The words played on shuffle in my mind, as I did what women have done daily for thousands of years.
I carefully veiled myself. I covered my head in reverence and modesty. Finally.
After weeks of research and preparation- (and maybe some avoidance) It’s time to move into the chapter about the religious differences that separate us. First up: Muslims and Christians. Continue reading →
I do hereby acknowledge that I have no responsibility or right to decide what is right for you and your family in regards to vaccinations. (Among myriad other -parenting decisions. )
I respect your holy calling to parent the child (children) that God has entrusted to you. He chose YOU- your unique design and unique desires to raise them in the way you feel convicted and convinced to be best.
I refuse to impose my convictions on you.
I choose to respect our differences and sacrifices.
You do what’s best for your family, and I’ll do what’s best for mine.
If that means children have to be withdrawn from school settings to protect others. I respect that choice. If that means choosing the potential risk of infection- over risk of potential complications- to vaccinations. I respect that choice. I trust YOU to do your own research and make an informed choice.
If that means doctors appointments, expenses and facing the risk of potential side effects- of vaccinations- I respect that choice. I trust YOU to do your own research and make an informed choice.
Parenting is hard. There is conflicting advice and research on every parenting decision from feeding to discipline.
Opinions… everyone has them. And we all think we’re right. (I actually AM- Of course.) It’s one of the things we humans are naturally very generous with.
Wouldn’t the world would be a better place if we were more generous with respect and less so with opinions and judgments? I think so.
Since I don’t walk in your shoes, live your life, parent your child, or hold responsibility for any of the above- I refuse to judge.
If the vaccination shoe fits- wear it. I’d rather be the mom stumbling along beside you- in love and respect in her own shoes- than a shoe saleswoman trying to convince you to buy/wear mine. (If I did- I’d be shoeless and you’d have shoes that most likely wouldn’t fit. I may have either freakishly small or, freakishly large feet. . It’s not likely they’d be a good fit. Justsayin.)
Dear Lord- parenting is hard. We bear the weight of making life impacting decisions for tiny people who have been entrusted to our care. Each child is a unique masterpiece hand made by you. Each parent – yet another unique masterpiece. I pray for wisdom. I pray for respect to replace judgments- I pray that we’d learn from each other and love each other. I believe that we desperately need each other on this journey through mothering. We are better when we mother together. Love you lord- and pray for the health and safety of each child and parent facing these decisions. Life is precious. Make us brave enough to live out out convictions and respect others. In Jesus’ name- amen.
They have a special place in my heart- and home. They live in that cupboard- the weird one over the stove. You know the one. The one that’s doors are always lightly coated with the sticky residue of a kitchen well used. (I clean them. I swear. But still- ugh.) It’s also the one that’s too high to reach without a step stool due to my shortness. Not to mention, the shortness of the actual cupboard that makes it almost unusable to store anything else. Yup. That one.
The cupboard/vault of my cookbook and recipe collection. It’s the most precious collection I have. More prized than a gallery of art- it’s a gallery of heart and hearth.
Some are hand made (ish) books: A binder covered in wallpaper and filled with the signature recipes of friends. Another- published on a friend’s desktop-collated and hand bound, around her kitchen table as a fundraiser for our MOPS International group in 1992.
Some are regular publications: The Better Homes and Gardens cook book my mom gave me when I got married in 1988. An updated version of the one who’s yellowed and dog-eared pages she most likely still references to this day. The” Beyond Macaroni and Cheese” cookbook that saved my sanity and taste buds as a mother of young children.
Then there is the rag-tag collection of recipes carefully written or, quickly scratched out- some on recipe cards- others on sheets of paper. All shared from heart to table to home. The most precious is my grandmothers meatball recipe written in her own handwriting. The pencil is beginning to fade- but the memory of my grandma’s meatballs- is as vivid today, as the first time I ate them.
The truth- most of the recipes written and shared in this collection probably came from somewhere else. I suspect that a post WW2 Campbell’s soup can may have been the original source of that meatball recipe.
But- to me- those are grandma’s famous meatballs. And it’s: Deborah Crist’s Cranberry Chicken, Debbie Heck’s Potatoes Supreme, Kathy Kalowick’s Hawaiian cake, Julie Potter’s Cornmeal spoon bread.
They aren’t just recipes- but a history of meals shared and memories made. Friends. Family. Hearth and home all reside in that little treasured cupboard.
I worry about what Pinterest is doing to our recipe boxes/ cookbook cupboards. Are they being left unloved and unused? Is there going to be a generation of families with nothing left but memories and links to “pages no longer available?”
Worse yet- are we raising and becoming a generation of well fed but memory and history starved -families? Will our table memories be created come from Cook.com and the food network website? Great food- but no personal connection from source to table?
