2 year anniversary of covid- what isn't in the news or really discussed publicly:
What is working?
What is not working?
What's next? What do I want more of?
Okay, so what does my list of "stuff" have to do with you?
It's meant to be a guide or a tool for you to
do your own quarterly review.
What is working?
What is not working?
What do you want more of? Or less of?
What have you learned in the last 3 months?
I encourage you to take a few moments to yourself in one of those cracks of time
we all barely get these days. Write it down. Type it in your phone notes. Say it out loud if you
want to do that. But give it some THOUGHT. Consistent quarterly reviews or seasonal reflections
can be life-giving and increase your productivity, contentment, and enthusiasm for what lies before you!
photo credit: Oluwaseyi Johnson
Was it luck that the young mother of three
bumped her head on the bed post
and came in to see me?
She was picking up a toy
that had fallen into the abyss
between the bed and the wall
but I felt we better not miss
an internal bleed in her brain
those are rare but not good
so I ordered the CT scan
and we both went back to mothering our brood
When the phone rang that night
I can't remember if I dropped the phone
It's a brain tumor, and it's big
Can you call her at home?
Was it luck when the car
struck her from behind?
Plastic and metal shredded and
busted near the yellow line
Her head hurt, her neck hurt
to the doctor she went
And the MRI that was supposed to check bones
instead showed a hint
of the cancerous tumor that was showing no signs
it was in her thyroid, she had no symptoms
God was definitely on time
Was it luck when she came to tell me she was in pain?
Her abdomen was cramping, her bowel movements had changed
As the dutiful NP, I pulled up her old scans
Has anyone ever mentioned your lungs to you ma'am?
My lungs, why would they? My lungs are fine
well it says on here that there's an issue - do you mind
if I order a CT scan of them just to be safe?
God was nudging me, directing me, showing me the way
Pulmonary fibrosis? what in the world is that?
Well, sweetheart, it's serious, sit down, we need to chat
Unfortunately it's the same way my own disease often ends
Here's my number, you can call me, I actually do understand
Was it luck when she looked at me with frustration and contempt?
Ma'am I'm sorry I just met you, let me see if I can help
You can't help me she thought, they've already run all the tests
God tapped my shoulder, I looked a little deeper, there was one thing left
I'm sure it's nothing, but let's check this one last thing
It's an ultrasound, I know you're frustrated, but let's do it, okay?
Okay, she said, and I wasn't sure she would actually do it
But days later the phone rang, there's an issue, there's fluid
The young colleague who sent her to me called me for advice
What do I order next? What do you think it is? I'm not sure what to try.
So I made my suggestions and prayed I was wrong.
Come on Lord, let's let this young patient just move along.
But He couldn't and she couldn't and my colleague and I cried
Another cancer, a bad one, it's not fair, it's not right
Was it luck that I've found some of these things at the craziest times?
Or was it God this whole time leading me with His light?
I'm no saint, I'm a sinner, I get fired up, I have faults, I get loud
But when I slow down and I pray and I look up to those clouds
I can feel Him, sometimes it's so strong I just weep
Like right now as I type this, and all those nights I've lost sleep
These are a mere few of the miracles I have watched unfold
in my tiny little town with my regular little folks
Are we special? am I special? I don't claim any of it as mine
It's His, I'm a vessel, I'm a sparrow, I'm a scribe
Dear Lord, there have been so many times I have seen You.
Why me? Am I doing it right? I sure do try, but I need You.
When the going gets tough, and my stethoscope seems too much
My alarm goes off again, and I feel Your gentle nudge
You'll tell me when it's time.
When my service is up.
It wasn't luck, God. It's been You.
Knowing that is enough.
Author's note: Age and any identifying factors have been changed due to federal privacy laws.
Please help support my fellow hope*writers by visiting their pieces using the prompt work LUCK:
You are Not Lucky You are Blessed by Lisa Granger
Luck by Dianne Vielhuber
What Does Luck Have to Do With It? By Lori Shoaf
Luck of an Evacuee by Ashley Olivine
Dear God, show me the way
I am on this road Lord
Do I exit or do I stay?
I was once a little girl
Learning the Apostle's Creed and the Lord’s Prayer
Now I am a grown woman
And I have seen far too much despair
I have healed some
I have broken some
Bodies and hearts and souls
And as I travel down this road Lord
I reach desperately for your hand to hold
There are nights I feel so lonely
I know you are there but I can’t find you
There is an emptiness that can control me
I try to fight it but it obscures you
There is beauty in the absence
Sometimes I see it and sometimes I feel it
A tree that has shed its leaves
A body beyond Earth's healing
A notebook blank and waiting for a pen
A shared glance between strangers where love will soon begin
A happy baby waiting for his first tooth
A hopeful high school senior full of ambition and youth
My Mammaw’s vase waiting for its perfect bouquet
My middle schooler’s energy as he starts every single day
Do I notice the widow alone on the bench?
Do I dwell on her grief - Do I absorb her heart-wrench?
Or do I peek in the bird’s nest that comes every spring?
And await its perfect eggs
Soon baby birds with tiny wings
There is beauty in the absence God
For even sorrow and loss is proof of love
I will travel the road you paved for me
Gently nudge me in those quiet corners Lord
Help me remember I am enough
I distinctly remember a conversation I had with an acquaintance when I was a brand new NP in my late 20s.
I did not have children yet, but I had made some poor money decisions (traveling and shopping outside of my means mostly).
The woman chatting with me (who was 10-15 years my senior) said "Oooooooh, I can only imagine how much money you make. You're a nurse practitioner!" She added "If I were you, I would go get a Starbucks every day! I would pay someone to clean my house! I would buy whatever I wanted."
