learning to fly

For those of you who knew Trey and I kept three of our nieces over the weekend, I’m sure you expected this blog post to be about that adventure.  But that will have to wait:  latest reports confirm that my sister and brother in-law have yet to get their surprise from the girls that we spent most of the weekend working on.  I’m so proud of the work they put into it, so I won’t ruin the surprise now!

 

So, in lieu of that story, I decided to share this one.  Months and months ago, maybe even years, I had the most vivid and amazing dream.  It was so vivid that upon first waking up, I wrote it down.  Every now and then I would tweak it here and there.  But mostly it’s turned into a very short story.  Just a page long.  And maybe one day I’ll use it as inspiration for a larger work, but for now, enjoy learning to fly:

 

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The witch doctor lived in the bottom of a valley, in the side of the mountain.  Her entryway was shaded by shrubs and Spanish moss.  She opened the door before I could knock.  The woman was short and squat, a fair-skinned negress with freckles and short curly reddish hair.  When she smiled with her mouth, her eyes rarely followed. We could hear bombs exploding in the near distance.  She hurried me inside down a steep and endless flight of earthen stairs into the vast cavern that was her home and workspace. She gestured for me to sit in what resembled a dentist’s chair that swiveled.  Excitement rippled through my body…excitement and sheer terror.  But how could I not take this chance, how could I pass something like this up? After I was seated, she strapped me in with thick leather belts around my chest, wrists and ankles.  Then she pulled a large metal hood, much like an old-fashioned beauty salon’s hairdryer, over my head.  The witch doctor told me to close my eyes and said if I didn’t look, it’d only hurt for a moment.  I squeezed my eyes tight and awaited pain.

At first, it was a small needle prick on the top of each of my feet, close to my toes, right in the center.  The needles grew larger with each prick, stabbing me so quickly, so mechanically, that I could not separate the pain each one caused.  When the needles stopped, I was flung from the chair to land on the ground face down, the metal hood still on my head.  A deep red heat radiated from the hood, pounding on the back of my head, hotter and hotter, redder and redder, for what felt like hours.  When it stopped, the hood was raised and the room felt silent and empty. “Well,” she said, bored and waiting, “fly already.”

I sat up slowly, praying that this time it had worked.  Before, I flailed and flung my body but could only seem to hover for a few seconds.  This time, I was determined to take flight. I slowly pushed myself up to sit, then shakily straightened my legs to stand.  I clenched my arms tight by my side, my hands in locked fists.  My feet shoulder width apart, I slowly bent my knees and pushed off from the ground as hard as I could, holding my breath and praying for success.  And it happened, I took flight.

I soared into the rafters, turning my head to change direction, avoiding the enormous crystal chandelier by inches.  I spread my arms and swooped from side to side, high and low, exploring and reveling in my new ability.  I laughed and screamed with joy. It was everything I hoped it would be.  To feel the wind rushing by my face and feel my body, weightless, soaring though the air I breathed was nothing short of miraculous.  I dipped and landed with a slide and a puff of dirt in the place from which I had risen.

The witch doctor watched with detached amusement as I tried to simply levitate, face down, hovering a few feet over the ground.  I wanted to know if I could soar to great heights and stay in one place to observe, to learn, to really see.  But I couldn’t stay aloft for long, my balance eluded me and I dipped and swayed in all directions, only to land on all fours with a thud. I gathered myself up and tried again, this time leaning back as I slowly pushed my toes off the ground.  I lay back in the air relaxed, as if swaying in an invisible hammock.  I couldn’t quite control myself enough to hover in once place, but I didn’t rock and dip uncontrollably like I had when floating face down.  I lay flat on my back in the air and drifted.

“Why,” I asked her, “is it easier to float on your back than on your stomach? It’s like just like floating in water.” I floated, unintentionally, right into her lap.  And she laughed.  The witch doctor let out the most delightful, infectious, comforting laugh and I knew right then that I had done what none of the others could.  I alone was the girl who could fly.

new day

Okay, my last few posts have been weepy and melancholy and no fun at all.  I think the funk is finally behind me!  Thanks to the wisdom of my amazing husband, I’ve stopped taking my allergy meds (did you know one of the side effects of Zyrtec is weight gain???) and that was the start.

