If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Boys Of Fall...Through

My husband and I met our senior year of high school. He was a football player and I was a cheerleader. Classic fairytale that all girls dream of. It doesn't even matter that we went to totally different schools or that we met after the football season was over, so let me live my truth and don't be a fairytale ruiner, k?

All of that to say, I never got to see him play football or cheer for him on the sidelines, which would be like, the hottest thing ever.

BUT. THEN. All of that changed with an email inviting him to play in his high school alumni tackle football game against their rivals, the alumni of the Kenton Ridge Cougars. *cross self and spit here*

Flash back to 2011 when my alumni was invited back to cheer for the Homecoming game of the Shawnee Braves. *And the crowd goes wild*

My husband was being offered another chance to play football for the Northeastern Jets against the Kenton Ridge Cougars?!? Which means I was about to wear my boyfriend's jersey on game day?!? Bucket list complete. Works out well that we still have his original ripped up team jersey, blood stains and all.

He started to ask, "Do you think I..."
Let me stop you right there, because I'll have my old cheerleading uniform on before you can even finish your question. And with that, he signed up.

Their first scheduled practice was several weeks away, so he started his own version of training. Mainly playgrounds, rough housing, and tubing...cuz ya gotta be able to "take a hit."

The day of practice, someone in the group text asked, "Anybody have a ball?" Surely a foreshadowing of how this was about to play out.

He pulled up to the first official practice in badass mini-van fashion, with the sunroof open, and probably blasting Def Leopard, if you'd be so kind as to extend me a little latitude while I add my own touch of hotness to the visual.

Everyone gathered on the field where he was told he was the 2nd oldest player signed up. Oldest guy was 67. No problem there though, considering the youngest guy informed the group he has a heart flutter and has to lose 10 lbs before his doctor will clear him to play, so there's that.

Someone brought some half deflated balls. (Insert your own jokes here, because I can't narrow mine down to one.)

No coach yet, but I vote the guy with the old balls step up.
Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

If I haven't offended anybody yet, stick around.

Here was the breakdown of the team:

Ron- Offensive and Defensive tackle, because 'hot' and 'can take a hit', remember?
Older Than Ron Guy- Didn't actually show up to practice, but would probably be the Receiver, assuming his wife agreed to sign the waiver. No lawsuits here, folks.
Heart Flutter Guy- Running Back...pending those pesky 10 lbs.
Ankle Brace Guy- Center...under debate, because Knee Brace Guy was also vying for that position, but when Ankle Brace Guy persevered after taking them off because blisters started to form, he earned some major kudos.
Knee Brace Guy- Punter and Field Goal Kicker and Center wanna-Be. (Someone might have control issues. Also, not to micromanage, but maybe Older Than Ron guy might be better suited to kick a ball and suffer less risk of getting tackled. BUT...he never showed, so here's to you, Older Than Ron Guy...good luck Receiving.)
Healthy Guy- Offensive Guard...but also had an 8:30 bedtime, so the 2nd half of the game would go unblocked. Obviously unavoidable.

Wait, no Quarter Back? What the hell, Knee Brace Guy? Where's your skill set? And why does the movie, The Replacements, come to mind?

Anyyyyhooo, that first practice consisted mainly of driving the sled, trick plays talk, and possibly a locker room huddle and some, 'How strong are you? Too Strong! You want a victory?! I want a victory!!'...because Remember The Titans. Also someone asked if they could bring alcohol, which I'm pretty sure still violates school grounds rules everywhere, but I can't blame him for wanting to tap into some liquid courage before the big game.

Later that night, when I found him massaging his shoulder in our hot tub, I voiced my concern that maybe this alumni game isn't a safe idea. He told me not to worry because Emergency Squads from 3 surrounding townships would be on standby, which wasn't as comforting as he might've thought. But he assured me, he was game ready.

And this is where the story abruptly concludes. The opposing school couldn't get enough alumni to form a team...which truth be told was probably the only thing that stood between some middle age guys and a new Dyer Garafalo Mann & Schultz commercial: "...if you or someone you know suffered injury or death because of the negligence of your high school's alumni association..."

Thankfully, nobody needed a tiger on their side, because Cougars saved the day. Thanks Kenton Ridge. 
*cross self, spit*
Nothin' sayin' I can't still wear his jersey on game days, though.

Friday, October 11, 2019

If you can't think of anything nice to say, let Jesus do the talking.

I'm sitting between the two most annoying women on the beach, I thought to myself.

Just so you understand where my attitude was that day, lest anyone read this post and mistakenly think I'm proud of myself.

Ron and I were away for our annual getaway. It was our last day and I told him I was going to sit on the beach all day. Since it's off season, it wasn't crowded and I loved the peace and solitude.

But as I walked the path to the beach, I began to notice the tide. What the crap is this? It was the highest I'd seen it this entire time. It was washing up past the rental chairs, which are generally placed beyond where the tide reaches. Therefore, there was very little "beach" before it turned into rushing water and waves, so I was forced to park my chair near other people, and it was an inconvenience to everyone, meaning me.

I was being a brat. Hang on, I get worse.

The lady to my right had a voice that could best be described as "squak." Not even sure that's a real word, but it's the only one that suited her voice as she talked loudly into her cell phone. You have to be loud to drown out the sound of crashing waves. Squak had the gift.

The only thing that made it worse was the lady to my left. Beach Mom. She was there with her husband and many children. I couldn't tell the exact ages, but her youngest was an infant, the one above her was a small toddler, and the stair stepped height of the rest of them led me to believe she's been pregnant for the past 12 years straight. Beach mom was entertaining herself in the ocean while dad held the baby and the rest of the kids played in the water. None of whom were wearing flotation devices. Tsk Tsk.

See, I'm the mom who specializes in worst case scenarios, so I had our kids in flotation devices before we ever stepped out of the condo, because preventative actions based on fear is my parental style of choice. Normally, I'd say 'Don't judge me' here, but since I sat there judging her, I forfeit that right.

When she wasn't boogie boarding or flipping her hair upside down in the water, she was screaming at her older kids to stop letting the current carry them away from her.

Side bar. One does not "let" the ocean current do anything. The ocean current does what it damn well pleases. I speak from experience as a woman whose husband is surprised when he gets carried down the beach by the current every.single.time.

Beach Mom stopped to nurse the baby, then she lay the sleeping baby down beside her on a towel under the umbrella. Under normal circumstances, there'd be no problem with that. But on this day, the tide just kept rising. I thought to myself what a terrible idea that was to lay the baby down there, but her parenting style obviously differs from mine and that doesn't make her's wrong, except yes it does, said me, who sat back silently observing Beach Mom's choices on my left, while also wondering how anyone could stay on the phone that long with a woman who squaked on my right.

I'd long jumped over the line from brat to b*tch.
Judge me. I deserve it.

Just as Beach Mom began assembling a kite, a quick rushing wave washed over the baby. Dad pulled her up quick, but she'd swallowed a bunch of water. Mom turned her over, pounded her on her back, water came gushing out of her mouth, and the baby must've started breathing ok, because she handed her back to her husband. I couldn't hear what she said, but she was clearly not happy with him. And then she went back to getting her kite in the air. Crisis averted.

