Have yourself a beautiful little rainy gray day

Conservatory 013_edited_edited 2

Kids have the ability to see what most adults have lost somewhere along the way…The ability to see joy – even in the rain.

I used to be the person that would get mad when it rained. Especially when it was a string of rainy days on end where it feels as if the world will always be a gray muddy mess.

I needed the sun! No, I deserved it! And if my expectations weren’t met I’d get all bent out of shape and let it ruin the day. Especially if was a Saturday or Sunday. I would spend so much energy being angry and focusing on what I didn’t get, that it would rob all the beauty that was waiting to be found right in front of me.

A different kind of beauty. The kind of beauty I couldn’t see. I couldn’t adjust my controlled plan on how things were “supposed to be” to allow myself to see what “is”.

My mind couldn’t process joy because it was focused on the injustice of having to work all sunny week and then be paid back with soggy gray weekends. Unfair!!

A whole world of awesomeness was awaiting me…all I needed to do was adjust my perspective. I wasted days and…really years to anger.

Life is different now.

At least in some ways. I am now 6 years removed from a messy divorce. Time has healed (and in some cases still healing) many of those battle scars and trust issues.

I also had to face that fact that I had carried a lot of unaddressed anger from an unconventional childhood with a mom that suffered from severe mental handicaps which had left me a prisoner of fear, anger and confusion in general.

That meant taking time to mourn, deal and move past these things instead of bury them or hide behind some mask. I had to learn to say I am NOT ok, get help, and give myself room to heal. I was letting all these negative factors dictate how I viewed the world.

But in many ways my life is very much same. Many of the same factors are at play. I am still me. Same city. Same job. Same general struggles and constraints (time, finances, health, etc.).

So what IS different? And why?

A few main things:

First, I stopped trying to control everything!!

I surrendered the inclination to have a plan for everything and insisting everything go according to that plan. OMG…do you know how exhausting it was to be responsible for everything? And how much potential fun was sucked out of the room (and my life) by being so rigid?

I had to, sorry, but true…”Let it Go” like Elsa, or “Shake it off” like Taylor.

And guess what – letting go of that control was very freeing! Even spontaneous and fun!

The problem I have now is being TOO spontaneous and lacking a plan for things that really do need some forethought (Maybe I’m making up for lost time).

Secondly, I accepted things as they are.

Me as me (flawed). Others as they are (flawed). Weather for what it is (unpredictable). Life for what it is (hard, unfair…yet wonderful).

No more comparing what “could” be or what “should” be. No more wishing for something different. Just plain and simple accepting what I have right in front of me and making the most of it!

That includes getting to the place of acceptance with even tough breaks like divorce or moms with schizophrenia and a host of other tragic things that can happen in ones life. Accept (on your own time line) and then move on.

And again…guess what? Sweet freedom. No more false expectations to live up to. Acceptance has paved the way towards transparency…vulnerability…realness. I have more genuine friendships and people in my life than ever before because of this.

So when this past spring break week was mixed with freezing temperatures, snow, and rain nearly every single day…It was ultimate test. Had I really changed? Or was I just blowing hot air?

I was beyond thankful and extra pleasantly surprised to find that somehow those lessons have sunk below the skin into the deep corners of my soul that so desperately needed it. Ironically – like a good hearty rain sinking deep into a thirsty garden patch.

I had the whole week off to spend one-on-one time with only my youngest, which I rarely get to do. And while my friends were on sunny fabulous beaches…it didn’t even make me frustrated or jealous that we were bundled in 5 layers and prepared for a monsoon, or snow storm, or a polar vortex, or…

I was genuinely happy for my friends because it was not about comparisons. It was about celebrating what I have right here right now. So all that mattered is that me and lil tid bit had 5 days to spend together however we wanted!

Though we had envisioned going hiking and having picnics at play grounds, we easily changed our plans for indoor things like the Conservatory, bowling and movies. And had a blast doing it.

Shopping for the cutest rain gear from head to toe was also a key strategic move so she could play and dance in the rain (and look extra ridiculously cute doing it)!. I mean what kid doesn’t love splashing in puddles? Well guess what? We did a LOT of that! I gave her free reign. Get to jumpin’ kid!

So – I can’t take all the credit. A little brown eyed girl had a lot to do with my joy. But had I still been in control freak angry mode…I might have not seen or even allowed all those wonderful things to just be.