What she didn't know:
What I didn't know:
So - what does any of that have to do with me taking my lunch
to work every day as an adult?
The truth is, everything.
My plans for this post were to include healthy lunch tips. I was going to post pictures of a variety of healthy lunches I have made and taken (those don't happen during baseball season). I was going to calculate the money I have saved over the past 12-15 years I have been brown-bagging my lunch.
But here's the truth. This is why I take my lunch every day. Are you ready?
And I guess me laying all that out to you, friends, is the point. I like the truth. I like the real WHY.
I see through the frivolities in life and I shudder at the brand-chasing and label-seeking that drives so many.
There is no dollar amount one could pay me to give up my kindergarten-style lunches.
It's what I need at this moment right now, and it keeps me sane.
Time is my Starbucks - freedom is my housekeeper.
To write, to think, to create, to build something from nothing.
That's what I chase.
Until then, there's homework and practice and rehearsal and charts.
Laundry and dishes and puberty and a tired Mom pouring her heart out on the internet.
Find your "lunch" --- figure out what keeps you off the edge and what you really want to chase.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It can be so VERY painful!
How do we handle it?
How do we move forward?
I am currently working on being more vulnerable with my SAFE trusted people.
I do not encourage jumping into vulnerability with strangers or acquaintances - you will almost always get burned.
Instead, I encourage you to try it - tiptoe into it- with a very few people that you trust.
Share your true feelings. Your fears. Your struggles. Your feelings of inadequacy. Your shame.
But beware- even your SAFE people may not know what to do when you share these things.
You may be the one who is always strong. You may be the one who always helps others but never needs help.
This may be due to your Enneagram or personality type, or it may be a learned skill from your family of origin.
And by skill, I also mean defense or coping mechanism, but I digress...
So... what if you finally open up with said trusted people and they don't know how to respond?
My suggestion is to allow THEM time to process it. After all, they aren't used to you coming to them for advice or support.
After adequate time has passed, ask them if you two can talk about it. Remind them that you shared this with them because you trust them and you value their feedback.
If they are unable to support you for whatever reason, you will know that they might not be someone you can turn to in a time of need or that right now they just do not have the bandwidth to support you. And that's okay.
If you receive pushback from your person or one of the rejections I listed above, then perhaps this says more about them and their own feelings of self-worth or lack thereof. Perhaps empathy is not their strong suit. Perhaps not being the center of attention does not fit within their needs. Perhaps supporting you takes too much of their energy that they would rather spend elsewhere. And if so, then you have your answer. Take that however you choose.
So that covers the topic of vulnerability with SAFE loved ones.
What about rejection?
Rejection can occur in friendships, romantic relationships, at work, at your child's activities (mom hate, anybody? or mom cliques?).
Rejection can be aggressive and in-your-face or it can be silent and manipulative.
Rejection can be someone you love simply not supporting you or asking about your newfound passion or project (or marriage or kids or job or anything for that matter). That feels like rejection, right?
Rejection can be passive-aggressive or outright pointed and forceful.
Anything that makes us feel like our efforts are either unnoticed or unappreciated or unsupported FEELS LIKE rejection.
Perhaps your corporation just doesn't know what to do with you. So they just kinda ignore you and your talents and even though EVERYONE ELSE you encounter praises you, they just watch you from afar.
Perhaps your love interest is jealous of your success, so instead of celebrating and bragging to others about you, they just sit quietly while complete strangers are the ones to congratulate you.
Maybe your family members have always wanted to do what it is that you are actually brave enough to do now and so they can't find the words to talk with you about it. Their feelings of inadequacy outweigh their actual love for you and desire to support you.
All this stuff is DEEP, ya'll - and it's real.
I have witnessed it on both ends - both the recipient of rejection and the one crippled with (insert emotion here) so much that I couldn't tell my loved one I was proud of them.
How many social media posts have you AVOIDED (scrolled right by) because you weren't sure what to comment or if you were truly happy for that person OR it made you feel some type of way?
STOP RIGHT THERE. I know for 100% FACTS that I just told the truth. Every single person reading this right now has done that. DM me if I'm wrong.
It's okay that you have done it (I've done it too!!!!), but I would encourage you to stop. Take some deep breaths. Walk outside if that's what grounds you. And ask yourself what emotion you are feeling and maybe why you are feeling it. That person who posted whatever it is that triggered you was NOT thinking about you when they posted it. (Everyone is always only thinking about themselves, 99% of the time, or so Dear Therapist reminds me regularly).
Perhaps YOU need to work on whatever it is that was triggered inside you to the point that you couldn't congratulate or console someone you actually care about.
I REPEAT. Perhaps YOU need to work on whatever it is that was triggered inside you to the point that you couldn't congratulate or console someone you actually care about.
Again, I am not a licensed therapist, but I have worked with patients for over 20 years. I'm in my second marriage. I am a regular mom and a full-time step-mom. I have been in and lived in functional families and dysfunctional families. I have been betrayed. I have been lied to and belittled. I am a trauma survivor and I am honestly only trying to help anybody, not everybody. If I can help one person know and feel that they are not alone, then me sitting here typing on my back patio on my glorious day off is worth every second of my time and ounce of my energy.
The birds are chirping, ya'll. The sun is shining. And I want to live. I want to both be alive and enjoy my life. It's almost spring and I feel a shift on the horizon. I'm tired of all the surface conversations and BS. I'm ready to speak my truth. Vulnerability is hard and rejection stinks. Bottom line. But we can do better. We just have to pause, think, consider who it is we may be hurting (because of our own garbage we are also working on), and then do better.
