Friday, September 6, 2019

Brain vomited happiness.

Over the weekend, I had a conversation with an old friend. We discussed lots of things - changes, life, where we are, where we are headed. One thing that stuck out to me was the use of the word "happy".

We were with a group, friends we have shared for over 30 years, and another of the group came up as part of our conversation. We had drifted into discussion about relationships that had changed over the last few years, and this friend said "(the other friend) just wants me to be happy."

A valid goal. Admirably supported by friends. I said as much, responding that it seemed like a reasonable plan. But what does it mean when intertwined in the concept of relationships? How do you define "happy" in the context of your interactions with another person?

Because let's face it, happy is a short term feeling. It can be a regularly occurring one, but other emotions NEED to be intermingled in there, or we lose sight of what happy is, and what makes us feel that way.

(Details break... I started this post, then had to pause because real life is a thing. It's now a couple days later as I come back to finish it, and I actually had more conversation with the initial friend last night, and we shared some good thoughts that tie in really beautifully to this. So.. without further ado...)

Relationships can be fragile things, because emotions are powerful. We spend a lot of energy thinking about perfect partnerships, and we forget that no one person is going to be able to fill all of our emotional support needs, and that we can't be the only one filling those needs for someone else.

Friendships are relationships, and there are variants in those that matter. We have "Work Friends" - the ones that understand what we do for, really, the largest part of our day. Some of us have "Parent Friends" - the ones who we can turn to for help and guidance when kids are involved, or that we can hang out with in those family friendly situations. We have the "Social Fun Friends" - the ones that bring out a more extroverted side of us. We have the "Life-Long Friends" - ones who know more about who we are and where we came from than almost anyone.

These are all separate from our spouse or partner. In periods where there isn't a partner, they are the other cogs in the wheel that keep us grinding. A partner is one single tooth in that gear - they can be important and helpful for us, but they don't have to be critical - we can move forward without them. It's also important to realize that if any of the cogs is bent, the wheel is stopping. Missing? No biggie, it's a little harder to go, but going still happens. Bent? Damaged? It's damaging to the whole thing. Locks it up. Makes it so your contact with the remaining cogs is impossible.

Bent cogs can often be repaired - that's the good news. Sometimes, the repair is to the existing cog, sometimes it requires that the cog be removed and replaced, but repair to the gear itself is ALWAYS possible, and every cog along the way? Old & new, damaged, replaced, repaired? Each cog has helped move that gear forward in it's path.

I see people share things that imply that happiness is a choice, and I concur, to a limit. Happiness is the result of gratitude, and gratitude is a choice. When we recognize the things that are good in our lives over the things that are challenging or broken, we find gratitude. Here's the thing - we NEED the challenging or broken to exist to make it work.

Ride with me a minute on this, k? If we don't have a perspective on what's negative, or bad, or failing, or broken in a situation, we cannot recognize the improvement, repair or success when we accomplish it. If it's always sunny, we don't appreciate the sun. We need cloudy days, windy days, rainy days and sunsets. We need nights filled with stars, and snowfalls, and sometimes, as painful as it is, we need something as disruptive as a hurricane, tornado or wildfire. It's the same with emotion. We NEED to be mad. We NEED to be sad, or hurt, or lonely. Without those feelings, we cannot experience gratitude or recognize happiness.

All of that is a really wordy way to say that I believe that what we perceive as damage, as brokenness, as loss? It's just a window to help remind us of the really, really great we actually have. We just need to open the blinds and look. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Things that Matter

I used to write here. For a while, I did it frequently.
Then, the kids got older, and life got busier. 
This space, this little piece of the internet that I had? It just didn't draw me like it once did. 
I had Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and those places, and the people there, they drew me. 
I still had my voice, was able to speak my thoughts, just in smaller snippets. 
I could share my images. 
I could connect, often almost instantly, with people who I cared about, and who cared about me. People who agreed with my thoughts and feelings, and sometimes the people who cared about none of those things. 

Someone asked me the other day if I still wrote here. 
"Not really. Not in a long time."

Why did you stop?
"I just got busy, and other social media was enough..."

And that's true. 
But I've been  thinking about it, and I think part of it? Part of it was because I'm exhausted by the hatred that spews forth on so many platforms, and I wasn't sure I could handle it coming here too. To my space. To my little front porch.

There are broken things here, and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to repair them. That angers me, but it also feels very metaphorical. 

We are broken, and I'm not sure we'll ever be able to be repaired. 

But we won't ever heal from the broken without addressing it. 

So, maybe, I'll come back. And I'll just start talking again. Because our voices matter, and we should not be silent in these challenging days. We owe that to ourselves, to our children. To our country. 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Just a number, for a numbers girl.

Today starts my last trip around the sun as a 30-something.

