Our house came with a really awesome metal gazebo thing on the back deck. It had a cover, and when it ripped we replaced it. Then it ripped again, we replaced it again. That one ripped… I think we are on our 4th cover, but we are crossing our fingers that this one will last a little longer. Our backyard is in a wind tunnel so it gets some rough treatment. We shall see.
All this to say that one of my favorite spots at this house is on that back deck, under the gazebo. Since we put up a new cover I’ve been spending every morning out there. Piper loves it because she can play with her ball while I read my Bible and drink my skinny coffee and chocolate greens. Today was no different than any other day, except that when I first walked out I noticed it was sprinkling a little. No worries, right? What’s a little sprinkle when you are under a canopy? But within a few minutes it had turned into a downpour. Even Piper was unwilling to stay out in that mess and she quickly led me to the door to go back inside.
I am finding lately that I can handle a little change in plans. I can’t remember the last time I had a panic attack, and I know that’s a miracle. I can’t take any credit for that because all I’ve done is lean into God’s arms and let Him change me from the inside out.
Rather than be upset about having to go inside, I was okay with the change. And it turned out even better, because my son happened to come downstairs for breakfast and we ended up just sitting and talking. He’s really great to spend time with when he’s not being an energetic spaz, and I’m sure to tell him that (wink wink). We ended our little impromptu time together with some Xbox Kinect fitness game. He beat me on all the challenges except for the last one. Mom’s gotta win sometimes, right?
There’s a moral somewhere in this mundane story. I think the lesson is that sometimes our plans don’t work out, but when they don’t, we need to be on the lookout for the positive, the silver lining. If I had not been forced back inside the house, I would have missed that opportunity to spend that quality time with my son. So sometimes failed plans open us up to better opportunities. But we must be open to seeing them. So there. Stick that in your back pocket. It may come in handy some day.
From Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird”, “Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic – jealousy especially so – but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it then to spend a lifetime being silently poisoned.”
This excerpt from the book really resonated with me, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not about jealousy really, but the slimy and pathetic stuff. This is personal, so bear with me. It’s kind of like ripping off a band-aid to find your wound is still all oozy and gross.
I am a sort of passive-aggressive person. I tend to walk around with my issues held close to my chest, with a smile on my face so nobody will know anything is bothering me. The problem comes when the issues start festering, and it’s hard to contain the angst. It starts spilling out here and there, like when you’re eating popcorn and you think you’re getting it all in your mouth only to find out later you have some stuck in your cowlneck sweater (not that that’s ever happened to me, *wink wink*). No, you can’t hide or ignore your issues. Especially with your family. They live with you, they know you best. They know something’s up.
So lately I’ve been walking around with this resentment in my heart. Ugly, nasty resentment aimed indirectly at my dear, loving, hardworking husband. And it seeps out in nasty ways when tensions are high, or the kids are being more challenging than usual. I just get grumpy and mean and downright nasty. So at church last Sunday I had some extra time to sit and really pray about this. I told God what I was feeling, as if He didn’t already know, and asked Him to help me let it go. I seriously struggle with the letting go. I asked a couple friends to also pray that God would help me let go of this ugliness I was clinging to.
I left church that morning still feeling rather conflicted and icky but I had hope that God would come through on my request, eventually. I had no idea how quickly He would answer my prayer! I went to a baby shower that afternoon and had a conversation with a woman I had not seen in years, and while we talked she was expressing some of the same things my husband has and yet I wasn’t judging her for it the way I had with my husband. The realization came fast and clear, and that’s when something opened up in my heart and I felt like the Grinch when his heart grew bigger. I went home that evening and confessed to my husband why I had been such a grump lately and why I had been so cold towards him on so many occasions. I told him I knew how hard he worked to be the best dad and husband he could be, and that I appreciated it and I was working at becoming more grateful. Guess what? He didn’t look at me with contempt and tell me I could sleep on the couch from now on. Nope. He looked at me with a look of understanding and love and he reached out to hold my hand. Because that’s what marriage is. For better or worse, always.
So, my friends, I share this because I want to encourage you to be brave enough to be humble and gracious, and don’t make friends with your grudges. Call them out for what they are: ugly pieces of garbage. Just let them go. And if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, let Him handle it. It’s kind of His specialty.
It’s been that kind of week. I’ve been confused about the day all week. But, all for good reason. None of it is because I’m drunk, so I’ve got that going for me. Not being drunk is always a plus.
