Thursday, May 28, 2015

After the Big Leap: Settling in After Major Change


I've been sighing a lot lately. 

"Sigh." 

"What's wrong?" says my mildly concerned husband.

"Nothing," I reply. "Sigh...."

And nothing is wrong. Really. Well, there are a lot of concerns floating around me - even fairly significant ones about family and friends. But my personal life has settled into a much more quiet and normal routine.

We've made our big move - one of the biggest changes I've ever experienced. And, we've landed, feet on the ground, planted firmly on the other end.

When we were in junior high, my teacher had this wild idea that I could learn gymnastics. They had this leather vaulting horse that we were supposed to run toward at full-speed, jump hard on a wooden bouncing board and hurdle ourselves into the sky, over the vault and onto the blue vinyl mats on the other end.

Olympic champion Kerri Strug made it look easy . . . even with a sprained ankle.

It is not easy. It is terrifying.

If you know me at all, you know I am not an athlete. So, maybe you are, and you enjoy this sort of thing. Be quiet. I don't like you.

But I am not. And, in 7th grade, I was horrified at the prospect of hurdling my 80-lb body over anything.

But Miss Weckering was glaring at me over her clipboard, so I ran (reluctantly), and I jumped (lightly), and I sort of crashed, stumbled, fell over the stupid vault. And I made it (somehow) to the other side.

That's how I felt about our move to Florida.

I faced the prospect of a major job change, a house sale, clearing of our mountains of possessions, moving three cars, a dog, and my 88-year-old mother-in-law. Finding a place to live. And sorting through piles of paperwork.

And now I've landed. A bit beat up. But, I've landed.

I'm on the blue vinyl mat.

Laying here, a bit bruised but whole, on the other side.

And now, I'm sighing.

I think that I have post-stress malaise. The kind of sadness you feel when you no longer have a huge snowball chasing you down a hill. It is relief, but you kind of miss the crazy.

I am so much like those crabby Israelites who bitched all the way to the Promised Land. Over and over again God provided for them. And they complained. And moaned. And sighed.

Big sighs.

To me, they seem just plain selfish. But I realize that they, too, had gone through a major time of transition. They had left everything they knew (the good and the bad), and they were following God one step at a time into the unknown. They had to trust and believe and not look back.

So I'm pressing forward. I can get past this as well.

And I'm trying to remember gratefulness. I need to stop and thank God for getting me this far. I need to remember the way He's blessed us and cared for us and provided unthinkable things that cleared our way. I need to be overwhelmed with His love.

I am ashamed that I'm not. How quickly I forget God's goodness and turn to my own mixed-up perspective.

So - I'm pulling myself up off the gym mat. I'm saying, "Thank you, God." 

Thank you for getting me to the other side. Help me not to miss the crazy. 

Help me to keep looking forward and upward. 

Help me to get over myself and my mixed-up, selfish, neurotic emotions, and to focus on you.

And, help me to quit sighing.

Amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Time I Knew I Was A True Mama


I remember one distinct moment when I knew I was no longer just a girl, I was a mama.

We were camping in Door County, Wisconsin. Sabrina had invited a friend to stay with us for the week. Uninvited, but equally present, was a horrible stomach virus.

First, her friend puked all over the back part of the camper, including all over the cute, little blue shag rug I put between the girl's beds. I pulled it out and suds it out in a hot bucket of soapy water.

I called her girlfriend's mom, and (after many rounds of sickness) I fed her saltines and 7-up. This particular bug was hard-hitting and relentless and highly contagious.

But I remember first staring long and hard at that smelly, revolting mess and thinking, "Now. I am truly a mother. Only a mom would do this."

There was no one else to clean it up. I was it. I was the one who called upon to fix the problem. I was the mama.

So I cleaned it up.

And then, Sabrina got sick. And then, my husband followed suit.

Each time I would take a deep breath and talk to myself. "This is it," I would say. "You can do this. You love these people."

Myself would answer back with angry hissing sounds. "I absolutely, positively cannot do this. There is no possible way."

The commentary would wage back and forth between myself and myself. And myself won.

