Posted in Friends

Identity Thieves, Fake News, and Blueprints

Good afternoon. Happy Costume Day (aka: Halloween). Today I went to work with several “Hello, My Name Is…” stickers on my shirt, but none of them said my name. I went as an Identity Thief. One of my co-workers had the word FAKE on her shirt and wore a newspaper skirt and came to work as Fake News. Trump would have tweeted about us.

I love Costume Day.

I’ve realized lately that my life is a bit related to both fake news and an identity thief. I say that because in a few friendships I have right now, I’ve realized this friend and I had been trying to build one house (relationship) with two entirely different sets of blueprints.

Note: this is about to be me at my most transparent.

I wonder how many arguments, hurts, and disappointments are caused by this very issue. How often do we just assume the other party has our mindset and so we just go down a path toward a building a relationship only to stumble when we realize one of us is building a home for the two of us to live in while the other is building a park for the two of us to play in?! And what mayhem might occur if, at the same time, the same park builder was building a home with someone else who was actually thinking they were building a park together?? Nobody wins.

It’s hard to change blueprints mid-project. We need to be on the same page.

Life happens so fast. It is difficult when friends make a plan together and then one just abruptly changes plans or decides to go their own way. It leaves the other person solely responsible for whatever they were building.

I don’t have real solutions here. Life isn’t a sitcom that resolves itself in 30 minutes.

What I’m saying here is, perhaps we should have more real, honest expectations-on-the-table-conversations right up front. I think it would save us all some frustration.

That’s all I have for today.

Please, y’all – all treats. No tricks.

Be safe tonight.

-Melissa

Posted in Life Lessons, Word

When Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety can run amuck.

It is real. Let the naysayers scoff, but its time we who have experienced anxiety have a real conversation about it. Not a scientific, abstract-observation-conclusion kinda talk. No! Just us – being real.

I’ve been in real physical pain lately. Recovering from an abdominal surgery is painful. It’s been unexpectedly difficult.

I’ve been in real emotional pain lately. Some of it caused by others. Some of it I caused by having unrealistic expectations that were unmet. Whatever the cause, my heart just hurts.

Because of this pain and being in bed for weeks, I have had anxiety attacks, nightmares, and the dreaded paranoia that often accompanies an anxiety attack.

Social Media

Through all of this, I post positive quotes and scriptures and poetry on social media, so there may be some of you scratching your head and thinking, but she’s always so positive. And you’d be correct. I am. But I’ll tell you this: I post for 2 reasons.

  1. Because I am the one who needs to remind myself to be positive.
  2. I know that if I need it, someone else probably does too.

What Anxiety Feels Like

Emotionally

  • Suddenly even a positive remark that someone makes about someone else leaves me feeling like maybe I didn’t do fill-in-the-blank well enough to deserve a similar accolade.
  • Suddenly someone’s silence feels personal to me and I begin to panic and think of all the things I may have said or nor not said to cause the silence.
  • Suddenly every emotion comes with both an exclamation point and a question mark.
  • I begin a laundry list of what’s wrong with me.
  • I begin a laundry list of what I need to do to make it right.

Physically

  • My heart races
  • My mouth gets dry
  • My thoughts bounce
  • I make bad decisions like texting dumb things, eating too much, spending too much
  • I get insomnia

How Do I Stop This Ride

I have a few go-tos for anxiety. Here is my “safety plan” for when anxiety strikes:

  • I write down what I’m afraid of.
  • I take that list and write down my feelings/opinions about whatever it is.
  • I take that list and write down the facts about whatever it is.
  • I pray about it.
  • I turn to my circle of friends for wisdom.
  • I discern what the truth is.
  • I act on the truth.

I began this post months ago and never posted it. For the past 2 days I’ve had the worst anxiety I’ve ever had. I went back to this “safety plan” and feel so much better this morning.

I hope this helps.

Posted in family, Friends, Life Lessons, Love, Parenting

My Thoughts on Raising Kids After Divorce

Good evening. It’s been a while since I’ve put my thoughts to paper. Tonight has me feeling reflective. So I thought I’d write til my thoughts are exhausted. I pray you are well, wherever you are.

This was the kind of week that had no breaks. None. Every day was long. Tuesday I spent almost $400 on new tires. Then my son’s school nurse called – he was sick with upper respiratory sinus junk. He’s been home all week, so I’ve worked from home all week. This was the kind of work week I like – full of learning new things, of reaching for new solutions. I love to learn. I love my job.

Friday, though, is what is on my mind tonight. On Friday, I had an accommodations meeting for my daughter at the High School where she is a Senior.

