Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back to work week four

Wow!  Four weeks already.  It was another tough week.  Not because of the work, but because of the rest.  Because of life.  Because of emotions.  And normally I am not TOO affected by outside stuff, but I think the exhaustion is making me more susceptible.

So here's an emotional dump about last week.

Horomones, feeling disgusting, low iron, low energy, a new workout plan that has me up and moving super early, new eating plan, no time to straighten my hair in the mornings which makes me feel unkempt, fatigue, frustration, three friends going through major surgeries, remembering babies lost, school picture day, feeling left out, dizziness, nausea, disappointment in others, expectations not met, two medical appointments requiring a follow up and orthotics for my daughter and a "we can't do anything about that painful lump" for me.  The realization that I am growing out of my clothes and they are becoming quite uncomfortable to squeeze into.  The smokey, smoggy air keeping everyone inside with windows closed, and making it hard for people to breathe - the realization of the seriousness of asthma, and the thought that people are losing their homes and their lives because of raging wildfire and they can't do a thing about it. 

It's crazy to be filled with gratitude for something that you don't currently have.  I felt this in a HUGE way two separate times this week.  The first was because of the smoke.  I am so thankful for the clean air we usually have, and the blue skies. 

The other thing is much bigger.  It is almost September and as most or all parents know, money gushes from our bank accounts freely at this time of the year.  Despite our household income being significantly higher than it has EVER been, our bank account is running at a $500-$800 deficit right now, even before the $850 cheque I wrote for a marching band membership this week (thank you overdraft!!), and on top of the debt we've accumulated over the past year of income not meeting expenses.  On Wednesday evening, I went out to put air in my leaky tire and complete a few other errands I'd been putting off.  As I was crouched down trying to get the air hose to seal properly and send air into my van tire instead of letting more out, a man called out to me from a few metres away.  He asked if he could exchange favours with me - if he filled my tire, could I please maybe buy a cheeseburger for his partner.  She was sitting over in a parked van and hadn't eaten yet today.  They were living in that van right now.  His eyes were concerned but kind.

I told him that of course I would buy her a cheeseburger, and that he didn't have to fill my tire; I was doing just fine (which I wasn't, by the way.  LOL).  He put his hands together and bowed his head to say thank you, and I watched him let her know, then cross the street and start approaching people at the convenience store across the way. 

Wary of strangers, I pulled up to the parked van in my van, and I didn't get out, but I rolled down my window.  There sat a woman, not old, not young.  She turned to me with sad eyes and an embarrassed expression.  I smiled and said, "I heard that you haven't eaten today."

She confirmed that she hadn't and I told her I would buy her a meal.  She asked me if she would have to go into the restaurant with me, as she showed me her holey sneaker.  I told her I would just drive through, and asked what her favourite thing was on the McDonald's menu.  I had to convince her to tell me; she kept insisting the cheapest thing was perfect, no matter what it was.

In the end, I got her a super-sized meal of her choosing, with a gift card for the man to use that evening or the next day.  There were tears in her eyes as she got out of her van and thanked me.  They were living in their minivan, begging to get by.  That day, they had received a total of $8 for their efforts.  They had tried to stay at a shelter, but she had gotten sores on her skin from staying there, and after a visit to the hospital to get them looked at, had decided not to return.  They had no other clothes, and hadn't showered in two weeks; even a shower at the truck stop was too expensive.  As I pulled out of the parking lot to return home, the man was on his way back to his van.  He saw me and smiled; put his hands together in prayer position and bowed his head to me again.

I didn't have the money to buy this couple dinner, but I knew that there was more money coming to me, so I did it anyway.  I am heartbroken for them in their situation.  It could be any of us, couldn't it?  Even as this all played out, my brain still argued with itself..."Are they telling the truth?  Am I getting scammed?  I want to do more for them.  But what if they are just playing me?  I should buy them real groceries.  No, don't fall for it.  I could take up a shoes and clothes collection and meet them back here.  You'll never see them again. They just want a free meal.  But they are working so hard for it.  What about Jesus saying "I was hungry and you did not feed me?"  Does it even really matter if it's truth or a lie if you are doing a kind deed for another person??

$20 in the grand scheme of things isn't as big a deal as it once was for us, but I've lived times that it was.  I have thought of this couple all week, along with others going through times so tough that I can barely imagine how they are breathing through the physical and emotional pain.  Knowing that there is nothing I can do in some situations really makes me feel helpless and depressed.  I've sensed so strongly this past week that the world is so broken, so hurting, so full of pain and struggle and loss...I wish I could do something to make it better.  Better for one person, better for a few.  Better for more than a few. 

But there is only one me. 

And I am so very tired.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to work week three.