In my 24 years of nursing / NP work, I have seen countless cardiac events either in action or the ramifications of such events. On a personal note, three of my four grandparents had strokes. I lost my paternal grandfather when I was only 4 and he was 55 due to a massive stroke. My paternal grandmother had stents in cardiac and non-cardiac arteries as well as "open heart surgery" CABG (coronary artery bypass graft). I have been affected by heart disease on a personal and a professional level, and I want to help patients understand the true risk of death and debility associated with cardiac events.
Here are the top 10 reasons I refer patients to the cardiologist:
Let's talk a little more about each of these 10 conditions and how a patient may actually present to my office with these symptoms.
I have had patients in their thirties suffer from strokes and heart attacks. I have seen heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, and high blood pressure in patients from childhood, young adulthood, and beyond. I doubt there is anyone in America who does not personally know someone who has been affected by heart disease. In honor of America's Go Red for Women Month (every February), I encourage you to schedule your wellness exam with your primary care provider and to start paying more attention to your heart rate, blood pressure, water intake, weight changes,
and dietary choices.
Your heart matters to me!
I have a beefy cardiology post that was supposed to drop today, but I don't wanna.
I've started it, and it's important, but it's way too serious after coming off a glorious restful vacation.
Instead, I thought I would share all the random thoughts that have been filling up and overflowing from my overworked brain.
Maybe you can relate.
Either way, you might find these entertaining.
Anywho, it's Saturday- the sun in shining - and if you're exhausted parenting toddlers right now, just enjoy the Duplos and Play-Doh. Starbucks and Xbox await! Entitlement and minimal communication are just chillin' - they'll come soon enough!
Godspeed moms and dads.
How did our parents survive us? 🥰
When was the last time I felt challenged?
I wake up, sip my coffee, trudge through my morning routine.
Mouthful of medicine for my chronic illness.
I write, I pray, I listen (to a book, podcast, or music).
I chew my breakfast while I drive to my same place of employment for 14 years.
I continue to listen (to the book, podcast, or music) OR I stare off into space while I drive.
I get out of my car, unlock my office door, log into my work computers, and it begins.
I get back in my car, return a million missed texts, phone calls, and emails as safely as I can using Apple Car Play / Siri Safe Drive.
I pull into the garage and count down the hours until bedtime.
I chew my supper while I try to remember my name.
I chat with my family and aging parents about mostly-trivial but sometimes-important details.
Another mouthful of medicine for my chronic illness.
I look at my beautiful children in awe, and I wonder what kind of men they will be.
I sit with my husband for an hour (if we are lucky) before he leaves for his night shift job.
Bedtime routine for kiddos, occasionally a TV show that makes me think, and then I'm staring at my palm-sized demon looking for answers it does not contain.
Is this it?
Is this the peak or the valley? The joy or the pain? The calm or the storm?
I don't know anymore. It all feels the same.
Yes, yes a global pandemic has stripped me of some of my best days.
It has calcified my heart and further thickened my skin.
My eyes grow both weak and clouded.
My soul is but an echo of its youthful GLOW.
My mind, once invigorated and eager... my mind sits solemnly in the corner silently daring someone or something to call upon it.
Goodnight, my once-lively darling.
I have tucked you in every night for almost 2 years now.
Your light is weak now, sweet darling.
I see a glimmer. A flicker of promise.
Can life wake you and shake you before your final flame burns?
That is the challenge.
No one else will save us or light our fire.
We must find the spark, the ignition, the catalyst.
Find a mirror, sweet darling - and DIG.
DIG DEEP my darling. She is in there.
Let us LIGHT HER ON FIRE again.
That is the challenge.
I wrote this for any person anywhere who feels like they are sleep-walking through life. You are not alone. We are all struggling. I stand with you. Let us find our fire again.
Please help support my fellow hope*writers by visiting their work:
Writing Consistently is a Challenge by Regina Marcazzo-Skarka
The Motherhood Penalty Challenge by Ashley Olivine
Insomnia With Anxiety and How to Overcome the Challenge by Epigen Wellness Group
Challenging Times and 3 Ways to Endure the Struggle by Lindsey Gibson
Jar Full of Manna 31 Day Discipleship Challenge by Kelly Heath
We love the Rec Room open concept with the Kitchen sink, full-size refrigerator, pantry (with microwave), table for 6. We now have a coffee pot and a toaster down there for guests or for us. When our oldest comes home from the Air Force, he often brings the air fryer down there for snacks. Husband is refinishing a 100 year old pool table that is parallel to the kitchen table.
Husband did all the framing, wiring, plumbing, insulation, cabinet installation, lighting, and tiled the shower in the bathroom and the backsplash in the craft room. He installed the butcher block countertops in the kitchen area and in my craft room. We subbed out the HVAC, floors, drywall, paint, and trim.
The guest bedroom is huge and we now have a daybed and treadmill in there. I can even set up a full-size folding table for Christmas wrapping or other projects. It's perfect for a family with small children and our oldest loves the privacy when he comes home.
I love a good cabin. I love the mountains, a lake, a fireplace or a fire pit, a nice breeze,
trees, squirrels, birds, solitude, a good book with a cup of coffee,
an ice cold beer with a bluetooth speaker, and TIME AWAY.
I can't see all the things left undone. I can't feel all the weight of my daily routine.
Out of sight, out of mind.
TIME for myself and TIME for my family. TIME to sleep. TIME to eat and actually chew my food.
TIME to watch a movie (without doing another task). TIME to lay the phone down.
TIME to do nothing. TIME to think!!! TIME to talk. When did we stop talking?
Okay, enough about my love affair with nature- let's get to the packing. ❤️
My Top 10 Cabin Trip Packing Tips:
Let's break each tip down further into more of a checklist so that we don't forget anything.
