The week before last was a really rough week. I mean, knock me on my butt and reduce me to crawling through its last two days rough. Nothing tragic happened, at least not to me and my immediate family. We managed to avoid emergency situations, for the most part. Everyone is well except for some allergy situations here and there. I think I just ran out of steam. You know how that happens sometimes? You just run out of gas before you make it to the week's end, so everything seems harder. That was me that week. I confess my fallibility to you all.
Of course, it wouldn't be worth mentioning if there weren't a few calamities. So I'll share.
Monday: Monday evening was one of those rare times when the women in our family got to do something together. I was joined by my mother, mother-in-law, sister and niece (who is visiting from Virginia Beach for the first time in three years...we are thrilled!) for some girl time, and we had a ball all together at a (wait for it) jewelry-making craft night. I know! Me...at a craft night! And still, no Armageddon. Who knew? On the way home, we noticed a rather horrible sound coming from under the car. It basically sounded like I was dragging a robot down the highway. I'll just throw it out there: this is not a good sound coming from any vehicle. Looking back on it, this may have been a mini-Armageddon result of my presence in the craft universe..... The general consensus was that the sound probably had something to do with my brakes, and since those are a rather necessary component of safe driving, we would need to get them looked at tout de suite. Fabulous.
Tuesday: So, Tuesday had the added chaos of trying to get my car to the shop, juggling schedules and drivers to do so. Which meant, beyond the inconvenience and stress of that venture (why does car stuff always create such tension?), I got to drive The Bus. Let's pause for a moment here for a full description, lest I deprive you of a full mental picture. The Bus is the name for our (and by "our" I mean my husband's) hunting/fishing vehicle. It is a 1997 Chevy Suburban with a trailer hitch/tow package, windows that may or may not work, a door handle that opens when it feels like it (other times, it requires praying for the afore-mentioned window to open so you can roll it down to open the door from the outside) and a 3rd row that has been removed to make more room for fishing gear, rifles, air soft guns, bows, kayak paddles, life jackets, ammunition, the dog, ropes, bungee cords and any other spare guy paraphernalia he could ever hope to need. In the event there ever is a zombie apocalypse, this is the escape vehicle we need to run for. As long as the zombies can't run too fast (it sometimes has acceleration issues). Or work a door handle, since the doors don't actually lock......
In addition to all of this loveliness, this car is filthy. It is full of dirt and dust and old peanuts and dog hair. So, naturally, it smells like dog....and fish....and boys. Driving it always puts me in a less-than-fabulous mood. This morning was no exception. Especially since it was a home health day, meaning lots of car time. And it's August....in South Texas.....and the air conditioning went out. And to further improve my mood, Gregg calls out, "Oh, hey, babe....while you're out today, it would be a good idea if you could find a few minutes to run by the DMV. The license tags expired in April....of 2012. And the inspection is out, too. I'd hate for you to get a ticket." Would you, now? Would you hate that, honey?
Frazzled and frustrated, contemplating my ridiculously full day and muttering dire threats under my breath at the result should I get pulled over, I made my way into the car, loaded all of my therapy gear, tablets, paperwork and drinks and drove out of the driveway. I stopped at the light at the entrance of our neighborhood and my water and energy drinks both promptly flipped out of the wrong-sized cup holder, spraying the entire contents of my front seat and floor board with liquid. I immediately did what any self-respecting professional grown woman would do in my shoes and burst into tears. It was only 8:15am. The rest of the day pretty much followed suite, seeing as how I was driving around in 100+ degree weather with no air conditioning.
Wednesday: The car was still in the shop. My brake pads were totally worn down and some other jargon about something undercarriage, blah, blah... Translated - drive The Bus some more and spend lots of money on car repairs to get my car back. Great. It was also my last day at the outpatient clinic in San Antonio, which meant tons of paperwork, wrap up all loose ends, say goodbye to a staff I adore and patients I love and load up my entire office into the car on my lunch break. Do you have any idea how heavy medical reference books are? I worked a nine hour day, then sat in I-35 traffic (again without air conditioning) watching the thermometer on the car read 105. I began to seriously contemplate a move to Montana at this point. I looked almost as good as I smelled by the time I got home to greet the house full of people there, since it was our church small group night. You know you are disgusting when even your dearest friends wipe their hands off after patting you on the back.
