Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Surviving The Empty Nest

I knew the day was coming where both halves of my heart would actually go through with this growing up thing and go off to college and/or get a job and/or not be here.  At home.  With me.

See, I was always the mom who cried when I let go of their hand and turned to walk away at preschool, and when they got on the bus each school year, and then into the driver's seat of the car...especially the driver's seat of the car...and always felt deep sadness when all those holiday and summer breaks were over.  Just so you understand who's writing this and such. 

I'm about two full months into this stage of midlife and I've reached "typing 'surviving the empty nest' into an internet search" level of wellness, which is better than "not really hungry enough for dinner" level.  I've read the list of suggestions from various experts.  They're cute and all, but not really much I can get with.  I'm not into drinking wine and let's be real, I'd probably end up throwing the pottery they suggest as a crafting option.  So what have I been doing?  Well...

I'm blessed in that I'm working a FT job, so there's a solid 10.5hrs each day in which I have something work related to do - be that commuting or contributing as a member of Cubicle Nation.  I try to sit through my husband's favorite tv shows.  Okay no, I go into my phone on account of not really caring about someone's 2 million dollar home budget and finding them the right island home when my downstairs floor is still torn up from repairs that were made a year ago.  Anyway.  I adopted a new dog.  I volunteer some time.  I go to the gym.  Okay wait, so that's only when the dog isn't laying on me, which is infrequently. I white knuckle through maintaining a balance (boundary) between wanting to reach out to friends, or invite myself to their children's sporting events 'cause your girl likes her sports, or invite myself to pretty much any and everything they may be doing and just - not.  "Notting".  Let's pretend that's a word, because it fits better.  But, what I mostly do is think about my kids with heart-filled love, hope and pride.  Praying over them, hoping they are enjoying school, even the part where they have to study and demonstrate their knowledge.  That they're growing in their faith and growing in their friendships and growing in their personhood and growing in their "knowth" (a friend says that and I.love.it.) and just - growing.  Lots of growing.

They've given their best to this household and I rejoice in their opportunities!  They deserve every good thing.  Every knowth.  Every growth.  I will forever be their biggest cheering section.

(if anyone was thinking I'd have actual suggestions for empty nesting, I honestly don't...just lots of white knuckling, really...lots of coffee...and the dog)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Summer 2018 - starting off on the good side of "meh"...


1. The season where a detailed physical inventory is taken: what's working, what's fizzling out a little, and what's just "notting".  

2. A time to try on clothes and find out just how difficult the 3 preceding seasons have been.  


#2 is far more difficult than the frequent pain levels above a 6/7, the sensory chaos, and intermittent brown outs of hearing in that pesky left ear of mine.  And a new one - the sun on my skin suddenly doesn't feel as nice as it always has.  

Definitely gon' push through that one, tho ;)

We have a vacation coming and us MSers are all about tireless prep ahead of a trip, right?  First off, I thought I had better pick up a few things to wear, seeing as how the majority of my summer stuff is extremely old and/or uncool.  It's been an adventure.  I'll go...

Like, I may or may not have been temporarily trapped in a swimsuit top.  Definitely was.  Rest assured, I was (finally) able to free myself with a great deal of perseverance, determination, and rather spirited writhing.  No rescue efforts were required.  No copays resulted.  Both the swimsuit and I came out of the dressing room in one piece.  I came home, bought online and am presently awaiting my shipment.  If this goes down in some kind of way, at least I'll be in the comfort of my own room when the EMTs arrive...

Then, I thought those spandex leggings might be a nice addition to my casual wear, as well as a great way to hide the years of "not really" that my legs have been through.  I mean, all my friends look super cute and cool in them.  Surely I would as well!  Had them halfway up, felt the fabric squeezing my legs and wanted them off immediately.  Clearly, clothing that constricts is not for those of us who knoweth the "MS hug".

And I wear these knock off crocs to the beach (yes my pants are wet - blame it on the water behind me that beckons me from afar):

They're pretty loud, right?  I mean, I thought to buy some cute sandals for vacation and just go barefoot on the beach like everyone else, because I know how silly I look in them.  But, the mix of hypersensitivity and pins and needles and random cold-as-ice sensations I get in my feet?  And the way certain textures I walk on can totally magnify each of those?  And the fact that these clunky things are pretty wide and have a snowshoe effect that helps me to stay super balanced both on land and out in the water?  Makes me think...

