Day 8 – Sleepy thoughts

When I can’t sleep, it’s usually because there’s something my brain just doesn’t want to let go of.

Isn’t that always the reason?

It might be some issues lodged in my mind from work, a running list of random to-do items that I’m afraid I’ll forget, or some random line of worry that revolves around the health and emotional development of my kids–like whether the coughing fit that just erupted in Cadence’s room is the natural byproduct of the dry winter air or the beginnings of a bout of bronchitis.

Most nights it’s a damn miracle my brain shuts down long enough to get any real sleep at all.

There was a time when I used to keep a dream journal. Nothing fancy, just a notebook and pen placed close enough to my bed that I could reach out and grab it easily in those moments I hung in that fuzzy space between my dreams and waking, those moments when I could still remember some of the details. It’s honestly an exercise I wish I’d kept up.

I learned a lot about myself by analyzing the patterns and paying attention to the things my dreaming mind bubbled to the surface. I learned that I dream of storms and tornadoes during times of high stress and upheaval in my life. In the dreams, I’m never afraid of the storms. Instead, there’s a heightened and palpable feeling of responsibility and focus. I find myself taking charge, ushering others to safety, and then always turning around at the last moment to stand up and face the storm (or maybe to stand up in spite of it) and get one last good look before it blows over.

Funny what your dreams can teach you about yourself if you just learn to pay attention.

Let it in, and let it go

I’m starting to wonder if the only way I’m ever going to be allowed to take a break is just to go ahead and schedule some sort of breakdown. I honestly don’t see how I’m going to have time for it otherwise.

It’s been a helluva new year so far. I can’t really go into detail, but there are some really heavy things weighing on us, and we’ve been doing the best we can to manage them. And maybe if it was just one or two things hitting us, we might have been able to escape unscathed. Instead, Stevie and I are feeling crushed beneath the weight of everything hitting us all at once and it’s just about all we can do to hold onto each other and our sanity out here in the middle of the shit storm.

But even with all the stress and the issues and the obstacles, there are still work events and obligations, Cadence’s school and swim and soccer lessons, Henry’s next feeding and nap and diaper change. There is still dinner to make, laundry to do, toys to put away. There are still friends and family coming over, bills to pay, performances to attend, and miles to go before we sleep.

And miles to go before we sleep.

In the brief moments of clarity–somewhere beneath the sleep-deprivation and the oppressive weight of the recent stress–I wonder how I’ve managed to keep going. I imagine it’s only because through the years I’ve developed the ability to compartmentalize. I set aside what I need to set aside–if only for a moment–so I can keep moving forward, keep crossing items off this infinite to-do list. I keep going because I have to. I keep going because I need to.

My work trip to San Diego this past week and the weeks of prep leading up to it was, in some strange way, exactly what I needed to keep going. It gave my mind a whole lot to keep it occupied so I couldn’t dwell on some of the other things that were happening. Instead I’ve been dealing with all of the crises in short bursts. Like a pot on the hot stove just beginning to boil, I’ve been giving them just enough of my attention to keep them from boiling over, stirring away the bubbles and foam and managing to turn the heat down just a tick before shifting my attention away again.

But even if I’ve managed to keep it all from erupting into flames, I haven’t really managed to keep myself from getting burned. There have been a few mini meltdowns and tears and I’ve definitely been a bit more on edge these past few weeks, but still I keep going, keep moving, keep believing that I’m going to make it through all of this, just like I’ve made it through every other hardship life has thrown my way.

It can’t rain all the time. Even when the forecast is this dismal.

My work schedule was packed so full this past week, I didn’t have a chance to sit down at all to write, and that probably didn’t help. I tend to do much better dealing with the hard stuff when I’m able to put pen to paper.

You’ve got to let it in and let it go.

Stevie got that advice from his sister-in-law this past week, and that’s precisely the philosophy I try to live by, the philosophy that has helped keep me sane and keep me going, even through the tough times like these.

Let it in, and let it go.

And then keep going, keep moving, keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.


