Saturday, October 1, 2016

Challenging Myself

I have always been naturally contrarian. Since birth I am told, so it is not a deliberate thing. Yet, At times I have fought the tendency. Of late, I have completely given up, not just this, but so many things. Life has been tough, overwhelming, not all bad, but new.  So, as many people begin to wrap up with this season, I have decided to take on new challenges. I have decided I want to write again. Why? Because my brain needs it; my soul needs it. I have hit a new stage of life, my eldest is off at University, very very happy, but also succeeding, which means she is not coming home. We knew this in our hearts, but the reality hit quickly. She is able to share her talents and see the world. Amazing opportunities are in store for her, but it is challenging for me to not have her in the same state.

Back to the natural contrarian, It is fall, it is raining and dark, it is time to put on a blanket and hibernate until the cruel Chicago winter is over. I however, have decided to take on a few new things, mostly habits. The first, writing here, at least once a week. Maybe about liturgical living, maybe about the challenges of working as a nighttime postpartum doula. Maybe just about why the trailmix I am eating needs more chocolate and less peanuts, or more interesting subjects, like how the college daughter is converting her peers at an evangelical university. Not sure yet. But, I will be here. Also, doing the Whole 30 for the first time, so I will be here and grumpy.

I hope you will join me, It has been a long time, and I am missing this outlet for me thoughts very much

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Soul Crushing loneliness of the Suburbs

This idea has been on my mind for a few days. I live in a large community, attend a large parish, am involved in many activities but, struggle with loneliness. I have a best friend, we text throughout the day, we see each other once a week, usually, we are both introverted extroverts. But, I feel so horribly alone. My husband works nights in a job he hates, and is not much of a conversationalist, plus with the limited time we see each other, we stick to the most important facts of the household. My daughter is 17, and I do consider her a friend, but, she is leaving for school in the fall, and will be 5 hours way, again limiting us to texts and facetime.

How is such a feeling so possible in today's very connected world. I think it is more possible than ever. True, genuine interactions are so limited. If I did not have my once a week with K, I would lose my stuff. I feel out of place everywhere, but upon reflection, I think that is my pride. We live in a affluent suburbs, but do not live the comfortable life of many in our community. That isolates me. I need to put on the act that we do belong here, and shut people out. They cannot see my real life, the tears over bills unpaid, the worries that a job will be cut, the silence over the fact that my husband hates his job with his whole being, but has few options anymore.

Conversations stick to the surface, kids activities, my job college plans. No deep discussions of theology or art, or politics, no dreaming with friends about growing old, just coffee, wine and weather. The days are long and lonely. The parents of kids friend's are usually older, at a different stage of life, where I still secretly hope for another baby, they are seeing grandchildren start to come.

I have no solutions, I just long for more adventures with someone dear to my heart.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Trying so hard, failing so miserably

It has been a while, how many times have I said that, too many. It has been 4 years since the autumn of hell, and I vowed to reclaim it this year. Vowed and failed already. The darkness of the days creeps into my soul, and holds me captive. I have been trying to move on from the sadness, but each corner I turn, it haunts me in a new way. It has been in the form of job losses, marriage problems, frustration with children and my own disappointment with life.

 I want to reclaim the fall. I want it so badly, it used to be my favorite season, the season of pumpkin and spice, colors and warmth.  I want to experience it all again. I want the joy, but cannot find it, I want everything to line up and to have life just be for a while, rather than moving from one crisis to another. I want to laugh, daily, and not have to run from one thing to the next just to get by, or to have to push others to do anything.

I want to be still, to savor the company of others and to breathe in peace and calm.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A letter to my 13 year old son.

Dear Thomas,
I love the person you have become. I picked you up from Boy Scout Camp today, and you are clearly not the same boy you were last year. Last year, you grunted at me when I asked you questions, you could not tell me the name of your tent mates, and you were pouty in general. But, you were still tiny, and your bright blue eyes still warmed my heart. It wasn't until 3 week later when I saw pictures that I had any idea what you did at camp.