In preparation for this meeting I reached for a binder I made for her last year when she was undergoing inpatient treatment for depression and anxiety. I made a title page that says Stephanie’s Story. Included in this well-organized binder were basic program information sheets, attendance notes for multiple days missed, worksheets she had done in individual and family therapy, notes from psychiatrists and therapists, and at the very end – divorce/custody papers.

I hadn’t looked at this notebook in over a year. Looking through its contents reminded me of how far she’d come; it reminded me of how far we’ve come together. She went from depressed and anxious and cutting and low self-esteem to Miss bubbly 4.0 who almost has her cosmetology license and wants to be a pediatric nurse. You can read her backstory in a previous blog called Pocket Full of Shoestrings.

You see, in the middle of that rough patch, she decided she wants to be the kind of nurse who helps kids who need psychiatric care. So she is pursuing a cosmetology license in high school to pay her way through nursing school. I love it when God takes what was meant to harm us and uses it for good.

She inspires me.

It’s the last document in that binder, though, that has me thinking tonight: the divorce/custody papers.

Here are a few things I learned through divorce and custody issues:

  • You cannot get over a divorce until you’ve owned your part of what went wrong. In my case, it was being too focused on ministry.
  • Your only job is to love and advocate for your kids.
  • Even if what happened on the weekend they’re with their other parent was less than wholesome, this needs to be the first thing out of your mouth after you say “I’ve missed you/I love you”: “Tell me about the best things that happened this weekend.”
  • Pick your battles wisely – let some things go.
  • Never put down the other parent in front of or to your kids. The kids will realize it themselves if the other parent is doing something on the not-approved list. Actions speak louder. Yours included.
  • Safety first.
  • Do something kind for yourself every single day. Be intentional. You deserve it.
  • You deserve a break now and again. A vacation, even.
  • Who you hang around is who you become like. Choose your friends and adult outings when the kids are away wisely.
  • You are always a parent. You’re never off-duty. Even when they’re at the other’s house. Never be so impaired that you can’t pick the kids up at a moment’s notice.
  • Create a support system. Church. Community. Friends. Family. Don’t skip this one.
  • Write everything down (appts, financials, custody issues). You never know when you’ll need it.
  • Laugh.
  • Play board games and have movie nights with your kids. Leave your cell on the charger in the other room.
  • Be present.
  • Don’t bring your dates around the kids until you are at least “Facebook official.” This assumes you’ve vetted them and have made sure you two are going to last.
  • Remember that you’re not raising kids, you’re raising adults. Proceed with their future in mind.

I could go on.

The bottom line is, I’m at peace with who I am and where I am.

But don’t let my calm demeanor fool you. I’ve had many rough seasons over the past 15 years. My battles have been fierce and have taken a toll on me.

I learned, however, that losing is not an option, that I must keep moving forward, and that whatever I’m walking through is a life-season, not a life-sentence.

And now…I need a grande sugar-free pumpkin-spice latte made with coconut milk and 2 Stevias, si vous plait.

Posted in Life Lessons

End Credits

At the hem of day,
When Daylight hides its face
And a cacophony of
Cicadas and Katydids
Take over the soundtrack of
Commuters and car horns and
Playing children,
My last cup of decaf and I sit, and
Talk over the day.
It is in this moment, with the last
Reds and oranges still
Walking off the sky, stage left
That I get still enough to think.

And tonight was no different,
But it was, well, so different
Because, you see, I…
Found myself at the lake shore
Slipping on mossy stones and
Balancing my way to a better
Vantage point of the sunset,
The close of day, the
Final 15 degrees the sun treked and I
Sighed and called to mind something
Rare and beautiful.

Looking out over the water,
Suddenly I was 11 and
Sitting in the embrace of the bicep of the
Big Oak tree just off the back porch.
In a neighborhood of boys, I
Quickly learned to escape into
My mind and
Travel here and there and
Wonder back at my leisure.

Sometimes I would wander down
From my tree to the lake shore
Just across this same lake from
Where I sat tonight and
Just listen.
It’s funny what you
Hear when it’s that quiet.
First the lapping of the lake and then
A bird fluttering nearby and then
Cicadas and Bull Frogs and
The rustling of the wind
Through the Autumn grass.

But if you sit long enough and
Quiet your own voice
Along with nature’s symphony,
You can finally hear
Something that sounds like tranquility.

Close your eyes.
Try.
You can be anywhere.
Just try.
Quiet. Breathe deep.
Peace.
It is in this deep abiding peace
Where I can rest,
Regroup, recharge,
Focus.
It’s the place I hear the
Life beating in my chest and the
Gentlest whispers of the
Very Spirit of God.

Tonight I remembered that
Mossy rocks are slippery,
Katydids sing gloriously,
And the sound of the sunset is the
Prettiest song I’ve ever heard.