What about the stories behind the recipes? Like how many times did I make Deborah’s cranberry chicken while pregnant with my second child? Or, how afraid of egg casseroles was I, (No- really- I was afraid I’d kill people by salmonella poisoning.) until I tried Debbie Heck’s recipe and found the courage to try? (FYI: death toll still holding at zero.) Anyhow I always make Kathy Kalowick’s Hawaiian cake for Easter- in memory of her and her faith and in hope and expectation of seeing her again. Probably at a kitchen table none of us has to clear- in Heaven.
Can food really be as nourishing without memory, and story? I doubt it. It certainly doesn’t taste as rich.
Today- I made a variation on a friend’s baked french toast recipe. Honestly? I barely followed the recipe at all. (I’m Italian, we;re like that.) It was more a nod to our friendship then a following of recipe. I had to get out the foot stool to make it. I had to open “that” cupboard yes, the sticky one.
I could have found a recipe more quickly on Pinterest. Yes- it is probably basically, the same recipe everyone pins and uses. I don’t care. I didn’t use the one on Pinterest. I used my friend, Debbie’s recipe.
Like the road less traveled- it made all the difference. The recipe with memories, tastes much better.
Today- instead of sharing a pin- or looking up a recipe online- I challenge you to write out a favorite recipe. An index card or, sheet of paper will do. Maybe make a double batch and share both the recipe and the treat with a friend. Or- find a family recipe and make that instead of trolling the internets for something new- tonight.
Make a memory and a connection- beyond broadband.
Share recipe’s story at your table. Yes the table. Use paper plates. The earth will survive. Share the friendship and family connection with your family.
The little or, not so little- people sitting there will remember. Maybe- just maybe, we can save the future from a table connected to the internet but, disconnected from the heart.
Maybe- just maybe, we could even set the example of calling on a friend instead of clicking a link.
It will make all the difference. It did for my french toast.
It always does.
PS: If your handwriting is like mine– go ahead and type it up- but include your name and the date. Let’s face it- an illegible recipe may not be as tasty as the memory especially if 1 CUP could be confused for 1 Cow. Justsayin’ we aren’t all blessed with fine motor skills. PS: don’t have a recipe that’s YOURS? I bet you do. I don’t care where it originally came from- once you claim it- you can give it a copywrite nod to the original and go ahead and share it.
You make it? That’s what people will remember. Not the Campbell’s can it originally came off of. …..
Confession: I’m afraid. So afraid, that I’ve been doing everything possible EXCEPT write my next chapter.
The Hijab chapter. What is it like to be a muslim woman in suburban America?
Instead of stepping into those shoes- and then writing about it-I’ve been:
1) Researching. (I.E. reading books about veiling is much less intimidating than wearing one. It’s also very interesting.)
2) Shopping for a Hijabista wardrobe. (Done and fun- BTW. )
3) Trying to figure out what shoes to actually wear. (Not so much shoe rules. Ankles are to be covered – so your shoes are generally a non issue.
4) Over thinking the potential responses, offenses and repercussions of this chapter.
I’m afraid to offend my Muslim neighbors and readers. I’m afraid this chapter will be misconstrued and misunderstood. I’m afraid I’ll become a target for bigotry for even trying to engage in this way. (Which could just be a sign of my own prejudices- See? I assume this will make me a target.)
I’m afraid of both the Christian extreme that might attack me for being too loving toward those they see as enemies. (My actual response to that: Um talk to Jesus about that one. It’s his idea to love our enemies and our neighbors,) I’m also afraid that by voicing my prejudices and assumptions I’ll come under the attack of those I long to connect with. I can’t control that- only prepare for it- an pray that my heart comes through in this chapter of the book and my life.
I’ve wrestled through my motivation. I want to understand. I want to connect. I want to give voice to those already misunderstood and start a dialogue- for this and all the other types- and stereo-types of women I’m championing in this project.
I’m not writing to rip on muslim culture. I’m writing to shine a light on what it’s like to live with one foot in the American Culture and one in the Muslim world. To be judged as a terrorist/ enemy for following your beliefs. The same as the chapters on schooling choices, working choices, etc. We judge on so many levels.
I refuse to let fear stop what I believe God wants to do.
So- I’m brushing the dust from that stack of hijab wear I’ve accumulated and getting ready to head over to my neighborhood mosque to talk to someone in the know about moving forward with this chapter. I plan on talking to my physical neighbors. (Explaining this should be fun.) I plan on attending a service at the mosque behind my house if I’m welcomed. (Hello- I have no clue what a service there looks or feels like. Only what crazy media shoes. Which- is generally never a good depiction of reality.)
I plan to spend a week wearing a hijab as I go about my typical responsibilities. Target. Grocery shopping. The mall. After-school pick up. The book store.
Instead of fear- I’m looking forward to learning. Let’s see how this goes.
Glad to have you along as I walk these next steps. Please pray I honor God even here. In a Hijab.
Tomorrow’s post will be 2 truths and a lie about veiling… because The research for this chapter has been very interesting..
Newsflash: I was wrong about so much.
