Sharing Some Love

The good people never really die.

Don’t miss the beautiful stories because they don’t fit within your preconceived ideals.

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The yarn in this piece of wall art – and five other pieces I finished today – belonged to a friend of mine who lost her battle with cancer two years ago. Yesterday was her birthday.

After she passed her husband gifted her yarn to me, and yesterday I began to use it for the project to raise funds for an orphanage. She was a social worker, a mental health advocate and one hell of a woman. Kathy, I hope you enjoy seeing your love continue to be shared, as you were so generous yourself in sharing it.

Late Nights & Lots of Crafts

I’m in my natural state – overextended.

I stay in a constant state of overcommitment. I still haven’t learned that I can’t do as much most days, so I do what I want to do, rather than what would be a better balance. I really love to give my time away. ALL OF IT.

I have zero space for dating, because I hadn’t planned on it. Now I’m dating, and it’s making for some late nights on the phone because that’s when we can catch up and focus on each other.

I am working with my lovely if occasionally annoying group of kids to make crafts to sell at my city’s massive Christmas Stroll this coming weekend in support of an orphanage near Monterrey, Mexico. It’s beyond giving to the less fortunate, it’s about providing for the most vulnerable people – impoverished and abused children. We heard about the booth and promptly offered up all of our creativity and spare nights, and we have been busy. It’s a great bonding time, but sitting on a tile floor painting for 3 hours last night is not without its consequences for me this morning as I creak around. My grouchy old bones are not as willing of participants.

This is on top of work, caring for my grandma, running the house, my brother starting to open up to me, various other holiday commitments for care packages and gatherings, my pro bono work, my volunteer work, and at some point starting to make Christmas happen.

Can I not adult today?

But it’s so worth it. Sacrificial giving is such a fulfilling thing. Not the giving from excess, but giving from having little. It’s part of my practice of gratitude, and I have rest planned as soon as I finish my whirlwind of commitments. I will be grateful for that too!

 

Bone Deep and Mind Breaking

‘Tis the season for joint pain.

Pain, you make me a believer.

I’m a summer girl, if for no other reason than hot weather doesn’t cause me joint pain. I inherited the family curse of old bones in a young body, and I can sit around with mature members of society and chat aches and pains with the best of them. They never believe someone my age can know how they feel, but since I can predict weather changes based on my elbows and hands and predict the overnight temps based on my knees, they eventually come around to accepting me as one of the wise. Or at least one of the chronically inflamed.

Add the prospect of months of constant deep joint pain to my neurological disorders and you get someone who hates winter. Me.

I finally broke again yesterday. I hit my limit of stress and went over the edge into nausea, dizziness and headache. Am I getting sick? No. I have PTSD, and the stress overload I’ve experienced in the last two weeks sent me over the edge again. The nausea is not completely new, the dizziness was. Thankfully I was able to hold it together to work with a couple of clients, and my mom and my brother kindly drove me where I needed to go. I was not about to drive in that state. Could I? Yes. Was that the best thing for me and everyone else on the road? No.

It would have been better if, when I got off work and got my hair cut, then grabbed some crafting supplies for a project I’m working on for a charitable organization, I had popped a Xanax and gone to bed. Just be done with the day and the stress and sleep it off. But I am so determined to not let the negative part of my brain control my life. So I texted a friend to see if I could catch a ride with her to Bible study and she gracefully didn’t hesitate. That support network? It’s everything on the days I can’t.

I took my knitting because it helps me stay present in group discussions, and knitted my way through tackling Jonathan Edwards’ writings on Charity. It was challenging, and it was good. The woman who hosts us in her home had made a spiced tea and cookies, and she has such a calm, loving presence. Toward the end we shared prayer requests, and I opened up about my struggles, about trying to come to terms with my new normal, that there are always barriers to living the life I want to live, that I have realized I will never be healed and I will live with this for the rest of my time on earth.

I live in pain. Every waking moment is hell because I have no hope that this life will ever be what I want, that what has happened to my brain will subside and I can live free from the demons in my head. I expressed that, and was received with love. One of the women in our group said that what I was saying was exactly her daughter’s experience. I found so much comfort in that, that someone understood. Those that didn’t understand met me with love and compassion.

That moment of vulnerability? It opened up so much love for me. It added women to my circle and to my team in struggling against and with what I’ve been dealt. I have gotten really ignorant responses from church people about my condition and what I do to try to heal. Last night was not that, and I was so comforted.

It is so fucking hard to be vulnerable when the person you were is ripped out of your hands and you’re trying to find your way again. But damn is it sometimes worth it.

And Client’s Brother messaged me all evening, showing a lot more interest than I expected.

When you live with chronic pain it can be hard to be thankful. But today I am so, so thankful.

A Beautiful Evening of Love

…they took in all of the love their friends brought for them and multiplied it into the stars.

I attended a friend’s wedding last night. It was probably the most romantic ceremony and certainly one of the most fun receptions I’ve ever attended. The brides put every bit of themselves into the wedding, and they took in all of the love their friends brought for them and multiplied it into the stars. Love was spoken, love was given and love was accepted. Their vows were so memorable and so meaningful. I have heard the standard church vows so often, heard the nerves, smiled at a little awkwardness. These women brought us all to tears with the sincerity and authenticity of voicing their commitment to each other.

I hope we who were there all hold that moment as a precious experience and a memory to draw on when we’re tempted to respond harshly, when we become angry and when shit just gets too hard. Beauty exists, and it is worth holding onto.

I was so honored to have been invited to share in their joy, and to honor that invitation I am keeping the memory close at hand.

 

I Love My Naked Toes

I was struck by, I kid you not, my own feet.

I was on the phone with a longtime friend catching up on life, and at one point I got up to move around and wiggle my bones. I was standing on a floor tile and naturally put my feet together in a way that suddenly struck me as close to the beginning of mountain pose. I looked down and observed my toes as I listened to my friend describe her kickass, boss lady actions at work, and I was struck by, I kid you not, my own feet.

I almost always have painted toenails. Lots of corals, pinks and reds for years. Occasionally blue or purple. I can’t even remember the last time they weren’t painted. I like them painted. Have since I was young. I think I must have taken the polish off the other day and gotten distracted before I got them repainted. That almost never happens either. Which is why it was so weird that I didn’t have painted toenails, and even more weird that I was admiring my naked toes. I don’t typically admire my feet.

I was standing with purpose, with intention, with muscle. I was standing strong. As I leaned over to observe my feet, I could feel the results of working through hours of yoga poses. I have strong feet, feet that can balance and shift and flex and support. I have feet that have worn through three pairs of running shoes since February. I have feet with toes that grip my yoga mat, that steady me as I swing a kettle bell and that pound mile after mile of anxiety and sweat out of me.

I am really proud of these toes. They have carried me through nearly four years of post-traumatic stress, through graduate school, through lifestyle change and job change and habit change and through learning to love my body and what it can do.

I freaking love my naked toes.

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My Naked Toes