Squak was finally off the phone and Beach Mom had successfully launched her kite, so I closed my eyes. And then I heard Beach Mom screaming, 'GET HIM!' My eyes popped open to see the toddler being carried away by the current, tumbling head over heels in about a foot of water. Dad still sat holding the baby, Beach Mom was screaming and trying frantically to wind the kite back in, while the older kids ran through the water trying to catch up to their little brother. A man down the beach saw what was happening and jumped in ahead of the situation to catch him, but the brothers caught him before he got there. The toddler was soaking wet and obviously terrified, but he was ok. Another crisis averted.

Except, when the kids brought their little brother back to their mom, she snapped. Screamed how irresponsible they are, threatened to end their vacation, and ordered them to clean everything up, and get back to the condo. Fighting off tears, they did as they were told. Husband included. As the toddler passed me, eyes down, I asked him if he was ok. He wouldn't look at me. As each of the older kids passed me, eyes down, I told them they did a great job catching up to their brother like that. They wouldn't look at me.

After watching her defeated children walk away, my head turned back to see her standing on the beach alone, trying to untangle her kite string, and I knew I was in it now. I know things sometimes. I knew I was going to walk up to her and I knew I was going to say something. But because I don't know everything, I didn't know what I was going to say and I didn't know if I was about to go viral on a youtube video titled 'Beach Moms catfighting in a tangle of kite string.'

I silently called out a quick 'God help me' and then I stood up and approached her.

Let me be perfectly clear here. I take ZERO credit for anything that happened from this point on. I just finished admitting to you my shameful attitude that day. That, I own. All I can say is that the Holy Spirit is real within those who invite Him in and He reserves the right to overhaul your mouth. It might've been my little prayer for help or He might've interceded regardless, but I heard myself ask her, "Are you okay?"

Wait. What'd I just say?!? Is SHE okay? Of course she's not okay! She just spent the day making a festival of terrible choices and then blamed her husband and children for all of them! Why didn't I open with THAT?!

Then I stood completely silent while she vented. She told me everything that had gone wrong that week, that month, that year, and maybe her whole life. It poured out of her like she'd just been waiting for someone to ask her that simple question. Are you ok? And I didn't say a word while she answered. I stood there quietly absorbing it. All of her unspoken pain. All of her unspoken fears.

Flash in my mind to Jesus, kneeling there beside me, using His finger to write my sins in the sand.
Wait a minute. Beach Mom is me. And I wonder, if Beach Mom might be you, too?

We all just desperately crave a short reprieve from the world inside our head where we bottle up all of our fear, pain, stress, anxiety, and all of the things we shield from our family...until something finally tips us over the edge and we explode on the very people we love the most and the ones we work tirelessly to protect. This woman just wanted to fly a kite, dammit, and I sat there focusing on a spec of sand in her eye with a piece of driftwood sticking out of mine. God, forgive me.

When she finally stopped talking, I asked, "Are you done?"
She looked a little startled by that question but she said, "Yes."
Then I asked, "Can I say some things to you from a place of love?"
She squinted at me confused but she said, "Yes."

And so I said, "You just poured all of your frustration out on me. I willingly accept it. Now you need to leave it all here on the beach with me. Don't take any of it with you when you go back to the condo and apologize to your family. You're a good mom, but you got scared. Tell them you're sorry and explain to them that your anger came from a place of fear. Then I want you to praise each and every one of them. Praise your husband for pulling your baby from the wave. He saved her. Then praise each of your kids for saving their brother. Because they did. You don't want this scene to be the lasting memory of a family vacation."

FYI; Love doesn't throw fuel on a blazing ember. Love doesn't help a sister throw her husband under the bus. Love doesn't agree with someone simply for the sake of agreeing with them. Love is truth. Sometimes love is hard truth. And I was standing there receiving a dose of my own right along with her.

I waited to see if she'd hit me for what I said, but she burst into tears and hugged me.

My eyes widened. Oh boy. She's hugging me what's happening we're in bathing suits and ohhhh noooo, here comes Squak. She quietly handed Beach Mom a wine cooler and lo and behold, Squak started to grow on me, too.

We stood there talking for another half hour...these 2 women and me, the most annoying woman on the beach. I'm pretty sure Jesus would've written that in the sand, too.

Before I walked away, I pointed to my chair sitting alone on the beach and said, "One day, you're going to be sitting there by yourself like me..."

She said, "...and wondering what my children are doing, right?"

I answered, "Nope. You'll be witnessing a young mom trying to hold it all together until she can't anymore and you're going to remember this day, ask her if she's okay, and offer her a wine cooler before it's too late."

She said, "God sent you to me today."

God sent us to each other, actually.

Then a teary eyed Squak initiated a group hug...oh lawd, Squak...and she said, "Wanna meet back here again tomorrow?"

Lady, not even Jesus would ask me to do that right now.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Jump For Boy. Again.

You might remember a few years ago when Zac and I went skydiving together. It wasn't my idea, but rather a follow through to a commitment I'd made to him when he was 8. Also the fact that if one of my kids is jumping out of an airplane, I ain't waitin' on the ground to see how that ends. For better or worse, I'm in this parenting thing for the long haul.

It ended up becoming a spiritual event in my life and I told Zac I'd do it again with him sometime.

Six years later...flash to "sometime."

They ran a Valentine's special and Zac purchased jumps for he and his wife. He asked me if I wanted to join them. Welllll, maybe, but I didn't wanna be the third wheel in a special moment between him and his wife. I mean, he's still my boy, but he's her's too. And let's be real. She's first now, as she should be.

Months passed and they booked their jumps for August 10th. He asked me again and this time I agreed to go. Then came the 2 week saga of trying to book my spot. It began with a continually glitching website and ended with Ron calling and feeling "sassed" by the girl who answered the phone, so he refused to call her back. (Welcome to my world of dealing with the "Coffee Maker Normans", there Chuckles.) So, armed with my best 'Good Cop' persona, I called the place back, smoothed things over for him, and arranged for him to speak with a different girl who promised not to sass. Sigh. The role of Bad Cop is much more my forte, but I'm nothing if not versatile.

My spot got booked. Unlike last time, I wasn't nervous about the jump at all. I just figured I already knew the outcome. I mean, it wasn't exactly an easy process for me to get booked, meaning I was probably going to die on Saturday. Not that I made any important decisions or official proclamations, except I did refuse to go to the doctor when it started to burn when I pee because why bother when I'd be dead soon, and I told Ron a few things he might like mentioned in my eulogy...like, my aversion to dramatics.

Hey. I'm too frugal to waste money on a doctor bill when he'd have a funeral to pay for and it's my eulogy, so it's important he get it right.

We all showed up on Saturday, given our tour, and explained the meaning of all the numbers on the light up name board by a girl who talked really fast under her breath and had no business explaining anything to people who are about to jump out of an airplane from 13,000 feet. Also she's probably the girl who sassed my husband if I had to guess. The only thing I understood was when she asked if we had any questions. I said, "Could you repeat everything you just said?" Barbara cut in and dismissed the girl before she could answer. I assumed that meant that Barbara had understood the girl, so when she walked away, I turned to her and said, "What'd she say about the light up board?" Barbara replied, "I have no idea, but I couldn't take one more minute of her talking."

Ooookay. So my daughter in law has even more in common with me than I realized.

It was 6pm when our names appeared under the green number 120. We all speculated what that meant, since fast-talking-sass-girl didn't talk clearly enough to understand. Zac figured it was the plane number. I wondered if it might be how many minutes before our jump and Zac said, "Two hours?! Stop." Then we all laughed, because we were hungry, and the thought of waiting 2 more hours would've put us into a full on hangry-rage. It was obviously our plane number. And then our "plane number" dropped to 90, then 80, and 60, and we finally admitted that that's how many minutes left before we jump. We should be detectives or something.

