Friday, April 26, 2013


I am, once again, watching what I eat. I am trying to be aware of what I put into my body and how I use the energy that food generates. This sounds all lovely and spiritual and full of other such goodness, but mostly I want to be able to comfortably wear fitted t-shirts again. I am not above vanity.

So, I am counting calories on My Fitness Pal. It can be depressing, like today when I started to add butter to my baked sweet potato and realized it would add 70 calories. That's another 50 or so crunches. I don't enjoy doing crunches.

Yesterday, Jesus pulled one of his stunts. He does this to me fairly often, but not too often. If it happened daily, it would cease to be a novelty and I would learn to disregard the occurrence. Anywho, here's the deal:

I was really hungry, driving to Haydn's Thursday therapy group. I knew they would have food and I knew it wouldn't be healthy and I was hungry.

Did I mention I was hungry?

We pulled into the parking lot a little early and I decided I could snatch a few minutes to read in peace before going inside. I opened Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott and started right where I'd left off a few days prior, reading in a waiting room. This is what I read...

"...because the answer to your prayer is to remember that you're not hungry for food. You're hungry for peace of mind, for a memory. You're not hungry for cocoa butter. You're hungry for safety, for a moment when the net of life holds and there is an occasional sense of the world's benevolent order."

How's that for an all-knowing Savior? "Yes dear, I know you think you are hungry, but you're not, and you're just going to have to trust me on this one."

Food is often comfort to me. And I don't mean eating my sadness or anything, though I am also guilty of that. For me, food while I'm reading or working is proof of my life being cared for. I know we are doing okay because I am eating, and if we weren't doing okay, I wouldn't be eating. Food is proof of blessing, but I should not need to constantly hold that proof. Knowing that the food is in the cabinet and that I am not actually hungry but will have the food there when I am actually hungry... that needs to be enough.

Because I am not hungry for food.

I am hungry for sensory experience, and eating temporarily satisfies that. I am hungry for busyness and eating makes my hands feel they are doing something, not hanging idle. I am tricking myself with food, tricking my spirit into believing food is what it's hungry for.

I need to replace the not-hungry kind of eating with prayer, with writing, with my Bible and my friendships, with my husband and my children. These things are what I am really hungry for. They are my peace of mind, my best memories.

I am not hungry for food.

Are you?

  Public Domain Images

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"Some Kind of Black Wave"

A friend asked me, a couple of weeks ago, "Do you ever let yourself just be sad for a while?" It's a good question, and I am blessed to have the kinds of friends who can and will ask these types of questions.

The short answer is, yes. I do let myself be sad sometimes.

The long answer is this:

I can usually tell the difference between being sad and starting a depressive episode. Sadness is a viable emotion. Even when there is no logical reason for feeling down, normal people can still feel sad. Depression, on the other hand, is not a viable emotion. Depression is apathy + a black pit of despair + anger at nothing and everything + a constant pointlessness.

Depression, in my life, shows up first as "Why bother?"

The floor is dirty again, I should clean it, but... Why bother?

The dog needs a bath. I should bathe him, but... Why bother?

Quickly it progresses to: It's time to get up and start our day, but... Why bother?

Sylvia Plath explained it this way, “It seemed silly to wash one day when I would only have to wash again the next. It made me tired just to think of it.”

We've made it to the why get out of bed stage, as of today. I was going to see my doctor but he is out of the office. I will go tomorrow. Really, this is quite mild, because I am still on antidepressants. Wait, you can get depressed while taking antidepressants? You can if you're me. I've been blessed with the med I'm currently taking. It has worked for an entire year. Most work for about 6-8 months. For me, at least. My psychiatrist older brother says ADs are only meant to work for 1-2 years. Not a big deal for a person with mild or situational depression. For someone like me, who inherited severe chronic depression, that really really sucks.

