Monday, March 25, 2013

Unspoken : Open Heart

It's been a while. In fact, for several reasons I feel like I need to reintroduce myself to you all. Many of you know me. Some of you know me well. A few of you know me very well. And those few know I've never really had trouble expressing my feelings.  I like to talk. Like... a lot. I used leave the hair dresser feeling like the biggest self-absorbed ninny because I would talk her ear off and forget to ask her anything about her life.  Sometimes that still happens. But I'm trying to talk less, and listen more.
I like to share my experiences. I open up pretty well. Just ask my husband who from day one has met my wordy-0verly-analytical way of communicating non-stop with his unequivocal deer-in-the-headlight eyes and almost instant headache. Apparently there's only so much a 15 year old guy can absorb at one time. (And apparently it's a slow growth progress cause at 28 there's not much more wiggle room. ;) 
I, on the other hand, haven't slowed down talking. Thinking. Wondering. Planning.

 I have opinions that's for sure. And ways I think things should be done. And I share them. More cautiously and conscientiously  than I did at 12 or 15 or 18 years old. But it's still a growth process. I've been told I'm good with words. Expressing feelings and inner thoughts that echo that of many others who read them. I like to write. I love to help. There's nothing like feeling needed.
But by no means do I feel like I have all the answers. 
Maybe I used to think so.
But then the tests starting getting really hard. 

Living with what you might call "type A" personality - I like to be in charge.
I feel safest when I'm doing what needs to be done, myself.  If I know I'm right...I'm right. If I'm not sure I won't even risk it because to be wrong would be...well, not good. I can't be vulnerable like that. It's just that hard.
I'm naturally competitive. So much so that I avoid competition at all costs because it affects me so much to do poorly. 
I'm a worrier. 
I second-guess everything. 
I examine and re-examine a situation so much that I forget what I was originally hoping to accomplish. 
I can't multitask very well.  
I'm not naturally easy-going. I try very hard to be that way as a mom and adult. But it's not without effort. And if you have try hard to make it look like you're not trying...doesn't that defeat the purpose?

Why am I telling you all this?

Because friends. I've been through some rough times lately. And I realized that while I seemed to have no trouble writing about generic worries and fears, or the simple ups and downs of being a mom, or how much I adore my precious angel-boy and the joy he brings to our lives.

I've yet to actually write about who I am. My whole self.
And it's time you all knew.
I have faults. I have fears. I have failures.

Shocked? About 6 of you are shaking your heads laughing "not surprised in the least." And chances are you're related to me. So thanks.
But to others of you who have no doubt been drawn into the illusion that I have it all together. Don't let my graceful demeanor, adorable style and witty charm fool you. ;) (ok. now even I'm laughing.)
But the truth is, my life is nothing like the incredibly cute pin boards I've designed on Pinterest. Nor is it made up only of the pretty pictures I take and funny lines I quote from my son.

You see. I've put a filter up.
In many ways, I've photoshopped my life.
What you see is what I'm comfortable with you seeing. It's my life...but enhanced. Minus any unsightly blemishes. Leaving only a charming piece of chalk laying around the driveway to give the illusion that even our messes are artsy and cute.

('s cute. You should see my laundry room.)

Are you still breathing? 
Stay with me.

 I know, I know. I'm sorry to deceive you. I know you though I woke up every morning completely refreshed, my hair perfectly coiffed and open my window to join the birds in song...but that's simply not true. I usually brush my teeth first. KIDDING! I never brush my teeth. (again - kidding. Humor is obviously an avoidance tactic of mine.)

But although it's not all a sham (I do have a crazy obsession with holidays and decorate my house for each occasion. I do love to plan great parties. And I do have an adorable son whom I love to take pictures of. ;)) A lot of what you see is just what I want you to see.

(Why of course have fresh roses at my kitchen sink at all times. Doesn't everybody?)

And the thing is... I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one doing it. We live in a pinterest-etsy-DIY-world.
(if you have no idea what any of those things are...we need to talk.) We see everyone else's lives, jobs, families, houses, gardens, crafts, clothes, passions,  hobbies, causes as greater than our own. There's always someone succeeding where we've failed. Someone enjoying what we fear. Someone doing things better than us.

(Why yes these are homemade donuts. Really? No people...Not really.)

I recently read something on facebook (which by the way is the king of destruction where self esteem and reality are concerned. But it's the way we keep up with so many we know and love so we keep going back.)

"Stop comparing your life's outtakes to someone else's highlight reel."
Ouch and Amen.
Comparison is an ugly business.
And often times we're completely wrong about our assessments of others anyway.

But on the flip-side there's good old perspective.
Someone is always hurting in ways we haven't been through. Someone is always struggling with things we've yet to experience. Some is always feeling more pain, more fear, more grief and more worry than we have ever known.

And that perspective isn't mean to diminish our own struggles or make light of what pain or fear we do have. But it's mean to keep us grounded. Keep us going. Keep us looking to serve and help others rather than over-focusing on ourselves.

