Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Red Chair Travels

Today I read an article about the travels of a red chair. You can read their blog at the link I provided. My first thoughts were...

"This is so stupid." And, "What a waste of time." And then this, "There are REAL problems in the world, for God's sake!"

Because contrary to what y'all think, I'm not always nice. I have a judgmental streak that I have to hold in check. Shocking, I know.

As I kept reading I began to see that maybe this was "just" a FUN project. Maybe that was the worth here. It was fun and it was connecting people all over our nation. In our world filled with endless troubles like Ebola concerns, and ISIS, and war, and killing, and religious persecution, and lost kids, maybe something so simple as following the travels of a red chair around the U.S. could be a respite from all of those heavy burdens. Maybe something simple and innocent can be a pleasant distraction. My biggest idea of all was that maybe its OK to allow one's self to BE distracted. Maybe its ok to look away for just a minute and enjoy what you see there.

Besides the red chair has visited some awesome places. It travels between Inn and B&B owners all around the United States and they commit to take the chair to some interesting spots and then pass him along. It reminds me of the Flat Stanley project one of the kids did.....they mailed this little flat Stanley guy along with a story of his adventures here in our area to another far away homeschool group. We took pictures of him at the Gold Discovery Park and the apple orchards and then mailed him away. Then we could track his journey and see what other adventures he went on.

Oh gosh....what if we started some kind of parent/recovery/encouragement/just for today...mailing project?!!! Ok, I have to think about this some more! Wouldn't that be so awesome to hear from your blogger friends through the mail and receive something real, tangible, to hang onto for a minute, add a touch of your own, and then mail it on to the next person? That was a stream of consciousness moment... the wheels are turning! 

Please God, give us strength.....
Annette

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Power of Addiction....

I have a client who is blind and she loves for me to read out loud to her... we have different books that we read and then the newspaper. Since I am the one who can see, I go through scanning for happy stories or just simple human interest stories to read to her. Let me tell you, they are harder and harder to find!

In the mean time I get to see all of the headlines of awfulness that are going on.....yesterday I saw two separate stories. The first one is about a 54 year old man who has his doctorate in educational administration and has had a flawless job record working for expensive private schools as their principal. He was recently found in a hotel room with a 21 year old young woman. Littered through out the room was alcohol, heroin, and meth. She was passed out and when the police went to wake her, they couldn't. The dr-man said, "She's ok." Eventually they did rouse her and both were arrested. He was able to bail himself out, and she wasn't. He immediately resigned from his position as principal of his "tony" private school and is not responding to the media.

Then this...the son of the man who founded the Lyon Real Estate Company (maybe that is just out here in my area...but its a biggie) who was the then president of the company began having legal issues after being arrested for secretly recording sexual encounters with women without their knowledge from 2008-2010. He was recently put into prison for violating his probation. The police were called to his house and there they found methamphetamine and paraphernalia.

Heard from a teacher friend a few days before reading these articles....her co-worker, a fellow teacher, has a daughter who was a school administrator, making a mid-range six figure income. This woman was married with children. She became addicted to methamphetamine and her marriage crumbled, she lost custody of her children, lost her job, and now lives down on the banks of a local river.

So in reading and listening to just these stories, of which the world is full of many more, I was just awe struck at the power of addiction. Powerful people with so much to lose, give it all up to live in their addiction. What does that say about our kids who never even got to see if they could be powerful adults? Who got derailed before they ever got started? Can they ever break free?

I don't know. I do know that willpower isn't enough for what ails our children. I believe that addiction is a spiritual malady just like the Big Book of AA says...actually it says "alcoholism" but I think the roots are the same. I know that the possibility that my girl might stay stuck is something that I have to look at. The possibility that she could get well is always there too and I can keep that in my minds eye, but the reality of each of my days at this point is not recovery. My reality is that I have to accept that my girl is very very stuck and at this point, I think it is safe to say that only God can save her. All hope is not lost, but I have to live in acceptance of what is....

I know that the world is filled with broken people, including me and mine, and I know that God is filled with redemptive power. Broken people < Redemptive Power. We just need to respond. He knocks at the door....we have to be the one to open it and invite Him in. I pray that our broken kids hurry up!

With love and prayer....
Annette






Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quiet

My little one is a quiet soul. She has always had a need for solitude and loves to be at home in her safe zone. Even as a 2 year old she would walk around asking her older siblings, in her adorable baby talk, if they would be home to babysit her while I went out to do errands. She prefers one or two friends, to  loud crowds. Even as a little girl and we would plan her birthday...I would be formulating a list a mile long of girls to invite and things we could do and she in her 8 year old wisdom, would put the brakes on it all. "Mom, I don't want all of that. I just want 3 friends here. 12 girls is way too much for me." Oh to be so self aware!

For a long time this deeply concerned me. "She's not comfortable in her own skin," I would wail. Everything with her is just slower, quieter, more orderly, more thought out, than how I personally operate. I was so afraid. The truth was that her solitary enjoyment, her quiet, her slow methodical actions, scared me.

