Vacation: Good Evening

As I sat on the couch watching Animal Planet with my mother and husband I became very aware of my lack of pets on this trip. We had left our two kitties at home for the weekend, and I was missing them terribly and worried about them even though our neighbors were watching them. So, of course in my anxiety, I ate…a lot.

I could tell between my food log and my stomach that I was going to and already had, gained a considerable amount of weight already on this trip, and despite my best attempts to talk myself down, I felt like I was going to make poor coping decisions when I got home. Still, I was having a good time. I was getting out a little bit everyday to walk and shop, to see the sights.

My younger brother had taken us on a scenic drive through the national park. It had high hills and dunes with plenty of trees. My mother was glad for the opportunity to wood bathe and I was just glad to spend some time with my brother, who had not always desired to spend time with me in the past.

To be fair, neither of my brothers really wants to spend time with me. I’m not sure what I ever did to make them so repulsed by my presence. They’re very close and have left me behind, and because of their intense personalities and critical attitudes, they seem to take a stance that always ends with me looking like a fool in their eyes.

That evening my brother had spoken to me about traits in people such as introversion and extroversion being choices that people make in their lives. My reply had been that I wish I could train myself to be an extrovert, and how much it would help me at work and just in general, and then I explained that introversion and extroversion are not the only social personality types and to be fair everyone has variations depending on the situation and the company they’re in. It’s not a binary system. His argument was concluded with “I like the idea of having the freedom to choose.” Thus the argument was over for me, because how can I logically argue with a subjective preference? Of course I looked foolish for having no retort and of course, in my brothers mind I had lost even though I merely stopped arguing to change a preference.

My mother commented as we sat watching Animal Planet.

“I heard you arguing with your brother this morning.”

“Yeah? What about it?”

“You should be a lawyer.”

“Well I’m good at losing.”

“Not if I was judge. His argument was absurd. How can you argue something subjective?”

I nodded, thankful that my mother understood. She always understood that my brothers lived in the black and white of their minds. I live with a mind that believes in color hues and shades of grey. There are facets to everything and they reflect more than one color.

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Vacation: Good Afternoon

The bookstore was located in a cabin just on the edge of a lovely little creek. Each space was full of shelves and specially selected literature for its genre. The soundtrack of “Le Miserables” was playing and between my husband and I, ten books were purchased in the lovely place and as we walked out amidst the trees and bustle of the road, we felt like we had accomplished our duty to the community having played patron to the local bookstore.

The galleries up the road were beautiful. One displayed a textile exhibit of avant-garde abstracted pieces. Another had unique tiles and ceramic art. Another was beautifully handcrafted furniture and lamps, made in a modernized mission style. There were expensively handcrafted jewelry stores and my favorite, besides the bookstore, a tea tasting room and shop, where I gladly spent over $50 dollars on several black and herbal teas. All these things appealed to my artistic eye and lifestyle, but alas, while beautiful, were expensive.

When we arrived back home, my mother and I decided to take a nap in the king size bed before dinner. Speaking dreamily of buying a home in the area if we could as we drifted off to sleep. Though realistically we knew that my aunt had spent a fortune having purchased the two cottages she now owned in the community. There wasn’t a home less than $500,000 in the area. I can’t even imagine the taxes on these waterside properties. But still, we could drift off to sleep and dream of that kind of wealth and be thankful that we have family willing to share their spaces with us.

While we slept my brothers jumped into the freezing cold bay in nothing but swim shorts. My mother and I swallow to them yelling in painfully frozen confusion and jumping into hot showers. We laughed at their antics and curled up even tighter under the warm covers. My husband in his tall lanky glory, draped himself over me adding even more warmth to my already warm state, and I was glad to know my brothers had not pulled him into their antics while I had slept. I snuggled sandwiched between him and my mother, warmly nested and content.

Vacation: Good Morning

Lack of coffee. There were two coffee makers and no coffee, and since my triumphant return to coffee drinking after a hiatus with a heart condition scare, I desperately needed coffee. I laid on the couch like a petty child, begging my family to find us coffee somewhere near by. The nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away, and we were warned that it was expensive. Very expensive. I didn’t care. It was a necessity that had been overlooked.

