Cozy Love

We like to define love in big gestures–Grandious gifts, daring declarations, over-the-top expressions of what we mean to someone.  These are all great in their flashy cirque way, but their is an aspect of show to them all.  Grandness can be topped and outdone.  It can be an exponential curve that is hard to maintain.

Perhaps that is why BIG love gives way after a time to a cozier love.  This love is borne of tiny things, and hidden gifts of love that speak volumes about the reality of what you have together.  Cozy love looks different to all people, but you know it when you have it – it can be takeout and netflix, it can be doing the dishes, or getting up with a child in the middle of the night to let someone sleep.  It can be a text to let you know are remembered.  It can be 20 minutes of pillow talk before bed when you’ve barely seen your partner all week.

Cozy love is the type of love that lets things go when it isn’t worth a fight.  It is the kind of love that might not make for good tv, but it makes for good life.  Cozy love admits its wrongdoings and tries harder the next time.  Cozy love acknowledges the other’s needs, and speaks your own clearly.

And cozy love forgives when those things don’t happen because we are human after all.

The world teaches us to look for grandious love.  We expect boomboxes over heads, and cue cards of love, and kissing in the rain after a huge fight.  But everyday joy comes in walking through life knowing someone has your back, and knowing you have theirs.

I will choose cozy, everyday, ordinaty love every time.  It might not be flashy, but it makes me a better person, it lifts me up when I fall, and we weather the storm together.

For Valentine’s day I hope that you all find cozy love and the immense joy in it.  And maybe a piece of good chocolate too, just for good measure.

 

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On comfort

If you are my friend on facebook, it is likely that you think my whiny and full of complaints this week.  That is how I feel at least, and it is not a side of me that I really like.  It is brought out by not enough introvert time, not enough sleep, and too much chaos.

In particular this week, it is brought out by a small tiny bane of my existence – the pacifier.

We’ve been needing to get E2 to give up that pacifier for over a year now.  We got dentist “bad mom” glares all over the place because she still used it.  And Friday, the day before my birthday, she chewed a hole in the last one, and that was that.

Except it wasn’t because we still have to navigate the waters of “pacifier free” existence.

Cut to Tuesday and E2 and I are short on sleep and short of comfort.  She wants what we don’t have, and is so tired she can hardly see straight, and I just want quiet and sleep.

And yet, it is such a small thing in the scheme of life.  In a year, this will seem a distant memory.  We can adapt and E2 is improving more or less.  I was thinking of this and my complaining tonight, and it took my thoughts to the people of Houston.

There are thousands who have lost their comforts, their security, their peaceful existence.  In its place are noise, sleepless nights and the ache of those losses.  How many infants are missing their pacifiers, or their stuffed animals, or their bottles?  How many kids are learning to do without their books, their games, their possessions?  How many adults are wondering how to manage with a few hastily packed items and a home underwater?

And then I don’t want to complain anymore.

And I hug E2, comfort her, and rock her to sleep like I used to, and pray for those rocking their babies in shelters around Texas and the gulf.

On Birthdays

It is my birthday.  I am 38 years old today.

Am I the only person who gets melancholy on their birthday?  It is not unhappiness per se, nor is it fear of the number that I am turning.  Rather I find myself stuck in the strange place of needing to identify for myself what I want and that seems so impossibly odd and difficult.

Birthdays are a balance of expectations and desires to feel special, and the reality is that I never really get what I want because half the time I don’t know myself.  Or perhaps it is that the things that I do want are so unattainable that I don’t know how to express them in birthday wishes.

I want to provide for my kids without stress.

I want my kids to stop fighting over trivial things.

I want to have a clean house without having to do it myself.

I want to eat all the things and gain no weight.

I want to know what I am meant to do with my life, and how to pay for it.

I want to see all my friends and family, and be by myself.

I want to not make any decisions but I want my desires to be intrinsically known even when I don’t know them myself.

Oh, and world peace (and no President Trump).

Heh.

It is no wonder the day usually fails to meet expectations as I set them so vague and unattainable.

The feeling doesn’t really last, but every birthday (or holiday really) without fail gives me a period of “what is the point?” ennui.  It isn’t to say I don’t enjoy them and look forward to them.

Today I had a lovely lunch with the family, we played with puppies (dangerous), we played my new Harry Potter deck building game from the family.  And we also had tantrums, ate too much bad-for-me-food, gained weight at weigh in, and had to put a 3 year old to bed after pulling the plug on the pacifier yesterday.

In short it was a normal mix of good and bad.

I am blessed with my family and my friends.  I don’t know why I get this sad period, it isn’t for lack of amazing things.  It just seems to be part of how I process life and I am learning to say that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing so long as I don’t dwell in it.

