All I Did Was Blink

Being 39: Where I've been, Where I am, and Where I'm going…

Breathing and Boxes and Blogs…Oh My! December 31, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 3:18 pm
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A small plate with a serving of mashed potatoes.

Image via Wikipedia

This week was filled with kleenex and clear soda, mashed potatoes and hot tea…and lots of wishing I could breathe thru my nose. (you are most welcome for the over-share)

It has also been filled with progress, the most progress I have seen in my ‘blink’ year yet since starting my blog back in September.

The time had come to completely clear out the storage spare room. Our living room has temporarily taken on the role of box/bin (eyesore) space. Eyesore is the word of the week and seemingly – suddenly the best motivation to date to move me forward in my purging process!

Yay!! I have sent a carload of items to Good Will and have more ready to go. I have gone through no less than 6 boxes in the last few days and cut the contents by half.

The seven month plan is now squeezed into the four-month plan…small fail on my part, but I am newly optimistic that this In My Face approach is a winner-winner-chicken-dinner:)

Oh yeah, and now I am taking on this blog-a-day challenge…we shall see.

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!!!

 

Good Grief? Pt.1 December 7, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 7:27 pm
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Father and daughter

Image by apdk via Flickr

Grief is such a strange thing. Today marks 20 years since my father passed away. I was 19. The memories come flooding back as I type these words. The day was filled with commotion. One of my sisters was trying to travel across two states to see him before he died.

She did not make it.

I answered the phone and tried to pass her off to my mother. She said; ‘just tell me’.

It was a peaceful night and morning. I had been sleeping on the sofa in the living room as daddy had been moved to a hospital bed in our dining room. Mom was up and sitting with him off and on. At one point she called me in to observe his breathing.

“I think his breathing has slowed.” “Yep. It has.”

I went back to sleep.

In the morning as mom was making breakfast she called me in to look at him again. No rise and fall of the chest. No sound of air passing through his lungs or nose. Then he took a breath in, held it, let it out. It was his last.

The night before, some of the family had gathered. Dad was talking, joking. We each took a few moments with him alone. I told him that I knew he needed to go but that he was supposed to walk me down the aisle at my wedding someday, he was supposed to be with me through the many coming changes to my life. I held his hand. I told him we would be OK.  The hospice literature and nurses assured us that these were the right things to say to him as he held on, it’s OK to let go…we will be fine.

I still am not ‘fine’.

At first I was depressed. I had left college to be with him for what turned out to be his last month of life. I never returned. I turned inward for several months. It took years to not fall apart on every birthday, anniversary, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, flag day, sunny day, snowy day, rainy day…

His death shook me. Changed me. Changed all of us.

December 7 was also the birthday of one of my brothers. I am sure he never truly recovered. He was not with us through the process of saying goodbye, he was not at the funeral.

My brother died two months after 9/11. My sister died last Christmas. They both struggled so much with the loss of our father.

The rest of my siblings and my family finally no longer call each other on December 7 to cry over the phone. We no longer call on dad’s birthday or mom and dad’s anniversary. I can barely wrap my mind around 20 years past. There is a space in my heart and life that will always wish he were here with me, with us.

This year is supposed to be about me letting go of some long-held ‘stuff’ in my life, figuratively and literally. As I de-clutter my home and my heart, I rediscover anew the things that have truly meant the most to me in life. People. Love. Relationship. Honesty. Loyalty. Integrity. Laughter. Tears. Connection. Grief.

Yes. Even grief. If I do not grieve someone’s dying, then I must have completely missed out on their living. That could very well be the saddest thing I could ever imagine.

 

 

Boxes, Treadmills and Halloween November 3, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 10:28 am
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dog on treadmill

Image by normanack via Flickr

If I were to tell you that I have emptied as many boxes as there have been days since my ‘box #1’ post, you would all be jumping for joy and congratulating me profusely!!

Umm…hold the applause:(

Yes, I emptied box #1. Yes, it feels good to accomplish something so tedious (box # 1 was ALL paper – blech). But box #1 did not lead to box #’s 2, 3,4…

In the meantime, I am not deterred! I shall not be moved!! Well, I shall be moved in about 6 months, therefore I shall not be moved when it comes to accomplishing my goal! Even better, I know I have the full support of my patient and loving husband, who does not welcome this two month lay-off of his but embraces the project as a joint effort during this time!! Yeah, that is awesome support!

