The BIG Questions

This morning in my SS class, I shared a passage from one of my favorite books – Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.  In introducing the book, I said that I had go-to authors and when I want real – I read Donald Miller.  I relate to his writing so much that sometimes I feel like he has a window into my soul.

As I was prepping which passage I would share, I reread many of my favorite parts of the book and was struck by things I had read before but this time they hit me like they were new.  One of those passages is Don writing about quitting his job at a church to go spend some time in a VW bus traveling across the country trying to find God along the way.  He had reached a part of his life where he was searching for something and he felt he had to go “out” to get it.   That it was not in front of him anymore…the easy comfortable answers were no longer a comfort.  And the short conversation he relays shows how he couldn’t express what he was trying to get at – but at a gut level he knew it was true.

That is a little bit like where I am these days.  I am not searching for God in the same way.   I have no desire to leave my little enclave here in Orange for some adventure like Don’s, but I too am looking for God in new places.  And I am looking in old places I had long ago abandoned.

This search has led me ask some big questions.  In someways I am asking THE big questions.  The “what does it all mean” kinds of earthly questions.  What do I want my life to be like?  How do I envision living?  Who is part of that life and who is not?  If time and money were no object, what would I be doing?  Do I like my life now?  What would I change if change was not so scary?  And finally, what has God been showing me lately that could give me those answers I am seeking?  What desires has He put on my heart that  are potentially illuminating a path I had not considered?

I don’t feel like I have had a moment quite like this for some time.  A restlessness that is hard to explain.  A moment when I am questioning all things – not so much due to a need to change it all, but to assess…to consider…to contemplate whether or not I am on the right path and what, if anything, am I missing.

Here is what I do know.

  • I am still longing for more in some relationships and I am still hoping to make some additional relationships happen.
  • I would like to find some support locally for this weight loss thing.
  • I am feeling the need to be involved in a small group Bible study.  And I am feeling led to possibly lead one myself.
  • I need to stop making excuses about not giving time to the things I love to do and start just jumping in.
  • Finally, I need more balance in my life.  I have achieved some since coming to Orange and leaving NOVA behind, but I need to take the next step.

I feel like all of this is God stirring something in me.  A new chapter is starting.

 

 

 

The Great 2016 Purge

I have now been in my apartment for a year and a half and this month I have been cleaning out every cabinet, closet and box to finally get rid of the things I don’t need.  I have a huge pile of things for Goodwill or to sell online.  Its amazing how much I have in this apartment.  No wonder it feels like it is always a bit messier than I want it to be.

Currently it looks like a tornado hit it – as I have been unable to get to Goodwill (Thanks Snowmageddon) with piles of “stuff” that needs to be taken outside of my doors.  This weekend I will be taking pictures and adding some things to an local online yard sale site.

Here is what the purge has taught me so far:

  1. I accumulate things easily.
  2. I tend to accumulate due to 3 reasons: I want the security of having it, I want to believe that I am the person that will use that “thing”, I have tricked myself into believing that I will need it someday and so rather than spend money later I might not have, I need to get it now.
  3. I use things one at a time, but I own 3 or 4 of certain items.  See #2
  4. I would cry if I added up all of the money I spent on these things I am now getting rid of.
  5. When it comes to crafting items, my hopes are way bigger than my time or energy allows for.  There is so much I want to do…but I never seem to get to it.
  6. As I mentioned, I sometimes accumulate because I want to be the person who does a certain thing.  This is hardest when it comes to crafting.  I know what I am good at, what I like to do, but I still buy hoping I will be someone who does those other things.  I don’t have time for the things I do well.  When do I think I will have time to do the other 400 things I want to do?
  7. I like pretty things.  I like things in my favorite colors.  But do I need EVERYTHING I see in those colors – maybe.  Progress not perfection :)
  8. Even when I shred and throw away, I seem to be drowning in paperwork…maybe it has something to do with my job in print and mail?
  9. I know I am an out of sight-out of mind person.  So it is hard for me to have things behind closed doors.  I don’t use it when I can’t see it.  And if it is behind a door I don’t open often…forget it.  I may never use it.
  10. My biggest struggle – hands down – is small things.  Where to house so I remember when I need it, easily accessible but not cluttering things up, and making sure I don’t accumulate multiples.  Things like lighters, pens, notepads, batteries…the small stuff.

Prior to the end of the year, I spent a lot of time purging my kitchen of the food I should not be eating.  Took stuff to my mom and J so it is not in my house anymore.  And I ate some of it before starting the new plan.  Now that it is gone, I don’t have a choice about whether or not to eat it.  I miss my food.  I miss sugar.  But it was time to purge that part of my life for good.

