Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bravery (For Me, Anyway)

So, all summer long, I've been fighting this chronic upset stomach.

Today, I finally called and made an appointment with my internist to see if we can't figure out what's going on.

This feels like a really huge thing because ...I'm kind of terrified of doctors now.

I KNOW it's irrational.  I KNOW that this is a holdover from the Pain Years, when I saw a lot of doctors trying to pin point the cause of my foot pain.

Which we never did.  But that didn't stop me from having six million shots into my poor, disabled foot.  And then those shots caused me to develop a hole in my retina that was bleeding so I got to have shots IN MY EYE to try to fix that.  (It stopped bleeding. I still have a hole.)

And all the time, you know, that excruciating, soul sucking pain.  My GP putting me on Cymbalta, which was like having a lobotomy (for me--I'm not saying that's the case for everyone.)  My podiatrist telling me that life in a wheelchair might be the answer as he filled out my handicapped parking sticker application and checked the "permanent" box.  All that time on the couch, trying to live through fifteen minutes at a time.  The events at my kids' schools that I couldn't go to because I couldn't walk the halls.

The times I cried in front of them.

I know none of this is the fault of my doctors.  I know that I had good doctors who had very real desires to help me. But it's all tied up for me emotionally.

I know this fear I have is Post Traumatic Stress. It's just that I fear so much going back to that bad place, you know?

So, I've been sitting with this fear today and rationally talking myself through it and being nice to myself and logically running through all of the reasons why this stomach thing, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS, is not going to ruin my life.  Why finding out what's going on may be as simple as finding out I have an allergy to wheat (which is what I suspect.)

I'm trying to still my inner turmoil enough to listen for the still small voice. I'm reaching out for support to people who care about me, because that feels healthy and brave. And I am breathing in and out, trying to access my inner peace.

And as long as I'm doing things that make me feel brave and strong: I have a guest post up at Derfwad Manor.  You should go read it if you want to know more about my bosom.                         

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Today's Big Metaphor

It turns out that Jelly Belly jelly beans are vegan. (Well, they use a little bee's wax to make them shine, but otherwise, they're without any animal product at all.)

This has presented me with something of an issue this week, which I'm not willing to say too much about. (Except, perhaps the purchase of the TWO POUND bag was an error in judgment.)

Anyway, I was snarfing down a handful eating a few when I accidentally ate a black licorice one.

I HATE black licorice flavored jelly beans.

Usually, I go through the (incredibly modest) bag and pull out all of the black ones in advance so I don't accidentally eat one.  I didn't do that this time, daunted, no doubt, by the sheer enormity of the task given such a large bag.

"GAH!" I said and ran to spit the black licorice one out.

"I don't know why they even MAKE these dang licorice ones, " I said to my daughter Katherine.  "Nobody likes those.  They should just leave them out. In fact, they should OUTLAW them!"

Katherine agreed.  "Also, the white ones because they're gross.  And these ones they say are mango, but really taste like Evil."

"And those root beer ones, those are really gross," I said.

I looked at her.

"Of course, there are probably other people who think we should outlaw the cinnamon ones or the orange ones or those cappuccino ones--imagine!--and then all we'd be left with is the cherry ones or something."

"Probably, it's a better idea to just let people choose the flavors they like and NOT CHOOSE the ones they don't like.  Probably, the best idea is just to give people choices, rather than outlawing the ones we don't like just because WE don't like them. I don't AGREE with people who like the black licorice ones, but I can respect the idea that we're all different and we all get to make our own choices."

Deep thoughts from the candy aisle.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The End of the Experiment

So, I didn't post.

I posted every day for the first three weeks of August and then, the last two nights, I just...didn't.  It turns out that I have (once again) underestimated how crazy busy our lives become as we seek to fit in all the appointments and shopping and fun we can before the school year starts up again. And, honestly, I don't want to miss any time with my kids right now, because I will miss them when they go back to school.

So, I guess the experiment of posting daily is over for now.  (I really did feel like it was a bit much, anyway.)  The thing is, though, that I have stuff to tell you, but it's going to have to wait until I can find time to sit down and write and think.

In the meanwhile, here's a picture of me using Edward as a mouse pad.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21, 2012 --Love

Remember I told you about Elmer?

He's been doing some work around the property (he can apparently do ANYTHING) and this morning, we went to the paint store because he's going to touch up the paint on the house and he needed supplies.

Elmer is originally from Guatemala, although he's been in this country since 1981.

The guy behind the counter took one look at him and...just... well, basically, treated him like some kind of second-class citizen.

Because that guy?  Is a racist asshat.

On the way home, I made a comment about how some people need training in customer service and Elmer told me a story.

