Friday, September 7, 2018

What We've Been Up To

Since it's been a hundred years since I've written, I'm going to give you a speed of light catch up thing. Synopsis? I don't know, but if you ever read Highlights magazine, you'll remember the stories where there were pictures that replaced words? I'm gonna go that route.

Super sophisticated. 

Per usual.

We did make some of my dreamed of improvements before and after our move in. We added a pantry and a little more space to the tiny main floor bathroom. We also moved the sink and vanity from the main floor to the basement bathroom-to-be. Possibly my favorite change was this custom built cabinet that gives us SO MUCH more kitchen space.

When we moved our stuff in we found out we had a room full of things to get rid of in our summer garage sale. The downsizing is real, but it feels like we fit this home better than any we've had. There were also science fairs, recitals and a trip to Ikea...

...and at last, a new kitten.

His name if Phineas and he eats truckloads, talks incessantly and is fluffulicious. We're in love.

Shortly after, Brian became severely anemic and then there were a million tests. Then there were bed bugs that turned out to be bat bugs (yes, it's a thing), neither of which do you particularly want to discover in your new little house, but if one has to choose, go bat bugs every time. Overalls came back from the 90's so I went straight away and got a pair. Also our kids got baptized.

This would have been a highlight any time, but particularly in comparison to our war on bugs and we celebrated. The kids said it was so fun, they wished they could do it again. 

During graduation time (Brian's busiest as a principal) our lease came due on our car. So we leased a new car with room for our kids' growing legs. I turned 38 and tried my hair a reddish color.

My younger sister moved to Florida, we built a temporary deck and Chandler went to summer camp for the first time. (I'm starting to feel this is the "dear diary" style of Christmas letter...) But the best, best part of this whole time, was our vacation. Not only did we need to get away from all the stress life threw our way, but it killed time while we waited to find out what Brian needed to do about his anemia. If you want to understand what a relief it was for all of us, just look at our faces when we reached the ocean:

Then we saw this (below) with our own eyeballs. (Magnolia Plantation, South Carolina)

We saw friends and celebrated the 4th and ate pizza in St. Louis.

When we got home it was time to clear out that room of stuff we'd decided we didn't need and had our annual garage sale. That wasn't enough work, so we decided it was time to add a shower to the basement bathroom, effectively exiling the entire family from my main floor bath. Well, except Phineas, who's become monstrous.

Brian had surgery a week ago to take care of some internal bleeding that caused his anemia. He's been a trooper through a painful, slow recovery. We hope this will get him back to his normal, energetic self. 

So there you have it. Or an overview of it. Our new house is pretty darn cute and I'm excited to share it with you as I have time. All my fingers and toes are crossed that this will begin an era of quieter waters for us, so I can indeed write a bit from time to time. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

We're Moving

Can you believe it? We can hardly believe it either. We've been in this house for eight years and didn't plan to leave, but other expenses keep increasing and the amount we are willing to devote to a house payment has gone down. 

My hope was to move into something smaller, without sacrificing quality (i.e. more future expenses) or neighborhood. While we're moving to the edge of the neighborhood and won't be in the CENTER of the country club, we're still in an area we love while getting a bit closer to both of our jobs. 

It's been an ordeal finding a house, selling ours, and getting both houses fixed midwinter, but we're getting closer to being settled. One of the hardest parts about this transition has been not being able to get a new cat. After Leo died, I wanted to run out and get a kitten that day, but we knew we weren't in a place to do that. I've had some serious cat withdrawal and am looking forward to a new baby in our new house. In fact, we've already chosen a name. Phineas. I die...

Anyway! Here's a little tour of what our new house looked like when we bought it:

Living room



Main Bath

Master Bedroom

Kids' Loft

Family Room

 Laundry Area

So a lovely little mid-century house, born in 1947. Which seems very NEW to us, as our previous houses (all four) have been built in the 1920's. This house was flipped with integrity (not all are!) and we appreciate what they did. Of course, I have some ideas of my own about how it could be SO MUCH BETTER, and so we're doing what we can in that direction. 

It's well under way and I hope to find time to update you on our progress. If it weren't so much WORK, I'd be telling you every little thing! On top of it all, I was sick for a week...packing boxes whilst coughing and blowing my nose. Eww. But I do want to share with you so I'll do my best. 

Hope you're staying well and weathering whatever life throws your way (expected or otherwise). You may feel sad over this as you know how I loved my house on Lake Street, but I want you to know our family is processing and learning what is most important to our happiness: that we're together - wherever we find ourselves. 

That's not a bad thing to know.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Good Medicine

It was my dream since I was a girl to have a cat from kittenhood on and Leo was that dream come true. 

When he got sick and we knew he wouldn't get better, I felt desperate. I stayed up, afraid to go to bed, just in case he wouldn't wake up in the morning. I cried and felt so much love in my bones, like they were humming with the pain of being alive and losing. 

