Tearing Up The Joint

It’s official. I canNOT get out of my own way. I had been experiencing some significant ankle/achilles pain this past fall, yet somewhat carried on with my normal activities. I even attended an awesome certification training to teach my favorite class, WERQ (cardio-dance fitness). As time passed, my pain increased and it became painful to walk, to put on my winter boots (that’s always a little painful;), and it became especially painful to drive, which is a bit of a bummer when you drive for a living.

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Fun Weekend in Chicago, getting certified as a WERQ Instructor

You’ll be proud of me, however…I actually went to the doctor in early December!!  If you know me, you know that I grew up without health insurance, and learned to excuse away symptoms, or better yet, just ignore them. “You’re fine,” Ken used to say, “it’s far enough away from your heart.” Now there IS some truth in that. We certainly don’t need to rush to the doctor for every sniffle and twinge of pain. So far, I’ve lived a good, healthy life with very little need for medical intervention, and I count myself incredibly blessed! So when this ankle/heel pain started, I figured it was just a little side effect of my addiction to WERQ.

Well thank goodness I didn’t suffer in silence!! I had three appointments with the orthopedic doctor. I had x-rays to check for fractures/spinal issues (everything looked good), took oral cortisone after the first appointment, braved a cortisone injection to the joint at the second appointment, plus another dose of oral steroids just in case, but I was STILL in pain.  I even abstained from dancing 6 days a week;), and when I DID brave a class, I wore my amazing bubble brace and hopped on my “healthy” leg through lateral moves. NOTHING seemed to help. By the third visit to the doctor, my options were – trying a hyaluronic injection to the joint (not covered by insurance and may not really help), or go in for arthroscopic surgery, to “mow the grass” (WHAT??) and fix any imperfections of the joint. Sounds amazing, right!?

Oh. And by the way – the doc just so happened to have a cancellation for the following Monday morning and it was MINE if wanted it. Talk about luck….

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A case of the Mondays, freaking out just a little on my way to surgery…those lashes though…#lifechangingskincare

Just like every other part of my life when faced with a decision, I look at the options in front of me, make the best choice, and then I jump ALL in without ever looking back. This time, however, I will admit questioning my decision just a little bit – did I really need surgery? Maybe it didn’t hurt THAT much…

But you guys!?!?  In the end, I was SO brave!! No tears, no panic, no (serious) freaking out!?  I may have become a one-woman show with the nurse and anesthesiologist . And yeah, I drew a huge, obnoxious heart around my initials on my ankle, then proceeded to show off my pre-op art like a toddler would display a glitter, glue and feather masterpiece on the fridge. But I was FIIIINNNNE….nothing to see here. 😉

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My Masterpiece

In the end, the procedure was mostly uneventful. Two little incisions, and not much to write home about until the doc got to the back side of the joint. It was a crazy, gnarled mess and no wonder I was in SO MUCH pain!? Seriously, take a look at this (WARNING – graphic image to follow; not for the faint at heart)….

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Living proof that I live life with arms wide open and do nothing half-way;). I had a TOTALLY jacked up joint!?
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And the two little incisions

And what, actually, is my point to this whole minor surgery, story sharing ordeal?? I learned a TON about myself through this experience. I would rather sew my head to the carpet than accept help. Yet my people showed up, and I let them. Baby’s daddy took not one, but TWO days off work to get me to the surgical center, and to drive me around to my accounts when I was (sort of) back on my feet the next day. A dear friend kept watch in the waiting room and was such a comforting sight to see when I was wheeled out to go home (and gave me amazing new socks, which is one of my favorite creature comforts). And in the days that followed surgery, my people continued to show up – checking in on me, helping with the kids, driving Miss Daisy to work and to social functions, and reminding me that indeed the sun would come out tomorrow and I would eventually be able to walk again, without needing to put a quarter in the swear jar. 😉

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Gaining some street cred at work – using a walker to bring the message of Home Health (and safety first;) to the West Michigan lakeshore just one day after surgery. Indeed we can do hard things.

But more than anything, I was reminded of how blessed I have been to live a pretty healthy life, generally only limited by my own fears and insecurities. I came out of surgery barely remembering my name, but SO incredibly grateful for a skilled surgeon, his caring support staff, and the sweet nurse who brought me my first snack after fasting for nearly 24 hours (I hadn’t been that hungry since my days as a poor college student;). I was thankful for the open toe of my stylish, post-surgical boot because the bitter cold January air actually felt good on my tingling ticky-toes. I was thankful for the 2 seconds of sunshine on my way to fill my pain med script, because it suddenly seemed like I hadn’t felt that kind of warmth since 3rd grade. I was beyond thankful for the healing hugs of my (not so) little people, who surely grew six inches while I was gone (for a few hours;).