EXTRA PRO TIPS:
Bonus packing tips from my kids:
Blanket, pillow from home, stuffed animals, toys, electronics (if parents allow),
sound machine, nightlight, books, flops / play shoes
*** they each said TOYS about 3x ***
photo credit: Josh Hild
Have you ever been
in a crowded room
Bass guitar, drums kaboom
Fun is in the air
Laughter all around
Does anyone notice
I haven't been found?
Sure, I am talking
pushing out a nod yes
Does anyone notice
my brand new dress?
I have so many ideas,
fresh perspectives, big dreams
Does anyone notice
my ship is moving downstream?
Hey, Listen! Watch this!
Help me decide what to do!
Does anyone notice
I have dilemmas and crises too?
Take, take, take
Always dolling out the goods
But I want to receive
Dear Therapist told me I could!
How do I ask for it?
I thought I told them what I need.
They can't handle me needing them.
For I am the Savior indeed.
Not the Savior like Jesus
but the Solver, the Lover
The Healer, The Lifter
The Fixer, The Mother
I want to be picked up.
I want to be tucked in.
I want to be protected.
I want to be the less friend.
Did I say less?
Oh wow. I did.
I'm too tired to be the best.
I'm too broken to always mend.
And pick up and clean up
and listen and console.
I want to be picked up.
I'm no longer willing to be told
that something else is more important
and you can't handle anymore.
I need a net, a pillow, a soft spot.
I need a knock on my door.
So if you're sitting at that table
feeling overlooked and used.
I see you, my fellow Fixer,
Let's blow up this one-sided ruse.
To all the Takers in this world. From all the tired, used Givers.
2 steps forward
1 step back
Don't look up dear
Stay on track
The path gets clear
Then takes a turn
The heat turns up
I'm tired of the burn
I want easy
I want laze
You choose chaos
You like that maze
My body is tired dear
My mind is worn down
But you love that adrenaline
Too high to see my frown
And all are watching
All ears tuned in
And you love that trophy
Isn't the goal to win?
My goal is tranquility
My goal is to meld
I want to feel seen babe
I want to feel held
Do you love me?
Do you see me?
Do you want me?
Do you need me?
Why am I asking when I should know?
2 steps forward
1 step back
I can't look up dear
I've lost the track
For all the lovers of chaos from all the lovers of ease.
He sat down, head in hands, downward glance
She looked up, tears in eyes, uneven stance
I walked in, low on sleep, high on caffeine
They walked by, on the street, young love, just teens
He stood up, paper in hand, PowerPoint prepared
She fell down, learning to walk, not nervous, not scared
I walked in again, ready to listen, ready to care
Do I absorb it, do I deflect it... do I share?
The first one has a heavy load, family stuff, he's overwhelmed
The second one feels trapped, but she's 83, where would she go?
The third one is me, with my own load and I'm trying to figure it out
Do I carry their burdens or give them back? I was never told...
The fourth one is the big boss and the fifth one was once us
While the overwhelmed man and the trapped senior unfurl
It's good to remember that someone somewhere is in charge
and someone somewhere is just a happy little girl
The teens are just teens and I remember how that used to feel
The butterflies, the headrush, the lovesongs, the thrill
While I dance between empathy and boundary and pharmacy
Someone somewhere is getting married or at a funeral or in the hospital nursery
And so I sit here replaying today's events and my children's faces and my own dreams
Do I let the man's troubles and the woman's sorrow fall off of me?
Am I a sponge? A shield? Sand through a sieve?
Where do I put it? How do I move it? What do I need?
Dear Therapist once asked me "how do you feel? what are you feeling?"
and I just stared. I ask that question, Madame. How do you dare!
She brought out the preschool book and reminded me the names:
anger, sadness, anxious, scared, and my favorite- SHAME!
So I ask you, my brothers, my sisters, my friends
Where do we put it? How do we move it? Where does it end?
We are connected. Are we a puzzle? Passing ships on the same sea?
I am you and you are me and we are thee.
What is the answer? I need the code. I need the key.
I will take today.
You take tomorrow.
Let's give her next week.
He can do the dark nights.
They can do the long fights.
Let's share the joy and spread out the misery.
Next time you see him.
Next time you see her.
Next time you see me.
Remember the pleasantries are just a mask atop the real things.
The real beauty of the patient-provider relationship is the back and forth.
Never stop sharing with us.
It's why we got into medicine.
But if you love us or if you live with us and we are quiet or distant...
We are simply trying to figure out where to put it.
If you are new to my page or new to baseball in general, please read my 15 THINGS I WISH I KNEW AS A FIRST-TIME BASEBALL MOM. After writing that lengthy post, I decided to give my travel baseball tips separately since recreational baseball and travel baseball really are two different animals.
My top 10 Travel Baseball Tips for New Travel Baseball Moms:
Let's break down each one of these tips into more detail:
I hope you found this post helpful.
We are entering our third season of travel ball, and I am still
learning all the ins and outs.
One other tip I did not mention is to never burn bridges.
You never know when your player may play with a former teammate
or coach again, and keeping options open
for your child will always be in his best interest. Baseball really is like family.
We all have a crazy Uncle Larry (sorry to any Larrys out there),
but we still love Uncle Larry if he has the team's and the
players' best interests at heart.
*** Disclaimer: I did not mention the First Aid Kit that I have stocked and loaded since I'm the team nurse / NP. I may do an entire post on it since I have tweaked those supplies MANY times during our 11-12 seasons of baseball now!
Some of the other basics like sunscreen, sunglasses, chairs, tents, blankets, umbrellas, etc are all covered in my original post "15 beginner baseball mom must-knows"
It can start any day, any time, anywhere. It can begin without warning. The overwhelm. It's like a net that covers me and I struggle to break free.