My brain was working overtime trying to process the trip. I was sleep deprived, and over stimulated from the long day and night before. At work, we had a new manager starting for our department, but being an introvert it felt like I was hung over after the first hour of meeting him. There was the welcome lunch which was overwhelming because my supervisor is a hand, eye, and ear full. Then there was the debriefing on the projects I had unfinished, why they were held up, and where they were located on the server, then my day was over and we drove in darkness and rain to our vacation destination.

The trip took 8 hours, 4 close calls with deer, and one wild wolf sighting. We finally arrived at 2:30 am central time in complete darkness. We unloaded our copious amounts of gluten free food and suit cases full of clothing….and medical supplies, which between my mother and I was also extensive with mutual and additional autoimmune issues.

We went to bed in darkness, and woke up to beautiful fall clouds over a bay less than 100 ft from the house, trees surrounding us, and a brisk fall breeze to set the picturesque mood. It was beautiful, and our vacation felt like it could finally start.

Lost

No one warned me that I would become less. Less creative, less beautiful, less emotive. Somehow in the hustle and bustle of life I felt like I started losing myself, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you when or how.

Family

Yes, for some, “home” is the nicest word there is. To Laura Ingalls Wilder it was. That little house out on the prairie was an ideal location, not just for it’s magnificent scenery but for the loving and supportive family she had with her.

For others, like myself, home can be a daunting word. Not because family doesn’t love and support you, but because they also know how to push your buttons in all the worst ways.

Next weekend my family will be meeting for a vacation together in MI. While I’m excited to get away from work, I’m a little concerned to spend time with my family. My brothers often ignore me, my parents often affirm my accomplishments half heartedly because they misunderstand how big of a deal it is for me. My husband doesn’t seem to know what to do when we go on vacations, so he spends most of the time on his phone.

I feel very lonely with my family. At home or at home away from home.

We’ll be spending time at a lake house my aunt recently purchased. None of us have been there before, so we don’t know what to expect. We know it has enough room for all of us, and my aunt just recently procured another house up the street from it, incase we feel the other house feels too small (oh to be that wealthy, that we can just buy another house to put family in). With it being the peak of the fall season and much farther North than I have been, I’m expecting there to be beautiful crisp days with plenty of sweater weather. At least I’m hoping. I’m planing on taking a lot of walks and sitting on the enormous wrap around porch in comfy sweaters and with big mugs of hot beverages. I’m planning on my husband and I tagging along into town for the shops and boutiques. I also plan on reading a bit if I can manage it.

Of course, I’m sure there is plenty I’m not planning on, but I’m trying not to think about that too much.

My God Kept His Scars

Lately my self image has been really really bad. After certain comments my doctor made to me my last visit I’ve been trying to lose about 10 pounds of weight…and I’ve managed to gain five since then. This has caused a lot of mirror looking. A lot of watching what I eat. And a lot of eating bad things out of rebellion because I have a lot of inner conflict about my image and what self-care really looks like. Because cookies feel like self care even if their 400 calories for two Girl Scout cookies. Pissed.

So I’ve spent a lot of time being self-critical of my physical image. Wondering if this meat bag is really worth taking care of. I noticed my stretch marks and scars from my insertion sites for my insulin pump. I wonder if it’s really worth trying to look and feel better. It’s not like the scars are going away for the stretch marks. it’s not like the weight is shedding like I had hoped it would, and as I’ve spoken of in previous blog post, the more insulin you take the fatter you tend to get. And as an insulin-dependent diabetic I can’t just stop taking insulin (a habit I got into in college when I realized I could just shed weight if I did) and expect to get better too.

Last night I felt particularly distraught over the state of my physical being. Which of course that’s silly because I’m not really fat whilst I am getting bigger, but my doctor’s very poor phrasing, when talking to me about my weight gain upset me deeply, and because I’m an introvert and I fear shallowness you can imagine I had a great deal of inner conflict while I sat there crying on the couch alone in the dark wondering if I was ever actually going to get healthier and thinner.