Dear Lord- you alone know my complicated heart. Please God, help me to honor you in seeking to understand and better now my muslim neighbors. Reveal preconceptions and prejudices. Give me courage to voice them and replace them with the truth. Let my experience provoke others to reconsider their prejudices and assumptions. I’d ask that you help me not be afraid- but Lord- what I want is to be brave in the face of fear. #makemebravewhenimafraid
I love you lord- amen
Accountabilty- this chapter’s experiment will take place in February. keep reading. I’ll keep you posted.
Caution: Today’s post is about the crazy that is my current role as a reluctant wound packer and cancer hater. This is how I let off steam and cope with our surreal life. You’ve been warned. No worries- I shall spare you graphic photos and details.
Answer: knock-off nursing shoes. AKA: Any shoes, socks or slippers I feel like wearing during our twice a day wound packing sessions. (I refuse to buy real nursing shoes because I DO NOT want to do this forever and I COULD not do this for anyone except my dear husband. I’m not a nurse- I pass out over blood. I used to gag when changing my own kid’s diapers. Cleaning up their barf was a race against creating my own mess.
In other words: I’m really not nursing material.
Since November- the number of miles I’ve walked through wound care-are countless. Endless and surreal. I can’t even believe we do this every day.
This is not something I’d planned on adding to my life skills repertoire. I had been considering learning Italian. Or-maybe- taking a photography class….a creative writing class… But, definitely not: wound care.
Although- in the event of a Zombie apocalypse, I now have even more valuable bonus skills:
I can spin fiber to yarn
I can create garments from yarn.
I can recognize skin infections and effectively treat/care for some pretty wicked wounds without throwing up or passing out.
Here are some interesting factoids from the miles we’ve logged on this wound care journey:
You can order a surprising amount of medical supplies on Amazon. (Seriously- from Purple Sparkly Metallic forceps for removing packing to kerlix. It’s all on there. ) Amazon is easier to deal with than our insurance company. Some of them are probably illegal in some states.
You need a PRESCRIPTION for pre-made saline solution. Or, you can follow the directions for making your own. Yes. it’s on Pinterest. No the insurance company doesn’t cover it. (Saline= what you use for cleaning out a pack wound and for re-packing it.) Yes- I got a prescription- because boiling water with salt and letting it cool then putting it into a sterile container each day- is a little tough to fit in between wound packing sessions, carpool, homework, meal prep, laundry and breathing. I have a hard enough time making coffee.
COFFEE IS A MUST. But not too much- shakey over caffeinated hands are not wound care friendly.
At the evening packing- you may need wine. It’s medicinal. Trust me.
Visiting nurses are fabulous- unless you have to crate 2 dogs, clean the house, figure out the best way to “display” the wound that needs to be checked all while waiting for them to make it from one appointment to another. (Let’s just say- we cancelled that fairly soon after starting it.)
I created a treatment plan template- check list- spreadsheet and document care like a pro. (Seriously- a life saver. Kyle’s life. Because, it is the only way I can track his temperature, blood pressure, wound care and medications without missing anything or accidentally killing him by overdose.)
Once you get past the gross factor- wound healing is science. KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THAT. It helps. For real.
Granulation, contraction, epithelialization are words I can now use fluently. (And they have new meanings- Granulation now has nothing to do with sugar and contraction now has nothing to do with labor. Just sayin.)
There are YouTube and other online nursing courses available – for free. You can get the CEU’s for them if you pay. I did not pay. I will not be packing anyone’s wounds for a paycheck. You couldn’t pay me enough. But I do suggest checking into them if you find yourself in need of a very fast education. *Side note- this experience has given me a whole new appreciation for nursing and hospital staff. They are incredible.They can clean and pack wounds- vomit, poo and any other bodily fluid (or solid) without gagging and while still treating a patient with respect and not getting annoyed. They’re amazing. I am not.
Cancer is the gift that keeps on giving. Even if the numbers improve (I’m happy to say they are- at the moment.) cancer can continue throwing you for a loop. As in: the reason we’re packing a wound is due to an infection most likely caused by the combination of radiation treatment damage to tissue and chemo therapy related compromised immune system.) This is the medical equivalent to that “gift with purchase” – fancy tube of lipstick in a color no one wants- well we want it because it’s free- but we can’t wear it because it’s weird- so we keep it under the bathroom sink for all eternity- because: It was free and it’s: Fancy. except I am not holding onto this any longer than necessary. Trust me.
After a while- wound packing becomes kind of boring and blase’. We now make obnoxious jokes while packing wounds. As in- too obnoxious to share here- and I’m obviously-pretty ok with being obnoxious- but these are even too much for me- level of obnoxiousness. Fact: the other day I found myself eating a piece of pizza while waiting for kyle part of packing prep to be completed (This involves showering and cleaning the wound out with a shower head. *not as bad as it sounds.) He finished before I did. I set the pizza on the desk- washed my hands- gloved up- finished and went back to my pizza and had a Frango Mint chaser. We both laughed. Seriously? Who’da thought I could eat and pack?