Whenever I feel my heart start to race and my mind going in a million different directions, I know it’s time to do a brain dump. This often happens when I’m driving or in the shower or - even less convenient- when I put my head on the pillow at night. It is very tempting to let those thoughts go, but I have learned to capture them when I can.
If I am in bed and the lights are off, I will grab my phone and voice text whatever is in my mind into the notes section of my phone. If there is a reminder I need to set, then I do that in the reminder app that comes standard on an iPhone. For those of you who are not tech savvy but you have an iPhone, you can use Siri to set a reminder or to create an event in your calendar. If lights are still on, I often jot it down on the notepad I keep next to my bed. I have the kind of brain that remembers better if my hand physically writes it down. This is why I still use a paper planner in 2022.
If I am driving, I use Apple CarPlay and Siri to do what I mentioned above. I talk into the notes section of my phone or set reminders or create events... all hands-free with my steering wheel and my iPhone. I do not hate technology at all in this capacity.
If I am in the shower, I could still use Siri, but she usually doesn’t understand me over the shower. In that situation, I just write down as much as I can remember as soon as I step out of the shower. Yes, I keep a notepad and pens in my top bathroom drawer. I am THAT person.
Speaking of the shower, I try not to think of things. I try to use the shower for mindfulness. Mindfulness sounds fancy and woo-woo, but it’s really just being aware of your body in the moment. One example is thinking “I feel the hot water touch the back of my head. It is running down my back and onto the shower floor. I see the water pooling at my feet. I hear the water as it hits the tile. I taste the toothpaste minty and clean in my mouth. I smell the shampoo I am rubbing into my hair. I am thankful to be alive. Today is a blessing.” If I am practicing mindfulness, it is hard for my thoughts to race elsewhere.
photo credit: www.atrapamente.com
Another way I center myself is the butterfly tapping technique (linked below), deep breathing exercises (inhale through nose 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, exhale through mouth 5 seconds). I have used both of these with my entire family when my kids have been off the rails and I needed to get us back on track mentally and emotionally.
It takes practice, but it works!
Once the kids realized they HAD to do it, they actually got into it.
Now, let’s talk about how to actually do a brain dump effectively. I just did one since I was feeling overwhelmed with a busy week ahead, so feel free to reference the picture below. The most effective way I have brain dumped over the years is to separate my random thoughts into categories. I base the categories on grouping similar tasks:
The below picture is just a quick 2-3 minute brain dump. When I use the aforementioned categories, that type of brain dump is a 20-30 minute all-inclusive, major brain dump. Those are the BEST ways to brain dump and my body leans toward doing them on Sundays as I am planning for the week ahead. If I miss a Sunday, my brain and body know it. David Allen is famous for his Getting Things Done book and method. He touts that our brains are not meant to carry information and task lists, they are meant to THINK. That feels very true for me. If my brain is full of a to-do list, I am usually unable to write or create. Once I unload all those tasks I've been juggling on trays in my brain like an overworked restaurant server, I can actually let my brain "breathe" and creativity ensues.
I also included a recent monthly meal plan for December 2021. Planning meals one month at a time has GREATLY reduced my overwhelm. I linked the way I actually meal plan down below.
Once we have emptied our minds via the brain dump, now we can face the actual overwhelm.
Sometimes the overwhelm was just that, carrying too many tasks and to-dos around in our minds. The mental overload of life in 2022.
Sometimes it's emotional overwhelm. Grief. Sadness. Loneliness. Disappointment. Regret. Shame. Longing. Anger (which someone somewhere said that Anger is Fear Dressed Up and that resonates with me). Envy. Comparison. Greed.
Sometimes it's physical overwhelm. Exhaustion. Physical pain. Illness. Injury. Anxiety or depression manifesting as physical symptoms (headaches, abdominal pain, joint or muscle aches).
No matter what TYPE of overwhelm we are feeling, the spiral is the same. Sometimes sleep or a healthy meal can provide relief.
Often silence and solitude are the answer for me.
Just know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I am fighting the fight with you.
So there you have it!
All my favorites from February 2022!
I hope you find something you like or even just a reminder
of something you need or would like to try out.
That's why I post my favorites- they are fun and I like reading
or watching other people's favorites.
Feel free to leave comments below! I would love to hear from you!
🎼 Cherish: My Love Letter to Music 🎼
I cherish the depth of a bass guitar
It tickles my rib cage; it teases my heart
My toes start tapping; my hips, they sway
Whether I am sad or mad or lonely, it’s okay
While the melody speaks to me,
The harmony sees through me
The drums set up space in my body and soul,
Add brass and winds and keys,
Now I am whole
But the lyrics, the WORDS are what I cherish the most
They pierce me, tattoo me, renew me, and expose
Those tiny little pieces that we all try to hide
The lyrics, the WORDS... they seep gently inside
I cherish the music that built this life
The staccato of pleasure, the minor chords of strife
In my darkest hour or my coldest night
I cherish my medicine of music; it shines the light
The lights are on and the volume is up
I cherish the music that yields me unstuck
I am rhythm, I am blues, I am a crescendo of hues
Oh music, sweet music, our wayward spirits be fused
When I received the "CHERISH" writing prompt from my writer's group, I had a small chuckle. My small bloggers' writing group consists primarily of Christian writers, all of whom are women, and whose work I enjoy and admire. That said, I considered all the ways we can cherish God and our faith that these women would probably cover in their posts. My mind, however, went STRAIGHT to Kool & the Gang's song Cherish which was released in 1985 when I was 9 years old and full of hope.
