Archive for May, 2012

Sometimes analogies are as clear as glass like I feel as giddy as champaign is bubbly or I am as low as a crab in an ocean trench. In fact, our DNA wires our brains to seek patterns from nothingness. This drive to create order compels us to interpret our dreams and identify concrete symbols from abstraction. Our medium is meaning and we seek to understand. We want to know and to be safe and feel well.

This genetic drive for stasis socializes us into a community of diagnosticians as our need to know is equally yoked with our desire to be comfortable.  As such, we approach experience like a puzzle to solve or a diagnostic differential.

If we feel ill, we assess our symptoms to determine if we do or don’t need the intervention of a physician. Often the indicators are straightforward like a fever, or a rash that won’t go away, or pain.

Unrelenting pain.
Pain is the body’s signal that something is wrong.
Pain is a definitive, primal signal.
Pain flashes a warning.
STOP!
Pain asserts the most elementary of medical principals.
If doing that hurts, STOP doing that.

Yet, in it’s way, pain is also entirely subjective.

When I’m in pain, it’s difficult for me to remember that it may have hurt less yesterday.

It (still) hurts (now)!
Make it stop!
Make it stop now!
I’ll drink anything.
I’ll swallow anything.
Get me an epidural!
I don’t care I’m not in labor (or even pregnant).

When in pain, it’s difficult for me to remember that I will feel better, let alone soon, or that my life, actually, is generally very sweet and comfortable.

I’m so comfortable in fact, with my first-world sensibility and Middle Class American propaganda that I’ve devolved into something of a pain-phobic persona.

I don’t want it to hurt.
Whatever “it” is.
Truth be told,
I don’t even want it to feel hard,
or require too much effort…
Whether its making dinner,
or raising a child,
or saving a marriage,
or growing in Faith.
I really don’t want it to be messy
or painful
or moist.

I want my challenges like
I want my food,
fast,
quick,
inexpensive,
easy,
and convenient.

(Hmmmmmm…. Notice I didn’t list healthy…)

As such, I avoid pain and difficult conversations and hard workouts for the simple reason that they hurt. I know they hurt. The gamble that pushing through the pain will take me to a better place often, and simply, isn’t worth the upfront pain tax. This is true when The Husband and I try to agree on a budget or our family needs to purchase a new vehicle or The Mamma needs to schedule her annual OB/GYN physical.

In fact, prior to this week, The Mamma was over a year past due her for her pap and pelvic. Even though I respect that my health is a family resource, and it’s a commodity that daily caregives for the five people I love most on the planet, I kept procrasstinating making an appointment Here because I knew it would hurt.

I wasn’t willing to pay the pain tax.

Ever since I was in grad school, I had the benefit of the medical care and relationship with of one primary physician. Initially he was my gynecologist and later became my obstetrician. He tended my every woman’s health issue from before I conceived of conception through every pregnancy and pregnancy loss and reproductive repair.

He caught each of the heads of our four children.
He held us together through four losses.
He helped me get my body back into shape four times.
He performed seven surgeries.

I trusted him
in a way that I haven’t ever trusted
anyone else with my body.
Never.
Ever.
Except my husband.

So I thought I knew how much he meant to me before I finally made my appointment for that stupid pap smear Here.

I was so wrong.

Nothing at all went wrong with the appointment Here.

The physician was entirely competent and kind and professional. She was thorough and took a medical history as extensive as an archeologist on a dig. She tutored me on how to do a self breast exam and its importance. She inquired if I wore a seatbelt. She admonished me not to drink and drive. She warned that sending a text behind the wheel could kill me dead. She observed that there were treatment options available for recreational drug use and tobacco addiction. She inquired if my husband ever abused me and if I am safe in my relationship. She ordered blood panels and offered me a referral for a primary caregiver. She also asked to weigh me, inserted the speculum without telling me that she was gong to do it first and placed her finger in my bottom without a polite warning.

In other words, she didn’t know me.
Like, at all.

There was no malpractice and nothing inappropriate in the medical care she gave me.

As a woman physician, taking care of a woman with my medical history, she had every reason to expect I knew the ins and outs of a gynecological exam without verbal cue or someone to hold my hand.

Mine was a routine exam,
one of many she would do that day,
of the scores she would do that week,
of the countless thousands
she has done user career.

It was simply,
no biggy for her.
It was just,
as my lab prescriptions record,
a routine well visit annual exam for a healthy woman.

It was for me, however, anything but routine.

I felt anonymous.

As course as it sounds, I learned a lot about relationship from having a strange woman’s finger up my bottom.

