Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Zoo Experience... Most photos can be deceiving

This zoo story needed to be prefaced by some important facts:
  • As I write this I am eating a mug of ice cream
  • The kids and I decided to join Dhrumil on his business trip to Toledo in hopes of enjoying the
    indoor pool, visiting friends in Dayton and basically not having to endure a whole week at home alone.
  • A week ago Nolan caught the Hand, Foot and Mouth virus...
  • 3 days after that Mikayla caught a milder version 
  • 3 days after that Dhrumil caught the adult version (yes by that time we were in Toledo)
  • Nolan has been waking up at 5:30am in the hotel, this morning it was 4:30 and he fell back asleep in our bed, head jammed against my side, for only about a half hour 
  • Nolan is going through a "yell talk" and "attempting to run everywhere or only be held by Mama while sucking his thumb" stage 
  • Mikayla is going through a... Yeah don't know how to explain her stage ;)
Ok so basically...  One heck of a loooooong week and a half, tired kids, tired mama, need to leave the hotel, it's Toledo, there's a zoo... type of thing going on.

And so... Did I think it would be all roses? No. Ok fine maybe a small part of me hoped for a miracle. I have never attempted something of this magnitude with both if them  in tow before, but I decided to just give it a go and if it got rough we would just leave.

We pulled into the zoo and after taking 5-10 minutes arranging the double stroller, strategically placing water and snacks within reach and taking a deep breath telling myself I could DO THIS I went to grab Nolan who had just fallen asleep. He was not happy I disturbed his slumber and let out a very loud wail as I tried to lovingly pin him down and strap him into the stroller. Mikayla got in easily and the three of us (one screaming with every part of him) walked to the entrance invoking  every pity stare and sighs of "thank God that's not my child" from all the people we passed. 

He eventually stopped and for about an hour we had a really good time. I had us go on the train ride around Africa and though the picture above may show what the majority of our time looked like, we did have a joyful experience on that train.

And here is the last hour in a nutshell:
  • Pushing my double stroller all over a zoo takes physical muscles
  • Pushing my stroller all over the zoo with a whining 4 year old and holding a crying 1 year old takes more physical muscle and even more mental muscle (especially when it includes and very steep hill to get to the overpass)
  • The kids would rather play on the zoo playground than watch the monkeys play on their playground
  • When I said "Mikayla look the wolves are so close" she said "can we see something else"
  • When I said "Nolan look the wolves are so close" he said "ball ball" (there was a ball in their area)
  • Throwing pennies in the fountain was the high point of the visit
  • When watching a mother struggle with her double stroller and heavy doors, trying to make it into the bird experience house with the grace of a peacock, DONT JUST STARE!
  • Mikayla on being hungry "I'm so hungry my tongue is going to turn red if I don't eat soon"
  • $8.50 is not a well spent dollar on a PB&J that was refused by a 1 year old
How long did we stay? Two hours... I was hot, sweaty, carrying Nolan, pushing a very tired Mikayla and just wanted to ask them to stick me in the Ape house where I'd yell "I give up!"

BUT it was worth it because..

I am thankful for seeing Mikayla's face light up in the bird house as the birds flew above her. I am thankful for watching Nolan popping his little face in and out of the play beaver house, giggles filling up the hollow cave. I am thankful for the quiet train ride, holding my babies close, feeling the wind in my hair and watch in the magnificent giraffes. I am thankful to know that I did it! A year ago, knee deep on my recovery,  I couldn't even go a week alone with the kids. 

This was a victory for me... All that other stuff? Just good stories to tell to the kids when they are older. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Search for the Truth

Being a believer of Christ since I was four years old, and having a personal relationship with Him every day since, does not seem to merit the title of this post. And yet... here it is.

Here I am.

It used to be as easy as knowing God, trusting God, fully believing in God... and that was that. And that is still how it is for most people I know.

Tim Keller  has said "Suffering awakens us out of our haunted sleep of spiritual sufficiency into a serious search for the divine."

When I read this quote a sense of relief calmed my anxious soul. It is ok to question. It is ok to search
for the truth. I still believed, and yet I wasn't 100% anymore. What did my relationship with God mean anymore? I had felt so abandoned by God in my darkest hours that I could no longer trust that He is who He says He is.

Message on a parking garage wall... I found it when I needed to
Lately... ok more like the past 10 months... I have been doing some major soul searching. My soul searching usually goes like this:

  • Feel anger towards God about my depression and all associated with it
  • Unable to speak to God
  • Must force self to go to church, to talk about God, to make it like all was ok with Him
  • God speaks through someone or something and it makes me think
  • I talk it out to Dhrumil or anyone I feel will listen with an open mind
  • I move a little closer back in the direction of Him
  • I have a setback
  • Feel anger towards God about my depression and all associated with it
You get the general idea...

Where I get confused about this soul searching journey is when I read over my posts early on in my diagnosis of PPD. They are full of suffering and yet they are also full of hope and trust in God. I was THANKFUL for my depression and I felt there was a REASON to it and I knew that God was with me. It wasn't until many months into it, when I started to mentally feel better, that the anger began.