It has taken me so long to finally determined I wanted to do it the right way and here I was struggling with all these conflicts within my heart and my mind and asking God why.

While I sat in the dark and my cat curled up on my stomach purring loudly as if she knew that this was a problem I was having and my stomach was the cause, a thought occurred to me that felt very outside of my own actual thoughts. I’ve only ever had this happen to me once in my whole life where I had a thought occur to me that I’m pretty sure I could not have thought of on my own. But this particular thought was a quiet whisper to my heart:

“You have a God who kept his scars.”

For those of you who are not religious this probably doesn’t have a ton of meaning to you, but to me this means everything. I grew up in a Christian worldview, which I still hold to this day and while people call it “religious” I call it faithful. Granted I realize I really do suck at being a Christian. While I am a child of God and I have that assurance, most days I don’t feel like a child of God. And I know it’s not a feeling it’s simply a truth that is not dictated by my emotions, but emotions are so real. So very real. That they feel like the truth.

So on this night, while I laid in the dark and had this sudden thought occur to me, I broke into tears as it really penetrated my soul. My God really kept his scars. Those things I condemn on my own body I had a God who showed up in a room full of hundreds of his believers after he had passed and risen again with his body completely mutilated as a symbol of him truly passing and truly rising again, a task no mere human could ever accomplish and yet is the basis for my faith and my redemption. Did I not find those scars beautiful when I first came to faith, and do I not still find them beautiful now for what they represent? How have I gotten so far from my faith that I became so wrapped up in myself and my own body image that I would condemn the things that prove that I have survived as well? Furthermore, when my soul is what matters, why did I get so caught up in what this meat bag of a body was doing?

This is not to say I shouldn’t keep trying to get healthier. In fact, I still do want to get healthier and lose weight, and I still want to do it the right way despite how discouraged I am. But all the self-conscious feelings I had about my body image had suddenly melted away on this realization that I had a God who kept all those human imperfections even in his divinity.

Christ came back with scars. And he’s coming back again and I don’t know if the scars will be there or not or what that means, but at one point he showed up and kept his scars as proof of his love. Perhaps this means that I need to own my scars and respect them for proof of my self love?

As my husband once lovingly pointed out to me loving your neighbor as yourself does require you to love yourself… despite how selfish we feel like that statement can be. There’s a lot of humility that has to go into loving yourself. There’s a lot of grace you have to give yourself. And half the time we are our own worst critics, so we don’t. We either take responsibility for everything and feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, like everything is our fault, or we want to ignore the things that we’re supposed to take responsibility for. Either way, we become dissatisfied, self-critical, and harmful to ourselves. To the point where we can become so emotionally and spiritually distraught over something that we cannot change or undo. Why? Because were trying to play God when our brains and spirits were not meant to fathom the vastness of our own imperfection. If we were to suddenly become aware of everything we’ve done wrong and everything wrong with us physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually… we would be crushed and suicidal like most of us already are.

That is the whole reason we need God in the first place. For hope. Because to have hope in humanity is to know you will be failed. Even by ourselves.

Confessions: I Suck at Beauty Routines

I’m not a morning person. Nor am I much of a night owl. So morning and evening routines are not something I’m very strong in. I know, that probably sounds really strange to say in an era where “self care” is a huge a trend. But I just don’t care very much to set such habits, and I never understood them. I can’t really say for sure why.

My husband, on the other hand, has a very rich morning routine. Somehow he manages to get up early enough to get an hour or two of scrolling the internet reading articles, Facebook, and entertainment news in the film industry. Then he gets to his hygiene: He usually shaves if he needs to. Then he showers, washes/exfoliates and lotions his face and arms, puts on cologne or deodorant, and finishes off with doing his hair while examining himself in our full body mirror. The whole ordeal usually takes 45 min to an hour and puts most women I know to shame. Still, it helps him in some way organize his world, something I never seem to care to do, and always is a precursor to making me my morning tea. A service he provides me every morning when I wake up that acts as caffeinated bribery for committing the sin of having to wake me from my slumber.