I wasn’t so excited about the utter exhaustion that washed over me a few hours later. I napped more in the day or two following surgery than I’m pretty sure I had throughout my toddler years. Two days post-op, when the pain kicked in a bit and the open toed robo-boot no longer felt sexy, I was done. DONE. Calling it a day and ticked at the world that jacked up joints are even a thing.

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The first post-surgery (half-ish) bath was an adventure to say the least.

And it just so happens that the “everything hurts and I’m dying” stage of post-op recovery can actually show up at EXACTLY the same time as “if I don’t wash my hair, I may actually lose my mind (the rest of the way)” stage. I wasn’t supposed to shower for at least a week – EEK!!  Once again, my people came through. I could barely make it up the stairs, but my sweet Emma gathered all of the supplies and lovingly washed my hair, and even helped me get dressed. I suddenly had a better understanding of the vulnerability that my Home Health and Hospice patients experience. While certainly not to the same extreme, I was frustrated by my limitations and discouraged by my lack of independence. I also understood the aversion to pain meds. I didn’t like how tired and loopy they made me feel, but I knew rest was essential to recovery. More than anything I realized – I will be a force to be reckoned with one day in “the home.” I’m independent to a fault and my determination can be detrimental. My surgeon is still scratching his head as to a). how I damaged the joint and b). how I was dancing through the pain for months. I won’t claim to know the answer to either mystery, but I am SO very thankful for pain that comes (mostly) to an end, and to stitches that eventually come out.

I was definitely thankful for my “You’re Okay” Band Aids that served as a reminder that I would probably pull through my minor ankle surgery. 😉 I’m even thankful for my bowling-inspired, glittery laced, sensible orthopedic shoes!  I was a little self-conscious to wear them at first, but when I spent a long weekend visiting my parents in their new home in The Villages (Florida), I quickly realized I fit right in!  Almost wished I had brought the walker and the boot! 😉

I also found that this simple little surgery triggered some not-so-simple emotions from the past. And yes, I’ve heard your feedback about ‘letting go of the past’, etc. I know the intentions are good, but I’ll go ahead and heal in my own way, and honor the hurts that I’ve lived through, in much the same way that I honor your story and your unique hurts. If you are sick of the “woe is me,” then please feel free to unsubscribe and move along. ANYWAY…I had become so skilled (expert even) at ignoring pain, and pushing through discomfort. I wouldn’t have dared speak up about any pain on Robinson Drive, because unless you lost a limb, you were going to be just fine. And maybe I was never sanctioned to carry the financial burden of those years, but I was acutely aware of the bills, and the stress over paying all of them with Ken’s humble paycheck (that he often drank away before it paid a single bill). I grew up terrified to have a need or create an expense, because it would cause a fight and maybe it would even drive Ken to drink more. I learned to not give my needs attention, or a voice, and I was so good at this behavior that it became a way of life. In fact, I still fight the tendency to just “suck it up”, instead of speaking up.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve also had some tooth pain in recent months (don’t even get me started on the dental work I’ve endured and funded- that’s a whole other post;). Right before my ankle surgery, I discovered a fractured filling and was originally going to wait until my next cleaning to speak up (wish I was kidding). Be proud – I fought habit, and actually called the dentist to schedule an appointment before my cleaning! In the course of scheduling the appointment, I mentioned I wasn’t available the following Monday due to minor surgery. Well bust my buttons, you can’t have a ding dang surgery if you have outstanding dental issues! Outstanding alright!? So now, not only did I need ankle surgery, but I also needed to have a tooth fixed and possibly even a crown. You guys – I came UNdone. I caused not one, but TWO expenses, and if my teeth were just perfect (decent even), and my stupid ankle hadn’t been defective;), none of this would be happening. And here’s the real kicker – we have pretty decent insurance coverage, and I work full-time, plus my skincare side-hustle, so it’s truly not even a financial thing anymore. But it is SUCH an emotional thing, to be sure. I often don’t even see it coming, but it’s such a part of me, to carry the responsibility of so many things that are not my “fault” and certainly aren’t mine to carry. Again – no one ever asked me to play the part, I just so naturally took it on. You wouldn’t know any of this (except I spill my guts to the “interwebs” regularly;), but I’m working so hard behind the scenes, to lay this down. To step away from carrying the weight of the world and from the habits of ignoring my pain and my needs and my RIGHT to take up space in this world. I GET to have needs. I GET to speak up. Now I’m realizing that not only do I GET to, but I absolutely HAVE to.

