Monday, July 25, 2011

I really wanted to be a Boy Scout

Yes, I did want to be a boy scout when I was young. I 'inherited' books from my older brothers, and among them I found their Cub Scout manual--I think they were scouts only for a year. I read with interest all it took to be prepared, and I wanted to sign up.

I have sought to be prepared throughout my whole life. It has helped immensely, and yet in retrospect, it has held me back in so many ways. I don't regret anything I've done or haven't done in my life, yet there are times I wonder what would have happened if I had dived into the deep end of the pool of life.

I am seeking my own passion. I have had an amazing year, one that most would consider to be defeating, and at many times I thought for sure I was being defeated. In reality, the year and all of the experiences, both heart-wrenching and beautiful, have lead me to begin building the foundation I need to follow my passion. My eyes have been opened to the gifts that I have and the time I have spent in the past three or four years trying to fit my square peg into a round hole.

My husband and I were blessed last year at this time with the opportunity to provide a good home for our great-nephews. We do not have children of our own, and we dived right in with two boys 7yo and 8yo. Rambunctious doesn't begin to touch their energy level. They are bonded strongly to one another, and I am so happy for that--they will always have each other. However, my husband and I soon learned that we did not have the skills to provide for the boys the help they needed. We learned that love was not enough and it broke our hearts deeply. We remain thankful for the opportunity, and prayerful that the boys will have all that they need in their new family to grow into good strong men.

In Fall 2010, my mother grew uncoordinated and started showing signs of mental confusion. With a history of dementia, we were concerned about the onset of Alzheimer's and / or Parkinson's disease. The challenge in the diagnosis was that Mom had no insurance due to missing the enrollment period for Medicare Part B following her retirement and the expiry of her employer-provided benefits on the date of her retirement. With a need to contain costs, it took us three months to learn that neither of the conditions we thought were at hand were the battle we would fight: She had lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain. The pressure from the swelling had shifted her brain midline and was impacting her ability to think, speak and move with any certainty or confidence. The mental and speech confusion rang true: aphasia was a condition my grandmother encountered in June 2010 at the time of her stroke and in the months following. I had learned how to manage that.

Throughout the months after Mom's diagnosis, and in the months prior, I had learned how to manage a lot of different things. I found that despite the pain, despite the difficulty of watching my Mom's decline in mental and physical strength, despite the heartaches, I was able to flourish in the activities of 'getting things done.' Through Christ all things are possible. And I was discovering my gift for managing information and tasks at hand. I was learning how to navigate the healthcare industry as I was helping Mom with finances, bills and organizing her medications and home care. All of this to help me but moreso to help my brother and her caregivers, so we could all be together in helping Mom receive the best care possible and to stay at home.

As her condition worsened due to her weakening constitution, we also saw Nik's dad slipping away to a long term illness that had wracked his body. In the weeks following his Dad's passing, Mom slipped into the next life as well.

Our challenges did not end, and we waited for an understanding of what was happening. As my world at home was upended, so was my world at work. I struggled for understanding at MPOW, yet did not need the same to explain the grief and loss at home. I was prepared for what would inevitably happen to all of us. I was not prepared for losing control of my career and my identity in my working life. Then it clicked. I had been coming to terms with my calling. 

From today's readings in my daily Catholic devotions: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15; New American Standard Bible (NASB)

These words are so powerful today and in the face of my need to "prepare" for the coming changes in my career. I could just jump, and taking that leap of faith may be just what I need. I am especially struck by the following verses:  

"8we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not despairing; 
persecuted, but not forsaken; 
struck down, but not destroyed;" 
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I needed this encouragement, this gentle nudge today. I was inspired by a reading on a blog I follow, (in)courage--a home for the hearts of women. I love the power of the July 25, 2011 post.