I often wonder why he bothers putting so much effort into his morning routine? Is it vanity? Is it habit? Does he find pleasure in it? He must. He must in a way that I did not, and probably will not ever understand with such a lacking in my own routine.

My morning routine starts when his finishes. I usually am asked to get out of bed once my husband completes his hair styling, because I’ll be late for work if I take time to drink my detox tea and take my pills, much less put on makeup if I feel the urge. Which is the extent of my morning routine, a whole 15 min or less, with 5 mins to get to work, which is exactly 5 min from where I live if the traffic light stays green by the time I reach it. So my morning routine of tea drinking and pill popping is usually concluded with a frantic a grand finale of me cursing and kissing my husband while I’m flying out the door to get to work on time.

My showering routine is very uneventful as well. It happens every two or three days a week (to prevent skin dryness and irritation…and I’m apathetic). I shampoo, I exfoliate (as every diabetic really ought to with dry skin), I condition the hell out of my hair, wash my body, and get the hell out of the shower because I’ve wasted time self caring when there so much more important shit to do. I’m lucky if I shave my arm pits…and usually I only shave my legs once a month and remind myself why I just wear pants and don’t bother to shave in the first place. So I lose interest until a month has passed and I’ve forgotten why I don’t shave more and try again…only to remember and start the whole cycle all over again.

The truth is I have always struggled with self care. When I was a teenager my mother had to beg me to take showers, which I hated doing, because my diabetic skin was so sensitive that showering daily was irritating and there wasn’t a single body wash that didn’t dry out my skin so much that I could see dry skin marks and dust on my pants and shirts. Not only that but it dried out my curly hair and made it feel like cotton, no matter how much conditioner it took. But besides the irritation daily showers caused, I had little to no motivation to take care of myself, because I really just was apathetic about the whole thing.

Now that I’m older, I’ve come to realize the importance of presentation in a professional environment, and I have adapted my life accordingly out of vanity and professionalism, and while I do shower much more often than I did as a kid, I really only shower about 3 times a week. I don’t do daily face washing. I don’t spend long hours in the bathroom making sure I’m shaved and primped for the day. I wake up with 20 min to get to work if I’m lucky, because I love sleep and procrastination to a fault. It’s a dangerous love affair, but one that has an exciting amount of risk if I’m going to be late for work or not in the morning. I’m lucky if I remember to brush my teeth in the morning (I’m more of an evening brusher anyway).

Still, what is odd about me is that I often have night every so often where I really focus on my self care even more than just taking a shower which is usually a requirement for basic hygiene in my book. An obligation rather than a luxury. I wash my face, do a mask, shave and lotion, do my nails. It’s like I suddenly get an urge to have a spa night, but it only seems to happen maybe once a month where I really go all out. Sure I’ll go all out with makeup pretty regularly, but even then I don’t really take my makeup off like I should. In fact I’m notorious for the big no no…I’ll wear my makeup overnight and just fix it the next day for work.

It’s a miracle that I never seem to smell bad.

Fallen Tree

Days passed. As they did, the demise of the felled tree in the neighboring house’s back yard became more and more apparent. The leaves turned a triumphant gold before withering to brown and wilting to the ground. The remnants of crab apples clung to the dead and dying branches, their last chance at life, withering hopelessly as they clung.

Our neighbor had died some months ago, and while the yard was still being kept, nothing was done to remove the old fallen crab apple tree from the yard for several weeks. I inspected the thing the day after it fell. During a storm, the night before, the winds had howled ominously and the rain beat the ground hard, as if the earth its self had committed some kind of terrible crime they sky could not, and would not forgive. It was no punishment for the ground, despite the violence, because the ground took in the water, practically dying of thirst from the many dry and hot days that came before the storm’s relief.

I contemplated the dying tree as I sat with a large cup of tea in one hand, and my feet planted firmly on the freshly cut grass. How long until all things fall and die? How long did that tree stand for before it’s unexpected demise? How long had the old widow next door (who I can say I never saw nor met) lived in that house and for how long alone? I could not and cannot say. We saw the ambulance take her away, and heard from another neighbor she had passed.

She was as much a mystery to me as her death. No. As death itself.