We were starving. Had I only known, I would've enjoyed one last meal. Dying on an empty stomach just seemed cruel. It was approaching 8pm and I wondered if we were about to skydive in the dark of night. Probably best my husband and 12 year old not witness me plummet from the sky and bury myself 4 feet into the landing field anyway.

At 8pm, our names were called, we were put into our flight suits, and harnessed up. On my 2nd harness check, the guy discovered my leg wasn't through the harness strap, thus the reason for their 3 rounds of harness checks. So I'm not gonna die from my legs not being through the harness holes. Check.

My TI, (Tandem Instructor), Matt was SO NICE!! He triple checked my harness and seemed pleased when I pointed out that my legs were through the harness holes. When he interviewed me for the video and asked if there's anything I'd like to say, I hesitated, but decided against asking him if he knows Jesus and telling him we might be joining Him together in about 20 minutes. I need to find a balance between bold and clinically insane. Fine line there.

We loaded into the plane with a bunch of other people, both tandem and single flyers. One single flyer sat confidently by the open door, even as the plane began to ascend. Maybe he thought he was gonna die too, and was planning his roll out if things went south on take off.

I was at the other end of the plane squeezed in beside Zac. I leaned over my son and said to his TI, Jacob, "Get my boy down safe, ok?" He replied, "Your boy will be fine. I have a lot more experience than your TI." He was probably being funny. I just knowingly nodded. I had the new guy. It was all coming together.

Within a matter of minutes, we were all on our TI's laps while they hooked us together. I felt complete peace, despite my underlying urge to apologize to my TI for drawing the short straw and being strapped to the woman destined to die that day. Suddenly, the door opened and the single flyers starting dropping over the side, while the tandem flyers were slowly inched toward the door by their TI's. The order of the jump would be Barbara, me, then Zac. It wasn't until Barbara was positioned on the ledge of the open door that I saw the look of complete terror on her face. All I could say was, "You're ok, Barbara! You got it, Barbara!" Thinking, please don't let her see me speed by her in a free falling death spiral.

She went over the side.

My turn. He pulled my head back, reminded me to put my feet on his butt, and over we went.

For as much as I expected to die that day, this flight wasn't nearly as spiritual as my last one. For example, I'd completely forgotten that it feels like your eardrums might rupture and you can't breath for that first 30 second free fall, but you can't look like you can't breathe, because camera on the TI's wrist, so you wave and blow kisses and pray to God that you reach the breathable altitude before you get the panic eyes and start flailing, because my feet were still firmly planted against Matt's butt and the last thing I wanted was to be kicking it when we slid into the light. Insult to injury and Matt doesn't deserve that.

But there's no disguising my face skin flapping wildly in the wind, which is probably the same as how I'd look if I didn't like food so much. Guess we'll never know.

Then our chute opened and suddenly I could breathe. It was that moment I realized, unless we get randomly struck by a giant bird or tangled in some unlikely electrical wires, me and TI Matt were going to live to see another day.

I asked him if my boy's chute was open, he looked up, said yes, and pointed him out to me. That's good. Cuz if his chute didn't open, I would have no choice but to throw an elbow into the nose of super nice TI Matt, unsnap the parachute line, and spiral out with an unconscious Matt on my back to meet Zac on the other side. Glad it didn't come to that.

Time to sit back and watch a sunset from a view I never have before...which was basically a glimpse of heaven, so maybe my premonition wasn't completely wrong.

He handed me the chords to steer us and I thought maybe we shouldn't press our luck, huh? But he assured me I couldn't mess it up. So naive, that one.

I asked him if we could land on our feet, because that would be a super cool ending to celebrate us not dying and everything. He said we're landing on our butt. I told him last time I landed on my feet. He said this time we're gonna land on my butt. Matt clearly didn't understand how close he came to dying that day.

We slid in on our butts. I jumped up to see my boy coming in behind me and Barbara gliding in behind him.

As Matt unhooked me, he asked, "Will you do it again?"
If my boy asks me to, I will.
Then he asked, "What are you gonna go do now?"
Eat a porterhouse, drink a margarita, and then look into why it burns when I pee. 
He might've thought I was kidding.
Thank you for another adventure, Zac and Barbara.
Say the word if you're up for doing it again...in another 6 years or so.
A HUGE THANK YOU to Matt, Jacob, and everyone at Start Skydiving.
Their professionalism, safety standards, and personal care for their jumpers is 2nd to none.
You might wanna have somebody else answer the phone and give the tours, though. 
Just a suggestion.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Coffee Break

As a general rule, I don't use my blog as a platform to poorly review a company. Well, if you don't count Direct Tv. And Verizon. And Chuckie Cheese. And The Zoo.

Ok, so maybe I occasionally use my blog as a platform to rant on a company, but only if they deserve it, and Gourmia and their stupid coffee maker? Yeah, they deserve it.

Three of my life rules:
1. I do what I say I'm gonna do.
2. I expect a shred of customer service decency from anyone selling anything ever.
3. Don't mess with my coffee. Amen?

So when a company obliterates rules #2 and #3, and I tell them I'm gonna spread the word about that, I will. Because, rule #1. You've tied my hands here, Gourmia. Or maybe I should say, you've unleashed them...

I received the Gourmia Espresso Machine & Single Serve Pod Coffee Maker as a gift last Christmas. A mere 7 months later, it broke. Flooded my coffee bar and started spewing coffee grounds at me, broke. Like, my coffee maker turned against me, waged war, and literally assaulted me, broke.
Sorry, it's still a bit raw for me.

I pulled out the manual and it said it was under warranty for one year. Perfect. I called, told the lady I'd received this as a gift 7 months previously, gave her the model number, lot number, and date code she requested, and then she said I'd be receiving an email from their Customer Service Dept. Fine.

The following day I received an email from Norman requesting the model number, lot number, and date code.
I think I've seen this episode before.

His email signed off with,
Happy Cooking :) Norman. Customer Care at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

Okay Norman, if that's your real name, do you even talk to the chick who answers the phone?

But I was still being pleasant at this point, so I sent him the requested information. Again.

The day after that, he sent me another email requesting a copy of my receipt.
Happy Cooking :) Norman. Customer Care at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

Again, I explained that I'd received this as a gift, so I didn't have a receipt. The day after that, I received another email.

For those keeping track, I'm on Day 4 of no coffee.
Know who wasn't happy about that? Everyone.

My pleasant tank is nearing empty and you're on a short leash here, Norman.

That email listed detailed instructions on how to package this machine to ship it back to them, along with the minimum price it would cost ME to have it fixed, and he sealed it with a 'And by the way, if it's damaged when we receive it, it's all your fault and screw you.' (I might be paraphrasing there, but barely.)
Happy Cooking :) Norman. Customer Care at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

How dare you wish me happy cooking and claim you're where the delicious gets done. You're just giving me the email finger at this point.

I emailed him back.
I'm sorry, Norman. You must be confused. I'm the CUSTOMER. YOUR machine broke. Delicious is no longer gettin' done here, Norman. I ain't cookin' and I ain't happy and I sure as hell ain't paying shipping and handling.

Pleasant has left the building.

