Monday, April 21, 2014

The happy belly

Rare is the woman who can't tell you in an instant which of her body parts she despises. (This is a sad truth.)

I have hated how my stomach looked since I was 14. Birthing four kiddos between ages 20 and 27 did not help its appearance. I spent a significant portion of time during each pregnancy bemoaning each new stretch mark, and years afterward berating my belly for its cramps and bloating and general girl-related misery. 

Cue surgery. Almost nine months ago I underwent a medically-advised TAH-BSO (Total Abdominal Hysterectomy/Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy ... say that 10 times fast), which added a 6-inch horizontal scar to the rest of my abdominal decor. BOO. I would have much preferred a belly button ring.

For the last nine months I have scrupulously avoided looking at my abdomen in the mirror. Too depressing. But the other day I paused on my way into the shower, curious whether my P90X3 program is having any effect. To my surprise, my surgical scar and floppy skin have morphed into a smile.


A SMILE... of all things. 

Seriously. My belly SMILES at me in the mirror. 

Everything isn't perfect. The incision still hurts and itches and aches, my innards are still figuring out how to cooperate without all that mess that was in there, I'll probably go back for more acupuncture and visceral massage to help with the scar tissue, and some days are definitely better than others, but still... 

My belly is smiling back at me in the mirror. It's happy. And I should be happy with it.

Now I'm wondering what other parts of my life I need to look at with a new eye. Not just body parts, but circumstances, attitudes, relationships, experiences, history. Maybe some of those other things I've spent years hating, loathing, denying, ignoring, trying to transform, and wishing would just go away are smiling, too, I just haven't been looking at them the right way. 

Hope can be found in the strangest of places, if we'll just open our eyes. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sleep chairs & comfort zones...

Post #501. The pressure is on.

Just kidding.

It has been a looooong weekend.

Saturday I rose before dawn (there's something wrong with getting up before the sun, IMHO) to haul youngest offspring to the bus for a track meet.

Somewhere between 9 and 10 P.M. I finally, gratefully, crashed in my recliner. Which led me to think designing a sleep chair, wherein one's neck and thoracic spine would be supported regardless of which way one fell over in an exhausted stupor, would be a good entrepreneurial idea. I'm leaving that project up to the mechanically-minded, because I can't figure out how to open the soda boxes in the fridge so the cans don't roll out on my feet.

Anyway. I still hate Sundays.

And I still don't have any leading or direction or guidance from the Spirit of God to go to (or back to) a traditional church, which leads me to believe there's something else He wants me to do. Something outside my comfort zone.

Ugh.

Wouldn't it be nice if God would stay in our comfort zones?

If He wouldn't push us, prod us, and provoke us to take action and follow Him into the unknown, into uncharted territory?

Yeah. That might be nice. But we wouldn't be content. There's a difference between comfortable and content.

What has He asked of YOU lately?





Monday, March 31, 2014

500 posts in 5 years!


Yay me! This is my 500th post! (And it's also almost my blog's fifth anniversary!)
OK, I know, it's not all that exciting... but it's kind of cool, and it's a good time to regroup, examine why and what and when.

Five years ago blogging was considered essential to establishing an author platform and online presence. I'd just about finished my first novel, and was hoping to create an avenue to generate sales. That novel, though it earned a second-place finish in a national contest, is mothballed in my computer's hard drive.

I had also, at the time, pretty much stopping doing any teaching or preaching in our local church, for a multitude of reasons. Blogging became a necessary outlet for me to communicate.

It also kept me writing. When I felt frustrated with my fiction projects, I could always write a blog post. For several years I maintained a pretty strict blogging schedule. These days, not so much, but I hope to change that as I continue to evaluate my goals and purpose here.

A lot has changed in five years. We've graduated three of four kids from high school and one from community college, added a son-in-law and three beautiful grandbabies to our family, moved out of the town where we spent 14 years of our lives growing our kids and growing a church, sent another kid to college, one to truck driving school (and sideshow school), and one to public high school, completely changed jobs, schedules and living conditions, and had a radical hysterectomy.

Blogging has provided catharsis as I navigated all those crazy, wonderful, scary, poignant, events. It's been a way to put thoughts and feelings into words and find, to my surprise, that there are other people out there who think the same way, or who, even if they disagree, are still willing to maintain an open line of communication.

So, for now, the blog will remain as it is... just me, sharing whatever, whenever, and trying to be brave.
In. Truer. Ink.
(Which, when rearranged, spells my name. Cool, huh?)

Thanks for reading! I appreciate you!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why is everybody so cranky?