What can I say? Music is in my BONES. I wake up with it. I end my day with it. It is a constant soundtrack for any emotion I have ever had, and it seems to pour out of me without effort. I cannot imagine my life without music, and well... I just love it.
Please support my fellow hope*writers by reading their work:
So here I am. 11:32 PM on a Friday night. Laundry is caught up. Dishes are done. I've been off work for 5 days for a knee surgery, and I'm wide awake. The house is fast asleep, but here I sit.
Why is rest so difficult for me?
I can't blame the pandemic, because this has been an issue for decades.
I don't sit well.
I don't laze well.
I don't relax easily.
I feel guilt when I am unproductive, and I'm not sure why that is.
Oddly, I can usually relax on vacation. Sure, I bring a puzzle, books, journals, and planners to work on, but I can sprawl on a stranger's couch without hesitation. I can sleep late in a stranger's bed, and I can (sometimes) leave dishes in a stranger's sink. I love vacations where outings are limited and "doing nothing" and "not having a schedule" are the highlights. BUT I CANNOT SEEM TO DO THAT IN MY REAL LIFE AT HOME.
Not a single person on planet Earth outside of my household would know if I had been a complete lump the past 5 days, but I would know. Am I judging myself? What is this all about?
Busy-ness is a disease for sure. I am the first one to ask my patients if they are practicing any self-care or getting enough sleep. And I do practice some self-care and I really do want to be asleep right now. But my breathing is shallow. My pulse is approaching 90 and I'm seated. My mind feels scattered and my heart feels heavy.
Yes, there are several things (and people) on my mind. There are unfinished projects floating around in my brain, and there are conversations I need to have. Writing is usually the best way to get all the "yuk" and "to-do's" off my mind, so I'm hovered over this laptop waiting for peace.
Now I sit here,
with this truth
I long for the exhaustion
that comes with youth
For with each decade
comes more woes
My jaw won't relax
My eyes won't close
Perhaps I will run
and jump and ride
And dance in the kitchen
and sit outside
Can wind and sun
and trees and breeze
Steal my worries,
my need to please?
I see my children
doze off with smiles
Such hope and joy
Come on, sweet girl
it's still in you
The hunt for knowledge,
the quest for new
Lay that body down
dear girl, don't fight it anymore
Put those thoughts to rest
dear girl, stop that mental tug of war
You are enough
You've done enough
My love is enough
Today was enough
This goes out to anyone anywhere who has watched the clock, felt the shallow breathing, or had feelings of guilt associated with REST. You are not alone.
Something has happened.
You are hurting or your loved one is hurting and the ickiness or awkwardness or forced normalcy is not going to go
anywhere anytime soon.
Feelings are hurt. Perhaps a misunderstanding or perhaps a true "injury" to the relationship has occurred. Words or actions that cannot be unsaid or undone.
And a difficult conversation needs to be had. You dread it. You hate confrontation. But you can't sleep either. And you can't make polite small talk anymore. There's an elephant in the room and she's on fire. (I love elephants so forgive that visual- just trying to portray a feeling).
So what next?
The truth is that I don't have the answer here.
I recently had two difficult conversations and neither one was fun.
The advice I will give is from my therapist (I really should buy her a nice dinner for all the content I glean from her- thank you Unnamed Therapist 🥰):
Keep all of these tips in mind while you have the difficult conversation.
My prayer for you is that your difficult conversations are productive, meaningful, and end in resolution. Life is hard enough on its own. Let us choose our words wisely and remember that those who love us are rarely trying to hurt us.
My son had a rough baseball practice. His pitching was off. He missed some routine grounders, and a few of his throws to first were off target. He struck out once and that hardly ever happens.
On the drive home he was giving me all the reasons he had an off day on the field, and I listened quietly until he finished. Once we pulled into the driveway and exited the car, I sat him down on the golf cart. I said Son, if I hurt a patient because of an error I made, do you think the judge or the patient’s family is going to want to hear that?
He glared back at me.
Or will the judge and patient’s family ask me about how I prepared for my work as a nurse practitioner?
Was I involved in practices that put my patients in danger?
I explained to my young pitcher that baseball (and life) is like my job in many ways.
If he makes an error during practice or a game, his coach does not want to hear any “excuses.”
Instead, the coach will hold him accountable.
The coach may ask what he has done to prepare for his game or practice.
He seemed to understand the concepts after that explanation, but I wanted to take the conversation one step further.
I wanted him to have a concrete example of how HARD WORK can truly PAY OFF.
Son, do you know how mommy has her blog?
Yeah, and you have a lot of people who read it.
That’s right. But do you think I would have as many readers if I never wrote and put new posts up? Did you know Mommy has written over 80 posts in 7 months? Mommy “sits her rear in the chair” and writes even when she is tired or has other things to do, because SHE LOVES IT, and she is passionate about it. She even works her full-time job and still gets in that chair to write FOR FREE! That’s how much she both loves it AND wants it to succeed.
Is anybody making mommy “practice” or “put the reps in” for her blog? No. Mommy is disciplined. She knows that her hard work will lead to good things. She believes in herself, and she knows that her work ethic and preparedness shall not be questioned.
Instead of using some star athlete or famous musician, I used MYSELF. The same person that cooks his meals and folds his clothes. The person he cuddles on the couch with and tells all his secrets. He SEES me chasing my dreams. That really got him pumped up and ready to face the challenge of this upcoming baseball season.
Now what does any of this have to do with you? It might be early in the morning when you are reading this. You may be getting ready for a regular workday, or you may be on your lunch break. You may be near pass-out status on the couch, or you may be killing time in a lobby somewhere.
