Category Archives: Life

Christmas in July

It’s been a while. It’s been a time. It’s been a season. I have found myself many times simply at a loss for words. More moments of the day than not, my heart beats faster than I ever knew it could. Sometimes it scares me just how quickly it beats. But I’ve come to the conclusion it means: I’m still kicking.

This morning started early. Most of the time, I feel like I’m constantly racing from one second to the next. I don’t want to let anyone down and am not really in a place to ‘slow’ any part of my life down right now. I feel like I’m constantly in a state of inhale (not even sure the last time I actually exhaled). When I do exhale, it’s intentional. I’ve had to remind myself, breathe out.

With the season of life I’m in, I talk to God a lot. Recently, I’ve caught myself talking to Him even more. There’s a lot going on. And this morning on my drive to work, wasn’t any different. As I finish my little chat, I continue playing the Eagles Greatest Hits CD.

Somehow, I find myself thinking about fall and how it’s my favorite season and that I can’t wait for the last 3 months of the year. The feel of that time of year: crisp, colors, comfort, warmth, snuggles, joy, love, bright; always creates an excitement within and I am like a ‘kid at Christmas’.

Just as I’m finishing my ‘I can’t wait for’ thoughts, I hear the keys of the beginning of a very distinct Eagles Christmas tune and then, “Bells will be ringing…” a smile immediately forms. The irony isn’t lost on me. He wanted to spread a little cheer this morning. I graciously accepted.

And I couldn’t resist sharing. So here’s a little holiday cheer for anyone else that may need a little Christmas in July today.

Eagles – Please Come Home For Christmas (youtube link to song)

 

Secondary Grace

As I wrap up this season of giving & receiving, I find myself contemplating my favorite little ‘P’ word, Perspective. It wasn’t but a couple of years ago that word never passed my lips without my infamous eye roll (I was told quite recently ago, I’d perfected the eye roll. I snidely responded it was good to know your strengths, finishing with a smirk and my roll; I’m sure leaving a lasting impression). Perspective…’a particular attitude’…I remember in college learning that perception is reality, though reality is rarely perception. That’s a scary thought. Does anyone have a grasp on what’s real then?

I know what’s real to me and you know what’s real to you. How can two people experience the exact same thing having two completely different perspectives. Therefore creating two different realities. What, in all of that, is actually real? I’ve experienced this firsthand: living same life experiences with someone and having two completely different realities. Our perspectives were devastatingly opposite. Not an easy feat, and we lost.

I thought Christmas might be hard this year, considering the loss. Surprisingly, I’ve had a good season. Quite the opposite of hard actually, I’ve been told (a couple of times) I have a glow about me. I was also asked “How did you get so strong?” the other day. Crazy, it’s all a matter of perspective. Truth is, my life is an utter mess right now. And don’t you dare ask about my future plans. You’re likely to get an eye roll (I have no damn idea). Future = murky, so don’t ask. But in all this ugly mess, I realized the other day what it is I feel, joy. Yes, in all that chaos you just read, while living the epitome of ‘I don’t have a damn clue what’s happening in my life’ and in the midst of experiencing a huge life disappointment, I feel joy.

In all of this, there is gratefulness in my heart. Each day I notice things, usually little things. It’s those little things that make me smile. They keep me grateful. And I’ve found as long as I keep grateful in my heart, it’s hard not to feel joy. Even in dark, difficult, nasty moments (and I have plenty of those too) because I keep grateful & joy close by, dark, difficult & nasty find it hard to stay around for very long. Perspective. It’s the light switch in life. There are really only two choices with perspective. On or off.

One of my favorite gifts this year is a mantra bracelet given to me by the one who is the right to my left. This woman brings sincerity and sarcasm to my tribe. And I adore every ounce of her compassionate soul. After all life has decided to throw my way over the last 6 years, she nailed it. My perspective: She believed she could, so she did1225161835_hdr222

And I do. Everyday. It’s a choice. And Dark still visits. I welcome him. Invite him in for a spell, sit with him, embrace him, but then I tell him when he’s overstayed his welcome. There is no easy in any of this. It’s all very, very tough.

