November 2014 archive

Hiking my Own Life

12262741The movie Wild is coming out on December 5. I read Wild  by Cheryl Strayed about a year ago, and I was so engross and so changed by it that it, in part, gave me the ability to survive moving into my new house and starting a new life. If she could walk these thousand miles with an entirely-too-large back pack and no idea what she was doing aside from what she’d learned in some books she’d read about the Pacific Crest Trail, I might survive the trek to this new house across town. I actually wanted to leave it all behind and go on a trek of my own on a trail in the middle of no where, but I’ve realized in the past year that Cheryl’s trek was not mine, and if I want the healing that she got, I would have to hike my own life.

I feel like the trek that was assigned to me SUCKED, but really how much does one trek suck than another? When we’re in the middle of them, they all suck and seem wrong and make us feel like we’ve made a HUGE mistake. Hell, there are some mornings I wake up feel like I’m still in the middle of it. That’s just the truth…but I do see the horizon. I see the end of this trek and the beginning of a new one.
Cheryl Strayed went on to write another book and lots of other articles, but if I couldn’t love her more she went on to write a sort of modern Dear Abbey column (though no one knew it was her at first) called “Dear Sugar.” A collection of her responses to readers’ questions were later wrapped up into a book called Tiny Beautiful Things, which was given to me earlier this year and was nearly as powerful as Wild was the first time I read it. Instead of providing readers with answers to questions about the proper way to deal with an unruly brother-in-law at Thanksgiving, Sugar fielded questions about hating yourself, keeping your father’s deeply concerning secrets, or trying to determine if you ever tell your friend you slept with her husband just that one time. These were serious, real-life, anonymous questions and Sugar took them all on.
The one that is most memorable to me at this time in my life is when a young woman was slated to be married shortly after learning her sister and brother-in-law had both cheated on each other prior to their being married. Her sister’s marriage was the one she put on a pedestal, and she said it completely changed her perception of them and caused her to disrespect their marriage. It also prompted her to remind her fiance that infidelity was a deal-breaker and that was that, black and white. Her sister told her that was unrealistic, and that all marriages would experience a heart-break, a cheat (of some kind), a let down, a deal-killer at some point. That if it was all so special and wonderful and great all the time, everyone would get and stay married forever. So this young woman wrote to Sugar asking if her impression of marriage was way off, if she was terribly ill-prepared for marriage, and if she was being naive.
Sugar responded by telling her own story of her own husband cheating on her before they were married, during the blissful honeymoon stage wherein they both loved each other more than they’d ever loved anyone else in the world EVER. When Sugar learned of Mr. Sugar’s cheating, she went ballistic. They screamed, him apologies and her obscenities. They fought. They talked. They listened. They cried. They screamed. And she told him it was over.
And it took them a good long while to decide that they would, in fact, continue on with the relationship (which eventually led to marriage and children). Her point in sharing this incredibly painful secret? To show us what real and perfect couples look like: “happy, humane, and occasionally all fucked up.”
That’s what perfect love looks like.
(Let me clarify that I’m not suggesting you stay with a husband who repeatedly cheats on you with no signs or growth or improvement in between romps in the hay with other women. I’m suggesting that a single mistake MIGHT not be grounds for shutting someone out of your life forever.)
I spent so many years attempting to move “the imperfect” out of my way, to avoid the hard stuff and all the fucked-upedness by using deep conversation and therapy (and yes, you can use therapy in the WRONG ways). But in allowing imperfect to be present and accepted in my life, I offer up my false sense of control to the universe. I give that control away. And giving away the control is what allows us to see that sometimes the most fucked-up parts of life are the biggest lessons and gifts. I hate cliches as much as you do, but it’s truth.
We’ve all done things in life that are frowned upon, despicable even (myself included), and none of us thinks, “Well, I did that because I am a liar.” So for us to look at others who make huge life mistakes as we have and then label them liars, cheaters, or jerks is really unfair. If I was known for my worst actions in life, I’d have nobody. But I’ve been forgiven time and time again and taught that I am not my mistakes. I am not my past. I am not my issues.
I’m Erin. Perfect, fallible, boring. I’ve fucked it up in the past and I’ll probably do it again.
And I want to forgive those around me who’ve made a big life mistake that affected me. Because you’re not your mistakes, either. And frankly, you’ll probably make a mistake again, too.
So after two weeks off from blogging to rest my mind and soul, I’ve found a definition for love. You know what love is about? It’s just forgiving other people for being human.
That’s my trek right now.

