Tis the season

This time of year stirs up feelings of joy, togetherness, generosity, and hope. Hope for a new year, a new way of doing things, a better version of oneself. Hope for better, more functional relationships, and of course, stronger thighs and tighter abs. This time of year also draws out all the ugly we repressed for the last 300+ days. Feelings of sadness, loneliness, grief, trauma, pain, addiction. I don’t know if it’s the placement of the moon, the winter solstice or all of the subliminal holiday messages of happy families flush with cash. Whatever the trigger, we all find ourselves in one or more of these emotions, states of being. Maybe we are reminded of those we lost – an empty chair at Christmas dinner, the movie we used to always watch with that person, the first Christmas ornaments that never were. Wherever you fall on this spectrum this holiday season, know you are seen, you are loved. You are better today than yesterday, and if you just raged on someone at Target for taking the last * insert whatever it was here * – good news! You can start fresh tomorrow. 

I say this every year, but if you know someone who goes to a dark place over the holidays – reach out. Leave a gift, a card on their doorstep, hug them in the grocery store, cry with them if they need it…notice them and their pain. You don’t have to make a big deal about it or go overboard. If they don’t want to cry, that’s OK too (they’re probably closet or shower criers – let them have that). The simple act of showing them love, letting them know you remember their hurts and their broken pieces, it means more than you know. If you don’t know what to say, it’s also OK to say, “I don’t know what to say.” It’s so much better than the awkward pause or disingenuous gestures.

Christmas in and of itself is JOY and HOPE – it’s also a call to be these things to others! Pay it forward, show kindness to strangers, give of yourself. As you sit down with family or friends (or dogs and cats) this Holiday – stop and breathe. Notice those people, in that space and show gratitude for however they showed up. Notice the breath in your lungs and what a privilege it is to share space and life with others. To share highs and lows, disagreements and redemptive resolution. This day represents promises kept, selflessness given, and the everlasting promise of eternity.  

Happiest Holidays to you and yours! Wishing you peace, joy, hope and continued growth in 2020!

The house we live in

Big change tends to stir up those things we repress. It draws out any ugliness we try to cover with the “New” thing or the “New” experience. I guess the real adventure is embracing every part of the process – not just the shiny newness, but all the brokenness that brought you there in the first place. Since we moved I have been a lost and found box of emotion. I have tried detaching, scare tactics, distraction, numbing, close up magic (just kidding) – none of it works. At the end of the day I look like an out of control emotional crazy person, and basically, I am.

Over the last six or so months I have been a little obsessed with personalities. There is a part of me that always wants | needs to know the “whys” of things. Why things happen, why two people can look at the same situation and come to separate conclusions…etc. Back in September a friend introduced me to the Enneagram (read: diagnosed me). The nerdy researcher in me began reading everything and anything I could get my hands on. It’s an absolutely fascinating concept, and dare I say, spot on. I am familiar with various other methods of personality typing, but this one described me perfectly, to the point where I may have had a small identity crisis. If you aren’t familiar, and are willing to see yourself in the best and worst sense, I would encourage you to check it out.

On my quest to gain a better understanding, I realized my biggest enemy, other than grief, is stress. When I am stressed I either get very sick or basically turn into a monster. I could be a monster to those closest to me, those within a 3 to 5,000 mile radius, or just to myself. I researched introvertedness, logical | critical thinking, sensing, feeling, judging; all the ways we as humans emotionally react to any given situation. I am incredibly hard on myself, the expectations I chase are more often than not impossible to catch. When I disappoint myself I take it out on others. When I am angry or lonely or sad or frustrated, but cannot put words or emotion to it – I project. It is a vicious cycle, one I am desperately attempting to correct. Stress inspires a way of acting/reacting that gives me visions of what I would have been like as a cavewoman – absolutely terrifying. If this were a sitcom we would flash to a scene: me in torn clothes, feeding on raw meat, blood trickling down my face, dirt smeared skin, and grunts and growls being my only form of communication. It also gives me an appreciation – like a deep tear inducing appreciation – for friends and family who love me in spite of my gnashing of teeth and/or disappearing acts.

Who we are and why we are those people is an important study. I was insulted at first by my personality typing and I was incredibly unkind to myself as a result. I am thankful for so many of the things that make me, me – but there are scary parts – there is a wildness that needs – not taming so much as love…self love. I read a quote the other day that basically said – the words you say to yourself, become the house you live in. Throat.Punch. The house I live in is weighed down by words of frustration, sadness, and weariness. Words of joy and gratefulness are certainly scattered in there – but self reflection is no joke. I need to strengthen my walls with encouragement, lower my expectations, accept my lack of control. I need to stop withholding grace – be OK with time: time for growth and healing.