I want to ask you 2 questions:
No judgment. I was 45 before I even started chasing my ACTUAL dreams.
And excuses? I’m full of them!
I beg you to pause after reading this. Take some deep breaths in, and exhale slowly.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself doing what you have
always DREAMED you could do.
Instead of listing all the reasons why you can’t do it (reasons, excuses, you decide) … think of ONE STEP you could take towards your dream.
For me it was pushing “publish” for the first time in July 2021.
And then pushing it again and again and again and again,
even if my work wasn’t perfect.
Even when I wasn’t feeling inspired.
I sat down, I started typing, and I made it work.
Picture yourself taking that risk.
PS I would love to hear from you! What are your dreams?
My quick money story. Everybody has one, right?
Some people are born into money, some are not. Some people make a fantastic income and still struggle to pay their bills. Others make an average income and live comfortably within their means. Not many people talk about money. It's a secret. It now comes and goes in several icons on our devilish palm-sized devices (see my love hate relationship with my phone here).
Anyway, my money story goes something like this:
- average childhood, that's my parents' story to tell, but I never really felt STRESSED about money as a child and I was taught some good sound financial principles (thanks Mom & Dad)
-got into > 40k in debt in my 20's by living above my means, keeping up with the Joneses and making poor financial decisions
-spent 4 years of my 30's GETTING OUT OF DEBT which looked like paying $1000 /month towards old credit card debt FOR FOUR YEARS STRAIGHT (ouch!)
-now I am in my 40's and focused on saving for retirement, paying our house off, and avoiding unnecessary debts
I say all of that to say: I am not certified in anything financial. I have read some books and followed some financial influencers over the years, and I am very entrenched in our family's finances. I am also learning from my retired parents about what it will actually look like to live on a retirement income. I am familiar with Medicare, pensions, social security benefits, Roth IRAs, and 401k/403b plans.
I am not a day trader or financial wizard. I'm somewhere in the middle, and I think that is probably where most of my readers are too. I have had to have very frank discussions about money with patients over the years (financial stress can GREATLY affect one's health and cause caregiver strain with children of elderly patients).
So I decided to write about it. Part of my passion for writing is speaking the truth and shedding light on everything that is making us all stressed and uncomfortable. Now that you know my purpose for this piece, are you ready??? Let's do this!
My 10 smart money tips for anyone, anywhere:
Let's go through each Money Tip in more detail so that we have a better understanding of them.
PRO TIP: The pictures below are just an example of using my banking app to monitor my spending.
You can see the pie chart is for ALL of my 2021 spending. Since I don't have a car payment, I divided my auto expenses by 12. That came to around $392. Since I know car insurance makes up around $200 of the $392, I calculated that I am spending around $172 / month on gas.
This is just an easy example of using your banking app to see what you are ACTUALLY spending on categories in your budget. What you think you spend and what you actually spend are often 2 very different amounts. So do your research! It costs you nothing to look at your spending and it will give you so much insight to your financial health!
I did not write this post to provoke guilt or shame about your spending or finances. I have had 40k+ in debt and I have felt that overwhelming burden. It's just part of my story, and I am no longer ashamed of it.
I didn't know it was going to happen.
He was four and grinning and hit a whopper to
the grassy outfield off the tee.
The crowd cheered, we took pictures, and we loaded up
with Paw Patrol on the van DVD player.
I didn't know he was going to ask to play every season.
I didn't know he was going to grip a baseball expertly in his hand
and deliver it with such speed and accuracy off the mound
past the anxious batters from the other team.
I didn't know I would be washing uniforms at 10 pm just to put them on
him again at 6 am the next day.
I never knew I would love the crisp air, smell of grass and burgers,
muddy cleats, and sweaty jerseys like I do.
I never knew my heart could swell and shatter all within one inning.
I didn't know it was going to happen.
But it did.
Here are 15 things I wish I had known as a first-time baseball mom:
I think we should dig into each one of these for further understanding:
I hope you found this post helpful.
I remember being a first-time baseball mom and I had so many questions and not many answers. I never really thought to look online for those answers, but I have reached out to my veteran softball and baseball mom friends for advice
and tips over the years.
Baseball really is a culture, a family, a lifestyle in many ways.
Your child will learn invaluable life lessons both on and off the field.
Hopefully, you will too. ⚾️
She didn't clap for me
He didn't clap for me
Wasn't I good enough?
Didn't I try enough?
Stay in my own lane
Focus on my own thing
But I want her to see me
Didn't he say he loved me?
Nose to the grindstone
Tidy my own home
But she said that she loved me
He said he would cheer for me
Back to the grind girl
Focus on my world
Can they not see me winning?
All this energy I'm spending
On the wrong things
Not the long game
Just the short course
I am now forced
To admit I want your praise
But you look at me unfazed
And I have to go back now
Try to understand why thou
Hast control over my thoughts
My mind cannot be bought
I am not for sale today
You shall not have it your way
I will win in spite of you
I will shine right beside you
And you could have shone with me
But you could not grow with me
So I'm back to my basics
It is time that I face this
You can't handle my success
You pretend you want my best
But I see you not clapping
and I know you aren't happy
I must do this by myself
I want but will not get your help
I'll stop looking for your praise
I am closing this sad case
Best of luck to you dear one
When I look in this mirror
I will clap for my own growth
I will smile until I choke
I can make my own sunshine
Will I clap when it's your time?
I would like to say I will
Jealousy is a steep hill
I can climb, but do I want to?
Your lack of applause spoke for you
***author's note: While he or she may not be clapping for you, understand that says more about them than it will ever say about you. Doesn't mean it doesn't burn. Don't give them your energy.
