Tag Archives: Health

The Fine Art of Embracing

Our nest is now empty. I know in an earlier blog I wrote about not calling it empty. I wrote bravely about calling it a wider nest that stretches practically all over Texas. But, right now, I’d like to retract that thought because the reality is, it is empty here.

We have three empty bedrooms…all still and quiet. Our laundry has decreased by 97% and I’m not even enjoying that. Our clocks tick more loudly…it’s weird.  At the grocery store, I nearly melted because I wasn’t buying the same things without a 19-year-old son eating here.

No one is waking me up in the middle of the night to tell me he’s home. His bed stays made. His room is sunny because I opened his black out curtains. It used to bug me that he left the shower curtain open all the time. It’s shut now 24/7, I should be gleeful.

He’s currently going through a rigorous ten-day tough boot camp environment preparing to be a part of the Corps of Cadets and Aggie Band at Texas A&M. My dad, his dad, his brother-in-law, brother and cousin all did the same thing before him. We all believe the Corps makes great leaders and we all know how hard it is.

We talked to our son a few days ago and he said it was harder than he thought it would be but that a text from his big brother had  helped him. I asked what the text said and he said essentially, “…to embrace the misery.” (Ok, it really said “Embrace the Suck” but I felt the need to make it sound better for my faith-based blog). Either way you get the idea. “Embrace the suck” seems somehow more aptly put and can really stick with you as a slogan.  As I was writing this, I realized there’s even a book with that title and hoodies you can get. Who knew?

Later, our older son explained his big brother text to me, “In short, it means you can’t think about all the things you could be doing; that will make you miserable. You are in a time where you’re going to be tired, stressed and getting yelled at. Embrace it and believe it’s going to make you better.  Be where your feet are.”

Sometimes I find it difficult to embrace where I am. That has been true in times of illness and recovery. It has certainly been true in seasons of grief. Sometimes I rail against a season of busyness or times where it seems my husband and I are working too hard or giving too much to everyone besides ourselves.

Sometimes it is when we need to make a decision but no clarity comes. I hate times of indecision, not knowing or waiting, don’t you?

Sometimes it is true in a season of emptiness, when the clocks are ticking too loudly and there is no laundry to do.

Could it be that there really is an art to embracing the place where our feet are right now? I wonder where you are and what needs your embrace?

 

 

 

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One Thing Leads to Another

One woman is talking to another. They are surrounded by plants and vines, filling the house around them, obscuring the couch they are sitting on. “Can you believe this all started with one African violet?”

I’ve always loved that cartoon because, yes, I can believe it.So many things begin small and morph into much bigger things. Right now it is happening at our house where a relatively simple ceiling and floor project led to all the walls needing painting and then, of course, now the trim needs paint too.

It can happen in fitness, in either direction, a bad habit slips into two, then four, then more. Or, simply vowing to add more steps to your day leads to running or eating healthy. Before you know it, you’ve got a Fitbit.

I’ve seen it happen in community service. Reading with a struggling child leads to signing up to be a mentor. Feeding one hungry child leads to figuring out a way to feed hundreds or thousands.

Have you ever accidentally started collecting something? Maybe you just bought one cute Beanie Baby and before you knew it,  you were drowning in your own collectibles? If so, try un-collecting things.  It is so freeing.

One thing leads to another so maybe it would be wise to be mindful of each African violet, tweet,  word, vote, purchase and each mental, spiritual and physical step we take.

Transitions

Yesterday in Texas the temperature was pushing 80 degrees.  It was a humid 80 too.  We turned our air conditioning back on.  Today, there is a strong north wind and it is currently in the mid-30s.  The problem with this whole weather thing is the lack of transition.  It is tough to go from shorts and flip-flops to sweatshirts and gloves with no transitional weather in between.

I feel the same kind of abruptness with Thanksgiving to Christmas.  We barely finished our Thanksgiving meal and drove home from out of town; only to discover all our neighbors out hanging Christmas lights and installing their holiday yard displays.  (I can’t even speak about the Christmas-decorations-before-Thanksgiving people). So we rolled into the driveway, hopelessly behind in the changing of the seasons.