There is one more thing I am purging this month.  I am TRYING hard to purge my guilt.  I set a bunch of monthly goals this year, but with all of the purging going on, some will not get done.  And that has to be ok.  I will get to them when I can.  In the meantime, I am getting the important things done.

I am not finished.  It may take me until Feb to be completely done.  So maybe there is more to learn about this purge.

My hope is to come out of this feeling lighter all the way around.  Weight, stuff and guilt are big things to purge…better get back to it. :)

 

The Worst F Word

I just posted on my Facebook page something I heard:  The worst F word is “Fear” and how I live there too too often.  Ask most people who work with me or know me well and they will tell you that I operate in a constant state of fear.  I mask it well, so if you have never seen it – well I promise you it is there.

  • I fear being alone.
  • I fear being unknown.
  • I fear being open.
  • I fear being closed off.
  • I fear missing missing something.
  • I fear being late (probably due to the above).
  • I fear being a problem to someone else.
  • I fear being wrong.
  • I fear the future.
  • I fear the past happening again.
  • I fear the cancer is not gone or will come back elsewhere.
  • I fear I am not good enough.
  • I fear I am not understood.
  • I fear that no one really sees the real me.
  • I fear…too much.

I share on this blog as a way to break some of my fears.  A way to face the things in my head and when people comment on how “honest” I am on here, I don’t really know how to take it.  I am not trying to be overly honest…I am trying to break a fear of being open.

Sometimes I feel like my life is an open book but honestly, there is so much that people don’t know about it.  Even those closest to me.

So I am continually amazed when I read a blog that is SO honest and open. And I wonder if they are just like me – facing a fear in writing.  Writing is putting yourself out there -but in a way that separates you from the reader.  Yes – they can make comments – but you can avoid those if you choose to.  I like them.  Mostly.  And honestly, since it is friends and family mostly reading them, I don’t really have a lot of issues with bad comments.  I don’t think I could do it honestly if the comments were bad.  The blog – while not perfect – is a safe option.

My current favorite is a writer out of Des Moines – Daniel Finney.  His blog Making Weight, has become a quick favorite.  Mr. Finney is writing about his struggle to overcome morbid obesity and he is SO honest about everything and I can relate to his struggles.  He is further along in the journey than I am, but I just can’t get enough of his story.

I so appreciate those of you who take the time to read this when I choose to write.  In the meantime, fear – while not exactly my friend – gets a little less each time.

2015 In Review

Some years by the time I reach this week, I don’t really want to think back on the year.  At least not MY year.  I know I learned things, I know I went through things, I know I am ending the year a different person than I was when the year started.  This year, I need to reflect just a bit.  Lessons were hard and fast this year and there were a lot of firsts that I never saw coming.  So here is my 2015 in review.

  1.  Well the big story of the year was that I got cancer and had to have a hysterectomy.  I have written about it already, so I will only say – cancer sucks…even when you only have a little of it.
  2. I had a lot of medical firsts:  first overnight stay in a hospital, first surgery, first IV, first CT scan, first time I had an infection that I couldn’t seem to fight off, first time I had a doctor fat shame me.
  3. I bought a new car this year.  Goodbye Sonata, hello Elantra.
  4. I completed my first year in my own apartment and made the decision to stay for another year.
  5. I also completed my first year of working at home and found what I like and what I don’t like about it.
  6. I officially hit the one year mark with J and determined that while some things get easier and easier, my mind can invent difficulties.  He deals with it better than I do.
  7. Due to #1, my hormones have been a mess this last half of the year.  Never before have I had these kinds of emotional highs and lows.  Crying is a daily part of my life in a way it never was before.  Hope it doesn’t last much longer.
  8. I got fired by a client and I have never been so happy about anything. I was being pulled off the client anyway and truthfully, they didn’t fire ME, they fired my company, but still – a very good thing indeed (to quote Martha Stewart).  And the bonus is my stress level has been MUCH MUCH lower as a result.
  9. I found friends at church this year.  My SS class has been an absolute blessing.  Considering I don’t have a lot in common in my everyday life with most of them and I am old enough to be the parent of some of them, they have been so loving and kind and open and I have enjoyed getting to know each of them.  I look forward to going each week and I miss them when I am not there.
  10. I sang this year in the PT at church and I don’t think I really realized how much I missed it.  Over the years, I have sung in many groups, but the contemporary praise team format is still my favorite.
  11. I have had times this year where I looked back at current and lost friendships and tried to put them into perspective.
  12. I have longed for what I don’t have and gotten sick of what I do.  That is both about physical “things” and emotional/intellectual/spiritual things as well.
  13. I read too little and watched too much.
  14. I worked harder the first half of the year and was blessed with a last half of the year that was not as stressful at work – allowing me some relief when it came to my outside of work issues this year.
  15. I spent too much money on things I didn’t NEED and realized I need a better plan for next year.
  16. I missed J daily.
  17. I wrote blog posts (although not as often as I would have liked).
  18. I created and I found things inspiring and I tried to put out some good in the world.