Total sidebar:  I have a confession to make.  I got duped.  I saw a tweet from what I thought was Women’s Health Magazine that suggested using raspberry ketone as a weight loss boost.  I really thought it was an article written by a health-conscious columnist…it wasn’t.  It was a crazy ad that hid itself amongst the great health advice that I’ve come to expect from WHM.  So I bought the brand mentioned in the article (Lichi Superfruit – never, never, NEVER take this!) and started taking 3 pills a day about a month ago.

Now we’re back:  I started doing some research about the stupid pills and found that other users were extremely disappointed and some had in fact GAINED weight!  So I thought, if this certainly isn’t helping me lose weight, why am I still taking it?  So I quit.  Threw the bottle away.  And guess what:  all of the sudden, my insane moodiness lifted, and I finally (FINALLY!) feel like myself again.  It took about six weeks of crying non-stop for me to learn my lesson – but now that that’s over with, I’ll never make that mistake again.  Whew!

 

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So, now that I’m back to my old self, here’s what I’ve been up to:  yard work.  It’s coming on summer super fast here and that means I get to play with shiny new toys.  I’m mowing and digging and edging and hauling rocks and it’s AWESOME!  I’ve missed this all winter.  I’m nowhere near a green thumb, but I love digging around in the dirt.  So, it’s a new day and a new (but really the old) me.  And I feel sooooooooo much better.

negative

Let me tell you about the total emotional breakdown I experienced on Friday that resulted in a 5 hour nap.  I love naps, especially when they allow you to completely ignore your circumstances for a while.

WARNING:  This is a super weepy emotional girly rant, it is not for the faint of heart…and probably not for guys.

I’ve been struggling with my weight a lot lately.  I know what you’re thinking:  “who isn’t?”  But it’s really starting to get to me.  Let’s just say I wear yoga pants more often than not.  What’s really bothering me is that I’ve been running 3 times a week for several months now.  And I’ve been eating better in a frantic attempt to lower my cholesterol.  So the fact that I’ve gained 10 pounds since Christmas is really discouraging.

On top of that I’ve been extremely emotional lately.  Just bursting into tears at the drop of a hat.  Literally.  I dropped my hat the other day and it made me cry.  Poor Trey is doing a fantastic job navigating my insane moodiness.  And, being a guy, he really wanted to help fix things.  Cause he’s awesome like that.  And cause this was one of those occasions where I was seriously sick of feeling moody and fat and wanted a solution.  So Trey suggested I go to the doctor to have my thyroid checked out.  It would explain a lot.

So that’s what I did.  Last Wednesday I went to visit my doctor and explained my symptoms.  And she asked some questions.  And with every answer she shook her head.  And finally she said, “I know this is the obvious question, but do you think you could be pregnant? It really sounds like you’re pregnant.”

Now, let me pause to tell you in the mildest terms possible (so as not to frighten you away) the extent of my baby fever.  I feel like part of me is missing.  I get weepy not only looking at cute babies, but at children in general.  But it’s just not the right time for us to start a family.  We have two mortgages (anybody wanna by a house???), and we have some pretty heavy stuff going on with Trey’s family (health-wise) that just makes trying to start a family too complicated right now.  My brain knows all these things and accepts them.  My raging hormones, however, are having difficulty reconciling this.

So I tell the doc that I’ve taken several pregnancy tests in the past few months, because I realize that’s exactly what all my symptoms point to, and each time I peed on a stick, the stick said no.  So she decides to add a pregnancy test to the thyroid blood work, just in case I’m in the one percent of people who just doesn’t gel with the over-the-counter variety.  I leave her office and walk across the sidewalk and immediately have blood taken (yay for non-fasting blood work).  They tell me I should have the results by Thursday or Friday.