There are any number of folks who would be bothered by that. I've never been one who was overly concerned about age - my own, or that of those around me. (Legal ramifications as applies, and all that....)

Here's the thing. I'm far less interested in the number as I am the life. The experiences. The personalities. People are not upset about their ages - they are upset that they've reached a number but not a goal, or a target - real or imagined.

People talk about being of a certain age and having not yet done "something" - had kids, bought a house, graduated from college, made X number of dollars, travelled the world. Whatever that target was, they become bothered that they didn't hit it yet.

Some folks get very caught up in personal appearance, like hitting a certain birthday means it is time to start eating better, working out, using a certain moisturizer. I know when I reached 30, I had this thought that maybe I should do a better job of "dressing" like a "grownup". You see, I'm a jeans and t-shirts kind of girl. I rarely wear makeup, my hair is usually in a ponytail, and I'm most comfortable in a pair of sneakers.

One girl's weekend later, I had a new work wardrobe from Ann Taylor Loft, and can successfully fake "grownup" with the best of them. You know what you'll still find me wearing most of the time? Jeans. T-shirts. Sneakers. It's who I am, and it didn't take long for me to recognize that, while sometimes, because of my career, I do need to put on nice pants and some dressier shoes, how I am dressed does not define me. *I* define how I dress.

Once upon a time, the idea of being 40 felt really far away. Now, the idea of being 40 just feels... strange, I guess, because 40 is supposed to mean something, and really, it doesn't. Maybe when I get there next year I'll feel differently, but from where I'm sitting? Here, at 39?

Really is just a number.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


The last few years have held some life-changing experiences for my circle. Some have been amazing - my oldest got to take a fantastic trip to England with a school group. My middle was recognized by a film festival held at the United Nations. My youngest discovered a passion for running that she didn't know she had, and ended her cross country season with a first place finish in her class. From these things, each of my children have explored new things, stepped outside of their comfort zones. They've learned, and grown and experienced, and that is so valuable.

We've also seen some heartbreak. Two friends lost their husbands to cancer within just a few months of one another. We've faced some fears and obstacles getting to the point we're at with J's pituitary mass, and (finally!) next week we'll get to meet with the neurosurgeon to determine what's next. My stepmother lost her mom unexpectedly a few weeks ago.

I keep being reminded that things can change in a heartbeat. That in a brief moment, everything we know to be true could be different. 

This isn't new, or original. Lots of us have felt this way at times in our lives. We use these opportunities to become intentional. I am intentionally listening more closely to my kids and my spouse. I am intentionally taking a few extra minutes to laugh and give my dogs belly rubs. I am intentionally pausing for two or three minutes to take a few deep breaths and re-center myself in the midst of a busy day. I am intentionally making appointments to see my doctor. We're looking at vacations, and spending time together as a family. 

I'm being intentional. 

So often we get swept up in the day-to-day. I won't go so far as to say we're "just trying to survive" but it feels that way at times. We become almost robotic in our actions - the alarm goes off, and the routine kicks in. Not that there is anything wrong with routine, mind you, but sometimes, we need to go off script. We need to share an ice cream and conversation with a kiddo. We need to call a loved one and chat for 20 minutes. We need to take a few minutes to stand in the sun - eyes closed, face turned up, breathing deeply. Try and find a way to make some of that part of your routine. Pick what works for you - a coffee date, a short walk, shoot, I even just use a Sudoku app on my phone for an occasional brain break. Just remember to reach out to others around you, take care of yourself, and be intentional. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

It's Baaaack!!

Non-stop Mario for Child's Play Charity

If you've been a reader here before, or have followed me on Twitter for any length of time, you may have seen mention of Mario Marathon before. If you haven't, here's a quick synopsis -

Some guys here in Indiana hijacked the idea of playing video games, streaming it online, and using it as a fundraiser. They picked an awesome charity, Child's Play, to support, and ended up making it a mostly annual event. (They took one year off in there because sometimes adulting is hard, and people move, and have kids, and these guys were forking out literally thousands of dollars making it all work and, frankly, they needed a break.) But then they came back, and my crew is yet again totally stoked about it. The cool part? Audience participation, which equals donations to Child's Play, to the collective tune over the last 10 years of over $560,000!!    

So, what the heck is Child's Play? Good question. Child's Play Charity is a charity that provides games, books, DVDs, toys, etc to children's hospitals around the world. Founded by "gamers" with the idea of "gamers giving back", Child's Play uses funds raised to help kids have fun in a situation that could be... less than fun. (Because hospitals are not so much fun!) 

So, anywhooo... This is taking on some cool new meaning for me as we will officially become patients of an area children's hospital soon, courtesy of our Bump. Both of the children's hospitals in Indianapolis are partner hospitals with Child's Play, so this has really started to come full circle for me. 