Another week under my belt.  This week the person who started training me from the start was away on vacation, so I had a lot of freedom to test my confidence, make decisions, create and complete projects, and settle into my space.

Today was the first event that I had to miss because of work.  It wasn't anything big - just a school assembly - but with 14 new staff at the school, including a new principal and assistant principal, it was hard to miss the event where I would get to know what is going on for this year.  I already feel disconnected, and I don't like that.  It's a big change because I have been very present in the school community for 8 years now.

With the new arrangement of me working, hubby has taken over morning duty so I can go into the office early.  He gets the kids off to school most mornings, but he had an early dentist appointment one morning this week.  As I sent my two littles off across the field, my girl clung to me and cried.  I've never had this resistance to go to school from her before, and I know she is having trouble adjusting to all the new.  It started in July when I closed my dayhome.  We have had extra kids here my daughter's whole life, and she has always had someone to play with.  All of a sudden with her brothers off doing their own things, as they do, she was struck with boredom and totally at a loss about what to do to fill her time.  She and I have done so many fun things together since then, and I do my best to say yes EVERY time she says she wants to do something with me.  Transitions.

I'm feeling so grateful to have this job.  My first paycheque felt SO GOOD.  I took my besties out for appies and drinks to celebrate; kind of a tradition as they did the same when they each returned to work.  I feel empowered and encouraged - my take-charge attitude is not being squelched, but is being met with positive comments from my co-workers and my boss.  For the second week in a row, hubby came home and shared how impressed the boss is with tasks I have done and projects I have initiated and carried out.  I LOVE to shock people by going far beyond their expectations of me.  Positive and impressed comments make my heart soar.  I feel intelligent and strong, but I get the impression that people don't see that when they look at me.  Bonus:  I get to shock everyone!  :D   

It has been super awesome to do grown up things all day (including an almost-daily lunch date with my hubby!) but still be home in time to pick up my littles from school, and to chat with all my school mommy-friends while our kids play together on the park every afternoon.  This afternoon, I came home at noon, put dinner in the oven to start and stop cooking when it should, and took all four kids bowling.  It is just such a wonderful cap to the work week.

All this said, it has been a hard week mentally.  I've really been struggling with exhaustion, fatigue, depression.  I felt anxiety trying to take over one evening, but I was able to ward it off.  My body has been aching like never before; even climbing into my van has been difficult.  I went to yoga on Monday evening and soaked in an Epsom salt bath last night.  Sometimes the heaviness in my body makes me feel like I'm going to melt right down into the earth, it's pulling so hard. 

I have goals though, and I'm going to press on.  And I'm going to be more diligent in taking those iron pills that my doctor prescribed last month.  Must take care of me so I can take care of others.  Not just my family, but a whole office full now too!  :)

Now it is the weekend, and I'm going to work to return my house to the relaxing sanctuary I know it can be.  And my hopes are high that next week will be filled with a clear bright joyful feeling rather than the cloudy muddled joy of this week.  <3

Friday, August 7, 2015

Returning to work...through anxiety.

This week sure tested my mad anxiety coping skillz!!

Saturday was a family reunion for family of my husband's mother's mother.  Lots of socializing, lots of people I didn't know, lots of people I have only met a handful of times.  Outside (eek) for hours and hours, and on top of all that, intestinal problems that come from being away from home for three weeks (bleh).  It ended up being a ton of fun!!

Sunday we woke up 8 hours from home and had to have our oldest son home and back out at a location 30 minutes from our house at camp before dinnertime.

Monday I ended my stay-at-home mom career and rushed around to prepare my children for the week ahead, and Tuesday I started a new job in an office, where they all are just so excited to have me come and DO ALL THE STUFF.  LOL  It was a very busy learning day, and when I got home I was absolutely exhausted.  I was so disappointed in myself, that I would be so tired after one day of work, and I already was doubting that I could have this life that seems like an amazing dream to me.

Turns out the exhaustion meant something and the early to bed didn't ward off the bug that hit me hard on Wednesday morning.  The thought of vomiting skyrockets my anxiety, then to actually do it AT WORK on my second day there, in a small office, where all the employees of TWO companies could hear every sound...horrifying.  I made it home, rested up for the rest of the day and one more, and returned to work today - Friday - trying to calm my anxious thoughts all the way there. 

I was afraid that I would see the bathroom and my body would remember.  I was afraid that people would be awkward around me. 

But, I walked in and got to work.  And when my office buddy came in, she made sure I was really okay before we got down to business with more learnin'.  I nibbled crackers and drank water through the morning and went out for lunch with my two bosses and my hubby.  And as the day went on, I felt better and better.