Longest two days ever.  Two days spent dreaming about baby names and how to tell our families and how to post our awesome news on Facebook.  Two days of praying that if I wasn’t pregnant that I wouldn’t get my hopes up and that we’d figure out something with this potential thyroid issue.

Friday morning, around 10:00, I get the call.

Not only am I not pregnant, there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with my thyroid.  Basically, I suffered through some of the worst anticipation of my life to find out that I’m just fat.  FYI:  that is not good for a girl’s self-esteem.  Especially a girl who’s already super emotional and moody.  I pretty much went straight upstairs and slept for the rest of the day.

On the plus side, Trey & I went to the symphony that night and it was the first time in years that I’ve been big enough to wear one of my absolute favorite dresses.  It’s funny how God can show you the silver lining in just about anything…

au naturel

First and foremost, before I get on with this week’s post:  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers, encouragement, kind words, advice, and all around awesomeness.  I definitely needed that last week and you delivered.  Special thanks to Muffin, who is without doubt the best sister that ever there was. 

 

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I hate dieting.  Did you know that?  What’s more, I’m bad at it!  I know what’s good for me and the basic principle (eat more veggies and less crap) but I also like to be rewarded for my efforts.  So if I had a particularly nutritious lunch then I certainly deserve an afternoon snack that consists of lots of sugar and chocolate and stuff that’s pretty much bad for me (and before you make the “but dark chocolate is good for you!” argument, I should stress that I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate, I’ll suffer through it, but if I’m on a sweets binge, it’s milk chocolate all the way).

 

Trey and I have recently (without much conviction but off and on for about 3 or 4 months) been trying to eat more “natural”…less processed foods, more produce – you get the point.  We’re trying to cut out artificial sweeteners, i.e.: we add honey to our respective morning beverages instead of Splenda.  In fact, I put honey in just about everything (tea, oatmeal, Greek yogurt).  It took some getting used to, but Trey swears that he feels better since the switch.

 

I’ve also tried to make this switch to Mother Nature’s recipes in my beauty routine as well.  For a little over a month now I’ve been using olive oil as my nightly skin moisturizer.  Seriously.  About 5 drops covers my entire face and leaves my skin smoother than any night crème I’ve ever used.  The only reason I don’t use it during the day is due to the lack of SPF.  Anyway, since it worked so well on my face, I started using it on my legs, arms, feet, hands – you name it!  If it needs lotion, I reach for the olive oil first.  Before you rush off to do this yourself, I should remind you that a little bit goes a looooooooooong way.  I cannot stress this enough!

 

So that was the first thing.  I figure, if I have such a hard time going totally natural on the inside, at least I can do it on the outside!  That’s when I stumbled upon this link (thanks Patricia!):  Never Shampoo Again!  How to Wash Your Hair Using the No Poo Method.  I had heard of washing your hair with baking soda before, but it always seemed impossibly messy.  Seriously, how do you get a box of baking soda in the shower with you without accidentally making bread in your hair??? (I should note, I’m not a master baker and this is probably not the recipe for bread).  This link basically breaks it down into step-by-step instructions that actually make this transition to using no shampoo doable!  So I did it.  Last Thursday was my official first day of not using shampoo to wash my hair.  I’m still technically in the “transition” period, so I’ll try not to form an official opinion just yet, but those I know who use this method swear by it.

 

 

There you have it:  my bathroom cabinet is slowly being vacated by beauty products and turning into a pantry.  And I kinda like it.  Besides, if this works, it’s gonna save us boatloads each year in toiletry items!

 

worn

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand.  I am tired. I am weak. I am worn.  Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

 

Exhausted is an understatement.  Exhausted implies that I’m simply very tired, that my body needs sleep, that I have been physically overworked and that a good night’s sleep or two will set things right.  I am so very beyond exhausted.

 

I am emotionally weary.  I feel like there’s not enough time in the day to pray for all the needs I know of.  Between sicknesses that need to be healed, comfort that needs to be given, needs that must be provided for, there’s no time left to pray for the energy and encouragement I need to go on praying for all these other things.  It sounds silly, but I’m at the point where one more prayer request will send me over the edge.  I got an email from my mother a few nights ago to pray for a mutual friend’s health issues and I burst into tears, when Trey asked why I told him I just don’t have it in me to pray for anything else, my list is too long, my heart is too heavy and I feel guilty for praying for myself and my family because there’s so much other pain out there.