 

How to Clean Your Kitchen Lying Down

Bear and I are lucky enough that we get weekends with our kids at the same time. He has a son and I have an Abe, so when we are all together it’s a lot of…boys.

A lot.

My cooking skills and planning skills are truly put to the test on these weekends. If it were up to them, they’d sit on the couch watching movies, football, and probably a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress (j/k, I was wondering who was paying attention) while eating out of the pizza box from last night’s order that’s been on the coffee table for more than 12 hours. They’re not animals. They’re not jerks. They’re just…BOYS spending a weekend hanging out. No rules. No concerns.

So, to get them up and moving, I plan trips to the zoo, lunches out with this week’s circular coupons to local restaurants, trips to the park, make-your-own-taco night, you name it. I am a Weekend Planner when we’re all together. Usually by Sunday evening they’re all so sick of following the schedule they probably want to poke holes in my tires, but they smile and say thank you.

Until Sunday night.

291919e47ae12af663f3eb82eba95761After a long day together, a few tantrums (those were Abe’s, not mine), and a meal in public without the iPad (“No iPad? This is terrible news,” Bear said upon entering the restaurant), I stood up from the couch to clean the kitchen.
“I got it,” Bear said. I didn’t even turn around. I assumed he was speaking to someone who was throwing him a football or perhaps to the piece of pepperoni that fell on the floor. I kept walking. “Babe. Go lay down. I got the kitchen.”
Now, Bear is an INCREDIBLE boyfriend. He shows up in every situation to make me feel loved and cherished. But this…this was like foreplay I’d never experienced before.
“Seriously? You’re going to clean the kitchen?”
“Yep! We got it! You go relax.”
I’m not lying. I’m not EVEN lying. He said this to me. And then I went and laid down. And I HEARD him in the kitchen doing things with dishes so I knew he actually went in to the kitchen after he said that to me.

And I went to sleep. It was amazing.

We all woke up in a tizzy the next morning (and by “we” I mean Bear, followed by his son, followed LONG after by Abe and me…we got the “sleep in” gene). I rushed to get dressed so I could get some breakfast out before everyone had to split. And as I walked into the kitchen…I saw it.

Pots. Pots everywhere.

“I didn’t really clean it like you clean it. But I unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher,” Bear said pouring his coffee and smiling sheepishly.

Upon closer inspection, I realized the counters were not wiped down. The stove wasn’t tended to. The floors were not swept. This. This was not a kitchen that had been “gotten.”

“That’s okay,” I smiled.

I mean, how am I supposed to feel about this?!

It took me a full day to process my feelings (after washing the pots and pans, wiping down the counters and the stove, and sweeping the floors, of course). Bear says in general I need to relax and go with the flow a little better. He’s right. He’s damn right. But about this? I mean, really, ABOUT THIS TOO?! You said you “got” the kitchen and the kitchen was not “GOT” when I walked in. Do I just chalk it up to my boyfriend being a huge liar and move on with life!? BECAUSE THIS WAS A HUGE LIE!

Alright. I’m exaggerating. But truth be told this stupid little experience really did teach me some things:

1. Bear would do anything to make me happy. He might not do things the way I would do them, but he would do them if he thought it helped.

2. When the pots aren’t washed, counters aren’t wiped, and floors aren’t swept…it IS in fact possible for me to go to sleep.

3. Kitchens clean up the same way the morning after dinner as the evening OF dinner.

4. I should probably relax and go with the flow a little bit better.

5. I’m more of a control-freak than I thought.

Anyway. I’m incredibly grateful to have the life that I have with the man in it who supports me like crazy. I’m also incredibly grateful that he teaches me how to be better, both by communicating with me (he’s RIL good at that) and also by bringing my issues out into the light so I can actually SEE myself (by doing things like cleaning the kitchen the way HE cleans it). I suppose any good relationship does this: forces you in front of a mirror to take a good hard look at your particular brand of crazy. Without it, we all hang out being the same people forever and, frankly, now that I’m realizing what a control-freak I am, I don’t really want to be that anymore. And I’d have been really sad if I looked back later and realized no one ever mentioned to me what a control-freak I’ve been.

All that being said, the kitchen is cleaned to standard this evening. So, I can go to bed.

Just Keep Digging

When I moved out of my house a little over a year ago, I did so thinking it might not be permanent. I also did so in a state of near unconsciousness. I was in so much pain that it felt like I wasn’t even alive. I put pictures frames in boxes with belts, I put Abe’s old baby clothes in boxes with the latest edition of O Magazine and some of my hats. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it, because there was no rhyme or reason to the way my marriage was dissolving. The boxes were a mess inside…like me.

