“Is the last time you blogged in November?” My husband asked me the other day.
“Yeah, I guess so”
“I’m gonna unsubscribe” he said. I was not amused. “Seriously though, you need to post again.”
Here’s the thing. I’ve never been the kind of blogger that “prepares material” for you guys. I was never the one that had the valentine recipe posted the week before Valentine’s Day so that you could plan accordingly and make it. I was the one that posted it the day after to show you what I made. Pictures were usually with a normal background. No staged red and pink ribbons and flowers, I mean, unless it was authentically there waiting to be used. This is because I bring you the real me—my real self—in real time—each time I come to this space. I’m not gong to engineer anything to make it look like I had holiday appropriate food props and perfect lighting if I didn’t.
And I won’t just post something because I haven’t posted in a while. I’m posting now because Jeremy brought it to my attention and then, I wanted to write you. So here I am.
Blogging 101 says you have to do certain things, like post regularly and often. I know this. Always have. But I reject it, not because I don’t like listening to prevailing wisdom, but because I’ve always felt this sort of finagling is not for me. Of this, I have always been certain. Whatever it is I do here, I don’t engineer it for a certain outcome. Not that it’s wrong to engineer things for certain outcomes. I do that in other spheres. Just not in blogging.
Here, I just bring myself. However I am. Chatty or reflective. Frequent or infrequent. I’m in the latter season right now.
Right now, my life is bananas. Like, right now I have to stop writing and leave because I have a meeting at Land Title.
Okay, I’m back.
That wasn’t a stunt. I did actually leave and then return to the page. I have another appointment in a little bit, too. And dinner to make and laundry to fold. And a book to write. And kid to take to school at 10am. That’s just the normal stuff. What I want to talk about though, is that my life has been filled lately—just filled—with very abnormal things too.
First, some background information.
So, almost seven years ago, I started having a mid-life crisis which lasted until last year. The mid-life crisis was composed of the usual stuff. Who am I? What am I doing? What *can* I do? and stemmed from the fact that I was about to have my last baby. This baby would grow up and go to school and then what? All I had ever been was a stay-at-home-mom. I had my first child when I was twenty and literally had not done anything else. I didn’t want to do anything else. Stay-at-home-moming was my jam. The thought of doing something else depressed me. I thought I was made to be a mom and only a mom, and my purpose was running out with my babies. When I had Ellie, the clock started to tick. I had finite time to figure out what was next and make some decisions.
My baby never slept and I stopped blogging and writing.
I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease.
I spend a year doing every diet and taking every test to try and “cure” it.
I tested myself and challenged myself in mini ways to “see what I was made of” because of my “who am I, what am I doing, and what can I do?“ questions.
My fear of flying blew up.
I overdid everything because I didn’t know what to focus on. In one year, I tried to move to LA to become an actress (yes, you can laugh), buy a wedding venue property, write a memoir, write a cookbook, learn how to build a spec house, start an Airbnb business, and fundraise for Angelman Syndrome. Then I got two puppies that always peed in the house and barked non stop and I had to put everything on hold to train them…which never really worked.
I flailed. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
Then I decided I would make space for what needed to come to life so I stopped doing everything. I stopped writing except for pleasure. I stopped trying to find properties and build businesses. I stopped trying to become an actress (because, duh), I stopped fundraising and formulating recipes and making plans. I decided to focus on God and quiet.
Soon, something did come to life. Specifically, my want to write the book, with the realization that this is what I was supposed to be doing the whole time. That I was doing everything else because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to write the book. This because I had tried before and couldn’t. More than that, I didn’t know what I was writing about, which is one of the reasons I could never do it. When someone asked “what is your book about?” I’d say “I don’t know” and that—well, it didn’t inspire confidence. I knew I needed to write the book anyway, despite the absence of clarity, and self doubt. To trust that whatever I was writing needed to get written through that lens. So I needed to get serious and go all in. The book became my singular focus.
So my “what am I doing, what can I do?” was figured out.
For a hot minute, I thought maybe I was home free.
Except writing is not all there is to life. Around the same time I decided I needed to go all in on the book, I sensed I also needed to get in shape. Urgently. Metaphorically and physically.
I needed to confront some of my old “avoidance of hard things and conversations tactics” and tackle them head-on instead. I also needed to sweat and drink more water. So I started challenging my body regularly and drinking (and peeing) more often. This all felt very important and so I was writing and working out and confronting old patterns. Which felt great. I finally went to the writing retreat I knew I needed to go to. I started making headway in my book. It felt like everything was on the right track.
Then I got plantar fascitis.