 

I’ve been feeling this way for a few weeks now, and I don’t like it.  It’s a strange mix of feeling over-full and empty at the same time.  It’s like I’m in desperate need of a good cry and can’t quite find the opportunity to let the tears flow.  Which leaves me over-sensitive.  Seriously, a guy cut me off in traffic yesterday and I almost had an emotional breakdown.

 

I need help.  I need encouragement.  I need strength to carry on to encourage others.  I need energy to be what my husband needs me to be – even if those needs are unspoken…especially when those needs are unspoken.

 

This song by Tenth Avenue North pretty much sums it up.  Have a listen to my current anthem: Worn.

 

spring forward

I love spring.  Not as much as fall, mind you, but still.  I like the cool/hot weather that can never seem to make up its mind.  I like seeing flowers bloom – what an awesome reminder of new life and rebirth.  But most of all, I love that it’s the kick off of Yard Work Season.

 

Yes, you read that right.  What I love most about spring is that it gives me the opportunity to work with my hands.  Nothing says a hard days work like a day pulling weeds and shoveling mulch.  Mowing the lawn (while it’s hard work) is INSTANT gratification – and who doesn’t love that?

 

We’ve already had 4 humming birds grace our kitchen window.  The daffodils that Grandma sent last fall are in full bloom.  I keep finding lots of awesome big rocks to include in our flower bed.  We bought a lawn mower (FINALLY!  Thanks to the Watts and Schroeders for letting us borrow theirs all last season) and a weed-whacker.  Man, that thing is much more powerful than I expected…I LIKE it!  But we’ve got one super springy problem…

 

I’ve pulled them, I’ve sprayed them, I’ve cursed their very existence, and I still can’t seem to rid our yard of weeds.  HELP!  Seriously, help.  It seems like no matter what I do, they come right back.

 

But that won’t stop me from tryin’!

routine check-up

It’s been a weird couple of weeks. I’ve been going to the chiropractor each morning since my treatment began and it’s put a kink in my morning routine. Today was the first day I haven’t had to leave the house in the a.m. in about 19 days, and as I was puttering around the kitchen this morning (packing Trey’s lunch and making his coffee, preparing my oatmeal and tea) I had this wave of relief that things were finally back to normal. Even the cats rejoiced as they watched me load up the end table beside the chaise in anticipation of my imminent hunkering-down to do my Bible study.

Once I kissed my (super awesome and incredibly handsome) hubby out the door, I crawled over Frank and wiggled into place on the chaise. I pulled the blanket up to my waist and scrunched my toes under Frank’s belly. Roger and Rufus soon joined us, and my morning Bible-study-breakfast-cat-snuggling routine was officially back on track. I was genuinely surprised at how much I’ve missed my quiet time these past few weeks. It’s as if I’ve been troubled by something vaguely unsettling and instantly, all was right with the world.

I took a deep breath and soaked it in. All of it: the warmth of the blanket, the sound of three purring cats, the familiar feel of my cup of Earl Grey, and the cozy cinnamon-honey flavor of my oatmeal filling my tummy and my soul with warmth.

And then I had a mini-epiphany.

Anyone who’s a regular oatmeal connesieur knows that no matter how you dress it, the one ingredient that will make or break your oatmeal is salt. You can put all the fruit, nuts, butter, sugar, or spices you want on it, but without the right amount of salt, your oatmeal will taste like cardboard. It’s an indisputable fact.