Also in the meantime, we have acquired a treadmill, and NO it will NOT become an extra clothes hanger..if it ever does, it will be the very next thing to exit our lives just as quickly as it came! More about said treadmill in a future post. I will tell you, however, that acquiring the treadmill meant loosing two televisions, a table and a cooler..go me!! (they were leaving anyhow, but this was a good reason to say yes to a gift of such size and potential positive influence…thanks M&D – you rock!)

Now, back to Halloween. My guest writer shared her thoughts on the holiday here last Sunday and I am thankful that she was so willing to be with us. Thanks so much, Shannon;)

I am in search of some old photos and stories of past Halloween happenings in my family – if I do not find them in the next couple of days we are moving on because now is the time for focus. More blogging, more walking, more boxes emptied!!!

ONWARD!!!

 

Redeeming Halloween – Guest Writer October 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — itsahappyblog @ 4:28 pm
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Halloween Costumes 1959

Image by Abby Cadaver via Flickr

*a note from itsahappyblog* This is a guest post from my friend ‘Shannon’. Thanks so much for filling in for me today, Shannon!! My memories and thoughts on Halloween to follow later this week. I would love to hear from my readers below the post!

 

“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” Martin Luther

As you may have heard, or may personally practice yourself, many Christians are not “down” with the practice of Halloween. Some steer their children from trick-or-treating to Harvest parties. Some shun the holiday altogether. This is not a manifesto against either. I am not writing to spark debate. This is simply a statement of a position I have felt called to articulate for a while now. I find that there are few Christian voices that articulate why Christians would, in good conscience, celebrate Halloween. This is my humble attempt to do just that.

 

For those who are confused about why some Christians step back from Halloween, I think it boils down to two main issues 1) fear of the power of the devil and his minions 2) a strong belief that celebrating the holiday means participating in occult and pagan rituals which stand in opposition to God. I can understand these issues, so I am not going to try to argue against them. Rather, I’d like to offer the reasons why I do celebrate Halloween with my children.

 

Halloween’s not my favorite holiday. If I had to rank holidays, I’d say it falls just after Dr. King’s birthday and Veteran’s Day on my list (which I also celebrate with my kids). As a Christian, I do have my concerns about the way it is practiced. I do have my own fears about it—fears rooted in the hate crimes my family experienced seventeen years ago this weekend. But frankly, I believe that there are more reasons to be concerned about the way that Christmas and Easter are celebrated in our country than Halloween. That is because their celebrations, which are rooted in the Christian faith, often neglect Christ almost entirely in common practice.

 

So instead of shunning Halloween, I choose to engage it. I help my kids dress up. I take them “trick-or-treating”, which is more about walking up to houses for free candy than ever tricking anyone. I pass out candy to the hundreds of kids who walk down my street on their way to the “better” neighborhoods.  I talk to neighbors who excitedly decorate their homes with scary décor. I even make my own pitiful attempt at Halloween decorations—fake spider webs tangle among the real ones around my door, and “caution-danger” tape wraps around the 200 year-old tree which makes our house look creepy year-round.

 

I do all this because I honestly feel more Christ-like by engaging in this community event than shutting it out. That’s what my husband and I want to teach our kids to do. We choose not to fear our kids being corrupted by the scare and gore (which I really don’t like) but talk to them about what we see and offer them a foundation at home that we hope will set them on the right path.  We seek to practice hospitality to those who might otherwise not receive it. We seek to love God fervently and our neighbors graciously (although I still struggle being nice to those punks who egged my door last year).

 

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis mocks the devil in his depiction of demons. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend checking it out because I like his idea. I like the idea of making fun of the devil the way gargoyles did outside ancient churches. I also appreciate the notion of poking fun at ourselves so that we do not give him a foothold. I’ve even entertained the thought of dressing like pop-culture celebrity “Snooky” this Halloween, although I fear the resemblance may be so startling, I would terrify children and adults alike.

 

This Halloween, my girls will be mocking witches and Greek goddesses (my son will be emulating his hero, Uncle Mitch, as a pilot). Because to them, as most kids, Halloween is about getting candy and dressing up, playfully running through crunchy leaves on neighbors lawns, and giggling with their friends. Reformation Day and All Saints Day are this weekend as well, and we will be teaching our kids about those. We do these things because we want our kids to feel the love that we, and God, have for them.

 

We are reading through the Heidelberg Catechism with our kids this year to hopefully instill in them the appreciation for the Reformed Confessions that we share.  But more importantly, we want our kids to know the commandments Jesus gave us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” My hope and prayer is that our three kids will grow up and say, “My parents may not have always gotten it right, but they were committed and courageous followers of Jesus”.



