Strength

It’s been almost exactly a year since I opened up about our struggle with fertility.  When I sat down to write about it, I was overlooking the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks.  This morning, I am at Table Rock Lake with my family…including my 7 week old miracle.  It’s loud…because we’re loud…so we’ll see how much writing I actually get done.

We’re on the deck.  The top deck.  There are multiple decks.  This is a fancy house!  Mom is sitting next to me.  Uncle John and Latecia flew from Arizona to be here.  They are sitting at the table playing dominoes with Nick, Reece, Peyton and Petyon’s friend, Mea.  Drew is downstairs napping with Samson.  Darren is downstairs throwing a silent fit about his stuffed animal being ‘broken.’  Turns out Will asked, “Have you ever seen a reindeer fly?”  Darren replied, “No!”  And Will threw it off the deck.  I’m not sure where Will is right now.  Katie and Leah went to the Beer Cave with Becky and Ryan.  Cody will be here this afternoon.  I think that’s everyone.

I am so thankful for these times.  And for the fact that we can all hang out for an extended weekend without going crazy!  My favorite is waking up in the morning.  Sitting around drinking coffee and having quiet conversation that eventually gets louder as more and more people wake up.  We make a few pots of coffee….enough to go around a couple of times.  We snack on some breakfast.  Ryan makes bacon.  Eventually, the coffee drinking turns into beer drinking  around 10 or 10:30am.  John, AKA Mr. Michelada, whips up a few of those for everyone.  

Yesterday morning it was raining, forcing everyone to just stay and hang out for a bit before heading out on the boat.  Some napped, some played pitch, some just hung out.  The rain was awesome.  In the afternoon, a group headed out on the boat and the house got quieter.  Samson and I have gotten some serious snuggle time in and I just loved every minute of it.  Though, I think all of the commotions of the day wore him out!  He went to bed around 7:30 and was pretty fussy when he woke up to eat at night.  This morning, he is better!  He snuggled with Yaya and ate his mid-morning snack outside.  He’s loving being outside and snuggling with whoever will snuggle with him!

A conversation from last night stuck out to me.  I love love love the meaningful conversations that Katie and I always seem to have.  The topic was ‘STRENGTH’.  She and I pondered why some people just have the ability to hold things in.  Or at least that what it looks like to us from the outside.  We’re not those kinds of people.  And I think we’re starting to be ok with that.

I’ve pondered this a lot.  What is STRENGTH?  What is it to be strong?  I’ve decided that STRENGTH seems to have different meanings for different people.  My strength is not holding it in.  My strength is letting it out.  Being vulnerable so that others can relate.  So that I can connect with others.  It’s what I love doing.

I usually don’t end like this – but if you’re reading this and care to comment, I would love to know what your STRENGTH is.  We are all strong in different ways and at different times.  It’s what keeps us all going.

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Purpose?

For whatever reason – I always like to start with where I am.  I feel like when I read through it later, it takes me back to what I was doing at that time.

7:08am Kitchen Island.  Ate my eggs; now drinking coffee.