But also, I’ve just had a lot of great things going on! My son’s baseball season is in full swing (excuse my accidental pun), I was able to visit with several really great friends this past week, and the weather is warming up so we leave the doors and windows open and the breeze and the birds chirping is it’s own kind of intoxicating. Let me just note here how truly grateful I am to be able to hear those things, the breeze and the birds. Cochlear implants for the win.
My son had some friends over for a sleepover last night to celebrate his birthday (he’s 12!!) and that was fun and not terribly crazy. He has some really great friends. It’s funny to think back on previous year’s birthday parties and how much anxiety I felt leading up to each one. Overwhelming anxiety. This time? None. Zilch. Nada. And I don’t know if that’s because the kids are older or if I’m in a better state of mental health but I suspect it’s a bit of both. I know it’s a lot of the latter though, because I can’t even remember the last time I had an anxiety attack. And that there is another reason to be grateful.
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. Tons. It might not seem like it because it doesn’t always make it here on the blog but my mind is constantly in a state of gathering ideas and formulating posts in my head. I just finished a book about writing by Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, and I’m convinced now more than ever that deep down, I am A Writer. It’s what I long to do, nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I wake up and think, “what did I just dream about? I could write about it.” I want to keep writing, whether anyone is reading or not, because maybe one day I will write something that touches someone in a good way and makes their life a little better than the day before. I can only hope.
So. Today is Saturday. Most of the day has been extremely relaxing. A lot of cleaning up from the slumber party and then just your regular putzing around. I took a wicked nap, ended abruptly by the dog barking her head off when hubby came home from an afternoon at the shooting range. I’m pretty sure I jumped a couple feet straight up from the bed.
I did go for a run yesterday with a friend, but my knee started hurting in the 3rd mile, so I know I still have some healing to do from when I messed it up a week or so ago. I’m pretty confident it’s IT Band Syndrome, but I think it might be a good idea to see a sports therapist to check it out and give me some pointers on my running form. Also, I need more strength training if I’m really going to do this half marathon without damaging myself, so I’m looking at getting back to CrossFit. I had sort of slithered out of going a few months ago so I’m in contact with the trainer to see if she’ll forgive me for going dark on her and let me come back.
Tomorrow is Sunday! Back to church, and this week we’re working in the kids’ church so I get to play with the little ones. I miss hearing the sermons but I do love the babies. I can never understand what they are saying but a couple of them know some basic ASL so that helps a lot.
I was going to sign off but then I was looking through my pictures and see that so much happened and I totally forgot to blog about it! Like the Walk MS, and maybe other things. I’ll get to it. Pinky promise. Let’s talk again soon.
So I’ve been making some pretty casual prayers for the last couple months about wanting direction from God, where does He want to use me, that kind of thing. But then this past week I made a much more intentional prayer, telling Him I really had a strong desire to be an encouragement to other people and to share with them how I got through such rough times, with God’s help, and how they can too. So I told Him that’s what I was feeling, and asked that He show me where He wants me, where He can use me for His glory. How can I be an encouragement to others when I’m “stuck” here at home most days?
Then I was at my weekly Bible study on Wednesday morning and the leader of the program approached me and asked if I would consider being a group leader next year. What?! I mean, YES! She said I should go home and pray about it, but I explained to her what I had already been praying for, and that this sounded like it was the answer to my prayer. And God is just so cool like that. She and I talked again today, more in depth about what the responsibility entails, and I have to say I’m even more excited. This is going to open up so many more opportunities to build relationships with other women and I get to share my heart, my Jesus, with them.
So that’s going on, and I’m super geeked. Also, I’m still committed to working this ItWorks business even through some bumpy starts. I was replenishing some of my own products and ordering some advertising bling (blender bottle, new purse) and they sent me the wrong stuff and duplicate items and I was tempted to regret the whole decision to be a distributor. BUT, it gave me a chance to interact with their customer service, which was mostly awesome and extremely helpful. And while I’ll never be the gung-ho marketer trying to get you to buy stuff you don’t need, I think this is gonna work. Because I truly love all the products I’ve tried and I’ll be honest and open with anyone who shows interest. So when people come to me with questions – which they have! – I’m happy to point them in my direction. As in – wait for it, here’s my shameless plug – “You can check out my website at stillmindy.itworks.com! Some of my favorites are the Chocolate Greens and the Keto Energy. And I’m a huge fan of the loyal customer program!” – End of shameless plug, moving on…
The other thing I’m excited about is tomorrow I’m running another 5k race! It’s the Mason 5k, and this was my first ever race back in 2016. My son has run it with me every year, but this year he has a baseball tournament so I’m on my own this time. No worries! My friend Staci, who I believe has also run this race every year with me, is joining me again. So fun to run with friends. My 5k PR is 38:34 and I would like to beat that, but given the knee pain I’ve been having, I’m not sure if that’s realistic. I learned the other day that runners over 40 are called “masters athletes”, and that we need longer recovery times, which I haven’t been exactly doing, so I may have screwed my chances by pushing too hard. I’m just going to try and have fun and do my best.