Maybe I'm super cool just the way I am.  

Because I'm fighting a battle you can't see...

And my love for that water, the way I can choose to suspend myself and float, or allow it to rock me back and forth, or stand and dive headfirst into it, or sit up in waist high water to allow waves to crash into me and catapult me around like a tumbleweed far surpasses what I happen to be wearing on my feet.  Even when they're hot pink.  

Who knows?  Maybe the beach will be heavily populated with middle aged women in a cornucopia of rubber shoes this year?  

Okay, no.  But don't front and say it wasn't at least a great visual...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"Be Free" - some raw and unplugged ms

I'm trying, supportive gym mat.  Totally trying...

But, it's hard to feel slightly (moderately and sometimes significantly) captive inside my own body.  And mind.

So much of the past 18+ yrs of living with ms has been a mental battle for me.  The struggle between acceptance and denial.  Humility and ego.  Understanding and indifference.  Vulnerability and insusceptibility.

It's living with a condition that ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes, and does whatever it darn well pleases - whenever it darn well pleases.  Sometimes, it has meant or means not being able to see well enough to drive.  Walk well enough without an aid.  Think well enough to "even".  And then clears up.  Intertwines.  Goes on a slight hiatus.  Comes back with a vengeance.  All with no heads up...

See, typing this is like therapy.  I suppose I should extend myself a measure of grace, since it's hard to reconcile a thing when it keeps changing.   

It's the occasional remembrance of days when coordination and physical skills/abilities were at the top of my personal "things you do well" pyramid.  With those remembrances, which usually come in the form of retro newspaper articles from the sports section friends will lovingly share with me, come wonderful thoughts of the friendships and feelings of mutual respect for fellow athletes forged on each side of the playing field.  I hold each very dear to my heart.  But, what also has a way of seeping in at times is a fair measure of muck to work through.

Sometimes, the muck is deep.

I'm not talking about reliving any sort of "glory days".  I'm too old for any of that.  It's not even about a desire to go on half marathon and 5k trips with my friends, or run/jump/climb at a mud run - all of which I am no longer able to take part in, due to my inability to run (the jolts to my spinal cord kick off mad nerve pain and incoordination) or descend (I lose coordination and wreck myself).

No, wait.

If I'm being honest, it used to be that.  I used to want to go with them to do beach and mud runs, more for the fellowship than the actual running.  But, I've reconciled that in my mind.  I'm okay with not running on the beach, because I'm actually quite good at sitting on it ;)  I'm okay with not being able to throw myself around in mud, because I have the ocean!  The ocean is my playground...a place where I can jump and be held.  Weightless.  Spun about.  "Run" and dance in the water, because there is no jolting of self on a hard surface.  Floating sorta works with my equilibrium and makes me feel oddly balanced.  Or not.  I don't care, though.  I'm in the ocean!  I don't care about anything out there.  Not what I look like in the mirror.  Not if anyone thinks I look ridiculous (I do) throwing myself into the waves, tucking my feet up, allowing the water to throw me around.  I just don't care!  And I've noticed I'm smiling as I type this...

Anyway.  I suppose I can celebrate that reconciliation as growth.  Growth mindset, yo.

What I'm saying is...I *just* want to get through the grocery store with my full faculties.  Full vision - or enough to drive home with.  At least some measure of coordination, meaning I can get the items on the belt without requiring a clean up and bags into my trunk without dropping them in the parking lot.  Can I *just* do that?

Can I *just* blow my hair dry each morning without hitting myself in the head with the hair dryer?  Or spraying myself in the face with the hairspray?  It's all pretty funny, but...

Can I?

Can I not be judged for how I do ms?  Because those judging me don't see what's going on inside my head nor feel what my body feels like.  The intense mental pep rallies that I often need to throw for myself simply to emerge from my bed at times, inclusive of my dad's Army phrase of "Be all you can be" and replaying his 8am weekend wake up calls from my teenage years of "Time to get up!" and "There's a list of s*^t to do, you need to get up and get it done!" and "Don't piss the day away!"  Ironically, I think of that phrase so often.  One of my biggest symptoms is frequent urination.  There are times I feel as if I'm doing just that...