Last point – These past few years I have made it a quest to seek out beauty right where I am. And let me tell you – when it rains, that is prime time to find some serious beauty right in your own yard. I honestly think that has also helped my perspective.

I get excited when it rains because I know I can head out when it stops and find all kinds of beautiful dew drops.

Just some dew drops on a blad of grass. #findbeautywhereyouare

Just some ordinary dew drops chilling on a blade of grass. #findbeautywhereyouare

Plus the creek will flow extra high and I can hear it if I open a window. And of course, there’s the potential for rainbows and may flowers and maybe faeries and unicorns if you look hard enough.

I guess what I am saying is: Perspective really is everything. Overcoming the past. Replacing anger/bitterness with childlike curiosity. Trading expectations for the serendipity. Basically, exchanging your grumpy pants for some cute galoshes.

I can’t say I have completely mastered this. At any given moment I am still on a sliding scale of humanness. All I can say is that I strive towards it. I surround myself with like minded people that ground me and pull me back to this direction if I start steering off course.

But, I highly recommend buying some rain boots and to throw out your narrow minded, limited script for heaven’s sake and have yourself a beautiful little rainy gray day!!

Conservatory 008

unscripted joy

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Big Fat Eternal February

It’s mid-February. In these here parts (Ohio), we have endured true cold for three months and are facing at least one or two more months of the same and possibly even worse. February is synonymous with the hardest…the bleakest…the most cruel of all months. We can start to forget that it was ever warm, and worse…we can even start imagining or believing that the entire world is one frozen, eternal, tundra.

Our cars are caked with salt. Heck – the trees, are even caked with it. From the splattering of soggy, wet, slushy, muddy, salty sludge…that spews everywhere. It’s on our coats from brushing up against our cars as we hack at the ice on our windshields. It’s in our houses, workplaces…tracked in from our boots.

This is 50 shades of gray that is anything but hot and spicy. No, in fact, the shades of gray you see everywhere from the Midwest to the New England Coast is about as appealing as the ashy grey that ET was turning when he was slowly dying…

…A cold, sickly, gray, slow death.

And that is pretty much how February feels.

Don’t EVEN get me started on the layers. Layers upon layers of clothing. A Midwesterner in winter has more layers than a Vidalia onion. Getting dressed in the morning and undressed at night is like an event. It takes time!

And if you have a dog that needs out in the middle of the night…you get to do it twice as much…while the poor pooch stands at attention, head cocked and cross legged at the wonder of your ridiculous rituals as you huff and puff and fiddle with your zippers and boots in a half asleep stupor.

The honeymoon of winter is officially over at this point. Even die hard nature lovers like myself that once squealed in excitement at the glittering snow, sighed in peaceful happiness at perfectly outlined branches, and marveled at beautifully formed snowflakes, find ourselves questioning our sanity at actually living in a God forsaken place such as this.

Yes…you definitely start to question your sanity.

This is the time of year when friends that have escaped and now live in sunny tropical places post pictures of their beautiful sunny surroundings just to show you the contrast of your terrible living choices. And while one part of you is indeed encouraged that the entire world is not actually a dead, arctic desert, the other part of you wants to cry out or wince in agony like a slug that just had salt poured on it.

And the worst thing a well-meaning person can say to a Midwesterner in mid-February is something like, “Well at least you don’t live somewhere worse”, or “March is right around the corner”, or “Quit your bitching, you chose to live here”, or “Just deal with it”.

On a less silly side, anyone that has ever battled depression knows it can feel like a harsh cold…well, February. Deep depression doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a while to take hold. It comes on slowly, gradually, so you don’t even notice it sneaking up on you. And then one day you wake up and you’re like, “What the hell”!? And by then, you are right smack in the middle of it with no end in sight, and you can’t see far enough ahead to feel like there is any real hope.

Just like a harsh winter storm, when depression takes hold, you have limited visibility, limited mobility, it’s hard to even focus sometimes because you can feel numb, like your body is shutting down. And depending on your circumstances and what brought you into the depression, you may even feel physical pain in your chest or limbs.

It can be debilitating. And well-meaning people can say the stupidest things just out of ignorance. Things like, “Things could always be a lot worse”, “Why can’t you just get over it”? or “Suck it up”, or my all-time favorite… “Pray about it”.

Sometimes what you really need is someone to just be there with you. Acknowledge that this moment in time SUCKS big time, and just be. Don’t try to fix it. Don’t minimize it. Don’t make them a charity case. Just treat them like a human…Like you would want to be treated. Ask if there is anything tangible that they actually do need and don’t expect any kind of thanks for it.