365 Project – Day 272 – Just One Of Those Days

Did you ever have one of those days where you are just not thinking clearly? You probably don’t even really notice that something is a little off. You walk through the day in an oblivious haze, until something snaps you out of it and commands your attention.

Today, was just one of those days.

I know that I’m preoccupied. After being sick for a week, I’m back to furiously working to finish up my sister’s engagement photos, while preparing to head to Omaha on Sunday afternoon for a photo shoot with an adorable family and a 3-month-old little boy. Steven’s Mom and brother Keith are also flying in tomorrow for a visit, and we’ve been on pins and needles all week just waiting for the time to pass until they arrive. So yeah, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot going on in my mind.

Funny thing about life though–about the time that you are getting a little too frantic, running around, trying to get a million things done, there’s always something that derails you. It’s like the Universe is throwing out a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) reminder to slow down.

Sometimes it’s an accident–you’re rushing around trying to get dinner ready and instead of paying attention to what you’re doing, you are thinking about the three dozen tasks you need to accomplish before you go to bed, and the next thing you know you slice your finger open with the paring knife.

Somtimes it’s an illness–you work non-stop day and night to finish up a big project before you go on vacation and then you wake up on your first day off with a raging fever and a nasty sinus infection.

And sometimes it’s just pure ridiculousness, like tonight. So, I was in the middle of trying to finish half-a-dozen things before I sat down for dinner. I found a stopping point with my photo editing, then uploaded a few for some friends to look at and critique, rotated the laundry, carried a basket of clothes upstairs to fold, started dinner, folded clothes and then put them away, realized that Cadence’s dresser drawers were full of clothes that she had grown out of so I took a moment to clean them out and reorganize, hung up a few jackets, threw the outgrown clothes downstairs for Steven to Space Bag, and then finally finished up our gourmet dinner of hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese.

Phew! I’m tired again just writing about it!

It wasn’t until later, when Steven was cleaning up the kitchen and I was putting Cadence to bed, that we noticed anything out of the ordinary. I put Cadence in her crib, kissed her goodnight, and then returned to the kitchen where Steven was just washing the the last of the dishes.

He laughed when I walked in, and told me to look in the refrigerator.

Apparently between making dinner and pouring Cadence a cup of milk for bedtime, I somehow misplaced the cap to the milk. And I didn’t just forget to put it back on, I flat out lost it. Like, the sucker is gone. We checked the garbage, the refrigerator, the drawers, the cupboards, the space between the fridge and the counter, everywhere we could possibly think of, but it is nowhere to be found.

On that note, I would say it is definitely time to get a little sleep.

Luckily, I’ve got some MacGyver skills to keep the milk from spoiling.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to those days when your head just isn’t in the game. Thank goodness Diane and Keith are coming for a visit so we can spend a few stress-free days just hanging out and relaxing!

365 Project – Day 269 – No One Else on Earth

Relationships are funny. Like most everything else in this world, relationships change over time, ebbing and flowing like the tide, adapting and evolving in order to survive.

This little planet that we are all clinging to has been carved into its current shape by the winds and rains and tidal waves and earthquakes that have battered it through the years. And yet, for all it has endured, it is still thriving. Relationships are like that too. They can withstand monumental pressures and stresses and unforeseen obstacles, and while they may be changed in the course of the deluge, they can emerge stronger in the end.

These days, it’s getting harder and harder for me to remember what my life was like before my husband Steven was in it. We may have only celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary this past July, but we have known each other now and been friends for over 13 years. I can honestly say that I married my best friend, and there is no one else on earth I could ever imagine spending my life with. Call me sappy if you want, but there is no other guy that I could ever put up with (or perhaps more appropriately, there is no other guy would could put up with me).

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not the perfect couple by any means. We have our share of issues and fights and disagreements. We have been overwhelmed with the stresses of moving and bills, mortgages and car repairs, dead end jobs and leaky basements, dog ownership and deaths in the family, and the joys (and frustrations) of parenting. And there are certainly days (like today) when we absolutely get on each other’s last nerve.