Yep, I said it.
I went there.
I mentioned the nasty.

Ladies, we all know that appointment can be a literal pain in the butt.

Now I’ve got to figure out how to make my point without your thinking that I have some kind of anal fetish or engaged in an inappropriate relationship with my previous doctor.

No.
No, no.
No, no, no!

He was, however, a partner in my medical care and wellness. The Husband and I have had a relationship with him for over 15 years.

Relationships matter.

Relationship reduces pain. Relationship takes the impersonal out of sterile medical procedures. Relationship extends safety when you’re feeling naked and alone, let alone literally nude while straddling stirrups.

It hurts to be away from the people who make me feel safe and known and loved. It hurts to be anonymous, just another pap smear, just two more breasts to palpitate and one more woman to remind about sunscreen.

I knew it would be difficult to see a new doctor. But I didn’t realize how much it would hurt my heart.

I am so grateful that I enjoyed such flawless medical care from my physician the for so many years. His choice to care about me as a person was the longest acting, most effective and most life-giving prescription he ever wrote me.

I know it’s unlikely I’ll ever have that kind of relationship again with another doctor.

I am grateful to him.

He knew me.

I will go to the dentist and get a skin checked and make and keep my annual appointments Here.

I will also seek to nurture and grow the relationships that I’ve begun with people Here. Nothing is more important to my wellness nor better medicine than being known and appreciated for who I am.

There was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

The May dance Here jigs a dervish as frantic as the one I recall and trust that  you are also doing There.

It’s an aerobic month that demands inventory and industry with more than a dash of insanity.

With no end to the list of things I gotta do, my children also scramble to meet their many, various objectives.

They have academic jobs, social obligations, domestic chores, athletic responsibilities and personal agendas. They gotta do so much more than was ever expected of me at 6, 10, 12 or 14. In many ways, their I Gotta Lists are longer and less yielding my own.

It is also Final Exam season.  In my house only one is old enough for that rodeo, and the others are in the midst of the school year “ramping down.”

Running a household wherein one is frantically studying cumulative, college-prep, honor’s curriculum
(not bragging here, friends, and no longer certain that I still want them to participate in this Chase to No Where) 
while the rest of his siblings leisurely unfold into Summer mode collide two fronts as forcefully as a hurricane. Their howls, cries, complaints, and frustrations register enough MPH (Moans Per Hour) to be classified as a Category 4 event.

It is also simultaneously a season of turning each other in, spontaneous confessions and hypersensitive peer relations. In this merry ‘ol month of May, I never know at any given moment which child will come to me with moist, wide eyes and, “Need to talk to me alone.” Generally, there are tears and we have to hug it out before things resolve. The school year has tenderized their egos like a gourmet marinade and the Crying Chair hasn’t gotten this much use since we moved in.

As a Mamma, I’m something of a hybrid between an attachment parent and a drill sergeant. I am crazy in love with my wonderful children, but I get that they are no where near perfect and often need a combat boot kick to jump start their quality maneuvers. I am also aware, however, that their I Gotta lists demand almost every moment of their waking hours.

Their obligations have begun to blister them like their now almost too small shoes I bought them for Back to School in August. They are rubbed raw by the deadlines, award banquets, concerts, and games. They can not perform at a concert and play in a soccer tournament at the same time. They can’t study for an Algebra exam and practice an 8th grade class speech in tandem. Though helpful to an extent in terms of teaching time management skills, too often our kids face Hobson Choices between two required events. Does this help them better organize their time or polish their study skills or simply assert that many students are overbooked?

What strikes me as most unfair in this merry old month of May is how unrealistically our children are taught to adhere to the rigid (and often unreasonable) timelines of their I Gotta lists. As an adult, I have options that are unavailable to our children.

I can delegate.
I can pull an all-nighter.
I can file for an extension, or sometimes pay for an extension.
I can outsource it.
I can wing it.
I can decide not to do it.

At their school, my children would be suspended if they outsourced, consequenced if they winged it and have no option to delegate their I Gotta lists.

As a  mom, I also have options my children lack.

I can not do it.
(Think laundry, dishes or making beds.)
I can reduce the usual requirments.
(Think cereal for dinner.)
I can delegate.
(Now the kids have to walk Puppy and get their homework done.)
I can do it tomorrow without penalty.
(Think scheudling my dental cleaning.)

In our home, my children would lose a cherished, electronic device if they went on strike, sent to Time Out if they didn’t do something, “The right way the first time,” and have zero delegation options.