Then I told him he could go if it was too hard, but the next day he was still here because he knew I didn't mean it. I told him again, but still wasn't sure. Then I didn't say it because our relationship never needed words so he knew I was okay. I was finally able to take every snuggle and purr as a blessing. I felt thankful every day he decided to stay around.

Once my daughter asked me how I could keep my lovey, Bear-bear in a basket of sentimental things. That's when I realized Leo had become my lovey. He was something soft to hold, which helps me feel things will be okay. Sometimes I'd put my ear on his belly and close my eyes so everything would fade away except his purr. 

Leo died Monday and I barely made it to yoga Thursday. I decided to flow (or practice) in gratitude for him. When I'd feel the strength of my breath, I'd think how strongly I'd loved him. When it felt good, I'd remember how special it felt when he'd let me know he loved me back. When I lay in savasana, I suddenly knew what else he was to me. He was good medicine. 

All of this, my friends, is good medicine. My fatigue. My family's struggles. Our next kitten. Missing Leo. Some medicine tastes good and some tastes terrible, but all of it's healing me.

As I lay with my eyes closed, I saw Leo in a long line of medicine from the Father of lights. I felt held and nursed, because God knows, we all need nursed. I felt trust too. Some of this will hurt, this getting better, but I won't fight her. I'll swallow what life brings and trust that it too, is good medicine.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

To Everyone With a Me Too Story:

(told or untold)

I've been reading your stories and realized I am what some of you thought of when you differentiated yourself from a "real victim." Some of you were never touched. Some of you were unconscious or drunk or half asleep. Some of you didn't know the person who did it. And for those reasons and many others, you felt less legit. You felt ridiculous because someone else's suffering towered over yours.

Someone like me. I'm not saying my experience was the worst, but I think measuring sticks for suffering are bogus. Anyway, I was awake and I was tiny and it was my father. My story is one people don't want to hear. It's just too much, if there were a scale for such things. I couldn't tell much of it anyway because my mind decided it was impossible to live with and repressed the memories after I told my mom. If it wasn't for an exam that documented scarring, I don't know when I would've been wise enough to believe it. 

And what I want to say to you is, your hurt sounds SO LIKE mine. I don't feel a space between us. It doesn't matter if there was or wasn't penetration. They crashed through your edges as if you were their property and now you struggle to feel safe and autonomous and at home in your body. That's the same, friends. That's the same freakin' thing. 

Which is why I love this quote:

This is a jewel of truth we forgot when we were treated like a cubby-hole for penises. Some of us have found it again and that gives the rest of us hope it can be found. I'm still finding it. 

I'm still finding lots of things, but for the sake of sistering, here's what I've learned.

If I could speak to my former self or someone who's just beginning to address this pain, I would say, "Go ahead, lovie. The darkness won't crush you. I'm calling to you from the place where light lives and one day you'll bask in sunshine much brighter and warmer than you've ever felt."   

I know you're split open, but your soul is held safe. By any higher power you admit to, the pure, carefree version of you is not lost. I believe it's held safe somewhere in the cosmos beyond this earth so nothing evil can touch it. I know it's gone and you can't reach it now, but that healing people talk about? It's when you're reunited with yourself. 

This will take time. I'm sorry to tell you this part, but I don't want you to feel you're doing it wrong when you can't bounce back. Anyone who tells you to suck it up or pull yourself up by your bootstraps can stay the hell away from you for a few years. Find the people who know the truth about this pain and listen to them. They will teach you how to become your own hero, someone who's in this with you no matter how long it takes. 

Can I tell you something else? Sometimes the deepest shame is about what we did as a result of assault. As a girl, I trotted to my neighbor's house and showed their kids some things I'd learned. In counseling as a grown up, I could hardly bare to write about it in my workbook. I figured what my dad did was his fault (and wasn't even sure of that), but what I did because of it was surely my responsibility. Well, this is another thing you'll need to sort, but when you do, it will feel like you've cut loose a bag of bricks. 

No matter how minor you've considered your experience, it sent the message, You're not safe. This message can settle in our bones. That's what trauma does and we have to relearn a sense of safety. You'll have to show your sweet self, "You are safe," and she won't get it right away and so you'll show her again. 

The best gift you'll find on this road is a friend in yourself. This seems impossible if you're still hating yourself for being there and not being strong enough to save yourself. I blamed and punished myself for fourteen years before I took a second look at what happened and I've only recently begun to accept my vulnerability. 

Most importantly, healing will come.

Not all at once, but it will come.

And a part of mine has come from knowing I'm not alone.

Me too. 

P.S. There's a little more about my experience over here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fall Touches: Inside

How do you make fall happen in a house that's mostly pink, turquoise, grey and gold? I wasn't sure myself, so for the last few years, I just put a white porcelain pumpkin out, lit some candles and called it good.