It's reading all about the spoon theory that's become meme fodder in the social media world, wondering how it is that all these people know how many spoons they have on any given day, because I sure as hell don't.  I don't have spoons.  I have coffee.

It's the inner argument between gratitude - for innumerable blessings and goodness - and my feels.  The real ones.  The ones I don't talk about.

I'm struggling to find the right thing to close with.  Maybe that's because ms is confusing and stupid and unpredictable, making a 'power close' tough to pin down.  Maybe it's because I struggle with the anxiety of saying too much and actually posting it.  Or maybe...and I hesitate to get this vulnerable...it's because my caffeine level is low.


"Be free" - says the mat.

"I'm trying my best" - says me, who battles an invisible enemy on the daily.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Welcome Home, Dear Ring - a story about redemption

So, today ended up being a pretty great day.

That ring on my middle finger was...is...in celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary. Hold that thought... Several years ago, in the midst of our financial collapse, pretty much right before the nervous breakdown that I had, I needed groceries. I wouldn't have felt so desperate, but I remember that my son needed food. His foods were not cheap, nor were they easily substituted. I had already asked to borrow money from my mom on countless occasions and I couldn't bear to do it again, because I didn't feel like I could pay it all back. Ever. My husband was working as hard at as many jobs as he could hold. So, I thought about what I could possibly sell of mine. You're looking at it. I knew my dad's connection to the owner of a local pawn shop, so I went in with my ring and explained that I wanted to sell it to him. He said he couldn't buy it, because he knew he'd never end up reselling it. Those were tough economic times and he was certain he'd be taking a complete loss. People were not in the market for something like that. He was kind and compassionate, but asked if there wasn't something else I could do? Enter full out waterworks followed by, "I can't have my dad knowing I was in here, okay?" and "Isn't there anything you can do?" and "Can you please just help me?" He gave me $100 cash. I immediately drove to the store and bought the groceries. I remember thinking of all the things I would tell my husband. I also remember knowing none of those statements would ease the hurt. But hey, rock bottom is both the ugliest and most beautiful place, right? Rock bottom is where the band-aids are ripped off, the masks are thrown aside, and you're forced to get real. For once. I've seen a few ;)
Fast forward to 2017. August, actually. I got to talking with some friends about this ring and the circumstances surrounding it. I wondered if it was true that the store owner was never able to sell it, but I was too proud (chicken) to revisit the store. I didn't want to bring all those feels back to the surface, to remember the nervous breakdown that took place within days after that. Because if you've never found yourself locked in your car in the bank parking lot, screaming, crying, swearing, and punching the roof and steering wheel until a kind and incredibly brave man knocks on your window to ask if you're alright and offers to call an ambulance...well...I feel like you're doing better than I have ;) So, back to this ring. My friend was amazing and offered to go in the shop with me. For me. Whatever I needed. I was like...no, it's okay. I got it. But, I didn't "got it". I chickened out again and hid behind my computer monitor, messaged the shop and asked if they happened to have a 7 stone diamond anniversary ring. "Nope sorry." Just like that. Literal cut and paste. Two words were like a hammer in the chest, but my compartmentalization game be strong, so I stuffed it down. Fast forward to yesterday. For the heck of it. I went onto the website I didn't initially know they had. I paged through. Paged. More pages. "What am I doing with my life? Is there nothing else I could be doing right now? Dishes? Laundry? This is dumb. It's just a ring. It doesn't matter." Until I spied with my little eye...a "Diamond waterfall ring" that certainly looked identical to my ring.