    This morning was purposeful and happy.  I drug myself out of bed after pondering going back to sleep or not.  I decided it would be a happier day if I just got up, so I did.  I liked the workout today and it felt good.  It was measurable, and I like that.  Everyone rushes out of the gym in the morning – off to start their day.  I typically stay and stretch and it was nice to talk to KC for a little bit too.  Human interaction! YAY!  I headed home, hopped in for a quick shower and started breakfast.  While eating my eggs & avocado, I read more of my bible study book Walking with Purpose.  Why didn’t I think of this yesterday?  When I felt like my life was so purpose-less!?!  Probably because I was an emotional disaster and it wouldn’t have sunk in yesterday anyways.  God purposely brought this to me this morning.
    I read the sub-title; OBSTACLE #3: I DON’T KNOW IF HE REALLY UNDERSTANDS HOW HARD MY LIFE IS.  I thought Yea. Yea. I know He understands how hard my life is.  To think He doesn’t is just a little ridiculous.  As I read the next 8 paragraphs, I marked and starred and underlined practically all of it.  He certainly understood what was going on yesterday…which is why He brought me this today and intentionally not yesterday.
    The section started with a short story of Mother Teresa and how although she did such great work in lives of others, there were times where she experienced times of loneliness, doubt, and abandonment.  How in the world could this be considering all the great things she did?  The truth is – even though most of us aren’t out doing what Mother Teresa did, we all experience doubt – wondering if what we’re doing has any purpose at all.  Being all alone for a solid 12 hours yesterday, I was thinking this all day!  How could I possibly be impacting the lives of others and why do I care so much?  I was an emotional wreck by the time my husband got home.  God bless that wonderful man!!
    “Satan sees your weariness as a perfect opportunity to discourage you and tempt you to give up.  He wants you to give in to despair. One of his most effective tactics is to whisper in your ear, “is that all you are doing?  What value does that have in the big scheme of things?”… He will try to convince you that because you aren’t doing more, God isn’t pleased with you.  But nothing could be further from the truth.”
    This makes me wonder a little bit.  So – were those thoughts yesterday really mine?  Or were they really not mine?  Am I going crazy and making a big deal out of nothing?  Or is this a push for me to keep trying to find something that fulfills me more?
    “You need to accept yourself as God sees you – as his beloved daughter.  Your dignity does not come from what you accomplish or from what you do.”  
    As an achiever, I think this is hard for me.  It’s hard for me to find where my identity comes from.  During my first few years out of college, I pulled so much satisfaction out of being great at my job.  Though I’m still good at it, after more than 6 years of doing the same thing, that satisfaction has rapidly decreased.  Though I am good at motivating myself to keep doing it well, where do I find purpose?  How can I stop feeling ‘stuck’?  How can I grow? Where do I go from here?
    “What God calls you to do, he does not expect you to do on your own strength.”  
    Great!! Becuase most of the time I have no idea what He’s calling me to do!
    “He will give you the strength and the endurance that you need for every task, for every day.”
    Also Great!  Because sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing with myself!

Just A Day in the Life

It’s Sunday morning. 8:39 am and it’s chilly.  Warm for October though. 50 degrees.  I’m bundled up in my sweats, slippers, scarf, hat and two blankets because I wanted to be outside.  Woke up at 7 since I feel asleep on the couch at 9.  Ahhh I feel so refreshed from a good long sleep!  I don’t even feel bad about falling asleep at 9 on a Saturday night.  #adulting 

Yesterday was a long day!  Friday night we went to Kelsey & Tim’s Halloween party.  I was a ninja.  I’m not sure what Drew was.  I’m never really sure what Drew is for Halloween.  It was good to get out and see everyone!  We got home around 1:45 or so.  Then I was up early to go walk in a Halloween Fun Run at the hospital.  Mary Jane had invited me to walk with her!  I’m so glad she did! We had such a great morning!  She’d told me previously that she was not dressing up.  When I arrived, she was in full-on witch attire.  Good thing I brought some back-up mouse ears!  I stuck those on my head and we took off!! And just because of that, I got 2nd place in the adult costume contest and a $20 subway gift card! Woohoo!  Afterwards, we hopped in Mary Jane’s convertible Mini Cooper, put the top down and headed to the garage sales!  My treasures included a couple of baby books, a baby carrier and two plastic plates.  The baby carrier is my very first purchase for the baby!  

I headed home.  It was so nice to have a good day at home!  I did laundry, packed up some clothes that don’t fit and got rid of some.  Vacuumed, mopped and just piddled.  At 2, I went to Jill’s so she could look through some jewelry I didn’t need, then we went to the agape shop. No treasures there for me.  I was looking for a frame or a board that I could make into a chalkboard.  Those cute little pregnancy chalkboards that people take their picture by each week.  No luck.  But then – I got home and looked in a closet and there it was.  The perfect size board!  I took it out to my little work bench and painted it up!  Oddly, it was 80 degrees yesterday, so it took no time at all to dry!