Dogs like to eat gross things.Wound packing and unpacking produces copious amounts of gross “medical waste.” If you must pack a wound and have dogs- immediately buy trash cans with lids they cannot get into- or you will have a whole new mess to clean up. (Also available on Amazon- of course.)
Dogs are also curious about wound care- in general. Lock the door of the room you’re going to be packing in- lest a pooch come bounding in and jump into your carefully laid out on a sterile pad supplies- and cause much havoc and screaming. (Only happened once. Not good. They now wait outside the bedroom door like whimpering sentinels guarding their favorite human behind the door. (Hint: I am not their favorite human. The dogs think I’m purposefully hurting their favorite. Thanks for the love- dogs.)
A headlamp is very helpful in wound packing. (Yes- I look like a coal miner- or a wound- spelunker-so what?) Remember to remove it or be at risk of spelunking your way downstairs and blinding ourself in the bathroom mirror.
You can practice packing a wound at home with an orange analog. If you’re bored, or desperate to learn how- so your husband can come home.
Taking photos to track the wound healing is important. It is also important that you put them in a separate file on your phone lest our child be damaged for life by accidentally viewing graphic photos; of his dad’s wound . (Also- only happened once. Still- that was bad. Poor kid.) Good thing my husband and I are not celebrities-or theses babies would be hacked- internet gold.)
There is no limit to the number of times you may need to have surgery for a particularly nasty infection. During his 12 day hospital stay in November- my hubby had- 3. Tomorrow, he will have surgery number 4. I think he’s going for a record. I suggest he try for a record in loads of laundry washed or toilets cleaned- but apparently he doesn’t listen to me. (Which is probably good.)
Hand washing can hurt. While I occasionally joke about my OCD-like tendencies- washing your hands like a doctor or nurse has to-causes serious pain. Like- oh my word my thumb is splitting open as if it’s mummified- type pain. Buy non- greasy lotion. Lots of it.
Packing a wound is not like packing a suitcase. Do not ever try to see how many pair of shoes you can fit in there. It’s not a game. (Given enough time- you may start to wonder things like that. I’m pretty sure this is normal and not a sign of psychotic break. Unless they come to take me away after i post this. If so- good luck with packing that. I’ll enjoy my in-patient vacation. Just put a tiny umbrella in my anti-crazy juice, please.
Wound care is like fight club. The first rule: We don’t talk about wound care.
Oops- just blew that one. Big time.
Here’s the thing- it’s private and gross and hard and scary- I know. And- we don’t talk about it. I know because I looked online for someone who really offered some hope that I could do this. and found: not much. Just medical sites and nightmare posts.
I’m hoping that by putting this out there- the next person about to face wound packing will be able to find some humor and hope for the journey they face.
The bottom line? If I can do this- anyone can. And trust me- the first time I watched in the hospital- I was convinced I WOULD NOT be able to do this.
Some days? I’m still not convinced I can.
Bonus round: wound care and healing can be a long complicated process. There will be bumps in the road. Don’t be afraid to use that phone number the doctor gave you. There are no stupid questions. And yes- take pictures- the progress can be very slow- it’s encouraging to look back and compare where you are now to where you were a month or to ago. (Kind of discouraging to know it can take that long- as well- but it can. Tell yourself- one more day down. One packing closer to healed. )
If you are the caregiver- you absolutely MUST take care of yourself. Eat. Drink water. Take breaks. Do things that re-fill your tank or you;ll find yourself sick and running on empty. That- is not helpful.
Try to find humor in this mess. Seriously- when the dog jumped into the water tray trying to check on his daddy? I was tempted to cry. and freak. Instead- I stepped back (after dog removal) and laughed- because it was truly a scene from a sit com. It’s ok to laugh. And I highly recommend crying in the shower when you need to- as well. This is hard. You can do it. You’re not alone.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
I can’t feel my toes. Well- I can feel them now- and they hurt in that “Oh my Lord, do I have frostbite? Frost nip? Feels more like Shark bite-If I do-How will I wear sandals this summer?” Kind of way.
On the upside- it’s not nerve damage or, disc trouble causing the pain and numbness. It’s just plain, vain stupidity. Ouch.
I have this cute pair of shoes. They are comfortable. They show off my beautiful foot tattoos. They are even practical. Traction on the bottom and no heel. Theoretically- the perfect shoes.
Except for yesterday. When it was below zero with the wind chill. In the time it took to get from my car to the hospital and from the car to pick up my youngest after school- my feet froze. Mean- I did not require medical intervention- but i did require heating up my slippers on the heat vent and wrapping my tootsies in a heating pad.
I thought my cute flats would be a good option. I’m honestly sick of wearing boots. They make my feet look fat. And, since my feet are the only thin thing on me- I try to avoid that. (I keep telling you I’m shallow and vain. Just sayin.)