Ron went out that evening and bought me a new coffee maker, because he knows what happens when my pleasant leaves the building, and he was picking up on my red flags, subtle as they may be.

Norman emailed back that until I show proof of purchase, I'm SOL.
Signed, Happy Cooking :) Norman. Customer Care at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

He's laughing now, I know it.

I responded:
Unfortunately, I had no reason to ask the giver of this gift for the receipt, because it never crossed my mind that this machine would be such piss poor quality, which coincidentally, matches your company's customer service skills. I'll do my best to track down the receipt. In the meantime, I'll do my part in warning potential buyers of your shoddy brand.

Norman won.

But then, miraculously...Ron found the receipt.
I'm back in this thing. *The crowd goes wild*

I emailed Norman a copy of the receipt and a note:
Let me know if you prefer to send me a new one at your expense or refund me completely.

Norman isn't the only one who can give the email finger.

He emailed back:
I need the Amazon order number.

I responded:
Of course you do, you SOB.
Then I sent him the Amazon order number along with:
Surely this is the last hoop I have to jump through for you to make this right.

He emailed back. (And I couldn't make this up if I tried.)
He required that I CUT THE CHORD OF THE BROKEN MACHINE IN HALF AND SEND HIM A PICTURE AS PROOF that I couldn't use the broken machine. He suggested I unplug it first.

Thanks, Norman. Now I have a suggestion for YOU, Norman...

Ron: "Maybe you should just let this go."
Oh, sweetie...nooooo...
Come hell or new coffee machine, I'm taking this to the end.

I sent Norman the picture with:
I'll gladly destroy this piece of crap, Norman.
Signed, Happy Refunding :) Shari. Blogger at CloseCourters,
Where Rule #1 gets done.

Norman stopped emailing me.
I was passed off to Yameese, who wanted to let me know that a brand new unit was being shipped to my house ASAP.
Signed, Happy Cooking :) Yahmeese. Parts and Repair at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

Don't start with me, Yameese.

Friday, August 2, 2019


Friday is supposed to be the best day of the week.
If someone could tell my family that, that'd be great.

                                       Meet Ryder Beau.
                                       German Shepherd.
Struggles with anxiety, abandonment issues, fear of change, and refusal to do what she's told. The dog version of me, basically.
Quincy May. 
Territorial, opinionated, semi-controlling, borderline intolerant, and struggles with general b*tchiness. 
The dog version of me on my period.
Bamberly James. 
Part Chinese Crested Powder Puff/Part Frat Boy A**hole.
Stirs up drama and then pretends to be confused by said drama. 

It's rarely a good thing when my dogs are the stars of the blog, but rat poison, dog fights, and roast thieving will occasionally land them here. When they earn it, they really earn it, so here we go.

Two weeks ago, I was having a pretty rough week. I kept telling my husband, "I can't wait until Friday." Our wonderful cleaning lady was scheduled to come and my day was going to consist of listening to true crime podcasts and solving unsolved murder mysteries, because somebody has to.

Twenty minutes before she was scheduled to arrive, I was listening to 'my stories', as I call them, and doing the pre-cleaning cleaning.
Women everywhere know exactly what I'm talking about. Nobody wants their house to look like it needs cleaned before the cleaning lady arrives, am I wrong?

Halfway through the unsolved murder of the day, I heard screaming. Wow. This podcast went above and beyond with the special effects background noises. I appreciate that.

If you're wondering why I didn't assume the screaming was coming from inside my house, it's because my husband wasn't home to cause any screaming inside my house, that's why. Just the 12 year old and the 3 dogs all asleep in my bed. Nothin' to scream about here, folks.

But when the screaming continued, I ran toward my bedroom. Caymen met me halfway screaming, "RYDER IS KILLING QUINCY!" Everybody calm down. Ryder wouldn't kill Quincy.

I ran into our bedroom as Ryder ran out and I saw Quincy laying on our bed. Oh sh*t. Ryder killed Quincy.

She was alive, but her right eye was bugging out, there was blood on our sheets, and poop all over the floor.

And I was worried about what the cleaning lady would think of dried ketchup on the counter. Psh. This is nothin, Jackie. Wait till you see our bedroom.

Caymen: "Quincy wouldn't share the stuffed bunny."

Oh. Ok then. I'm sure the Vet will totally understand when he sees her eye and asks 'what the crap happened here.'

Let's go ahead and address what some of you might be thinking:
Ryder is vicious.
She's not. She's a gigantic fearful baby and that's why Quincy mothers her. The problem arose because neither of them realized that one could actually eat the other. Now they know.

But if you're still concerned, I would ask you this:
Who amongst us hasn't snapped when denied a turn with a stuffed bunny? That's what I thought.
And who didn't heed the warning of the raised back hair, hmm?
That's correct. So let's everybody keep the blame where it belongs.

Where were we? Ahhh. The Vet's office.
I politely asked the lady in front of me if I could please check in before her. One look at Quincy and she quickly agreed. But because nothing can be that simple, the lady interrupted my conversation with the receptionist to tell me that the dog she was holding lost all the feeling in his legs and she had to bring her coffee with her because she was in such a hurry. I could only stare at her because sometimes God renders me speechless for the safety of others. This was one of those times.

I sat in one of the 15 EMPTY chairs in the waiting room and if you're guessing that the weirdo with the coffee and her numb-legged dog sat in the chair directly beside me, you win the big prize. I looked at her and the guardian angels over my mouth permitted me 3 words, because she totally deserved it.
"Could you NOT?"
She quickly moved over one chair, but before I could go rogue and say all the other words that suddenly came to mind, the Vet appeared and called me back. My angels were on full alert that day.

I put Quincy on the table, had barely begun to explain our lapse in judgement of having 2 female dogs and only one stuffed bunny, and the vet said "We need to knock her out."
Knock her out? Because she wouldn't share her damn bunny?! Has she not suffered enough consequences?!?

Then they gave her a shot in her leg, her tongue drooped out of her mouth, and they went to work.

I didn't even have time to put my hands behind my back so they wouldn't accidentally give me the shot, which is what I always do when they give our dogs their rabies vaccine. Not that they've ever come close, but the thought of them shooting me up with the vaccine of my number one fear is too much to bear. You'd think receiving the vaccine would seem like a wise preventative choice for me, but surprisingly it doesn't. Neither does having me knocked out on the table beside Quincy with my tongue drooping out of my mouth, but that's what almost happened when he took her face in his hands and popped her eye back into the socket and then shaved her head and began putting stitches in it right there in front of me.

Oh lawd, I see funny colors and why do I smell toast?
This is now the second weekend in a row where I've stood over someone in my family getting stitches in her head, so my therapist will have to be tagged in. I have my limits.

Twenty minutes later, they said I could take her home, he was confident she'd regain vision in her eye, and he assured me that life would go back to normal in a week.

He was right.
Exactly one week later, my phone broke and we went to the local AT&T store to get a new one. Ron parked in the strip mall and while he was getting out of the car, I walked into the store. The guy behind the counter asked if he could help me and I explained that I need a new phone, but we needed to wait for my husband because he handles everything for me. Then Ron opened the door and said, "You're in Game Stop. AT&T is next door."
And that's why he handles everything for me, and why feminists hate me, as they should.

Later that night, he was outside on our driveway using his coyote caller when the neighbor texted and asked if our dogs were inside because her boyfriend was outside looking for the coyote. EVERYBODY. STAND. DOWN.

