You might have to look for it

Just this morning, I wrote a blog post about enjoying joy. About appreciating the joy that is to be found around us in our lives. A few hours later I was sitting on the floor of my laundry room overwhelmed to the point of tears. Not tears of joy. These were tears of a momma who was teetering on the edge of hopelessness. Mommin’ ain’t easy. Somedays it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

So there I sat in the floor of my laundry room, surrounded by mountains of clothes (six people create a lot of dirty laundry) feeling like a big fat fraud. Where was my joy now? Didn’t I just post about how joyful life is and how all you have to do is look and find the joy? Now, to be totally transparent, I wasn’t crying about how much laundry I had to do. No, this was not about that. I will not share the details of what caused my meltdown – not because I am trying to hide my “ugly” – but out of respect for the privacy of others involved in the situation. And the situation is not really the point anyway.

The point is about joy. There are some moments where I am not naturally, organically overwhelmed with life’s joy. But that does not mean that it is not present. What it truly means is that I have lost my sight of it, while choosing to focus on the yucky stuff. My perspective shifted from being thankful for all of the good stuff, to wallowing in the muck that threatens to steal my joy. But here’s the thing….I am not at all saying that life should be rosy and rainbows every single day. I know that fact all too well. I think what I am trying to say (I’m discovering it as I type) is that even though life feels like a mess sometimes, and we as humans can feel way too caught up in the chaos, we don’t have to unpack and stay there. We can shift our perspective and choose to be happy in our circumstances. No, we don’t “fake it” and just act like everything is okay so that our friends and neighbors don’t judge us. No, we don’t bury our heads in the sand and not deal with the hard stuff because we want to dance around the house like a Disney princess. We face things, we learn to cope with things, we grow from things – all while we focus our eyes on the good stuff that we can hold on to.

I guess what all of my rambling here really means is that when you find yourself sitting on your laundry room floor crying and feeling like you just might drown – its okay. You are not alone! Just don’t camp out there too long because you might miss out on the goodness that there is out there for you!

It’s okay

IMG_2517When I decided to create a blog to share my writing, I promised myself that I would always do my best to be genuine with my words. Authenticity is a non-negotiable for this whole process for me. I don’t think it’s real to share just the happy highlights and keep the ugliness all to myself. Sharing a skewed view of my world seems like such a fraud and that’s not at all who or what I want to be. So…here we go. Yesterday morning I wrote about joy and how its not based on circumstances but rather it comes from God and its constant and a whole bunch of other thoughts that I do believe to be truth!

Last night by dinner time, I was on the verge of a breakdown. I am not using that phrase flippantly either. I was panicked, tight-chested, breathing heavy, sobbing, and shaking.  Swollen, puffy eyed, snot slinging, ugly crying. I had spent the entire evening worrying about anything and everything and had come up with the absolute worst-case scenario for each member of my family and myself. Yes, I was extreme catastrophizing. Where was my joy? Who was I to even create a post about being joyful in all of life? These questions led me to feeling even worse about myself…which led to more tears and feeling awful about myself. Why is this whole situation so hard for me? Why can’t I just do better, be better, live better? And the cycle continued….questions, self-loathing, tears.

This morning my perspective is a little brighter. Actually, my perspective is a little more rational. This morning, after a decent night’s sleep, two cups of strong coffee, and some allergy medicine, my thoughts are a little more clear, my emotions are a little more calm (it’s all relative), and heart is not quite so heavy. I thought back to the words my therapist spoke to me this week in our “virtual” session when I told him that I just don’t feel like I’m doing a very good job balancing everything. He asked me this question; “Have you ever done this before? Have you ever been quarantined indefinitely for a worldwide pandemic where you had to teach remotely and help your school aged kids with their schoolwork and help all five of your children navigate the fears and worries of this new normal?”  

*crickets

When I say that I hate when he goes all Jedi-mind tricks on me, I really don’t hate it because it forces me to answer the question that he and I both already know the answer to. Point made.

