My Not-Writing Anniversary And Cow Endorsement

Hi everyone! I’m a little early for my two-year anniversary of not writing here, but Not-Writing Anniversaries should be celebrated for longer than one exact day.

Two years is a long time. It’s enough time to get a pixie cut and grow it out again. That should be a real measure of time and distance. My husband is rolling his eyes right now like pixie-cut-growout-time isn’t a scientific thing. If it was, NASA might be able to beat the Ruskies to Mars. Is that a real current event or a movie plot? I’ve lost track.

The struggle with my writing voice has been a long one. Sometime in my adult life, a shadow crept over me and stayed. Some parts of me came out and flourished, and other parts stayed tucked away like a forgotten love note.

Every single time someone asks me what I want to do, or where I need to get honest, or let’s talk about Goals Dreams Creativity Pushing Yourself Failure Whathaveyou, I think about how I want to write and should write and then I don’t. Instead I read or watch a movie or fall asleep. Gosh that sounds so lame because it is.

So. I’m back. I have no idea what I’m going to write about, but I know that God gave me a voice and told me to use that voice, so I will. I am. That’s both present tense and future tense.

Since I don’t have much else to say in this post, I’d like to end with a picture of a cow. I just love cows. Their eyes are big and warm, their eyelashes incredibly long, their bodies awkwardly rectangular. I wholeheartedly endorse cows. That is, the front end of cows. The back end is usually pretty disgusting and the poor creatures have no idea who or what they’re pooping on.

Sorry I ended with a preposition. I’m rusty.

 

 

The cow picture is titled “Cows” by Anders Gustavson. It’s his work and I didn’t fiddle with it, but I do think it could use a tad more exposure. Just being honest, Anders. He doesn’t know who I am, and I don’t know who he is, other than he must like cows too. But that’s my assumption and not his official position on cows.

His Love Endures Forever

It’s been a long time. A long time of not writing; of silence. The last time I shared, I was sitting. There was pain and winter and sitting. The pain continued, and the sitting sat, and the surgery happened, and then there was more pain. I don’t share it with many, but for the curious, I’m a woman who’s one ovary down for the count. Who needs two anyway. If you’re really keeping track, in the last 5 years I’ve sliced and diced one ovary, one appendix, done a little tuck and roll to a uterus, hit one ovarian cyst out of the park, sent my gall bladder packing, and thrown my tonsils to the pits of hell. The tonsils were the worst. Oh Lord, if I have cried out to you in this most recent hardship, I can only thank you that tonsils can’t grow back.

Something is not right with my body and I’m working on finding the source of it, because I believe bodies are weird but they were also created to function correctly and mine can still do that.

All of this is just to say, I haven’t been great but I’m getting there. Isn’t that where lots of people are right now?

two old ladies walking

I was crossing a parking lot a few weeks ago, dressed just fine with my hair and makeup done, but I was walking SO SLOW about 10 days after surgery. Two women, I’m guessing octogenarians, were walking in the same direction and we were all progressing at the same speed. It made me laugh in a remember this when you’re well kind of way. How many times have I been in my car, waiting at a crosswalk for some totally average-health-looking person to walk, impatiently wondering why he or she doesn’t pick up the pace a little? I need to remember not to rush myself or others.

On Easter Sunday, my husband made us all breakfast and I woke up just in time to eat, skip a shower, put on makeup, and get dressed. I wore a nice outfit and everyone at church said I looked great. Was it worth saying that I didn’t feel great? My church is all for being real and vulnerable, but there are only so many times I can or want to talk about not feeling well, or want to bring up the fact that I was in the ER twelve hours previously. I was exhausted. For the most part, I smiled and said I was doing better.

Fehrman Family Easter 2015

We took this family photo after church, and it’s a great picture. Does it matter that I felt awful at the time? No. It matters that we were together as a family, and my boys hunted their Easter eggs that my husband and I filled at 11:30pm the night before, just after returning from the hospital. I was grateful to even be there to participate with my family.

Last year, the word aletheia became very important to me. It was a healing word, and it is Greek for truth, nothing hidden.

Friends, this is my truth, nothing hidden. Things aren’t great, but they’re not terrible, and I’m getting better. The simplest thing is that Jesus loves me. For the places where I’m choosing isolation, I don’t want to do that and I’m trying to pull out of it. Part of this season is also smalling down just to preserve what’s most important, and there’s learning in that.