I zoomed in on the pictures. Scratches on the one side, just like mine. A knick on the front, just like mine. Y'all know how I can't judge stuff in space and I still remember banging that hand and putting that mark in it! I clicked the "purchase" link, which took me to ebay...and I bought it. I messaged my loyal and incredibly lovely friend to share the good news! My ring!!! Can you even? I mean, seriously? How does that even happen? But, as I looked more closely at the description, the size didn't look right. I was sure my ring was larger. So, ugh. It probably wasn't my ring. Or if it was, maybe it was sold, resized, and came back at some point? Either way, my husband said "it IS your ring, no matter if it's 'yours' or not..." Yeah. But. Okay, yeah. I went to bed thinking about how neat it would be to have "a" ring like my old one. In the morning, I would have my coffee and pick up the (not my actual) ring. I could get it resized. Still nice. It's ok. It wouldn't matter if it was the exact ring. I woke up with excitement over picking the ring up today! But, as MS and/or anxiety would have it, I also woke up with some pretty concerning health stuff. No driving for me. A trip to urgent care was more like it. This is why we have kids, right? Sure! My son dropped me off and went to the shop on my behalf, while I got to play with doctors and nurses. Because he is a good boy, he returned for me. As I eased into the passenger's seat, he had opened the box and asked if I wanted to try it on. I knew it wouldn't fit, because of the description and all. It was far more shiny than I ever remembered it. It was so not my ring. It's okay. It's "like" my ring. Close enough.
:::impatient me with 200mph mind that cannot rest:::
Meh, why not. I'll try it on. It's not like I need to go to the ER from urgent care. I've got the time... You guys. The description was wrong.
It. fit. perfectly.

Just like always. And see? The shop owner *did* end up reselling it. Like, years and years and years later. But still! Thanks, God, for this good day. Thanks for redemption that comes in all sorts of crazy ways. Thanks for being at the bottom of all those rocks right along with me. Thanks for new mercies. Thanks for friends who offer to show up. I can't thank them, or You, enough.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I Come Alive In The...Ocean!

Fans of Kim Walker Smith are reading that title like...don't you mean "river"?

Well, sure.  Just not for the purposes of this writing ;)

Our family was blessed with the ability to take a vacation this year.  Just typing that brings feelings of overwhelming gratitude and joy!  Having concentrated time together is such an incredible blessing.  There aren't actual words in existence that could properly describe all the feels.

Even though it started out with my husband wanting to drive...

Just look at his smile.  Compare that to my son's and my "meh" faces and you've summarized the trip down to Virginia Beach.  My beloved is a truck driver, which means he instinctively leaves 58 car lengths between himself and the car in front of him.  He starts off at a snail's pace.  When a light is red ahead, he lets off the gas and coasts with about 1/10 of a mile's distance.

But we're in a 3,000lb car, not a 70,000lb tractor trailer.  So:

Rather than silently screaming and nail picking for nearly 7hrs (shoulda been about 6, but...) I directed my thoughts to the goodness of God for providing the trip, the fun we would have, and...the ocean!

I absolutely *love* playing in the ocean.

Because in the ocean...

  • The natural ebb and flow of the current kinda makes me feel oddly balanced on my feet.  
  • Everyone is equal, putting forth effort to remain upright - not just me.  
  • The chill of the water shuts pain off.
  • I feel weightless.  
  • I feel indescribable joy.
  • I do not care about how I look.
  • I do not care if I fall.
  • I do not care that I'm wearing the absolute ugliest knock-off brand of crocs you could possibly imagine (worn due to the fact that the raised dots inside somehow help the bottoms of my feet to *not* freak out.)
  • I do not care, nor think, about my health, my hair, my weight, my anything.
  • I do not care...at all.  

And so, I "run" (my version of running) toward it.  I settle the stabbies in my scalp by running my hands through the top of my hair over and over and over again as I approach the water.  I clomp and stomp, full speed ahead, until I'm in far enough to jump and splash and dive head first into the waves!  I swim and smile and laugh!  If my kids are next to me, I splash them...because I'm kind of a brat like that.  Sometimes, I relax my body and allow the waves to throw me all around.  Other times, the waves do that without my permission.  When my legs and equilibrium decide my shenanigans are quite enough, thanks..I resort to either floating or sitting in the ocean's waters, depending on how close I've been thrown to shore.

No matter, because I feel nothing but joy and love and adoration for God, whose grace is like the very ocean I'm jumping, swimming, splashing, diving, tumbling, and floating in.  It's a place, or maybe a thing, in which nothing really matters - except love.  The love of friends and family sharing the experience with me.  Most of all, the love of God.  

It's overwhelming.

I mean, just look at it.

I come alive in it.  I rest in it.  I allow myself to be completely enveloped by it.

Or maybe that's grace.

