December 31, 2019. We are home owners. The family was seeing some awesome things happen, I’d just gotten a full time job, and it looked like things were going to be awesome. We celebrated New Year’s Eve and started January with bright eyes and bushy tails.
February 2020. It seemed that nothing was right. Family life was tiring- the kiddo’s disabilities made me feel like a failure as a mother. Mom-in-law had moved in and it wasn’t a good fit for her, so she moved out. The Husband was frustrated with MIL moving out. The new job, though I loved it, wasn’t exactly the dreamiest of dreams. I was doing my best, though it felt like I was putting out fires everywhere. My social life was suffering. Little did I know.
Friday, March 13, 2020. We were in lock-down. My job was furloughed, and over before it could even begin. It was deflating to find out that I received more money on Unemployment than working my full-time job. At first, I was freaked out by the isolation. Me, the hubby, the kid- all very extroverted. We were always out and about. Being at home, spending quality time with one another was really good for us. And we were saving more money by not going out all the time. Little did I know how much we would need it.
April-May 2020. I started using my free time, reading recipe books and watching YouTube videos on how to cook. I learned how to cook. I roasted lots of chickens. I even learned what spatch-cocking was. Before this time, the husband was responsible for the cooking. Then I took on the responsibility. And I cook very well now. It’s the clean up that’s now the struggle.
June-July-August 2020. Lots of virtual meet ups with friends and family. My Kiddo turned 2 Years Old! Lots of Zoom Birthday Celebrations. I was “officially” fired from my job two days before we were supposed to be brought back on. Grief. Relief. Lots of depression.
September-October-November-December 2020. I started a small pod. Wrangling toddlers. Birthday for the Hubby. 8 Year Anniversary. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas.
January-February 2021. Just terrible things happening in the world. Rays of hope: Biden & Harris are the new leaders for America. Texas gets a little snow. The kiddo plays in snow. Texas Blizzard aka SnowVid2021. More Quarantine. More Cooking Food.
March-April-May 2021. Weather changes. Beginning to burn out with teaching. CoVid scare in the pod. Me and the husband get tested and vaccinated as soon as we possibly could. J&J- one and done. Symptoms were headache, fever, and muscles soreness which lasted for a day and a half for me, and only a day for the husband. The site of the shot was sore for a full week for me, the husband didn’t notice it too much.
June-July 2021. Finally socializing again! Lots of Camping. Beach! So Many Birthday Parties! Kiddo turns 3 Years Old!
August 2021. Delta Variant shuts down plans. Another CoVid exposure. Depression. Anger. Grief. Frustration. Toddler Pod Ends. I am toast.
August 31, 2021. Things are awful, great, weird, tiring, full, and just a spaghetti jumble of feelings and thoughts. So I’m going to blog again to make sense of this hot mess. It may not stick because I just flit here and there, and we’re in a pandemic. September is coming. Let’s do this.
Today is father’s day, and there is an emptiness inside that is so deep, you could build a pool, and swim in the sorrow of it. I don’t know if it gets any easier or if you just get used to the sadness. I miss him very much. But this post is not about him.
My aunt passed away in May on Memorial Day, and I went back to my hometown to be with my family for an extended amount of time. It was tough, but it was good to be with family. To see them again, and to be reunited. It’s a bit sad that there is so much distance between us, but when we are together, it’s quite nice. There are cousins, and their children, and other relatives that I don’t ever see, and even though they are my blood relatives, I am so disconnected from them. But being back with them again, well, I hope to reconnect. At least send yearly Christmas cards or something. We did grow up together, at least, a little bit.
Most of our parents, well, they didn’t really know us, or try to know us. They were not our friends or our confidants. They showed us tough love, and worked all the time to give us better opportunities than they had.
My aunt’s passing was the first funeral I’ve been to since my father’s death. And it’s the first matron death on my mother’s side. And it hurts. We make such a big fuss over the death of our fathers and mothers, but what about siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins? I don’t want to even think about it, but I know it will hurt. Sometimes death can be expected, but other times, it comes as a shock. My aunt’s health had been on the decline, and she seemed to go peacefully in her sleep. But she was still young, and it is strange that a woman so fierce in life should be taken so soon. I will miss her, and I will always remember her as a fighter, a risk taker, a go getter, loud, proud, stubborn, fearless, and beautiful.
During spring break, I spent a day with my friend Sarah. We’d gone to breakfast, and decided to get out of town for the rest of the day, and we went to Pedernales Falls State Park, in Johnson City, TX. It was my first time at a Texas State Park, but it won’t be my last.
I really needed to get out of town for a while and have some reflection in the great outdoors.
There were trees and deer, all kinds of plants and birds, and rivers and I felt like Henry David Thoreau:
I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life! To put to wrought all that was not life, and not, when I came to die, discover I had not lived.
We had an adventure, crossing water, getting our feet punctured by the tiny rocks in the water, almost getting eaten by mountain lions, losing cell phone service and having little to no light, but we managed to make it back safely. And since then, all I can think about is going camping. So, I’m doing something about it.