I couldn’t do this without knowing where my Truth is, and there are so, so many other people out there who are hurting for all sorts of reasons and holding onto the same Truth or searching desperately for one.

If you don’t have a Truth, consider this one from Psalm 136:1-16, 23-26. It’s true: His love endures forever.

psalm136_art

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights—
His faithful love endures forever.
the sun to rule the day,
His faithful love endures forever.
and the moon and stars to rule the night.
His faithful love endures forever.

10 Give thanks to him who killed the firstborn of Egypt.
His faithful love endures forever.
11 He brought Israel out of Egypt.
His faithful love endures forever.
12 He acted with a strong hand and powerful arm.
His faithful love endures forever.
13 Give thanks to him who parted the Red Sea.[a]
His faithful love endures forever.
14 He led Israel safely through,
His faithful love endures forever.
15 but he hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea.
His faithful love endures forever.
16 Give thanks to him who led his people through the wilderness.
His faithful love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our weakness.
His faithful love endures forever.
24 He saved us from our enemies.
His faithful love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every living thing.
His faithful love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His faithful love endures forever.

Amen.

Psalm 136 image: Hilldale’s Worship Ministry

The Joy Of Sitting Is In Details

Sometimes I disappear. For a few days or weeks things feel dark and heavy, and I become a turtle. I don’t say much on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t return calls or texts without hesitation. I don’t feel like visiting. Very literally, I cover up with this fleece Patagonia turtle blanket.

Patagonia Turtle Blanket

Sometimes it’s just a state of emotional being, but now it’s a state of physical being.

For all of my internal cussing and feeling ready to exercise several weeks ago, now I can’t stand or walk for long before there’s pain, so I sit quietly. There will be a surgery soon, but meanwhile, I sit. It’s perfect timing, since we’re all sitting through winter. Last week the kids were out of school for 5 days in a row. I sat. They ran amok. Inside, outside, sure, you can shoot arrows in the house.

Indoor Bow and Arrow

 

Otherwise, things are very, very quiet. My boys play outside or go sledding with their dad or make appalling messes upstairs. I sit, and in that, I’ve captured some of the quiet things that give me joy.

This is my University of Evansville sweatshirt, circa 1997. Call it old; call it full of character; call it loved. The countless classes attended, mornings thrown on without a second thought, tears wiped, places called home, phases of shelving and pulling the old standard back out again.

Ragged Sweatshirt Sleeve

 

The letters on the front are cracked. The style is large and boxy. If you forget how you wore sweatshirts in 1997, just remember Brenda from 90210.

Cracked Sweatshirt Print

 

These are my slippers. They are super cozy and stretched out because I often wear thick SmartWool socks with them. They may have cooking stains on them. The dog seems to think they smell good.

Old Slippers 1

 

Imagine how many times feet must sleepily slide in and out of slippers to rub them bare. The children’s coughs that need water, the calls for mama, the shuffling downstairs for a forgotten blankie, the surreptiously wearing them to preschool dropoff.

Old Slippers 2

 

It’s hard to believe that my first baby is now big enough, at age 8, to help shovel snow. He shoveled 3 inches of fresh powder by himself one day when my husband was at work and I was too hurt to do it.

Boy Shoveling Snow 2

 

I’m so thankful for the bits of growing green things in my house. Last month my dear friend Sarci and I visited a greenhouse together and I bought this Norfolk Island Pine. Walking through a greenhouse in winter is one of the healthiest things we could have done.  The smell of dirt and living things, the humidity, the sun’s warmth intensified by taught plastic walling.

I highly recommend a dose of green for your winter blues. The homemade Valentines in the background don’t hurt a heart, either.

Norfolk Island Pine

 

My life and I have fairly taken over my husband’s reclining chair and the table beside it. Pictured from left, clockwise: A Valentine, an Army figurine, my favorite handmade mug by my friend Amy at Mudroot Pottery, multiplication flash cards, a Chinese inspired lamp, Entertainment magazine, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, and a coaster that says Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.

Let me tell you, The Pillars of the Earth is not just a fabulous book. It also saved my sanity during a 7-hour ER trip. The idea of leaving those characters after decades of life together (their fictional decades; my real-time week) almost broke my heart.