Life is complicated, this year has been one of our more complicated years, and I am glad to have leveled up. My birthday was a good one, but I’ll be glad to reach tomorrow when the center-of-things pressure isn’t quite so high.

Scenes from the 3Day

I am home safe and sound from my weekend crewing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk.

I have thoughts on it all but I am too tired to express them properly- so tonight you get pictures and stats.

Boobs, Sweat and Tears – Team Robin had 12 members (9 walkers and 3 crew) and we raised over $35,000 for this walk. We were the second place fundraising team. (The highest team had 43 members)

Some of our team.

I worked on the grab and go and event support team. We set up and ran a hydration stop all weekend. I drove the truck!

My crew team was amazing and came from California, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota just to crew.

It was hard work, tons of fun, a few tears, and lots of memories made. I even got to dress up as coffee.

I will have more thoughts but for now thank you for all your love and support.

Temple thoughts

Have I mentioned that my new job is at a synagogue?  It is a Reform Jewish Temple – a denomination of Judaism known for a more progressive political stance.  Among their core values is the idea of Tikkun Olam – repairing the broken world through acts of kindness.  This often means they are active is social policy, caring for the disadvantaged and striving for interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

I mention this today because of the recent events in Charlottesville over the weekend.  Assuming you have not been under a rock, the “Unite the Right” march occurred and was a straight up display of vile, racism, bigoted and white nationalist ideas as I’ve seen in my lifetime.

In short it is terrifying and appalling.

But after this job for the last 9 months one thing is clear – it is NOT surprising. The synagogue is full of members who survived, or whose parents survived the holocaust.  They share first person accounts in of the horrors endured as a people during World War II.  Beyond those sobering stories, many have the additional experience of being an immigrant or refuge.  These is not even to mention the day to day antisemitism that still exists.

Nazism is a reality in a way that it never occurred to me before as a privileged American Christian.

In the same way that only people of color can fully understand the full measure of systemic racism in America, or muslims can express the anti-islamic sentiment rampant in the U.S, the people I have come to know have taught me a lot about what it really means to have a people’s story marred by the systemic extermination of all the people you care about.

But I know too, that in having this history, the people I have met are the first to stand with their brothers and sisters of all creeds and colors in the face of persecution and violence.

A friend shared this poem on her Facebook page – written by Rabbi Michael Adam Latz of Shir Tikvah Congregation, Twin Cities, MN. He is not “my” Rabbi, but the sentiment is exactly what they have taught me. Please share it, but attribute it to him if you do.


In response to Martin Niemoller (z”l):

First they came for Transpeople and I spoke up–
Because God does NOT make mistakes!

They came for the African Americans and I spoke up—
Because I am my sisters’ and my brothers’ keeper.

And then they came for the women and I spoke up—
Because women hold up half the sky.

And then they came for the immigrants and I spoke up—
Because I remember the ideals of our democracy.

And then they came for the Muslims and I spoke up—
Because they are my cousins and we are one human family.

And then they came for the Native Americans and Mother Earth and I spoke up—
Because the blood-soaked land cries and the mountains weep.

They keep coming.
We keep rising up.
Because we Jews know the cost of silence.
We remember where we come from.

And we will link arms, because when you come for our neighbors, you come for us—
and THAT just won’t stand.

And I will be right with them. Will you?

Progress

I'm just popping online over lunch to share some progress.

I went to weigh in at weight watchers this morning since I am not able to weigh in Saturday, my usual planned day.

Today's results show that I am now down a total of 7.0 lbs since I started on 7/24 – 17 days or 2.5 weeks.

I honestly cannot see or feel much difference but it is still important for me to recognize this is progress.

I have not decided how to Blog about this progress, I don't think I want to do a weekly weigh in post like I have before but I do think it's important to give myself some accountability.

Ultimately I've been down this road twice before. One weight loss journey was interrupted by a pregnancy and the other was interrupted by life. I need some new ways to define this journey so I'm not defined by a number on the scale and so I don't allow it to be interrupted again.

More importantly however, I need to be OK with myself whether I gain or lose weight. This time it is about my head and my heart as much as it is about me body.

-7 lbs is great but 2.5 weeks of being emotionally invested but not shaming myself is better.

Pardon the mess

I had a heavy therapy session this afternoon- digging into my relationship with food, money, blame and shame. Fun stuff…or not.

My therapist is in a clinic located in a building that's being renovated. The entrance sidewalk is covered with a protective scaffold and every time I visit things are slightly different–messier or more improved it's hard to tell.

Naturally there are signs asking its patrons to pardon the mess. And there is noise, dust, commotion and half-finished areas around. It can be frustrating as a client but I can only imagine how frustrating it is to work there.

