Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Twin Christmas

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

One of the my favorite things to do at Christmas is to joke and talk about Christmas past. My children love to connect and share the history of their young lives over and over again. I started a Christmas journal years ago where I write about the holiday, who we visited with, what presents we exchanged, and how their lives are at that point in time. It's fun to do and wonderful to read.

The twins especially love to hear stories of our lives in the house when they were mere toddlers. We live in a tiny Cape Cod style house and only have the living room to keep the twins safe in. Like all parents, we child proofed the room and put away glass objects when they were small. Since Maverick is 3 years older, pretty much the room was kid safe. Or as we learned, kid safe is never twin safe.

We learned early that twins are more like combat troopers than toddlers. I am pretty sure the hospital should have sent us to boot camp to prepare instead of telling us how to change diapers. Look, we changed over 10,000 diapers but we never had twins in a room with a Christmas tree and presents before. I want to write a lecture "10,000 diapers and only one you. Guerrilla Momfare Survival Techniques Your Grandma Never Told You."

First, once the twins started to run marathons at age 9 months, we put the gate up on the living room to keep them in there during times of answering phones, taking pots out of oven and Mom trying to shower, pee and do her hair in under 5 minutes. Storm a gate with 2 bodies and it will come down. Buy another, stronger gate, same thing. Have husband build custom 3 foot gate with 2 inch plywood and slates to hold it in place, and now you have something. In the twins must stay, so what else can we do for fun? Oh, grab at pretty lamp shades and see what's in there that is shiny and burn your hand. Out goes lamps. Stand on brother to climb on end tables. Remove end tables. Run to Mom's bookcase and pull off pretty books, again, and again and again. Mom puts bookcase in bedroom. Hmm, room is kinda bare now, lets' climb on back of couch and touch pretty pictures on walls. Crash, boom, all pictures come down. Remove all objects on walls. Let's beat on TV entertainment center and climb in,. Put TV on floor. Not much left now, let's go in rocker. Rock, rock, right into wall and leave large holes in drywall that makes Daddy nuts. Out goes rocker.

And then we put up the Christmas tree. We were proactive, and took a large piece of leftover paneling and tied down tree stand. This prevented tipping of tree. No ornaments or lights on bottom, only top one foot. And no cover, let just keep taking it off tree stand and rolling in it. No presents, because ripping of paper is fun--Mom only needed to rewrap about 10 times to learn this, dumb mommy. So there we were with our bare room, only couch, love seat, and TV on floor, and a tied down Christmas tree. Still, it never looked lovelier. God decorated the room for me, with my beautiful family and our time together.

As I appr0ached this Christmas with the twins at age 12 and Maverick at 15, I was reminded of that sparse holiday. Money is beyond tight this season, so presents got less. But somehow, everywhere I turned I found exactly what I needed for my budget. Again and again I went to the well, dipped in my greedy hands for a drink, and God filled it up. Shirts were on clearance at Abercrombie for my god daughters. A sweatshirt that was really cool, price $100 was on sale for $35, so I could do the combined birthday-Christmas for my godson. Jeans were half the price I normally pay on sale. Flannel shirts appeared in perfect order at thrift store. Friends sent gift cards and gave me never been worn winter coats for Maggie. I found a great deal for Luke on a coat. The kids gave me small gift lists and seemed happy to get a few things. And then I got a great discount on a gift for my boss to make up for puking in his truck. Seems everyone loves a good story involving vomit and screaming at a new boss to drive faster and pass that granny going 20, who knew?

All around me abundance abounds. I don't have my cookies baked, my gifts wrapped or my house scrubbed. I am pretty sure laundry won't get caught up until 2010 and eggnog better double for Christmas eve dinner, or I am in trouble. I have bags under my eyes from trying to work while recovering from major surgery and somehow put on the Christmas pageant that takes weeks to orchestrate, a year to save up for, 5 minutes to unwrap, and lasts a lifetime.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. Chaos is bliss because it means that God trusts me with so much. I will work to remind us all that Christmas past is about the love and connections. Its the stories we share, like Jesus and Mary's travels and trials on that first Christmas. Ours just get richer with the retelling,

Share your stories this holiday season, just as we do in church and in the bible and in our prayers. Let them out and sing Joy to the World today.

God Bless and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Post-operative stress

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

We ran out of eggs this week.

When I came home from the hospital last week, the children understood that Mom needed to heal and wouldn't be doing all she normally does, that she needed to rest. For the first 48 hours, it wasn't bad, they enjoyed asking me how I was doing and bringing me things. But it didn't really dawn on them, that my being sick wasn't the hard part; rather not having me do everything was.

On Saturday, Luke was first up. He obligingly started the coffee and I slowly walked to the kitchen. "Okay, now I need you to be Mom." Be you, what do you mean? Let's start our day while the coffee brews, empty the dishwasher. We have no clean mugs, so we need to get them 0ut and reload. Get the cups from the table. Okay, get the dishes from upstairs. Okay, get the dishes in the living room. Okay, load up and restart. Now let's go to the laundry room. I taught him how to run the washer and how much soap to use. Okay, let's wash darks first. I point down at the pile, okay, a couple of jeans, a couple of towels, Maverick's boxers, Maggie's bras. I see him freeze---yes, Luke, I am sorry I can't bend and you will have to touch the laundry in order to put it in the washer, and that means all of it, even their undies. He picks them up and quickly throws them like they have the plague.

