Poem

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I wrote a poem today.  For some people that may not seem like too big of a deal, but I really don’t like poetry.  I’ve always found poems difficult to read unless they are at the level of a nursery rhyme.  Anything beyond that level is beyond my abilities.  I don’t understand the economy of words or hidden themes.  Maybe I am too literal.  (Or stupid.)  Ask anyone who knows me, if something can be said with three words, I’ll use 33.

But today was different.  It was gloomy, and it is Monday.  I didn’t sleep well last night, and I have a deadline looming over my head to complete the FY 2017 budget.  My house is covered in drywall dust with no end in sight to the constant stream of workers talking loudly and blasting music by 7:30 a.m.

I arrived at my office with a plan, but by lunchtime I had barely made a dent.  With constant interruptions, I was struggling not to lose my temper.  I ordered lunch and planned to eat at my desk while I continued working.  I sat back in my chair for a moment and closed my eyes.  My mind wandered from one thing to another, one person to another.  My thoughts are too often on those who are no longer a part of my life. I hate getting older.  There is too much loss.  I am tired of losing.  Too much change, and I’m tired of changing.

I closed out of the spreadsheets.  I wasn’t going to be productive in my present state of mind.  I took a bite of my sandwich and tried to shake away the gloom.  I remembered something I had done years ago that had often helped me during times like this.  I opened up a Word document and started writing.  So much was bottled up, and I needed to release the thoughts one by one in a sort of stream of consciousness exercise.

Before I knew it, something had begun to take shape.  I went back to the beginning, and I began to tweak the words.  I edited and arranged them.  I worked quickly.  It was as if the words were telling me where they needed to be placed.  The words began to make sense.  One thought followed another, and a deeper meaning began to speak to me from beneath what I had written.  It was a poem.

It wasn’t good, and it certainly isn’t worth sharing.  I’m certain it does not follow the “rules of poetry.”  I remember there were always a lot of poetry rules that didn’t make much sense to me.  I’ve never been very good with rules!

The process of writing my poem was therapeutic.  I arranged the words and thoughts.  By economizing, a theme began to emerge.  What had weighed me down was lifted just a little.  A small part of the gloom floated away..off into the distance.

 

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Imagine My Surprise

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I’ve been silent for a while in the blogging world.  I’ve missed writing, but I’ve been afraid.  I was a little freaked out.  A couple of weeks ago, I took a sick day.  I wasn’t feeling well, was exhausted, and I knew that the rest of my week was going to be full of long days.  Sure, I could have made it through the day, but I was running on empty.  My tank was sucking fumes.  The  morning I stayed home sick, I took things slowly.  Eventually, I ended up on my patio with my iPad and a cup of coffee.  I was going to write.  When I logged into my blog, I was shocked.  Someone from my office had logged on earlier that morning, but I was NOT in the office.  I immediately changed my password and set the blog to private. Continue Reading »

Write Pam Write!

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The past couple of weeks have been downright grueling.  My stars and planets have been out of whack.  Karma has come around to smack me in the face.  I suppose it’s natural for bad spells to happen from time to time.  Luck often runs in cycles.  Let’s just say that I haven’t been enjoying many aspects of my life lately.  While I haven’t lost sight of the good things in my life, it felt very much like the universe was actively working against me.  Day after day was filled with nothing but stress, defending myself, advocating, explaining, reassuring, tap-dancing, oh…and a little crying thrown in, too.  Backstabbing at work in the highest form.  Bullshit and crap from people in my life who should NOT matter at all, people who are as insignificant as a pimple on my ass.  Thankfully, it appears that the problems at work have stabilized, until the next round, that is.  The stress was exhausting. Continue Reading »

Snakes and Other Dangerous Creatures

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This blog post has been brewing for a few days.  It wasn’t until very early this morning as I sat drinking coffee with T that I even began to attempt to put the words together.

T and I had fallen asleep on the couch as we often do on the weekends.  We watched a movie all snuggled up and warm on the couch.  When the movie was over, we turned on an episode of The Office.  It was the one where Michael proposes to Holly.  I had watched it the other night with Em.  It was so sweet that I wanted T to see it, too.  I loved watching it again, and I loved seeing T smile at all the right parts.  Even after the show was over, we stayed in our spots on the couch.  We halfheartedly talked about getting ready for bed, but it was so warm and cozy.  We were so sleepy and so comfortable.

The next thing I knew, it was morning and T was in the kitchen brewing a pot of coffee.  I wandered in with a smile on my face and told him that I was kind of enjoying our weird pack mentality when it came to sleeping.  There is something so delicious about drifting off to sleep right where you sit compared to the formality and routine of getting ready for bed.  He agreed.  Falling to sleep like that is wonderful, but damn, are we ever sore in the mornings from sleeping all night in awkward positions.  We laughed a little more as we both stood there trying to stretch out the kinks.