So yesterday- I knew it was going to be a crazy stressful day. Cute shoes make those better for me. So I went for them.
Apparently-when the weather man talks about exposed skin freezing in terms of seconds to minutes -due to windchill- they’re not kidding. It’s also a clue that maybe cuteness shouldn’t be the indicator for your shoes that day. Maybe, I’d listen if they called it a “weather shoe-cast” instead of a forecast. Fore-cast reminds me of golf, which reminds me of summer, which makes all cute shoes viable options. (ADD much?) I suggest they start telling us how long it will take to defrost your toes if you make a poor shoe choice.
I can’t blame the weather man. (Although I just made a pretty good attempt.) It’s my own fault. And- it’s not a new fault of mine. I have a bad shoe choice history. From cute heels that cause pinched nerves to shoes that cause more blistering than a solar suntanning session- I’ve made every shoe mistake there is.
The last time I was in Denver- my shoe bottom came loose and got stuck in the escalator. Which left me screaming for help – else I become knocked on my face at the top of the steps or sucked to my doom in it’s sharp toothed people moving- mawl. (I was rescued by the guy behind me. The shoes had a zipper- I couldn’t slip my foot out of them- or reach down with my bags and neck issues to unzip them. Dude literally yanked my foot from the jaws of death. I may have made a scene. I also may have immediately thrown those shoes in the trash and put on the slippers form my carry-on.)
There’s more to shoes than what’s summed up in the adage: “If the shoe fits, wear it.” (Or, as women know- if the shoe kind of fits- and is on clearance- wear it anyway. With clearance shopping pride.) It’s not just fit- it’s function that matters. .
Yesterdays fit was fine. Even part of it’s function was fine. They were great as long as I was INSIDE. Just not so much for outside.
Today- it’s even colder. Today is just as busy and stressful. We found out at the hospital – that my hubby will require another minor surgery on Friday. (Again: I hate cancer and all it brings.) I’ll spend the next couple of days doing kid vigilance and due diligence. (youngest is having a rough time) I’m prepping for the worst case and hoping for the best.
My still achey- cold feet are a reminder to take the next steps without vanity and stupidity. I’ll be wearing the right shoes at the right time. Denial does not make for good shoe choices. The reality is this: I will be doing a lot of cross-training this week. Prepping the house and family for a potential hospital stay. And doing all the normal things I have to do as well. Along with eh abnormal that is our current reality. (Wound packing? So -not normal.)
I suppose if there is a point in all this crazy shoe posting- it’s this:
The shoes we wear each day- need to fit the circumstances of that day. Honestly- yesterday? I was thinking cancer center day. Cancer Center days usually means a lot of running around. Comfy indoor shoes are a must. I simply left out the rest of the day. My toes paid the price.
I’ve made this mistake before. And- I’ll probably make it again. Let’s face it- I have a deep love for all shoes cute and sassy. This will occasionally lead me astray. Shoes can be deceiving. They can be comfy for a few minutes, then become unbearable. They can feel fine- until you’re walking on frozen concrete that sucks the heat from your always cold anyway- toes, like a vampire sucks blood from an ingenue.
They can also be toasty warm and perfect until you get into the hospital where you’ll sit for hours with your feet are on fire and you are tempted to go barefoot so your pedicure won’t melt.
Where ever you’re walking today- I hope your feet are prepared.
Shoes are like life- sometimes you have to be willing to change in order to accommodate new terrain and weather.
I’ll be wearing boots and packing flats for surgery on Friday. Inconvenient? Yes. But more importantly- I’ll be comfortable.
There’s no point in making an already difficult situation HARDER.
Hmmmm… could be something to think about in other situations.
AM I making other choices that make things harder?
Like: forgetting to ask for help. (Or being to proud or stubborn to.)
Like thinking “Of course” I can add xyz to my schedule – only to realize that while a good and nice option- it may not be the right shoe for this season of my life…
What about you? Are you limping around in the wrong shoe at the wrong time? Maybe it’s time for a change.
I’ve been there- in shoes and life and I know it can be hard- but I also know that wearing the wrong shoes? Hurts.
Things I’ve had to change and adapt to in life:
Schooling options for my kids.
Cancer stuff and treatments.
Exercise stuff due to dumb body parts.
Work commitments. (I haven’t done a home based business in years- but i did.)
Kid commitments. This week I hd to tell my youngest we have to reschedule his boys at the cottage weekend due to dad’s surgery. Part of me wanted to figure out how I could accomplish both- drive back and forth for wound care? It would be POSSIBLE. And stupid. and painful for everyone- really. Sometimes I have to say: No. After I’ve already said: Yes. I hate that.
Have I mentioned that cancer is a jerk? It is. In case you’re wondering: Cancer doesn’t care if you got up at 4:30 am to drive across the state and speak and when you get home you have to rush hubby to the hospital for a wound check. Because cancer’s friends compromised immune system and side effects have caused more infection to crop up and cause pain. Cancer doesn’t care if it causes you stress or duress. (I think Cancer likes that, actually.)