I’m going to go camping. Tomorrow. It’s not going to be primitive camping, but it’ll be satisfying this call of the wild inside of me. I’m going to hike, and swim, and eat some s’mores, have some weenies and burgers to roast, and spend time with my hubby and my dog. I might write something new, play some new songs, and get a tan. I’m not too far from technology, but I’m going to try to be somewhat electronic free.
In other news, I am also going camping metaphorically. You see, I’ll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ve got two cabin mates already. I already have a project– a script of a play called Scheherazade. It’s about a queer woman of Middle Eastern descent who must tell stories to save her life (and possibly the lives of others). It deals with Islamophobia, refugees, and current political events. It’s actually a collaboration between writers and actors. I’m not the only person writing it, all of the cast has been composing and devising for it. Another writer and myself are forming the script from their writings and devising. The play is set to go up in June… so finishing the script is going to be really important! I’m so ready to get camping. Happy Trails, and I’ll report back in April!
Growing up, my family always had a big party for my sister and my birthdays. Our birthdays are four days apart, and it was always easier to have a big party for the both of us, so I’ve grown accustomed to having big birthday parties. I won’t lie, I’d love to have a big celebration, but I also have one big fear.
What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
I know, it sounds stupid, but it’s a legitimate worry that I have, so I usually try to do several events.
Here are thirty three ideas that I have for birthday events. I’m not going to get to do all of them, but at least there’s a starting point.
So this year, spring break actually took place before spring, but that’s the way the school year is. I had a pretty good spring break. Restful, but also I have this general feeling of being lost in life. Not sure what I’m doing. Feeling a bit purposeless. And yet I’m not too concerned about it. I’m sure that something will shake things up.
The days move on, and suddenly, it’s spring. We move our clocks forward. A new season. With new allergies. I hear the birds chirping, and I hear the sounds of my thirty third birthday calling. I feel old, and I don’t. I am alive. I am well bodied. While the general world may be in chaos, I am not. I am surprisingly well. I am thankful for God bringing me to this place, for my family, and for provision. Though I feel the desire for more in my life, what I have is very good. It is well with my soul.
To living the dream. To moving across the country to be able to pursue that dream. To finding opportunities to use my gifts in acting, singing, dancing, and playing ukulele. To being paid for those artistic endeavors.
To being validated, and seen for who you are, however artistic and strange that may be. To working on projects that don’t make sense and don’t need to make sense.
To working with artists who make an effort to represent diversity in a real way- who open their hearts and share their stories, and make you cry with their pain and laugh with their moments of joy. To being heard loud and clear without speaking a word in English. To singing about the injustice and making the truth known.
To writing something and see that writing from page to stage. To dreaming and seeing that dream continuously deferred, but it finally happening- small and unpretentious, but it took place.
To making an effort to bring life to the small parts in big casts, and to sitting through the long and tiring rehearsals to finally make it to opening night.
To looking forward to the artistic journey you are embarking on and to be excited about the future projects that are awaiting to be seen.
To never giving up on that dream, no matter how many times you get knocked down or are told not to waste their time auditioning because they aren’t looking for your ‘type’. To living the dream you’ve had in you since you were young. To reach for it again and again.
Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and every year, I aspire to become a better version of my current self. I am in dire need of an upgrade, as is my blog. So in honor of this new year of life, I have a list of thrity one-derful (that’s oh-nedder-full) things I want to accomplish by next April.
1. Grow my relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, and worship
2. Run a 10K – this is already in the works, I’m running one April 12th
3. Complete another 365 picture challenge
4. Make and sell some bath bombs, cupcakes, and costumes
5. Write a ten minute play
6. Finish reading the complete works of Jane Austen
7. Get to the 1960’s in my Oscar Winning Movie Watching
8. Write a song on the Ukulele
9. Start a Vlog with my hubby Rob
10. Build a loft for our bed
11. Finish our Wedding Album
12. Find a job that I love
13. Run a 1/2 Marathon
14. Get back into Yoga once a week
15. Get all toxins out of my home and change to homeopathic cleaners
16. Volunteer with food banks or homeless ministries
17. Keep mentoring and focusing on youth and kids
18. Send more letters and gifts to friends and family to let them know I love them
19. Finish Baby Steps 1 & 2 of Dave Ramsey FPU.
20. Make it a ritual to Skype with my family every Sunday
21. Get a new stamp in my passport
22. Host a Wine and Cheese Party
23. Go swimming at Barton Springs
24. Get BBQ at Franklin’s
25. Go hiking at least once a month
26. Get back into Bouldering and Rock Climbing
27. Volunteer at a Horse Ranch and Ride
28. Reread and Own Madeleine L’engle’s Wrinkle in Time Series
29. Start and Finish Madeleine L’engle’s Meet The Austin Series
30. Get a massage for each season, spring, summer, winter, and fall
31. Begin to train for a marathon
Last weekend, my church had a women’s retreat, and that first night was a little rough. I had carpooled with friends, and the trip was good, though we were stuck in traffic for a while, we made it there. But because we’d arrived right when it started, we were all split up, sitting nowhere near one another. It was crowded, and I was now distracted by my thoughts of how my word count for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) would be effected, so I wasn’t able to put all of my heart into the worship. My mind was scattered in many directions, and to make it worse, they announced that the “hotel” that I signed up to stay in wasn’t quite a hotel, but it was “special.” All of my complaints started to burst through my seams, but I held it together, and tried to listen to the first speaker, Tina Miranda.
