Finding Me Again

I recently had this thought of wanting to make an impact on the world somehow. The thing is the only impact I may ever make will be on my family, maybe my friends.

After my father died a lot of people came forward and told us stories about what he did for them. We found that he affected far more people then he himself probably ever imagined. It was almost extraordinary, and it made me think about myself. It made me think that I doubt I’ll ever reach people with that much magnitude. This didn’t make me sad, it just made me think.

I’m an introvert. I don’t always like people. I like the people I choose to be my people, but I’m not a people person. I hate crowds. I get overwhelmed easily. If I get myself out of the house to an outing of any kind, I always need a moment to decompress. It literally takes energy out of me to be social. What I can’t decide is that just who I am, or who I’m choosing to be? It’s probably a little bit of both, but I’m ok with that.

Sometimes I feel like I try, and nothing comes from it. Then I accept that either I’m just the wrong tetris piece for that moment in time. I spend the night beating myself up about it. I spend the night sometimes getting irrationally angry, more at myself then anything. We are our own worst enemy.

I just read the Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, and the words she wrote about on her introvertedness (yes I just made up that word) resonate in me. I know what it’s like to fall victim to easily saying no. Saying “no” is actually more of the easy way out for me.

After my father died it became even worse. I lost interest in things that I use to love. I fell into a depression of sorts, and getting out of bed even became hard for me. I had to though. I am wife and a stay at home mom. I have people that depend on me to live. So I did, but I wasn’t really living. I think I was just going along with the flow. I started to eat and drink my feelings. I gained all the weight back I had worked so hard to lose after having my son. This made me sad for myself. I stopped liking any of my clothes. I actually hate getting dressed in the morning right now, but that is something I’ve started working on.

I stopped having alcohol for the most part. I have it on special occasions or Sundays, but otherwise I’ve given it up. Two things have happened; my stomach is happier and I sleep better. That last one came as a surprise to me. For months I’ve been waking up at 3 AM, unable to fall back asleep. Now I sleep through the night. Of course now I stay up later reading so that might have something to do with it. It helps calm my brain and turn it off.

Then I started portion control and calorie counting. I know that shakes, clean eating, and whatever new diet fad is going on work for some people, but it’s just not for me. It’s awesome that people find what works for them! I like to eat food, and so I want to be able to eat what I want, just within reason. It’s what has always worked for me. It’s what I’m doing now.

Now I’m starting to walk again. Maybe I’ll try yoga again, but I’m also kind of interested in Pilates.  I have chronic migraines and muscle pain so I can’t really do any high endurance exercise. It wears me out, so I have to do what I know I can handle.

So this is only the beginning of finding me again. I’m trying to find happiness in little things throughout the day. I’m looking for the good that falls in with the bad. Let’s not lie to ourselves; there will always be some kind of bad that happens. Some kind of drama that unfolds itself when you least expect it, but there is always good in this world too.

I see the good in my son’s laughter, or when he learns something new. I see the good in my husband’s horrible jokes that make me laugh anyway. I love his hugs, and just being quiet with him. I love cooking, and baking. I’ve been scouring Pinterest for recipes I want to try in this “new” year.

I’ve started living again. I’ve started enjoying the little things like the smell of rain in the desert, or a good walk. I’ve discovered Arnold Palmers. Look I know those have been around for a while, but I’ve just now discovered them. They are amazing! They are the perfect afternoon drink.

I like Sunday dinners with my mom, and aunt, trying out new recipes for them or old ones that I tried and true.

I’ve started reading again! Like actually reading, and not just listening to audiobooks. After my father died, audiobooks were a godsend. They were exactly what I needed. The majority of books I read last year were audiobooks. So really I didn’t read them. I listened to them. I still count them though, because it takes brain power to listen actively to them. I still enjoy them, and always have at least one going.

I still miss my father. I still get angry that I didn’t have more time with him. I was sad around the holidays, because it was just hard not having him there. It wasn’t the first holiday season without him, but it was the first one that felt actually real. The one before I was still numb from it all. Things will pop up that remind me of him, and I get sad but also happy. I was lucky to have him as a father.

I was lucky.

I’ve grown since then though. I’ve molded into a new normal. I’m still floundering, but I’m making the most of it. There are still a lot of unknowns in the world, but for now I can live in the day to day mundaneness. I can enjoy that mundaneness. Sometimes it’s just sitting on the couch finishing a book. Other times it’s being in the moment with my son, while he sits on my lap watching whatever new show he likes on Netflix or PBS kids. It’s watching old favorite movies. It’s reading out loud to my son, or watching him play with his father.