Cancer doesn’t care because: Cancer isn’t a person. It’s a disease. But, I’ll tell you- somedays it sure feels like a smart (and evil) adversary. An invisible bad guy, waiting to mug you of joy and peace as soon as your guard is down.
Which mine was, yesterday. actually- when I got the call from my husband that we needed to take him in as soon as I got home from a speaking engagement, I HAD been flying pretty high. I’d just finished giving my “A Mile in Her Shoes” #Shoefie talk. And: they got it. I love speaking almost as much as I love writing- so it was a double rainbow kind of morning. The weather cooperated. I felt connected to the audience-The truck started on the first try and I didn’t get lost or even argue with The Navigation system, on the way.
It was a good morning.
When my phone rang after my talk- I knew it was probably not good news. It was my husband: “I called the doctor. They want me to come in. I told them I needed to wait till you get home.”
Guilt flooded my joy and drowned it like a flowery rat. “I am THAT wife. I left my cancer patient husband, knowing he was having an issue to drive across the state for a speaking gig. Now, he’s at home, in pain waiting for me to get there and take him for help.”
As I drove home I started to think what a craptastic day it was. Guilt almost caused me to pee my pants -because I wanted to rush straight home and make up for the time he’d been waiting. An hour and a half into the drive, I realized it would take me longer to clean up that mess before we could go to the hospital than it would for me to stop to pee. I also made the smart decision to get some quick food and caffeine. I knew it was going to be a long day. and feeding yourself is like putting on the oxygen mask when a plane loses cabin pressure. It makes you able to care for others.
It also makes you think straight.(Panic, guilt, exhaustion, hunger and a full bladder= do not.)
An empty bladder, some hot tea, a sandwich and a shortbread cookie helped me get a grip. “It’s not an emergency. He’s not having a heart attack. His wound needs to be checked. It was right to go this morning- and it’s right to go home now and take care of whatever’s ahead.”
The guilt cloud lifted. My phone started beeping with messages about the morning’s talk. I tried not to peek. (I failed.) Whether it makes sense or not- I had been in the right place and said some things that needed to be said and heard. A trickle of joy warmed my heart and soothed the residual guilt.
I got home- grabbed my emergency overnight bag and prayed I wouldn’t need it as we headed to the hospital. We used the Cancer fast pass lane. (Cancer treatment? gets you to the head of the line- in general. Especially if a doc calls ahead and says to get you in keep you away from the flu and barf bus in the waiting room.)
The bottom line? Yup. There are 2 small painful pockets of infection that needed to be treated. Honestly? I felt like crying. It’s MY JOB to take care of the wound. For a few minutes I felt like a total failure. I’d screwed up. I let it get infected. I felt like we had to start all over again.
Except I didn’t. And we don’t. I’ve done everything I can to care for that wound. Sometimes this just happens. Fortunately, what they found was very small. Hours of IV antibiotics, morphine, an ultrasound and a surgical consult later- we left the hospital- 2 prescriptions in hand-exhausted and: elated.
We’d caught it early. At this point no further surgery is necessary. The rest of the wound looks great. This is just what can happen with these things. Radiation damages tissue. The tissue can become prone to infection.
We’d done the right thing.
Joy flooded back in, along with and infusion of hope. It wasn’t as bad as we’d feared. We’re not starting over- we’re just moving on.
The truth is- 3 steps forward and two steps back is still a step further than when you started. It’s also a dance step. If you choose to hear the waltz of joy instead of the cacophony of guilt.
Today- I choose joy. I choose to dance. Exhausted, tired sore from those awful hospital chairs- but still- I dance with joy.
Because God was present in our pain and exhaustion and in that hospital room. The infection hadn’t spread to the blood. we’d made it in time. My being across the state didn’t kill my husband. (Um I may have a had a few full- bladder, hunger and guilt induced moments where I thought that during the drive home from my talk.) God was also present and faithful in helping me communicate the truth he’s put in my heart.
Maybe next time I’ll remember this. Maybe next time Ill be more hopeful and less freakish. Hope grows like that. And it did last night.
Which is funny- cause that’s NOT how I thought last night would go I really thought last night was gonna end with more pain- more surgery, another long stay in the hospital. And it was all going to be my fault. Instead- I found hope and joy…..and relief. Thank you God.
I don;t know what your day is like. I don;t know how your night was. But if you feel like you’ve taken a coupe steps back and 3 forward- remember- you’re still further than you were.
Remember- you can either dance those steps- or try jiujitsu moves to fight back…. I hope you dance. I hope you choose to listen for joy.
I don’t follow rules particularly well. I view them as guidelines.
I gave up New years resolutions years ago. Mostly because the ones I chose tended to be lame, temporal and well- I usually failed at them.