These odd sleeping arrangements have become our habit as of late on Friday and Saturday nights.  We skip the bed and the bedroom.  We nest and nestle in for sleep wherever we are comfortable at the time.  The best thing of all are the mornings.  It is just the two of us wandering around downstairs.  We haven’t had the luxury of lingering over coffee and conversation in the kitchen for many years.  Strangely, I am reminded of my grandparents.  As a child, I can remember waking up at their house and coming into the kitchen as they both sat at the table sipping their coffee.  It was a warm, peaceful feeling of contentment to see them there.  Now that is T and I.  It makes me feel old, yet content, all at the same time.

As we finished up in the kitchen this morning, I told T that I was going to go upstairs and write before the girls woke up.  He stopped and looked at me.  “What are you going to write about?”  He had never, ever asked me that question before.  I have been blogging for two years, but he has never asked me one question about it.    I don’t hide the fact that I’m writing.  Many times I have come to him to talk about a particular blog post or a comment that I have received.  Until this morning, though, he has never asked me what I was going to write about.  Today he asked, so I poured another cup of coffee and asked him to join me at the table. Continue Reading »

Mixed Emotions

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I haven’t written in this blog for about a week.  I’ve been writing, but just not here.  As summer ends and cooler weather settles in, I find myself recalling many moments from my past.  I have been concentrating on remembering and gauging my progress from season to season.  I suppose you could call it a “self-inventory.”  Am I better off this year than I was last year?  Am I happier?  What lies ahead?  What do I keep?  What do I throw away?  What do I change?  What are my goals?  What am I striving to achieve?  Where do I want to be in my life next year at this time?

These past two years have not been happy.  Yet in the midst of all of the sadness, moments of joy continue to shine brightly enough to make their way through the murk and lighten my life.  Life has a way of doing that.  There is so much beauty and joy to be had in this life and in this world.  It’s contagious.  It’s almost impossible to ignore.

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but it seems that way too often I experience mixed emotions.  Some things are really good in my life, while other things really kind of suck.  There doesn’t ever seem to be a happy medium.  Maybe it’s because I am in the middle of so many other lives.  I have four kids who rely on me.  I am responsible for my mother.  Then there is work.  I manage volunteers.  I have to deal with committees and a board.  I am the person responsible for getting the volunteers excited, thanking them, guiding them in the right direction.  I feel like so much of my time is spent being ON.  Performing.  After certain committee meetings, it takes me literally hours to unwind.  That was the case last night.  I had a board meeting, and it had gone wonderfully well.  I was dead-on.  I was well-prepared, and the initiatives I introduced were well-received.  My adrenaline was flowing.  It was great, but I was revved up for hours even after I went home.  I couldn’t stop.  I burned off my excess energy by cleaning like a madwoman.  I vacuumed three flights of stairs.  I made dinner.  I ironed.  Yet, I was still full of energy.  I told T that it felt like I had testosterone flowing through my veins, and he better watch out or I would kick his ass.  Of course, I am exhausted today.

Obviously, I love my job.  It’s been one of the greatest surprises and greatest joys of my life.  I certainly didn’t set out to do what I do.  A decade ago, I didn’t even know such things existed.  If I had heard myself speaking as I do now on a daily basis, it would have seemed like a foreign language created from acronyms.  While I love what I do, I seem to be lacking balance.  One look at my calendar, and it’s obvious that there will be no let up in my schedule until the holidays.

As well-prepared as I was for the meeting yesterday, I was not prepared for receiving a phone call as I was walking down the hall, arms full and coffee in hand, to the meeting room.  It was a number that I didn’t recognize, so I answered the call.  “Pam, this is the Kidney Center.  Your mom is fine, but we need you to pick up a kit for a test we would like to perform on your mother’s stools.”  (Yuck!)  It was 4:00 p.m.  I asked when they needed me to pick this test kit up.  “Now.”  I told them that I was just about to walk into a meeting and asked if I could call back around 5:30.  “We won’t be here then.  We close at 5:00.”  My gosh!  Pretty decent of them to call me at work and expect me to drive over there, at least a 20 minute drive, within the next hour.  I asked them if this was an emergency or could it wait until the morning.  Yes, it could wait.

Today I called the Kidney Center while I was driving to work.  Their answering machine informed me that their hours were 9:00-2:30 today.  Just great.  I was tied up in meetings until 4:00.  I had hoped to leave at that time and take care of whatever it was that I needed to do.  I still really had no idea other than that they wanted to test my mother’s stools.  Truthfully, I feel that it is more a matter of racking up as many charges as possible on their well-insured patient’s account.  I called and left a message, but my call was never returned.  It is these little out of the blue things that drive me nuts.  Just when I think I have a handle on all of my responsibilities, something else always surfaces.