Tomato / tomahto...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Morning musings over an excellent cup of coffee and MS and anxiety...

It's a beautiful, rainy morning. I enjoy rainy days. They're strangely peaceful. Or something.

I'm sitting here in one of my husband's old t-shirts and like, THE softest capri sweatpants that a friend gave me. I'm comfy. Super comfy. And the steam from the mug is dancing in front of the computer monitor. Pretty sure it doesn't get any better than this.

I can't help but feel beyond blessed as I think on all the goodness around me. I look ahead to an entire week off from work with my "babies". I think it's been about 11yrs since I've had a full week off at a time over the course of any part of a calendar year, much less the week between Christmas and New Year. Candidly speaking, I'm not quite certain how to process the time. I mean, what I'm supposed to...do. Do I clean stuff? Ugh, don't like cleaning. Do I find places within my 3hr comfort radius of driving and do a series of day trips? Ugh, being out in the cold makes me pee even more than a lot and that's just awkward to be all, "Hey, let's do a day trip and y'all go on without me! I'll be in the ladies room! Catch up with you soon!". After (over)thinking on that for several days, I ended up doing what I should have done prior to perseverating on the matter. I straight up asked the kids. My kids, who are totally not babies (18 and 17yrs old), both answered with a resounding................."nothing".

me: Like, nothing?

them: Nothing. We just want to relax.

But...I can't do "nothing". Because when I do nothing, I notice everything. And when I'm working, or *doing*, those verbs have a way of distracting me from that everything.

For example, the burning, sometimes searing pain I have across that large spot in the left side of my neck - hurts more. The constant twitching of my right ring finger - annoys more. The sudden and really weird way my eyes will decide they're going to stop cooperating with one another, resulting in quasi-aura (think migraine but not really) - sways more. The hearing in my left ear that comes and goes at will - surprises me more. The cramping throughout my body - grabs more. The pain in my chest, because MS likes to "hug" me nice and high, rather than the textbook torso hug - squeezes more. The numb spot in my left foot - feels less.

Last, but-certainly-most-notable, anxiety. It's huge right now. Max volume. Like, it requires its own paragraph. It makes me feel as if I have to apologize for simply existing. It says I'm a bad (granddaughter, wife, mom, friend, worker, woman, human). It tells me I can't do it, whatever "it" is. It asks how I could possibly think I was capable of whatever "it" is, if I can't even carry my lunch tray to my table in the cafeteria at work without throwing half my salad on the floor. That happened yesterday and, as I carefully cleaned the pumpkin seeds and craisins from the floor with a napkin, bunched up in my good hand, anxiety said, "LOL!!! (yes, anxiety is trendy and hip to text speak) Everyone is staring at you! You're such an idiot. Just shut down already. You made a complete fool of yourself in front of all these people. They think you're an idiot. Yesterday, you made a fool of yourself on the phone with your friend. She thinks you're an idiot. Here are a bunch of other times you made a fool of yourself. And everyone in the cafeteria is staring and laughing at you. Go sit in the corner booth, stare into what's left of your salad and don't say any words, because you'll just mess them up anyway. Seriously. Just completely shut down. Once you get up, that is. IF you get up. Without falling. Idiot."

Let me tell you, getting up from the kneel in that moment felt much like a fighter just knocked to the ground. My legs were wobbly - probably more from anxiety than MS - and I felt totally defeated and wanted to cry, but remembered my dad's words, which he would intensely deliver through clenched teeth when I would incur a major injury during a sporting event: "DON'T CRY. BE TOUGH." Honestly, there should be no crying over craisins anyway, right? No matter how good they are. Because come on, they are pure goodness. Thankfully, I was near a counter, which I used to help stand (kinda) firm. As I panned the room, twitchy hand pressed on the countertop, I found that...absolutely no one was looking. I thumbed my nose at anxiety, explaining that none of my 100 or so coworkers in the room had even noticed. Anxiety said they were staring, but chose to be classy by acting as if they hadn't. Oh, and that they were actually talking about it. And me. And anyway, how about that foolishness from yesterday. Foolishness that ruins all the things. Bad human.