My house has a shed attached to the side. Unless it was something I used everyday, I tossed it in the shed and closed the door. Everytime my ex-husband dropped off another box of my things that he didn’t want, I threw it in there. So last week when I went to look for something I thought might be inside a box, I was shocked. Yes, I put all those boxes in there myself. Yes, I saw the inside of that shed everytime I opened the door, but I guess I never really SAW it. Because if I’d looked, I would have seen it all. The disaster. But last week was the first time I realized that I’d buried it all in boxes in the shed.

Today. I opened the shed.

IMG_0238I couldn’t believe what these boxes looked like. I pulled out box after box of memories. I’d saved framed wedding pictures and our wedding invitation. I saved decorations we purchased for our first apartment. I found my extra car key in the bottom of a box of files. Christmas ornaments that proclaimed “The Cohens – 2009” filled another box. All of it was safe and sound in this shed, and while I rummaged through it all, I asked God to tell me what to do with it.

Just keep digging.

So, I did.

I dug until I’d pulled it all out. I left it piled on the ground outside the shed and I looked at it all. These are the last pieces of my former life waiting in limbo for me to move forward. And believe it or not, I didn’t cry.

Nope. Not a tear.
Because instead…I got MAD.

I made a donate pile, a keep pile, and a trash pile. And the keep pile was significantly smaller than any of the others. As I sorted, I asked again what to do. I asked God, “Is this right? What I’m doing? Is this right?”

Let it go, I heard Him say.

And then I immediately began singing the entire Frozen soundtrack from beginning to end because I have a four year old.

And I started trashing.

I threw away things that many people would probably keep forever. I let it all go.

In the end, I was left with a quarter of what I had when I started. These things…these things that made me ME for so long, well. Well, they weren’t me anymore. And the longer I ignore and hang on to these boxes of things that I don’t even have a memory of packing, the longer I hold on to the dream of what my life could have been.

Are you holding on to something physical that causes you to hold onto something else emotionally? My way isn’t everyone’s way, but I’d encourage you to take a look around you and decide if maybe you could let some of it go.

On the Hunt

Sorry I totally slacked on reporting the “Abe Results” last night. I required retail therapy at TJ Maxx. You understand.

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Ohhh…just the cutest baby on the planet, that’s all.

We arrived at Nemours, a brilliant children’s hospital with every specialist you can imagine, at about 9am. As we walked in, I saw bald children squealing with delight at the holiday train display in the lobby, a little girl using a walker to carefully step on each painted fish on the path to the elevators, and a beautiful premie baby with tubes and wires and worried parents.
Message received, lord. We are blessed and we don’t take that for granted.
“Look, mommy! A big otter statue! It’s a doctor otter!”
“That’s a manatee, Abe! And he is dressed like a doctor.”
“Yeah. He’s Dr. Mamantee.”
They called Abe’s name within minutes of us walking onto the otolaryngology floor. (That’s a long fancy word that is SUPER fun to hear other people say casually in conversation. Oh, and it means ears, nose, and throat doctors.) He was first given a hearing test in the last room on the right. He walked into what looked like a giant refrigerator (except it was a reasonable temperature inside) while his dad and I listened on a speaker to Abe repeat words like “popcorn” and tell stories to the test administrator that were completely unrelated to the hearing test.
We were then escorted to a private room to tell the entire story of the past six months about four times to different nurses, assistants, and possibly a random woman who just stopped in (I’m not sure who she was). The exam chair had an electrical lift in it, so Abe was COMPLETELY satisfied to raise the chair up and watch it spin down while we waited for the specialist to come in.
When she did arrive, she was a curly-haired mom-looking doctor in khakis. No makeup, no bells and whistles. Just a clip board and an assistant.
Dr. To-The-Point began asking questions and taking notes. She sat on a short wheelie stool rapidly writing as I spoke. I didn’t see how she could possibly look back and those notes and know what she wrote and where, but she was the expert. After listening and often finishing my sentences for me while simultaneously writing and thinking…she announced she was going to examine Abe. She did so, and she did it quickly because Abe was ready to begin showing her how he crawls around the room like a tiger so her window was closing. As soon as she finished, she sat back on her wheelie stool.
“Well, he needs a stronger antibiotic.”
“But he’s ALWAYS on antibiotics,” Abe’s dad and I both replied simultaneously.
“I know,” she said lightly, “and we need to kill whatever it is that he’s fighting once and for all because he’s still fighting it. He still has an ear infection after 5 days of antibiotics and we need to kick that first.”
“Then what?” I asked.
“Then we wait. If he gets sick again, we may need to consider tubes in his ears. That’s a very simple procedure. I checked his sinuses and they don’t appear to have any blockages. It’s possible he has had the same strain of bacteria for a long time and we’ve never properly killed it. There’s a good chance he’s just trying to develop an immune system in a school environment and that’s the only reason he keeps getting sick.”
She gave us a prescription for a powerful antibiotic and scheduled a follow-up appointment.