As we sprint through this month with so much to do and so many places to be, let’s consider that even within our families, our I Gotta lists ain’t really equal nor created the same.

My children need Grace, the Crying Chair and the boot right now.

And they’re in good company.

So say we all?

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The decision to move from to Here from melted a slow, liquid process like ice caps.

The final call was time-lapse photography worthy of PBS Nature episode. Nature programs always make me think of my grandfather, who was hypnotically fascinated by snakes. If a during a segment a snake began to hunt, he expected total silence in the room, an homage not only to the chase, but to the fallen.

Whether or not the snake ate well that night, the hunt stirred reminders like a gust of wind conducts fall leaves to waltz in an arbor.

Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return
I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff comfort me.

Though our resolve unfolded slowly, its execution was swift.

Eight weeks from driveway to driveway.

In that single interval, I learned more about the strength of the Body of Christ than I had ever known.

Our church family carried us.

They tended our children
and wiped our tears.

They tagged items for the moving sale
and showed up at 5:00 a.m. to peddle them,
(and restrain me from dousing a smoker with my Diet Coke).

They drove us 400 miles to pick-up our babies
from grandmother’s haven
and carried us home again the next day
because they knew how much it would
cost me to travel alone.

They insisted we just go.
Just go.
And repaired walls,
spot cleaned carpets,
vacuumed,
changed light bulbs,
emptied refrigerators,
and cleaned,
and cleaned,
and cleaned some more.

They held us
and prayed for us,
Jeremiah 29:11,
over and again,
For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.

They put us first
at the risk of their own hearts,
paid forward labor and
toils that were rightly
ours to bear alone,
read my posts
and folded us into prayer.

They carried plates
and t-shirts,
took memorial flowers
and shared testimonies,
they showed up
and they genuinely cared.

They surprised us with visits,
even on the last morning
and showed up-
bearing Starbucks
and hand-stitched pillows
and sparkling pretties
and books for the heart,
and disco soap for hands
and timid, walking-it-out feet.

All this without judgment
or complaint.
Meeting us where we were,
loving us right as we were,
serving us as we were,
individually and as a family.

My heart floods with gratitude today for those many, precious kindnesses.

The Body was the hands and feet that made our transition Viable.

Because of The Body, I left with a Song of Praise on my lips,
and not a bitter heart.

As my feet sink into the shells Here, I realize I owe so many thank-you notes to the red-clayed kicks There.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff comfort me.

You kept me safe as I began this journey. You knew the road would include much dying to self before I would pick up my head all the way again, yet you never uttered a discouraging word.

You made it so I feared no evil,
Showed me He was with me,
and with sweetest mercies were such
wholly, Holy comfort.

You know what you did
as you did so intentionally.
Trust I know it too;
and am forever changed by the agape love
of every single moment still.

How you taught by example;
what we do matters.

God bless you always.

I love you forever.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 

If you’re like me, there are certain words or phrases that set your teeth on edge, for example,

“If you’re like me…”

Why do people say that?
What sense does it make?

The underlying assumption slaps the I’m right assertion with a heavy hand.
Its backhand hits on the recoil, <subtext> and if you’re not like me you’re stupid.

This phrase is kin to another irksome spin, “You’re like me that way.”

Unless you are fully vested within my inner circle, whether I am or am not like you in any way, remains a comparison for me alone to name. That aside, there’s something intrusive, counterintuitive and hyper-intimate for someone to assert, “You’re like me in that way.”

It offence blisters my sense of whimsy and chafes my authenticity meter.

Furthermore, there’s no appropriate rejoinder to dissent such an assertion without giving offense.

How am I supposed to respond?

“No, I’m not like you in that way and never wish to be?”

“No, I’m a first edition.”

“No, I’m like me that way?”

It’s all so very, order-your-own-dessert-if-you-want-cheesecake-dammit-I-don’t-want-to share-of-me, but really, how can anyone be like you in that way?

Speaking of, “Do ya wanna share < a/n appetizer/entree/dessert> with me?”

That drives me bat cakes too!

Again, I don’t want to sound contrary nor offend, but no, I don’t want to share the Meatloaf Plate with you. Actually, I want to choose my own meal, get it on my own big-girl plate, eat how I want of it precisely to my fill, and hog all of the gooey condiments for myself, thank-you very much.

Another line that consistently toggles my gag reflex like a throat culture is, “I need to tell you something, but don’t get mad.”

Too late!
I’m already mad.

If you knew me well enough to tell me something so potentially volatile, you would know how to tell me without making me mad.

I smell judgement all over the statement too. It asserts that I assassinate messengers and lack self-control.