Some may wonder how I can begin a post by explaining how blessed I feel about something, only to reveal that anxiety has me feeling a certain sort of way. In fact, I've been told before that if I were stronger in my faith, I wouldn't have all this anxiety. Well? To that I say, and have actually said...I didn't choose to have anxiety just as I didn't choose to have MS. And the God I know never promised that everything would be perfect in life. In fact, the scriptures say the complete opposite. But. He goes with me through it all. Before me, beside me, ahead of me. That is my assurance. Assurance, for me, doesn't necessarily mean no anxiety and it certainly doesn't mean no MS. It's just assurance. And it's everything.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas filled with lots of somethings or nothings, whichever you prefer, and tons and tons of assurance.

So, I wonder if I could.........okay no. No things to distract from the things. Assurance ;)

And a song that is actually distracting the burning from my neck. Because songs:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Body Image Issues Be Strong - And This Post Be Long

:::stands up:::

Hi. My name is Tina and I have body image issues.

"Hi, Tina."

:::sips water and prepares to get vulnerable for a quick minute or 10:::

You know, I just find it so ironic how I have these daily, hourly, mostly constant chats with God, be it out loud or in my head, and I still haven't learned that...when I ask to be shown something, boy do I ever get hit over the head with it. I'm guessing that's because God knows I need that sort of delivery. My mind moves way too fast and distraction is far too prevalent in me for subtlety. Isn't that a strangely spelled word? Who did that?

See? Distraction.

Anyway. My ramblings went something like this: "I feel restless. Don't know why. Everything is good, so this doesn't make sense. Just show me what it is.  And You know how I am, so make it clear." I guess I'd liken that conversation to Step 7, but I never really had the attention span to work the steps and ended up tangled in steps/principles like the cord of my headphones after I've shoved them in my pocket. There's more than one way to heal, thank goodness ;)

I started those ramblings a couple months ago. Since then, I've seen friends make bold social media posts, sharing their stories of struggles with self and body image. The "open letters" to moms on the beach.  Bathing suit season will bring those feelings of shame and inadequacy and comparison straight to the surface, right?  It's become a recurring theme all around me.

"Oh, that? No, God. I don't need to work on that. I'm good.  Really."

But, more posts surfaced...then messages at church that spoke to our perceptions of our worth...conversations with friends over coffee...and finding myself on the receiving end of an absolutely beautiful person's sharing of her own struggles with unworthiness and self image, to which I was completely dumbfounded and immediately said - well, after listening - "Wait. Stop. You're absolutely beautiful. I don't know why you would ever feel less than that.  That is not how I see you.  How anyone sees you.  And it's definitely not how God sees you."

"What's that, Lord?  I just gave her all that truth, but can't own it for myself?  Well.  I still don't really want to work on it.  I'm good, seriously..."

A couple of weeks or so ago, I had been feeling kinda blah, because the school year is starting shortly, which means I need to start presenting to work as if others will actually see me.  My usual "week's worth of clothing" hangs in the closet.  Pants that aren't of good quality, meaning they've frayed and faded after too many washings, but I make them work. Five or six feasible tops - some of which are really old, but I make them work. One pair of shoes that are scuffed (thanks, ms!), but I make them work. I tell myself, "At least I don't get stuck in my closet anymore like I used to. There aren't any choices to weigh my mind down. Everything gets worn once. Let's call it 'simplification' and pretend I'm using it as an ms coping strategy! Yes! That will make me look resourceful and savvy." And that looks much better than the truth, which makes me vulnerable...

The vulnerable truth is - when I look in the mirror, I see something that others do not see.

This has been a struggle since I was a small child. I remember being in kindergarten, hating the image in the mirror. I started taking laxatives when I was about 10, but that didn't make me thin. As a teenager, I resorted to a regimen similar to what wrestlers followed when they wanted to make weight. Work out hard, wear trash bags and sit in the sauna, eat as little as possible, then eat all the things late at night after getting super hungry, feel horrible about overeating, beat self up with typical "you're fat and worthless" self-talk, work out harder, eat less, eat more, rinse and repeat. And, above all else...plaster on happy face, never let anyone in, because I had to keep my secrets game strong. "You're only as sick as your secrets", right?  That is a very powerful statement for me.  By the grace of God, over the course of several years, I've unearthed and dealt with all the roots of that too-many-years-long-mess-that-took-on-several-faces.  I've come to see goodness in the face staring back at me in the mirror.  But, the struggle to look at my body is still very real.  