Please know that I am well aware that I am venting, and that none of this is truly tragic. My kids are healthy and well fed, our home is safe and comfortable, our loved ones are fine, we both have jobs, we live in an amazing time and country......I know these things. I even know what a blessing it is to have another vehicle to drive when one breaks down. I'm not that clueless or spoiled. Sometimes, it's just really hard to pull it together and find that focus when walking through the beat down. Until, something gives you perspective in a new and refreshing way.
Enter Thursday: I got my car back!! I have never been so grateful for working windows and doors that lock and cup holders that actually hold cups and air conditioner and vanilla-scented fabulousness. Even the consult with the oral surgeon to talk about pulling two of Luke's teeth which turned into a decision to pull two teeth and cut out four wisdom teeth, increasing cost and recovery exponentially (and making me start praying immediately, since he is so incredibly sensitive to sedation.....no matter what they give him, it's the Excorcist vomiting extravaganza in our house after any procedure) was less daunting.
Friday: Was busy, at least at first, since I had to cram in more patients and a couple of meetings, then race to gather things for river time with yet more visiting cousins. As much as I love having family here, and as thrilled as we are to have nieces and nephews to spoil and play with....it's been non-stop. We have been on hyper-tourism and playtime schedule for about a month, and the exhaustion factor is getting to be a big one. My kids are so off schedule and off-kilter, they don't know if they are coming or going. Gregg took them to the river so I could make my last meeting and grab the food we would grill that night. I had promised to pick up one of Drew's friends who had invited him for a sleep over, so made that quick stop on the way. I climbed into the car after chatting with his mom and we were off.
A side note about this little man - he is truly one of my favorite people on earth. We'll call him G, and I would do this story a disservice if I didn't take a brief moment to describe him. G is a blond, blue-eyed cherub of a seven-year-old who is full of enthusiasm and joy. Everyone is his best friend! Every day is the best day ever! Any time I cook or prepare food when he is around, it's his favorite! You get the picture. He also has this amazing way of enunciating everything he says and speaking in a sort of booming voice, so when he's with us, I always feel like he's about to burst into the Gettysburg Address or quote from a State of the Union speech. Some day, this kid's got to run for office. Added to that, you never know what he's going to say, which I love, since I often never know what I'm going to say until it starts to come out. See why he's my favorite?
So, G and I are in the car and he starts talking immediately (of course), opening with, "Have you heard of Yellowstone?"
Me: As in the park?
G: Yes! That's the one!
Me: Yes, I have heard of that.
G: Guess what? We're going camping there next summer!
Me: How cool!
G: Yep! And we've started watching DVDs to study about it. Guess what? You can NOT feed the wildlife. I mean, not at all. You have to be very careful and not mess with the animals there.
Me: I see (thinking to myself that his parents are geniuses. Knowing what I do of him, they probably need to spend a year drilling Yellowstone safety into his head).
G: There was this guy who ran into some bears, and he got so scared, he just kneeled down. Right there in front of them! He couldn't even run!
Me: Did that help?
G: Nope. They attacked him anyway.
Me: Oh my. I guess bears don't respond to genuflecting?
G: Uh-huh. And, you know what else? There was this older gentleman, and he walked right over to this tree where there was a bison grazing....you know what a bison is, right?
Me: Yes, I do.
G: Okay, good. Well, anyhow, he got too close, and this bison....it just jumped right on him!
Me: The bison jumped on the man? (starting to get a clear mental image)
G: Yep! It jumped right on him!
Me: Well, now there's a bad day, huh?
G: It sure is!
Me: Things did not go well for him.