I’ll exercise every day.
I’ll lose 30 lbs.
I’ll eat healthier.
I’ll spend more time with God and the people I love…..
So when I was exposed to the concept of #myoneword I decided to do my own riff on the process.
Last year’s word was “Abide.” It’s been amazing to see the myriad ways God used that word through circumstances, events and challenges. in 2014 I chose to abide. We found a new literal place to abide. (Our cottage-We didn’t see that coming.) I also: struggled to abide.I have clung to the vine like that one last leaf in the fall, that refuses to drop. I clung with all the strength I have to Jesus- I’m quite sure I left a new set of nail scars on him… from my acrylic tipped fingernails. (Sorry, about that- Jesus, kind of. I needed you Lord- thank you for showing up. and letting me hold on so tight.)
For the past month or so, I’ve been hearing that still small voice whisper of 2 words. Hope and Joy. Everywhere I’ve turned- they have shown up. (Yes, I know they are the words of Christmas… but this was something more than marketing. I promise. And I hope:P)
I’ll be honest- these two words scare me. Which sounds crazy. I know. But to be hopeful in the face of bad diagnosis’ and prognosis’ sets us up for potential disappointment. To look for Joy will someday be simple and others will require focus and work. (The cancer center is not a very joy filled place:()
I’m also struggling with a particular area of hope. The hope of a dream realized. A dream that is one of the delights of my heart. A dream from childhood. A dream that gives me daily joy as I practice it while I wait for the day when it’s fully realized.
Honestly- my brain battles between hopefulness and “realistic” goal and expectation setting. I fight to not set my hopes too high. Mostly, because I hate to see them dashed to pieces like that inevitable lone glass ornament that shatters every year as we take down the tree.
I believe it’s a battle between my heart- which hopes and my brain- which doubts. My brain reads statistics, looks at probabilities and calculates odds in creating it’s expectations. (Hopes) (Who knew- apparently on auto pilot my brain attempts math on it’s own. Doesn’t it know I both detest and suck at math? Stupid brain.)
As I’m printing and highlighting verses of Hope and Joy. I hear that still small voice encouraging me to risk more. Listen to my heart more. Tell my brain to shut up- because it’s quite possible that it’s been stealing joy out of my journey.
I believe I’m called for such a time as this. To do the good works God planned in advance for me to do. To love people. To tell the truth. To take the risk of going first so others will follow.
I believe part of that work- involves this dream. That seed I have held in my hand and heart since childhood, The one I’m afraid to plant- because I have such a plant-killing track record that I am the Dr Kervorkian of the botanical world. Plants that want to die- apparently come to me for help. And I assist, like a dark angel. (Or plant slaying demon, I suppose. I’m glad I’m better with humans. Justsayin. I have pretty good track record of keeping them alive.)
I believe this is a year of seeking joy and growing hope. I have no idea what God has in store. But, I hear his whisper. And trust him- even here.
Dear Lord- Honestly? Joy and Hope? I’d have chosen healing and rest. I’m not sure how Joy and Hope will come to fruition in the middle of cancer, and struggles and fear and doubt. Of attempts and frustrations and failures and waiting. (Oh the waiting, Lord….you know how much I love the waiting.) Still. They are your words spoken to my heart, and I embrace them. I will watch for you in all things. I’m excited to see hope and joy grow in believing….. Love you lord amen.
Are you a resolution-ist or a one word person?
Tell me about it in the comments! I can’t wait to hear yours!
It was a good plan. Really. It made sense. Between chemo and hospitalizations and life- it was the best choice to make.
I started out so well.
I shopped early and online. (Yes, Christmas can be delivered straight to your door, Thank you, Amazon Prime.)
I decided to skip baking this year, and made very few gifts. (Both-things I love. And, both are things I drastically underestimate the time, effort and mess they involve.
I managed my gift spreadsheet and kept track of orders.
I allowed time for wrapping sessions.
I bowed out of major hostessing.
The hostessing I did do, I planned to be simple.
And then- I lost my mind. In an epic- “this is the big one” Earthquake kind of way.
The fault line in my plan, started to give way somewhere around the Friday before Christmas. It started with attitudinal tremors:
“Why can’t anyone else see what needs to be done, and do it?”
“Every time I leave a room, someone comes behind me and makes a mess!”
“Why am I the only one who does anything?”
“This house smells like cat-pee. I’m going to kill that cat after I clean all the carpets!”
“That couch cover is disgusting. It must be changed immediately.”
Then, came the tsunami of guilt:
The guys have been working like crazy. They’re exhausted.
Kyle (my husband) feels bad enough – shut up- you’re making him feel worse.
You’re ruining Christmas be being … well something that rhymes with Witch but isn’t usually associated with Halloween.
The tremors grew in strength until they reached full martyrdom/ 10 on the Richter scale- proportions:
I’ll do it myself.
I’m the only one who can do it RIGHT.