I need to tell YOU something, but don’t get mad. You’re an idiot.

“I need to tell you something, but don’t get mad,” is kissing cousins to, “I hate to tell you, but I heard…”

One, you don’t hate to tell me at all, in fact you’re breathless from having rushed over right after you heard it to dish it to my face, capture my every micro-expression on your smart phone, and report back to your base ship.

Nothing good this way comes after the segue, “I hate to tell you, but I heard…”

I did not win the lottery,
You do not want to help me fold laundry,
Your neighbor Susan does not think my kids are well-behaved angels,
Only pain fills the pail of that conversational bucket.

If any of you find me cheeky, or worry my intensity may begin to spin hard enough to drop a house on your sister, please for the love of all that is linguistically good and reasonable don’t order me to

“Calm down,”
“Relax,”
“Take it easy,”
“You’re gonna burn out,”
“Don’t burst a blood vessel…”

Really?
REALLY?
REALLY?

You don’t find it just a tad bit above your pay grade to assess the legitimacy of my emotional range?

Talk about condescending!

Why don’t you

Excite up,
Tense,
Jig it out,
Burn baby, burn!
Hemorrhage an emotional taboo…

The only thing worse than you telling me to take it easy is if one my kids suggests that I, “Chill.”

Of course, then I could tell him, if you’re like me, there are other phrases that make you mad because you’re like me that way. We should share some buffalo wings and discuss it so you can calm down.

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

It’s time to come clean.

Amid the transitional issues from Here to There, one of the kids has developed some serious behavioral issues.

We’ve consulted experts in the field and done family sessions together, but thus far, nothing seems to help.

It’s reached a crisis point both in terms of marital resources as well as how the other kids respond. They know we would NEVER put up with these behaviors from them and are tired of making concession after concession for their troubled sibling.

Here are some of the behavioral features that challenge us with our boy:

    • Suffering from severe separation anxiety
    • Refusing to “come” when called
    • Out-of-control whining
    • Biting
    • Aggressive growling
    • Constantly begging for food at the table
    • Fear of strangers
    • Fear of strange objects
    • Bullying small children
    • Theft personal possessions
    • Vandalism/destruction of personal property
    • Destructive habits like chewing and digging
    • French kissing house guests
    • Jumping on strangers
    • Taking lead during family walks
    • Ignoring basic obedience commands
    • Pooping on the bathroom floor
    • Peeing the bed

 

It’s gotten to the point that we don’t even know who he is anymore.

This once adorable, snuggly, sweety boy has mutated into his own Dr. Hyde.

As much as my education should make me philosophical, I cannot reconsile that puberty could so transform a soul as this.

I confess I lament:

This is NOT what I signed-up for!

This is WAY outside of my comfort zone!

This is NOT easy!

This is NOT fun!

I have even asked they why question….

Why do other families enjoy such perfect sons when ours is so OUT OF CONTROL?

At the risk of TMI (too much information,) he’s taken to stealing my dirty thongs and hiding them in his bed.

When I retrieve them they are chewed crotchless.

Is it regression?

Is it hormones?

Is it an underlying psychological disorder?

Is it growing pains?

Or is it simply, The Puppy?

And why is it we allow behavior from our pets
that we would
NEVER,
STINKIN’,
NEVER

tolerate from the issue of our own loins?

 

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken HallelujahHallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Many life changing transitions come down to one sentence.

The phone rings,
the in-box pings,
the letter arrives registered
and requires signature,
and silent words unspoken
crash like thunder in a storm.

Such sentences silence hearts and still rooms as they simultaneously shift everything into two indelible categories:

Before X and After X.

My life changed 10 days ago with such a sentence said by The Husband, “I hate that you are not thriving Here.”

He didn’t say it in a mean way, it was a soul cry. He declared it from the core of his being.

Loved ones, never a rooster gave more of a wake-up call.

The love beneath his words still wrap me in a bear hug.

This man,
my best friend,
all he wants is to maximize me,
he delights in the good use
of my gifts and talents
in the service of others,
the work I choose,
and the community I make.

My recent Mistress Silence sabatoged the unity of my marriage.

The husband’s sentence interupted my understanding in a most welcome way like The Word being burst open before me.

Precious family, please know I have made thriving my new battle cry.

Reappropriated as an action verb, I choose to thrive.

I talk,
I write,
I work,
I share gifts,
I show up,
I exercise,
I command laundry,
I meet new people,
I give my husband the
“gift of presence.”

In it’s way, it’s like being born anew.

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!