G: No, they did not (in his politician's voice)
At this point, I almost ran the car off the road. I started off giggling, then quickly escalated into full scale laughter, complete with tears. I honestly don't know what was funnier - the mental image of a huge bison jumping onto some hapless elderly gentleman (picture Jack Lemmon in Grumpy Old Men and that trampoline-jumping bison from YouTube), G's enthusiasm and hand gestures while telling the story, or his solemn assessment of the situation in his Senator's voice. Then, he looked so puzzled at my inability to pull it together and control my laughter.
I now have a new standard. From this point forward, any time someone around me (or someone who is me) declares they are having the worst day ever or complains to excess about how rough a day is, I believe my response will be, "Really? Did a bison jump on you today?"
Because that would be a bad day.
Solidarity, sisters. It's all about perspective.
It occurred to me the other day that I have yet to write about my job…as in my actual profession. For those of you who don’t know me personally, it may come as quite a surprise that, in the real world, I have a career….as opposed to sitting around in the river every day drinking a variety of cocktails while blogging about the hilarity that is my life. Shocking, I know.
I have what is arguably one of the best jobs ever. I’m a pediatric physical therapist. I spend my days jumping around, playing and interacting with some of the coolest kids on the planet. They are interesting and beautiful and challenging, and I have spent the past 14 years being blessed and humbled and taught by them and their families. I can treat adults, and do, on occasion. But I prefer to treat children, and am much better at it. I’ve worked in every setting of pediatric therapy – NICU, inpatient, outpatient, home health, schools and ECI. It’s the perfect fit for me. I’ve decided to list why, for your reading pleasure. Let’s do this job application/interview style, shall we?
1. High energy/tons of movement
2. Very animated and dramatic
3. Humor – pretty much everything has the potential to be funny in my world.
4. I love people. I really love kids.
5. Mercy is in my top three spiritual gifts.
6. I can sing anything – and by that, please don’t think I am bragging in and American Idol “you can sing the phone book” way. I mean I literally can sing my way through an entire conversation. Or day. I’m like a walking musical.
7. I can dance anywhere. Please reference above note about singing. Same rules apply.
1. Math – my lack of skill in this area is as legendary as it is frightening. In this job, I never have to count past ten. No lie! We get to ten, I say, “Next set!” and we start again. Plus, it’s kids. Half of them skip six anyway. It’s perfect!
2. Computer skills – beyond e-mail and documentation software, I don’t have to function much in this area. Thank goodness, because I’m really bad at it. I bought a new laptop the other day, and about halfway through the sale, the very nice Best Buy employee who was helping me just stopped asking questions about features and software additions. I think he got tired of watching me blink at him. And he was running out of non-awkward ways to move on and skip over my lack of intelligent responses.
3. Issues with distractibility – I don’t know that we need to elaborate on that one.
In the true manner of a successful job application, we’ll stop there. Note how many more strengths than weaknesses I have. Yes, I do remember Resume 101.
I’m in the process of changing from an outpatient clinic to home health as we attempt to calm our schedule a little (ha!) and give me more flexibility and time with kids (and writing). So, my last several weeks have involved ridiculous amounts of paperwork as I wrap up all documentation and bang out as many evaluations and re-evaluations as humanly possible before my last day. It is killing me. I cannot sit at a computer and type this much on forms and specific software! I signed on for a gig that involves lots of movement and bursts of explosive energy. There are not enough meds or meditation techniques out there to set me up for success in this area. How do people in office and administrative jobs do this day in and day out? If I wanted a career that involved copious paperwork, I would be a lawyer. Then, I would expect this kind of screen and writing time. Plus, I’d make a lot more money. And get to shout out cool phrases like, “You can’t handle the truth!” at random intervals. How awesome would that be?
It’s not that I don’t like to write. Hello….aspiring writer here. It’s just that report after report of medical data and terminology is so boring. It’s a pretty universal fact that the best PTs (especially in pediatrics) tend to have the not-so-best documentation. I must be amazing.
Did I mention the part about how I sing my way through a work day?