He said, "One day, a woman was sitting in her house and Money came knocking and wanted in.  She said she needed to wait to ask her husband.  A little bit later, Health came knocking on her door and wanted in.  She said she needed to ask her family.  A third knock came on the door and Love wanted in.  Again the woman said that she needed to consult with her family.  The three went and stood by a tree.  That night, the woman told her family about the three waiting to be let in.  The husband said, "Let the Money in!"  The wife said, "Let the Health in!"  But the little girls said, "No, we must let Love in.  Because when we have love, we have everything we need."  Sure enough, they let Love in and Money and Health followed."

I think Elmer was saying that we have to live out of love first.  In the face of ugliness and insidious racism and cruelty and hatred, we have to respond out of love. "It is not our job to judge," he said. "Maybe something went wrong in his life today."

Elmer may be the richest man I know.

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20, 2012 --Random Monday

An actual street sign near our house:

Jane, 11, finished the book she's been writing by hand all summer.   (She's also been writing about six other books on her computer.)

Someone got a new ukulele.
I still don't have my forearm stand.  In fact, I was getting discouraged about it until I went to class today and did it and got that feeling of perfect alignment that comes when I get it right.  I'm still hopeful I will master it soon.


Music is Shawn Colvin "All Fall Down."  (LOVE this record!)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19, 2012 -- Regret

Real Simple Magazine is running its annual writing contest right now.  I've been thinking about it because the subject matter is regret.
If you could change one decision that you made in the past, what would it be? No, you can't go back in time, but here's the next best thing. Think of a decision that you regret—anything from a ridiculous choice of prom date to a serious lapse in judgment—and tell us what the mistake taught you about yourself.
I have made a LOT of mistakes in my life (my first car was a third-hand 1978 VW Rabbit,) but I'm not sure how many things I would go back and change if I could.  (Maybe that perm in the 1980's.)

(In fact, maybe all of the 1980's.)

I can't help but feel that everything that happens to us brings us to where we are now, and without those choices (yes, even that disastrous blind date in the early 90's), my life would have taken a different path and I might have missed all of this goodness here and now.

There ARE things I regret. And there are lessons I wish I had learned a lot sooner.  I'm just not sure if there is any one decision that I made that I would go back and change.

What about you?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18, 2012 -- Where's Thomas?

I was looking through some of the pictures from this summer just now and I started cracking up.  

I think we need a new game called "Where's Thomas?"

Thomas wandering across my picture.

Thomas hard asleep on Katherine's bed.


Thomas waiting for yoga class to begin.
Taking full advantage of being (legally) up on the table.

Sunbathing with Jane and Coop.

Friday, August 17, 2012

August 17, 2012 --Remembering

I was kind of out of sorts when I went to yoga this morning.

Yesterday, I'd stopped by the girls' school to drop off the tuition check and while I was there, I thought I'd give them a head's up before they labeled everything that Ana was now going by her middle name, Katherine.  I ran into that kind of bureaucratic, knee-jerk oppositional reflex that one has come to know and love in places like, say, the DMV.  I didn't expect it at my kids' school.  The person I spoke with told me, "We'll need court papers to make that happen."  I was, frankly, openly incredulous. "She's not CHANGING her name.  She's just using a different PART of it."

I don't know. It just stayed with me all day yesterday. I thought of some very witty and cutting things I could have said.  But mostly, I was just disappointed at the lack of willingness to even try to do something so simple.  Surely, my daughter is not the only kid who is called by something other than her first name.  I was profoundly disappointed at the attitude of this woman.  I hate that kind of "say no and sort it out later" mentality.  Especially, you know, if it leads people to make blatantly errant statements with absolute authority.

Okay, rant over on that subject. (For now, anyway.)

So then, this morning, I'd just found out that Jane had a performance at camp, which meant after yoga, I'd have to really hurry to shower and get to her camp in time, which meant everything else I was planning to do got bumped.  I had workers at the house, which meant the dogs didn't get to go outside...I was just a little rattled and out of sorts.

And then, right before class started, I remembered that today is August 17, and that it has been five years since our 17-year-old Austin next door neighbor was tragically killed in a car accident. And there it was, see, a little perspective.

I dedicated my practice to his parents.  And all day long, I've had them in my heart, wishing for some kind of comfort to give them for a wound that will never, ever heal.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16, 2012 -- Y'all Are Going to Hate Me

So, I gave you the grand tour of the interior of our house and today, we move outside.

You may not be speaking to me after you see the fabulousness of it, so let me thank you for your support over the years and remind you that we are RENTING this house and therefore cannot claim ownership, nor credit, for it. It was fabulous when we got here.

At first I thought I'd just put together a slide show for you, which led to a day-long CD shelf search to try to find the perfect song with the word "home" in it. (Oddly enough, most of those are really depressing. Who knew?) But then, I decided more explanation was warranted.