Step one. Over.

Later on in the evening the pediatrician called. Abe’s blood and sinus swab labs were back. In his nose he housed rhinitis, the flu virus, and some other bacterias that were angry and mean and fighting. The inflammation in his belly was high, suggesting he is definitely allergic to something. After both blood and skin allergy tests, we still don’t know what he’s allergic to so this one is a bit of a mystery. I’m not even entirely sure what the next steps are there. We have another appointment with the pediatrician soon, so hopefully she can point us in the right direction. It’s just another piece of the puzzle we have to fit in.

In the mean time, he is his normal happy and joyful little self, talking everyone’s faces off and using sweeping arm gestures to express himself. I don’t think there is anything terribly wrong here. My gut doesn’t indicate to me we’re looking at a long-term problem. But I do get the sense that, for whatever reason, my son hasn’t been able to get himself well enough to be considered well for a long time and that nature might just have to take its course on this one. Maybe he’ll be sick another month…maybe another year. But he won’t be sick forever. That’s just what I hear when I ask for answers.

For me, I probably need a spa day and a few extra hours every evening. Life has been without normalcy for so long now and I can’t seem to get myself back into a rhythm that is satisfying to me. As moms we know we’re supposed to take care of ourselves, but how can we EVEN put ourselves on the list when we know our babes needs us? It’s an age-old problem every mom since the beginning of time (at least the ones who weren’t drunk or on lithium) faces. How in the WORLD are we supposed to put ourselves back on the map?! Does it just happen when they’re like 10?!

 

 

 

Home Sick

If you didn’t read my blog yesterday, please do. Because then you’ll know why my son was home from school again today.
It’s fairly easy to find things to do with a four-year-old on the days he doesn’t have school…when he’s well. But when he’s sick, I can’t take him to the park or to a restaurant or to Barnes and Noble or the zoo. We have to, for the most part, stay home.
Which is why my blog will mainly be pictures this evening because if I tried to type much more than this, it would just come out xxxx xx xxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
X.

We started by driving to the dollar store to purchase some home-fun supplies and a new mini-dump truck because four-year-old.

It was 10am by the time we got out of the house. He was very excited.

It was 10am by the time we got out of the house. He was very excited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We purchased this “Make your own Crystals” kit. It didn’t work.

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My roommate said it was pretty much a waste of time. I mean…it was a dollar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we broke out the animals and military men and played farm/animal race. These are a bitch when you step on them in bare feet.

Worse than legos.

Worse than legos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to try some more fine-motor activities after I Pinterest-ed the SHIT out of “home activities”. I started by making shapes with marshmallows and pasta and asking Abe to copy them. He was proud.

Harvard-bound.

Harvard-bound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we went nuts and made all the “animals” we could think of, most of which appeared to have some form of retardation or hip dysplasia.

The tall one is a "giraffe".

The tall one is a “giraffe”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then my roommate set up a formal tea party, complete with real tea. Abraham was thrilled because there was a fresh scone involved.

It lasted 12 minutes.

It lasted 12 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also made pasta necklaces with pipe cleaners. Everyone we’ve ever met now has a pasta necklace at my house.

They're everywhere.

They’re everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also gave him ample time to play with his new Daniel Tiger app and to listen to The Wheels on the Bus, Let it Go, and Do you Want to Build a Snowman? ad nauseum all. day. long.

Tonight, I sit and stare with little emotion and even less brain activity, holding this in my hand and wondering if I should go ahead and try taking a shower now or if I’ve already forgotten how to wash my own hair.

I might crawl inside of this container and go to sleep. Please don't wake me. It's fine.

I might crawl inside of this container and go to sleep. Please don’t wake me. It’s fine.

Finally. Someone Listened.