I washed that stupid blue rug until the fourth time it got soiled . . . I threw it out.

I washed and cleaned because I loved them all: my daughter, my husband, and my daughter's friend.

They say you marry in sickness and health, but you mother the same way. You mother when you don't feel like it anymore, when you are sad, when you are tired, when you are angry, when you are pukey.

You mother because a deep part of you loves this person - and you have absolutely no choice. You mother because you love.

So thank you, to my mom. To my grandma. To my mother-in-law. To all the moms who do the impossible every day because they have no choice and because they choose to mother.

You are loved and needed and appreciated.

When we were children, we had no understanding of what it means to parent. You thought that your mom and dad were invincible, that they could do anything and cure anything. You no understanding of the days they almost turned away, when they didn't think they had an ounce of can-do-spirit left in them. But, moms (and dads), you did it anyway.

For that, I am forever thankful.

Blessings on you today.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My New Jet Setting Life and What I've Learned About Airports and Planes


I have never flown as often as I have in the past six months. And, I've traveled solo.

Relocating from Chicago to Florida meant that I would need to travel back to home base, occasionally, for my job. Plus, I've added in conferences, work meetings in other states, speaking engagements, and one more trip for my daughter to attend an anime convention. So, I've been in and out of airports... a lot.

Following is a list of unrelated incidents and observations from this newbie frequent flier:

1) Orlando Airport has the most children. Children bearing Mickey Mouse ears and in full-blown meltdowns from over stimulation. I have never, ever in my life seen so many cranky kids and adults with glazed-over eyes clutching their cups of coffee.

2) There is something joyous about going through security alone. For all of you mamas out there, you know what I mean. You only need to take off your shoes and coat, and unpack your Ziploc baggie of essentials. You only need to keep track of you.

3) Even then, I mess up. In the tiniest airport ever - Grand Rapids - I was pulled aside for an extra security check. The TSA agent asked me if I had any weapons. Really? Me? No. What I did have - I soon discovered was a renegade bottle of water.

4) Women have it rough. I stood next to one woman who was shouting to the TSA agent: "It's a breast pump." "Great," she told me. "Now the entire airport knows I'm lactating." She said that one time she even had to take a drink of her breast milk to show it was the real thing. Oh dear.

5) Starbucks is your friend. I only went through one airport - Midway - where Starbucks was not clearly evident and abounding. I hated that. I almost felt paralyzed with confusion.

6) I am always fearful I will drop my suitcase on someone's head while lifting it into the overhead bin. Thankful for the chivalrous man who helped me on the last flight. Thank you kind sir. You have no idea.

7) Southwest rules. They just do.

8) There is no gum for sale in the Orlando Airport. I know. Travesty. The clerk told me to buy Mentos. Really?! How will my ears ever pop?

9) I still get a childlike thrill at take-off - and always put my hand out to help the pilot break when we land. Always.

10) I have enjoyed many, many packets of Ritz Cracker Chips - which we all delightfully accept - and I will probably never ever buy or eat them anywhere else. They're kind of like 7up when you are sick. You are so grateful and happy just to have a little treat.

11) You really do need to check in 24 hours in advance. I once went renegade and didn't. I was in something like the "E" section - behind everyone else. When I got to the boarding gate, they needed to "check" my bag. Bummer. Now, I sit by my computer like a hawk searching for its prey - ready to pounce at that exact minute. Once, I claimed B-1!!!!

12) Choosing your seat is strategic. In Southwest, you choose your seat. Avoid the screaming kids (I know - I had one once - but I don't now). Avoid the coughers - you just know you'll be sick two days later. Avoid the strange chatty men that smile and pat the seat next to them. Avoid the center seat. Try to get near the front for a quick escape.

13) I really like flying. It is like a little mini-vacation. I can read, chew my gum, eat my little bag of Ritz Cracker Chips, have a Coke with ice, watch a little home decorating, do some writing, and then I'm there - somewhere else.

14) Coming home is the best. Tap my sparkly red shoes and take me home. As much as I enjoy the momentary sense of freedom and the quiet hotel room with full control of the lights, air and tv channel, I miss everyone the minute I leave.