The irony, is that my teeth (and my smile) are one of the first things I get compliments on when talking to people (“you’re teeth are PERFECT”, I’m often told). I’m here to tell you that I could send one of my kiddos to college on the amount of dental work that I have had done as an adult. Life is not always as perfect as it seems, and I’m not ever going to pretend (again) that it is. I hid behind perfectionism on Robinson Drive, and throughout college and grad school, and even when I became a Mama. I had many people fooled that I had it all together. But guess what – I’ve been brave and terrified at the very same moment, every day of my life, and have worried that people would figure out that I was a fraud. That Ken was a drunk. That we all have our own addictions. That our “perfect little world” was actually a huge debacle. I’m still a hot mess, even on my best days. And you know what – I embrace my mess (at least I’m a hot one;)! I forgive myself right here and right now, for having janky teeth and a jacked up joint. And I will no longer carry the burden of perfectionism. It’s a work in progress for sure, and who knows what will come up next from the vault of Robinson Drive. But I tell you what – I’m thankful for it all. For the challenges that taught me life skills, for the pain that brought me to my strength, and for the empathy that I have for whatever struggles you are facing in this life. Adulting is no joke – it hurts, and it’s hard, and sometimes I want a big fat do-over. But I’m stuck with these teeth;), and I thank God every day that I have even ONE tooth left in my head to brush!

So what are you lugging around in this life, that isn’t yours to carry? What can you release yourself of RIGHT NOW, to start living the life you deserve? You are worthy of love, and belonging, and connection JUST the way you are. So here’s to janky teeth, jacked up joints, and a life that is amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time. And if you realize that the path you’re on is no longer serving you, my wish for you is to have the courage to speak up, and choose a new path. Saving space for you, and whatever path you’re on.

Much love,

Tracy

XO

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Until maybe it isn’t.

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This week’s Robinson Drive flashback flooded over me, almost literally, in the cold bathroom of my lunchtime break stop. As I squatted to potty (yes I hover and yes I clean any splashage, don’t judge), Andy Williams and the Williams Brothers were suddenly shouting at me from above…”there’ll be parties for hosting (always a good time on Robinson Drive), marshmallows for toasting (yes, please) and caroling out in the snow. There’ll be scary ghost stories (wait, WHAT??) and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” I usually think of ghost stories in conjunction with holidays like Halloween, but you do you, Williams Brothers.

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Here’s what actually happened in that freezing cold bathroom. It was like being transported to pot-hole heaven, when Andy Williams started crooning. I could INSTANTLY see the regal, textured curtains in the living room of 38255 Robinson Drive. The floral couch, subtle (as opposed to ‘matchy-matchy’) against the wood-paneled walls. On either end of that precious couch were hanging glass light fixtures that could cause a mild concussion if you foolishly hopped up from playing, without paying attention to proximity. Perhaps that’s where I got my nickname of “Sh%# for brains.” Thanks a million for that, Ken.  It’s funny now, but I won’t lie, it stung at the time (both the words and the light fixture concussion;). I often joke that I thought that WAS my name (Sh%# for brains), until I went to Kindergarten, and they called me Tracy. That’s just how I have always handled my sensitivity to words and to the world around me – with humor. While sticks and stones have never broken my bones (yet, knock on wood), words have often hurt me. And Robinson Drive was a battle ground of hurtful words. Hurting people, hurt people…

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When I think back on the ‘Christmases long, long ago,’ they certainly weren’t picture perfect, although the snapshot above could fool you.  Pure joy, running deeper than my dimples, when I discovered the baby doll in that box. The wonder, the magic, of how Santa knew EXACTLY what I wanted. My stylish big brother next to me, checking out my treasures; don’t you worry, Scotty Boy – you can play with it while I’m napping. 😉 The tree in the picture, that we most likely purchased from the Boys and Girls Club tree lot, and carefully (and very quietly) brought it home to fight it, usually crooked, into the tree stand. There was often (almost always) an energy of anger or irritation with Ken, that existed very close to the surface. Holiday traditions, such as putting up the tree most often looked (and sounded) like the furnace scene out of ‘A Christmas Story.’

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Photo Credit: http://www.fanpop.com

And even that little girl, full of joy and wonder (and a fun nickname), knew to keep a safe distance from any project that might go south, especially during the holidays. Hurting people, hurt people…

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I don’t remember much about the guy in the picture above (happy Ken), but I sure wanted to know him. I’ve heard lots of stories about how he absolutely adored me as a baby, and toddler (the years I don’t remember). And I’ve seen a few pictures of my tiny infant self in his lap, next to an ashtray with a lit Merit Ultralight, which surely explains a lot about that problem I had with my brains;). I DO remember a guy who coached boy’s basketball through the Boys and Girls Club, and I think the team was quite fond of him. I heard he was a “nice guy,” but I didn’t really know that guy. I remember a guy who could sell lumber and nails with a smile to all the customers at Monmouth Building Supply, but I didn’t really know him either. *I* knew the guy who drank 4 cans of Hamm’s Light on the way home, just to be able to face an evening on Robinson Drive. Hurting people, hurt themselves too…

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New Bikes. And the infamous Green Recliner.