Life seems filled with both subtle and abrupt transitions.  When our kids were little, the transitions came so fast: milk to solid food, crawling to walking, diapers to potty trained, preschool to elementary. But truthfully, they’ve never stopped transitioning.  Our daughter married with a home and career of her own; our middle son about to graduate from college this month, then home for a transitional few months before he’s out in the real world; our high school son transitioning from football season to off season sports; driving now, oh my!

I see people all around me adjusting to transitions of health, job issues, marital status, empty nests that get full again for a season…even from life to death.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way, “Nothing is secure but life, the transition, the energizing spirit.”

It’s true.  Life seems to be mostly a series of transitions.  Some I handle better than others; some I face grumbling and bitter; some I welcome with open arms; some I fervently argue with, to no avail.  So today, as I adjust to 30 degree weather and the Christmas season upon me, I pray for God’s soothing spirit to ease today’s transitions.

Time Out

In football games, a time out is for re-grouping, strategizing, managing the clock, drinking Gatorade and sometimes just for messing with the game plan of your opponent.

In child rearing, a time out is to remove a child from his/her cycle of behavior; to teach him/her what is not acceptable through a bit of negative reinforcement; to teach the little one that he/she is not in control. When our now 21-year-old son was in his terrible twos, he threw temper tantrums whenever he didn’t get his way. He would simply melt, wail and flail. I was determined to win, so would pick him up, this solid, heavy, sturdy toddler boy and deposit him in his room. I told him the same thing every time, “I know you are upset. When you can calm yourself, you can come back out here with the family.”

To his stubborn credit, he’d try, oh, he’d try coming out to tantrum some more. I just kept depositing him back in his room to calm himself. Each time, it got worse. Bruised from his well-placed kicks, I’d be covered in his snot and tears and some of mine. He’d pinch. He’d try to bite. He threw toys at the door a few times. I just stayed on message and kept delivering him to time out.

One day, just like that, he stopped with the tantrums. Fast forward 19 years, he is now a 6’2″, 195 lb. young man; still quite sturdy and strong; a happy, productive, funny person who knows how to calm himself. You’re welcome world. Thank you, time out.

Time outs work. Time outs are effective. We all need them.

In the last few weeks, several factors in my world converged to create a need for a time out for me. In retrospect I now understand it was the “perfect storm” of:
–The medication I am on to prevent a breast cancer recurrence, Tamoxifen.
–The medications I was on to counter the side effects of Tamoxifen.
–Good things, like a packed fall schedule, high school and college football games, friends, social events, jobs.
–Stress-being a pastor is a tad bit stressful. I don’t want to whine but we pastors tend to absorb a lot of pain–people’s personal pain, institutional pain, pain meant for God, plus the painful sweetness that comes with trying to live out faith in community.
–Hormones-imagine throwing in the mix a whole pile of pre-menopausal hormones which Tamoxifen is trying to shut down while my body hard at work making more hormones. No kidding, I have a little hormone tsunami inside of me at all times.
-Our dog-our vet told us a few weeks ago that our Golden Retriever, Rusty who has been a part of our family since 2001, has Canine Sarcoma (Doggy Cancer) and only has a short time left to be with us.
–Mix in a day or two of not eating right and some insomnia.

I cracked. And, a time out on the field was called. I didn’t call it. I couldn’t even see that I needed it. I strongly felt that play should continue as usual. I was the sturdy two-year old bundle of tears, angst and snot who kept reappearing in the family room. Time out for re-grouping, breathing, finding a new strategy, re-calibrating. Time out.

Yesterday, in many parts of our nation, the sleet, ice and snow created a national time out. We stopped. No school. Flights cancelled. Holiday parties called off. Christmas parades and other elaborate holiday events stopped in their tracks. Time out for weather.

Our younger son, an over-programmed high school student, found a sled in the attic and played outside for hours. I sat by the fire, writing, reading and reflecting on why we need time outs. We made soup, checked on those we loved, played cards and snuggled in. Now we are on day two of this time out. “Shouldn’t we be doing something productive?” we ask ourselves. Turns out, we don’t. It is okay. Our work today is to be in time out.

We are all more fragile than we think. We are all prone to cycles of too much–too much emotion, activity, trantrum-ing, stress and busyness.

Sometimes we need to hit pause; call for a time out; suspend time and our activities for a while. Rest. Regroup. Re-strategize. Calm ourselves.

Thank God for the time out.