I have worked through a renovation before my old church and ended up spending the summer officing in the store-room on the first floor away from all my colleagues. It was not a very mentally healthy summer. The clutter and the chaos seem to seep in to my brain.

In my therapy session today I realize that the chaos of renovation is a lot what I'm doing now, but instead of office space I'm renovating my mind, my body, my habits and my thoughts.

And it is just as messy as a real renovation. In order to clean out that which does not serve me, my brain seem to get messier before it gets cleaner.

It is messy to face real emotions.

It is chaotic adding appointments and homework to my already crammed schedule.

It is frustrating to examine old habits and why I fall into them.

It is just a little bit lonely to feel isolated from those around you by this messy head and body stuff.

But I can find surprises hidden among the rubble, and learn to cope with more than I thought possible, and if I make it through, the end result is worth it.

I am in midst of construction and it honestly feels a bit overwhelming and impossible but stopping just leaves a bigger mess behind.

I am sick of being a fixer-upper and ready to continue the renovation.

But please pardon the mess…

On friendship

I have been thinking about friendship a lot, specifically friendship for adults in the age of social media.  With so much of our lives being shared, the opportunities to be unintentionally overlooked or offended seems to be on the rise.  It makes me sad even as I experience these things just like everyone else.

Because it seems so easy talk indirectly by posting things on social media it is easy to assume that I’ve updated everyone on my life and everyone has updated me.  It is easy to assume that everyone’s lives are going pretty well even when they might not be. This indirect method friendship seems to exacerbate communication pitfalls among friends.  I have been thinking about this, and in particularly thinking of the things that make me a better friend as I navigate friendships as an adult.

Let me make this perfectly clear – these are things I do, consciously and unconsciously that help me manage my own emotions and relationships.  I am not telling anyone to adopt these, nor am I calling anyone out.  Sometimes I will fail at being a good friend, even when trying my best.  As always, if I have hurt someone, please let me know so I can apologize.

Anyway, onto the reminders for myself on how to be a good friend.

1. Own my mistakes and apologize.

I put this first because it is the hardest for me.  I try to be a good friend, but sometimes, I fail at this.  When that my failings become clear it is up to me to apologize and admit my mistakes.  I don’t like admitting mistakes, it is easy to end up being defensive instead.  But it doesn’t help to bring up past wrongs nor to give a conditional apology “I am sorry for x, but remember you did y.”  I try to remember to just let it go and apologize with humility.

2. Don’t hold grudges.

Sometimes I am the one who was hurt.  I try to allow my friends the chance to apologize and when that happens, I try to accept it and move on.  It does no good to file those times in a database of wrongs.  Friendship is never a zero sum game.  If I kept track of all the hurtful things that have been said to me I would have no friends left.  We all make mistakes and if people are willing to apologize, and it is not a relationship changing error, than I forgive and try to forget.

3. Let people go if your friendship has failed – but find a way to be polite in public.

Despite our best efforts to apologize and accept apologies, sometimes something happens that takes a friendship out.  This has happened to me and I still grieve those lost friends.  However, if that happens then I need to move on, but also find a way to see that person without causing chaos.  It helps to be polite and manage my own emotions in those situations.  (If someone threatens, attacks, or causes major damage however, avoidance is perfectly allowed.  I am not talking about situations of abuse here, just everyday situations where people fall out of friendship)

4. Remember it isn’t always about me.

This is so hard.  It is easy to make things about myself – I am always here in my head after all.  But life is rarely all about me.  Friends have other influences, good and bad days, and stresses that are not about us.  Sometimes i can experience that brunt of a bad day but it was never really about me in the first place.  Sometimes I can feel like someone is mad at me but they are just thinking about work.  I try hard to remember that I am not the only player on the board.

5. Talk directly to the person.

I seek support and advice when needed from friends, but in the end if I am hurt then I should be direct about it.  Chances are the person may not realize what they did.  Likewise, if I hurt someone and I know they are upset, then I need to take the time to talk to them directly.  3rd party messages and bitch sessions rarely help me strengthen friendships.

6. It is ok not to be invited to everything.

This is one I can struggle with, but I have to remember that it is ok not to be invited to something.  Often people have specific reasons for inviting a group as they do, and it may not be because I was forgotton or left out on purpose.  My house is small and most games are for 4-6 players, so if I have a game night I might not invite 10+ people.  Sometimes I will have dinner with a few folks, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to eat out with others.  Sometimes people don’t want to hang out with me because they know it will cost sitter money or they will have to deal with my kids.  That is ok and their right.  So much goes into finding time to be with friends as adults that it does me know good to speculate why I might not be invited.  Ultimately if I need to see my friends, I know I need to reach out myself.