Ken played that Williams Brothers vinyl on repeat during the holidays, especially when he was on The Sauce. I thought of the year where he went out ‘shopping’ on Christmas Eve (pretty sure I was in middle school at the time), and as the day wore on and he didn’t come home, I knew he had taken a detour to Rocky’s. I don’t remember how bad the fight was before he finally passed out in the green recliner, but I’ll never forget that he actually bought me a gift that year. It was a white, leather-bound Bible and I cherished it. While it wasn’t popular on Robinson Drive to be a ‘Jesus Freak,’ it was my faith through those years (and still today), that gave me hope of a brighter future and a Father who loved me, despite my sh%# for brains. Hurting people, don’t mean to hurt people…

So it’s safe to say, I get a little sideways wonky around the holidays. Because, not unlike SO many other people I know – the holidays were some of my toughest, loneliest days in childhood. And no, I don’t live there any more. My childhood is NOT to blame for the challenges I face as a parent, or as an adult. But those flashbacks are very real, and the scars can be ripped open when certain memories are triggered. Because I’m human, because sometimes, I step into feelings.

And now, as a parent myself, I understand how very hard it is, to navigate the holidays. I want to create lasting, positive memories and traditions. And while I want to see their eyes light up at the excitement of treasures beneath the tree, I want to make sure they know and experience the treasures that Amazon cannot deliver. I don’t want my hurts of a childhood lost, to become their burden to carry, so I work hard to be aware, to own my junk, to try my very best to choose a different path. When you know better, you DO better…

And what happens, when despite all of our best intentions, the most wonderful time of the year, is far from wonderful? What happens when we’re facing the holidays with hurts and with memories of broken promises, failed dreams, and loss? The most revolutionary thing we can do, is to choose love, to show up anyway, and to rush toward the heartache.

 ‘If there’s a silver lining to the emptiness, here it is: the unfillable is what brings people together. I’ve never made a friend by bragging about my strengths, but I’ve made countless by sharing my weakness and my emptiness.’
-Glennon Doyle Melton, ‘Carry on Warrior, Thoughts on Life Unarmed.’

So that’s the best I can give you this holiday season – my truths. Some days are hard and ugly and lonely, and even scary. There are days when the silence is deafening, and the rejection is SO very hurtful, from almost 40 years ago, and still today. Hurting people sure do hurt people. But guess what? Loving people, love people. So let’s save space today, for being the people we needed when we were younger. And for being the love we wish we had been shown. Love may not be a victory march, but it is always, always worth it. ❤

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BIG Business Launch, and a Little (Brutal)”Truth”

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So I recently became a consultant for Rodan+Fields, an amazing skincare line from the dermatologists who created Proactiv. I’ve spent the last several weeks learning (and trying) the products, and putting myself out there on social media (and beyond) to share the story of life changing skincare. Yup, I’m “one of THOSE” now. If you know me, you know I am incapable of making a recommendation that I, myself, would not follow (which is why I gave up peddling stogies for Marlboro several years back, despite the lucrative lifestyle). In the short time that I have been a consultant, I have already seen great results with the products – thicker, longer lashes with Lash Boost (an eyelash/brow serum), and a noticeable reduction in fine lines and wrinkles with the Redefine skincare regimen. Baby’s Daddy recently even told me that my “bags and wrinkles are looking quite a bit better”…ay yi yi (I don’t recommend the well-intentioned use of any of those words, combined into a sentence;).

I’ve also been on the receiving end of what I will call “social media silence.” I post a few times a week with before and after pictures, or product information, etc. I have only had a few people un-friend me so far ;), but talk about vulnerable – you create a dazzling post (I’m still working on the concept of simplifying, as opposed to novel writing;), only to be met with absolute crickets….

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It’s not as if liking my post is going to direct ship a skincare regimen to your door (although that’s a brilliant concept, now that you mention it;). “Social selling”, it turns out, is not for the faint at heart.

As I was preparing for my Big Business Launch this weekend, I was super excited for the opportunity to actually get in front of people and share the good news of R+F. Emma helped me make ornaments to give as a “thank you” for using the Skin Care Solution Tool, and we had some exciting gift baskets and various skincare products to raffle off to those who took the time to stop by and learn more. I invited friends and co-workers and anyone I could think of who lived within a reasonable distance of the event. This was allllll kinds of a big deal (to me;).