As I drove home from work, I looked out across the fields.  They are all bare now, and they’ll look like this for many months.  Another season has passed.  Have I used this season well?  I don’t think so.  I seem too often to be stuck in a place of sadness and loss.  As much as I try to recognize the beauty and joy around me, I am pulled back into remembering.

When I walked into the house, Emily was waiting for me in the kitchen.  She had been working on a Senior Memory Book writing assignment for school, and she wanted me to proofread what she had written.  She was on her way out the door, but wanted me make sure to talk to me before she left.  Ugh….  I was tired, and I had just gotten home.  I had to make dinner, do laundry, help Lola with her homework, now this.  I told Em that I would be happy to help her out, and she was gone.

Here is a portion of what she wrote.  The subject was “What person has had the most significant influence in your life?”

My mom is my best friend. I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for her guidance along the way.  She holds me up, and I hold her up.  Thinking about my life without her isn’t even feasible to me.  If I have a problem that I need help dealing with, she’s there no matter what.  Even though it seems like she has a million things on her plate at one time, she would drop it all to help me.  She helps me deal with my mistakes, whether it’s by telling me that she once made the same mistake, or just sitting there talking it out with me.  When she is going through a hard time and is in pain, I feel it along side her.  She and I are exactly alike in just about every way that I can think of.  She looks like me, talks like me, walks like me, thinks like me, and makes the same mistakes as me.  We even have the same favorite foods.  I can open my mouth and say one word, and I’ll have my mom rolling on the floor laughing.  Sometimes we get into fights that last a while, but we get over it and finally end up laughing.  I love my mom more than anyone on the planet, and I will never let our relationship fail.

I was honored.  I was happy, yet sad, all at the same time.  She does know me.  She knows how she has propped me up these past years.  Yes, she has been my best friend.  She has held my hand, laughed with me, and understood those moments when all I have needed was to have her quietly by my side.  I am so proud of the loyal, compassionate young woman she has become.  I am so very thankful that she feels that I have been there for her and that I will always be there for her.  Even while I am proud of her, I am ashamed that she has not had a better, happier, more perfect mother.

That is life, though, isn’t it?   While we strive or wish for a “perfect,” happy existence, that isn’t the real world.  Life is full of challenges and disappointments.  As hard as we try, sometimes things just don’t go our way.  I am sad that my sweet daughter has had to learn those lessons already at her tender age.  Sad, yes, but proud that she has continued to love through the pain of loss and  mistakes and has learned that laughter often follows tears.

 

 

A Word of Kindness

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Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the

blind can see.  ~ Mark Twain

I haven’t had much time for blog writing lately, and I’ve missed that.  I’ve been doing a lot of writing, though.  Last week was spent writing pages and pages of a grant narrative.  I was often frustrated as I sat staring at the screen willing the words to flow.  It was so very different from writing in the blog.  When I write HERE, the words flow without much thought.  Often, I don’t know where a blog post is even heading until I’m finished writing.  Last week, though, I was a frustrated writer.  At one point, when someone stepped into my office, they asked me if I was having trouble seeing.  I didn’t understand what they were referring to until I realized that I had a pair of reading glasses on my head, one on my face, and yet another tucked into the front of my shirt.

Eventually, I did complete my writing assignment.  The mass of papers was mailed out, and now I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will be blessed by the powers that be with a grant to fund the project.  By the time my words made it to the Post Office, it felt very much like stuffing my child into a large envelope and hoping for the best.

The boys are doing well away from home.  The girls are busy with their lives, school, and friends.  T and I are finding our way around a much-too-large space that was once occupied by the bustle of four kids.  All around me I feel change and transition.  I’m waiting it out, yet feeling a sense of isolation, melancholy, and loneliness.  Even so, I know that the dust will eventually settle, a new routine will become established, the voids I am experiencing now will be someday soon be filled with new activities and interests.  Still….  I don’t like this in-between time of waiting for all of that to happen.

I have been making a point to acknowledge to myself all of the GOOD things in my life by taking a moment and a deep breath of appreciation when something good comes my way.  Can I call that “cultivating” the good?  I am trying to exorcise the bad experiences, bad memories, harmful thought processes, by redirecting myself toward the good as often as possible.

Today is a busy work day.  I am speaking at a luncheon this afternoon, which means I have to ON.   Bleh…  Don’t feel like being ON.  Tomorrow will be even busier with meetings and my obligation to take my mother to the doctor.  On top of all that, I will be packing to leave for a conference on Friday.  There will be no weekend for me.  I’ll be sitting in conference sessions a thousand miles away from home.  I already miss my daughters at the very thought of leaving them.