And that, my friends, is your Thursday recap. Hug someone today!
I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure where to start with this post. I had a lot of thoughts running through my head throughout the race and these couple days following.
I’ll start by setting the stage for this 10k race. It was cold and rainy, and by the end, snowy. Michigan weather at its finest. We had been watching the forecast so we knew what we were getting into, and none of us were swayed. We were committed to completing this race, no matter the weather.
I should back up. By “we” I mean myself, a friend from church, and two other friends of hers. So you could say this was kind of out of my comfort zone. I had asked Chris, my church friend, if I could tag along because it was an all female race, and it looked like a lot of fun. It was out of town and they already had plans to stay at a hotel the previous night and they welcomed me with open arms. The comradery among runners is incredible. I’m fairly new to running compared to a lot of others, but throughout this whole experience I was never tempted to feel like an outsider.
The race itself started out pretty smoothly. I was feeling strong and confident for the first few miles. However, about halfway through I was noticing my left foot dragging quite a bit. This “foot drop” is one of the symptoms of my MS. Running doesn’t cause new symptoms, but it can aggravate old nerve damage. I have been training for my half marathon this coming fall, and have done plenty of long runs with almost no foot drop, so the fact that it was happening so soon was disheartening. Maybe I was just being more affected because of the excitement and nerves for the race, I don’t know.
My friend Chris had agreed to run with me for the entire race, to be sure I was safe. She did a fabulous job pointing out all the potholes and manhole covers, and steering me away from other obstacles. Throughout the race I did not trip even one time! However, I would not have finished this race without her assistance.
I think it was around the end of mile 4 I was having serious trouble keeping my foot from dragging. I was also experiencing some side and shoulder pain, but I was afraid to slow down and walk. My balance is better when I’m running. Something about the motion, I guess. I have another friend with MS who says the same thing about running. Walking requires a different movement and different nerves, I suppose. I told Chris what I was experiencing and she urged me to walk to give my body a rest, and use her arm for balance. At this point I was pretty discouraged and frustrated with what was going on with my body. I had not expected this to happen so soon. When Chris explained to me that my pace at the beginning of the race was much faster than I had been training at, it all made sense. I had been training between a 14 and 15 minute mile, but I had been running closer to 12! So clearly I had made a mistake, and I was paying the consequences.
I tell myself I don’t care about times and personal records, but that’s a big fat lie. I do care. I am always competing with myself, and I feel a great sense of pride when I am able to see my pace improve. The problem is, I want it to happen sooner than is realistic. So now thanks to my prideful denial of my physical abilities, I hobbled the last two miles of the race mostly hanging for dear life on Chris’ arm. I felt ashamed, defeated. My ugly pride had taken a hit. I started off too fast and it hurt me in the end. This felt a lot like failure, because I feel like I should have known better.
But listen – this was NOT failure. I finished the race! And with a PR to boot! So I made it more challenging for myself by starting too fast, and I had to lean on a friend to accomplish my goal of finishing. So what? Can we all agree there’s nothing wrong with that? We all have challenges in our lives, and very often we have to lean on our friends for help. Friendships enrich our lives, make us stronger, make us better. This is good!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
There was a point in the race that I was feeling particularly angry. Not angry at myself, but angry at the multiple sclerosis that makes things so difficult. On most days I am able to function like a normal person and can almost forget I have this affliction. But then you run 6.2 miles and you are reminded. And that sucks, Big Time. So yes, I was angry. But then I was reminded that I hated running for most of my life. I didn’t start running until 2015, six years after I was diagnosed with MS. I run because I have MS. To show myself and others that it’s possible. MS doesn’t have to mean life in a wheelchair. This is what I believed when they first diagnosed me, and I know now that’s not the case.
I watched the following day as Worknesh Degefa dominated the Women’s Elite Race in the Boston Marathon. She ran the last 20 miles alone. Way ahead of the pack. Yes, it was cool that she was in the lead, but what was even cooler was that she was doing her thing. It didn’t seem to bother her one bit that she was surrounded by absolutely no one. The mental fortitude that must have taken is something I aspire to. If I can run these races and just zone out Degefa-style, then perhaps I can keep a steady pace and finish strong.