It’s laughing again, really laughing, and feeling it deep in your stomach.

So maybe the only impact I’ll make will be on myself, and my family. It’s good though. It’s happiness.

When I say New Year New Me, I mean it. I really really mean it this time.

 

 

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Currently 1/11/2017

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I cleaned out my son’s playroom while he was off playing at the park with Husband. I went through and got rid of anything that was broken, that he didn’t really play with and a lot of little toys that he had doubles of.

I got all my organization baskets from Target, and I put together a new 4 cube bookcase for the playroom. That book case was a total bear to put together. It looked like it should have been easy, but it wasn’t. It’s also from Target.

I made sure to organize all his toys by type…so go go smart wheels, duplo legos, and mega blocs. He mostly plays with his go go smart wheels, which is why he has so much of them. For Christmas we got him one more set, and also extra tracks because he likes to connect them all together and make a little village with them. He can spend hours with these toys.

The bookcases have some of my books in them on the top shelf so they aren’t all his. FYI if you didn’t know I read ALOT.

  • Right now I’m reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I’m actually almost done with it. I got a few books from the library that I’m hoping to get to soon.
  • I can’t wait to watch last nights episode of This is Us! Ugh I love this show so much. Mandy Moore has always been a favorite of mine, and she is phenomenal in this show along with all the other characters. This is the only new show I picked up this season.
  • Other things I watched this week: the new fixer upper, Monday afternoon for whatever reason I watched Kid’s Baking Championship on Food Network all afternoon. I cried pretty much all the way through Miracles From Heaven. Seriously! The whole movie I was sobbing. Then i went and hugged my son after I finished it that night. I also watched The Parent Trap on Netflix.
  • My son started preschool again this week, and he was very happy to get back to that routine. He loves school right now. He gets to run around on the playground and do crafts. It’s probably the best thing I ever did for him.
  • He’s not quite ready to give up Christmas though as we are still watching Frosty the Snowman.
  • I have family from Sweden in town right now, and so I’m making my enchiladas tonight for them.

~ Christa

 

That One Time I was a Party Girl

That title might be a little misleading, except it’s exactly what it is. It was the one day I where I drank my weight in alcohol. That may be a bit of an exaggeration though.

First though this involves my cousin. She is my best friend, my person, the Christina to my Meredith, and the sister I never had. I will always refer to her as my luff from now in any story where I talk about her. Now that that’s out of the way I can start my story.

Timehop and Facebook are reminding me that this not so long ago I had boarded a plane the day before to go to Seattle, Wa. I’ve been going to Seattle since I was 8 so it’s like a second home to me. It’s my favorite place, and feels like my happy place whenever I go there.

In fact when I board the plane to go home while I miss my bed, and my friends I still wish I could stay a few more days, weeks, months….forever.

I went with just my mom, and left my husband home. We had only been married 8 months, but my mom had gotten me a really good deal on a plane ticket to go with her. I believe this was the first time I got to see my Aunt and Uncles new house that we often refer to as the castle. I mean it’s straight up like a dream home, and the view is phenomenal. Like you’re gazing out the kitchen window and you can see the city off in the distance, and then you turn and look in another direction and you see Mt. Rainier, it’s the perfect view to see it when it finally erupts. I kid.

This trip though I still got to stay at my Grandma’s house a few nights because she hadn’t sold it yet. Ugh I miss my Grandma’s house terribly. It felt like the end of era when she finally sold it later that year. I’m babbling. I’m reminiscing. I could go on.

According to Facebook though, I had woken up in my luff’s apartment on Mercer Island. She doesn’t live there anymore, and in fact SO MUCH has changed since then. This apartment was one of my favorite places she lived in. She was on the upper level, and she had a great view looking out of her tiny little balcony. I remember drinking tea, and watching it snow.

On Facebook it says “It appears that no matter where I sleep, I am to be woken up by a cat that wants to sit on me.”

That can only be Mila, and I vividly remember her staring at me.

Later that day we drove over to the castle so I could finally see it, and then we drove over to the golf course to see my other cousin who I’ll refer to as Boy. Partly because that is what one of my other cousin’s always called him. It’s pretty fitting for him too because he’s the youngest of us all. He was a bartender at the restaurant at the top of the hill of the golf course. I guess this is where the story really begins. I mean does it? I don’t know.

We started drinking there around 4:15 PM. Boy made us shots called Lemon Drops, because we told him to concoct something and surprise us. They were delicious. Then we had some more. Then we went back to her apartment….where I think we had more to drink. I honestly can’t remember.