The event itself was fabulous – it was well-attended and I had THE very first table as you walked in the front door (EXPOSURE)!! There were several other vendors in attendance as well, including an amazing 88 year-old man who had created THE prettiest lighted bottles, out of recycled wine bottles and strands of LED lights. You can imagine, I was quick to offer myself up for drinking the wine to provide future bottles for his art. He was the sweetest ever, and I wasn’t alone in my desire to borrow him (just for Christmas, even), to go along with his beautiful art, that is now proudly displayed on our mantle. Side note: his daughter politely declined my offer to borrow him. 😉

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Mid-way through the event, a rather magical interaction occurred, that I will not soon forget. A charming lady lingered at my table for a moment, and then abruptly asked how my products compared to that of a well-known competitive brand. I offered up my truths – that I have experience with both product lines and (obviously) prefer Rodan+Fields, and I could share some of the reasons if she was interested. She quickly dismissed my response, and asked (in an increasingly grumpy tone) how long I had been selling the product. Again, I offered my truth and told her, just over a month, but have been following the results for quite some time, and know people who have used it for several years and swear by it. Once again, she dismissed my response and went straight for the jugular – “How old are you?” she asked, accusingly. “I’m 40,” I kindly responded. And this is where things got good (leaning in to get a closer look at me) – “REALLY!? I’m 54, and you look older than I do!!” She offered up, for all the world to hear. Straight faced and firm in her truth. “I look older than you?” I asked (just to be sure I hadn’t misunderstood). “Yes you do – I’m 54 and I look younger than you”. I was immediately launched into an epic hot flash over the whole interaction, but somehow mustered the following response: “I look older than you? That is very kind of you. Thank you.” (HUGE smile on my beat red face). But she wasn’t done, she proceeded to offer up her truths, just one more time – “I’m 54, and I look WAY better than you.” Emma’s eyes were huge, as she was taking in this amazing interaction. The woman had a younger girl with her as well, who was also seemingly a little uncomfortable with the whole scene. And with that, smile still on my face, I carefully chose the closing remarks – “well, you look amazing, have a great day.”

Thankfully, some good friends, who had stopped by to shop the event and support my business launch, witnessed the entire scene and were able to confirm the interaction actually happened, and as I thought it did. It’s still a little surreal, as I would never dream of speaking to another human being that way, let alone to repeat it several times, and louder with each proclamation.Wow. Just, wow. My point in sharing this story? I am reminded – people can be incredibly unkind. And sometimes, blatantly, repeatedly and on purpose. Starting a business and practicing authenticity, especially in a public arena can be brutal at best. I’m reminded that just because I have been there to cheer on my friends in their dreams and goals, does NOT mean that they will all reciprocate and show up to support mine. But I’m also reminded that sometimes the naysayers are my greatest inspiration and motivation. Doubt me, and even TELL ME I can’t and I will show you, I WILL.

No matter how old I am, or how old I LOOK ;), I hope I never outgrow the ability to see the beauty in other people and in the world around me. I believe there’s “enough” in this world, for each of us to be our own shade of amazing. In skincare – there are enough faces for more than one incredible product. In group fitness, more than one instructor can motivate and inspire a class to push themselves and reach their goals. Furthermore, your ability to be amazing and to shine bright, does not make my light shine any less. In fact, when I celebrate your greatness, we all shine brighter. No matter what you are pursuing – your art, a new business, your passion, that thing that breaks your heart to it’s very core. No matter how many people roll their eyes, ignore, or dismiss you – relentlessly pursue your dreams. No matter how many people tell you, you can’t – show them you CAN. The world needs your gifts. Keep shining. I see you. ❤

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*If you are interested in shining, younger looking skin (or the opportunity to get called out at your own business launch;), check out my website and get in touch!

https://tlewis8.myrandf.com/

 

 

 

 

 

On a Brighter Note; Play Group and Broken Babies

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So it’s been a hot second since I’ve been in touch. I’ve crafted countless posts in my heart and in my mind in the past year, but they haven’t made it to this page. Why is that? Because you can’t stop to describe the waves that are overcoming the boat, when you are busy bailing out the water. Because writing from scars is so much more effective and healing than trying to tape back up, and tuck back in the gaping, oozing wounds that are still too raw to touch.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the play group days. At the time, I had convinced myself that I had officially “arrived”. I was straight up adulting, because I not only brought two beautiful babies into this world, but I somehow managed to get my postpartum craziness out the door twice a week, with those little miracles (born 22 months apart) in tow. And if you know me, you know both of my babies were born broken. Bro-KEN. Beautiful and precious as can be, but kid you not – if their eyes were open, they were not just crying, but SCREAMING. So this was solid gold stellar at play group, not if, but WHEN my little miracle woke up. Oh and by the way, my oldest sweet cherub had a bit of a feeding/swallowing disorder as a toddler, so if you offered her food, the mere thought would cause her to vomit. And we all know how popular snacks are at play group. So baby brother is screaming louder than a firetruck in a parade, and darling, older sister is yacking on the carpet and maybe even on a buddy, for seemingly no good reason. Awesome. Is she coming down with something? Choking? Nope – just an added little feature that required field trips to Mary Free Bed for Occupational Therapy, and produced enough self-doubt and frustration as a parent to fuel a guilt trip around the world. Twice. So, in other words, we were the popular ones at play group.