I get lost and Ron gets mistaken for coyote.
What the Vet doens't know is that 'back to normal' for us isn't necessarily a good thing.

TGIFriday, everybody.
It's gonna be a good one.
I know that because we're not leaving the house...just us and our two stuffed bunnies.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Leaf Me Alone

Wanna save yourself hundreds of dollars in therapy? I'll let you in on my new little secret.
A leaf. And a river.

Feel better yet?
Stick with me.

Keep in mind, this coping mechanism was given to me to address one of my specific issues, so this might not even apply to you.

BUT, if you suffer from random irrational thoughts that fly into your head and then swirl there like an endlessly flushing toilet 24/7, then this is your jam.

No? You don't?
Well. Aren't you a lucky s.o.b. And the thought that I'm the only one won't wake me up tonight at all, except that it will, so you may as well stop reading now, because you obviously don't possess this gift of neuroses. It requires professional help to survive it, but that doesn't make it any less of a gift, k?

Movin' on to all you super cool obsessively neurotic people like me.
I know you exist and I'm not just saying that.

There's no way to pinpoint what triggers my thoughts.
Yet. We're hoping for a cure. Maybe I'll sponsor a 5k. I'll design these shirts.
It'll be wildly successful. Unless nobody comes. Or buys a shirt. How humiliating. And what am I supposed to do with all these shirts? I'm so embarrassed and owe everyone an apology for even suggesting such a stupid event. Pelt me with rocks and garbage, I deserve it. Fine, I'll wake up at 3am and do it myself.

Aaaaand there's just a tiny example of a 30 second trip around my toilet bowl of thoughts. It could be about anything; Things I did. Things I didn't do. People who don't like me. People who do. Or do they? Maybe they're just pretending. Or they just haven't met the real me yet. What is the real me? Who am I?

*flush* And around we go.
You get the idea.

You should see my therapy sessions. I only make a fool of myself for like 90% of it. It isn't any wonder she won't give me her personal number or accept my facebook friend request, which I feel is counterproductive to treating my rejection issues, but hey, she's the professional. That aside, there's no denying she and I have bonded. One day she said she could never beat a groundhog to death even if it did eat her geraniums, and I said I couldn't either, and she said, "That's because you're not a sociopath" which might be the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.

You heard it here first, folks. I'm not a sociopath. Check.
It's one breakthrough after another, I tell ya.

My husband calls me Bob Wiley, from the movie 'What About Bob.' 
For the record, I'm nothing like him, except if my therapist ever goes on vacation, I'm willing to temporarily relocate. Sure I might occasionally gag into a paper bag on public transport and randomly shout obscenities, but I don't wear a goldfish in a jar around my neck so that completely disqualifies me from the nickname. 

I had a goldfish as a kid. My mom put his bowl out on the back porch on a winter day while she cleaned. She forgot about him. He froze. So she moved his bowl to the top of the kerosene heater to thaw him out before I got home from school. She forgot about him again. I walked in to find 'Wade' at a full boil. There's no bouncing back from that. That'll probably come up in therapy. Or at least it should.


Anyhoo. I bet you're waiting to hear how a leaf and a river will help all you thousands of neurotic people just like me. We're like the majority. We should form a club. I'll come up with a name. I'm sure you'll understand why shirts are out of the question after what happened with the failed 5k that never actually existed. 


Where were we?
The leaf and the river. 

It's simple. Here it is.
WhenEVER a thought enters my mind, if it doesn't need addressed in that very moment, (ie; a frozen goldfish and/or a fictional 5k)...I imagine myself putting that thought on a leaf, sending it down a river, and letting it go before I allow it to drag me down the toilet bowl of neuroses. My therapy homework is to give myself a mental break. Or as Ron keeps saying, she wrote me a prescription to...
What, without a leaf and a river? Stop with your lunacy.

Call me crazy, but the leaf and river really work.
Except I'd rather you not call me crazy.

It doesn't have to be a leaf and a river. Some people visualize putting their thoughts on a hot potato or in the little tubie thing at the bank drive through. Those would work, too...if you don't mind burning the palms of your imaginary hands or you have a complete disregard for the make-believe person working the non-existent bank window. 
But you do you.

So because I tell Ron everything and because he's the person I drag along on my emotional swims, I told him about the leaf and the river for the sole purpose of reminding me if I get caught in a swirl of toilet water and forget. 

He suggested I send my concerns about my weight...and his...down the river. Seriously dude? What's next, sex on a leaf? Is that where we're headed???

He basically proved an inclination to abuse my leaves for his own selfish purposes. And if that weren't enough, he wondered if my river might eventually form a cesspool and backwash all the leaves into my brain at once.

Let me stop you right there.

You jumped to my weight, and YOURS, and then suggested my brain river might actually turn against me and assault me with my own leaves. 

And I'm the one in therapy.
Who needs pelted with rocks and garbage now, huh?

It's only a matter of time before my therapist requests Ron's presence in one of our sessions. I would totally suggest it myself, except the last thing I need is for him to plant the idea of Death Therapy in the mind of my new super good therapist friend.

Of course she'd never entertain the thought of that, seeing as she's not a sociopath and neither am I, so I'd never even qualify for such an extreme therapeutic treatment anyway. Plus I've got my leaves and my river, so that proves sanity. Also please don't strap dynamite to my chest and leave me in the woods. It wouldn't be the dynamite that bothers me so much as the seeing someone walk away from me in the woods. Ron might consider it though. Maybe not the dynamite thing, but the leave me in the woods thing, if he thought it would jolt the Bob out of me. It's not far fetched considering he once left me in a sensory deprivation tank for my birthday...*flush*

Ok, I'm not great at the leaf thing yet, and this might be an ongoing process, but I'm sending that Bob Wiley nickname crap straight down the river. 

I'm baby steppin'. I'm doin' the work. 
I need, I neeeed...

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Eye Eye, Officer

 Our local lake puts on a huge fireworks display and we have a boat. Does anything more even need to be said? Situations like this is why my blog exists. A boat full of people, 3 dogs, 2 cops, 5 stitches, and an asshole...this story has it all.

It started out uneventfully. Ron, me, Caymen, Kearstin, Kearstin's boyfriend, my son and his family, and my sister and hers, headed out on our boat for an evening of tubing before the fireworks. About an hour in, our 20 year old daughter, our daughter-in-law, and our nephew were on the tube, and were violently thrown off, which is the goal, as if you didn't know.

My daughter-in-law, Barbara yelled, "Kearstin's bleeding!" This was not alarming, because Kearstin gets frequent nosebleeds, so yeah. She got violently thrown from a tube. Of course she's bleeding. Then we looked over the side and saw her face covered in blood that was gushing from a cut above her eye. Gushing.

Everyone's immediate reaction: Daaaaamn.

We pulled her onto the boat and grabbed the first aid kit, that didn't have any butterfly strips, which begged the question, what the crap kind of first aid kit doesn't include butterfly strips??? Barbara (mentioned in my previous blog, who's in school to be a PTA), jumped into action, gave her a 'follow my finger' field test, and made 3 butterfly strips out of tape, because she's our family's MacGyver.
She's MacBarbara.

Between my back and Kear's eye, she's basically earned her degree.