The thing I remember next is going to this Irish Bar that we had been going to since circa 2009 I think. I don’t know whenever my luff had turned 21 that’s when we started going there, and we drank normal civilized people all the other times. This bar had a little Irish guy as the bar tender. He might take offense to me referring him as little… hmmm. I don’t care I’ll never see him again because I think I heard he got fired.

My luff convinced me to get some kind of spinach and avocado dip that had shrimp in it. I don’t like shrimp. I don’t like much sea food in general, except Salmon. Salmon is delicious especially when baked. I also like a good Tuna Fish Sandwhich, but shrimp blech. I let her eat most of it. I feel like there must have been some kind of other food but I don’t know. Maybe French fries? Maybe a salad? Do Irish Carbombs count as food??? Because that’s what I consumed.

This is about the time that the little Irish Bar Tender thought it would be awesome to get me drunk. I wasn’t driving so he didn’t care. So my drinks….were all rum and maybe a trickle of coke, just to give it color. I was so drunk that I had a brilliant idea. You only have these kinds of brilliant ideas when you stumble off the bar stool. This idea was “you know what we should do?!?! We should smoke weed!”

Seriously this was my first time smoking weed. I had tried cigarettes when I was like 20, and never did that again because I ended up with the worst migraine ever. (Well at least one of the top ten worst ones. I get them pretty regularly).

So here I was totally drunk, and then I smoked weed. My luff convinced me we should watch this movie called MacGruber because I said it looked kind of awful. She wanted to prove me wrong. I don’t remember any of it. I remember suddenly I couldn’t see straight, and I remember walking possibly running to the bathroom. I shut the door and then spent at least 30 minutes to an hour sitting by porcelain throne. So in my opinion MacGruber was not very good.

The next day she dragged me through Seattle super hung over so that we could go to the aquarium down at the water. The steps to Pikes Market are still my nemesis. At least there were cute Otters to see. (Seriously if I could have one for a pet I totally would.) Maybe one day I’ll run about and down them with the Rocky Theme blaring on my iPod. I refused to go out that night or touch a drop of alcohol. instead we sat lazing around drinking tea and watch The Office on Netflix.

Moral of the story guys….don’t drink and smoke weed, or at least I won’t drink and smoke weed. I will also, never have Irish Carbombs again. NEVER EVER.

Epilogue….I’ve never “partied” like that again.  I’m getting too old for that shit.

3 lB Cinnamon Roll Metaphor

Last night I was sitting in bed on Facebook as I often do before I go to bed, and I saw this video about a 3 LB cinnamon roll that they serve at Lulu’s Bakery and Cafe in San Antonio, TX.

Of course I had to get out of bed and show Husband this video. His first reaction was “seriously you interrupted me to show me a 3 lb cinnamon roll, it should have been at least 5 lbs.”

Then he said, “Let’s do it,”

Of course we cant. We have a child, and bills to pay, and all the mundane responsibilities that come with adulthood.

Then I said “You know if we were in our early twenties we would totally do it,”

Then Husband made some kind of sexual joke, and he said “oh you mean just up and go to San Antonio for a 3 lb cinnamon roll? Yeah totally.”

Being a teenager was alright, but I wouldn’t go back to that for the world. No ice cream for dinner, no all night adventures, and acne? No Thank you, (OK that last one never happened to me. It was something first ever friend always hated me for. I just never broke out, and still don’t)

My early twenties though…like 20-25 heck yes! It’s when you’re in limbo of still being young and having to become an adult. I mean yes I worked at Blockbuster (Moment of silence for Blockbuster. I cry a little bit every time I think about how my son will ask me why I have a plastic card for some place called Blockbuster still in my wallet. I’ll just say those were simpler times son. Simpler times.) Where was I? Oh yes being 20ish. I had a job, and one that would often keep me working until past midnight since that’s when they closed. It was a job though. My college job.

This means that I could stay out all night long, and not EVEN get tired. That’s probably because I could sleep in until 2 PM before I had to go to work. I still lived with my parents at the time so I only had bills like my credit card, and phone. Well also I had to pay for gas.

These were the times that we paid for fast food with the change from our piggy banks, and ran around Walmart because it was open 24 hours. There wasn’t much to do in the town I grew up in.

So yes we would have hopped in the car without a thought or care in the world and drove all night just get a 3 lb cinnamon roll. Husband told me he once drove all the way to the Grand Canyon and back in one day BY HIMSELF. He didn’t even tell anyone he was going. Once we started dating I told him that was not going to happen. My anxiety disorder prevents him from being able to up and go somewhere without telling me. I mean now also, that’s just common sense when you’re married.