This is a lament.
A sad and very difficult day.
My son has been sick for over 6 months.
He has gotten sinus infections, stomach flus, ear infections, and strep throat. In July we had his tonsils and adenoids removed.
He was on antibiotics 2 weeks later.
We took him to an allergist who ran both a blood and skin test on him. He was allergic to NOTHING and was therefore taken off antihistamines (Zyrtec).
Two weeks ago his ear drum ruptured.
Today, he has another ear infection in the same ear after 9 days of antibiotics.
He is constantly snotty, stuffy, coughing.
He eats well, drinks well, sleeps well, and never complains that he feels sick or that his ear hurts.
He has been on 6 antibiotics in 6 months.
Finally, today, when I took him in for a routine vaccination, he spiked a fever on THE WAY to the office. It was 102 by the time we got there. His sinuses filled up, and he began pulling his ear. I begged the nurse to send in the doctor (we didn’t have a doctor appointment, just vaccination). She told me she was fully booked.
Then. I cried. I cried on the nurse.
I cried and told her how hard and frustrating and fruitless the past 6 months have been. How alone I have felt. How loud I feel like I’ve been shouting while no one listens or helps me.
“He’s 4,” they say.
“He’s in preschool,” they say.
“He’s building immunity,” they say.
Well, my son can’t seem to beat any of his illnesses without big pharma and, if you know me, I hate big pharma.
Finally. Finally today a doctor who believed me, who listened to me, who had 2 other patients waiting for her came and looked at Abe as he slept in my lap, snoring and snorting, red and sweaty.

She told me this was unacceptable.

She said that long ago someone should have looked in to his immune system and how it’s functioning…his sinuses and how they’re structured…his nasal bacteria and whether or not it’s antibiotic-resistant. She ordered everything. Blood test. A referral to an ENT. A new kind of nasal swab. All of it. And she looked me in the eye and assured me this is it. We are going to get my son well. That enough is enough…we’re going to figure this out.

I cried some more. She sympathetically reached over my sleeping son to touch my shoulder. She asked the nurse to bring in a Motrin sample to give to me so I could get Abe’s fever down and she wrote out all my prescriptions.

Tonight, he’s resting comfortably until his next dose of decongestant and ear drops and Motrin. I don’t understand why my son can’t get well on his own, and I’m terrified, but I’m so grateful that someone finally listened to me and we’re taking steps to figure it out.
So tonight, there’s no snarky message or overindulgent intellectual blog topic. I just ask you to pray for my son. He deserves to be well.

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The Ingredients (There are some “f” words in this blog)

Since we’re on the subject of pissing me off…

So, the other day I was going through the kitchen cabinets to get rid of anything I wasn’t using or didn’t need. I picked up a jar of peanut butter. Before putting it back in pantry I checked the ingredients.
“Peanuts, salt.”
Right, I thought. And that’s all it should be.

I can’t stand when something says “peanut butter” and it includes partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, high fructose corn syrup, horse hair, old buttons, and sugar…all in a container that the manufacturer labels “peanut butter.” Just because you put a label on it does NOT mean that it’s peanut butter.
And that’s kinda true with people, too. Just because you dress it all up and make it look nice doesn’t mean I have any idea what I’m looking at. Are you a sad soul? Do you experience frustration or pain or discomfort in your day to day life? Or are you actually joyfully happy and abundant? I’m not saying everyone should wear their “ingredients” on their sleeves. What I’m saying is that it’s difficult to connect to other authentic human beings when so many of them put on peanut butter when they’re actually a bunch of hydrogenated oils and high fructose mess inside.

This leads to me to the portion of the blog wherein I rant.

The non-stop, never-ending, stab-me-in-the-eye gratitude posts on Facebook.

61cd0927e40fc51968381b8acbb3f894It seems like every month there is a new campaign to post one thing or five things or a billion things they are “grateful” for. And then everyone goes on posting all these things they’re grateful for and I’m reading all of them thinking There is no way you are grateful for this many things!
Let me back up, because I know several of you are already disagreeing.
I think the gratitude campaigns are a great idea. Learning to how practice appreciating your day-to-day life is imperative, I truly believe that. But I have to ask myself when I read some of these…what’s really in the ingredients? I mean, I’m seeing the label. I’m seeing what you’re saying. But what’s truly behind the label?? Are you using your gratitude to circumvent all the things you truly FEEL? Because that won’t work, spiritually speaking. There are sometimes things you have to go back and clean up, deal with, make right before you can be so ever-grateful in the present moment (as everyone on the internet appears to be). There are issues you have to face and acknowledge, take responsibility for, and forgive others for. And MAYBE if people started sharing some of the stuff they’re pissed off about we’d be encouraging each other NOT to skip a crucial step in learning how to be grateful…and that’s learning how to be angry!!!
And then…while I’m mulling over this idea and how aggravated I felt by all the gratitude going around…I started feeling guilty. I should be more supportive of people and all their thankfulness for their door knobs and for stop lights. Maybe they really ARE grateful for all of those things and they don’t have a past they need to clean up in order to be AUTHENTICALLY grateful for their dishwashers and toe-nail clippers. 