Perspective gives us permission to connect to others who have it better, the same, or worse than us in different areas. Perspective gives us balance.

I've said it before. But it still rings true.
We need to stop believing in the illusion that we are in control.
And that despite how scary that may seem...our lives are actually in better Hands than ours.

I've recently endured a pretty tough battle with Anxiety.
If  you have fought Anxiety before you understand why it needs a capital letter. Anxiety is serious stuff. It's sneaky, strong, deceptive and violent.
It comes when you least expect it and shakes you until you begin to doubt things will every be okay again. There are many forms of Anxiety. And it will attack different people in different ways. For me, it grabbed me with such force and such speed that it was like being hit by a bus. (Ok...not that I've actually ever been hit by a bus...but I'm pretty sure this was close.) And while I've seen Anxiety's face in my family, friends and even in my self off and on since my youth - this time Anxiety was different. It knocked the breath out of me. It threw me down and took away the strength, hope, faith, and  happiness I was trying to cling to. It made me physically ill. Unable to do anything. Eating. Sleeping. Breathing. Nothing was easy. I had not felt this broken in a long time. And certainly not so spontaneously or for so long. I am stubborn. I'm a fighter. I have always able to pick myself up and keep going. Until 3 months ago.

I don't think I can ever fully put into words the heartache, helplessness, anger and desperation I experienced during those months. I had help. My family and friends were there for me. I did everything anyone told me to do. I saw doctors. Set up appointments with a counselor. Took medications. Even found a psychiatrist. And each and every one of them is amazing. Each are capable and caring and considerate. And I did everything they said. I tried so hard. And still weeks would go by and I was still suffering. It was so frustrating and heartbreaking to me. I felt angry that I was doing everything I was told! Everything in my power! Praying with all of my being! And I still wasn't well.
"It's a process." "Not all meds work the same for everyone." "Just give it time." "Let's try a new medication." "Read this book. "Ok now let's increase your dosage." "I want to see you again in 2 weeks." "Let's try something different."
And on, and on, and on it seemed to go.

Sure I started having better days. I was able to drive again. Able to eat again. Able to smile at my son and be his mommy the way I hadn't been able to for weeks.

But operating at 70% of yourself - even if it's an improvement - is maddening.

Every week has gotten better. There's been setbacks. I talk about it a little to family and close friends to keep sane. But it's not something you just put up on facebook "Hey folks! I've finally lost my mind and 3 medications in I'm still not well! So if you see me with no makeup and sweats at the grocery store - that's a good thing. It means I left the house."

I've wanted to write about this. And so many other things. And I hope that I will. Because not only is it therapeutic for me to write about my son, our journey with SB, my life as a mommy, my fears and my hopes - it's a way to open up my heart to yours. And maybe - just maybe - one of you will breathe a deep sigh of relieve and say "I am not alone."

There's this nice southern mom who seemed to have it all together and then went crazy over Christmas. Yep. I'm right here.

With all I've been through, with all God has shown me, with all the good advice I've been given and all the lessons I've learned - I wish I could say I never worry. That I'm content at all times. That I've finally reached a place where I have the faith and trust to let it all go and just be!
That I know what I'm doing, where I'm going ], and what I will find when I get there.

But I can't.

As a guest at "Life's Birthday Party" I've enjoyed myself immensely. I've been given amazing gifts and been blessed with family and friends to celebrate them with. But I'll be the first to say,  I've been blindfolded and spun around enough times to admit I have no earthly idea where that stupid donkey is, in fact I'm quite nauseous, and I would most likely hurt someone if I tried to blindly venture forth with that sharp pin for the sake of pride or competition's sake.

So here I am. Happily laying my needle down until someone let's me take this blindfold off. Until then, I'll keep trying to do the only thing we can do when surrounded by dark. Move slowly, ask for help, wait for guidance,, and keep looking for the light.

So thank you.
For allowing me to open my heart to you.
For letting me say what has gone unsaid for too long.
And for believing as long as you did that my life is as adorable as a room full of baby animals.
Because the reality is - a room full of baby animals gets messy really fast.
And that's ok.
Because who doesn't love baby animals?

(The answer to that question is no one. Everyone loves baby animals.)

Author's Note:
*no new photos were taken in the making of this blog post. And I'm ok with that.* :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Where the Wild Things Are

So this may or may not be from October. Ok it is. But I still love these pictures and never got to share them. So if we can read "Where the Wild Things Are" every day for 3 months straight, surely it won't hurt to share the story one more time with all of you. 

"The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind...
...and another...

His mother called him "WILD THING!" and Max said "I'll eat you up!" 

So he was sent to bed without eating anything.

That very night in Max's room, a forest grew...

...and grew...

...and grew...

 ...until the ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around.

And an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max, and he sailed off through night and day...

...and in and out of weeks...

and almost over a year... where the Wild Things are.