But trust me…they will remember random acts of kindness later. I still remember a compassionate person dropping off groceries for me at time when I didn’t have much. That was action. My daughters still refer to that moment as the time an angel helped us.

Cause just like in the dead of winter, sometimes you just need another person to acknowledge that it is damn cold out, huddle together, vent a minute, and then go shovel the drive together or something and maybe have a hot cocoa afterwards.

If you find yourself in a mid-February doldrums, literally or figuratively – know that you are not alone. And know that it truly does not last forever.  Life is just a collection of all these moments. Sometimes we do great. Sometimes we blow it. Sometimes we are the helpers, sometimes we need the help.

I write this as a clinically depressed person in remission. Maybe even completely healed. Time will tell.

I also write this as a Midwesterner in mid-February that was just given the recent diagnosis, I mean forecast, that says it’s going to be colder than ever, for longer than I can comprehend.

I’m still trying to see the beauty, but have resigned myself to the fact that the worst may be yet to come.

In either case the advice is the same:

Accept your reality. Give yourself a break now and then…(give others a break too). Set boundaries. Be careful and choosy about how you spend your energy and who you spend your energy on. And as cheesy as it sounds…Find beauty where you are and humor whenever you can . And lastly remember…

Even February doesn’t last forever. Think about it…why else would our forefathers chosen February of all months to be the shortest month? Because it SUCKS BIG FAT MONKEY BALLS my friends!!

Kicking the Dysfunction Addiction

Getting a lot of hits on this blog….reposting in case anyone else needs to read it.

Finding Beauty - The Perspective of Joy - Lee Ann Lander

If you stand under a bird’s nest, you increase your chances of getting pooped on.

I don’t think this is a real ancient Chinese proverb…but it could be…

This insightful analogy came to me on a walk around the block tonight with my adorable, stubborn, sweet and spicy 2 year old lovie hobbit. We came to a place on the sidewalk with quite a bit of bird droppings. Of course – directly above was the source…a nest. I’ll save you the suspense…we did not get pooped on.

But if we had hesitated – we probably would have gotten it – the chances were definitely high. It made me start thinking about choices…the obvious or not so obvious choices that we make in life.

Specifically – about how it seems like I had been standing under the birds’ nest of life for so many years.

Perhaps I was thinking I was…

View original post 1,526 more words

Confessions of a Recovering Helicopter Parent

In my early years of parenting I heard many times from older mothers, “You are one of the best, most engaged parents I have ever seen”. Some even went as far as to admit they felt a since of guilt that they were nowhere near the hands on parent that I was. Insert Sigh of relief and maybe even a moment of gloating that perhaps I was doing this parenting thing right!

But was I? Since that time, I have made some parenting adjustments. Partly because 1. no one can keep up that pace and stay sane and 2. I had another child and went through a divorce at roughly the same time and simply couldn’t be there like I had in the past.

It was the end to craft marathons, baking and cooking from scratch together for hours on end (while pretending to narrate our own mother daughter cooking show), and trying to fill every waking moment with a kid filled activity from library story times, to mommy play groups, to the zoo to…you name it. If it was published in a local paper, or posted on the internet – you can assure it was marked in my calendar and it was a ragged, grueling schedule to keep up with.

Both me and my husband (I remarried) are products of the generation of parenting that was fairly hands off. I was left alone at very early ages to navigate some pretty scary situations and paid the price now and then. I had the added handicap of having a mom that was afflicted with mental illness and simply couldn’t look after, or advocate for me consistently. She herself actually put me in harms way sometimes. The result left me with a strong desire and urge to over parent and over protect my children – in attempt to keep anything bad from ever happening.

My husband was doing man chores – like serious hard labor chores at the age of 8 and continued to do so for years. To this day he is the hardest worker I know – and I sometimes have to get on him to just chill out and take a break and have fun, and I am guilty of quoting corny cliches things like, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. But the nice unexpected result is that since he has entered our lives he has helped instill a since of work ethic into our girls by doling out age appropriate chores – that I otherwise might not have done – or at least on a consistent basis.