 

The Seven Month Plan October 5, 2010

Boxes 1

Image by Skrewtape via Flickr

I feel a move coming on…

Since the age of twelve, I have lived a very transient lifestyle. Recently I calculated that I have moved 14 times in 24 years. That may not seem like a lot to some people, but I always envied the stories of families living in the same house on the same property for generations. “I was born in this house, married here, raised my children here, we have a family graveyard on the grounds…”

Most of the moves I have made as an adult have looked something like this:

  1. Time to move again
  2. OK, I have x months to get ready
  3. Plenty of time to slowly downsize my belongings so as not to move so many boxes and bins
  4. OK, I have a month before the move, time to pick up the pace since I have about 3 boxes actually packed in an organized fashion
  5. One week to go, better sort some stuff after the move, lets at least keep rooms separated so we don’t have trouble finding things later
  6. Tomorrow the truck will be here, start throwing things in boxes, doesn’t even matter if we sort, label, whatever…just get it done
  7. Aaahh, please save this room for last, I’ll keep packing while you guys load everything else up
  8. Good thing we planned to move three days before we need to hand over the keys…we will have to load up the car and make some final trips over the next couple of days and save the last day for cleaning
  9. Umm..now that we are in our ‘new’ place…can we try to move everything still packed into one room so we can gradually go through the boxes and still have decent living space??
  10. Just shut the door when company comes over, I can’t even LOOK at that room…grrrr…I’ll NEVER be organized!!
  11. Time to move again
  12. OK, I have x months to get ready…

In many areas of my life I am a very detailed, organized, disciplined, rational, dependable person. When it comes to uprooting my living space it is a completely different story. I have the tendency to throw nothing away. Nothing. I have the ticket stub to every movie I have ever seen in a theater. I have the program for every graduation, the invitation to every wedding, the order of service for every funeral…let alone every book I have ever owned, every kitchen appliance that ever caught my eye, every holiday decoration, every photo…

Now, I have seen those television shows, like Hoarders, where people can not even walk in the front door of their 5 bedroom house without stepping over the mountains of hoarded junk (much still in the original packaging) and their lives are stuck. I recognize how easily I could be that person. If I had money, I may very well be facing an intervention of my own.

Let me be clear. I have a room in my apartment with no furniture in it. This is where my boxes live. The rest of our living space is ‘company ready’, as my mom would refer to it. Clean, organized, places to sit and interact. I go in ‘the room’ on occasion to find whatever it is I ‘think I still have’ to try to find it…mostly my husband gets this job. *sorry babe*

It IS out of control. It IS tiring, frustrating, debilitating. But this is the year of the change, right. Right.

So on to the Seven Month Plan. IF we move in the spring, I want to move lighter than I ever have. In the next seven months I want to eliminate the need for a ‘storage room’. A storage closet would not bother me in the least. I would like, however, to be able to use any extra room in our space for guests. Maybe there would be a place for something more permanent, we have talked about some day fostering or adopting…

Well then, I need a plan. Lets not spend most of the next seven months planning out the plan. Lets get it down ‘on paper’ right here, right now.

Each month I want to report back my ‘room cleanse’ progress. Each week I want to set a goal manageable with my schedule. Each day I want to DO something toward that goal. Is it going to good will? Put it in the car now. Is it getting sold? Is it recyclable?? Trash???

Sounds somewhat familiar to my starting list. The difference is the accountability I am trying to add by sharing it in my blog. Thanks in advance for cheering me on…tonight, box number 1!

 

Let the UPS help with the DOWNS September 29, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 5:36 pm
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How Do You Feel Today?

Image by Kevin Labianco via Flickr

OK. So I was just writing a message to my brother on Facebook. Life can be such a rocky road, and I don’t mean the ice cream variety either!! I hope that I am an encouragement to the people who drift in and out of my life, be it in a brief one time encounter or the nearly 24/7 I spend with my amazing husband. I know how much a smile or kind word can lift my spirits and spur me on and I wish to be that person as opposed to the ‘miseries who love company’ so much that they can throw a bucket of ice on my warm fuzzies and ruin a perfectly good mood.

Truth be told, I am not always the cheerleader that I strive to be…no one can be that person all of the time! Impossible. Unless you stuff everything negative that happens in your life and then what kind of real life are you having?! On the other hand, who wants to be around mr/ms grumpy pants constantly either. I would almost rather the former on some days.