But, the Universe delivered in a big a way.
It delivered this article by a guy I’ve never heard of:Screen shot 2014-11-04 at 7.57.39 PM
Fuck You Spiritual People For Using Gratitude As A Bypass To Your Anger

And I fist-pumped in my living room.

Can we keep expressing our gratitude, but can we also get REAL with our ingredients for a minute and express our grievances, too?
Because fuck my landlord for making it so difficult to renew my contract month-to-month.
Fuck Florida for not getting the memo that it’s WINTER TIME.
Fuck divorce because I need new Uggs and now I can’t afford them.
Fuck cable companies. Seriously. Fuck ’em.
Fuck those little-kid shopping carts at Whole Foods. THEY HAVE THOSE AT WINN DIXIE.

Could I fulfill a daily gratitude campaign? Yes. I could. But it wouldn’t stop me from being annoyed or angry or full-blown pissed off about stuff. And I think both are PERFECTLY normal and healthy. So I encourage you (maybe no on Facebook) that if you’re going to keep a gratitude journal (and I do), keep a grievance journal as well (and I do). Because I think knowing what you like AND what you dislike are both top ingredients in being an evolved and awesome human being.

 

Imma Be Honest. I Was Pissed.

1158b26da07396c400c42d0aa7045fd7This time of year, this chill in the air, this the second holiday season I spend away from a life I assumed was mine, quickly and easily brings me back to what I was feeling in November of last year. Imma be honest with you. When I left my house, the house I helped to choose and purchase and decorate, the house filled with everything I wanted and needed, the house that was covered with the things my ex-husband and I had collected over the course of 10 years…I was pissed.

I hadn’t intended to leave so much of that house behind when I moved. I hadn’t even intended to leave forever, to be honest. And so when it became clear that what was once mine, SO much of what was mine was no longer mine…I was filled to the brim of my body with pain, anger, sadness, and grief.

I bought new stuff, some with the help of my ex-husband, enough to fill a single bedroom in a rental house that Abe and I would share. I woke up morning after morning looking around at this little slice of “rented mine”, and I asked myself, “How in the HELL did I end up here, in this freezing cold room, with a very small and very sad percentage of what was once mine.” I dreamed of granite counter tops, of feather down comforters, of a central vacuum system. I reminisced over closet space and a bathroom that was only mine and walls full of books. I mourned for my front porch, my back porch, my garden.

I missed my stuff.

Luke 9: 25
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and yet forfeit their very self?”

It took a very, very long time (longer than I think is “Jesus-like”) for me to get over missing my “stuff”. And I tell ya, I emphasize the “very” part of that last sentence because their are still days that I think I might die without the garage and the extra bedroom. “It wasn’t just STUFF” I tell myself. “It had meaning, it had purpose.” But, that’s just a layer of justification I add on top of missing the things that made my life so predictable and so comfortable. Stuff has no meaning. Stuff has no purpose. I can, and have, lived without all the stuff for exactly a year now.

And what I’ve learned is this: I had to lose my stuff to gain my SELF.

I can’t be a version of me based in love and faith if I’m still holding on to any of the stuff. I was given a gift, in truth, when I didn’t get to keep my STUFF because I’ve been given the opportunity to look at myself, stripped down to the bare bones of E. (And I mean literally the bare bones because I lost about 15 pounds during this time and my bones were protruding from everywhere in my body.) None of the “stuff” was there through which to filter the image of who I was. Because I’m not the stuff. I’m this very humble, very faithful, very joyful person who is here to serve and to love. And I can do that without a coffee table.

Is it fun? Not always. Sometimes it sucks and if I let my Earthly brain do the walking then I can easily and quickly spiral back into the fear that I have nothing (and therefore AM nothing). When I let my soulful heart do the walking, I trust with a fairly intense sense of peace that I will ALWAYS have exactly what I need. And usually…more than enough of it.