With him in our lives thankfully our girls are learning the feeling of earning a true “Atta girl”, and a sense of accomplishment, not to mention just a sense of worth. Just this weekend my little one age almost 6 decided to take upon herself the chore of cleaning the kitty litter box. This has been my 11 year olds job for a few years now. I think tid bit volunteered partly because she wants to be like big sis, partly because it is a novelty (I’m a romantic…not an idiot), and partly and maybe without her even realizing it – it gives her a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

So while our generation is getting a bad rap for the helicopter parenting style (as my earlier years), our previous generation sometimes gets pegged with under parenting (examples – I had to cross a 4 lane highway to get to school unattended at age 7 and tripped one day to nearly be smashed by a semi). But where is that healthy middle ground? It’s kind of hard to navigate sometimes.

But I have to set one thing straight for the records. Since I have intentionally backed off a bit I have to say this, “The less hands on parenting style is NOT for the lack of parenting or love or what is sometimes perceived as”. It does NOT give me more “Me” time. It does NOT make my life easier. In fact…what I am finding is as I force myself to back off, let them be “alone” sometimes, let them do chores and fail at them many times over is WAY WAY harder than just doing it all myself in the disguised name of “helping them out”.

Because let’s be honest here. It would so much faster for me to always vacuum, do my oldest daughters laundry when she has nothing clean to wear, for me to always do the dishes, etc. Why? Because I know it would be done right! Yes, it kind of drives me a little nuts when I go to get a plate out of the cupboard that has some mystery dried gunk on it. Not a fan of that.

But that is also a teaching moment. That is when I need to call for my oldest and either give her the option to eat off that plate tonight or let her have a re-do. It takes extra time…and it takes multiple times because believe me – you would think that after you did that once or twice…or 36 times that they would incorporate quality into the initial process the first time! But then I remember that she IS a kid… and that this IS a slow developmental process. And that in the end it is for her benefit – not just mine. And it is ANYTHING but hands off and easy.

I gain more respect for my parent’s generation style of parenting all the time. Especially when I know some 13 year old kids that literally don’t know how to make a sandwich for themselves. I absolutely cringe – and part of me feels really sorry for the spouse to be – if they ever get that far.

So let’s be clear here and say that those parents that are filling out college applications for their kids or worse yet – taking tests for them or intervening into their battles of “he said/she said” staying up all night to finish a project that the kid had 4 weeks to complete…are not these great hands-on parents that we should feel guilty that we don’t measure up to. They are doing clean up duty!! Because it is easier to swoop in and be the rescuer to avoid an emotional let down than stand back and let the kid build some character – which WILL require some heartbreaks, broken friendships, and a failed test or assignment here and there.

Not only are we giving them a false sense of security, a warped view of reality, but we are robbing them of the building blocks to life. If I didn’t like my boss…I can’t have my parent call HR and get me moved to a different department people! And if I get lazy and don’t do my best, mommy is not going to call my boss to fight for another chance for me or worse yet – blame my boss for some unrealistic standards!

Now I am not saying to NOT advocate for our children when they are actual harm, being bullied or something like that. In that case you smack it down like starving lioness and instill the fear of what is good and Holy where you need to. But even then – there are tactical, ways to do that. And discussing it with your child is a good start, making them part of the solution if and when appropriate, etc.

It is much harder to let your kids get scraped now and then, than to never let them fall down on the play ground. I have had to literally turn the other way a few times or pry my knuckles from a bench to refrain from catching a near fall (of 1 foot or less). It requires a sense of patience, a very selfless kind of love. Because when our kids hurt WE hurt. And maybe that is it too! We don’t want to experience that pain of rejection or failure either. And at some twisted core of it all – maybe we are protecting OURSELVES just as much or even more than we are protecting our kids. Ouch!

It took me about 8 years of parenting to realize that my child’s failures are not exactly a reflection on me. If they fail to turn in an assignment – it should not mean that child services will be at my house shortly to investigate what the hell is going on in my obviously chaotic and unorganized household. Is THAT part of it too? Paranoia? I mean – honestly – by today’s standards – I would absolutely have been removed from my mother’s care by the court. Now do not mistake me – I am thankful for the many gains we have made as a society in protecting and advocating for children and think we still have a long way to go.

All I am saying is that we sometimes over parent out of fear of what other parents might say, teachers might say – or what we “think” they might say. We over coddle not just out of love for our children to save them from pain and rejection, sometimes we may do it out of selfish fear! Our parent’s generation didn’t quite have that level of paranoia going on. They had that Clint Eastwood tough-as-nails-deal-with-it mentality.