A ray of sunshine entered my grouchy morning, though.  I received an email out of the blue, and it was full of kindness.  God Bless this Good Person!  It was a simple act of reaching out and spreading goodwill for NO OTHER REASON THAN TO BE KIND.  How incredibly needed and refreshing that felt.  Someone thought of me.  They thought kindly of me.  They reached out to me.

I know we haven’t seen each other in a while, but I wanted to let you know you are doing a great job.  (Name of my employer)  is lucky to have someone like you.

Thanks for everything you do!

My gosh!  I had tears in my eyes.  This person had no way of knowing what those simple words meant to me.  I will remember that feeling, and I will pass it on.  That’s one reason I’m sharing it here on my blog.  Take a moment today, please, to make someone feel valued.  Take a moment to be kind.  Pass it on!

Create Kindness!

Drink Me

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During my lunch break today, I called a friend.  I needed to hear a friendly voice.  I was feeling sad and stressed out.  I needed to talk to someone who cared.    Basically, I needed a friend.  Instead of keeping those feelings bottled up inside,  I called someone I knew would understand.   We talked about many things, but eventually we discussed what depression feels like.  She had written in her own blog a description that I had found terrifyingly beautiful, accurate, and true.  She wrote that depression is “like some thick, wet, blue, velvet cloak trying to smother the life out of your heart….”  I understood.   I have been feeling the weight of my own depression these past few days, and had been describing it in my own mind.  Maybe that’s part of the process, the trying to understand and interpret that crushing, muddled feeling.

Her description is a whole lot prettier than my own.  I told her that my depression feels like cotton.  My mouth, nose, face, every part of me, feels like it is stuffed with cotton batting.  I am unable to make facial expressions.  If someone were to ask me to smile, my brain could not tell my face what to do.  That must be where the “cotton” feeling comes in.  I feel like a rag doll.  I have a face, but it is blank.  Fighting for expression, fighting to act like a human and not a stuffed inanimate object, is exhausting.

Last week, when I received a funny text picture from a friend I see infrequently, I replied.  “Thanks, that made me smile.  In fact, I laughed out loud.”  He responded that he was glad and that I needed to smile more often.  He said that I’m pretty when I smile.  I felt embarrassed.  I knew just what he was referring to.  We had seen each other at a conference in May.  I could see that he felt I had changed.  I was not the same person I had been just a few short months ago.  I was sick.  I didn’t laugh or smile like I once did.  I wasn’t any fun.  I was the expressionless rag doll, and that made me feel ashamed of myself.

Talking to my friend today helped me tremendously.  Our conversation went from serious to silly from moment to moment.  We are two people struggling with loss, fear, pain, and depression, but we are also able to laugh.  God, I find strength in that.   There are good people in this world, and I am learning to reach out to them.  I am learning to accept help when it is right there for the taking.

I’m not sure why I have so often been faced with loss in my life.  Actually, I try not to think about it too much.   I do know that I have had way more than my fair share of bad luck and loss.  It would be staggering if I were to write it all down.  On the other hand, I have had so many wonderful blessings, too.  The one thing I have learned as I have been faced with adversity in my life is that there is an OTHER SIDE.  Climb that hill, keep putting one foot in front of the other, trudge through the crap that life throws your way.  There IS an OTHER SIDE.  Right now, though, that other side seems so very far away.

Of course, I am feeling bogged down.  There is so much on my plate right now, and not much of it is good.  That’s when the depression kicks in.  It’s almost impossible to fight off when life is throwing buckets of crap my way.  I feel myself sinking under, and I’m tipping my head up to try to catch a breath of air.  I need to BREATHE, but there does not seem to be a place of comfort.  I’m trying to trudge along and get to the other side of this.  I want to get to the BETTER SIDE.  I’m trying.  I keep putting one foot in front of the other, but it feels like I am fighting a pretty strong wind.

 

As I drove home from work tonight, like always, I listened to my iPod.  The song “Drink Me” by Anna Nalick came on my player.  Drink me.  That made me think.  The words of the song made me think.  “Drink me, baby.  Slowly, I’ll disappear…  I’ll get smaller with every swallow.”  Wow.  That is how I feel.  Little sips of me have been taken.  Just a little bit at a time.  A little here.  A little there.  My glass, which was once full, is now almost empty.

I allowed it to happen.  “Here, take a little bit more.  Is there anything else you want or need?  Is there anything else I can do for you?  I am strong.  I will bear the weight.  Here, have a little bit more.”  I gave too much.  I emptied out my own glass.