We tried to keep the laundry going, but no one wants to do it really. And sorting it and folding it became a nightmare. I tried to stay out of it, but there was the underwear problem. Suddenly, I had none. I don't know where they were. Honestly, Maggie said she didn't have them and I couldn't see them in the piles anywhere. I kept bathing, sticking my one pair in the wash and nabbing it later. And my sweat pants and jeans that fit also got sucked up in the sea of laundry. I was living in jammies and getting a little sick of it. Guess I need to teach them some organizational skills. Like that their bedroom floors do not double as dressers, and that if you get someone else's clothes, give them to that person. And stop stealing my socks, darn it, another thing I couldn't find all week. I week to the chiropractor in dire pain, with a red and a blue sock on, no undies, and ripped sweats. Honestly, if I don't get well soon, I think people will start taking up collections for us because homeless people dress better.

And then meals and food became another issue. I sent my husband shopping. I asked what he wanted to cook, and I listed what we would need for that. And get the usual 4 gallons of milk--yes 4. 4 twice a week, we drink a lot of milk. He picked up what I listed and nothing else. We seemed pretty good, until about Tuesday when we ran out of eggs.

I have never run out of eggs. See, there just is a level of food I automatically have in the house, the basics. I automatically get them and don't even list them. Eggs, milk, oj, peanut butter, butter, yogurt, fruit, paper products, bread, spaghetti sauce, cheese, lunch meat, chicken, ground beef. While I thought of some of them, I forgot to check the eggs. I usually have at least 3 dozen, so we can bake or have them for a meal. Well, we had eggs twice for quick meals and we ran out. I have never done that before.

No undies, no socks, no jeans, no eggs. Still, not a bad week. Friends are coming to help Maggie and I do the holiday baking. I can sit and mix and direct while they do the rest. And lot of other friends helped this week, I am so blessed. The queen helped me get some shopping done, bought me lunch and gave me beautiful steaks to eat one night. Mrs. Grocery made me excellent lasagna. Mrs. PT cheered me up with a visit and hot cocoa and cookies. Miss art picked me up and got me out of the house. Mrs. GM gave me free tickets to the nutcracker when her sister-in-law couldn't go. Mrs. Happy Mom brought me soup, yum yum, broccoli with cheese.

I am truly blessed, thank you all. And maybe Santa will bring me undies in my stocking.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Deer healers

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

I often wonder if angels talk to us thousands of times each day, and we just don't have that channel tuned in. I think it's easy in times of trouble to just wallow in despair, focusing on what has gone wrong, turning the events over in our minds again and again and again. When we limit our focus that tightly, we blind ourselves to beauty of God that surrounds us.

Back in late September, I had one particularly dark day when I couldn't pop myself up for anything. I was literally laying on the floor, crying, seeing no end to the plight of my job search and my depression. I spent about 10 days in a row churning my grief over and over again. No matter what method I tried to get going, I saw nothing but the spiraling down of life, my debts, my feelings of worthlessness and my failures as a human being. The tools I had used for months, meditation, inspirational cd's, reading, affirmations, and prayer were not pulling me up.

I finally admitted the whole truth out loud to my therapist and began the process of my healing. She pinpointed a nasty event 10 days before that I had dismissed as inconsequential, which in reality had pushed me over the edge. Finally, I broke down the cement walls around my heart and understood what I was hiding. Afterwards, I stopped and got a coffee, and drove to nearby Glen Park to write in my journal about my feelings.

It was a chilly fall day, so I took out my favorite Raggedy Anne sleeping bag and another blanket to wrap up in and sat in the middle of a small section of the park, surrounded by trees and birds. I quietly began to give thanks in my journal and to ask God to lift me out of my despair, once and for all, and to restore me to the loving confident woman I used to be. After about an hour, I took a little nap and enjoyed a true rest for the first time in weeks.

I woke up, and took stock of the many things to give thanks for. Just then, out of the woods, 20 feet away, came 7 deer. They walked forward confidently and just watched me. It was so strange, like they were talking to me and looking at me as my beloved dog Molly does. So, I just sat still and quietly started talking to them, telling them my problems. They watched me for a good 20 minutes. I stayed after they left and went home in peace.

I remembered in my tai chi class that our instructor talked about receiving messages from animals and birds and started to wonder about the deer. I continued on my healing, not quite there yet, but starting to come out of the fog of my sadness. 2 days later, across the street from my house, in the morning, 2 deer stood and watched me through the window again for 20 minutes. Still, I didn't quite connect the messages I would be receiving from the deer, but I talked to them softly about what I was feeling.

On that Sunday, just before dusk, I was filled with anguish. Another week, no job prospects and the paper held nothing new, and I was feeling desperate. I drove to Glen Park to look at the birds and do some deep breathing. Out of woods came not my seven deer friends, not the 2 from my house, no, thirteen deer walked out of the woods and came 10 feet from me. I stood and talked to them for over 20 minutes and they listened. I felt such a peace and serenity come over me. I felt like I must have imagined it, but as I walked to my car, I saw 2 ambulance attendants eating their lunch. The one guy asked me how I got them to stay near me for so long, was I feeding them? No, I said, I just talk to them.

I looked it up about the deer, and its supposed to mean unconditional love and new beginnings. Shortly after, I got the lead on the marketing job I now have. I felt like the deer were sent to heal me and help me feel God's love. This week, I drove back to the park. My seven friends came out again and watched me while I talked.

You never know where the messages may fall in your life. It's easy to cloak ourselves in the dark and not see the light shining around us. Look for it today and feel the healing.