Accepting the fact that even MacBarbara couldn't make this problem go away, we threw the tube on the back deck and sped toward our dock. As we entered the 'No Wake Zone' Ron slowed the boat down...sort of...because we're rule followers like that. That's where we encountered the Police Boat coming toward us in the opposite direction. Good thing we're...sort of...rule followers. Except they made a turn and came toward our boat.

"Can you please get into the boat?"
I turned to see our son, Zac, squatting on the back deck of our boat, where he'd been riding to hold onto the tube. He stood up. Ron quickly explained that our daughter had been hurt and we were headed in to take her to the ER. They looked over at Kearstin and I knew what they were thinking.

Poker faces, gentlemen. Poker faces.

Soooo, we should probably get goin' now.

"Sir. Can you please get into the boat."
I turned to see Zac still standing on the back of the boat. Dude. Seriously? A cop should only have to say that once.

Then he turned to Ron and said, "We'll follow you in and talk when we get to your dock."
Ok. Cool.
*Everybody glare at Zac.*

It has officially gotten real.

So we began the slow, humiliating, police escorted trip back to our dock.
Nothin' to see here, folks. Mind your business.

We began to discuss the situation. Whyyyyy the dramatic police escort back to our dock...besides a guy squatted on the back and blood all over our boat, if we were forced to name the obvious.

Did we exceed our boat's 12 person maximum capacity with 14 people and 3 dogs? Sort of. I mean, we'll probably have to count the 12 year old and the German Shepherd, but the 2 toddlers don't even add up to one whole person, nor do the 2 little dogs. So total number of boat occupants: 12 1/2 people and 1 1/4 dogs. (They're really little dogs.) Plus, we bought the extra floater seat to allow up to 14 people, so Boom. That means we still have room for another 1/4 of a person on our boat. Plenty of room. But having one person riding on the back deck is pretty misleading. *Everybody glare at Zac again.*

Did we exceed the 1,600 pound weight limit? Probably a safe bet.

Ron: "At least we don't have any alcohol on board."

 Me: Welllll...funny story...one of my water bottles is filled with Calico Jack.
Everybody stop glaring at me.

Would it be weird if I started slowly pouring something over the side of the boat right now? Yeah, okay, not a good look.

Ron: "You're going to have to hurry and drink it."
But I'm a total light weight.

By the time we all arrived to our dock, I'd done as I was told. Speaking of our dock. Parking our boat in it requires us to make a couple of sharp turns. Under the best of circumstances, this takes an average of 4 tries and roughly 23 minutes, with everybody sober, and 2 people on the front and back deck corners to keep us from bumping into other boats and/or the metal frame of the dock. That's on a good day. A not good day, involves a cop standing on our dock watching us...and probably counting heads and mentally adding up our poundage while not hiding his look of disdain, as Ron made several 14 point turns in our overloaded Tritoon with none of us on the deck to help, because illegal. Duh. Where've you been?

Meanwhile, my Calico Jack was taking effect and I couldn't stop thinking of the song...It Wasn't Me, by Shaggy. Circling, circling through my brain...It wasn't me...don't sing...It wasn't me...there's a cop...It wasn't me...don't laugh...It wasn't me...Do.Not.Start.Dancing. I had to put a stop to this before something regretful happened. (As if this entire day hadn't already turned regretful.) So I did what drunk me does best. Witty banter. I don't remember anything I said, but I'm sure it wasn't awkward at all and definitely fixed everything.

We make really bad first impressions. It's like our gift.

So Kearstin, her boyfriend, Trevor, and I got out of the boat to take her to the ER while the rest of them stayed behind and tried to explain our festival of terrible choices.

No way this could get worse.
Hold my Calico Jack.

Ron handed me the van keys.
Dude. A DUI might actually make things worse right now. As would the officer seeing the bloody-headed 20 year old take the drivers seat. Sorry, Trevor. That leaves you to drive the mini-van. A dream come true, I'm sure of it. Thank goodness he didn't lose his contacts when he was on the tube, because Kearstin would've been the only one left to drive, and somebody has to be responsible, and then everybody would've had to glare at Trevor.

As we passed the Urgent Care, we realized they were still open for 5 more minutes and it didn't take long for the Physician's Assistant to throw in 5 stitches and send us on our way. Things were finally going in our favor.

Meanwhile, back at the boat...
The officer was explaining to Ron, who was wearing his 'Don't Hassle Me I'm Local' shirt, that a tubing injury is classified as a 'Boat Accident.' That seems dramatic for an UNdramatic family like ourselves. He was asking Ron a million questions, as the dogs whined to get off the boat. So Barbara asked herself, 'What would Shari do?' and proceeded to let them off the boat. Unleashed. And our German Shepherd went after another family's dog.

Nope. Not what Shari would have done, but I appreciated the thought process.

Of course the officer was quick to point out that it was illegal for the dogs to be unleashed and attacking other dogs, willy nilly. Just add that to our All The Laws We're Breaking Tab, thanks. Ron was told to meet him back at the dock on Monday afternoon to finish explaining himself for the "9 separate violations" and wrapping up the "paperwork." Also texting all of our boat guests and asking for their full names and ages for the police report is every boat owner's dream. What, you don't want their weights? Do you even care about the obvious danger we are to society?

We arrived back at the boat dock at 9:40pm. The cop was gone, and if we hurried, we could make it across the lake for the fireworks. (Violation #10)

And if you're thinking we should've just cut our losses and retreated to our homes for the safety of others, I'd kindly ask you to stop making sense. You're wasting everyone's time.

As we sped through the dark, (Violation #11), weaving around other boats (Violation #12), that were anchored by people who more than likely hadn't just spent the evening getting their kid's eye stitched up and hosting a dog fight for the cops who were already questioning every choice they'd ever made. In short, a little grace would've been appreciated. Instead, what we got were angry boat honks and someone called Ron an asshole. (Where's their violation, huh?)

Ask yourself this. If you've never been called an asshole, are you really living your best life?

We parked, anchored, and totally blended in with everyone...meaning, Zac fired up Ron's drone, (Violation #13), which in the dead of night, looked and sounded like a
ticking time bomb. (Violation #14). Then they brought it back down to change the battery, just as the finale started, because of course we missed the finale with the drone.

I felt like I owed my family an explanation for everything that happened. The eye, the cops, the drunkenness, the dogs, the asshole...the 14 violations...You see, I'm writing again. And God is providing all the material I need, because Jesus loves me more than most.

Then we got back to our dock, our dog peed on somebody's bag, (Violation #15), Ron grabbed the hose in a fit of rage to spray him (Violation #16), and ended up spraying me point blank in the face instead. (Violation #17...the most life threatening violation of them all.)

Back the love down just one notch, there Jesus.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Back To Normal

My back hurts. This is nothing new. My back always hurts.
I have 2 chiropractors. One can snap my lower back like a champ, the other is a genius at relocating my ribs. One has daytime hours, the other has evening hours. If they could work at the same place, it'd be a dream realized for all of us, but they don't share my vision. Yet. But for now, the system works. Unless something goes terribly wrong in the middle of the night and I'm left to my own devices. That's when things can take a turn for the worse. And they almost always do.

Which brings us to last Wednesday. I left Zumba feeling a few spasms in the right side of my lower back. Nothing an Icy Hot Medicated Patch won't take care of. (I get absolutely nothing for endorsing them, even though I should.) Before bed, Ron patched me up and rubbed me down with muscle rub cream. Then he put his arm under my pillow to kiss me goodnight, lifted my head about an inch up, and I felt the familiar pop. There goes my rib. And the ability to inhale right along with it.