After finishing Christmas with my most favorite human to ever exist, I went and saw Collateral Beauty. Let me tell you now, if you haven’t seen it yet (believe it only opened a week ago so not sure why you haven’t seen it yet), but you absolutely MUST see it as soon as you can get your rear end in a movie theater seat. There are so many layers to the story. And without ruining much, three of the most important characters play roles in our everyday lives: Love, Time & Death. Life is the most exquisite tragedy of all time. We will all experience joys and sorrows along the way. The ultimate definition of bittersweet. And how you feel it, experience it, and live it is all a matter of your perspective.

So…are you on or are you off? It usually doesn’t happen in a grand, defining moment. It’s after-the-fact, like a slow awakening. It’s in the little things. The collateral beauty, many times the less obvious, a secondary grace. The things that are undoubtedly harder to see in the tragic moments, but they’re also undeniably difficult to un-see once you begin to realize them…

Grace was given for us and to us. Secondary grace is what we choose to give ourselves. And you’re worth it. Know it. Believe it. Do it. And ‘Keep Pounding’ doesn’t hurt either 😉

A Snowy Job

I happened across chapter 6 in the book of Job today. From the beginning, I relate to the words. From misery outweighing all the sands of the sea to not having the strength to endure – believe I’ve said I need a strength that is not my own a time or two recently – to feeling deceived by those closest to you. “…when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.” I stop dead in my tracks or snow tracks, perhaps.

I feel the need to sit and gather my thoughts. I pop open my computer and as I begin to let my thoughts trickle out, the lyric of a song playing in the background catches my ear, “to hear sleigh bells in the snow”. My skin prickles. I go back to finish Job chapter 6. He continues to speak to me: “But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears.” and the travelers become disappointed and their hopes are ‘dashed’ because they were counting on the water. Job talks about his ‘friends’ criticisms being more than just hard to hear honest words. Does that make them ‘right’ and him ‘wrong’?  He’s not sinless, but he has the right values and actions – he turns to God.

“Kindness is like snow, beautifying everything it covers.” One of my favorite verses my 6 year old and I quote is Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and loving to each other…”. It’s typically the daily reminder he receives as he hops out of the car for school each morning. Compassion and empathy towards others and especially those hurting does so much for the human soul – both the giver and receiver.

I’ve talked about my tribe so much recently. I absolutely adore them. They have kind hearts, fierce minds and brave spirits. They, well, this:tribe

All. Day. ❤

So today marks 6 years. Six years since the best man I’ve ever known left this earth early. I got up this morning, surprisingly in good spirits. I selected my outfit and was off to start my day. It was during my car ride I did some reflecting. My dad had a larger than life personality so when that is gone suddenly from your life one day, never to return again – well it makes for a tough life adjustment.

As I was recalling his life and his death, I understand I may not fully get the ‘whys’ of him leaving so early, but the life lessons he’s taught me even in death have been priceless. It was then I realized what I was wearing…collagemaker_20161128_133101_resized

Another snowy moment. Another snowy message. Another snowy lesson. “When snow falls, nature listens.” And I do too. It’s hard to stop imagining life the way we think it should be and let God do work. Job goes through trials and comes out triumphant. Much to learn about faith and perseverance from ole Job – hear those sleigh bells in the snow, if you will.

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.” Time to slay – or ‘sleigh’ 😉

Glowing Great+Full

As I opened my blinds this Thanksgiving morning, the freshly-wet-from-rain, brown-orange-golden view made me pause. Millions of leaves lay disarray covering the ground in their final resting place. A few still clung to their branches, the trees almost appeared to be aching for them to finally let go. Each piece prepping for dark and stillness. Until next year…

The scape was simply stunning. The leaves going out with a bang. The scene made me recall a quote I had come across recently: “What are you going to do with all that dark?” “Find a way to glow in it.”

This year has been a life altering year. Having been put in situations I would have never dreamed of, there have been some dark moments. It’s been a time of crumbling, a time of changing, a time of letting go of a tree I was so deeply rooted in. Much of this year I have felt like a withered fall leaf floating, bouncing around controlled by a strong wind, trying desperately to find the ground – someplace firm to land – to finally rest.

Sipping my morning tea while trying to enjoy my favorite coffee cake and the view, I feel a sigh escape my body. In no way do things remotely resemble how I imagined them to be. It saddens my heart. I feel full. Full as in ‘that’s enough, please no more’. I need a breather. Can someone else tag in for a bit?

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As those feelings are toying with me, I glance down. My wrist reminder pulls me back. ‘Athas’ the Irish word for ‘Joy’. A token from a trip I took this year. A reminder. A saving grace. A word I fell in love with years ago. That word makes me crack a smile. I love when I see it pop up in life. It always makes me pause and take another look.