It was on condemnation vs. conviction, and to be honest, I was not paying attention well. The seats were cramped. I was uncomfortable and squirmy. My foot fell asleep, and all around I kept trying different sitting positions to try to improve my circulation. However, I did manage to focus on one thing, and part of it is because I was so distracted that I just started drawing a cartoon elephant that was in the powerpoint presentation. Tina told a story of how in India, baby elephants would be roped up tightly, and on finding that they could not escape, they accepted that they would never be able to escape. By the time they were adults, even though they were much stronger than the bonds that held them, they stayed captive. It didn’t hit me until after the retreat was over, but I have accepted a lot of lies that have kept me in bondage since I was young, and I’m only now beginning to break free of them. We broke into small groups and it was loud and noisy. I could barely hear what anyone else was saying in my group above all the noise. And at that point, I was reluctant to say a lot because I didn’t know these women, and I didn’t know how much to share with them.
So then, the time comes for us to go to the cabins. Whoopee, I get to stay in the “special” cabin, which was farther off than any of the cabins or hotel rooms. Luckily, I had a few friends walk me to the “special” zone, or the Ranch House, as it was called at the camp site. And as I entered in, my insecurities began to well up inside of me. The friends I had carpooled with, and all of the ladies in the community group I go to, were all staying in the cabins. Since I am an introverted extrovert, I signed up for the hotel, knowing I’d be surrounded by people all weekend. While I do love being around people, I do not like a whole lot of noise when I’m trying to sleep. You can ask my upstairs and downstairs neighbors, who have gotten visits from my more rational and understanding husband, asking them to quiet down because his wife would throw a fit if they didn’t. Anyway, back to the special zone. The entry was decorated with a lot of weird paintings, like The Weenie Man. There were others, but none as weird as this. A little frightening, if you ask me.
There were three different rooms and the hallway to bunk in. I chose the room in the back where all the bathrooms were. I have a tiny bladder, so I knew I’d probably have to make frequent trips. Another advantage was that there were only three beds, so there would be less people that would be noisy at night. The downside was that if anyone else had to use the bathroom, they’d have to come in to do their business.
But the pros outweighed the cons, and there only ended up being two of us in the room. Another awesome woman, Kiesha, who is a personal trainer, and I ended up falling asleep on the earlier side. While things were a bit noisier in the other rooms, with the bathroom fans on, it drowned out some of the talking and laughing.
In the morning, we both woke up and got ready. I got all my things packed up into my book bag and my purse, and then I headed out, on my own. I was feeling a little bit lonely at this point. I hadn’t really gotten into any deep conversations with anyone. I really didn’t make any new friends, which made me feel bad about myself .
So I climb up onto this water slide that’s closed up, and I look at the view, and I am in wonder of God’s creation. I open my Bible App on my phone, and I open to wherever. It happens to be 1Thessalonians 5. I read and I pray and I begin to thank God instead of complaining and throwing a pity party for myself. After that, I headed to breakfast, and then headed over to the morning sessions.
The next three sessions kinda blasted me. Jamie Chapman spoke on Control and how the roots of it were Fear and Pride. She used Moses’s Song from Exodus 15:2 and the Lord’s Song from Zephaniah 3:17, and made us sing out loud. Little did I know that the woman who was leading my small group would be speaking next. Shiela Chopin was preaching about Complaint. I was so engaged in her bringing the word and keeping it real when she spoke about Moses and David dealing with the people’s constant complaints, that I actually forgot to take notes, which I now regret. Luckily she provided an outline. She spoke of walking in God’s Spirit, and “getting fat” in the word because if we are full of God’s word, then there is no room for complaint. And she left us with an awesome and powerful prayer.
After that, we broke into small groups. Our group went outside, and I was much more inclined to share, especially with the woman who had just blasted my heart with conviction about all of my complaining. I was so glad to get to know these ladies, and the discussion with them really blessed me.
After small groups, I was one hundred percent ready to receive the last session from Adele Douglin, and it was about Comparison. This is one of the areas that I struggle with A LOT. She gave examples in the Bible: Cain and Able, Leah and Rachel, Mary and Martha, and as a little sister with a “perfect” older sister, comparison has been following me around my whole life. When she talked about Antidotes to Comparison, I was hit strongly, and I’ll share them:
Speak God’s Promises Into Your Life
Compliment Sisters and Learn from Them
Take a Break from Social Media
Let Friends Know that Comparison has No Room in Your Life
REDIRECTING CONVERSATIONS TO SPEAK WELL OF ONE ANOTHER
We finished out with worship and lunch afterwards, and I couldn’t believe the difference in my attitude form the night before to the afternoon. I left encouraged and excited about what God is going to be doing in my life. I know that becoming a diamond from a lump of coal isn’t going to be easy, but I know that in the end, all of the pressure and pain in this life is going to result in something beautiful.