With no chiropractors to call, we took matters into our own hands.
Will we ever learn not to do that?
No. We will not.

Our attempts at relocating my rib include, but are not limited to, Ron putting me in a bear hug, lifting me off my feet, and shaking me up and down. Me laying on my massage table while he presses on my back with his forearms and/or tennis balls. YouTube videos, because YouTube is like Amazon. It has everything. Maybe it shouldn't.

Basically, our bedroom turned into the DIY-Chiropractor Edition...similar to my DIY-Ear Nose and Throat Edition and my DIY-Gynecology Edition, except significantly less embarrassing to explain to the doctor when you end up there. And you will end up there. 

When he finally resorted to laying all of his dead weight on me because "Your rib will have nowhere to go but back into place" I decided it was time to call in the closest thing I have to a professional at 11pm. My daughter-in-law, who is currently studying to be a PTA. Her first piece of advice, "Don't try to pop it back in." (Maybe we should've called her first.) She told me to lay with my foam roller against my spine and gently roll it back and forth to relax the muscles and then maybe the rib will slide back in on it's own. To her credit, that worked. Unfortunately, the spasms were too far gone for it to make much difference.

Ron wanted to take me to the ER. Hard pass. The last time I let him take me to the ER, I called a teenager names and lost my testimony with pretty much everyone. I was provoked. Not my fault. It rarely is.

Because I also have a history of self-diagnosing myself, I ended up on the couch in the fetal position, WebMD'ing my symptoms. According to my professional medical googling skills, I'd narrowed it down to kidney stones, a UTI, a bladder infection, appendicitis, or cancer, because on WebMD, all roads lead to cancer. And at 2am, you'll leap frog from back spasms to cancer within 5 clicks of a link.

I woke Ron up.
"What if I have appendicitis...or something?"
Ron: "I was thinking it might be a heart attack."
Holy crap. I'm having a heart attack. THIS.IS.NOT.A.DRILL.
Then he told me to wake him up if it gets worse, which I'm pretty sure is not the advice you'd give to someone having a heart attack, so I wandered back to the couch to listen to 'I Can Only Imagine' and cry.

*New Life Rule: Two hypochondriacs are not allowed to talk to each other in the middle of the night.

When Ron woke up at 4am and found me crying in the Rec Room imagining how he'd tell the kids, I caved and let him take me to the ER. On the way out to the van, he said, "This reminds me of when you were in labor with Aubrey." 

Sh*t. That's it. I'm pregnant and didn't know it.
Because at 4am with no sleep, that's a genuine possibility. 
A reality show called 'I didn't know I was pregnant' would support my diagnosis.

While he parked, I checked myself in, telling the lady I was having back spasms, because there's such a thing as a psych ward, and the ramblings of a mystery baby could very well land you there. Then she wrapped my id bracelet tightly around my wrist, thus triggering my claustrophobia, because I'm weird and prefer not to have my circulation cut off. All I could do was stand at her window staring at that super tight band and uselessly bending my wrist back and forth back and forth back and forth...And that's how Ron found me. He immediately knew what was happening because he's witnessed such a meltdown at the town carnival's ride pass window, and he asked the lady if she could please loosen it. She said no. So he ripped it off my wrist and put it loosely back on with what was left of the shred of sticky end. He doesn't like to be told no. 

Back in a room, exhaustion was setting in, but all I could do was sit straight up with a pillow held to my face, because maybe I could trick my body into sleeping vertically. For future reference, my body cannot be tricked into sleeping vertically. Then the nurse came in and explained that they had no record of me ever being in the ER. Not that I blame them for wiping their computer clean of my existence after the outburst of 2017. So I filled her in on my entire surgical history while Ron sat across from me mouthing things and pointing to parts of his own body, as if I'm going to forget to mention my surgical enhancements. Pull yourself together, man. This ain't charades and if I can see you, so can she. 

Then the doctor came in, poked my back, said "You're having back spasms" and asked if I wanted shots or pills. It was crazy. He didn't even google anything.

I chose the shots. And the pills. 

I'm not sure what's in hospital muscle relaxing shots, but I'd equate them with an elephant tranquilizing dart...not that I know anything about those either. Two shots, straight into my a** cheek. She warned me I'd feel a poke and a burn. She was correct. What she failed to mention was that I'd immediately break into a hot sweat and have to throw up. So I told her. I'm gonna throw up. She walked across the room to get a small pink plastic curved vomit pan, which is clearly made for tiny people who must not projectile like us big folks. Then I asked Ron to hand me my bottle of crystal lite. 

The nurse stopped reaching for the little vomit bowl and turned to me and said, 
"I thought you were going to throw up."
I am.
"Then why do you want a drink?"
Maybe because I'm 47 years old and know myself well enough that I'd like a drink of something before I throw up, which is going to happen whether you hand me that vomit cup or not, so maybe we could stop the interrogation. 

And then I miraculously threw up like a normal person, didn't miss the pan, didn't fill up the pan, and managed not to drop the pan out of my sweaty hands. That's a win all around, people.

So let's celebrate that in silence, shall we? But instead, as she sealed my pan in a trash bag, she said "Is that cherry crystal lite? It smells like cherry."
*Heave* There's that projectile vomit we know and love...and they probably deleted me from their records again.

I returned home and was at the mercy of Ron to meet my basic needs, and what I thought I needed was a bath. (The know-it-all nurse would probably tsk tsk such a terrible life choice.) The problem was, the odds of me successfully climbing into and out of our new ginormous bathtub were slim to none. You could stack bodies in that thing. Trust me, getting stuck in there is not an irrational fear. For once. As Ron carefully navigated me over the ledge, Caymen yelled, "She's in!"

1. I didn't realize this was a spectator sport and
2. I don't even wanna know who she was announcing that to.

I laid helpless on my back as the tub filled with water and then he turned on the jets, sending columns of water shooting over my head and face in an obvious attempt to drown me. That's the only plausible explanation. 

No more baths. Obvi.
And I'm perfectly willing to slap the smug I told ya so look straight off that nurse's face right now. Don't test me Janice.

With regular doses of prescription meds, ice massages from my daughter-in-law, and a long weekend of rest, I was able to return to the gym on Monday. My back still hurts, but not, let-my-husband-experiment-with-my-skeletal-structure-hurt, so that's an acceptable normal to me. It was a long 4 days, but I just keep reminding myself that it could've been worse. 

Like, dead worse. Or, even worse worse, had a baby.
I'll take the spasms, thanks.

Friday, June 28, 2019

This Is Me

It's been 5 months since I've posted a blog. Maybe longer, depending on if I actually follow through and post this one. It's not like we suddenly turned normal and now I have nothing to write about. I mean, we're still us. But for some reason, I've been a hot mess this year. Like, hotter than normal mess. Like, basically paralyzed and unable to put myself out there in writing, kind of mess.

Don't get me wrong, there's always been an underlying insecurity when I write. Whether it be this blog, stories for books, or articles for websites, there's a mental back and forth of *sobbing into my pillow* 'What if people don't like it?' to *shaking my fist in the air* 'Screw what people think!' because heaven forbid a middle ground of 'Here I am, I hope you like me, but I'm still totally ok if you don't' can't possibly exist in my world.

Remember that scene in Tangled when Rapunzel realizes she's free from the treehouse and runs around the woods having a mental breakdown of extreme thoughts while Flynn Rider quietly watches from afar? That pretty much encompasses almost any day in our marriage.