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So I look again and when I look this time, instead of full I see great. My beautiful view. My little boy. My favorite coffee cake. A beautiful fall. The smell of a turkey smoking. My family. Pictures I adore that make my heart smile. A sweet four-legged little girl. The amazing ladies I work with. Trips with fun and fabulous people. Laughing. On point memes. The sun shining. My favorite tea in a mug that warms my heart. The massive amounts of texts of love and support I receive daily. My tribe. My fierce tribe. I am greatly full.

The year has been a harder one. Autumn is not an easy season as it is for my family. And where I am ‘full’ things are still ‘great’. My current state may be floating aimlessly through the dark in an uncontrollable wind, but there is still spark and color. I see it. I feel it. And I will find a way to glow in it. So many ‘great+full’ moments still ❤

Tantrum

I laugh now (which I love that I can still find humor in spite of…), but a couple of nights ago I pitched a tantrum. A legit ten year old girl but with adult words (or sentence enhancers as I’ve grown to adore calling them) tantrum. Pretty certain I was even on the floor kicking and screaming at one point (that may be more along the age of three). Technology got the better of me and it broke me down. C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E-L-Y down. It went on for two hours. I was utterly hysterical convinced the world was out to get me. I couldn’t get even the simplest of things to go right. I was on stage in my own one woman drama delivering the performance of a lifetime. Of course I realize my wounds are deep. My tantrum had little to do with technology and everything to do with where I am in my oh so fabulous journey of life.

My life looks so vastly different than it did a year ago, even six-seven months ago. In fact, if you had told me I’d be in the situation I was in now, I would have said no way without a single doubt in any corner of my mind – I’d stand up and punch them out (Who Knew). Never say never…

There is nothing, hear me when I say nothing, absolutely nothing on this side of heaven guaranteed – except death. We are all promised an end. There will be a last breath. But the details of that last inhale/exhale remain a mystery until the precise moment arrives. I wholeheartedly believe in living to the fullest every single minute you’re given. Everything could change faster than the blink of an eye.

When my current ‘dark place’ began I didn’t know whether to look up, down, left or right. All I knew was I had a little one to look after. That meant putting on a brave face when on the inside I was in a thousand tiny little pieces and had no clue where to begin picking them up to put them back together. So, I simply proceed with one foot in front of the other. One inhale after an exhale. One second in time to the next. Looking too far in advance is murky. Perhaps some of the fog has lifted, but I cannot even glance into the future for I have no earthly idea what it could possibly look like.

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More days, more moments than not, this picture depicts me internally. It’s hard to have a chronic illness that people don’t see on the outside. Many times it’s hard to understand when I don’t feel good. That coupled with my current ‘dark place’ most minutes of the day I feel like I’m drowning, constantly gasping for breath. Help always just out of reach.

Therefore, enter my ten year old tantrum the other night stage right. It really was quite comical, made for Broadway. I’ll take my Tony now, thank you. As the tears turned into laughter, I thanked Truvy Jones for reminding me that laughter through tears is my favorite emotion too. Glennon Doyle Melton said something that has struck me in all of my mess, “I cry so often for the same reason I laugh so often. Because I’m paying attention.” I do pay close attention too. I see how hard and cold the world can feel. I see how it has made me feel. I also see humor in more situations than not. Even if it starts with irony. And I am constantly reminded and redeemed by those in my tribe how important love is. So I still choose to love. In spite of it all, I choose love.

I told you, my tribe is fierce. Their love is what helps me remember that this ‘dark place’ too shall pass. There will be something more for me after this. They give me strength and support while I’m piecing my thousands of tiny pieces back together.

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Cue friend’s message. In the midst of my tantrum, the timing was perfect and with the perfect quote. I needed to remember I’m just down, but not out. I am a warrior – fierce and tender all rolled into one. I may be in a ‘dark place’, but while I’m here I may as well roll over and look at the stars. There is something to be seen here too…

Too Much

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I’ve always been told I have high expectations. I’m too honest. Too loyal. Too strong-willed. My mama always told me to treat other people the way I want to be treated. So I love fiercely, I defend loyally, and I protect with everything that I am. In return, I expect: honesty, loyalty, compassion, empathy, kindness, love. I’m tired of feeling less than and not good enough because of what I expect. How are any of those expectations wrong?