And when he came to the place where the Wild Things are, they roared their terrible roars, and gnashed their terrible teeth, and rolled their terrible eyes, and showed their terrible claws.

Till Max said "BE STILL!" and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once.

And they were frightened, and called him the most wild thing of all!
And made him king of all Wild Things.

"And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!

"Now stop!" Max said, and sent the Wild Things off to bed without their supper. Then Max, the King of all Wild Things, was lonely. And wanted to be where someone loved him most of all.

Then, from far away across the world, he smelled good things to eat. So he gave up being King of where the Wild Things are. But the Wild Things cried "Oh please don't go! We'll eat you up! We love you so!" And Max said "No!"

The Wild Things roared their terrible roars, and gnashed their terrible teeth, and rolled their terrible eyes, and showed their terrible claws. But Max stepped into his private boat, and waved goodbye.

And sailed back over a year...

...and in and out of weeks, and through a day...

...and into the night of his very own room, where he found his supper waiting for him.

And it was still hot."

(yes...I typed that from memory. I'm not even kidding. I don't think I'll ever forget it. In fact I hope I never do.)

For your viewing pleasure...
Jet recommends it be watched 5 times a day for a good 6 weeks for optimal viewing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pumpkins in December

For months I've been dreaming of catching up on the blog. Bringing out my camera here and there to take more pictures, only to add them to the disastrous four-car-pile-up that is my iphoto storage. Pictures I'm glad I took, yet just can't find a second to go through. 

When I made the transition from "hobby" to "jobby" a year ago and began to take pictures for other people,  I didn't realize that it would rearrange my lifestyle the way it did.  While I still make time for my #1 job and true loves - being a mommy and wife - and find time for friends and family about the same as I always have - the time I spend on photography for me has greatly diminished. It's hard to justify spending the time on your personal photos when other families are anxiously awaiting the pictures they paid for. And family  blogging? Forget about it. There's a long list of must-do things in front of that little treat. And while this new endeavor has been fun and fulfilling and a much needed blessing in so many ways, I do find myself missing those days when I could just sit out in the yard or lay on my living room floor and take pictures of the little subject who turned my eye and my heart to photography in the first place. 

Now he's got preschool, and I've got editing. We both love our new chapters and are thankful for the opportunities, but it doesn't mean I don't still have that deep desire to pick up my camera and capture our own lives, journal our own memories, the way I've always loved to do. 

After all, they grow so fast. 

So last week I made some time and went through 3 months of holidays and every-days, adding my personal edits to a few favorites and leaving the rest how the camera originally saw it, doing my best to organize what could easily have been about 5 blog posts. lol. And as I looked back on all the pictures of pumpkins and Jet (pre-most-recent-haircut) I stopped and thought "does anybody really care about all this stuff? 

Do people really wanna see old pictures of Jet playing in the leaves with Christmas just over a week away? And Halloween? Isn't there some sort of law that you aren't allowed to post pics from 2 holiday's ago?

(Jet apparently thinks I've broken some sort of  law...)

Is this quite simply a waste of time...

(Jet's Trick-or-Treat Entourage)

 I mean really, I start actin crazy when I see pumpkins out in yards past Thanksgiving.  And I'd be lying if I said I haven't fantasized about cleansing my neighborhood (or maybe the world) of all the old pumpkins left to rot on porches and driveways long past their holiday-expiration-date. (Come on folks! How much work is it to throw out your old pumpkins!? You think your fairy godmother is gonna come make a nice coach out of it for you?? I don't think so!)  Ok. So maybe no one else notices that stuff. Or maybe you're guilty of it and laughing to yourself  (in which not funny.) 
But it's thoughts like that that make me think, maybe I should just move on.
Pick up again after Christmas. 
Keep moving forward. 
Keep things relevant.

But then my thoughts go to the events of this past Friday. When the world of parents, teachers and students everywhere was turned upside down. When the innocent lives of precious children were so tragically taken. When countless families received the horrifying news that their loved ones weren't coming home from school. When mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters lived out a nightmare no one could have predicted. When 20 babies were lost, and countless other babies lost all that was familiar...their sense of safety...their innocence. When I cried all day for those children who didn't survive, and cried again for those children who did. When I cried for my child, prayed for his future, hugged him closer and kissed him more frequently (which if you know how much I kiss those sweet cheeks, it would seem almost impossible.)

 It was in that day and the days to follow, that I was reminded life is too short, too precious, and too beautiful not to cherish it. Not to give thanks for it. Not to remember all the big and small moments we spend with our families and never let them go. 

Even if means going through 3 months of pictures. 
Even if it means putting work on hold so you can spend time doing something you love for your family.
Even if it means you're never quite caught up on laundry or dishes or clearing away the clutter. 

You can do it. 

You should do it. 

I should do it.
Because it does matter. We should care. And it is relevant.

Even if it means pumpkins in December.

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