After work, I picked up my boy from camp and we met my hubby at the music store where we ordered our son's trumpet earlier this week.  He saved up to buy this trumpet and today was the day it was finally in his hands.  On the way home, I stopped to pick up the first Slurpee I've had since Monday.  It was sunny and I drove with the windows down and the music turned up.

I still don't feel 100% health-wise, but my heart is bursting with joy.  I am so thankful for my new job - today as we worked on payroll stuff, my office buddy told me that she is SO glad I am there to do all this with her.  I'm so thankful for my friend who introduced my hubby to this company, and that I was welcomed in too.  I'm so thankful for my kids - their maturity, love, and their excitement to see each other this evening.  I'm so thankful for my hubby who totally went above and beyond to get us all through this week.  I'm so thankful for the camp that my boy attended where he had an amazing time and rededicated his life to Jesus and came out with a gentleness for his family and an excitement about attending church this weekend.

Anxiety was present this week; lurking, waiting to ambush me.  But the people around me didn't let it happen.  God didn't let it happen.  And what could have been one of my toughest weeks in 13 years turned out to be one of the most joy-filled. 

I noticed.

Recently I read this line in a book:

"I noticed.  I can't stop noticing.  That's my whole problem."  (About Last Night, by Ruthie Knox)

Okay, it was a cheesy romance novel, and the conversation was about attraction, but the line really stuck out to me as a general life problem I have, and I wonder if other people have it too.

Noticing is something that I just do.  All. the. time.  I can't get away from it, though I sometimes wish I could take a break and move through life for a week or two blissfully unaware of my surroundings: footloose and fancy free. 

Unfortunately, I am the type of person who will replay a situation over and over in my mind looking for meaning.  I will be sad if I detect that I've let you down in some way.  I will debate my ethics in a conversation with myself.  And if I haven't been in contact with a close friend in a while, I feel it, and it wears on me - Is this person still my friend?  Are they thinking horrible thoughts about me?  Will reaching out to reconnect make me look foolish?

I notice the weather, changes in landscape, broken property and broken people.  I notice body language, rolls of the eyes, airs of uncertainty and unspoken exasperation.  I notice people missing from regular places in person and online.  I notice changes in pattern, in words, in posture. 

And then I wonder.  What's going on?  Is it my place to ask?  Will I help them feel valued?  Make them embarrassed?  Will I embarrass myself? Are they wondering why I'm not asking? Do they think I don't care?

Seriously, there is just too much thinking going on when you can't stop noticing.  My brain never stops.  There is relief in talking about things, but sometimes stuff just can't be said out loud.  You know, politeness and all that.

Anyone with me on the noticing train? 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Well, it seems that I have caught some sort of gastro bug; my favourite kind.  

I went to work this morning, all ready for my second day of learning and adult socialization.  I felt weak and shaky in the morning, but I figured it would pass.  Less than two hours into the day I found myself running to the bathroom and vomiting loudly for all to hear.  Not awkward at all, right?

Fortunately, I have awesome co-workers and bosses who were glad to send me home to recover, for as long as it takes.

I was offered rides home, but I figured I could make it - and I did - and I spent the day between bed and bathroom, dozing when I could; listening to the rain and hail and thunder and flooding.

As much as I detest the fact that my body was working hard to turn itself inside out in more than one way, I feel like it was a really nice day.

At work, I was treated with compassion and understanding.  My hubby had texted the kids to let them know I was on my way home and they met me at the door with concern.  

After I was settled into my bed, within my calming sanctuary of a bedroom, the kids came to ask what they could do for me.  When I asked if they could find me a cracker, my 7-year old came back to say, "We don't have any crackers.  Would you like some toast with or without butter?"  I marvelled at her maturity, and the fact that she knew that toast was a good substitute to offer.  And I was so proud when she and her brothers brought two pieces of toast to me on a plate.  I unfortunately quickly realized that I couldn't keep anything down, but I was so filled with pride, joy, love at my sweeties' actions.

Mother Nature was busy cooking up storms today, and at two separate times, a child came upstairs to seek reassurance and have their fears of thunder, of hail and of tornadoes  dashed.  They were able to lay next to me in my bed, cry a little, cuddle with me and feel better.  Even if it was because of illness, I'm glad I could be here for them. Since falling rain is one of my favourite sounds, I'm also glad I could be here stuck laying down in my bed, unable to look at my phone or speak extensively, and have my window wide open to hear it all afternoon and evening.

My wonderful hubby brought home crackers and Powerade for me for dinner, and as I complete this blog post, I am thrilled to say that I just finished the cracker I started three hours ago.  It appears to be staying in my belly at this point, which I am so grateful for.  And my lemon-lime Powerade is so refreshing to my thirsty bod, even in tiny well-spaced sips.  

Goodnight friends.  I'm signing off happily with high hopes for a healthy tomorrow!