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To make matters worse, I quickly discovered that when other play group moms asked “how are you”, they actually DIDN’T want a detailed description of the last 3 sh#% sandwiches life had served up. Rather, I was supposed to smile, and lie through my teeth that life had never been better. Living the dream, sharing the vision, right!? Except you can have that “dream,” especially when you add to it, a spouse that worked long hours in law enforcement and no family close by to provide respite after long days of colic and toddler temper tantrums. And it wasn’t exactly easy to find a babysitter (not that that was realistic to afford often on one income) for a colicky infant that even *I* struggled to not throttle. Those were some of the loneliest, most isolating and challenging years of my life. I remember leaning on my girlfriends who were in the same stage of life, but somehow feeling like my situation was different, because I had the “difficult” babies. And there was a good chance my house actually looked like we lived there, because I could barely keep up with the laundry and diapers and yack piles, let alone keep a spotless house.

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This stress took it’s toll on all of my relationships. I constantly existed close to tears, and complained excessively about the whole situation. It wasn’t an uncommon scene to find me bawling on my kitchen floor next to a tantruming toddler, while holding a screaming baby. But the pivotal moment was when one of my closest friends told me that I really might need more help than she (or anyone else for that matter) was able to give me. I’m sure the intention was good, and came from a place of genuine concern, but the statement cut so deep, that it took my breath away and just pushed me further into the abyss of loneliness and despair. My crazy was sticking out, and if I could just tuck it back in, that would be great.

Fast-forward almost 10 years later, when I was going through another very difficult time (they happen to all of us). I went out with some girlfriends and we were catching up and talking about life, and I made the mistake of being blatantly honest again. I described what I was feeling and then admitted that there had been times recently when I wanted to just drive my car into a ditch.You can imagine that little nugget of truth paired well with the chips and salsa!? In fact, it went so well, that the response I received went a little something like…”On a brighter note…” Not unlike my days at play group, I wanted to “magic myself invisible” (as Grant used to call it). If I could have disappeared, I would have. If I could have taken my truths right back in, like another huge swig of my margarita, I absolutely would have. But it was too late – once again, my slip was showing, and no one was appreciating my truths.

My point, besides wanting some cheese to go with my whine? We all have kitchen floor moments, we all have some version of wanting to drive our car into a ditch. Maybe you’re a lighter shade of crazy, so you would stick to riding your Schwinn into a guard rail (ring the bell twice while you do, for a little added flair). But I can guarantee, if you’re human, you’ve met moments of darkness and despair. And in those moments, did you want someone to give you advice and swoop in Superman style to fix it all? NO!!  Believe it or not, I DO realize that I’m not the only one who struggles. I realize my problems aren’t bigger than yours, and that they aren’t even unique. But when those moments of hot loneliness (as the beloved Glennon Doyle Melton calls them) creep in, all I want is for someone to sit with me in the pain, without judgement. I don’t need you to fix it, but please, whatever you do, don’t look the other way, or shame me for having a moment when the hurt and fear are a little bigger than I am.

I can tell you – I’ve spent the better part of my life in therapy, trying to ease the pain and grief even just a little, so I can take the burden off my friends. So I’m not “too much”. I’ve sat next to you at girl’s night out, and I may have shared my truths, causing you to change the subject and look the other way. Without a doubt, I went home that night and replayed our conversation, beating myself up for letting my crazy hang out again. I’ve tried watching your shows, and learning your sports terms, so I can talk about something other than my ditch moments. I’ve worked harder than you can even imagine, to fit in, at your play group, as a fellow dance mom (THAT didn’t end well), and in whatever new “group” my life as a parent has brought me to. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not willing to pay the price of “fitting in.” Sensitive is how I was made, and changing that, would change the very essence of who I am. I will no longer “tuck it back in.”

