to people all around us proves that we can make a difference. All is not lost. There is hope. There is good in the world.

However, focusing on others is not always easy for me. I am polite. I smile and chat with strangers, but I am usually lost in my own thoughts, which sadly (but honestly) also usually have to do with me. So, this means slowing down my pace in the grocery store or wherever I happen to be and seeing with fresh, interested eyes all that is happening around me.

I heard someone say that nothing changes unless we do. So, here are some easy ways to spread kindness–randomly or not and potentially change someone’s day:

  • Write a thank you note for your mail carrier/ garbage collector and leave it in the mailbox or on top of your trash can/ recycling box (no stamp needed)
  • Buy a box of popsicles and share with those who are working outside on these terribly hot days
  • Open the door for someone
  • If you still write checks, scribble a quick thank you 🙂 in the memo section
  • Help someone load groceries into the car
  • Cut up some fruit and take it to a neighbor’s house/ apartment (it’s a great way to meet those living around you)
  • Write a quick note for your coworker, friend, significant other, or kids on a post-it (they’re inexpensive and you have a pretty good guarantee that it will stay where you leave it)
  • Give a stranger $5 just because
  • Smile

It’s interesting how helping others does something internally for us, as well. Giving someone else a tasty treat can also be a treat for you!

What are some ways you fight negativity and selfishness, in order to bring more love into this world?

*Image from Google

An Unexpected Lesson (Review)

A couple weeks ago we were on our way to sun and fun. Swimsuits, flip flops, beach towels were packed (sunscreen was forgotten–isn’t there always something?). Despite the packed cooler filled with goodies for the drive, we had to make a stop for M&Ms and kettle chips. Oooh, junk just adds to the fun of going on vacation!

It was my turn in the driver’s seat, and Brian settled in for a nap.

If you’ve never driven through South Carolina, let’s just say there’s nothing redeeming during that journey. Flat and boring, boring and flat. If you have to go to the bathroom, take some toilet paper since you might drive for hours without finding an exit or even seeing a billboard. This particular drive felt like the real neverending story without that almost-cute-but-just-too-strange dog-faced creature (children of the ’80’s, do you remember that movie?).

So, I drove on and on and on and saw a green and yellow car on the side of the road, flashers on. Whew! That sucks. It’s such a hot day, I thought and then actually closed the vents, since the A/C was a little too cold. As I passed, I noticed the lone driver was pregnant.

I continued on. We have vacation to start! Yet, as I tried to forget her, I felt a little less excited about getting there and a little more like a heartless heap of snot.

Why didn’t I stop? What could have I done anyway? Who knows if and how far she would have needed us to drive her? This could take all day!

And then, I realized even if I did nothing else, I could have given her a very cold bottle of water from our cooler packed with goodies.

But I didn’t. And I didn’t go back (I felt better since there was no exit anywhere nearby to turn around, but then I felt even. worse. for her since there was no exit nearby).

About a hour later, I passed someone else whose car was parked on the side of the road with the hood up. As I kept driving, he was walking…walking down this monotonous road on this incredibly hot day. At least there actually happened to be an exit about half a mile away.

Once we reached our destination and for days filled our stomachs with deliciousness, I walked past a woman crying for food in a place where people spend money like it truly does grow on trees. Ah, I didn’t have my wallet with me and couldn’t have helped her. So glad I dodged that one! It can be so… awkward.

You know, I still wonder how it would have been if I would have just stopped to talk to her like the couple I later saw who did that very thing. Oh, and on our initial drive, eventually, that green and yellow car sped past us, but I didn’t feel much better.

I was reminded that I have been on the side of the road with a flat tire waiting for help to arrive. No strangers stopped to help me, either. As I sweated in my car for close to a hour, I saw hundreds of cars and trucks speed past my own with a force that shook me.

I have not, however, been the crying woman asking for food.

If I needed money so I could eat, I would want to be seen and heard and treated like a living, breathing and very hungry person.

We see these kinds of situations everyday. While at times I’d like to jump in and help, it’s true to say that most of the time I don’t. Is it just easier to walk as if we have blinders on or to tell ourselves that it’s “safer” to stay away? After all, we’ve heard the stories of people who make the choice to beg for money instead of taking an available job or appear to be homeless with a nice car parked around the corner. And oh, the dangers! (Really, I am aware that putting myself in certain situations is not safe, but this is not my point.)

Our vacation was fantastic for a lot of ways. One unexpected reason is that I have remembered what I teach my students and apparently, need to keep learning and practicing.

We are all people with very real needs and hurts with a desire to be seen and heard and loved. Everywhere I look, I want to really see and treat people as if they are in fact, precious. And newsflash: It’s just not my job to decide if they are being authentic or not.

So, giving money doesn’t feel right? Well, even a kind word and a smile can make an impact.

Is this something you struggle with, too? How do you decide in those moments how to deal with it?

9 Thoughts About 9 Years

Tomorrow, Brian and I will celebrate our 9th anniversary! We spent our first having a living room picnic of Chinese take-out, while watching the riveting DVD of our wedding. Sounds romantic enough or downright boring. I’m sure that was Brian’s idea. 🙂

We don’t really give one another gifts for the special day (who can keep track anyway? Is it the year of paper, cotton, glass…?). Instead, we do something we both enjoy to mark the event that, yes, we have beaten the odds for another year.

So instead of listing the top ten things that I love about Brian or 10 things that will make marriage great or the hardest things about marriage, this is 9 thoughts about our (almost) 9 years together.

1.  He is never surprised that I can bruise myself by bumping into stationary things like door frames or table corners. I am no longer shocked that he takes a lot of time to decide on which new TV or camera we should buy. The thing is, we always end up with the best TV or camera with the most 5 star reviews. I just end up with a bruise.

2.  He likes golf. I hate it. I like playing Bananagrams. He hates it. That’s okay. Every now and then I think about wandering back to try it again, and so does he. We might even do it. That’s give and take, right?

3.  Neither of us likes yard work, but our yard usually looks fine (thanks to Brian). We have walked past a dead bush in front of our house for at least 3 months. We really should do something about that bush. So, now someone we hired is going to do something about that bush…and our overgrown hedges. Happy anniversary to us!

4. Three words can change the course of our day. After numerous times of using 507235198741 words to argue a point, we have found this to be true and much easier. The way I-am-sorry-period stops craziness shocks both of us. Period.

5. Three months after getting married, we wondered what in the world we were doing. We knew there would be yuck. We just didn’t know we’d be swimming in it. Love and counseling and lots of prayers got us through it.

6. I have learned to just. be. quiet (well, sometimes). Every day, this is a hard thing for someone who craves control and always wants to be right. I’m sure Brian appreciates and might even be stunned by my (occasional) silence.

7. The cooking schedule I wrote up months after our wedding was AWESOME! We each cooked twice a week and went out or had leftovers the other times. But he found it constraining. I tried to change his mind. Now neither of us cooks. We figure it out together, literally, almost every night, or we go to Moe’s.

8.  Job layoffs, location changes, grad school, career moves among numerous other things have all been hard for us. He usually deals well. I tend to cry and stress and resist. Later, I realize it’s all ended up better than I thought it ever would, and I am grateful that he is calm and steady.

9.  The grass is not greener anywhere else. It is greener here because our marriage has been dumped with manure, and the storms have come. In between those times, seeds of grace, joy and peace have been planted. The sun has warmed us, and we have grown to love one another with a fierceness that encourages, supports and protects.

I think this gift might be better than we ever imagined.