Sunday, October 22, 2017

Be Kind To Yourself

As I sit here on a Sunday morning, sipping my coffee and scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I looked at the date on the calendar and could not believe that it's been 1 month since our wedding day. It seems so long ago now, like a distant memory. All of the planning and prepping for that day, and it was over so fast. I will cherish the memories of our special day for as long as I live, but I wish I could go back and freeze time. I could live in those happy moments forever.

Life since we came back from the honeymoon has been a whirlwind. Outside my world, it's been the Vegas shootings, the sexual abuse/harassment stories, and all of the nasty fighting and hate that has been surrounding us. Inside my world? My work schedule has been demanding, exhausting, fulfilling, and exciting all at once. My dad has been back in the hospital since October 9th. My mom has been working so hard to take care of him and keep up their house, the bills, etc. My best friend gave birth to her beautiful baby girl.  This is an absolute blessing, and I am so excited, but I worry I won't be able to support my friend as much as I want to. My apartment is a mess, because Tom and I are both working hours that don't allow for much time to tidy up. I haven't been able to work out as much, and I've noticed a pattern with emotional eating.

I feel as though I am at the bottom of a hole, and someone keeps tossing in piles of dirt. The second I see a clearing, another shovel comes with more dirt, and I have to climb my way out again.

And with that feeling comes the immense guilt as a side topping. I feel selfish for feeling this way. I know that others are suffering far worse than I am, so the negative thoughts in my brain tell me that I have no right to be complaining, that I should just keep my mouth shut and keep moving, that my problems/challenges are not validated. I beat myself up for feeling anxious/overwhelmed. I worry that I am not being a good enough daughter/friend/employee/coworker. That if I say no to someone, I am letting them down. Even as I write this post, I am worried that people reading this will think that I am being selfish or whiny.

I wish that I would start to believe all the things that I tell other people who may have found themselves in these situations. That I can't fix everything. That I can't be everything to everyone. That I can only do so much. And, perhaps most importantly, that I need to take care of myself. My initial instinct in life is to see how I can be of help to others around me. I see or hear other people struggling, and I go to help them. This is one of my greatest gifts, but also a hinder, because I hit burn out.

Right now, I'm not taking care of myself. I'm not saying very nice thing to myself, and not treating my body in a way that I know will renew my energy and refocus my mind. Someone in my circle told me that I am dehydrating myself, because I keep pouring out water without filling up my cup. (Also, in a literal sense, I haven't been good about drinking my water!)

So how do I fix it? Since I'm so big on fixing things, how do I step outside everything else happening and do a better job of taking care of myself? For one thing, I'm going to try to be better at drinking that water. I'm going to try to make time for workouts, and not feel guilty about choosing the gym over working or attending to someone else's needs. I am going to try to put my phone down at night and read instead. I'm going to try to slow down. I'm going to resist reaching my hand into the candy jars at work. I'm going to try to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts, because I know the dark and cold days are coming soon.

Thank you for reading, my friends. Let's all care for each other and ourselves, with no expectations or limits. Ready? Break.

Monday, September 11, 2017

We are love.

Disclaimer: This is cheesy, but from the heart. Read on.

Tom and I are two people who were meant to be together. We are two people who signed up on a dating website, looking for love. We are two people who dated once, broke up, became friends, and then, slowly but somehow not so slowly, fell in love. We are two people who are getting married in just a few weeks. We are two people who understand each other, who embrace each other, who encourage one another. We are two people who were lucky enough to find one another.

I believe that Tom and I are a combination of the love that surrounds us. We are the love of our parents. Both mine and his have stood by one another through very difficult times, putting love and family first. They have brought the words "dedication", "commitment", and "partnership" to life. We are the love of our siblings, each so different but each so wonderful. We are my sister's patience, my brother's humor, and Nick's perseverance. We are the love that we have seen our siblings show their partners. We have grown tremendously through their examples. We are the love of of nephews and niece, who light up our lives and make us want to be better and to do our part to make a better, brighter world.

We are the love of our friends, who bring so much joy and laughter to our lives, who have stood by us and watched us grow. The memories we've made with our friends, and the examples they have been in our lives, have made life a little more fun, a little less scary, and a lot more beautiful.

We are the love of God. My very favorite quote from Les Miserables says "To love another person is to see the face of God". I am not quite sure I really knew what that meant until I loved Tom. Although our religious views differ, I know with full confidence that God brought us together, and that the Love God instilled in both of us is what has kept us together.

Lastly, I am Tom's love. I am his patience, understanding, compassion, encouragement. I am more "me" because of him, he's brought out the very best in me, and continues to love me even when I am at my worst. He is the only person I could ever imagine having by my side, forever and always. He is my love.

On September 23rd, we will be celebrating our love and our commitment to one another. Every single person in that chapel and in that reception hall has been an impact on the way Tom and I live our lives. It is your love that inspires us, and our love for each of you goes beyond measure. It's a day of celebration. My greatest hope is that we hold on tight to the love we feel at weddings, and we go out in the world and spread it- to everyone we meet, no matter how different they are from us.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Dad is an Overcomer

Note: I wrote this blog post last Thursday but have been waiting to post until we received official news on my dad's test results.

I lost my car in a parking garage today. In my defense, it was a very confusing parking garage, and I was trying to carry my heavy work bag, purse, VERY strong coffee, and vegan granola bar from the hipster coffee shop. After walking a few laps and taking trips up and down the steps, I did find my car.