Today, you are the same height as I am, you rested your fuzzy head on my shoulder and told me all about camp. You told me you kayaked the Apple River, you learned how to camp outdoors, there were bats in the education building, Sam was your tent mate and he is nice. You told me you showered everyday, which makes any mom happy. You told me your disappointment in not being able to play paintball due to rank and how you and Eric were setting a goal of getting that rank before the next camp out. You talked and talked and talked, and didn't even complain when I told you that you have to serve 2 masses today. You laughed at the nonsense your siblings put me through this week, and we shared a nice lunch.

I love this. I love that you are growing up. I love that you are becoming a man of honor and respect. I love that you are still happy to cuddle up next to me, though. I love that your blue eyes still sparkle at me when you smile. You are still my baby, though. You are that special child God gave me when I needed a kids like you. I know your brother and sister kid me that you are the favorite, which is not true, but, you are special and so different from them. I need that now as much as I did 13 years ago.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eagerly Waiting Easter Morn

Sure, we all are, right? It is not just because our family give up meat, and we all really want meat, like really want meat right now. Nope, that is not it. But, that is a part of it.

When Lent started, it was winter in Chicago. There was in insane amount of snow on the ground, and it was cold, really cold. The skies were grey and people were miserable. It all seemed appropriate for Lent. But, now, it is warm, it is green, is is lovely. But, our hearts and souls are still in winter, we are cold and frozen. That is how Lent feels, like a long cold winter. We still say the Angelus all through Lent, which harkens back to winter, to the Nativity.

I crave the warmth of Easter. I ling for the Regina Coeli. I caught myself singing it for prayer the other day, and it literally hurt to stop. "O, Queen Of Heaven, Be Joyful". Be Joyful. Yes, Lent is a time of reserved joy, but it is also a time of self-examination, and that, at least for me, is not joyful. I do not like what I find, I find a perpetually witntery heart. I find coldness, and darkness. But, I rid it through penance, did I mention I really want a steak? I rid it through sacrifice and confession. But, the season asks me to wait, to hold back, to savor the last moments of self-reflection and to find those last things that I need to remove, before I can truly feel the joy of Easter.

I see hints of flowers outside, but the sky is still grey, just as there is a hint of brightness in my soul, but still there is more room for light.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Not the brightest bulb sometimes

Bless Me Father, for I am ultra slow to learn and quite dense in huge head. Thank goodness that is not an actual sin, because I have enough to worry about. That being said, some people understand things the first time they hear it, and others need blinky flashy lights and a kick in the pants to pay attention. I am the latter far too often. 

Take for example a litttle instance I had the past two days. For work, I went to a training on avoiding compassion fatigue, it goes with my nature of work. Whilest at said training with my fellow home visitnig doulas, we discussed how to be happier and how to take care of one self. The presenter is a seminarian in Native American religous studies. Yep, I go to hippie training. Regularly. With hippies, seriously, long skirts, dreads, barefooted, vegan, birth godesses. I take most of these trainings with a grain of salt, and a glass of wine when I get home. This time, was different. I am just weeks away from serious burn-out, so I tried to listen. And, blinky lights were going off all around me.

Why? What did hippie birthy speaker do? She told us to be thankful, to examine our day each evening, heck, she even said use the examen, to live a plan of life, to offer our day, to confide in one person who can hold you accountable, to be still and listen to the higher power, and to praise him (she might have said her, hippie, remember). It all sounded so familiar to my Catholic ears, and to my Catholic soul. It should, I've been hearing it for years at days of recollection, in books, from priests in the confessional and from good holy women. And I lived it, well, for many years. Not of late though. 

I thought that I could simplify, I could do the bare minimum, that it was too strict for my hippie doula self. And, like many things, I was wrong. But, I did not realize I was wrong until this workshop. I realized how much I need my plan of life, my examen, my director, etc. Heck, I need it more now that I am in a compassion based field. But, it never crossed my mind I needed it to be happy. I needed hippie barefoot lady to remind me of the treaure I hold in these things. 

So, I am not the brightest bulb sometimes, but, the one thing she did not address was the need for forgiveness when we fail, and the ability to begin again. So, the confessional and I have a date, as does my delibrate efforts to order my life and prayer. And then, the happiness and peace will return.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Beauty and Dance

As I write this, I am sitting in a Corner Bakery in downtown Chicago, 2 blocks from the Joffery Ballet. On a weeknight. During spring break. In a week I am working downtown several days. Why? Because I love my 15 year old and I support her dreams. It is hard to say, I support her dreams. Her dreams that she might dance, her unrealistic, less than 1% chance that she will succeed, and no one makes money in the arts anyhow but she really loves dance dreams. 