I have been horrible at balancing life this last month. I have been difficult, cold, and ambivalent. Here’s to embracing all the messy broken parts – accepting responsibility and owning the process. Part of showing myself grace, is also a practice in showing it to others, better than I have in the past. Recognizing we are all works in progress – and the only way we can do this life is together is by simply loving ourselves and one another. Love has no expectations or pro and con lists; it is kindness, it is grace. And when we do a crappy job, which we ultimately will, love is owning that failure and trying again, over and over and over.

snow

Music | Snow by Sleeping At Last

The branches have traded their leaves for white sleeves
All warm-bodied creatures make ghosts as they breath
Scarves are wrapped tightly like gifts under trees
Christmas lights tangle in knots annually

Our families huddle closely
Betting warmth against the cold
But our bruises seem to surface
Like mud beneath the snow

So we sing carols softly, as sweet as we know
A prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
Like young love still waiting under mistletoe
We’ll welcome December with tireless hope

Let our bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
May the melody disarm us
When the cracks begin to show

Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts

The table is set and our glasses are full
Though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole
We’ll build new traditions in place of the old
’cause life without revision will silence our souls

So let the bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
May the melody disarm us
When the cracks begin to show

Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts

As gentle as feathers, the snow piles high
Our world gets rewritten and retraced every time
Like fresh plates and clean slates, our future is white
New Year’s resolutions will reset tonight

 

 

dichotomy of life and death

The honest truth. This is what we strive for – honesty to self, to each other and to those trying to support us. So – honestly – we are still in that season of silence and now a season of frustration. There are no shaking fists while sobbing “why me…” it’s more a state of being. It seems every week we are told – “we are pregnant.” I did not include an object of exclamation there deliberately. That is how it hits us – heavy, to the point and straight to the gut. It is not the actual joy these people feel that pisses us off, it is the reminder, the one we don’t need, that our daughter is not here. We are reminded every single day and these announcements tend to render us helpless. A pregnancy here and there would be somewhat bearable, but when 75% or more of your friends have recently discovered they are having a healthy baby, it makes the need, the want, the desire for isolation intense. There are no words or comparisons we can make to help you understand – we can only ask for your continued patience and grace.

I have never been a fake person or one to say the opposite of what I mean. In this instance, in terms of my own grief and need to process, I don’t intend to start. I know it is out of everyone’s comfort zone to let us be. You don’t know what to say, you don’t want to say the wrong thing, you don’t want to smother us and you most of all don’t want to make this worse. So please understand – It is not personal. It is survival. These feelings – they are unnatural to the soul – we have spaces in our heads and hearts for the feelings that daily life brings. But this – this anger, this sadness, this rejection of reality – where do you put that? There is no designated space. There is no allotted time frame where you can tell me it gets easier. I don’t want to hear time heals wounds because whether or not that is true – right now – our nearest and dearest relationships are changing. It is out of our control, it is painful, it is another form of unexpected loss.

In this – this honesty – we attempt to avoid self deprecation or self delusion.The only thing we ask in return is for understanding – for little to no expectation of how we should be. To realize, although we laugh and smile – bravery and courage never replace pain. We cannot be expected to react as a best friend would to a joyful announcement or invitation. We are not capable…at this time. Some day – we surely hope for that.

Intention

We do not have the luxury to define how life prevails us. We can only choose our intent under it’s weight.

 

It is easy to exist – to be owned by fear, sadness or anger. It can be the most exhausting of things to take the weight of emotion and redirect it into purpose. A common narrative in our culture is that doing life selflessly is most difficult and inconvenient. There is such focus on how any given thing will impact you….you….you…it’s everywhere. What if the narrative was about sharing? Sharing in joys, successes, the honest to goodness soul crushing moments? Can you imagine how rich and vibrant “existing” could be?

 

The heaviness of life has not lifted – it spins and curls in every attempt to make a permanent home here. Our efforts to find normalcy get trapped under our need to process. Our need to process gets trapped under our fear of feeling. Our fear of feeling is the greatest of fears. It can be small things – choosing a different line at the grocery store because we see an infant seat…skipping a meeting because someone brings their child to work…walking away from a conversation riddled with the joys of parenthood. Every moment is owned, whether a milestone or failure. Every moment is a part of this perpetual process. Our intent is to keep moving; to be productive, not just dwell on the bad. In the moving and the smiling and the social experiments, there are moments where sitting in silence is necessary. It could be an evening, a week, a month… It is whatever it needs to be. The walls we build in our silence can be temporary or permanent, it’s up to us to fight against permanence. Instinct can rule our action, it cannot rule the intention of our heart. We remain vigil to our intent.