At a quarter to 4, I started to get ready for the trunk or treat.  Though I didn’t have a trunk, I did dress up a little and go to the park to help if needed and take pictures!  I’d planned to be a ninja again, but thought I would die from the heat if I dressed myself up in black from head to toe.  I stuck the mouse ears back on, hollered at Abby, and off we went! 14,000 steps already today!

The trunk-or-treat was great!  We had cars all the way around the park and lots of kids!!  I’m quite surprised how well these have gone over the last two years!  It makes me happy.

Back at home.  Finished painting my chalkboard.  Cooked a shitty frozen pizza and rented Maleficent.  What a wonderful Saturday!

A Bean in a Sac

Friday 10/21/16

I am 8 weeks and 2 days pregnant today.  The baby is approximately the size of a 2×2 Lego and finally has a little hand!

Luckily I haven’t been sick at all and have had almost no symptoms whatsoever.  Except one night.  The night I was supposed to chaperone the homecoming dance with Drew.  I actually really love doing this!!  Watching the high school kids dance and have fun makes my mind reminisce about my high school days.  I watch students and match them up to who that was at my high school dances.  I stuck it out and lasted the whole football game.  I was so happy that Lisa helped me go get the pizzas for the dance.  But once the game was over and the pizzas were delivered safely, I bailed.  After Drew jumped my car that is.  I accidentally left the keys in it after getting the pizza out.  I had horrible cramps throughout the whole game.  I came home, laid down, and they were gone.

It was September 21st the day we found out we were pregnant.  Our 4 year anniversary was on the 29th.  We went all out for our anniversary!  Made a spaghetti dinner at home and watched New Girl on the couch.  All the while, we pondered and looked up different baby boy names.  It was the best anniversary to date!

That weekend, I was so excited to be sitting on the deck reading books about pregnancy rather than how to make babies.  I soaked it in just like the sun that day, and thanked God over and over.

Our first baby appointment was on Wednesday, October 12th.  I was a little nervous going in.  They don’t tell you what’s going to happen during this appointment or any of them really.  I feel like there should be a layout saying what they do at each one so you can be prepared.  First I had a sonogram. How a sonographer determines what is in there is crazy to me!!  She looked at several things, but it all looked very similar to me.  I asked some questions throughout and she really wasn’t all that friendly.  But then,  we saw the baby for the first time.  So cool!  Even cooler – we could see the heart beat!  She sent us home with a disc of pictures and a little 2 second video where you could actually see the heart beating.  I watched it ovcaptureer and over.  I sent it to my mom and my mother in law.  I always have found it so strange when people show off their sonogram pictures…. Or maybe I’m the weird one because I don’t know how to react.  I mean, it’s not like you say “It’s so cute!”  It looks like a little bean in a sac.  I wasn’t going to be a person that shows off her sonogram pictures.  And there I was…showing it to anyone who asked how my appointment went or how I was doing!  I guess it’s not that weird!!

The next Wednesday, we took some fall pictures.  This was something I was wanting to do with Drew this fall anyways, but was thrilled to be able to do some special ones!  I can’t wait to get them back!

I have been soaking up all of the pregnancy and baby conversations, instances, situations.  Overwhelmingly grateful for each and every one.

A Turning Point

When you are in the dark valley, separate yourself, and know that that is not who you are.  

This is a paraphrase of something Fred said during our 20 minutes of meditation.  This is something meditation has taught me and that I have to continue to remember.  Your feelings are not who you are.  Though sometimes, that is the very source of my anxiety.  You see…my true self, my normal Shannon is happy, healthy, fun loving, optimistic and energetic.  I go through times in my life when I don’t feel this way and I do not feel like my normal self.  I feel it and sometimes I recognize it.  Sometimes it’s harder to recognize.  I feel anxious. Sad.  Worried.  This is the side that I am so hesitant to show anyone.  I feel that those around me expect me to be the normal Shannon all of the time and as much as I want to be, sometimes I’m not.  I am also not the type that can hold that in and only show who I want to show.  I wear my emotions on my sleeve – or rather on my face – and truly feel like they are not something to be afraid of.  I don’t want to be pretending to have my shit together when I don’t.  Then I bottle it all up inside and explode.  My exploding comes in the form of crying and I sometimes don’t even know what I am crying about.