Clare started dancing at 3, like a lot of little girls. She was good, but at 3, who cares. Then at 9 she was still good. At 12 she was working really hard, but was not as good as other girls. At 15, she holds her own, but a lot of girls are better, in honesty, but she loves it. She is passionate, and she is driven. More driven than I ever have been about anything in my life, I'm kinda lazy. That is why, when her classmates are vacationing, my daughter is seeking out drop in classes all over the city. Sometimes she is so bold as to take the train and hoof it to the classes herself, but, not in the dark as it will be when class ends tonight. 

She works harder than I do for anything. Yet, I have to work harder for her to work that hard, it requires multiple jobs, lots of sacrifice and often frustration. But, she loves it. And, it makes her even more beautiful. Ballet has taught her grace in tha face of extreme disappoinment. It has taught her grace in the face of great joy, the kind of joy that wants to brag, but cannot. It has taught her how to work, and how to encourage, it has taught her that her body is a temple. It teaches her every day that that temple will betray you, and that you have to love that temple. It has taught her that no matter what others may say about her body, it is strong and powerful, it is good to her when she is good to it. Ballet has taught her how to laugh, how to smile and how to cry without ever making a sound, but through every limb and gesture. 

We are too poor for her to succeed in the same ways her peers do, private lessons, summer intensives and scholarship competitions are not in her future, but, she assures me that a good story goes a long way, and parents that sacrifice is the best story any director can hear. A mother who can sew has helped, too. Everything she has learned in ballet she is starting to pass onto another generation, through the 5 classes a week she teaches, because, she has also learned, teachers are not always those who danced the best, but are often those who are the kindest, most patient and the best learners. And, bring the beauty of joy to eager hearts.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Through the Storm, Through the Night.

As previously mentioned, there have been trials of late, and by of late I mean the last 3 years. There is nothing that we have not made it through, but emotionally and psychologically, the damage lingers. My sense of hope has ben diminished. I used to be far more optimistic than I am, not, reality surrounds me, and I do not get my hopes up much for anything.

Take for example job interviews. My husband has been out of work almost 3 years, 3 long hard years, unemployment ran out a long, long time ago. When this situation was new, I got excited with every interview, hopeful that this would be the one that would change our situation, to allow us to plan to the future again, rather than just get through the week. But, interview after interview I was let down. Even the few that have lead to job offers are horrifically disappointing. No one hires for full time, they job is irregular, the pay is insulting, or the work is degrading. I have no hope that we will ever not be poor. But, Deb, you say, you have a roof over your head, and food on your table and your daughter still dances. This is true, I can't figure out how we do, but it is true. On paper, none of these seem possible, yet they happen. And I am thankful for these. But, one cannot rely on miracles to pay the bills. 

God has provided, true, and all my hope is in Him, but even that is a mental struggle. He has given honest work for me, but it is hard work, with strange hours and unpredictability. Please do not think I am asking for easy street. All I desire is a return to hope, to peace, and to stability. I desire hope above all things. 

My daughter is dancing to "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" so it is played very often in our home. It has always been a favorite song, but the story behind it was something I learned just a few years ago as I sang a Mass for the loss of a baby. Read it here .The song gives me hope, it reminds me even in my weary days, to persevere on this long journey. Here is the version the daughter is dancing to, my personal favorite.


As times changed, I fell away from writing, from reflection. But, my circumstances have greatly changed and I feel that it is time to return to what has always given me comfort, writing. Several friends have requested that I return, but mostly for the Xavier chronicles. While Xavier does provide many laughs, but there is much more to my thought process. This reboot may not be as cheery or as light, as I said, life has changed, but I will try to intersperse the introspection with Xavier's thoughts. I have no idea if there are or will be any readers here ever again, but I ned to do this for myself, to have an outlet.  Let us journey together is that is what is meant to be.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Simple Joy of Freedom

Sarah is a friend of mine. Her sister, is someone I pray for daily. We are so blessed. Even though my car died this week, even though my paycheck is 6 weeks late, even though I am coughing non-top, I am so blessed and so much better off than most of the world. Thank you Lord for the reminders. Please help this family.