I've been on most available ADs by this point in my life. A few did nothing at all to help and one helped a little too well (I want to not feel depressed, but I'd still like to be able to feel happiness and sadness etc...). Trying a new medicine means taking a chance on it not working. Then we have to try another. I don't like that. I don't like taking the drugs to begin with and I certainly don't like bouncing between them. It's Russian Roulette with side effects. The med I am on right now has only one side effect. It makes me sleepy. I take it before bed. I have taken meds that make me feel perpetually inebriated, unable to cry when something really is sad, and even one that blacked out the writing part of my brain. I refuse to stay on a med that keeps me from writing.

So, here I am, being transparent with you. Don't go getting worried though. Like I said, this is a mild episode. I am not suicidal or thinking of becoming a cutter or turning to drugs and alcohol. I'm even out of the bed and writing this blog. I will see my doctor and do what I need to do to get better again. I decided to write this because many of you may suffer the same thing or know someone else affected. Maybe this will be helpful to you. I hope so.


Some other depression quotes I find helpful in explaining myself to others:

“Sadness is more or less like a head cold - with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees 
 “I was so scared to give up depression, fearing that somehow the worst part of me was actually all of me. ” ― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation 
 “I wasn't just the madwoman in the attic--I was the attic itself. The past was all over me, all under me, all inside me.” ― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation 
“I want to explain how exhausted I am. Even in my dreams. How I wake up tired. How I’m being drowned by some kind of black wave.” ― Elizabeth Wurtzel

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Felicities: 4/19/13

Friday Felicities

Poetry in the park
Haydn having a good ball practice
A good doctor's visit today
Some really wonderful posts at Middle Places this week
Texts from Rosemary
Burt's Bees lip balm
Class notes
Bright colored ink
Epiphanies from Jesus in busy waiting room

It was a heavy week on a wide scale and a small one. It's good to remember the blessings that fall among the rain.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fiction: The Regulars

The world is only as big as one diner. At least, that's how it feels when you work almost daily double-shifts at said diner, a cliche greasy spoon known only as Pal's. Who is Pal? Or who was Pal? No one seems to know.  The sign above the door might once have read "Opal's," but it was hard to tell, and no one could remember an Opal anymore than a Pal.

Janine wipes down a table recently vacated by one drunk college kid and a badly dressed female whom Janine suspected was the boy's mother. Parents today are crazy, letting their children drink and then buying them burgers at 4 o'clock in the morning. Janine checks her watch. It's five, time for her regulars.

As if she'd summoned them with one brief wristward glance, Holland and Bob appear in the doorway, causing a little bell to tinkle them welcome and Janine to smile despite her fatigue. "Morning, doll." Holland is the older of the two men, but not by much. He'd celebrated his 85th birthday just a month earlier, and she knows Bob will celebrate his own in a week or two. By celebrate, she means they ordered or would order pancakes instead of eggs and bacon instead of whole wheat toast.

"Coffee?" Janine stands with her hands on her hips. The wet table rag hangs from one apron pocket.

"Black," Holland replies.

While Janine is getting the coffee, the old men slide into a freshly cleaned booth and Bob nods his head toward a car parked just outside their window. "You think she'll ever get tired of this?"

"Who? Martha? Don't be silly."

"She's about to have a baby, Land. She won't be getting a lot of sleep."

"Oh, don't worry about that. Sadie will bring us for a few months, while Martha adjusts. You already asked her, right?"

Sadie is Bob's oldest granddaughter. She's a personal trainer or something newfangled like that. She is always up by four and can easily drop them by the diner each weekday morning.

Bob looks bewildered for a moment. This happens more often since the stroke.

"I'll ask her," Holland says. He hopes to save Bob from recognizing he's forgotten something important once again. This is why he can no longer drive for the both of them. Holland's neuropathy makes gas and brake pedals impossible, leaving them both license-less.

"It's a boy," Holland continues on, as though there'd been no senior moment to recognize and deal with. "She says he'll be Holland Briggs Joyner. Holland for me and Briggs for Lewis' father. You know, he died with the cancer just a year ago."

"Hip wasn't it?"

"Stomach," Holland says.

Bob just nods, and Janine reappears with two cups of coffee. While Holland adds two sugars to his own mug, Bob sips his black.