But then I saw the perfect pillow and it all became easier. See?

In fall, I want all the baskets and blankets and plaids. So with that lovely pillow pulling in oranges and smoky blues and the mustard throw, I was set!

I also love salt rock lamps but didn't know how to incorporate them into my house. I found a set of two votive holders and love watching it glow on chilly nights. I'm still loving my fake flowers, even though one of them's gotten a little sooty! 

I pulled the blanket basket from another room and love being able to stuff a blanket in there rather than folding it to look tidy over the back of a chair! So easy. 

The other touch of fall we have is a bowl of candy corn in the kitchen. It's a tradition and it's usually gone in a couple days, but there it is.

Hope you're enjoying all the beauty of the season! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fall Touches: Outside

Beauty is healing and so is inspiration. So when you struggle to justify buying pumpkins that will rot and you don't even know how to cook their insides (me), remember the blessing they are TO YOUR SOUL. Sometimes it's worth it. :)

Do you remember when I painted that doormat way back when? I ended up buying a better quality one and using the same process. I'm glad I did because it's still going strong! Easiest project ever too. The navy and white napkins were from the dollar section at Target, as was the little orange candle holder. I love to have a candle-lit porch - especially on Halloween night when so many kids come to our door. I'm not on the scary wagon, so I like to offer a warm, inviting but festive porch. 

I've collected old lanterns over the years and put tea lights inside them as well as the mason jars. It gets very twinkly! 

As you can see in the photo above, we need to paint. We've needed to since we bought this house eight years ago. And of course, I have a dreamy (different) color scheme for the exterior. But alas, years pass and it's SUCH a big job. We've not found the time or money, BUT I can still enjoy my porch as it is, right now. #downwithperfectionism

I splurged for Australian Blue pumpkins and white pumpkins because I've heard they don't attract squirrels. The squirrels in our neighborhood come on our porch and demolish any pumpkins we have, which makes such a mess I didn't plan to buy any this year. We'll see how this goes...

So there's the outdoor decor! I'll be posting how I finally managed to bring some fall touches to my interior soon. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Decision Making for the Perfectionist

I've been in a pickle lately because I can't make good enough decisions. When options arise and I have to make a choice, I seriously want to check out. There's been a negative cloud around every decision, saying things like:

You don't have enough information to make the right decision.

You have conflicting information and who do you believe?

Your instincts may not take you where you ultimately want to be.

Is that your instinct or your rebel side?

You've made what you thought were right decisions before, and you're still not where you'd hoped.

Do you actually think it's working?

Even if you get four out of five goals accomplished with one decision, the one you missed is crucial.

You can't relax/enjoy your life unless you find the perfect route through this day.

All of this dooms me and I have sludged through life lately, never feeling free to be happy. 


When I said I was a recovering perfectionist, I wasn't lying. 


What the what.

So guess what woke me up?

Making a super hard decision not to go to the Boundary waters with my family and father-in-law this weekend. I had no peace when I planned to go and none when I planned to stay. I just had to make the call based on what I know of me and my health right now. How long would I pay for sleepless nights? Would the therapy of being in nature outweigh the tension from being cold? Would I feel so sad and lonely at home, knowing I was missing this experience with my people? 

When I felt sure I'd be better off at home, a part of me would say, What if it went perfectly? What if the weather wasn't rainy and you didn't injure yourself (actually a concern, but won't take time to explain) and what if it was magical?

It was torture. When I told the kids I wasn't going, I cried. Then I felt the need to do a big project to justify staying home. Then I told myself that could wear me out too. Then I felt like throwing caution to the wind and going. I told my chiropractor and she said, "Those are hard decisions. You've worked really hard to feel as good as you do and you don't want to throw it all away in a weekend."

The most important part was hearing someone affirm this isn't a simple/easy decision. That made it okay to not like things about either option. It helped me accept that neither was ideal and stop telling myself I had to force whatever I chose to be magical. I also don't have to point to five hundred things as it's playing out to justify my decision. Or condemn it.

The best thing I can do for me is decide I'm not going to stress about right or wrong, better or best.

Because sometimes there's a way that's clearly better and sometimes there isn't. And when there isn't, we roll the dice. Like it or not, there's so many unknowns, we have to sometimes. And the only time that's detrimental is when we tie ourselves in knots trying to concoct a perfect solution and then pick apart the outcome under the guise of "trying to learn from it." That whole process, repeated over and over all day long, feels like it's taking life out of me, one drop at a time. 

So I asked the kids and Brian to write me a letter. I'll read one each day I won't see them at all. I invited girlfriends to go to a movie with me Sunday, since that'll be my longest day alone. I plan to run errands, but don't know if I'll get them all done or if I'll paint the back steps. I'm planning to unplug Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get some of the benefits of being off the grid. 

They left today. I started making decisions and when I wanted to critique my first plan, I just shut it down. It's good enough, I said. Good enough.