During this time I became my fathers trustee, for his special needs trust–This is relevant, I swear–My dad was involved in a car accident in Brazil in 1995. He has resulting brain damage and is wheel chair bound and has lived in California his whole life. I became trustee because my dad was involved in a legal battle against his former trustee and there was no one else to handle it. Overnight, I was responsible for managing my dad’s money to make sure he didn’t run out in his lifetime, (let me tell you what I suck at: making sure money doesn’t run out in lifetimes) keeping his HOA dues and bills paid, managing doctors appointments and making sure his insurance didn’t lapse (which it did), singing powers of attorney and medical powers of attorney and providing banks with the trustee agreements so I could gain control and access to his accounts and all this, without being in the same state— with no access to his mail or figuring out who he had bills with or when they were due. I didn’t get the notice that his insurance had lapsed because they did not have my address on file. I hadn’t notified them because I had no idea who he had insurance with or who to call. No one could tell me where to find out the information I needed to stay on top of things.
I was paying attorneys. And someone to forward his mail to me. Then he got injured and needed to stay in a rehab facility until he healed. Except he never really healed and I had to move him from one facility to another to another assisted living facility that he could not afford from OUT OF STATE and AHHHHHHH. I know you don’t follow everything and I am not saying everything, but know this:
Nightmare of nightmares.
It was the nightmare of all nightmares.
I started losing my hair. Not just thinning. I lost a clump. Like a bald spot. Like—not normal. It was the size of a nickel and was very obvious. My doctor says it’s because I’m autoimmune, which is lovely information. I go a few months doing comb overs and not knowing whether it will grow back.
Then I had a pre-cancerous mole removed.
My step-dad died and all sorts of weird things happened with my family.
Then, I decided I needed to move my dad here to Colorado to be closer because managing everything from one thousand miles away was proving to be impossible.
I need his physical, real ID to send to social security so he can get a new card? HOW AM I GOING TO GET HIS REAL ID FROM ONE THOUSAND MILES AWAY WHEN HE CAN’T SEND IT TO ME HIMSELF? AND WHAT IF HE NEEDS HIS ID WHILE IT’S GONE?
Meanwhile, he’s afraid he’ll be cold if he moves to Colorado and I have to give his place in California 30 days notice and his bank account has no more money in it, and I have to move my dad here to my state BEFORE they can tell me if they will approve him for Colorado insurance and once he’s here I have a mountain of paperwork and I need to call my Uncle and ask him to locate birth certificates and what not. And I can’t even remember who I need to give them to.
That’s not true. I do remember.
I’m just being dramatic.
In all seriousness though? Nightmare of nightmares. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. Regardless, it is consuming me. It’s consuming all my time and all my energy—seemingly without end—my “to do” just keeps growing—and I have not been able to get writing time in for my book. And I don’t mean this in a “I cannot make the time because it’s not important enough to me” way. I mean this in a “I was on hold with medicare for 1 1/2 hours, and then I have to go to the bank and get a 1099 for the tax years 2016, 2017, 2018 that my dad’s trust didn’t file for back then, and then scan and email those documents to the tax guy, then call my dad’s facility and get them that Medicare number, and then call his old place and give 30 day notice and then figure out how I am going to move his stuff out of his condo without a place to take it to since we are both out of state now—then repeat the next day with a different set of to-do’s” kind of way. I don’t have time for my book. And I don’t have time to blog. So that’s why I haven’t blogged since November, Jeremy. Then, you know, there are the normal things. There is school pick up and laundry and grocery shopping and dinner and working out and eating well and praying. All this, for something I know I need to do (take care of my dad) and I know is important, but I feel like I’m trying to do all the things and keep all the balls in the air and…and…AND.
Then, I got tinnitus.
You guys, a week and a half ago I did not have tinnitus and then, I started to hear a sound in my ear a few times a day for two days for a couple minutes and then it would go away and I thought, that’s weird. Then, two weekends ago we sat down to watch “Ford vs Ferrari” and the sound happened again and NEVER STOPPED. I hear a sound in my ear all the time now. All. The. Time.
I am young for having tinnitus without ever having an event to spur it on so suddenly and no known family genetic history, the doctor tells me.
I had a mole bleed the other day so I went to the dermatologist yesterday and they had to remove it and biopsy.
My left shoulder/neck totally seized up and I have a muscle headache for a week now despite doing all the stretches I’m supposed to do for that area and my PT can’t get me in until April.
Here is my question. When did I become a medically ailing person?
Why did my body stop working in the midst of the most stressful time, while I tried in earnest to limit how stressful it could be by feeding myself well, moving my body, staying hydrated, praying, and trying not to drop any of the balls. Well, for very long, anyway.
Like. I tried.
But nothing is working right. Nothing is smooth. I have to work ten times harder just to move ten times slower than other seasons I’ve been in.