And yes – over the years I have detected some guilt on my father’s part. Sad and grateful eyes and admission that he has no clue how we turned out normal. But I will totally be saying that about my girls too. As a parent – there will always be guilt – one way or another. I think that is in the unwritten by laws of parenting. I learned to accept that awhile ago. I know I am not perfect. I am going to mess up. But that’s part of learning too.

Honestly – I don’t know how right I am on this – I am only relaying some of my own fears and experiences and things or epiphanies I have learned along the way. And no doubt have so much more to learn along the way. I have always said, “My best teachers are my kids”.

All I do know is that I am intentionally trying to back off a little hopefully in the right places, because I don’t want to go to the other extreme so my girls feel like I don’t care or are not there for them. But honestly – that is perception too. There will be a time when they yell at me that I don’t care. And that may mean that they didn’t get the Ipad that they wanted at age 8. So we take these things with a grain of salt.

But at the end of the day I am just incredibly thankful. They are fed, laughing (and sometimes bickering at each other), safe, healthy, and doing some daily chore here and there (and yes sometimes rolling their eyes at having to do them) we are always interacting in some way or another, tickle fights spontaneously erupt, there is a light and sparkle in their eye. There is real effort…sometimes balanced, sometimes over or under done. And when effort isn’t enough – because it never is – there is always forgiveness and most of all…love.

The World without Zeke

He entered my life unexepectedly when a coworker found him wandering on the road. Just a tiny yellow fuzzball at the time. He checked with near by neighbors and no one claimed him, so he took him home and bathed the flea infested ball of sweetness. He already had 3 dogs and couldn’t keep another.

I was only supposed to be dog sitting for a week, while he and his wife headed home to visit family. But he had warned me…this little guy will steal your heart.

I held to my guns for all of…1 day. My heart was indeed stolen and 13 years later I can say my heart was changed and I am so thankful for that fateful day when Zeke entered my life.

I named him Zeke after a farm dog I knew years ago. He was born to be Zeke. I found out that if my coworker would have kept him, he would have also named him Zeke and we had not previously discussed it. Yes…there was something special about this pup from the very start.

For the longest time I never even had to put a leash on him. He would stay at my heels on walks – even in a neighborhood with so many other dogs and distractions to go running after. I think he was saving it all up for when he got a little older…because he became known as the wanderer…a free spirit kind of guy.

He was the kind of dog that vets would stop, look you in the eye and say, “This is a special guy. Don’t waste it”. They encouraged me train him as a therapy dog. But in the end, too much bathing was required and he ended up not enjoying the hospital environment. Yet…he had some kind of purpose…a mission…what was his mission????

What the Vets saw – and anyone that got to meet Zeke, was his very sensitive, sweet, gentle spirit. His beautiful bright brown eyes could look into your soul…and connect. His smile was so kind you had no choice but to smile right back. And as he sat in the sun smiling, he would even sometimes give you a wink!

He lived with me and my girls for many years. But when divorce came knocking and I had to head back to work, he increasingly became more and more depressed. It was clear that he needed to be around people a lot more than I was capable of being there for him.

It wasn’t hard to find the right place. My parents welcomed Zeke as their own. Zeke couldn’t have been happier. They were retired and traveled…and Zeke baby LOVED to travel. He would jump into any open car door. Literally…I had several awkward moments prying Zeke out of strangers or neighbors cars a few times. He was a traveling fool.

He was also a wanderer. He had just enough Husky in him to make him that free spirit, roaming kind of guy. He would stick that keen nose in the air, pause, twitch…and off he would be. No fence – chain link or invisible – could ever contain Zekey boy. He was quite the escape artist.

When he first started doing this, I took it personally. I thought he was trying to run away. But he always came back. After enough research, I found out – that is just in his Husky genes. They love to be free and roam. Makes suburbia life quite the challenge.

In the end, he had two mommies, 1 daddy/buddy, and two little girls that he truly belonged to…or rather truly belonged to him. And we will forever be grateful and better off for just knowing him, being blessed with this wonderful random gift that just wandered right into our hearts.

Zeke lived his last several years with my parents. I was always afraid I might not get to say good bye to him. But like I said…Zeke is special.

The night before his passing my parents came over to watch the girls and brought Zeke along. Each girl got to spend some quality time with Zekey boy. They read books to him, covered him with blankets, loved on him – just like back in the day.

Then just after tuck in time, he made his rounds and spent a little time laying in each girl’s room before settling in the living room with my folks. He did it while the girls were still awake too. That was the first thing they talked about in the morning – so excited Zekey had laid next to them.