 

We are in a season of silence. We may not be reaching out to family and friends often, but we are good. We are busy with the day to day – allowing ourselves to get lost in work and projects. We are aware, we are present in this season to not let it become the norm, but this is where we need to function right now. We look forward to a season where silence is not the theme but this one feels right. We are surrounded near and far by the most gracious family and friends. The consistent contact, in all its forms, is so dear. We appreciate it even if we do not respond.

 
In other news we have had record breaking heat – the highest so far has been 106! It’s hot, yes, but honestly, it’s really not that bad. It certainly makes Idahoians grumpy, but we would take this any day over humidity and mosquitos. Our sweet friends let us borrow their kayaks last weekend – here are some shots from beautiful Lake Pond Orielle

Mick

old door | new door – house update

There are many things about our house we hope to change in the coming years. There a few items on that list we hope to start this summer. For those things further down the list – we are doing temporary fixes. The first being our front door. We are both fairly picky about the style we want. I am a huge fan of natural light and the front of our house receives a lot in the afternoons. What I’m NOT a big fan of is answering the door. Ever. [unless I know you’re coming over.] I generally hide and refuse to open it. This causes a slight issue – preferably a solid door with a peep hole – one that zooms in and out like a scope would be perfect for my stranger danger issues. However, that’s not cute and it cancels out quite a bit of natural light. I can make the sacrifice for the right door – but I have a feeling that only ups the price tag.

SO in the meantime I needed a change – a temporary fix. We wanted to bring out the personality of our house, make a statement in a generally drab neighborhood. We also wanted to continue the theme of happy. Some virtual friends introduced me to a new line of paint by Clark and Kensington – sold at Ace, the helpful hardware place [you have no idea how many times I hear that jingle in my house…I take that back, if you know Mick and his magnetism to cheesy commercials, then you have some idea.] Anyways, Clark and Kensington collaborated with OPI – yes, Ladies – the very OPI you put on your finger nails. After obsessively texting a friend color sample after color sample, Mick and I decided to hit up Ace [the helpful hardware place] and chose a color on a whim. I made Mick do the ordering, I will take any opportunity to laugh. I watched him confidently and seriously order a can of Modern Girl while the young man behind the counter stared at him. It was sick and hilarious and mean but it made my day.

The paint color is perfect, however, it did take almost five coats to apply which was super frustrating. We were hoping to do our basement door as well but I think we need to wait the appropriate time until we forget how frustrated we were.

BEFORE – whomp whomp

before

AFTER – we also decided to do the trim on one window to see how we liked it…and we do.

after

Then we scored some awesome rugs on clearance at Target – big day!

rugs

The end…

Old Kinderhooks

When people don’t know what to say – they ask, “how are you?” The struggle to answer is in deciding – do they really want to know or are they being polite? Then…how do I put it into words?

I don’t know how to answer. I know what I think, but words in the head are like voices underwater. They are distorted. Jeanette Winterson

Yes – that sums it up.

We are OK**. That is the simplest response. We have horrible days, we have easy days – we exist in survival mode and that, in and of itself, is both sad and a success. Everyone wants to know how we are really doing because in their minds, there is no comprehension of how one functions in this space. A lot of that stems from having a family and their attempts to metaphorically wear our shoes. The idea is impossible. Well, so is each day, but we do it. Some of those days are filled with bright moments, belly laughs and what feels like normalcy. Other days we struggle to make it through and the world throws cruel twists and turns. But, we are OK.

Keep praying for us. Keep sending sweet notes and silly text messages. Leave us voicemails or send a positive thought our way. We appreciate every sentiment no matter its grandeur. We are not crumbling under the weight of Birdie. We have not been consumed by the grief. We are still Mick and Misie. If we had an online profile it would look the same – we enjoy a good bottle of gin, a good belly laugh and making fun of each other. If you saw us we would look and sound the same, however, our minds and hearts feel greater depths and at times function inside those depths. Don’t waste time worrying about us or grieving our hearts. Use that energy to love those around you and fight for your purpose.

An aside:

I have been tentative to write. I was caught off guard by the response to my previous post. It was not my intention to come across boastful or as if I wanted praise for our decision to donate breast milk. I am not sure why I was uncomfortable with your kindness, it was unexpected and not what I sought. I do not see myself as brave in doing so, to me, it was a logical step. I do appreciate your kind words, however, it has nothing to do with me. None of this is about Mick or I – it’s all about Birdie. It’s about her life and how it can encourage, inspire and bring perspective. She inspires everything we do. everything.

**Old Kinderhook club – history behind the phrase O.K. as told in my favorite movie Silver Linings Playbook – not historically factual, but, I like it, and not just because Bradley Cooper said it.