Writing Challenge Day 23: Something You Miss

My college roommate once said she could not fathom how anything mattered in her life until after her first child was born. Since I was only part of her pre-child life, I took offense. The part she so hastily discarded as rubbish is, and always has been, near and dear to my heart.

It was at State University that I learned how to live. On my own terms. That was a luxury I did not have in the house growing up.

And I miss that college life.

I miss the moments of self discovery, learning more about myself and how I interacted with the world.

I miss the reckless abandonment of cross country road trips, spending 2am in a diner, and sipping vodka cocktails on the apartment steps after a long week on a Friday night.

I miss the boys – friends and the ones who would wake up next to me in the morning – where are they now? What are they doing? Are they happy with where life took them? Do they think of me as I do them?

I miss the relaxed schedule of classes, without the drone of a long workday, of which pivots everything else in my life.

I miss my sanctuaries of the coffee shop, the running trail, and the 18th story lounge of my old dorm that towered over the city. All of those places shaped me as a writer and provided a sounding board.

I miss the smell of the stage where I worked for slightly more than minimum wage. I can’t recall the scent I used to revel in; I’ve been away too long.

I miss having friends readily available. Now, I have to take in account distance, jobs, husbands, children – the list goes on. Gone are the days of hanging out randomly.

While I am more comfortable in my skin now than I was back in the day, I miss the person that was me. I miss the people my friends were before jobs, family, and life events changed them. I’m much more jaded now than I was – even though I’m childless and driving the same car I had in college. Even I haven’t escaped the sands of time.

While I lost my roommate to the abyss of motherhood and career, a college friend I occasionally hung out with – we ran in different circles – is now one of my closest confidants. She’s the one I call when the pain gets too much to bear. She knows all about the storms rocking my world, and I share in hers. I miss I didn’t make the most of our time when we lived a few moments away from each other; and now a 10+ hour drive separates us.

I’m perpetually stuck between what was and what is. I miss that old life so much, but I am thankful for where I am now, healthier in all aspects of life.

I just wish I could go back and visit once in awhile.

Writing Challenge Day 24: A Family Member You Dislike

Let me start by saying I do not dislike any family members. I’m very proud that I am not in a rift or avoid any of my kin.

That being said, there is one family member who I am not happy with right now. This person is a parent of a child in desperate need of counseling due to the extreme severity of the child’s mental health. They got on their soapbox with great fanfare about how they were a champion of doing the right thing by bringing in professionals; several months later, the words ring empty. Luckily the situation which caused all this uproar has calmed down, but I know the volcano is only sleeping; they think it is dormant. I pity anyone caught in the lava flow of the next eruption. Yours truly will probably be one of the casualties, because I care too damn much.

So be it. The child is worth it.

I live too far away and cannot become that meddling relative in matters of which I have no jurisdiction. I can only support from outside. And they know – the whole lot of them – I am always here to listen, help, and do. And unlike all of them, my actions and my words are one in the same.

May: Let go of anxiety

My focus for the month of May is to let go of anxiety.

It’s a tall order for a GAD sufferer. I’m starting a new part time job on top of my normal job. I used to have anxiety attacks doing this same job several years ago.

I went to college for this job. I have well over 10 years experience. I need to stop freaking out about everything all the time. I need that confidence boost from April.

While my house is under contract, the deed is still in my name. Our buyers could back out, which is my biggest anxiety trigger right now. Nothing is final until the ink dries on the closing papers.

With the new job, my home life is changing. I’m going to be in a new neighborhood, with new neighbors. My day is going to have new rhythms: there will be things I do there I didn’t need to do at this house, and vice versa. The anxiety of not having a routine – or a place that feels like home – is rough and uncomfortable, like a wool sweater.

Let go and let God.

I’ll keep repeating this until it sinks through my thick skull. How do you let go of something that causes your hand to paralyze around something you cannot drop because it may hurt someone?

I don’t know either, but this month, I will wrestle with it.

April in Review

April proved to be a month that was loaded with opportunities for confidence. We bought another house and plunged further into debt. The confidence to carry that took quite a bit of gumption to pull off, especially as we closed on our new house and the reality of how much I owe literally hit home. But here I am, still going strong. Even more so that we have a buyer under contract.

The money situation really bothered me, so instead of fretting over it and waiting for disaster to hit, I proactively sought a part time job. This job is one I held previously and left because the stress was too much with the panic attacks that followed. But the money is really, really good and the management deck is reshuffled; I’ve been reassured by a trusted supervisor things are better than what they were back when I was there. I don’t have a sunset date on this gig, but I know in my heart it is only for a season. While it looks like our house will sell, I am still taking the job. The money coming in will fund my upcoming adventures, investments (stocks and house projects), and above all, used to further the kingdom of God. That will be determined as the Holy Spirit dictates.