Cancer will not take over this Christmas. I will cook, clean, decorate and buy it – completely out of the picture.
I made it through Christmas Eve with only one major mishap. (It involved trying to move a newly put together desk chair into the living room. Which sounds simple enough. That is, until you know it involved falling on kitchen floor, when a caster caught on the not-quite-moved-out-of-the-way dog gate, breaking 2 casters on the chair and jarring my back so much I called my oldest to help me up. (It was a “Life Alert” moment. FYI? Yelling: “Help! I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP.” at 2 am on Christmas Eve will cause your college boy to come running from his computer- possibly taking a tumble and a table out, on his way. (Stupid dog gates.)
On Christmas Day- around 2 pm. I finally realized I’d lost it. I was cleaning carpets until my back and neck felt like I was wearing a yoke of biblical proportion. The things I was thinking were anything but Silent or holy. They were ugly and furious and a few- were not exactly” family friendly.”
I started barking out orders: “Get this. Empty that. Are you sitting down? There is work to do. You can at least go get stocking stuffers and take Noah shopping.”
Yes. I yelled at a still wound-healing cancer patient.
And 2 college kids working 40 hour retail schedules.
And a 12 year old so excited for Christmas he could hardly focus on cleaning his room.
As the clock started ticking close to “Go time.” And I still hadn’t showered or cleaned the 1 bathroom anyone would be using.. I started to cry. (For me- crying comes after the yelling. It means I’ve completely lost it.)
Which is when my mom called. I choked back the tears I was fighting and answered the phone with: “I’m being crazy. Just tell me it doesn’t have to be perfect and you just want to be with us, even if the house smells like cat pee. Tell me to stop it.”
“Of course it doesn’t. We just want to be with you!”
It helped that she said they were also running a little late.
I hung up the phone reminded of the truth: “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” In fact- I came pretty close to ruining Christmas by trying to make it so. And then: I stopped.
I apologized for the furious, crazy woman I was being.
I asked for the help I needed. My people happily obliged. (Apparently, they are not mind readers. And being who they are- just need to be asked to do specific things as opposed to being stomped at and yelled at in my brain.)
Once I stopped the cray-cray train and got in the shower. Which, is where I realized it wasn’t about Christmas. The truth is- I was trying to clean the cancer out of the holiday. By making it perfect: Pretty. Memorable. Shiny. Distracting.
The thing is- the cancer is still here. (With the amount of chemicals I used- I’m lucky there isn’t a new batch of cancer lurking somewhere.) Whether the gifts were beautifully wrapped, the carpets were clean or, the food was perfect, or not-Cancer sits in the most comfortable chair and rudely glares at me as I clean and cook and decorate. It refused to leave with the trash – mud carpet cleaning water and Dyson dust.
In my effort to clean it from our lives- it had almost won it’s clandestine attempt at a hostile holiday takeover. Like the in cancer it is- it used ME against myself. I’m glad I got off the crazy train before it was too late. (It was truly that moment in Polar Express when the train skids across the cracking ice… I was that close to total Christmas ruin.)
I changed direction.I went back to plan A. Keeping it simple. I skipped the pie I wanted to get in the oven. I put my feet up and drank some ice water. By the time my mom and step dad arrived I was less crazy. We laughed. Gifts were shared and memories made. It was a beautiful night.
So was the day after Christmas- when I had my dad’s side of the family meet us at the cottage to celebrate. We ordered pizza. I served leftover appetizers- and I was able to bake a pie- with love instead of attitude. I didn’t clean. I didn’t even the pictures. Honestly? I wasn’t the best hostess. I had people help themselves.
I was too busy BEING, instead of DOING.
Funny- since I gave the “you’re not wonder woman or santa” talk and the Perfectly Imperfect Christmas talk 4 times in the 10 days leading up to Christmas.. too bad I almost didn’t listen to myself.
I was right. (Of course.)
Yup. Cancer is still here. Actually-tomorrow is a cancer center day. (You thought it was New Years Eve? Silly. Cancer takes no holidays.) I have no idea what tomorrow’s test results will hold. It could be another disappointment- or, more good news. Cancer is bipolar like that.
Today, however? Is Kyle and Tracey date day. Well, it’s Kyle and Tracey date day sandwiched between wound care sessions, of course. Because cancer is still here. So are it’s after shocks and fissures. (Literally.)
So is Love, Joy and Hope. which always beat cancer- when I’m not so busy trying to clean it out of my life that I forget to: Love people, find Joy and look towards Hope.
Dear Lord- Thank you for loving me at my craziest. Especially when I try to make life pretend perfect and make everyone miserable in the attempt. Thank you for being present- even here- in our messy beautiful Christmas. I love you Lord and pray you’d complete the works you’re doing in each of us. I pray that anyone who reads and was in the same place I was on Christmas would find grace, here. I pray that you’d help us to focus on joy and hope and love instead of perfection- it;s never too late for that. In Jesus name- amen.