Okay, this post might get a little confusing so bear with me. I would call it a fable, but fables involve animals or forces of nature according to Wikipedia. I would call it a parable, but I am not Jesus. So it's just a story. A True Story.
As I was cooking tonight, I was actually following a recipe - which is something I very rarely do. Wouldn’t you know it? I totally screwed the recipe up. I had scrolled the internet late last night before the midnight cutoff for my click list and somehow combined two different chicken casserole recipes into one in my tired mom brain.
Since I do cook on a regular basis, I tried to assemble the casserole from memory. That was where things went wrong. Long story short, the casserole was delicious and my family asked me to write it down so we can have it again.
Then my writer brain kicked in, and I started to think of my friends who loathe cooking and would rather swallow nails than be stuck in a kitchen near a stove. I have always wondered if these friends (male or female) grew up in a house where meals were cooked on a regular basis. I have an inside scoop on meals in a wide variety of households because I am the primary care provider for around 2000 patients.
I have families who eat out three meals per day seven days per week. How they afford a roof over their head, gas in their car, or clothes on their body is beyond me LOL. The folks in my house like to eat.
Since I analyze everything, after this chicken casserole disaster-turned-deliciousness, I started to think about the non-cooks that I know.
Anyway, aside from all that, I started to think about the actual skills I have acquired from cooking on a regular basis. I rarely have to measure things unless it’s a new recipe. I really don’t even look at recipes. I’ve always been able to just make something up and it works. But I do give credit to my parents who always cooked and included me in the cooking.
As a latchkey kid in the 1980s and 1990s, mom would leave directions for supper on an index card by the stove.
This helped me learn what side dishes pair with which main courses and how to time meals so that everything was ready at one time. If you hate to cook you’ve probably stopped reading by now, but bear with me- I do have a point. If you like to cook, I’m sure you’re reminiscing about your early cooking endeavors as a teen or early 20s and remembering the disasters and burned meals. We have all had them.
Now back to my point. I think cooking is a lot like parenting. Some people have cooks in their homes and learn how to cook because they are included in the cooking and it comes naturally to them.
Likewise, some children have really good parents in their homes and learn how to parent because they see good parenting every day. When they become parents, they are able to mirror a lot of what they saw as children.
What about all the little girls and little boys that don’t see good parenting? Do they grow up to hate being a parent? Is parenting more difficult for them? Some of my non-cooking friends have told me that cooking is difficult for them. Are there any parallels?
I am not saying good parents cook. Being a good parent has absolutely nothing to do with cooking. I am just wondering if my patients that seem to be checked out on parenting had poor examples of parents from which to learn.
I know, I know.
Deep, random thoughts on a rainy Sunday night.
But I think of the little girls and the little boys who are now big girls and big boys. I see them struggling because they come to me. They open up about their struggles. And I feel them. I see their efforts and witness their frustrations. Most of them are really trying, but they feel defeated from the jump.
I am not going to get overly cheesy here about a cookbook or a parenting book. Life is much harder than anything you could ever read in either of those books.
I just want you to know that some of us got a “recipe” given to us while others did not. Some of us received love, attention, and praise while others did not.
Let us be kind to one another and forgo the judgment.
“Food” comes from many places. Let us feed each other well. ☀️
I recently finished The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. As I listen to books on my commute, I often pause the recording when I hear a lovely or heart-wrenching quote and voice text it into my iPhone notes. With The Four Winds, I captured 11 quotes. One that has settled into me is this:
"You're wearing your worried face"
said the daughter to her mother.
"It's my love face"
said the mother to her daughter.
*** I chose mother and daughter instead of character names for context
As I reflect upon ALL THE THINGS (#overanalyzersunite), I cannot get those words out of my head.
I am embarrassed (or not?) to tell you the number of times one of my 3 boys has asked "are you okay mom? Your face looks funny like you're mad at me or worried." All the while, I'm thinking "I am cooking supper, I have just folded a million tiny boxer briefs, I signed your agenda, AND I am making a conscious effort to smile ever so slightly." I realize as I pass the hall mirror that my forced smile is only on the bottom half of my face and that the top half is riddled with the heavy and the unknown that I am carrying that day.
In my previous post on motherhood, I mention that I sing my children awake. It is quirky and I don't know how it started, but it is ritual in this house. If ever a morning passes without music in the house, the boys know "mommy ain't right." (sidebar: the writer in me abhors "ain't" while the Kentucky in me knows it infers just another level of wrong that the word "not" misses). Laugh if you agree.
As my boys get older, and as my therapy bill reaches the thousands of dollars, I am learning that pretending everything is okay:
With boys ages 19, 11, and 9, my Worried / Love Face has rested above my shoulders on so many different days and in so many different ways.
So what next? Is there a moral to this story?
I think of my own Mama and both my grandmothers.
I remember seeing their Worried / Love faces too and not knowing what they meant.
I remember telling both grandmothers goodbye when they BOTH knew they were dying from lung cancer, one as a spitfire 60 year old and the other as a content great-grandmother in her 80s.
Even if you are not a mother as you read these words, you have or had a mother.
She may be a great mother, or she may be one of the worst.
She may not be here to show you her Worried / Love face anymore,
and for that my heart aches for you.
I will leave you with this. Another The Four Winds quote.
"Believe me Elsa, this little girl (or boy) will love you as no one ever has and make you crazy and try your soul. Often. And all at the same time."
You either have a little girl or boy or you were a little girl or boy.
If you have seen any parent figure's Worried Face, then just KNOW that you are or were or will always be LOVED beyond measure and without end.
My pledge going forward is to tell my boys as much truth as they can handle at that moment about my Worried Face so that they will KNOW that it really just means that I love them. Forever and Always.