I lacked confidence in a couple of areas: our new garage floor was in a sorry state of grime and dirt. The cleaner I bought was complicated to use, and my test patch only frustrated me further. And so I stopped. Not so much confidence there.

I did find myself consistently praying to God for provisions, a buyer, and friends who are struggling against unfair odds. My relationship deepened with the Lord this month for sure. I completely relied on Him. I pray this does not go away when things get easier.

With all the big life stuff that hit me this month, I feel I did pretty well with confidence. I hope this carries over into the months that come.

Rolling On

With my self imposed spending freeze, as now I own 2 houses, I have become stricter than I ever have with money. No treats for myself, no indulgences (unless there is a gift card involved, Hello Starbucks!). I’m not drinking alcohol, not getting ice cream, not eating at restaurants. I spend money on food – sometimes I stop at the local grocery store for lunch – and gasoline outside of household expenses like electricity. Heaven help me if anything goes wrong with my old car.

This upcoming weekend our neighborhood is having a yard sale. We have many items to sell as we’re downsizing. A friend of mine who is always getting rid of things is also coming to man the yard sale with me like last year. I’ve always made a big breakfast complete with mimosas, which we sipped while people perused our wares.  My friend is pregnant and I am not drinking right now, so our mimosa breakfast is out. I thought I would make cinnamon rolls from Trader Joe’s – the best cinnamon rolls this side of a bakery. But then I talked myself down from that: I do not need to spend the money on breakfast for friends (under $10, but still). I’m on a spending freeze. They are also on a tight budget as well with the new bundle of joy arriving soon.

But as soon as I had squared all that in my mind, I felt a nudge from the Lord: maybe it was more of an eyeroll. “Make the cinnamon rolls.”

With our current house, and the new house, I strive to make it as hospitable as possible. I promised during this spending freeze that I wouldn’t become a miser, and it would not dampen my hospitable home, no matter how much I had in the bank. I may not be able to serve steak and bottles of wine to my friends, but I would do something budget friendly.

And so, “Buy cinnamon rolls at Trader Joe’s” appears on my to do list this week. It is a kind gesture and they are heavenly! I even texted my friend, “Does your daughter like cinnamon rolls?” as her pregnancy has dictated what she can eat. She responded the baby loves cinnamon rolls and is kicking with joy at the prospect of them!

That made my heart happy.

And I am so thankful I have a God, who despite entrusting me with 2 houses on faith and an hour glass of savings, told me to buy cinnamon rolls.

Like Led Zeppelin once immortalized in a song: “And I just keep on rolling along with the grace of the Lord above.”

Writing Challenge Day 22: My Morning Routine

Since taking this new gig, my morning routine isn’t exactly what I need it to be, but for the moment, it works.

I wake up at 0500, saunter downstairs, and feed my inpatient cats. Bathroom and teeth are next. Lately, I’ll find myself taking a 8+ minute nap under an Afghan before feeding the cats. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of a weird dream, and I need a few moments to straighten out my thoughts.

Next, I check my phone and the news/Twitter feeds while my coffee is brewing. Once my coffee is ready, I sit on the deck (during summer) or my sitting room (during winter). I spend these quiet moments in contemplative prayer. My favorite devotion is Pray As You Go, 13 minutes of pure bliss: coffee, quiet, Jesus.

After this, depending on what’s on the day’s docket, I’ll work on my German/French lessons, correspondence, tidy, etc. but only for a few minutes. Then it’s shower, breakfast, and run out the door for work at 0700.

Once my world stops spinning with this house buying stuff, perhaps I’ll extend my bedtime and wake up a bit later. I miss that extra hour in the morning to write. I need to adjust. But with everything else, I feel perhaps I should keep at least one routine normal.

Writing Challenge Day 21: Your horoscope and whether you think it fits you

I’m a Libra – the scales.

Ironically it fits me quite well. I’m always trying to find balance in life. I’m a peacemaker, as I’m quite good at seeing both sides to a problem. Trouble is, I’m terrible at making decisions. I will debate everything ad nausium. I’m often up in the clouds with my thoughts, but I’m fiercely loyal. I can be a social butterfly when I so chose, but I’d rather be alone, writing.

And right now, my scales are swinging wildly.