What an odd response! Unless you have lived the life I have. "My girl" was a very similar little girl. Quiet, self possessed, gentle, not comfortable in her own skin.... and right around 12, 13 years old, all hell broke loose for her. I didn't know any better and I blasted my way through it all, demanding, grabbing, squeezing, at the illusion of control. I would fix this, just give me a minute! I cringe when I look back to that time. I have made amends many times for being insensitive, not knowing better what to do, for being so so very afraid and bulldozing around trying to control what was scaring me.

This quiet girl didn't fit into my box, my idea of how it all "should" be. A successful mother raised secure children who were able to handle big groups, lots of friends, speak up for herself.....but "my girl" quietly stood by. She tried to say what worked for her, but I don't think I heard her. I think I was so stuck in my ideas that I often "encouraged" her to be different than what she was saying felt right for herself.

Little one is 13 now. 13 is a horrible age and I think if there was any way to skip it we would, we should, all take advantage of it. Its been a rough year for my little one. But she is finding her way. She is going to a "girl's group"  and seeing a counselor and she takes it all very seriously and does what she is told. Its very sweet and endearing. She is taking the steps and doing the work to feel better. And I am able to honor *her* journey. I quietly walk beside her. I embrace the things about her that are so unique and make her so interesting. Like the fact that she is reading The Merk Medical Manual and taking notes and underlining and highlighting words and finding out what they mean, because "this is really interesting to me." Or reading the original Grimm's Fairy Tales and comparing them to Disney's versions and discussing them with me. That one of her favorite possessions is a set of multi-colored highlighters that the dad bought for her to use for her reading. That she doesn't like to wear make-up and won't pierce her ears because its "putting a hole in your body that wasn't meant to be there," but is planning her first tattoo.

And I regret so deeply that I wasn't able to give this quiet acceptance to "my girl." When I know better I do better....but that doesn't feel like enough to me and I have to be able to get past this, because I did do the best I knew how to do. The truth is though, that it wasn't good enough, it wasn't very good at all. It was fear driven panic. Of course, I do have to give myself this bit of room, that "my girl" had added some things to our equation that haven't occurred to little one. But if I had known earlier how to embrace her introversion instead of try to pull her out of it...would things be different? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it all wouldn't have started as early, I don't know. But still..... I wish it WAS different.

I am reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. What a gift.

"At school you might have been prodded to come "out of your shell" - that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and that some humans are just the same."

I am always learning.

Hopefully my little one can make her grand appearance into adulthood relatively unscathed and feeling strong and sure in her quiet ways. And it will be such a beautiful thing.

Hopefully "my girl" will find her way eventually and that too, will be such a beautiful thing. 

And hopefully, I will find my way to more and more peace in my old age, accepting responsibility for what is mine to carry and letting the rest go, forgiving myself for my many well intentioned mistakes. 

Annette







Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hard Stands

We are taking some hard stands right now with our girl. It is very scary, not easy....its awful, but I really feel like its necessary. I pray that God holds her in His hands and meets all of her needs whatever they may be. The dad and I are on the same page and are doing life minute by minute right now.

So with that said, I fell down last night, in the dark, heading up my stairs with my arms full. I missed the first step somehow. I tried to catch myself on a deck pillar and missed which meant I ended up crashing totally down on the ground and under the stairs! LOL Oh my gosh, I am too old to fall. I am so sore and bruised all over. No one heard me so I just gathered up my stuff and trudged up the stairs into the house. Little one had ear buds in and the dad was just coming in from the downstairs part of the house. I would think it shook the whole house, but apparently not. So today I had to show them both, all of my bruises and scrapes and make them look at them and give me sympathy. They obliged very nicely. Every time I think of it now, I laugh. It really is funny....

I have two week days off this week and it is so darned glorious. It shows me that when I have enough time to do what needs doing, I really can do a good job and I can even be cheerful about it all. I did things like cleaned the dogs ears, I answered long overdue emails, I read just because I wanted to. When I have the time it feels good to go through the process of each task, to have a rhythm of each day....not just work and hurry to get it all done. Its rewarding. I took a chicken out of the freezer to thaw....I never remember to do that. Tomorrow morning I can have it ready to go in the crock pot. I can leisurely help with homework. I wish I didn't need to work anymore.....maybe not totally, but less would be nice. We have a lot to pay off though before that can happen.

I have recently turned down two Hospice jobs...I miss my Hospice work so much, but I have continuous work with the same clients week after week now. And don't get me wrong.....they are WONDERFUL clients and very nice jobs and I am very grateful for that. However, I see how people who go into the same job day after day, week after week, can feel like they are on a treadmill. I so look forward to weekends now, and then on Monday I start all over again. One of the Hospice jobs was a woman about my age whose husband was dying... I would have loved and been honored to have walked with her through out those last weeks.

Little one really needs me right now and to know that there is a schedule and a routine and that I will be home at these times each day.  So for today I am exactly where I need to be. In a few short years little one will be grown and I will have the freedom to pursue any jobs that resonates with me.

I also need to find a way to incorporate exercise into my routine. Weights....I must begin with weights again and ab work.

The fire is 92% contained! We had 3 days of rain which helped tremendously and was nothing short of a miracle in our drought laden state. Bless all of those who helped and worked so hard to bring it under control.