So, instead of working so hard to fit into spaces not meant for me, I’m trying something new. I’m creating a new table in the middle school cafeteria of life, where truths are not only allowed, but encouraged. Where we save space for you, even when your “crazy” is hanging out. Where you don’t have to be perfect to be accepted. I don’t care how clean your house is, or what size or brand of jeans you’re wearing. I hope you have a big zit on your face, or are wearing the same outfit as the last time I saw you, because that only makes me feel more human and more alive. When I ask you how you’re doing, I actually want to know. Good, bad, and dastardly – please tell me. And after you’ve filled me in on the latest show that is all the rage (I’m sorry but I SUCK at watching TV and I’m sure I haven’t seen it), let’s talk about the things that break our hearts, and the steps we can take to turn our heartbreak into purpose. And in those moments, when the hot loneliness sets in (because it will), this can be your safe space to sit with the pain, without being judged. Life is hard, it truly is. It will break your heart a million ways past Sunday, but you don’t have to stay stuck in the story and in the pain. On a brighter note…if you’re interested in having a seat at this “table”, feel free to send a note to :

lovesavesspace@outlook.com

With your permission, I may feature some of your stories here on my blog, and may even invite you to write your own post to be featured right here.

Saving A Space For you,

T ❤

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Just Rip It Off

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I’ll never forget the day I left for college. A gaggle of us climbed into a big van and made our way up to PDX so I could board the plane for my big cross-country adventure to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 90 minute drive felt like six hours that day, and boy were there tears. I kept trying to bring it back to the positive; It wasn’t like I would never come back home to Oregon!? There were phones back then or I could send some snail mail. You don’t get rid of me THAT easily!?

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We finally arrived at the airport and hauled out the two giant suitcases filled with all of my worldy possessions (minus my hope chest and a prom dress or seven), and we made our way inside to the terminal. More tears. At some point, I couldn’t take it any more. I’d made jokes (complete with jazz hands I’m sure;) and reminisced stories of the glory days on Robinson Drive. I was fresh out of distractions for the unavoidable scene that was about to go down. The goodbye. Except I don’t even believe in that word. Growing up with family across the globe in Scotland, I had become used to tearful departures, and quite frankly wasn’t a huge fan. So on this scorching hot August day, I adjusted my big girl undies, turned to my Mom, and told her how this would go down. “Just like a bandaid, you’ve got to just RIP it off.” And that’s how I did it – a huge hug for each person who had made the trek to see me off, and then I walked on that plane. No looking back, no more tears. Except for the fact that I was BAWLING on the inside. Full on, ugly inner crying. I was terrified to be honest. I had NO idea how I was going to pull off this college gig – financially, emotionally, or even academically. But I was going to.

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You see, I was all kinds of brave that day, because I had no other choice. I’d made up my mind that I was going to move far away for college so I could have a fresh start, so I could be challenged and grow, so I could step out of my comfort zone and “find myself.” Let me tell you – you find yourself when you’re all you have. You take all the lessons you’ve been given throughout life, and you learn to trust that inner voice. “You’ve got this.” Those were some of the toughest months (years even) of my life – there were times when I wanted to run home, but even that didn’t exist any more. The house that built me had been sold, and the dysfunction junction of Robinson Drive couldn’t even bring false comfort.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s life experience, or just the way that God built me, but the Bandaid approach is how I face most of life. When making a major decision, I tend to gather the information that I need, contemplate my options, then take the leap (just rip it off). I make the decision without even really looking back, and if it doesn’t work out it’s a lesson, not a failure that I dwell on (maybe won’t try THAT again;).  When I set my mind on moving back to Oregon as an adult, it was the same thing – ninja focus, and figure it out. Leaving our friends and adopted family here in Michigan was much the same scene – we said “see you soon” as opposed to the dreaded “goodbye” and we faced the new adventure without having all the answers. Once again, I was terrified on the inside. There were tears that no one saw, but I was determined to chase my dreams (just rip it off).

Back in 1994 (wow THAT was a long time ago), I was brave for my Mom. Today, I rip the Bandaid off for my kids. I try to show them – it’s okay to feel the fear, but you must do it anyway. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel. It just means, I refuse to dwell in the sadness,or the loss of what I’m leaving behind. I’m trusting my inner voice, I’m resting in the peace that what lies ahead is far more amazing than I can even imagine. And that what is meant for me, will never pass me by. So the next time you are at a crossroad, I invite you to ponder your options. Then feel the fear, but do it anyway. Just rip the Bandaid off and trust, that whatever happens next, it will be amazing. You’ve got this. ❤

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Day Thirty-One: Next, You Can Kiss Me In Alaska

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These were some of my favorite pictures EVER taken with my little man. We were on Spring Break in Las Vegas (Lost Vegas he used to call it;) and his little legs were “all worn out.” So he was negotiating a piggy back ride. “Pllleeeaaassse, Mama.” I can still hear his precious little lisp. My step dad Michael (the kids called him Grumpa) captured these moments, in a series that we shall call “The Negotiator.” I love this series of photos because they captured, forever, some of my fondest memories of vacations with Granny and Grumpa. And Grumpa had SUCH A way of capturing moments like these.