I can’t help thinking now…that was his intentional good bye. Zeke, in his wise and mature years…and remarkable amount of pain – I think he knew it was time. He needed a good bye too. I think he was soaking in those last moments just as much as the girls were. Only he knew it would be there last.

When I got the early morning call the next morning from Dad I knew what was coming. In fact, I knew even before the phone rang. For some reason…I felt it. Today was the day for good byes.

I had a meeting that morning so I told them I’d meet up with them afterwards. I fumbled into work…I was having trouble with even simple tasks…logging in…plugging stuff in. I was numb. My mind was with Zeke.

My boss must have seen it in my eyes. He graciously relieved me from the meeting. I am so thankful. I got there in time to spend the last hours with that sweet random miracle of a pup.

My stepmom and I – Zekes two Mommies got to hold him in our arms as they prepped him and then gave him the injection. His fears subsided as we held him. Then as the injection took effect all too quickly, we could feel him relax and let go. He was finally pain free – really free.

All we have now are pictures, fur balls on the floor and memories of so many wonderful years and moments with this little guy that changed our lives forever.

Happy Memories:
His fat little furball belly, dark eyes and nose as a pup…following me all around.

The zoomies. Oh…that dog would get the zoomies. He would run circles around you…literally – huge sweeping circles like he was herding us. We would laugh and chant, “Run Zekey Run, Run Zekey Run!” as he would wind himself up and then shoot off like a sling shot to make a wider circle around the entire yard, only to come running back directly at you to make a “run by” we called them. He would zoom by you as close as he could without making contact – all you could feel was the wind.

His amazing smile.

Hide and go Zeke. Me and my girls would play hide and seek and miraculously they would find me EVERY time in record time. Zeke, my shadow, would always be standing right where I was trying to hide…if I was in a closet…he would be standing right outside the closet. If I was in the shower…there Zeke would be standing right outside it. He made us laugh so hard!!!

Dress up. He would be so gracious and kind…yet still give us this woeful look like…really?!??!

Fall time. He would actually let you cover him in leaves and then suddenly bust out…and of course – do the zoomies. Autumn says there is probably a special room in heaven – Fall and Winter rooms and that Zeke is probably in one of those rooms right now…zooming with little leaf remnants sticking to his beautiful yellow coat.

Snow! He loved the snow even more! Here he was in his element. He’d get all giddy – like a litte kid, open the door and he’d shoot out of the house like a rocket and go zooming all over the fresh fallen snow. Doggie trails and circles all over the yard…and one happy, smiling, snow nosed dog.

And the quiet times. He was such a cuddle pup. He just loved to be near people. Those were special moments, where he would look you in the eyes…into your soul, and just be. We would have conversations with no words…just understood silence, and winking of eyes.

These quiet times is where he taught me about love, forgiveness, peace.

The world is a strange place without him, but a better place for having had him in our lives and forever in our hearts. I feel like I lost a bit of myself, an anchor or something. Even though he didn’t live with us the last few years, it was just comforting knowing I could see him anytime.

But he couldn’t walk…and that is not for Zeke. After his night with the girls, he finally gave in to the pain that he been fighting for so many years. Dad and Deb had cared for him so long in his deteriorating condition, angels on earth…I think he finally decided to…set them free.

And after all his years of training me in love, forgiveness and peace…I think he finally felt like perhaps he had gotten through. His mission! He had done it! He had done the impossible…transformed his broken person into a healthy, balanced, peaceful human. And he could finally…rest.

So Zeke baby…Run baby run! Be free! Sniff the wind and do the zoomies baby boy! Run Zekey Run! Run Zekey Run!

I hope you dance

If you have children…and in particular, little girls, then you know that this song is one of the most honest, heart felt songs ever.  It’s exactly what I hope and wish for my own sweet, feisty, amazing little gifts. 

We recently made a small (insert sarcasm here) jaunt to the ocean to visit my mom and sold the long drive to my rambunctious thing 1 and thing 2 with a promise of playing in the ocean. 

They are 10 and 4.  Too soon to be 11 and 5…and I am afraid to blink for missing something.  My little wild goofy girls are everything they should be at this age.  Curious, funny, adorable, trying, frustrating, incredibly sweet, cuddly, beautiful, mischeivious, helpful, distracted, playful, and so many other adjectives…but one thing remains no matter what…they are loved.  Every inch, through and through, inside and out.