"The usual, boys?" Janine holds her pad with a pencil poised above it, as if she needs to copy down their order, something she memorized more than a year ago.

"Two eggs, over easy," Holland says.

"Scrambled for me," Bob adds.

Their waitress disappears again, her yellow uniform skirt swishing against her legs. Bob watches her go, trying to remember her name. He just can't make it form in his brain, let alone on his tongue.

"It's Janine," Holland answers Bob's thought. They've always communicated this way, one brain for two men.

In the car, with the heater running, Martha sips from a bottle of green tea, one hand resting on her full belly. She can see the two men through the window, their familiar movements, the way her grandfather nods respectfully when Bob speaks, and the way Bob sometimes gets lost, his eyes drifting to the window and meeting her gaze. He stares blankly this time. He doesn't remember she is there. She fears he isn't long for this world, and she doesn't want to think about that. Losing their wives had been hard, but losing each other? The two men were raised together, shared a crib sometimes, when Bob's mother worked at the mill and Holland's mother kept him overnight. What in the world will her grandfather do without Bob?

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Want to Sponsor ALL. THE. CHILDREN.

I have wanted to sponsor a Compassion child for a few years now. It would be yet another monthly expense, I knew, so I put it off. And I put it off. And I put it off some more. I've had this idea, for a while, that I can sponsor a child as soon as I sign a book contract. That book contract is an elusive thing, so by the time I found myself sitting by my good friend Rosemary at a show featuring Chonda Pierce and Geoff Moore, I still had not sponsored a child.

I decided, it was time to quit putting it off. There will never be a "good time" to add another "bill" to our monthly pile. Life doesn't work that way. Jesus talks about not just loving our friends, but also our enemies. He's all about doing things that require sacrifice and trust in Him. So I started surfing Compassion's database of children in need of sponsorship.

Let me tell you, that database of children is overwhelming. There are SO MANY KIDS IN NEED. So many, friends. I scrolled through their names and faces with a heavy heart. Why can I adopt ALL. THE. CHILDREN? All of them. I want to feed them and clothe them and educate them. I want to fix this messed up world, where we live our middle-class high life and sweet babies STARVE TO DEATH. Fight to end abortion, sure. But for crying out loud can we feed and care for the children already in this world. We sure don't "choose life" for these beautiful souls all around our quickly shrinking planet.

So, yes, overwhelming, because I can't adopt all the children. I can't feed them all or clothe them all or teach them all sorts of things, they way I teach my own. I can't sponsor them all.

But I can sponsor one of them.

I had to narrow it down. How to find the one child I have been thinking of sponsoring for years. I needed some search parameters. I decided, first, I would sponsor a girl. I live in a house of maleness. Husband, two sons, boy dog, boy cat. I rarely lay eyes on my stepdaughter. So, a girl. And, at first, I limited my search to Haiti. My best friends' family live in Haiti, and I have prayer-adopted a woman there. It seemed right. I did not, however, stumble upon a child that seemed like "the one." I debated just letting Compassion choose for me, but then I broadened my search to other countries, and I thought.

How to chose a child...

By name. The thought popped into my head. "I have called you by name. You are mine."

What name?

I started typing in family names, thinking if I picked a girl with the name of my grandmother or my aunt or something of the sort, it would be just like she was born to us. She would hold a name I might have given a biological daughter, if I'd ever had one. I kept getting a blank screen. Kentucky hill-folk names are apparently not popular in 3rd world countries. Who knew? I stared at another blank screen and then...

I typed in Nat. I watched my screen fill with faces. There were names like Sakinatou, Enat, and Tsinat, but there was also: Nathaly, Natielle, Natalia and... Nathali.

And I knew she was ours. There were two girls with the name. I bookmarked their profiles, waiting for a paycheck to pay our first month. When I pulled them up again, not sure how to choose between them, the first girl had disappeared. She'd received a sponsor in the day since I first looked. That made the final decision easy. We have paid our first month and received our sponsor packet. Yesterday, I sent our first letter. I am so overjoyed. I want to write to her everyday like a crazy person.