Perhaps that’s the problem with the world. Not enough people expect those things – especially women. We walk around constantly lowering the bar for others. Silly cliches exist because of those low bars, “You’re not the only one.” “It happens all the time.” When will we live in a world where integrity, morals and character matter?

God forbid we be good to each other. Amazing how a simple concept appears to be an impossible task. I am not perfect – I am human which naturally makes me flawed. I fall short every day of the person I really want to be. I make mistakes, but I have a conscience that won’t let me move on without learning from them.

It’s amazing what people will let you think about yourself – especially as a woman. People who say they’re there for you and understand you. Yet when it comes to standing up and making a morally conscious decision, they flake or disappear altogether. What is good is not always right and what is right is not always easy. All of a sudden you’re made to feel worthless and less than, rejected and unloveable.

Well guess what? I’m NONE of those things. I’ve compromised and removed pieces of me for others. THAT is where I went wrong. I choose to take a stand now. Casting shame aside, I choose to make a difference. I have a little boy who WILL see the better way. He may see me fall, but he will see me rise. He will hear me say I’m sorry and take accountability when I’m wrong. He will see me do right by others when I mess up. He will see me love all kinds of people and show compassion when they’re hurting.

We’re here to love. That’s the sole purpose. There’s no big mysterious meaning to this life. It’s all about love. It’s time we get our heads out of our ass and really show up for each other. I may be too much for some, but that just means those in my tribe are fierce as hell. We don’t hide behind false pretenses. We’re real and ugly and silly and beautiful all wrapped in one and we accept that. And if that’s just too much for some to take in, I’m okay with that. I’ll take my ‘too much’ any day over ‘not enough’.

A Good Dump

Definition Dump:

noun
1. a site for depositing garbage; a place where a particular kind of waste, especially dangerous waste, is left; a place where weapons and other military equipment is stored; a heap of garbage left at a dump; an unpleasant or dreary place; an act of defecation
2. a copying of stored data to a different location, performed typically as a protection against loss; a printout or list of the contents of a computer’s memory, occurring typically after a system failure

verb
1. deposit or dispose of (garbage, waste, or unwanted material), typically in a careless or hurried way; abandon or desert (someone); sell off (assets) rapidly
2. copy (stored data) to a different location, especially so as to protect against loss; print out or list the contents of (a store), especially after a system failure.
3. tackle (a quarterback) before he can throw a pass

Let me preface this piece by saying I’m going to spill some guts here. If you can’t handle a little of life’s sliminess, this read isn’t for you. If you are okay with some unbridled truth mixed with a tad of crass humor then I will do what my body does best by urging you to read on…

Sometimes we all need a good dump. Emotionally or physically, it can help release something internally or externally that just needs to be purged from our body.

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Hi, my name is Carrie, and I’m addicted to my toilet. Well, I’m not, but my rear end is. To me, it’s the best seat in the house.

I have been fighting a battle I have kept publicly quiet about for over 5 years. I will share about it one on one with folks, but to voice it and put it out there like this – is hard (much like I wish my bowel movements were). The bathroom is a private place and that’s where most of my story on a daily basis takes place. To say I’m emotionally spent doesn’t begin to cover it. My IBD yearns to remain active enough to keep causing me daily grief, but not ‘bad’ enough to warrant surgery (not that I want the kind of surgery ‘bad enough’ would offer at my ripe young age of almost 33). I live in limbo of, What should I do next?  My body gives a whole new meaning to “Don’t beat yourself up.” And it’s completely out of my control. Per my autoimmune disease, I’m the only one bad enough to kick my a$$.

Previously, I touched on the outskirts of the emotional journey of having an IBD. The words Alone, Isolation and Misunderstood were at the center. Also, checking in on those ‘blessings in disguise’ they are not always easy to find because they’re coming in a pretty nasty, debilitating and frankly sh*@#y disguise…

So much in and of life gets taken for granted, and most of time you don’t even realize you take it for granted. It is only when something is taken away do we truly realize its value.

A toilet. I love a freaking toilet. Period. I often wonder how long IBD has been around and cannot imagine living with this in the days of an outhouse or less. Plumbing is such a wonderful thing. Heck, our internet was down for a few days recently and all it taught me was a good pioneer, I would not make. How did they survive without social updates…especially if or when they were under the weather and isolated? Can we say first world problems?