So this morning, as I was savoring the perfect amount of salt in my cinnamon-honey oatmeal, this scripture popped in my head (I feel I should note that I’m currently reading through 2 Chronicles and Acts – so I didn’t stumble on it as I was eating breakfast, it really popped in my head because I was thinking about the salt in my oatmeal):

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) – Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 

And my epiphany was this: salt not only has its own flavor, but it brings out the flavor in other things. So if my life is oatmeal and I am salt (through my faith in Christ), then not only does my faith add its own flavor to my life, it makes my life more flavorful in its own right! I’m seriously having trouble putting this realization into words – it’s much more profound floating around in my brain, but I do hope you get the jist of my discovery. Christ doesn’t take over my life, He makes me MORE ME! Does that make sense? Gosh, I hope so, cause it kinda rocked my world.

And once I had the Salt Thought (try saying that three times fast!), I wondered what salt had to do with light. HELLO? What does light do if not illuminate the darkness? In the dark things are not always as they seem – but they still are what they are – and light simply shows what they truly are. So, applying the Salt Thought to Light: being in the Light shows us MORE OF WHO WE ARE!

Don’t you see?!?! We are Salt & Light and because of that, we are more of who we are meant to be, and in being more of who we are meant to be, we can finally be who we really are! And if that’s not enough talking in circles for you then I don’t know what is!

“I’d take a look at my own self in the mirror and wonder how it was possible that anybody could manage such an enormous thing as being what he was.”
― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The answer to that, Mr. Kesey, is Salt & Light.

 

candle on the water

First of all, let me apologize for not posting a blog yesterday.  You see, Trey is out of town, and I woke up with a down-right painful crick in my neck, and I had about 5 movies that I recently picked up from the library in anticipation of Trey’s absence, AND when my “post blog entry” alarm went off yesterday morning I was in the bathroom.  So, when I finally remembered that my alarm had gone off several hours later, I just wasn’t in the mood.

Call me crazy, call me lazy, call me what you will – but sometimes, even though I love writing, I just don’t feel like it.  Some days the pressure of saying anything remotely interesting at all is just too much.  Other days I fancy myself as something brilliant and can’t wait to pour out whatever words are floating around my gargantuan noggin’.  But yesterday wasn’t one of those days.

Yesterday was a lazy day.  Yesterday was a paint my toenails and eat couscous and watch old musicals kind of day.

Speaking of old musicals, you know what gem I uncovered at the Patrick Heath Public Library?  Pete’s Dragon.

PETE’S DRAGON!  Seriously, Disney, why don’t you make movies like that anymore?  Why must we tolerate things like Hannah Montana instead of the soothing image of Helen Reddy telling me she’ll be my “Candle on the Water”???

Ya know, for a film that debuted in 1977, they did a fantastic job editing in that cartoon dragon…better than some modern editing.  It honest to goodness looks like Pete (played by Sean Marshall, who is stinkin’ precious, by the way) is climbing up on Elliot’s tummy (Elliot’s the dragon…duh) to eat those apples!

Anyway, I realize that this isn’t the intellectual prose you were most likely looking for (ha!), but it’s what’s on my mind.  I just miss the movies I grew up on: Pete’s Dragon, Pollyanna, Annie, Mighty Ducks, 3 Ninjas – they just don’t make ’em like that any more!

happy birthday baby ;)

my loveToday I celebrate 31 years of the most amazing man I know.  Though Trey only came into my life in 2007, I know that on March 5th, 1982 (or approximately 9 months earlier), God created my soul mate.

From the moment I met Trey, I knew he was something special.  He was smart and funny, gentle and kind…and those baby blues blew me away.  I knew he was good for me because I couldn’t wait to introduce him to my parents. Right off the bat, Trey made me want to be a better person.  God brought us together at a time in my life when I really needed a spiritual role model, and I found one in Trey.

Now I won’t say that I haven’t had any low points since we met (Lord knows I’ve had the lowest low), but God gave me Trey.  Trey, who chose to love me when God told him to even thought I was impossible to love.  If Jesus is my Savior, then Trey was the tool He used to rescue me from The Pit.

Trey is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met.  He knows things I could never begin to understand, and yet he can explain almost anything to anyone in a way they can understand it.  He always know the perfect analogy to make any problem relatable.