And I don’t understand.
So that’s the backstory.
And here I am now. I can tell you what has changed since the mid-life crisis started: This whole last seven years has been preparing me for whatever is next. It’s been a weird time. I have stepped into parts of my personhood that we’re not prominent before and made them more developed. Things that I’d rather have not developed, like saying what I need to say when it’s hard instead of avoiding conversations. And standing up for myself and believing I am worth standing up for and completely capable of doing that when I’m on the phone with people who intimidate me.
Then this past year has felt like it’s finally go-time. Like the first five years were preparing for go-time, and the last year has been “now, now, go, go, go!”
Where I am going? I have no idea. But I know that wherever it is, I’m on the way, AND that I need to be able to handle a lot, for a long period of time, maybe while having a million bizarre small medical things happen during, AND handle it well while taking care of myself in the process, AND know that I am capable of the task before me.
Oh, and also be able to stand up for myself and talk to potentially intimidating people on the phone like it ain’t no thing. Because that’s what keeps happening.
That’s what I know so far.
I’ve been afraid of this spot. It seems too overwhelming. Too much. Not sustainable. It’s in the water too. I know you know what I’m talking about.
I’m not here to complain, (well, not ONLY to complain), and I do want to tell you what I’ve noticed about this spot. This place of being on the way to something you’ve been preparing for, which is hard enough, while just getting absolutely pummeled with wave after wave in the most frustrating and unrelenting fashion.
I think I’ve always been afraid of this spot because I believed the “hard” would discourage and prevent me from moving forward. I think I thought it would be enough to stop me. And being stopped and unable to move forward because I don’t have the skills or development to make good decisions and do so, is scary to me.
But I have the skills and development necessary. This is what I know now that I didn’t before. The last six years were spent developing skills that were necessary to getting to this point. And because I have them, nothing can stop me. Not hard things. And not harder things.
Here’s how I know: when things get particularly hard, they actually serve to reinforce me.
When something is trying to take me down, I feel like giving up for 5 minutes. Everything sucks and I send out SOS texts that say “I don’t know what to do” and my life is ending and I cry. That happens. But the whole time I do this, I know I do out of habit and for connection. Because I FEEL like everything sucks and my life is ending and I’ll never be able to figure it out or know what to do ever again. But I don’t believe myself. That’s the difference. I used to believe it. Now, I can feel the feelings while knowing they are not true.
I know it’s not true because there have been too many times these last seven years when I have felt this every same way, and the situation resolved itself. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. I feel there is no way, then I make a call I don’t want to make, and say some things I don’t want to say, and then all of a sudden a way opens up. Or, I have a talk with a friend or my husband and they say something that illuminates a path forward.
Everything is figure-out-able.
I know that now. Tricky is figure-out-able. Hard is figure-out-able. Tired is figure-out-able. Unrelenting is figure-out-able. You just have to be willing to do the thing that leads to figuring it out. Which is much, much easier said than done.
I feel this force—I don’t know an un-corny way to say that—it’s a real, live force, okay? And whenever something hard happens it gets stronger and stronger inside of me and all it does is convey this message: “No. Not today, not ever. I am onto you and YOU. CAN’T. STOP. ME.”
You can’t stop me.
Because I’m ready now. I’m already on the way.
I don’t know, you guys.
That is scary to say. But I need to say it.
Because resistance and self-doubt and hard things. They can’t stop me now.
I’m ready to do whatever it is I am supposed to do.
One of those things? I am supposed to write a damn book.
So I will write. First I will write this to you and not worry about what you will think of this post. It’s kind of gritty, you know? A little self indulgent. Like, maybe I should polish it up before I hit publish because a vulnerability shame storm is sure to hit afterwards. Maybe I should not write this sort of thing at all until it’s had time to breathe and mature because what is this even about? An overwhelming season? My dad? Writing a book? WHO KNOWS. In the writing world, we call this kind of piece an “inhale.” It’s not meant for public consumption. You’re supposed to wait for an “exhale” because exhales are orderly and follow one idea through to the end. But order takes time. And I don’t got that. I have a book to write you guys, too. I do promise you though, the book will only be exhales. 😉
It’s Valentine’s Day.
So today, I will hit publish without editing this post. Then, I will go to my kitchen and make homemade cream puffs. I will whip cream and fold it in a vanilla pastry cream and I will pipe choux dough onto parchment and I will fill and dust with powdered sugar. Then I will take one to my dad, who I take care of now, and who lives down the street as of last month. Then I will pile the rest high on a plate to give to my family tonight because cream puffs are Jeremy’s favorite and also because part of my purpose is providing delight and beauty for the people I love.
Then tomorrow I will write again.
I can’t be stopped.