And bless us all who live in the trenches of addiction and work endlessly to be ok despite our fear and pain.

Annette

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What is our hope?

I am afraid this will be sort of a bummer post... I hope not. I hope I can bring it around to what our hope is. I want to hear what YOUR hope is.

Depression and anxiety and substance abuse plague our family. Family members who seem like they shouldn't struggle, who have everything going for them, do. Including me. I battle depression. I battle feeling like its all just too much effort and work to go out into the world and present the picture that everything is great. I feel the need to put on a smile, because quite frankly who wants to be around Debbie Downer?! I battle carrying the burdens and concerns of the whole freaking world because I really do care. I catch a news headline, because God forbid I actually watch or read any news, and the awfulness going on in this world is unfathomable. Beheadings (political and otherwise,)  religious persecution in our big free socially developed world, ISIS, drug abuse, kids feeling the need to numb themselves, gangs so people can feel a part of, anger and violence, poverty in our American nation of plenty...filled with warehouses of food and gadgets that we all think we cant live without. We all walk around not looking too closely at one another because it hurts too much to do so. We see the need that is just too vast, too massive for us to fill and we feel helpless and lost.

If I look too long at any of the above I want to lose hope. I want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. No wonder mental illness and depression and anxiety are rampant. No wonder our youth are self medicating. Who can thrive in this world? How did we get here? I feel like I am teaching my children how to survive, how to find joy and peace and refuge that is hidden away in little places, despite all the darkness that swirls all around them."Look for the light, look for the good," I tell them. I hear, "Its hard to see mama." I pray that the good doesn't get so crowded out they can't find it anymore.

So what is our hope? I want to hear what your hope is? What keeps you going?

Mine is my faith. The idea that there is a power greater than myself in this world and that He has a plan. That He allows people to live out their free will, but He provides the choice, the option, that when that stops working for us, we can turn our will over to Him and find new life, light, and hope. My faith is simple...I am no Bible scholar. I just know that Jesus loves me and met me during my darkest time and He accepted me and I had never felt more loved and cared for than at that moment. I know that He said that dark days would come upon us....but we could focus on His light. So I try to keep my eyes fixed there....fixed on what His word says, fixed on His plan and not my own, "show me your will God and help me to carry it out." I try to stay focused on what is mine to care about...that is where I trip the most because I feel like its ALL mine to care about, but that is impossible and drives me to insanity. So I learn to put my cares into God's capable hands and trust Him to manage and care and love in all of His perfection that I can't begin to fathom. I keep believing and trusting that God's will is good.

"And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is the light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. " 1 John 1:5

We all need something to believe in. What is yours?

Hold us and keep us dear Lord.
Annette


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Something so ordinary.....

In the middle of my mountainous refuge burning up, my town being taken over by handsome young fire fighters and all of their gear, letting go of one of my offspring into the big unknown....Molly and I met for coffee yesterday. The spot we met is near the American river where the salmon run every year.

As we were sitting, talking and sipping, a boy of about 14 years old came around the corner carrying an enormous salmon like a baby. He had caught it in the river and was walking to his meeting spot for his mom to pick him up.

There was something so sweet about this whole encounter. We were so impressed with his giant fish and gushed all over about it. There he stood, wearing shorts that were getting too short, mismatched socks up to the middle of his skinny legs, blood dripping down his arms, his backpack slung over his shoulders with his fishing pole hanging out the back. He laid the fish down on the sidewalk so he could go in and wash up saying, "Ugh, I hate being dirty!" lol  He was so cute, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and Indiana Jones all wrapped up in one. We assured him we would watch his fish. No one was going to get away with it with us watching!

Everyone in Starbucks came out to take a look and we all had an opinion on what he should do next. I thought he needed some ice to pack it in.... what do I know about fishing?! Not a darn thing!This was like the time I told the dad how I thought he should go about roofing the house, even though I have never been up on the roof. I am afraid of heights. lol

Some of the employees gave him garbage bags to carry it home in and I AGAIN said, "I would feel so much better if you had some ice over him." LOL

So being the sweet kid that he was, he went in and got a cup of ice water, came out, took a couple big gulps and then poured the rest over the fish and smiled at me, flung the bag over his shoulder and took off walking to meet his mom.

A beautiful ordinary moment.
Annette

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My girl

My girl has been gone for 2 weeks now. I don't know what this means, I don't know the future for her or for us as a family with or without her. I have heard that shes not doing well. I put her into God's hands, step back, and hope for the best.

I have the family map app and I track her phone to see if she is on the move.....she is all over about a 100 square mile area. She has a whole new group of people "friends" that she is with.

I pray for her. That is all I can do at this point. We will pack her things up in the next few weeks and clean out her apt. Our door will always be open to her...maybe not to live here, but to grab a meal, to sit for a minute, have a shower.

I was thinking today about how unnatural it is to have to let go of one of your children. The thought occurred to me that the dad could let go of me and I would not become this combustible traveling woman. I could let go of one of the other kids and they would not set out on a mission to self destruct. Addiction rules her life for today.

Praying....
Annette