Even with a very full year there are many things for 2016 that I need to work on.  A few I am praying about:

  1. The single biggest decision is: I still need to decide about bariatric surgery.  I will start the year as if it is happening and that means it is going to be a tough 6 months leading up to my decision and then if the surgery happens it will be an even tougher road after.
  2. I need to clear out some of the mess of my life.
  3. I need to concentrate on me this year.  As my word of the year implies, I need to find what makes me HAPPY.  And most days I am still searching for that.

Now that THAT is over…

For the last 4 months, my thoughts have been consumed with my health.  Cancer has a way of doing that to you.  Even early stages, even a non-fatal diagnosis, even when you keep telling others and yourself, it is not a big deal…it still has a way of dominating your headspace.  You wonder about your future.  You worry about how to tell people without making them worry about you.   And in my case, I spent a lot of my energy trying to resolve my feelings about the doctor and treatment.

In all of this time I have only cried over the cancer once…at diagnosis.  I have been told I was so positive about the whole thing and truthfully, I was.  It is my way when something big happens…I focus on the “work” – in this case, how to get better – and put the emotion aside.  Somewhere down the line, the emotion will hit me.  I think it is starting now.

I find myself crying over things that should not bother me.  I get emotional about things I am not prepared for – I listed to the Adele concert yesterday that had been on NBC Monday night and I was in tears hearing her sing “When We Were Young”.  It’s a great song, but not something I would normally be teary over.  I over-react to things that normally don’t bother me.  As the stress of the work of the last 4 months comes off of me, the emotional weight of it is just now becoming present.

I will probably spend a few months apologizing to J and my family for my reaction to things.   And please know, I am not trying to be dramatic.   I am trying to process what has happened.

I ask for your patience.  I will be fine.  But I need to process.  And so for now, I am.

OLW 2016 – Happiness

Every year for many years now, I choose a word of the year.  The idea behind the practice is that you have a word to focus on and it should help guide you and give you something to work towards..  I am TERRIBLE at the practice.  But nevertheless, each year, I pick a new word.  I cover my walls in my office with quotes about that word and for at least a month or 2, I keep in mind.   See TERRIBLE.

My 2016 word is HAPPINESS.  This word scares me and that is part of why I am picking it.   So today I am sharing a few of the quotes about happiness I collected today on Pinterest.

  • Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.  Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.  Denis Waitley
  • Two things prevent us from happiness; living in the past and observing others.
  • The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be.
  • I am in charge of how I feel and today I choose happiness.
  • You can’t make everybody happy.  You’re not a jar of nutella.
  • Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect.  It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.

If you have never done this before, I highly encourage it.  It starts your year off in a great way.

 

The Road to Recovery

On Dec 3, I had surgery to rid my body of cancer – and a few organs – and this process has taught me many many things.  I thought I would share a few today.

  • Only I can advocate for my own health.   I was not comfortable with my original oncologist.  She made me feel bad.  When that happens, get yourself a new doctor.  When your life is at stake, don’t delay.  And if they treat it like it is no big deal, make sure you push for the answers as to not just why it is not a big deal, but HOW they will help you to deal with the issue.
  • Cancer is unpredictable – it is ok to be scared into action.  When the surgeon came out to talk to my family after the surgery, he told them that the cancer area was very small and that there did not appear to be any spreading at all outside of that small area.  However, he said that the surgery was still a good idea as that lingering cancer in the future would be with me for a while.  In the end, was my life in danger now? No.  Could it have waited?  Probably.  But I would have had cancer lingering over me while I did.  And since you can’t always predict what cancer will do, why take the chance.
  • People love me.  This was a hard one for me to take in, but truthfully, if you want to know how many people love you – get sick.  The amount of support and love and encouragement I have received over the last 4 months has been overwhelming and staggering.  For someone who lives most of their life alone (and has never been someone with an abundance of close friends), this one thing made such a difference and I can never thank you all enough.
  • A sense of humor will help you when the going is tough.  My friend Lori bought me a stuffed uterus.  I think she was afraid I would not react well, but let me tell you, it made the days before surgery easier as I had this little thing to laugh about and it pulled my focus off the fear of those 2 days.

One more big thanks to all of you.  I am recovering nicely and have been out and about each day just trying to walk around.  God has blessed me greatly here and I can’t wait to see you all again.