He’s also a very patient man.  When faced with a difficult person or situation, Trey shows more grace and diplomacy than I could ever muster.  When I would want to kick someone in the face, Trey can just take a deep breath and deal with even the most frustrating circumstance.

Trey loves with his whole heart:  me, his family, his friends, his God, and his life’s work.  He gives his all every day and constantly puts others before himself.

After months of studying Proverbs 31, I’m still nowhere close to being the Wife of Noble Character.  But every day, no matter how I might fail him, Trey makes me feel like the best wife int he world.  He’ll even tell people that he’s so blessed to have me in his life – little does he know that the blessing is all mine.

Trey tells me I’m beautiful every single day – even when I feel fat and gross and haven’t showered or changed out of my pajamas.  He kisses me hello and goodbye each day when he leaves the house and each evening when he comes home.  He calls me his better half – but he is mine.

Trey goes out of his way almost daily to help others.  Whether it’s holding a door open for a stranger or completely rebuilding a friend’s computer, he’s happy to help.  Even when I feel that others take advantage of his willingness to help out, he doesn’t complain.

He is the best man I know.  I love and respect him more than I could ever say and I will never be able to honor and serve him the way he deserves – but I vow to spend the rest of my life trying.

Happy birthday, Love of My Life.  I thank God for you every day.  You will never know how very much you mean to me.  I love you INFINIMOST!!!

get your motor runnin’

You know it’s been too long since you’ve done push-ups when you wake up the next morning before your alarm because your armpits are sore.push-ups

I’m officially on Week 4 of my Couch to 5K running program.  I’ve never been a runner.  I’ve pretended to be, you know, that time the Triple Threat signed up for the Cooper River Bridge Run back in 2010…that was a dumb idea.  But we finished it.  And I ran more of it than I thought I could.  But still, a runner I am not.  My sincerest hope in doing this Couch to 5K program is that once I get up to running for half an hour straight (right now I’m up to 4 minutes before taking a walking break – and I’m crazy proud of that, by the way), then I’ll be hooked and just want to get out there and run any time I’m stressed or bored or craving copious amounts of chocolate.

What’s frustrating is that I’ve been doing this for weeks now and I feel like I’m GAINING weight!  No, I have not hopped on a scale.  But still, clothes are feeling a little more snug that I’d like.  That’s why I decided to add in the push-ups yesterday.

We had a crazy wind-storm all day long…it blew the metal roofs off of several buildings on Main Street in Boerne, as well as Trey’s office.  So I (quite wisely) decided that running outside wasn’t an option – even though Monday is definitely one of my scheduled run days.  You may call it common sense, but the fact that I took the initiative to go out to the garage and do my run on the elliptical is kind of a huge feet for me.  In the past, a little weather would have easily stopped me in my tracks, thus negating any progress I could have made.  But yesterday I found a solution to the weather problem.  And as I plugged away on the elliptical, I decided I’d also do a (small) circuit of push-ups, crunches, and squats:  3 rounds of 10 reps each.  I know that’s not a lot, but I’ve been feeling seriously out of shape lately.  I also have difficulty pushing myself.  If I had a screaming trainer hovering over me (Jillian Michaels, anyone?), demanding my all then I’d give it…it’s just that when I’m left to my own work-out devices, I don’t demand enough from myself.  Anyway, after the circuit I finished off with some much-needed yoga.  And it felt good.

But this morning my armpits are killing me!  I only did 30 push-ups!  Thirty GIRL push-ups.  I hate doing girl push-ups (you know, with your knees on the ground instead of holding your entire body up in Plank).  They make me feel weak and inferior.  So now I’m stuck with this dilemma:  do I take a day of rest to let my poor armpits recover, or do I push through?  I mean, the folks on The Biggest Loser work out in 2-hour sessions multiple times a day!  If they can do that, surely, so can I…right?

I guess my point is that I’m taking baby steps toward fitness.  And I genuinely just want to feel HEALTHY rather than skinny.  But I need a kick in the bum.  So, anyone who wants to come keep me motivated at least 3 days a week, come on down!  Cause I need someone to push me!

Did I mention my armpits hurt?