I freely admit that I love the Internet and social media, probably to a fault. I love the connection it provides with friends, some old, some new, some I only know because we share common goals, hobbies, beliefs, or "likes" online. I love the fact a community can come together and support a family whose child is battling cancer, or encourage a friend who lost a job, or pray for one another when we're suffering, struggling, whiny, or otherwise in need of a helping hand.

What I don't love is the constant barrage of conflict and strife. Don't get me wrong, I don't really care what people post. If I don't agree with it I simply (like a grown-up) ignore it. If it gets too stupid, I just don't visit that blog, or follow that individual, anymore. I've learned the hard way not to read comments on anything remotely controversial. The level of vitriol is much too high.


Lately, I find myself hitting the backspace and delete buttons frequently, and hesitating longer and longer over the "like" and "share" buttons. Why? Because I don't want to engage in an argument with what seems to be an increasingly large number of very unhappy people who are just looking for a fight.

When did we become such a miserable, self-righteous (no matter which side of the spectrum you fall on), venomous, angry nation? And why?

Just today I've been bombarded by debates about Hobby Lobby vs. Obamacare, vaccinations (I'm not even going to open that can of worms so just talk to the hand...), animal rights in China, animal rights at zoos, animal rights on Animal Planet, fracking, evolution vs. creation, the "gay agenda," green lawns as a crime against humanity, Medicare paying for penis pumps (seriously???), what really happened to flight 370 (like anyone knows), the threat of war in Russia and Ukraine, and so on and so forth.

I'm tired.

All of those subjects are important, and they are all worthy of discussion. But when the "discussion" turns into that kind of "discussion" your parents used to have that woke you up from a sound sleep... that's when things get messy.

We aren't going to solve anything by sniping at each other in comments on FB, or on a blog, or tweeting our opinions. The solution to our problems is going to be found when we stop looking at each other as the opposing team, start recognizing all the things we have in common, and start putting ourselves in each other's shoes.

Yeah, I know. Not gonna happen. At least not on a large scale. But I can do that, myself. I can stop and consider someone else's perspective before I lambaste them in a public forum. I can take a moment to recall all of the opinions and perceptions I've clung to for dear life that have drastically changed over the course of my two-score and three years (Doesn't two-score sound better than 40-something?) and offer some grace and mercy to others who are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt they are RIGHT about whatever they believe they are right about. I can choose kindness, compassion, and understanding, even when I disagree, disapprove, and dislike someone else's stance.

Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Maybe the Internet is the perfect opportunity to practice...



Thursday, March 20, 2014

My hobby? Collecting craft supplies.

Yesterday my husband handed me an empty container and said, "Do you want..?"

I hesitated. (I did!) Do I NEED another empty container? (Answer: NO.)

Addiction trumped reason, (isn't that always the case?) and I added the tin box to my burgeoning pile of DIY craft supplies.

Am I a craftaholic? No. I don't think so.

My problem? I love the IDEA of crafting, whether it's quilting or beading or jewelry-making or ______.

But somehow I never find the motivation to "set my hand to the plow."

DH said perhaps my hobby is collecting craft supplies.

He may be right.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sundays are hard...

I think I understand the conundrum of the recently retired... Suddenly, after years of a working person's schedule, to have nothing to do, no demands, no requirements, is a shock to the system. Sundays feel that way.

Maybe it's because for SO long our Sundays were run on tight schedules, with plenty of obligations and expectations. Get up (early, compared to the rest of the week) and get the household fed, cleaned, dressed, and prepped for the drive to church.

Sometimes church was a worshipful, holy experience, imbued by the glorious presence of God. Sometimes—just being honest, here—it was not. Sometimes it was boring. Sometimes it was awkward. And sometimes I just gritted my teeth and waited for the service to be over so I could go home, curl up in my bed, and cry myself to sleep because it was all so desperately difficult. (Be nice to your pastor's wife... It's her job to make it all seem easy and smooth... like a ballerina whose toes are bleeding in her shoes while she's onstage.)

After church, there was lunch to prepare. Then clean-up. Then change out of "Sunday" clothes (Want to know why we have "church clothes"? More on that in a future post.). For many years there was also an evening church service to attend, which involved another round of feeding, cleaning, dressing, and prepping, and another drive to and from. Then returning home to tuck everyone into bed and get ready for Monday.

These days, Sunday is a lot less structured. With a continued desire to worship and pray, whether in a church service or at home, the lack of structure has suddenly made my Sunday worship experience (read: prayer/meditation/connection with God) disturbingly intense, scarily intimate, and alarmingly personal. And sometimes, that is really, really HARD.

If you are open to it, God will happily get right up in your business and talk to you, and it's not always a pleasant, ego-affirming conversation. But it's real. And it can't be ignored or avoided... or covered over with a lot of busyness. And in my mind, THAT is worship, wherever and however, or on whatever day of the week it occurs.