This is the front of the house.  I loved it from the first time I saw it. It reminds me of the understatedness of our neighborhood in Austin. (Only with better landscaping.)

This is the entryway, which is COVERED, and you know how I feel about that.

The first time I walked to the front door, I was utterly enchanted by this corner.  I thought I would put a little bistro table and chairs in it, like our next door neighbors in Austin had.  And then I walked in the house and out the back door and I never thought about that little corner again.

This is the back of our house.

This, um, is the cabana.  (You just stopped speaking to me, didn't you?)

This is the cabana kitchen.  (It was so nice knowing you!)

Cabana Bathroom (I KNOW!)
Behind cabana to the right.
BBQ area--used by the Coopers at least once per week, sun or snow.
Behind cabana to the right--potting area! ( It's kind of a mess because I was looking for some tools yesterday.)
Stairs leading to cabana deck.  (Those little black things are lights.)
View from cabana deck. 

Yes, those are solar panels on the roof.  I KNOW!

Austin hiding in the rose bushes.

This planter is really a SPEAKER.  (I KNOW!)
 So, I know.

I really know.

It's spectacular. It's just...beyond fantastic. We love it.

Even these photos don't do justice to the level of attention to detail in this house.  The lighting alone is art. The landscaping is beyond my wildest dreams. I've said it before, but it's like living in a fireworks display. One gorgeous thing blooms and as it is spent, another even more gorgeous thing blooms.  There were these peonies out front this spring that literally brought a tear to my eye. Here... look:

It's weird to be renters after 20 years or more of homeownership.  But this house is such an unusual property that I kind of feel like we're stewards of it. We're really blessed in our relationship with the homeowners, too --they've been willing to split the costs on some of the improvements we wanted, they trust us to oversee the upkeep, when we report minor issues, they are taken care of immediately, and best of all, we're friends now. It's a good house that can create friendships, y'all.  Seriously.

I know you're going to ask so:
A) I don't believe the owners really want to sell this house and
B) if they did, I'm not sure we could afford it.

Our plans are uncertain. Katherine still has one year in the academically advanced school that she and Jane attend, which goes through ninth grade. (Excuse me while I lean over and breathe into a paper bag as I take in what that sentence says. MY BABY IS IN HIGH SCHOOL.) We're still evaluating the local school district to see if it's a good fit for her, or if we need to move closer to a different school or find some other option.

In the meanwhile, though, I am leaning into the uncertainty, and I wake up happy every day in this house.

It's a pretty good fairytale I've got going here, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15, 2012 -- Working Against Myself

(I had planned to continue the house tour by showing you all the backyard today, but the weather was so terrible, I couldn't take pictures. Therefore, my new plan is just to whine a lot.)

Today has been a dreary rainy day, after a night of really violent storms, punctuated by the urgent biological needs of The Worst Dog Ever, who will NOT stay out of the cat box and therefore has some big time stomach trouble.  Unfortunately, he's also incredibly afraid of storms so when he wakes me up because he has to go out in the middle of a monsoon, it means HE HAS TO GO OUT. I struggle out of bed because it's either let him out and wait for him to come back in, or spend my morning steam cleaning the carpet again.

Three times last night.

Which is terrible for me because it takes me about an hour to fall back asleep, and then there were the storms.  I feel like I've had about 20 minutes of sleep.

I went to yoga, even though I have this new injury (that I am NOT talking about. Nope. Although, let me just say that applying ice to this injury isn't nearly as fun as Fifty Shades of Stupid makes it seem.) Yoga was good. I am learning to curb my desire to go deep into every pose even if it means I'm aggravating an injury. Today, I really listened and when I felt something bad, I stopped. I came away feeling like I'd done the right thing--my injury wasn't made worse--but slightly defeated anyway. It's hard to feel like I'm making any progress when my body seems to be actively working against me.

Of course, my body ISN'T working against me. There are lessons I need to learn here, and I think my body is acting as a messenger for those lessons.  I'm pretty sure that the fact that I still feel the need to do everything as hard as I possibly can comes from fear --fear that if I don't give it my all, I will somehow forfeit the right to be mobile, fit and strong. I think I still have a lot of fear that my healing is temporary. I haven't been able to find my confidence that no matter what happens, I can come back from it.

I'm not exactly sure what to do about it.  It's a form of Post Traumatic Stress, I'm sure, but I'm not sure what to do about it. Maybe recognizing what it is and where it comes from will give me the mindfulness I need to respond in a healthy, loving way when I feel myself going down that path.

I'm pretty sure, though, that the healthy response to fear does not involve eating three cookies that I knew beforehand would make me sick.