I only had a slight moment of panic. I remained relatively calm, sipping on that super strong coffee. For a split second, I did think "okay but what if my car was gone? What would I do?"

I would probably call my dad.

At least, that's what I would have done 5 years ago.

I wouldn't now, he has enough to deal with. But is the first person I would think to call.

Because for the majority of my life, my dad was that person I called in crisis when it related to cars or money. Car accident? Call dad. Car battery dies on the freeway? Call dad. Over draft my bank account? Call dad.

And he always knew how to fix it, without judgment or overreacting.

I learned at a fairly young age that my dad was unique. Not only did he care for his three children, but he often served as a "second dad" to our friends. Everyone who knows my dad adores my dad. I have always seen his strength, his compassion and his gentle understanding. When he was diagnosed with cancer nearly four years ago to the date, it rocked our world. Suddenly, he needed us. The four years to follow have been incredibly rocky, full of ups and downs. I've written about them plenty of times before but I will not go into it here. I will just say that I have watched my dad suffer, in more ways than I ever thought possible, but time and time again, he has pulled through.

This guy is a true hero, even though he doesn't always see it. He has sailed through every single hurdle that this damn disease has put in front of him. He has never shown any hint of giving up. He is not letting this disease win. He has taken cancer for a ride. And even though he needs us and needs help now more than ever, he's still beating the odds.

Earlier this summer, we didn't think my dad would make it to the fall. On one of those days in the hospital, just shortly after he came out of a sort of comatose state, he looked me in the eye and said "I'm gonna make it". I asked him "make it to what?" And with all the confidence in the world, he said "September 23rd".

My wedding date.

The day before this happened, he didn't even know our names. But he pulled through, like he always does, and he's fought every single day since then so that he CAN and WILL make it to September 23rd- and beyond.

He is a rockstar, a warrior, a superhero, a fighter. He is my dad and I couldn't be more proud of him.

And let's not forget the woman that has stood behind him, walking right beside him through this entire journey. Mom, we know that you are the secret wings behind dad, pushing him, carrying him, encouraging him. None of us could do this without you. We love you.

Dad, your strength and determination is not only admirable, it's contagious. When you fight, we fight. We are your army, standing behind you in the front lines. You don't give up, so we keep marching on, picking you up when you get weak, but you are the one actually fighting this battle. And you're winning.


Here is a very quick run through of how my brain has operated this week:

A huge hurricane is about to hit Florida. It may hit our Honeymoon vacation spot. 
We might have to cancel our vacation, which we've been looking forward to since we got engaged.
The place where are going is so incredibly special to my family, and all I wanted was to take Tom there.
We won't cancel until we know what the storm is going to do.
We won't know what the storm is going to do until Friday or Saturday, and by Monday we can no longer cancel and get our money back.
We will only get our money back if the city has a mandatory evacuation.
We can't plan another trip without getting that money back
I'm going to follow every reputable meteorologist I can find to keep on top of updates.

Oh my god, I can't believe I am so worried about a vacation when these people are about to lose their homes and people are going to die.
What is wrong with me? When did I become so selfish and heartless? How could I even let myself worry first about a vacation?
This storm is very, very bad. I can't stop watching. No longer as worried about my precious vacation, but I am focusing on the sadness, unpredictability, and fear of it all.

Why is this happening?
Why does God let this happen?
Where is God?
I thought I had a strong faith, why am I questioning God?
But I don't understand how this can happen.
No one deserves this.
Why isn't God stepping in?
How can I help?
Are there enough resources left over from Harvey to help Florida, Puerto Rico and all the other affected areas?
Do my friends who live in Florida have somewhere to go? Can they get out? 
This isn't fair.

Tom and I will just deal with whatever happens. It doesn't matter. There are bigger things in life than a vacation. If we have to cancel we will make do. We will have a vacation somewhere else, somehow we will pull together the money. Our vacation loss will be nothing compared to what other people are about to face.

God, I am sorry I questioned you but I can't even possibly imagine the reason for all of this, or why you are not stepping in, after there has already been so much destruction. I am thankful for my friends and mentors who have tried to find words to comfort me. And I do believe in You, and I believe you will provide- but I am struggling to understand why some people will have to lose everything they know in the process. I am praying that there is a light at the end of this very dark tunnel, and that You have great plans in the works. I am praying that I gain trust in You. The one thing I have come to embrace in this whole thing is that life is so precious and unpredictable. This is a lesson I seem to be learning time and time again, and I am reminded of it once more with these hurricanes. We can plan all we want to, but sometimes life does not work out the way we imagined.

In sum, this week (and last, with Hurricane Harvey) I have felt anxious, confused, guilty, selfish, helpless, angry, fearful. I want to be able to make a human chain to Florida and every other affected area, and pull every person and animal in danger out of there, safe into a warm house. I don't want anyone else to suffer. I don't want anyone else to lose their home or business or certainly their life. But I can't do anything, except continue to donate to those in need.

I know it can be depressing to watch the news. Frustrating to hear updates. But please don't turn away. They need us. Those of us who are safe and capable need to come together and help. The one thing I am certain about God is that His (or Her) light is within each of us, as cheesy as that may sound I believe it, always have and always will. It's time to turn that light on as bright as we possibly can and help each other, it is not the time to hide or to ignore.

Stand strong, my friends.