Also to be fair we probably would have also done that other thing he made a joke about, and then in our euphoria of the love making we would have been like man a cinnamon roll sounds great, because neither of us smokes.

My 30s have been fine, not always great but fine. They just don’t hold the innocence and dreams that one holds when they are young and still finding their way. I mean I’m still struggling to figure out who I am so that’s not exactly over. I feel like life is an ever evolving door that you walk through, and mold yourself to it. Some parts of you stay the same while other parts grow and mature.

I just sometimes wish I could go back every so often to where we drove around for hours in the middle of the night, the windows rolled down, and the Eminem Show album was up so loud that I’m surprised I’m not deaf. No worries or cares. Enjoying the moment, and just being.

The Loss of My Father

One of the worst things I was told a lot when I found out my dad had terminal cancer was; “well at least you know it’s going to happen so you can make the most of the time you have left” or some shit like that. I would have put that more eloquently, but it was the kind of thing that didn’t need to be put that way.

I didn’t really have time because instead I had to watch him slowly wither away to the frail frame he became. He didn’t want me to see him like that either, and I had a two year old that didn’t want to sit still at the time.

I remember the day we were waiting to hear what the prognosis was. I was so anxious that I decided to clean out and organize the pantry and the spice cabinet. I got through the entire spice cabinet, and when I got to the canned goods I was informed that the cancer was back, and it was terminal this time. He had two years at the most. The can of Hunts Diced Tomatoes blurred before my eyes, as the tears dripped down my face and I felt completely helpless.

If I rewind to 4 years earlier they had found some cancer in my father’s head. It was removed, and they said he was cancer free. He bought himself a nook, and proceeded to read all the books from his childhood, and more.

He had melanoma though, and it is one of the most aggressive cancers. Fast foward to the end of 2014 and they found more in his neck. It was removed, and my entire family came for Thanksgiving because we were afraid it would be the last Thanksgiving we would get to celebrate together with my dad. I didn’t want to think in those terms because they had said at the time the cancer was gone.

I didn’t know just 7 months later I would be sitting in my kitchen crying over a can of Diced Tomatoes. The redness of it still blurs in my memories. I regrouped myself though because I believed I still had at least two more years.

I didn’t.

July 4th my dad was brought in to the hospital for complications. The cancer had spread into his back, and was basically forming into his bones. It was slowly taking him before my eyes. I went into see him, and this is the last time he hugged me. I mean really hugged me. I still remember his dad’s scent. At least my dad’s scent. I walked in and my mom said ‘tell her everything that’s going on,”

He said “in a minute, I just want to hold my baby for a little while.”

I’m the youngest of three, and the only girl. I’m also the only one he got to be in the hospital room with when I was born. He held me first, because my mom went into surgery.

That summer was one of the longest summer’s I remember enduring. One of the days I sat outside of the hospital on the bench waiting for my husband to get the car. I was crying in that quiet way because I hate crying in public. It was the kind of crying that hurts both physically and emotionally because you’re trying to hard to hold it in. A woman who worked in the hospital walked up to me, and asked if I was alright.

I said yes, only because at the time I didn’t need counseling or consoling since my husband was less then five minutes away. I didn’t want a stranger to feel sorry for me.

I ate hospital food for lunch a few times.

I was watching Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp when my mom came over in the evening to tell me it was time to put him in hospice.

They moved my dad into a nursing home, and my mom was doing her best to be strong. I had to take her home one afternoon though, and we drank rum and cokes and watched Pride and Prejudice. Then I ordered cheese pizza from papa johns, extra sauce. It was the most delicious pizza I had had in a while. The monsoons rolled in that afternoon, as they often do during the summer here.

While he was in the nursing home, he took my hand and said “You’ll be alright,” and then he made me cry because he said “You’ll tell your son all about me right?”

Yes, yes yes, a million times yes. I will make sure he knows who you were and what you were to me.

The last time I remember talking to my dad was when they did this little service for him because he was in the navy. It was an honoring service, and after my mom, brothers and I went to eat at Outback while my dad slept. A really horrible monsoon storm came in while we were there, and my mom and brothers wouldn’t let me leave.

Monsoon storms are a force to be reckoned with. They roll in out of nowhere, and the rain is so torrential that it causes flash flooding. There is sometimes hail the size of golf balls, and the thunder is loud, and the lightning is bright. This storm was exactly like that but ten times worse. So I went back in, and we all talked just the five of us as a family one last time. I didn’t know it would be the last time at the time. We still thought he had at least six months, but he was slowly deteriorating. He barely drank, and he really didn’t eat. He had gotten so skinny.

The man I once knew wasn’t there anymore.