There are actually days where my co-workers will kick me out of the documentation room. Apparently, they don’t need my original soundtracks during their note writing time. To each her own, I guess.
All levity and complaints aside, though, I have to take a moment to send out my love and admiration to all the mothers and fathers and siblings and grandparents and family members and loved ones who have a child with special needs and abilities in their lives. I don’t care if that child is 2 or 82…..kudos and compliments to all of you. You walk a path that few can fathom and even fewer can shine through, and you do it with grace and dignity and laughter and love, even on days when the laughter is quieter than the tears. I am honored that you have let me treat your children over the years. They fill my heart and bless my life. I am a better person for knowing you, your stories, your triumphs and frustrations. It is my privilege to work with you and walk with you, to laugh with you and cry with you. You humble and inspire me.
My healer’s heart and artist’s soul are so grateful for a role that fits me like this one. I can combine my strengths and weaknesses into work that overtly matters and makes an obvious difference. It is a calling and a ministry. It is passion and talent and giving of myself wholly into what God has put me here to do. I don’t always do the best job seeing His plan. I lose my clarity more often than I’d like to admit. I flounder and fluster and fret way more than I should.
Then I remember how clearly I see this area of my life, and it reminds me of His promise….that I have a purpose and He has a plan. Every day. Every way. In every aspect of my existence. All I have to do is listen. And follow. As do we all.
Solidarity, sisters. Just breathe. We’ve got this.
My adorable (and at times, annoyingly motivated) husband made the pronouncement a few weeks ago that he has a major life goal in mind. Drum roll, please – I know you’re all waiting with bated breath on this one. His goal is to be in the best shape of his life on his 40th birthday. Yep, you read that right. I heard it right. That’s the plan. My first reaction to this announcement was to plaster a look of mild interest and pleasant smile on my face while deciding how honestly to react. My inner dialogue went a little something like this: Seriously? Why on Earth is that the goal? Why can’t we have a goal that involves travel or experiencing exotic culture (still waiting on my trip to Greece, hon) or shopping? Or perhaps travel while shopping and experiencing new culture? That would cover all the bases. And be way more fun. I hear Italy has fabulous shopping….and architecture…..and wine.
After staring at him for an awkward amount of time, I believe my reply ended up somewhere in the vicinity of “well, have fun with that”. Then, the guilt kicked in. I mean, really. Is fitness really that bad of a goal? He could have had a 40th birthday goal that involves a Harley or (even more) expensive fishing gear or a myriad of other mid-life crises. And let’s face it, I might as well join in. If not, I’ll just feel worse about myself when he’s all fit and fabulous and I’m not, since we turn 40 within three weeks of each other (he’s older, just so we’re clear). So, I told him I’d join him on this quest for fitness nirvana. Here we go – we have 16-17 months to achieve this dream (and now you all know how old I am – if that’s not authenticity for you, I don’t know what is). Heaven help me.
Let me clarify the situation for you, just so you know where this project is starting and (likely) heading. Gregg is already in shape. He was a fitness trainer in college and is one of the more outdoors-loving, active, physical men in the real world (you know, that doesn’t get paid to do this or have unlimited funds to play or work out all day). He is incredibly athletic and loves anything that challenges him physically. Oh, and his metabolism is ridiculous. He has a history as a cross-country runner as well. Needless to say, his starting point is a little higher than mine, as (I am sure) are his expectations. He is driven to do this, and has begun working out at an intensity I can never hope to match. I refuse to subject myself to sessions of activity with him because, any time I do, I can’t walk for the next three days.
You see where I’m headed with this?
My primary form of exercise in life has been dance. I played volleyball in high school and ran track, but never anything over 400 meters. I played on club teams in college (for fun) and have a pretty active lifestyle, but given the choice, a workout likely won’t make my top ten list. Plus, I’ve had three kids. So any time I have to jump or run or perform high impact activities more than 30 minutes after a potty break, I have a whole new list of issues. And I really like wine and bread.