7. Listen to others with compassion

I try to be there for my friends and listen to what is going on in their lives.  Likewise, I try to offer advice if and when it is asked for.  I try to listen and be empathetic without disparaging others or taking sides.  My nature is to help whenever possible, and sometimes that is simply being present to a friend in pain.

8. Reach out when someone is hurting

One of things I find important is to reach out and check in with my friends if they fall silent, or are struggling (obviously or in a vague sense), or when I am thinking of them.  I check in, tell them I love them, and ask what’s going on.  Social media has really helped this.  I hate talking on the phone and since the inventions of messenger, text, etc, it is so much easier to connect.

The people who I share the most with are those people in my life who reach out to check on me.  It means a lot to me when they do that, and I try to do that with my friends as well.

9. Be grateful for what your friends bring to you life.

My friends are important to me.  They fill a spot that my family, my husband and my kids do not.  They are often people with whom I can be fully myself as opposed to places where I am more guarded.  I value that immensely and knowing what my friends bring to my life helps me be grateful for them even when things are rocky.  Some friends bring specific qualities – one may be someone I am adventurous with, another could be someone to talk to when I am hurting, another might be a gaming buddy, another a walking buddy.  Not everyone fills every role in my life, but all the people I choose to have in my life are important to me and I am grateful for them in my life.

I am no friendship expert.  I make mistakes and do and say stupid things.  But I keep trying.  If I had my way everyone would always get along but that isn’t life.  Friends come and go, sometimes when you don’t want them too.  Knowing this, I can only control myself in the situation – and that means being kind, not taking things personally and being willing to admit my mistakes.  It doesn’t always work out, but I would hate for that to be from lack of trying.

These are my thoughts on friendships today.  I find it helpful to write and come to the crux of something on my mind.  But they are not meant as admonitions, nor are they a passive aggressive commentary on any friendships.

All my friends have places in my heart and I care for them all, because of this I try to be a good friend in return.

Writing is not eating

Gah, I am hungry today.  I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, was cranky this morning with my kids, worked all day, my knees are sore, and I was “good” at National Night Out.

So naturally I want to stuff my face, preferably with cheese.

But I am out of Weight Watchers Points and our fruit supplies are minimal besidesI have eaten plenty today. I am writing instead of eating.

I want to eat, but the truth is I am feeling like a bad mom.

I want to eat, but the truth is I am feeling like the left out friend.

I want to eat, but the truth is I am feeling like I will never succeed.

I want to eat, but the truth is I am stressed.

So I sit and write and contemplate these emotions and gremlins in my head.

There is victory in sitting and feeling feelings.  It is less satisfying than cheese perhaps in the moment, but it is by far more important to do.

Writing and feeling feelings.  Go me.

But I am still looking forward to breakfast…

Don’t Feed the Gremlins

The one year anniversary of losing my job occurred over the weekend.

I have been contemplating this a lot today.  I was home with E2 who was sick, but not really that sick, just sick enough to not be allowed at daycare.  I was trying to work from home and managed about 4 hours of my 8 hour day.  Thankfully that is what sick time is for, and I am grateful that I can even try to work from home.

So much has happened in the last year and it seems hard to take it all in sometimes.  I lost my job, had surgery to fix my eyes, spent 4 months looking for a new job and 6 months as a temp at my current position.  I have learned new programs, tested new skills, received a lot of help, and swallowed a lot of pride.

As the circumstances of life started improving though, I didn’t.  I started going downhill.  As the adrenaline of losing a job and the pressures of finding one wore off, the reality of the stress I’d been through hit in full force, and my near constant companions of “Not good enough” and “It’s Your Fault” joined the party.

The job journey lead to a new round mental and physical health challenges that keep me on my toes.  For all that has happened in the last year, I am tired.

But I am also coming out of the stress fog.  I am making appointments, seeking answers and doing the work of getting well, both physically and mentally.  (Yay health care!).

A few weeks ago I got myself something to acknowledge this last year and to remind myself to keep going – a keep bracelet.  These can be customized with charms and what not, but I just got one phrase inscribed on mine – “Don’t Feed the Gremlins”

I wear it everyday and it helps me remember that there are things I have more control of in the world.  I cannot control what others think of me, but I can choose the power I give it.  I cannot control losing a job due to budget problems, but I can choose how to bounce back.  I cannot always control my negative thoughts and heavy burden of blame that I put on myself, but I can choose not to feed those thoughts.

It has been a year since I lost my job in a career that had been a call and identity for 13 years.  It still stings, but less so.

It has been a year but I am still here fighting back and trying to make the world a little bit better in the process.