So I learned a few lessons with this race. I learned that you can’t rush the process. You have to pace yourself, and that requires patience and humility. There may be people zooming by you, but pay no attention. As Chris encouraged me I think during mile six – “you do you”. Forget about the other runners. Just keep moving toward the finish line. You’ll get there. Lesson #2: You want to change your pace? Do it in training. Don’t switch that up during a race. Sorry, I don’t know how that applies to life. It might pretty much just be applicable to running 😉 And lesson #3 was that friendships are invaluable gifts and not to be taken lightly.
My dad was able to join us to spectate this race, and it meant a lot to have family there rooting me on. He called me the following day and asked how I was feeling. He specifically asked if I was still planning on running a half marathon and I answered without hesitation – YES. No question. At this point in time I have no idea how I’ll physically manage it, but I’m choosing to trust in the training process. Four years ago I was barely walking, three years ago I ran my first 5k, and just 6 months ago I ran my first 10k. This body just keeps getting stronger. The more I push, little by little, the farther I can go. I don’t know how far MS will let me go with this running stuff, but I’m gonna keep pushing the line until she forces me to stop. And with God’s grace, I have hope that day will never come.
I’m constantly having to remind myself that it’s not my responsibility to ensure my kids are happy. My responsibility is to teach and train. I guide, I offer consequences and discipline, but I am not here to make them feel happy or entertained. So when it breaks my heart to see them upset, I need to put my big girl pants on and remind myself that I AM THE MOTHER.
I need this confidence more than ever as my son is a preteen and is questioning everything. EVERYTHING. Like, “Why do you set limits for us on screen time? And why do I have a bedtime even on the weekends or during spring break? NONE of my friends have these rules at home.”
Today I answered these questions for my son with renewed and miraculous confidence. “Because your brains are still developing and we believe, as your parents, that those limits are good for you. I can’t speak for your friends or even begin to explain why they might not have limits at home, but in our home, this is what we do.” (Also, I’m sure he’s exaggerating or hopefully mistaken, but whatever.)
My husband and I are the people in charge around here. “In charge” is not a role I’m all that great at or comfortable with, but I know I can do it. God allowed us to be parents and He cares about our children way more than we do, so I trust that He will give us the wisdom necessary to train them up right. I have to trust Him, stand firm in this role, and never stop seeking more wisdom. I must, or the monkeys will take over and then I’ll have no one to feed me or change my diapers when I’m 90.
If you’re ever curious about my day to day routine, today is your lucky day. Now that kids are back in school and snow days are hopefully well behind us, I’ve settled into a daily routine. This time around I sort of just go with how my body is feeling, and it’s interesting to me how well this is working.
Every morning I get up at 5:30 with my son, and stay up until 8 when my daughter leaves for the bus stop (her school starts an hour later than his). While the kids are getting ready for school, I’m drinking coffee, reading my Bible, and sometimes eating breakfast (If my stomach is up for it). After the kids are off to school I go back to bed. I don’t set an alarm, I just sleep as long as my body needs to. Some days that’s only an hour or two, some days it’s more. Thursdays I generally sleep much longer because I’m recovering from a full day on Wednesdays, between Bible study in the morning and Financial Peace University at night.
After the morning nap I get up, eat a late breakfast or lunch, and then I get going with that day’s work. This usually includes dishes and laundry, and sometimes paying the bills and running. I’m usually done by 3:00, just before my son gets home from school, and then I can relax with a book or a tv show. Then I start thinking about what to make for dinner. The rest of the evening changes from day to day but in general I’m letting myself relax and enjoy time with family. I’m not stressing about my to do list because I’ve already done the day’s work. The rest can wait until tomorrow.
So you could say I work about 4 hours a day and sleep 10. This seems excessive to me, and the old me would think I was lazy. The new me is learning to understand this is just part of my disability and it’s what my body needs in order to heal and stay healthy.
It’s been really refreshing to be able to establish a routine that allows for a good work/rest balance. I’m getting things done, but I’m working WITH my fluctuating energy levels rather than fighting against them (or giving up altogether, as I have done in the past).
Much of this new attitude has resulted from consistent reminders of the grace God gives us. When I read in Scripture that He tells us to rest and to stop striving, or even to “strive to rest”, I am encouraged to know I’m doing the right thing. Amen? Amen.
I may be deaf and half-blind, but I am and will always be… still Mindy