It's impossible to hear the Divine Voice within when I'm huffing fear, you know.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August 14, 2012 --A Tour

So, a few people (my mother) have complained that there haven't been any pictures on the blog of the house we're renting.  I mean, there WERE pictures from when we first found the place, but not much since then, and really, you have to see this house to appreciate it.

(I have to take a minute to praise my mother, since we are on the subject. (Well, kind of on the subject.) When I first started blogging, I could tell that she didn't really "get" the concept or see why a blog would be something worthy of her time. But you know what? My mom is ADAPTABLE. When we moved up here and she couldn't see my kids as much as she wanted, she got right on board with the concept of the blog. I mean, if your daughter isn't a phone person and you want updates on your beloved grandchildren, you take them where you can get them. In that same spirit, she's on Facebook and regularly texts with the girls --she meets them on THEIR ground. We Skype and do Facetime. Also, she and Jane are playing some incredible games of Words With Friends.  (Jane is a much better player than I.) Anyway, now my mom uses the blog as a way to share my life with other people, including her siblings, who all live very far away.  I love that she's so willing to embrace modern means of communication. It's such a good example for me -- not to be afraid of innovation.  So, Mom, this one's for you.)

(As another aside (It's my blog, dang it.), I'm ready to face the fact that I am truly terrible at Words With Friends.  I routinely MAKE WORDS UP and then am totally surprised that they don't work.  For example, I just tried to play the word "vicod."  Doesn't that sound like it should be a word?  Like, um, it's a cod that's been awarded royal designation?  No? "Pieship?"  Are you sure?


I thought I'd do a little tour for you, starting with the inside of the house.  Because once I show you the outside, most of you aren't going to be speaking to me --it's THAT amazing.

Here we go, then. (Full disclosure: I took all of these pictures on a day my cleaners had been here.  This is pretty much as good as it gets.) (Except, I was washing all of the bath mats so there are none apparent.)

I'm starting with one side of the house and moving to the other--which isn't really like taking a tour from the front door.  (I'd reorganize the pictures, but Blogger hates it when I move pictures around and I'd like to finish this post before midnight.)  Let's just pretend we walked in the back door by the sunroom, shall we?

We have our dining room out here because the formal dining room is too small for my table and, plus, we have the view of the gorgeous outside from here.

Also, we're so much closer to the hot tub!  (The above couch is the officially sanctioned Austin Couch.  As in, it's the couch he's allowed on, as opposed to the other couches he sleeps on, but isn't supposed to.) (We're looking after the cacti for the owners, which makes me very, very afraid since I've killed a cactus before just by being in the same room with it. Gary, I'm sorry in advance.)

The kitchen from the back door.  I love the island.  One of the things this house has taught me is how important it is for our family to have a centralized gathering place. We spend a lot of time here. 

Thomas lying in front of the door to the room that used to be the garage.  It's our work-out room now and the room where the cats eat. I'm not showing you a picture of it, though, because I forgot to take one. (You're not missing much.)

Looking back across the kitchen from Thomas. (Yes, that refrigerator is bigger than my first apartment.)

And from the other corner.

This is the formal dining room, which, just to keep things confusing, has my breakfast table in it, along with Jane's drum set and the piano.

The entrance to Jane's room --up the stairs.

Jane's room.  Which is really an office and has no closet space so ...it's a little cluttered. She's in a kind of touchy phase--somewhere between dolls and thrash metal, somewhere between girlhood and young womanhood.  I say, keep the stuff if it makes it easier.  There will be time to declutter when she's feeling more secure.

It does, however, have a very cool bathroom.

Jane's room shot back from the bathroom.

Front door and Austin, lying in front of the formal dining room in the classic "starfish puppy" pose.

View from the front door into the living room.

Living room and my desk, which is between the kitchen and the living room.

Living room from the other side.

And yet another view of the living room just in case you needed one. (Pretend it's of the garage.)

Hallway leading to the other side of the house. Everywhere you see that kind of slate flooring is radiant heat, which is just...the greatest thing EVER.

Guest bathroom off of the hallway.

The room where I spend ALL OF MY TIME, which is across from the guest bathroom.

Katherine's room.  (Which has a bathroom, too, but I forgot to take a picture.)

Guest room

Ostensibly Coop's office, although it's also a guest room AND the girls like to use the computer in here, so Coop gets relegated to the formal dining room as often as not.

The hallway to the master bedroom.

Master bath

Photo wall.  (And Austin's tail.)

Master bedroom

Different angle of the master bedroom.  I need to do some work on our bedroom, because our furnishings don't match the paint, and it needs some art and a book case and a real bed...but...it's on the list. (Next to the chair is another door to the back, which is very handy for letting animals in and out in the middle of the freaking night when nature calls.)
So, that's the house. I still can't really believe I get to live here.