So when we finally arrived as promised to the ocean to frolic on the beach and play in the waves, you know this crazy mama was snapping the photos as best as I could between wiping humid ocean mist from the lense. 

And yes, I heard this song playing subconciously to the backdrop of the wild and reckless beauty of my daughters playing like little sea otters and yes – even dancing along the Atlantic’s edge.

When I felt like my camera’s eye got enough fill, I ditched my sony for seashells and joined in the fun. 

It was only one day at the beach…it wasn’t much, but the memory will last for years to come.  In a world where I am bombarded with so much “must haves” of this and that, I was very thankful for the reminder of simplicity.     

The Medication Education…and other hard to talk about controversial stuff

ImageOn the Anniversary of the most life changing event of my life I have to say just how incredibly thankful I am.  2 years ago this month, in a long brewing state of increasing depression, I attempted to end my life.
 
While I was mortified about what I had done and incredibly lucky to survive it, I was told by the psychiatrists that after hearing my story, they were surprised it took me that long to actually try it.  Seriously…I was not being funny, because there is nothing funny about it…but yet, that statement actually is a bit amusing.
 
But I don’t take it lightly. In fact I promised myself to remember it, to not let it ever be in vain.  Not to dwell on it, no, but to remember it.  Remember the lessons learned, the warning signs, and to not let it be a secret, however degrading and embarrassing it feels at times. 
 
It has taken 2 years to be able to come completely clean and be open and honest about it in this forum. I have shared it at a few women’s conferences I have had the privilege to speak at, but never blogged about it because of the wide accessibility of it all.  
 
I guess I was afraid of what people would think.  I was ashamed I even did it – what with 2 amazing, beautiful daughters that depend on me. But mostly, I wanted to protect the people I loved the most.  My closest family members don’t even know about it…yet.  I have no idea if they ever read my blogs, but if they do…well…now they know too. 
 
Lastly, it has been incredibly hard to address this because I never wanted to make it seem like it is ok to try what I tried.  I am lucky…I survived.  But it was SO wrong.  That is NEVER an answer.  And up until now, I couldn’t find the words to articulate it in writing. 
 
So let me start off by addressing family members and even close friends.  Not just mine, but any surviving family members of anyone who has attempted or worse, successfully committed suicide. It is not your fault! Nothing you could have done, said, offered could have prevented it.  When a person gets to that final stage of actually going through with it…No one but themselves or supernatural forces can stop them.
 
Ironically, it took me experiencing it and thankfully surviving it, to understand that.  I had lived with years of guilt, confusion, anger and sadness that my own mother attempted it and very nearly succeeded to the point that she was incapacitated for several months after her brutal and intentional try.  I am sure my father and brother also carried that, and may still carry those feelings of burden.
 
But people – it has nothing to do you with you.  It has everything to do with the depressed person’s state of mind, self pity, misconceptions, confusion, and yes…a lot of pain and sadness all heaped up into an insurmountable mountain.  It is about the loss of hope, faith and love– altogether. 
 
It’s about honestly not being able to face life and feeling like death itself is the only justifiable state of being that might provide peace and quiet from the sadness…intense, debilitating kind of sadness.  The kind of sadness that doesn’t let up, but covers like a dark, damp fog and permeates into every fiber and membrane of a depressed persons being for not just days or weeks, but months maybe even years. 
 
The kind of irrational thinking that lies and tells the depressed person that they are better of gone than possibly inflicting the world with their presence any longer. The kind of sadness that tells even a mother or a father that their children would be better off without them than with such a wrecked, broken, useless shell of a human being.      
 
There is no one on earth that can convince anyone of anything different, once they have sunk that far.  The only thing that can save that person is a personal revelation of some kind – either supernatural or by their own power. 
 
So those of you that are walking around with nooses of guilt that you could have prevented it – get over it. It’s not about you.  And it is only robbing you of the joy that every person deserves to grasp for. And anger…is an appropriate feeling, but at some point you have to just get it all out and move on, or face living an emotionally crippled life, which doesn’t do any good for yourself, loved ones and the world in general.
 
That leaves only two other groups to address which I will lump into one…those of you who know someone who is depressed or those of you who are depressed.  There are sometimes warning signs, however, sometimes people are remarkably good at hiding them –even from themselves through acts of denial (that would be me). 
 