Back to my point. I was typing away and towards the end of my ramblings this phrase just appeared on my screen. Let the Ups  help with the Downs. Hmm.

  • If I could somehow manage to look at the amazing meal my gifted and talented husband prepared for us instead of the mountain of crusty dishes left in his dust…
  • If I would see my room of randomly packed boxes from my 39 years of life as a treasure hunt instead of a dreaded chore to (seemingly NEVER) complete…
  • If I were to relish in the undivided time my spouse and I are privileged enough to have right now in our marriage instead of mourning the child never born to our family…
  • If time were not my enemy robbing me of my, well, time – but my teacher gifting me with knowledge and wisdom…

You get the idea. This list is endless. This list is POWERFUL and NEEDED in my every moment. Yes, we mourn and we struggle and we are punched in the gut and steamrolled and on and on.and.on.

BUT. What IF.

Tell me some of your UPS that help you with your DOWNS. I would love to hear from you…leave a comment below and lets share some warm fuzzies.

 

An Apple A Day?? Hmmm… September 28, 2010

I am pretty sure my doctor would tell me that just because apples are in each of these recipes does not make them the best choice for consumption. And, yes, while I did make these in two days, I shared them with family and friends…though my husband and I enjoyed our fair amount;)

I was so pleased to stumble upon a wonderful Freshly Pressed post the other day called ‘The Twelve Ways of Fall’ from Reinventing the We’ll
. I had just finished all this baking and thought, now I have to throw some pix up there…they are rough and unedited.

I also needed a slightly ‘lighter’ post after last week’s entry.

My favorite were the Apple Brownies. I took my recipe from a church cookbook my mom gave me a few Christmas’ ago, but found the exact same instructions here:

I made an Applesauce Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Apple Crisp, the before mentioned Apple Brownies and an Apple Raisin French Toast Casserole…Yummm..

What are some of YOUR favorite fall recipes??

Apples

Apples2

Apples3

Apples4

Apples5

Apples6

 

R.I.P. JG September 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — itsahappyblog @ 3:41 pm
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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Beatitudes #2)

Putting aside all that is mishandled, misunderstood, misinterpreted, misrepresented, mismanaged, and just plain missing from our day-to-day lives, lets talk about missed human connections.

This week I mourn the loss of someone very dear to my heart. She has served as role model, mentor, mother-figure, friend, traveling companion, partner in music, and all around inspiration since the beginning of my life. I ‘grew up’ with her kids. I have laughed with her, learned from her, admired her and cried with her.

JG holds for me the very strongest memory of the day we held funeral services for my dad. I was nineteen. JG and I had traveled together for 5 years already, along with her husband and, at times, various others – including my sister. I often would call her mom instead of by her given name. Her son was one of my very best BFF‘s. I would safely say we were extremely close.

There had been a lot of activity surrounding the death of my father and this day was no exception. So many people coming and going, hugging and talking, meaning well. I could not hear a word they were saying. My daddy was gone and my entire life was in upheaval. I had left college to be with him for what turned out to be the last month of his life. No regrets there, but I never made it back to school. That is a subject I will save for another day.

I found myself sitting in one of those funeral home chairs, the ones that have a little extra cushioning and arm rests for the grieving family, not the extra folding chairs they pull out for the extra big crowds that may show up. I was looking at my dad. I was quiet. All of the well-meaning friends and relatives kept making their way over to me with kind words that never actually penetrated my thoughts.

Then JG walked in. At first I did not notice her. But soon, and every so often since, I felt when she silently slipped in behind me and placed her hand on my shoulder. She stood there for what seemed like forever while others came and went. She never said a word. She was just present with me in my grief. She was just loving me the very best way she could have in that moment.

And now I prepare to go and grieve with my family and friends for the loss of her daily presence in our lives…I so desperately want to live by her example and not be one of the nameless, faceless, wordless throngs I am sure will be meaning well.

I lost touch with JG and her family over the years. I think we may have seen each other all of three times since the late 90s. I am not going to go on about how mysterious life is when we ebb and flow in and out of the lives of significant people and that JG’s passing is going to make me stop loosing contact with people. We will continue to ebb and flow out of each others lives until each of us passes from this earth.

I am going to say that I want my 40th year to be about meaningful interactions and that I hope to have a positive lasting impression on those lives I wander in and out of. I know that so many have made positive lasting impressions on my life. I want to tell them so while they can still hear me say it.