Yet, in spite of it all and no matter how vehemently we may disagree, I wake every morning and feel exquisitely blessed, because I know that few people are lucky enough to find that person that they can fall in stride with so effortlessly. We may still have a long road ahead of us, but there is no one else I’d rather travel with. So, fire up the Ipod Stevie, ’cause we’ve got miles to go before we sleep.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to the one and only Steven Romano. All I have left to say, my dear, is I love you more than Estes Kefauver. 😉

365 Project – Day 206 – Enough Is Enough

Enough is enough. I’ve had it. I’m done. In general, I am not the type to complain. As the creator of the 5 Minute Rule (if you have no clue what I’m talking about, go back and read the explanation HERE), it would be the worst kind of hypocrisy if I did a lot of complaining, so I tend to err on the side of letting things that might bother most people just roll off my back. But, even the most easygoing, even keel people have their limit, and today, I hit mine. So, if you’ll indulge me, I would like to use my five minutes and get a few things off my chest.

It has been a helluva few months around here. It’s always hard moving to a new place, trying to get settled in, trying to establish a routine, but lately it seems like just when things are looking like they might settle down, something else happens that throws us off kilter. Getting sick, Grandma passing, Dad’s accident, trying to get ready for and get through Grandma’s estate sale, trying to rebuild a business that was just starting to take off before the move,  trying to find a good work/life balance so I can get things done, but still feel like I am spending quality time with my husband and daughter, a house in AZ that we can’t sell, a flooding basement in our rental house, finding a house that we love and then watching it slowly slipping out of our reach, car repairs, more car repairs that blindsided us with a big fat bill, and tonight a car that won’t start.

I feel like I’m losing my mind here.

The world is full of so many bigger problems that I feel downright guilty even pretending for one moment that any of this is worth getting stressed over. But I am stressed, because I’m getting to the point where starting to feel like this shit is never going to end. It just keeps coming, kicking my legs out from beneath me just when I feel like I’ve found the strength to stand again.

I’m having a good cry tonight. If you know me at all, you know what a rare occassion that is. But tonight, I’m just too stressed out and too tired to hold it in any longer.

I’m tired of turning on the news and hearing about how our country is in the toilet because a bunch of self-serving, money-grubbing, no good politicians have spent decades lining their own pockets as they rob the American people blind. I’m tired of watching prices rise on everything from gas to groceries, while our paychecks continue to decline. I’m tired of counting our pennies and making sacrifices to live within our means while professional football and baseball players complain about their salaries, get in trouble with the law (without really getting in any trouble at all), and team owners continue to jack up prices at the stadiums to the point where the average American family damn near has to take out a 2nd mortgage just to attend a game. I’m tired of rotten people like Casey Anthony and Michael Vick and O.J. Simpson literally getting away with murder and then getting endorsements and book deals and big fat paychecks while perfectly good, law-abiding citizens bust their asses just to get a brief glimpse of that legendary American Dream.

Most of all, I’m tired of people not giving a shit about anything but themselves. These days, we are living in a very selfish, self-centered world. It’s all about me, me, me, me. How is it going to affect me? What belongs to me? What are you going to do for me? If it doesn’t somehow directly impact me, then it is not my problem. Admirable qualities like honesty and integrity and empathy are slowly becoming extinct. It’s a sad world we’re living in when people stop caring about each other.

Believe me, I could keep going about the things that have been grating my poor nerves raw lately, but I’m hitting the end of my five minutes, and going on any longer will only mire me deeper in this stressed out rut I’m finding myself in right now. Life is far too short to be unhappy for long. And so, I’ll close my eyes and I’ll take a deep breath and I’ll remind myself that for all the shit I’ve had thrown at me lately, there are a million little blessings that make it all worthwhile. And I’ll look at my droopy-faced dog sleeping on the couch, or my daughter giggling on the floor, or my husband singing  along with some random song on his Ipod in a loud falsetto, and I’ll let the tension begin to slip away because, in the end, nothing matters except enjoying as much time as you can with the people you love the most.

Thank you for indulging my rant tonight. It feels good just to get some of it off my chest.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all of the people out there who are feeling the pain like I have lately. Take your 5 minutes, let it out, and then refocus on what makes you happy.

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