I want to sponsor all of the Nat girls. All of them. Maybe, one day, I will. I mean, we started paying for the braces Haydn will wear soon. When I looked at the monthly payment, I thought, "I could sponsor three children for this and still be paying less." Maybe, when we have paid all of Haydn's braces, we will be so used to making that payment, I can just sponsor more kids.

I promise, Compassion is not sponsoring this post. It's just in my heart. Please consider sponsoring one of these beautiful children. Please.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Poem: I See a Gardener

Sometimes, I see a gardener
instead of seeing

Too often, I see
a neighbor or a child
asking a lot of me,
too much of me.
I see a homeless man,
a woman wheelchair bound,
a mother yelling or an old man
complaining when my children
pick the flowers
or climb the trees.
I see yet another man,
another woman,
needing needing needing
something from me.
I see a car that goes too fast,
too slow, too recklessly,
cutting me off, endangering
my life, my kids' lives.
I see another chore, another
favor, another
inconvenience meant for me.

How can I see you
by this tomb
and never recognize
that you
are You?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Felicities: 4/12/13

Friday Felicities

Big blue sweatshirt
Sponsoring a Compassion child
Her name is Nathali.
Polka-dotted water cup
Writing compliments
PEERs group on Thursday
Good ball practices for Haydn
Haydn in his baseball backpack
David's fingers on piano keys
Browsing in bookstores
Seeing Desi on Tuesday
Writing cursive and liking it
Really good scenes
The final Harry Potter movie
Chatting with Jennifer at the ball field
Striped socks

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

poemcrazy: pen me in the ink

I was a mountain
climbing myself.
I was a teacher
teaching only
me. I was
yesterday, but now
I'm tomorrow,
a dream, a hope,
a cloud floating
into anywhere.
I want to be
a single blade
of green grass, sharp
slicing open a heart,
a soul, one eye
staring, thinking they
can never know me,
pen me in the ink
of their wrong words.


Join the fun at Tweetspeak Poetry!

Currently: April Air Stirs

Current Books: We're about to start The View from Saturday in the car (on audio) and we're loving Chomp by Carl Hiaasen. I've almost finished The Gone and the Going Away, poetry-wise, and I'm reading Shakespeare to the boys each day.. We're really near the end in Story of the World, Volume 2. I am reading The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle and just bought Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott.

Current Playlist: I need to work on a playlist for my latest writing project. Doing that is always fun.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Talenti gelato. I justify it by thinking how much better it is for me than regular ice cream. I recognize all of the items in the ingredients list, which is rare for pre-packaged food in America. Last week I had the salted caramel and yesterday I bought the pistachio. Pistachio was my Seattle flavor of gelato. I told Corey, a pint of gelato costs $5, and that is really cheap when you look at my options. A plane ticket to Seattle is $800, so I'm saving $795 buying it at Kroger.

Current Colors: Brights.

Current Fetish: Colorful note-taking.

Current Food: Organic honeycrisp apples.

Current Drink: Water all day, except my one cup of coffee.

Current Favorite Favorite: Scrivener. I downloaded the software for my 30-Day free trial, and I am in love. Head over heels. I want to play with it all day, writing and reorganizing.

Current Wishlist: I want to stock up on workbooks at Teacher's Pet (local store) and I could use a lifetime supply of ink cartridges for my printer.

Current Needs: A clone? Braces to be free? A personal chef? Yeah, no. My needs are met. Unless you have a magic wand that can grant me infinite patience.

Current Triumph: I'm taking a novel-writing class, because I was stuck and not sure what I was doing wrong. I'm really glad I signed up for the class. I am feeling more clear-headed since the big picture of novel-structure is making sense to me.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Food prices. I'm trying to serve healthier meals and snacks to my family, and the bad stuff is so much cheaper.

Current Indulgence: Did I mention the gelato? Yeah, that.

Current Mood: Mostly good, but my nerves are stretched a bit thin.