No, I have never done this before. No, I should not have it all together effortlessly. Yes, I should slow down, take a deep breath and allow myself some grace. Yes, we will all be okay if the school work is late, the dishes are dirty and we are wearing three-day old jammies. Today, in this moment, I am a MESS.  I do not “feel” joyful. I am bitter and angry that life is so hard right now. I am wallowing in self-pity in my unwashed, messy bunned hair. I will not stay here. I will seek my center, begin to balance and claim my calm. But for now, it’s okay.

It’s okay.

Choose your hard

I have a sign that hangs in my office/craft room/hideout. That sign reads “Choose your hard.” It’s a reminder to me as I try (once again) to lose weight and get myself in shape. I saw a saying once that said “Working out is hard. Being overweight is hard. Choose your hard.” That stuck with me and I thought it was a great way to think about it. But as a grow and work on myself I am learning that not everything that I’ve thought of as hard is truly hard. What I’m learning is that most of the time, things are uncomfortable, not hard. Climbing Mt. Everest…hard. Advanced Calculus…hard. Brain surgery…hard. But many of the things we say are hard to us are really just uncomfortable.

Think about it. How many times have you heard “relationships are hard”? No….not really. Relationships can be uncomfortable, but not necessarily hard. As I work through so much of the “stuff” from my past I hear myself saying over and over – “it’s just too hard.” In all honesty though, it’s just really uncomfortable to face the ugly things that I’ve kept buried so long. And none of us really like to be uncomfortable. Having conversations with people about the things that matter is really uncomfortable at times – but not hard. The craziness of raising 5 kids, chaotic schedules, outbursts, teenage hormones, undecided paths, sleep deprivation, worry, anxiety, endless laundry….ask a tired mom. It all feels so hard. But in all reality, everything that goes along with parenting is just really uncomfortable. It’s not hard to raise our kids because we love them so much and want the best for them in every way. But there are certainly many moments of “uncomfortable.”

So the sign that hangs over my desk will be changed very soon to reflect this new mindset I am working toward. Changing the way I think about the world around me will be a drastic change, and it will be uncomfortable, but it won’t be hard.

Milestones

stepping stonesAs a new parent, I remember being so excited for each of my children’s milestones; crawling, walking, talking, first tooth, etc. I couldn’t wait for them to reach each of them, and then to move on to the next “big” event. I would mark each of these glorious days in their baby book and swear I would remember them forever. As they got older, they still continued to reach new ones, but they didn’t seem to capture as much attention as when they were babies. Maybe that’s because life just got so busy that I didn’t take the time to fully appreciate them as I should have. What I wouldn’t do to have some of that precious time back to just slow down and enjoy each moment for its true worth. I feel like I almost wished their childhood away by saying things like “I can’t wait until they walk…I can’t wait until her first day of school…”. 

This past year has been full of milestones for both of my “big” kids. Zach finished his junior year at Otterbein University. And instead of coming home for the summer, he moved into his first apartment in Columbus (which is now home to him). For the first time in 21 years, my son does not live with me. It’s left so an odd emptiness in our house and in my heart. Carty played her last soccer game ever, attended her last prom, graduated from high school, and is at her college orientation as I type this! She is no longer a child. She is embarking on her life after school. So many milestones for her this year. As I left her at orientation (why the heck were parents not allowed?) she got out of the car and told me to drive away before she walked in. I got a big smile on my face because I knew that she knew that I was going to snap a picture of her heading straight into her next milestone. I did as she asked and drove away without a picture on my phone. But I did pause to capture the image in my mind and saved it to my heart. (Jeez that sounds so cheesy – honest but cheesy). 

Why did it all happen so fast? That sounds so cliche…but wow is it so true. I can remember so many people telling me that it would. But in those busy times of practices and homework and laundry, at times it felt like it would never end. So here I sit, tears streaming down my face, wishing that I had paid more attention along the way. Somehow, all of a sudden, my babies are grown. They are moving on to their own lives. Yes, I will always and forever be their momma…but things will never be the same. I’m sad that they are not babies anymore, but I know that there will continue to be more events that we will share. We will learn to navigate this new normal. And I will cherish each new milestone that comes along. 

*(I’m sorry (not sorry) for the emotional messiness of this post. Writing is my way to process and take time to feel what I’m really feeling. And also just to ramble a little bit.)