Coffee Cup on Side Table

 

When he came inside from the snow, this sweet face drank hot cocoa out of his favorite super hero mug.

Super Hero Hot Chocolate 2

 

Even when things hurt and feel dark, there is always the hope of a thaw and new growth. This reminder hangs across the room and is still legible, even when the sun reflects off the snow and glass.

He Is Like A Tree

 

 

What are the joyful things you see while sitting?

Bitch, That Was Your Last Excuse

This afternoon when my boss gave me the afternoon off, out of nowhere, I thought,

“Bitch, that was your last excuse.”

Let me rewind a bit.

Just yesterday, while thinking about exercising and getting fit, I ate half a box of Girl Scout Caramel Delites. Then I felt sorry for myself because my stomach hurt. This comes after about two years of Very Little Exercise (depression sucks like that) and lots of thinking about, and talking about, and pondering about, exercise. It’s hard to exercise when your body feels so stiff and miserable from not exercising. Then, the cookies, and then some texts with a friend to maybe work out tomorrow (we noticeably didn’t set a time), and then my boss suggested leaving work early to enjoy the beautiful day. I mean, the nerve. He just got up and started walking out the door. And that’s when I thought to myself, “Bitch, that was your last excuse.” It was a statement directed at myself. Like…

Bitching Doesnt Burn Calories

So I did what most women would do when faced with no excuse for exercise. I went shopping.

No really, I went to the sporting goods store because it was a beautiful day, but still cold enough to hurt my ears, and that was also one of my excuses: That I lost my ear warmer band several years ago and my poor ears hurt. So I removed that obstacle. Then I went home, changed, donned my new ear warmer, and went running.

Here’s another obstacle: I used to be a runner and know how it feels to run well and fast. Now when I run, my ankles feel like rusty-Wizard-of-Oz-Tinman ankles, and my lungs burn, and my arms try to swing across my torso rather than pumping efficiently. I started today with the run-walk thing, which one time felt laughable. I’m sorry for that, if my formerly confident runner attitude hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m on the other side of the fence now.

I set little goals, like run to that police car! Now go a little further! Run to that park bench! Now keep going to the end of the street! It was like coaxing a toddler to eat another bite of peas, only I was coaxing myself.

Running Shoes

I squished through a mud puddle and it felt good to get dirty.

My shadow morphed and bumbled down the sidewalk, for 30 minutes, and it was the best 30 minutes of my week.

Running ShadowWhere I was expecting misery and instead found energy, that–for sure–was my last excuse.

 

First Monday 2015

New Year’s day was last Thursday, but the luckiest people got that day and Friday off of work, plus the weekend, and are just now facing the reality of a new year:

The First Monday.

Monday 2015

Setting the alarm for an ungodly hour, pulling kids’ covers off of their grumpy bodies, heading back to work after a long stretch off. Making to-do lists and trying to remember where you left off in December.

By 10:00am, do you even remember what your New Year’s resolutions were? To stop eating sugar/caffeine/fat; biting nails; gossiping; complaining.

But I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution this year. I just couldn’t bring myself to–not after 2014. In some ways, 2014 was awesome. I went to counseling, got free from some head-game stuff, got a tattoo, walked away from something unhealthy and started a blog. It also sucked. Some people I looked up to disappointed in big ways, I realized that a 6-year journey was heading nowhere, and I held my nephew in my arms…but he was dead. 2014 was heart wrenching.

It would be nonsense to think 2015 won’t include its share of tears and hurt and heartache. But for that, the laughter and good news wouldn’t be cherished in the same ways. I now know more of who I am, and what my strengths and weaknesses are. I could list them here without flinching, but it’s really only useful information for me. You have your own set of lists. What is important is that we become more of who we are–

–not more of someone else’s highlight reel; not more of who your parents thought you’d be. Just be you in whatever form of awesome you are.

[Which reminds me of the Imagine Dragons song Who We Are. Does your mind skip around like this too?]

So 2015, come on. Bring your first Monday, and your first tear, and your first fall-on-the-floor-laugh. I will scream at my kids to get into the freaking car, probably today, and I will hold them and say I love you.  All the extremes and all the level ground will be there, and in 360 days, we’ll kick this year to the curb and start over again.

It’s a cycle of new and old, starting fresh while knowing the past, and hoping for the future.

Welcome to Monday 2015.

It’s gonna be awesome.

It'