By the end of the week my mom told me she didn’t think he had much longer. She told my brothers we all needed to be together. I don’t remember much, but when my mom called me and said I had to come right away I was doing another mundane task. I was folding my Harry Potter socks. It was a Sunday and I dropped everything and told my husband I had to leave right away. I just left, and this car drive took forever. It seemed like I hit every single red light, and slow driver.

I didn’t make it in time. I saw my brother first, and I don’t remember what he said but he took me into his arms and I cried. I cried so much that day, and for the next few months. I still cry. I’ll be walking along fine, and then suddenly something will pop up and remind me of him. The holidays have been pretty hard since his passing.

They told us we had two years. We only had two months. When losing someone you deeply care about, no way is better. If it’s sudden and you weren’t expecting it, you wish you could get back some of that time. You probably think of all the things you would do differently. When you have to watch them die, you just want their suffering to end. You wish it was sudden because anything is better then this. Anything is better then all the waiting. Waiting for the end.

“Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had strength to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control
Flying at the speed of light
Thoughts were spinning in my head
So many things were left unsaid
It’s hard to let you go” Linkin Park

The truth is even if you know you have time, you still think about the things you wish you had done differently. You still wish you had spent more time with the person. You wish you had written down all the stories they told a million times at every holiday and Sunday dinner meal. You wish you could their book down, because everyone has a story. A legacy. Everyone is interesting. I guess if I could give any advice for someone that is struggling through this right now then get their story. Write it down for your kids so that they can know how great of a person he or she was, and how much they meant to you.

The following is a site to bring awareness for melanoma, and a hope to find a cure:

http://www.curemelanoma.org/

Note: My mom probably wouldn’t want me to write this, but I need to. I need to get out. It’s how I cope with things. Writing is my catharsis.

 

Currently 1/3/17

1.) I once had this idea that I could do a food blog, but then realized it just wasn’t my thing. I LOVE cooking, but I can’t come up with recipes on the fly. I like to take already written up recipes and adapt them. I feel like that doesn’t make it really MY recipe. Now I do have some things I make pretty regularly that I made up myself so it’s not entirely true that I don’t have anything. Also I have a lot of family recipes I like to make too. Eventually I’d like to do my own family cookbook, but I think that’s as far as that dream goes.

2.) Yesterday was a busy day of shopping at Sprouts and going to the grocery store. I ended it by making one of my favorite chicken noodle soup recipes. It’s from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I always buy a rotisseri chicken from Sprouts  or Costco to really make it delicious. My husband likes his soups more hearty so I often have less liquid in them. Really the only thing I change to this soup is add Dill and Season Salt.

3.) I ended up having a really horrible migraine last night and went to bed at 6:30. Woke up at 10 really grumpy so I made myself some tea and watched The Parent Trap. The original one, not the Lindsay Lohan one, and I can’t tell you how excited I am that it’s actually on Netflix. Now I need Summer Magic and Pollyanna to show up on there and I’ll be one happy Hayley Mills fan.

4.)I’m reading Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton  right now, but I’m only on Page 23. So far my favorite quote is “I start feeling empty and restless, and instead of remembering that sometimes life is uncomfortable and empty everywhere, I decide that bliss is just a new house or town or state away. It isn’t. Where you go, there you are. Your emptiness goes with you. Maddening”

It took me awhile to realize this. It’s not that I was able to move a lot, but I often enter in to a fight or flight mode when life gets tough. I always want to flee, but the truth is you can’t. You take yourself with you. I learned this from the second season of Felicity.

5.) Right now I’m cooking a whole roaster chicken. It’s only the second time I’ve made it. Preparing the thing is always unpleasant to me, but in the end it turns out to be some of the most delicious chicken ever. I just cook it low and slow in my crock pot. I plan to use it for salads and chicken cauliflower fried rice this week.

6.) I’ve been coloring at the counter while I wait for breakfast, lunch or dinner cooks. It’s a good way to not watch a pot boil. I have crayons, markers and color pencils. Right now my coloring instrument of choice is markers.

7.) I have a DSLR, actually I have two. The first one was a gift from my husband when we were dating, and the other was my father’s. I was given it after he passed away. I love these cameras. I love the pictures that come from them, but now I’m researching for a smaller one that also takes video. I just want something small that I can carry around with me that isn’t my phone.

8.) It’s Tuesday, that means Fixer Upper is on all day. I always like when Fixer Upper is on all day, and when there are new ones I always text my husband to tell him we will be moving to Waco immediately, like tomorrow.

*The above pictures were taken with a Canon Rebel T1i and edited in lightroom. I’m still learning, and teaching myself so bare with me.