My mind takes me back to October of 2015.  Interviews of for District Manager and Assistant Sales Manager.  I am still slightly haunted by these interviews, but also know now that they were a big turning point for me and I really have learned so much from them.  As I write this, I’m pulling at my heart to not feel ashamed.  The company was restructuring and with that came multiple openings.  Positions I am well qualified for and something I’ve wanted ever since starting my professional career.  This is what I want, right?  My husband agreed that if I did want to apply, and if I did get it, we’d figure it out.  I applied toward the end of the week and the interview was set for the following week.  That Monday, as I took Abby for a walk down the center of the dirt roads just blocks from my home, I cried.  Bawled actually.  Pleaded.  I asked the Lord to help me get my shit together!  Can  you say that to God? I did.  I walked and thought about the reasons why we were here in Cawker City and the reasons why I wanted this job.  I contemplated cancelling the interview.  Was I ready for this?  Is it right?  Right now?  I convinced myself to go through with it because this was what I always wanted! 

It was awful.  I was unprepared, NOT CONFIDENT, timid.  These are not qualities you want in a leader.  What happened to the confident Shannon that kicks ass at her job and inspires others to kick ass?  Where is SHE right now?  I should’ve listened to my body.  God was giving me all the signs that it was just not the right time.  Instead I brushed them off as nerves and worrying too much about the future if I did actually get the job.  Luckily, He’s revealed the other purposes he had in me not getting that job and for that I am thankful.  I then applied for the Assistant Manager position.  This interview was better, but I could feel my anxious heart was still not in it 100% and so could those asking the questions.  I am thankful for their intuition.  I know they were rooting for me and only want the best for me.  

I am so thankful for the conversation I had post-2nd interview.  Someone who said to me “I’ve been where you are! I know how you feel!  This is something we need to get under control and I want to help you do that!  So how the heck do we go about it?” 

During this time I felt so out of control.  Is this just who I am?  Am I someone who cannot control her emotions at all?  Am I just an emotional person?  Am I just a cryer?  I was so humiliated and sometimes I still pass by these people and wonder if they think the same.  I refused to accept that.  I did not believe it.  I will figure it out.  

Which takes me back to the beginning.  

When you are in the dark valley, separate yourself, and know that that is not who you are.

I am not a cryer.  I am someone who cries sometimes when I’m not in tune enough to figure out my emotions.

I am not a sad, unmotivated person.  I am someone who is allowed to feel sad and unmotivated at times and recognize that it too, will change.

As I write this, I am grateful.  So very grateful for this sucky little journey that the Lord put me through and pray that my sucky little journey makes someone else out there feel less alone.

Saturday With Fred

I want to get a big ‘ol super warm robe so when it starts to get colder out, I can just bundle up and sit outside in the mornings on the weekend.  My pink blanket and black blanket are doing the trick right now.  I think my robe will need gloves.  My cheetahhands are cold.  Maybe I’ll buy this cheetah suit!

Yesterday was a full day of absolute awesomeness and intentional relaxing.

Woke up at 6:35 and headed to CrossFit to get a workout in.  It was tough and refreshing.  Man-makers suck.  Instead of jumping rope, I did box step ups and switched to sit-ups the last round.  My stomach hurt a little from an injection yesterday and my boobs are sore.  I thought maybe this would go away, like they’d only hurt for a bit, but the more I read, the more I’m convinced that’s not going away.  My boobs hurt, my ass hurts from injections, my stomach hurts from injections and I couldn’t be happier.

After CrossFit, I headed to The Kettle to relax.  This is probably one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning. Go workout, get some coffee and breakfast, people watch or talk to other patrons.  Some I know…some I don’t.  I pulled out my iPad to work on my blog.  I’m not real impressed with the WordPress app.  I could’ve been way more efficient posting from a computer.  The thought crossed my mind that I was wasting time by going the inefficient route, but then I thought “What else do I have to do today?”.  I tried it from my phone and found it easier, so I worked from there.  A friend came in with two children and a pregnant belly and asked if I was writing today.  I giggled on the inside a little as I said yes, knowing the big news I was about to share with the world!