Unless

“Show me how it ends
It’s alright.”
(So Cold by Breaking Benjamin)

In 2005 when I finally decided to get my personal life together and focus on the Lord, I was listening to a lot of alternative rock, like Breaking Benjamin. That spring, the line from that song resonated with me; I heard the line as, “Show me how it ends, it’s alright?” Who was I going to be in December? My fear was nothing will have changed and I’d be fighting the same battles. It wouldn’t be alright. Everything would be for naught.

That December I was a changed woman, and set sail for the east coast.

I find myself in the same situation this spring: we bought another house. We need to unload our current house, as now we are carrying 2 mortgages. The house has been on the market for nearly a week, with mild interest. We’ve already discussed lowering the price. We have to have allowances for carpet, probably windows.

I am freaking out. I’m having trouble eating with the anxiety attacks.

Friends who know the house assure me it will sell fast. A good friend of mine said the most comforting thing: I will be provided for. I am a faithful servant of the Lord and that will not be forgotten.

Oh, Lord, help us!

My Dad, who is an expert at doomsday scenarios, hit me with line of questioning as to why we didn’t have a contingency clause. Ever since that conversation, that large rock has returned to my stomach.

I find myself praying for less. It is such a weird concept in this world of constant needs and consumption. Lord, please take this portion, as I want to live with less stuff and more You!

To combat my brain going into overload, I’ve decided to pray the offices. It’s Catholic (sigh), but I do think it will help me reroute my thoughts/anxiety/energy. I divided the clock into quarters (0000-0300, 0300-0600, 0600-0900, 0900-1200, etc.) During these blocks of time, if I am awake, I will stop and pray. It will be for my house to sell at a reasonable price, and quickly. For my friends who are struggling with loss of a spouse, loss of dreams with spouse. Praise for a blog friend who’s years of prayer came to fruition this past weekend via a diamond solitare. Praise that I will keep going and serving where the Lord leads regardless of my real estate portfolio, debt to income ratio, and earthly needs/wants. In the meantime, I am on a spending freeze.

I need to have faith that He will provide. I just wish He could show me how it ends, I hate not knowing.

Is it going to be alright?

Writing Challenge Day 20: Put your music player on shuffle and write the first 3 songs that play and what your initial thought is

Battle of Evermore – Led Zeppelin
While I had been a longtime listener of Led Zeppelin, I didn’t hear this song until college. It came to me during the worst depression phase of my life. It was such a comforting melody, it instantly calmed me down. It was also a staple on my playlist when I was an intern: I would listen to it as the sun rose while driving down a lonely interstate.

Across the Universe – The Beatles
As a Beatles fan for as long as I can remember, I didn’t appreciate this song until I was older. It was another song of comfort with its gentle tempo and cryptic lyrics of a wayward writer. I can relate to this song well.

Sandstorm – Darude
I love techno music. This was a big mainstream hit in the late 90’s. I’m a sucker for anything with a good beat and this song delivered. It was great for running with its high energy.

April: Live with Confidence

One of the perks of living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is that you second guess EVERYTHING. Whether I am buying a house, a pair of socks, treating a patient, or making a life altering decision, my brain whispers, “Are you sure? What if you’re wrong? What if the exact opposite is true/better? How will you know? You need to think/pray/freak out more about this.” I am paralyzed by indecision and worry that my choice is wrong, either fundamentally or factually.

This month is going to require some confidence.

Heck, my entire life could use some confidence.

I’m closing on my 3rd house this month.  Yup – for those of you keeping score at home – I have owned more houses than cars (3:1). I have decisions to make about paint, decor, and where the silverware drawer is going to be in the kitchen. I have cleaning projects, landscape projects, and painting projects all lined up; most of them will be put on hold until I can unload my current property to conserve money. This is my new home, I have to own it and the decisions that come with it.

The loved one with an alcohol addiction combined with a new house that I’m 85% sure I like has been a bit more than I expected to be dealing with at this point. Nonetheless, the Lord shall provide.

I found this book about making decisions with a Christian-centric mindset, and it was like a breath of fresh air for me.  The basic principle was, “What does God think about non-moral decisions? How do I know God’s will for my life?” Mr. DeYoung proposes just to do something, much akin to throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it will stick – the fleeces we depend on are more out of our culture than the Bible. The Bible has much to say about living, but does not specifically address major life decisions such as, should I marry this person?  Should I buy this car? Obviously, seeking the Lord in all things, but sometimes He doesn’t give a clear answer. And so we act. The Lord will provide.

What does living with confidence look like? I’m not sure yet.

I need to pray about that some more.