Gist of all this is that Mario Marathon is back, and will be streaming live beginning at 11am Eastern on June 23, 2017. We're looking forward to it, and hope you'll join us. If you'd like to support Child's Play, you can make a donation (which goes DIRECTLY to Child's Play, the team gets information for tracking purposes only, but your funds go 100% to the charity) using the button there in the left sidebar. 

Want to read other posts I've shared about MM in the past? Find those here! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Bump In The Road

Sometimes, you have so much built up inside you that you just might burst.

That’s kind of where I’m at.

I’ll open this with the statement that it’s ok. Then I’ll acknowledge that, on some levels, that’s a lie, because it’s not “ok” but it could be so much worse, and I’ve seen so much worse, and had people I care about live through so much worse, that this? It’s pretty ok.

See, my kid? He has a thing inside his head that isn’t supposed to be there. A Pituitary Microadenoma. (Micro! See – that’s good!) Technically, an active Prolactinoma.
All of which are big-ish words that mean that my son has a mass in his pituitary gland that is causing an overproduction of prolactin, a hormone present in all of us, but typically elevated in pregnant and nursing women. It’s small – thus the micro, which clinically means that the MRI shows that it is less than 10mm in size. I don’t have an actual measurement because we haven’t seen the Dr. who can clarify that part for me yet, but micro is better than macro in this scenario.

That doctor visit is still more than a month out, which is both frustrating (A MONTH!? And that is actually TWO MONTHS out from when we got MRI results!?) and comforting (A month + out just reaffirms that this is not life-threatening, this didn’t immediately turn into a next-day surgery and weeks of inpatient care and who knows what else). We will be headed to Indy to meet with a pediatric neurosurgeon first of June, and hopefully that will be the appointment, in what has felt like a flurry of appointments, where we will walk away with a plan. Surgery currently feels like the most likely option, but research (because you know I’ve googled the heck out of this thing, sticking to quality search results like the Mayo Clinic) says that there are options like medication, radiation and even chemo.

The chemo phrase brings me around to another quick, but really important thought. The odds that this mass is cancerous are VERY small. Of these types of masses, only 0.2% are actually cancerous. Those are good odds, and I’ll take them.

So. There it is. A little brain vomit that gives a quick outline on our bump. His bump. This bump in the road.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

That day that I Louis C. K.ed

I shared this on my Facebook the other day. When I did so, I did while mostly thinking about it from the side of the person who was hurt, not the person who had committed the hurt. 

Yesterday, I had an interesting experience. I was volunteering at an event where I was selling programs. At one point, I had 3 people approach me nearly simultaneously. From directly in front of me, a gentleman approached, and there was a woman right behind him. Mere moments later, as the first man reached into his pocket for money, a second man approached on my right, asking if I had singles to be able to make change for his $2 bills. (Programs are $5.) I did not, as I had not received any singles so far in the day, but the man already pulling out his cash said he had a couple of singles, and would be able to help the man to my right. 

The man in front of me, with the woman on his heels, purchased two programs, handed two one dollar bills to the man on the right, took the two dollar bill, and walked away. The man on my right then handed me one of the singles and two two dollar bills, took his program, and walked away. Then the woman stepped up.

"How much?" she asked. 

"Five dollars." I replied.

"Well, you just lost a sale. I was here before that man, you should have waited on me first. Stop giving preferential treatment to men." 

I had begun to interject with an "I'm sorry" - you see, I had thought she was with the first gentleman. She wasn't interested, however, and walked away. 

I was left a little dumbfounded. I certainly had not intended any slight, and there was only a few seconds between the first man walking away and the second walking away. Less than 10 seconds. I didn't view any of it as preferential treatment, as the first man and the second man held the bulk of conversation between themselves, while I waited to hand them their programs in exchange for the cash. Frankly, I was offended by her reaction. I'm standing alone with a cart full of programs (we usually have at least 2 or 3 of us together, but we were shorthanded, so I was flying solo) and three people come up within mere moments of one another. I'm making eye contact and responding to direct questions, smiling, and trying to be as helpful as I can, and it wasn't good enough for this woman who perceived my (volunteer!) work as insufficient. 

As I thought back about the entire exchange, trying to determine what went wrong, this quote came back to my mind. She was hurt by my actions, or at least offended enough by them that she was going to stand there long enough to make her statement. While I didn't intentionally slight her, she felt slighted, and that was real enough to her. 

Was I responsible for her feelings? No, I don't think so, but that doesn't mean that her feelings were invalid. I hope that she felt better after scolding me, and I hope that just maybe she stopped at one of the other spots where the school kids who we are selling the programs to support were standing and bought one from them.