R.I.P. JG. You are missed. Greatly.

 

Procrastination: Perfected! September 16, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 5:33 pm
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A basic digital clock radio with analog tuning

Image via Wikipedia

 

My friend Andrea informed me today that if I don’t get this post out ASAP she plans to disown me as a BFF!! Not really, but what she did say was enough of a kick in the rear that I am now typing at a speed that  has deadline written all over it! Thank goodness for spell and grammar checks!! 

I have always referred to myself as a procrastinating perfectionist. Sometimes I have said so in jest, often with a hint of pride. Today I say it with head hanging low as I admit ‘out loud’ here for all to see what I have at least been honest with myself internally about: the label is all too true in the worst self sabotaging way. 

I have tell-tale signs of OCD when you open a cupboard or closet in my apartment. I used to get trapped on staircases because I was counting my steps and needing to be still while I would tap out my left foot until it felt even with my right. I turn oven/stove knobs 4 times to be sure they are off, twist door locks over and over, count while I brush my teeth or my hair and am constantly pressing the alarm clock button making sure I set it for AM instead of PM… 

Whenever my task is for a job or a commitment made to a group of people, my perfectionism will cause anxiety that I used to misinterpret as procrastination. I would wrongly yell at myself about having no discipline. I would accuse myself of not being dedicated or lacking professionalism. All this self demotion would finally lead to the ‘why bother’ statements. If it is not going to be perfect I may as well not do it at all!!! 

That, my friends, is NOT procrastination. That is defeat! 

That is self-sabotage. 

There have been plenty of successes in my life. I traveled for 14 years singing with several groups, writing and learning, teaching vocal care and developement. I worked with a fabulous group of people for 9 years at a job I loved. I have served in leadership roles. I married my best friend. I have people in my life whom I consider to be of the highest caliber of integrity and loyalty. 

But all along the way I have gotten scared of doing well in whatever situation I have found myself. I know many of the reasons for this ‘condition’ and will explore those in the posts to come. What I have yet to master is how to avoid the avoidance I have become such an expert at! How do I stop demanding from myself unattainable perfection that inevitably leads to anxiety and procrastination and ultimately ends in yet another non-success story?! 

My life is flying by! The events of the past have had a hold on my future for far too long! Time to allow myself to be flawed AND successful simultaneously. Wouldn’t you agree? 

 

It’s My Birthday And I’ll Blog If I Want To! September 7, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 6:00 pm
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Today I turn 39!

That’s right. I said it. And I mean it! Not 39 again…not forever 39. Actually and really and truly – 39.

Aaahhhhhhh!!!! How did this happen??

OK. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s talk about…me…turning 39!

I have written and re-written this first blog entry probably at least 39 times and I keep revising and revisiting every sentence and paragraph. So, I’ve thrown all of those drafts away and I am free-falling through this initial post because, really, what do I know about blogging anyway?

Over the last couple of weeks I have visited the freshly pressed page and explored some wonderful sites for inspiration and encouragement. I have found an amazing new community in which to ramble on about all that I love in life…travel, food, friends, family, books, games – you name it!

My blog is going to be about…

wait for it…

ME – turning 39!!!!!

Who is this woman looking back at me in the mirror every day? What has she done with the girl I once was? Do I like the way she behaves? Do I want to continue on her path? Is she the best me that I can be??

Answers: she IS me, she has buried deep in her memory most of who I was as a girl, I do not like everything she does, I want to continue on her path but I also want to help her to MOVE ON from some of who she has become…she is NOT my best me.

Honestly, she will never be my best me. I am incapable of perfection.

I need to repeat that (strictly for my own benefit). I am incapable of perfection!! The fact that I have not allowed myself to live in the truth of that statement has gone a long way in getting me to the place I am today. I am a perfectionist. I am a procrastinator. Throw in a little OCD (no comments from the peanut gallery). I am too much of this and not enough of that and I drive myself crazy trying to navigate my way through all the noise in my head.

So, starting today and for the next year I intend to investigate my life. I want to see me for me. I want to see where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going. I am not planning to just observe (I’ve done enough of that over the years). I intend to be proactive. I intend for this blog to be interactive (this means YOU). And I intend to have the loudest, craziest, funnest (can I use that as a word? please??) time doing it!

I was about to say wish me luck.

Forget that, wish me endurance, honesty, persistence. Wish me a happy blog! Together we can work on the healthy future!!

Today I turn 39!   Bring It On!!

 

 
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