I know what you're thinking and I agree...Ron's ridiculous, standing there all quiet and rational while I ramble anxiety ridden thoughts and cry. It's almost like helping.

I'll frequently hear podcasts and sermons that hit me square on the head and I feel God nudge me to get back to writing. Or is that Satan wanting me to make people hate me?
*Cue Rapunzel*
Mind your business, Flynn Rider. I got sh*t to sort.

I've taken every personality test I can find to learn why I am the way I am so I can figure out how to fix me. Depending on which test we're talking about, I'm either a Beaver, which means I have high standards, desire order, put unrealistic expectations on myself, and lack flexibility.

Or I'm an Extroverted Introvert, which basically means I prefer solitude but can manage to function in society without making too much of a mess of myself, albeit barely. But then another test listed me as an Herbivore, indicating I'm extremely sociable and prefer large groups. We're gonna file that test under 'Load of Crap' because how can you label me an Herbivore when I believe salad is of the devil and I answered 'STEAK' to your, 'What would you order at a restaurant' question? Sorry, but the Beaver in me says that doesn't make sense. That test also kept referring to me as a man, so there's that.

The results of my Spiritual Gifts test are Discernment and Exhortation. That basically means, my gifts are the ability to read through bull crap and then tell you how to fix it, which also means my spiritual gifts are the 2 most hated on the list. Kinda lines up with the whole Beaver thing, and why solitude should be my social scene of choice for the safety of everyone.

I already know that someone is going to want to lecture me on what Discernment and Exhortation is supposed to really mean and I'll ask you to kindly save it. I googled it. It's right. I'm simply paraphrasing. Part of my process is learning to use my gifts for good and not evil. Like Batman.

Most recently, I took the Enneagram test. My top 2 personality types are 6 and 4. It says I should read the descriptions for each and choose the one that best fits me. So let me break it down for ya:

Type 6: Devoted, trustworthy, reliable, and great at problem solving, but sometimes they are themselves with worst case scenarios.
Worst case scenarios? Me? Never.

Type 4: Unique, creative, and deep, but they can sometimes be dramatic and get lost in their feelings.
DRAMATIC?!? Lost in my FEELINGS?!? *psh* As.If.

Come on. I'm just trying to figure out who I am and these Google tests screw with me as much as my own thoughts.

So I started seeing a therapist.
That's right. I said what I said.

If I were a Psychiatrist, and let's face it, I should be, then I would appreciate my client saving me an hour trying to explain all the obvious crap. So, the first day, I came right out and told her who I am according to Google, what my issues are, specifically everything in my past that caused them and then my daily mental battle in a nutshell; I'm either not enough or I'm too much.

Therapist: "So. You've done your research."
No need to waste each other's time. Just please fix me.

My whats and my whys don't need to be written here. Maybe some day. But I will tell you what she's told me about myself so far.

1. I'm not crazy. (No, seriously, she said I'm not. She also said I should probably stop referring to myself as a Beaver in general conversation, so I'll consider that, too.)
I'm actually an Empath. Meaning; I walk into a room and pick up on every emotion in that room.

Anger? I feel ya. Anxiety? Oh, please come play in my brain. Disappointment? I'm sorry, whoever you are. I've obviously let you down. Judgement? I know. I deserve it. Hostility? Target: me. Escape, Escape, Escape. Sadness? I'll tear up right now...or worse, desperately attempt to lighten the mood by making you laugh.
You might be surprised how many times that backfires.
*revert back to anger*

So when I'm teaching classes at the gym, I'm riding high on the waves of upbeat music and the intensity of my classes and co-workers energy. I love my fitness people, who have been known to describe me as bubbly, outgoing, enthusiastic, and fun. I hope I am those things.

When I'm doing Massage Therapy, I'm in an environment of peace, surrounded by candlelight and enveloped in instrumental worship music, while I physically absorb everything my client is feeling whether for good or for bad. I love my massage clients, who if I had to guess, might describe me as quiet, introspective, thoughtful, and calm. I hope I am those things.

Both jobs bring me joy.
Both jobs exhaust me physically and emotionally.
I wouldn't trade either one for anything in the world.
But they're on extreme ends of the personality spectrum.
Emotional whiplash.

2. I'm not a mistake and I wasn't made wrong. (Hey, I'm not convinced either...a Beaver person like me never is.)
According to her, God made me this way, with these gifts, so that I'd have the complete set of tools to help other people. The problem is, my whats and my whys from my past have wounded me, caused me to turn those gifts inward, and instead of using those tools to help people, I use them to punish myself.

She said her therapy goal is not to change me. Instead, she's going to remind me who God says I am, help me to trust in who He created me to be, and then teach me to cope in my world of extremes with balance and confidence.

Flynn Rider would probably really appreciate that.

So why am I writing this?

Because last week I read a blog post from a friend who hadn't posted a blog in over a year, and her struggles as to why hit so close to home that I realized, it isn't just me. So I reached out to her and we chatted and she told me about a writer who wrote a book on the writing process and she explained the hardest part of writing is getting your butt in the chair, because that's when all of our neuroses kick in.

Then all writers are borderline psychotic? Because that is possibly the best news I've heard all day. Maybe Ron should start a Spouses of Writers support group...but they'd probably just sit around calmly staring at each other in their world of zero-thoughts-serenity, so what's the point?

Consider this a baby step in stripping away some labels and finding some balance. I'm going to put myself out there and let you see underneath a few of the layers of who I am. Then I'm going to post it. (Maybe. Probably. We'll see.) Then I'm going to walk away and let it be.

So let's just address the things that will wake me up tonight at 3am:
I've offended someone with what I've written.
If that's the case, please forgive me and know it wasn't intentional.

Someone could use my vulnerability against me. 
If that happens, I acknowledge that I have no control over that, and I have a super great therapist if they do, sooo...isss cool.

Someone might change their opinion of me. 
If so, feel free to just not tell me that, k? (For all I know, it might've confirmed things you already suspected.)

Ron says he just wants me to be me. Which is basically the worst thing you can say to a Beaver/Herbivore/6/4/Discerning Exhorter, like myself.

So, with the help of my therapist, I'm on the journey of sifting through the wounds, and the scars, and the lies, to explore the truth of who the real me is:
Me is a child of God. Me is saved by grace. Me has been forgiven. Me is fierce. (In a good way, mostly.) Me is a roller coaster that few can fully understand. Me has a safe place named Ron, who promises to never get off the ride. Me loves her family. Me is thankful. Me was created for a purpose. Me is submitting to the process. Me is finding balance. Me is trying. Most importantly, Jesus loves Me.

Aaaand Me wants to write again.

So. I'm really sorry if you came here to laugh today and this is a downer. I just felt an urging to let you in on the very real struggle that I'm dealing with right now and I'm going to stop being ashamed of it, because for all I know, someone might read this and realize it's ok to need some help.

Unfortunately, this isn't a blog entry that concludes and wraps up in a neat little bow. There might be more parts coming in the future. Or there might not. Admittedly, my journey through therapy might be much less entertaining than my boob job or tummy tuck. Or maybe not. Regardless, I'll be back with something stupid to make you laugh before you know it.

In the meantime, if anything I've said resonates with you and you need someone to talk to, I'm right here. I'm not as scary as the personality tests say I am. Hopefully.