Which brings me to last night, my incessant questioning and my latest challenge... what is the point to all of this suffering? Is it even worth living in such a horrible place? God what is the POINT to this life?

I saw the movie The Giver and it got me thinking... more like sat in the car after I saw it and stared into oblivion for good long while. And then I drove to the bookstore and sat in the bookstore and stared into oblivion for a good long while.

Do you see things in black and white? Wouldn't it be easier that way? No one would judge the color of one's skin. Life's rules would be understood. You do or you don't. Order would reign supreme.

What about the Bible? It could be interpreted in one way and one way only... every passage would be completely understood and every person would understand it in the way it was "supposed" to be understood. There would be no gray, no blurring, just clarity.

I will spare you the "book review" but the basic gist of the movie is that a community sees in black and white, they have been "spared" of all pain and suffering and they all go about their business in contentment and near perfection. The thing is that they have also been "spared" what love and true joy is.

I won't ruin the ending, but this was my takeaway:

With all of the crap in the world... the horrors... there is joy and love and so much to experience and through these experiences we still can see the true beauty of life. We were given choices, but there is also just life that doesn't come from choice, but just comes from living in a fallen world. But those moments of joy and love... those moments that give us glimpses of heaven and a tiny bit of what God's love is like... it makes it all worth it.

Black and white would not give you this. Clarity would not give you this. Like Mother Theresa said "I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust."

I have trust that this where I am supposed to be in my journey. Trust that hope can once more reign supreme. And trust that I will once again run into the arms of my Savior.

Monday, August 11, 2014

All Quiet on the Social Media Front

Something new has been evolving in myself. It is called the JUST DO IT effect. Usually when I make a big decision I debate it in my head, talk it over with Dhrumil and friends, debate it again, maybe get my toes wet with the idea, maybe back out, then get my toes wet again... you get the idea. Anyways the first time I noticed this "new me" was when I decided to start running back in April. I had been toying with the idea of exercising and eating better but then one night I said to myself... you just need to get healthy... and the next day, and consecutive days after, I did just that. The same thing happened with my social media pause...

A few weeks ago I decided to "break up" with Facebook and Instagram for a while. The thought of doing this terrified me for many reasons:

- What would I do when I was sitting in a chair with a few brain moments to spare?
- Who would I share my adorable kid pictures with?
- Who would I share with the AMAZING ice cream I was eating RIGHT at that moment!?
- How many births/marriages/adoptions/growths of little children/birthdays would I miss?
- Whose vacation pictures would I miss?
- How many good recipes would I miss?
- What would I do with my iphone?
- What would I do during commercials?
- I would be more - gasp - out - gasp - of the loop - gasp - than I already am being in mama-loo-loo land gasp!
- What would I do without the gobs of information posted by my friends?
- How would I parent without all of the important top 30 lists of how I could be better?

Enjoying THIS moment... wait is that over-share?
But even with all of those reasons (which seem SO petty and SO ridiculous when I read them) I decided that it just needed to be done.

My motivation? I wanted to honor and remember the time that I spent in the hospital a year ago. While
there, I was completely unplugged from tv, computer and phone. It was pretty freeing and though I didn't want to go all the way this time, I thought that giving up social media would be one small way that I could pay homage to what I had gone through.

And so I woke up one morning, a few days before my hospitalization "anniversary" and decided then and there that I would begin my day without a media life line.

How was it?

Well the first few days were tough. I'd stare my phone I was holding and try to think of something else I could do. I started reading the news (super depressing) because I had nothing else to read on my phone. I started texting pictures of the kids to my parents and sister because someone needed to see them besides me. But then something pretty cool happened. I put down my phone and focused more on my kids, my husband, my surroundings and myself. Here are somethings I learned:

- I took moments of silence as just that... moments to let my brain rest
- I wasn't tied into wondering why so and so decided to go there and eat that and instead I was able to enjoy where I was at in that moment
- I stopped thinking about my every day moves as potential Facebook posts
- I took photos for me and no one else
- I enjoyed what I was doing in that moment and not thinking about how I could "share" what I was doing with others
- I didn't compare myself to others in the sometimes "fictitious" world of social media
- I didn't feel the need to pull out my phone and scan status updates while standing in line or at a stop light (I know I know the phone shouldn't be anywhere near me while driving)

The list could really go on and on. Bottom line... it was a good thing a VERY good thing. I felt so much better about myself. I actually didn't want to come back.

Well old habits die hard and after my two week hiatus I took off right where I left off. It was so easy to fall back into checking status feeds constantly.

Recently Dhrumil and I have been having a conversation about if our lives would be better without social media. And what kind of example do we want to give our kids? We agreed that life would probably be a little better... but we also agreed that this is a constantly changing world, one that I, in mama-lala-land, would like to keep up with.

And so going forward I am going to try to instill some ground rules about social media for myself. Bottom line... I want to be able to get to a place where social media and I can coexist in harmony. I want to make sure I take time to smell the roses and not always have to take a picture and share it with all. :)