Flushable wipes. Oh. My. Goodness. Toilet paper is easily my very own version of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. Don’t get me started on crappy, cheap toilet paper. On the other hand, too soft tears too easily creating a ‘fun’ (and I use the word fun about as loosely as my stools like to stay) mess. Flushable wet wipes are ‘juuussst right’ and my hiney’s personal BFF. They’re even more lovable when you’re super irritable down there with an agitated hemorrhoid or two.

A good night’s sleep. Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep? I get it. And there are many out there with sleeping problems. Having an IBD is like living with a newborn every night except you’re the one you’re constantly changing. It leaves room for little rest.

A good meal. I have always loved food. Eating is such a social function too. Food can be an IBD patient’s worst enemy and many times unpredictably. There are many moments I am forced to choose to not eat because it’s just not worth the pain and disruption (and sometimes eruption) afterwards. It’s hard to sit around and watch everyone else indulge wishing you were delectably indulging with them.

A quick carpool line. Now, I’m fully aware most any parent enduring a carpool line at school enjoys when it moves along efficiently, but on carpool’s swift days, my butt is eternally grateful. The anxiety of crapping myself in carpool line (or any traffic for that matter) is always a fear. Urges are unpredictable and when they hit I can give the game of hot potato a run for its money. You may think, Okay. At least you’re in your car and you can get home and change…but what about the smell when someone is assisting your child into the car? Can’t exactly hide that wonderful stench. How embarrassing.

The sunshine. IBD takes an emotional toll. Days of no sun makes it harder. When that sun shines, soaking it in (as long as a bathroom is nearby) is beyond refreshing. Something going in rather than coming out…ahhhhhh 😀

A coca-cola. I finally caved and gave up alcohol a while ago (won’t deny, I was in denial about no longer enjoying an adult beverage especially after a long day, and it’s another social activity others enjoy that gives me a run for the toilet), but to have to give up my favorite little red labeled drink – I may have shed a tear or two. It’s become a celebratory drink. Maybe that makes it even more special.

Healthy food. I was also in denial about what our foods do to us. It is still something I am exploring and learning about, but when I eat as green and clean and as organically as I possibly can, my explosions are not quite so explosive, and I LOVE that.

Meditation. Oh, what peace. Yoga, body stretching, mind relaxing, I love it all. The feeling of being centered again gives you somewhat of a feeling of ‘control’ even if it’s just mentally. You can’t be too modest though…if we are in a class together and you hear a noise that makes you want to giggle – it was probably me 😉

The compassion of someone who gives a damn and shows you they do. It’s easy to feel judged, misunderstood, and forgotten when you have an IBD. I fiercely cherish those who have remained close to me despite my shortcomings. We all need to know we are thought of once in a while. Human connection is imperative to a joyful soul. My gratitude to those still centered in my life comes from the deepest parts within ❤

A good poot. I cannot even begin to describe how delightful it feels to expel gas and not be afraid of needing to be inches from a toilet or worrying if you’ll need to change your underwear. I absolutely relish when I’m able to let it rip (and usually am grinning when I get to do so).

Energy. Fatigue is part of having a chronic illness. You are naturally just ‘give out’. When you are having a good day you want to bottle it up and run with it. You get to take your kid to school without freaking out about how long the carpool line is. You get to make plans and not break them. You get to indulge a little more than you would normally allow yourself. You shine a little brighter that day with big smiles at your significant other.

A good dump. I take great pleasure in a nice firm movement. They feel SO GOOD. Consider yourself beyond blessed if you are regular, firm and healthy in the pooping department. I envy you!

Our digestive system is so intricate. It baffles me. The fact digestive disorders are on the rise is concerning. What makes them even scarier is they’re different and affect everyone differently. No IBD patient is exactly the same. Some medicines work for some while they don’t for others. Some foods send some people into severe pain while those same foods don’t affect others. It almost makes an actual cure seem impossible.

If I can heed you any advice – take care of your body. It is your daily life temple. When your health is taken away it affects your life in just about every aspect possible. I pray steadily for a cure or remission – to regain some regularity to my life. And I will always savor those ‘good’ days. I hope you remember to do so as well.

If you’re still here, I thank you kindly for the dump. It felt really good. And if I see you and it’s a good day, let’s share a coke. Just put a splash of rum in mine. After all, the fact we’re simply ‘feeling good today’ is cause for celebration 🙂