May God bless you and keep you and your family, as you continue your pursuit of passion--and may all who read these encouraging messages, or the thousands of others presented to us each day as opportunities, feel the ability to answer their own Call. You will be sustained. You will be supported. You will not be destroyed. You are prepared.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Introspective - seeing ourselves in others

I had a conversation last night on my way home from work with one of my best friends. In the course of that conversation it came up (rather, I pulled out of him) how a friend of his supports her position on matters with research that proves her perspective. Typically, this is in the realm of her own healthcare needs, of which there were many more than which I would have thought possible. Through our discussion I learned that she had lost a great deal of overweight at one point. I got pretty up on my judginess, and talked about how I didn't think that was a good way to be, etc., etc. In a follow up email my friend explained about her own changes and then he offered to connect me to her, knowing that I too have weight to lose and am concerned about my own health and fitness.

What a great opportunity--someone who doesn't know me and have preconceived notions about me (well, probably a few). However, I wouldn't even know how to begin that conversation. I'm pretty hard on my self regarding my own body image and how I think of my weight in relation to who I am. I try to focus on the workouts mostly, and am committed to that. This week I've GAINED four pounds, despite four days of hardcore, sweaty cardio for an hour at a time. I don't even know how that happened. My normal approach is to beat myself up over it mentally....and then have a snack. :)

I couldn't get enough salty food last night when I got done working out. My optimistic side said it was because I had sweat so much this week I was low on minerals. My self-deprecating side said that it was because I don't know when to say when.  You can guess which side won that argument, right? There's a reason I read the non-fiction I do (most of it is mental or physical health or spirituality), there's a reason I study things like appreciative inquiry. It all tends to be selfish attempts to help me with positive self-talk. I can only imagine how I would be if I didn't keep trying to build up myself in my research.

And on reflection, maybe I'm a bit more like my friend's friend with my own approach to seeing. My friend's words gave me pause to consider to what degree I do apply the research to suit my own opinions. Meaning? To what degree do I frame my perspective to see things in a favorable light to my own pre-formed opinions? I read something a few years ago, or maybe it was my friend who said it: We see in others what we dislike about ourselves. That really struck home at the time because it was when one of our older nephews was living with my husband and me. I was on the nephew all the time for not doing the things I myself put off, like tidying up, wiping up, etc. I guess it's time for me to fess up, eh?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The way of being me

I am a princess, however not always. Not on most days, for most hours or most minutes. On occasional minutes I am the princess and the princess is me. I struggle with self image and self confidence like most women, and so, I use my 'title' Princess to reflect on the perfection that God made in me. That I am perfect in his eyes and my imperfections are of no concern to Him.

Today I read a blog post on a new favorite space: inCourage: A home for the hearts of women. I can't thank one of my sisters in Christ for sharing that link her own blog enough. I'm not an everyday reader, but I am a reader when it matters most--when I need that spiritual pick me up on the spur of the moment. For today, I was brought to "…but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” ~2 Corinthians 4:16

While the blogger was focused on aging gracefully, I was struck by the need to remember that despite my physical being, I have the ability to renew. I was in tears most of the way home from work last night, all but ready to go home and not go to the gym as I had committed to myself. I had that bad of a day, and one of the people in whom I should be most able to trust for support had lost my faith. While inquiring about someone they had not seen in more than a decade, the first question was, "Is she still fat?" What it felt like to have that carpet pulled out from under me. I have struggled my entire life with overweight, as has the person who made the comment. I don't see the physical. I am human, I notice extremes, but it's not my way to remember that as someone's entire character or being. I am thankful that I am spiritually able to let that observation of others perish, and to remain renewed in the Spirit.

If only I was so kind to myself, though. And I think that's what started the downward descent yesterday. Things came in small blows and added up throughout the day and by the time my day ended I was in tears. Heartbroken again. Needing to be lifted up and to leave behind those negative thoughts. Thank you to my trainer, Anissa, for helping to focus my mind on building up my physical strength, and to thus begin the renewal of my spirit. Thanks be to God for allowing me to grow in Him more each day.