Finally I had it all ready to go.  I proofed it, though that’s hard to do from a device.  I never get out all of the spelling or grammatical errors.  Oh well.  Publish.

I set my phone down and set my timer for 20 minutes.  I was not going to look at my phone for 20 minutes and enjoy the anticipation.  I think I made it 10 minutes.  Likes, loves and comments started pouring in.  I find the blogging thing a little addicting.  I post something and then I’m a ball of anxiousness awaiting responses.  I should really figure out a counter to that.

During that 15-20 minutes, I picked up a book.  Local Wonders by Ted Kooser, given to me by a friend.  After reading just the preface, I can see why Fred spoke so highly of this book.  It’s not something I’d typically pick out for myself, but I was instantly drawn toward it.  A man’s short descriptions and stories of life in Nebraska.  I thought of Fred and wondered if he was around today.  Last time I saw him, he briefly told me about his recent trip to Colorado and said if I ever wanted to come out, just to let him know.  We decided to meet in the shack at 1:30.  

I headed to the grocery store and headed home.  Fulfilling my to-do list for the day, I had just enough time for a short nap.  I was proud of my Saturday to-do list.

  • Work out
  • Read
  • Write
  • Post
  • Nap

It was time to nap!   Opie, Abby and I snuggled up on the couch while Drew watched football!  The best!

I headed out to the farm and Fred greeted me with a big hug and congratulations!  He made zen tea and we headed to the shack.  He’d brought some pillows out for me so I could arrange myself properly for our meditating session.  Cross-legged with knees below the hips.  He showed my his bells/bowls. Bowl/bells? (insert proper name here).  I feel like I should be taking notes when he talks, yet I just want to relax in it.  Fred’s voice is so calm, peaceful.  It seems sometimes the actual information or content that he is saying skips my brain completely and goes straight to my heart and calms me.  I almost just want to close my eyes and listen when he’s talking.  Take it all in.   Huh. That would be weird…having a conversation with someone who never opens their eyes! HA!  I can feel that he enjoys having someone teach.  After a little chatting, we got started.  He said that poetry is the language of the heart and read The Journey by David Whyte.

capture

Fred explained to me the 5 Faculties: Faith, Persistance, Mindfulness, Concentration, Wisdom

With the soft ding of the bell, we started the meditation.  My first time meditating with another person.  Fred sat him his chair with perfect posture.  Me on an old couch cushion and two pillows with my bare feet resting on the dirty floor.  He starts with a body scan to relax the body and mind.  Moving from the tips of the toes all the way up to the top of the head.  Recognizing and relaxing the toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees.  Feeling the warmth where my hands rest on my knees.  Thighs, hips, pelvis, stomach, chest, shoulders, arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, hands, fingers, neck, head, ears, forehead, top of the head.  Then we sat in silence.  Me with my eyes closed.  Him with eyes open.  I tried to follow my breath and clear any thoughts that passed by.  I’ve known the feeling.  The feeling when your thoughts are cleared.  I haven’t been there in a while.  Though we were in silence, the birds were loud and I giggled at the flies that were pestering me.  This isn’t the first time flies or mosquitoes have pestered me while trying to meditate and it’s like I see them as the thoughts that are trying to creep into my mind and I want to swat them out!  The bell rang.  

Fred’s soft, relaxing voice shifted into prayer.  I listened with an open heart as he gave Praise, voiced Regret, Asked and Yearned. PRAY.  I couldn’t stop my relaxed face from forming a smile.  I opened my eyes, stretched my arms toward the sky, took in a big deep breath, and let it out.

He poured Zen tea into small Japanese tea cups which were rather delightful to hold.  The weight and texture of them was soothing.  I moved from the floor to the chair.  We sat, drank tea, talked about life and purpose.