And yet, I have given my word. To my husband, my other half, my soul mate. Which means I am stuck.
Since this is his idea, he gets to drive the train on it. And what a train we are on. We have pulled out all the stops – nutrition, calorie reduction, improved quality of food and water, exercise…..even our sleep patterns are up for review. For the first time in my life, I agreed to a system cleanse (there’s an experience for you) and am consistently taking vitamins. We are drinking more water and have given up sodas. We are ingesting wheat grass and avoiding coffee and tea. I am shopping at the farmer’s market (which is so cool – I love these local farmers and the amazing produce/pasta/honey/eggs/treasures they sell). Our energy is up and our weight is starting to go down.
Lest you think all is roses (or that I am lying or delusional), let me share with you some doses of reality…
1. Exercise – Even without my hubby’s endeavors, I do attempt to motivate myself in this area at intervals. So, about twice a year, I sign up to run (and I use that word lightly) a 5K, just so I scare myself into at least a semblance of training. I hate to run. I’ve never gotten the whole runner’s high thing. Those endorphins don’t exist in my body. Yet, all the fitness articles point this out as the fastest and most effective way for women in my age bracket to lose belly fat, so less often than I should, I pull on my running shoes and sports bra and drag myself out to attempt this feat. The other night was one such time of exercise. Oh, dear Heavens. I am so grateful no one was out and about to witness this fiasco, although I am sure most of you could hear my breathing in your respective houses. The sounds coming out of me were indescribable, truly….and I can generally find a way to describe anything. At certain points I was cursing, at others I was praying. I did manage to maintain enough decorum not to do the two together. My prayer went a bit like this: “Dear God….I know I made a pledge to my husband to do this with him, and I should not renege on it, given that whole trust and obey thing in the wedding vows. So I’ll make you a deal. I promise not to give up on this, if you promise it won’t kill me. Thanks….Amen”. Not the most profound of prayers – I’m sure God saw past it, given how oxygen-deprived I was. And then I came over a hill and upon a family of deer. As I chugged closer, I noticed something peculiar…..they didn’t move at all. Not a hair. They weren’t startled. They weren’t afraid. Nothing. I mean, I know they heard me coming a mile away, given the volume of my panting. You’d think they would be at least a little concerned. Nope. In fact, one of them looked at the other and made this huffing sound that, I know this sounds crazy, I know was laughter. Yes, my friends, deer can laugh. I have witnessed it. After their chuckle, they went back to grazing, totally dismissing me. Apparently, I looked close enough to death not to even remotely resemble a threat. Nice.
2. Weight – We won’t dwell too long on this one. Suffice it to say, the goal is to lose it. Gregg thinks it’s his place to help with weigh-ins. I disagree. Guess who’s gonna win that one? I busted him this morning trying to maneuver me onto the scale during a good morning hug. I am never sleepy enough to fall for that one. I think we’re clear now.
3. Food – As I mentioned previously, we are cleaning up and scaling down that area. It is causing me to be a more creative and accountable shopper and chef, but that’s not a bad thing. I am in mourning for the bread and dessert sacrifices, but am resigned to this change. The decrease in processed food and bleached flour and sugar is good for all of us.
4. Wine – In a moment of profound wisdom, Gregg took this one off the table and never mentions it at all. Good man. Some battles are not worth the cost.
Lifestyle changes are never easy. Getting into shape, be it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, or whatever area you are working to improve is always a challenge. It’s more successful when done with a partner or team because we need each other for encouragement and accountability. You can bet on days when I want to throw in the towel or kill my husband during this undertaking, I’ll be sending S.O.S calls out to the Girls to get me over the hump. And they will. They’ll laugh and cajole and encourage and sympathize while commiserating on how men always have it easier and get faster results than us when it comes to these things….which he does, given his metabolism and lack of hormones, but if I’m honest, also due to the afore-mentioned intensity-of-purpose issue. It’s all good. This isn’t a contest. We’re doing it together.
And I have a month longer than he does to work on things.
Solidarity, sisters. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.