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As you can see from the picture above, my little man knew, from a very young age, how to pull out all the stops; how to negotiate the deal. He went in for the sunglasses and was laying it on thick…”wook at me, Mama…FOCUS.” No idea where he got that phrase!? The temps were in the 90’s (at least) and Mama was not feeling like being a pack mule, but the hugs and kisses, and his little arms around my neck were quite persuasive. And you’ll notice from the next picture, there was a handsome, pint-sized winner who emerged from these negotiations.  I always told myself to savor those moments (especially the negotiations;), as one day, he won’t want me to pick him up any more. One day, I won’t be able to. And I’d miss the pack mule days. I sure do.

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One day (seems like it was yesterday), I was sure I’d be carrying him into high school with as much of a Klingon as he was. And then THIS morning, on our way into another day of 5th grade (when did THAT happen!?) the little rascal turns to me in the parking lot and says, “I’ll give you your hug out here. Next, you can kiss me in Alaska.” Excuse me!? I grew you in my belly, got stretch marks for you, and got up a jillion times a night to feed and soothe your colicky little soul, and I can kiss you in ALASKA!? The truth is, I would go to Alaska (twice) to have even a small taste of his Klingon days. Those WERE the days. So whatever phase it is that comes next, no matter how challenging it is, I will savor that too. I will tuck these moments in my back pocket. And I will look forward to the next series of negotiations. Even if I have to travel to Alaska to take part. ❤

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Photo credit: Jenny Lee Photography

Day Thirty: Lost In the Right Direction

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If you know me at all, you know that, of the many gifts I was born with, a sense of direction is NOT included in that package. If you know me, you would never be foolish enough to give me directions in Norths or Souths. Tell me to turn lefty Lucy by the Marriott, but save us both the hassle of any “East side of the street” nonsense. I am all over the Never Eat Shredded Wheat approach to remembering the points of a compass, but for the love of all things holy, please do not ask me to navigate this way!? I’m certainly not bragging about this deficiency, nor am I entirely sure why I have never improved upon this skill (not for a lack of practice;). And the true irony is that I have spent my entire career in some form of territory sales. I drive for a living!? And I can’t find my way out of paper bag. At least not with the help of maps and compasses!

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As you can imagine, when I moved to Portland, Oregon a few years ago, and had a territory stretching from the Pearl District to Sauvie Island, and beyond, I was in for quite an adventure.  I grew up in Oregon, of course, but I had rarely ever driven in Portland, let alone had any sense for the bridges and the freeways. Oh mylanta, was that a challenge! I’ll never forget my first few weeks – my step-dad, Michael (lover of all things directional) set me up for success by getting me at least a dozen maps and even highlighted the important roads that I would take. He would have spent hours, if I’d had them, trying to suggest routes depending on time of day and traffic patterns. Something about the freeway, and such and such bridge, and the Willamette, or was it the Columbia River? Wow, was I overwhelmed, at best!?

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I remember one day in particular, when I was heading into the heart of downtown Portland, one of my Michigan co-workers called to check in on me. During our short conversation, I crossed the same bridge twice, trying to get over to another bridge and ended up down by the Amtrak station (where zero of my stores were located;). As we were talking I kept saying, “oops, that was the wrong bridge…here we go again…oops, not that street…” I was laughing SO hard at myself. My co-worker was just plain worried about me, but I assured him – “every day I get lost, at least a dozen times. But every day, I get found!” And that became my motto. I didn’t sweat it when I crossed the wrong bridge, or took the wrong freeway (twice;), but I sure enjoyed the beautiful scenery – I was in awe daily that I lived in such a beautiful place, and I didn’t even mind getting “lost”. And before too long, I turned off my Garmin and just trusted my inner compass (if I even HAVE one;).

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And that’s what I was reminded of in my move (that wasn’t) to Oregon. It feels good to be lost in the right direction, and ironically, when I’m the most “lost”, I feel closest to my true self. I learned SO much about myself in getting lost (literally and figuratively) for those nine months. I’m not at all afraid of questioning the path that I’m on – if a path doesn’t challenge us, change us and grow us, why would we take it!? I’ve never been a huge fan of the easy path, or the popular path – sure there are many people on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for me. And when I allow myself to struggle, and get a little lost, I always find that inner voice and compass that leads me back to my true North. So the next time you find yourself a little bit off the beaten path, instead of giving in to the fear and panic, try leaning in to the adventure. You might find yourself and your greater purpose, in the process of being “lost”.