MS totally has not helped this body image sitch. I'm no longer able to work out in the same ways I did, nor can I run, nor can I sit in saunas, nor do I view big trash bags as attire - come on, that's funny. I have to approach my exercise with caution and cannot push my muscles to the point of burning, which had always felt strangely fabulous to me, because now it just results in terrible spasms. My legs have become dimpled and unsightly from sitting.  Always had a belly, even back in the extreme work out days.  I can hate on my arms, too.  It's all so easy for me to do.

But seriously. Back to the clothes thing. A week or so ago (see how God kept hitting me over the head, time after time and thing after thing?), I received a message from a friend, who asked if I'd like to come take a look at some clothing she was unloading. I *knew* that nothing would fit my short and sturdy self, but she's seriously one of the most fun people to be around, so why not? I figured I would simply hold the pieces up, determine them not to fit, and just enjoy that half hour or so of hang time.

Instead? She showed me what seemed to be endless pairs of brand new, beautiful dress pants and jeans. In my exact size. The quality of these pants is unlike anything I have ever worn. As if I wasn't already spoiled? *Several* new pairs of capri sweatpants for the gym! Who am I kidding! Capri sweats for the gym AND the sofa!!!  But then, it got real.  Sweaters and tops were next.  When she announced that we were doing this, meaning I was trying them on, I started with a panic attack.  I thought to myself, "No.  I am not allowing anxiety to ruin this day (yes you are, your heart is coming through your chest). Clearly, this is exactly what God is trying to show me (not here, not now, no thanks).  Get over yourself (can't), get in the powder room (don't wanna), and put this stuff on (not gonna fit me, way too fat for every last one of those tops).  Then?  Walk out there (seriously? in front of everyone?) and (be judged)...okay, whatever.  Hold your breath if you must, but just rip the band aid off already (kinda wanna pass out now), open the door (still wanna pass out), and go (legs are shaking, but okay then...and we're walking...)."

Digression alert (italics time):  I've written before about my personal level of hell that is "being all up in the dressing room", because you know what's waiting for me in there? The multitude of mirrors. One glance in any direction reflects my entire body from angles unimaginable. What is *that* about? "Oh doesn't this look flattering if I'm standing completely still and people are approximately 165 degrees to my left? I'm totally getting this." Then, I put it on in the morning and decide it's hideous. I'll never wear it. Instead, I'll shove it to the far left of my closet and donate it.  I also struggle with sizing. My clothes are too big, because that's how I hide. From my window tint to my giant hooded sweatshirts to my pink Phillies hat...pulled down right to my eyes.  Straight up hermit who has to consistently check thyself against isolating.   /digression

When I finally walked out of the powder room, where I had no way to hide, I was met with compliments and smiles and love and a little bit of "what are you talking about, that looks really nice!"-ities.  Because I was busy playing the "I don't think this looks okay" record.  Not every single thing worked for me, but many things did.  And so?

This is a picture of my upgraded closet.  See the hangers that are not wire?  Yep.  She gave me those as well.  I'm moving up, y'all:

I can't possibly explain the joy that I am feeling over these clothes.  I'm not comfortable yet in several pieces, but I have already begun to challenge myself by wearing them.  My eyes don't see contrast differences in certain shades of peach, pink, salmon, or lighter oranges all that well (thanks, ms!), so I was all the more grateful to have ended up with colors I could easily match.  How perfect was it that one top had a matching peach/pink/salmon or lighter orange (because I honestly don't know what it is) already paired with it?  As long as I can keep those two together, I should be good to go!  And speaking of challenges?  I thought I might go to the store and try this dressing room throwdown again.  I mean, if I could stand in front of 50 people at my friend's house (or maybe it was just 4 or 5 people), surely I could conquer the dressing room!  Or at least kick it in the face more than before.  Which I did.  I even made some new BFFs in the salesgirls along the way.   

My heart is smiling.  My closet is full.  My BFF list grew by 3 in the past 24hrs.  And someday, with my Lord's help, I will be able to see the beauty in myself that I so automatically see in others.  ;)

/end session