See…people knew I was sad, but no one knew what was coming.  Not really even myself.  I didn’t even leave a note.  I just pulled into the garage and waited.  However… (Um…Here’s a BIG red flag!!) I did a trial run a few days before! Before that I did a lot research on how to do it, what would happen, what to expect, etc.
 
Hello…if you are ever at this point…it is time to get help folks! It’s just like if a diabetic went into some kind of shock…this is your body trying to tell you not to ignore your chemically imbalanced brain anymore. 
 
Ok, since I brought up chemical imbalances.  Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room here.  It is quite possible that you may need to seek medical attention and yes…I am going to say it – God forbid…take…medication. 
 
I am a Christian.  But I have to really blunt and honest here…the Christian community is one of the most negligent of all communities when it comes to this.  Not that I am saying that medication is the answer all the time, but encouraging a severely depressed person to merely pray instead of seek medical attention is about as negligent as telling a person in cardiac arrest to pray themselves well.
 
I will let them off the hook and chalk it a matter of ignorance, but it is time to get real here. I have lived it.  I know. I needed medication to get to the point where I could even honestly pray right.  My mind was just too clouded by the time I reached a certain point.  I was not in my rational, right mind. Everything was distorted.  Much like a heart out of rhythm, my brain was out of rhythm, and it took the aid of medication to get it synced up again. There is no shame in that people.
 
We are blessed to have science and medical advances, and medicine is no more the enemy than alcohol or guns are. It’s how they are handled and used that makes them good or bad.    
 
OK…so besides medication…what are some other tangible things that can be done?
 
Do not isolate yourself. Or if you know someone who is depressed…try not to let them isolate themselves.  Again…not that you can save anyone once they reach a certain point…because let’s face it – we all have our own choices to make.  But, if you happen to be aware of yourself or someone else being depressed…intentionally reach out- Both ways.  Both the depressed person and friends of the depressed person.
 
Now this is key…depressed person – it is more important for YOU to reach out.  To try!  To pick up the phone.  But also understand – people are busy!  People are also incredibly self involved and largely unaware of other people’s true feelings.  Especially if they have never experienced depression.  Don’t hold it against them or make it a personal thing if people don’t revolve their schedules around you. 
 
This is hard for a depressed person to grasp, and if they are severely depressed, they will just be pissed at the world and themselves anyway.  But if you are just in a depressed state it is important for you to know not to take things so personal and to keep trying.  It’s possible to get out of a depression just by getting out and doing stuff you love.  With friends or just on your own.
 
Try to pinpoint when you started feeling depressed in the first place…was it around a job change? A move? A life event? Identifying the root cause is huge.  Then you can start addressing that root cause with truth.  A lot of times depression stems from disappointment, loss, or abuse that has gone unaddressed.
 
When big things go unaddressed, they stew and grow bigger under the surface and end up getting blown out of proportion and perspective.  Addressing the root cause can be monumental. 
 
Then – the big one – acceptance.  Some of the life changing events that left unaddressed causing depression may never be able to be undone or changed.  All that is left is acceptance.  Acceptance can conquer anger.  I am living proof.  Acceptance can conquer self pity.  Living proof of this too.  Accept that shit happens.  And it happens to really good people sometimes…for no good reasons sometimes. 
 
Then…the other big one.  Forgiveness.  And when bad things happen to good people and there IS someone to blame…there is forgiveness.  You must learn how to forgive the thing or person that caused the damage…even if that person is you.  Forgiveness is freedom.  It is your get out of jail and live free card. 
 
No one can unlock that door but yourself.  Stop living like some justified vigil ante or self piteous martyr or  embittered victim.   Take Tom Petty’s wise advice.  You don’t have to live like a refugee.  You have the right to be angry, but not to live in anger every day.  Be angry!  Get it out!  Then move on.  Forgiveness does not condone or justify…it releases you from the anger, guilt and bitterness that will choke the life right out of you.
 
So there you have it.  My uncertified, but personal tips for smacking yourself into healing.  And yes…if you pray – certainly do that.  I prayed a lot during those 5 days in the nuthouse.  Oh…the stories I have to tell, but that is for a different time. 
 
Now and then I think how tragic my baby girls lives would have been had I been successful.  I will always be so incredibly thankful to God, the police officers that responded and to the 3 friends that became sisters to me by the unconditional nonjudgemental love they showed me.  I have been given a second chance.  I became a butterfly…hope.  And hope gives more hope when it is out flying around, being seen, not being silent.