Current #1 Blessing: Compassion International. We are sponsoring a little girl in Nicaragua, and I am very excited.

Current Outfit: Gray lounge pants and a peach t-shirt, my painted TOMs

Current Link: Sasha's wonderfully honest post on anger.

Current Quote: “The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds” ― Thomas Merton

Current Photo: My nephew is adorable and I miss cuddling him.

Title from this haiku:

“April's air stirs in 
Willow-leaves...a butterfly
Floats and balances” 
― Matsuo BashōJapanese Haiku

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Felicities: 3/5/13

Friday Felicities

rereading poemcrazy
finishing the 7th Harry Potter with my boys
Molly Weasley calling Bellatrix a bad word ;)
the checkpoints of novel writing
the image of "midnight strawberries"
Jesus' words on pink index cards
remembering my Nattie-girl
books in the mail from Dana
looking forward to a night out with Rosemary
boys registered for summer camp

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Safety Pinning Life One Pant Leg at a Time

It's Autism Awareness Month. It is also National Poetry Month. Both are a huge part of my daily life. One is considerably more enjoyable, but the other is connected to a child I love to the moon and back, cliche as that may be. My good friend, Tara, is newly arrived to the Aspie world, with my sweet Birthday Buddy Boy and she shared a bit about that on her blog, Giggles and Gulps. Tara and I text on a fairly regular basis. It's nice to know someone else is standing where you are, facing what you are, feeling all of the three billion emotions associated with your particular situation right along beside you.

I have blogged here about my son's diagnosis and a variety of ways that affects our life with him. I hesitate to share too much, as he will grow up one day and this blog is a very public forum. Raising Haydn is hard work, and I never want to write anything that will one day make him feel un-loved or under-valued. That is not the case at all. But I'd be lying if I pretended parenting him is easy, and he'd be lying if he told you BEING him is easy. Everyday is filled with frustration for both of us. That's par for the course with any kind of disability or special needs. Heck, it's par for the course with parenting neurotypical kids. It's life.

I'm not going to list off Haydn's triggers or meltdowns or issues with school and socializing. Instead, I'm going to share a little Haydn story from last week. Consider this a wee tiny peek into our daily existence.

On Good Friday, I took Haydn to church and endured his pouty annoyed whining because his pants were “too long.” They were not too long. They fit. But after losing my religion in the church parking lot (at least I was in a good place to find it again) I spent Sunday morning safety pinning his pants to a length acceptable to him, and my happy smart boy reemerged in time for the Easter service.

If only I could safety pin his life for him. Then everything would be okay.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Word Candy: Behind the Poems

I Need You To Multiply

I'd just broken up a fight between my sons. They'd been playing a video game and come to an impasse that resulted in flaring tempers and the stubbornness of will they inherited from my husband and myself. I made them shut off the Xbox and find something else to occupy their time for a while. Then, I sat down at my desk, where my Bible was waiting.

I almost closed the Bible and went upstairs to cry. It had been that kind of day, the kind of day where my children's inability to be kind to one another feels like the heaviest burden I've ever carried. I know, this isn't true, but it was feeling very true, and I was exhausted. I was behind on a handful of personal projects. The kitchen needed a thorough cleaning. I needed to check Haydn's geography workbook and make spelling and vocabulary lists for the new week. So, yeah, I almost closed the Bible, my brain too fuzzy to concentrate on scripture.

Instead, I took a deep breath and dove in. This is what I read:

When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick. 
Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”
But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”
“All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said. 
Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.   
(Matthew 14:13-21)

Yes, Jesus, I prayed. Yes. Yes. Yes. This is me. I have only as much patience as your disciples had fish. My loaves of compassion are limited. I don't see how we're going to manage this - this raising and teaching of boys, this running of a household, this writing of novels, this seeking after you always always always. My energy is no more than two loaves and five fish. 

I need you to multiply my resources. I can't do this, but you can.

He can, friends. I am scared and tired and frustrated, but He is not. I can't succeed, not so long as my efforts are my own. But He can.

He can.
He can.
He can.

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