Sometimes It’s About the Stubborn

This last weekend we had an amazing time at Sue’s callbacks for her casting in the next play, James and the Giant Peach.

She can sing, she can dance!!  I wish I had video of her dancing.  She does it so well, but that was in a room sans audience.

My little Sue has spunk and talent.  I could not be more proud of her.  I am very sad to type that she did not get a named role as we had hoped, but she is already working very hard on her audition piece for the next production–A Christmas Carol.

She amazes me every day.

As I watched her this week I realized she has something I don’t have…talent.  The things I have done, or do, are out of sheer stubbornness. Not because of talent.  I am thinking talent might make things easier, but stubbornness works out pretty good too.  I have pulled off a lot of things due to being very stubborn, and the grace of God.  And Sunday, it is time for another one.  It is time for my half marathon.  That is a long 13.1 miles.

I’ve run the distance once to make sure I could.  The first 9 miles were decently comfortable.  And then came the rest.  I truly ran them because I said I would.  I had told people I was going to run 13.1 miles, not 9, so I just had to keep going.  And this quote I had read on-line helped me keep pushing.

So here’s to Sunday and running with my legs, my feet, and my heart.  Whatever gets me to 13.1!!

Running With My Thoughts

I run with my feet and I run with my thoughts.  I enjoy the running with my feet.  The running with my thoughts, not so much.  It gets me into trouble.  Thinking ahead too much feeds my depression, anxiety, and mania all in turn.  It brings up things that I’d rather not remember, it robs me of sleep I’d much rather have.

And it has me puzzling over problems I just don’t  know how to solve.

This week it brought up one of those issues.

I began training for a half marathon on December 29th of last year.  Said race is now just 9 days away!!!  Single digits.  Wow.  Preparation for this race has consumed me.  And

Preparation for this race has consumed me.  And gotten me through some rough stretches with the bipolar.  It has given me the coping mechanisms I needed to tolerate depression that sought to overcome me.  It has focused my brain when anxiety and hypomania tried to tear me asunder.  Running is hands down, or is that feet down, the most effective coping tool I have when it comes to the bipolar disorder.

My practice run to make sure I can run 13.1 miles.  Guess I can.

Thing is…what happens when I am finished?  What happens when the post race high crashes?  What happens?

Yes, yes, I know I can keep running.  And I will.  I know I can sign up for other races.  Believe me, I will.  But there is this thing.  This very real thing.  The post race high.  And it crashes.  And crashes are hard on anybody, but especially on me.  I have a horrible time dealing with them.  Horrible.  The mass of emotions colliding is so hard to sort out and I immediately assume it is just going to get worse and worse.  And that I won’t survive the collision of thoughts and emotions.

This time I am a little extra concerned.  I have been thinking, planning, dreaming of this race for so long.  Years, really.  I originally trained for a half marathon when Patrice was a baby but had to quit due to issues with my medications…so really, this is a 5-year dream.  And here it is, 9 days away.  And my body will probably need a break from running for a few days afterward.  I also don’t see my body withstanding a full marathon (26.2 miles), so what is the next goal?  Where do I go from here?

I just don’t know.

I have no answers.

So, tomorrow I will lace up my shoes for my last long run before my half-marathon.  I’ll schedule a couple short, easy runs during the week and the rest of my running will be running kids around to cross country practice, dance, gymnastics, church, and then lace up for my big day, my half-marathon on September 17.

School is Just Around the Corner

In case you have been living under a rock…I am here to tell you that school has either started or is just about to start.  Yup.  Really.

And this means, in the homeschooling world, we have been seeing tons of pictures of people’s homeschooling rooms and areas.

We don’t really have one.  We kind of just school where we land.  Math is done on the computer.   Writing is done on a TV tray in the living room–no, the tv is not on.  Spelling is done on the iPad.  Well, Caitlyn’s is, but I am trying something new with Sue and Patrice this year.  Bible is done with iPad and walking around (memorization is easier when movement is included).  Reading is done either with me or tucked in a comfortable spot.  Grammar, Explode the Code, and the Michigan lapbook are done at the kitchen table.  We are adding some new classes this year…we’ll see how they shake out.

All that aside, Caitlyn saw some of these posts of people’s school rooms and she wanted to share ours.  We may not have a room, but there is no denying that we school at home.

(Turns out the whiteboard does not include everything, I am adding typing and health, and upping our writing game.)

The girls better enjoy this weekend because Tuesday is a’comin!

Another Glimpse

I don’t think this is the first time, but I thought a glimpse into the hypomania side of bipolar disorder might be an okay idea today.

But first, check out this cute.

My girls are so beautiful and I am so proud of them.  They keep me moving literally, mentally, and emotionally.

And lately, I have been moving…non-stop.  It started with just busyness.  Sue was finishing up practices and launching into performances for Seussical.  It was phenomenal.

But it’s done–thing is, I can’t stop keep moving.  Yes, life is busy, but I should be capable of slowing down, of stopping.  I’m not.  Having open time fills me with overwhelming panic and dread, like everything is going to fall apart if I stop for one single minute.

On the upside, there is always a lot to be done.  Even hypomania can’t get me on top of all of it, but I am using it as much as possible.

Today included planning and organizing for the upcoming school year, laundry, and a million other little things.

This has been going on for weeks, which is not normal for me, and my thinking is starting to get much harder to control, my anger at things is out of proportion, I am over thinking EVERYTHING, so on and so forth.

Monday, it was time to call the doctor, so I did.  He upped a med and I am headed to his office tomorrow.

I know it will get sorted out.  Hypomania has always been a strange bedfellow for me, but one that can be helped.  I know help is coming.

Looking For A Way To Help?

Every day we are bombarded with what is wrong with America and the world.  We see people being cruel and downright evil to one another.  And so often we are left confused, not knowing what to do to help.

I feel that way every.single.day.

I pray.

I teach my girls right from wrong.

I smile at those I pass in my day.

And sometimes God plops an opportunity to be hands-on right in my lap.

This was a recent experience.  I agreed to help with a family new to America.  I thought I would help a tiny bit and that would be that.  What I found was a new friend.  Someone who blesses my life every day.  The joy she and her family bring me makes me want to help them in any way possible.

But I can’t do it all alone.  Due to horrible things happening around the world, people are being forced to leave their homeland and find a new country in order to be safe.  There is my dear friend, her family, and many more families coming to America.  America is better for having these new families here.

But getting started in a new country is expensive.  Housing.  Transportation.  Utilities.  Food.  Clothing.  Furniture.  School supplies.

That last one is where I would like to give you an opportunity to come alongside eight families I know who are making their way in a new land.  I have started an Amazon wish list (New American Friends) with some of the basics needed for school.  This list is just the beginning.  I have started with a wish of 8 each, but that would likely only help 2 families–in some instances, only 1 family.  These kids are walking into new schools in a new language.  Wouldn’t it be great to get each of them at least the items the school asks them to bring at the beginning of the year?

None of us LIKES to need help, but we all do sometimes, don’t we?  Sometimes we need help paying a bill.  Sometimes we need a listening ear.  Sometimes we need help making a decision.  Sometimes we even need someone to take care of us.  Regardless, we all need help sometimes.

Sometimes, we can help others.  Sometimes we can speak up for others, sometimes we can hold a hand.  Sometimes we can buy school supplies.

Please help me stand with these New American Families (link here) and help them help their kids get school supplies.

I, they, we, would be ever so grateful.

Parting Ways

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This is not me.  This is not her.  It used to be me.  It’s never been her.

I spent several years in and out of this wheelchair due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  I have learned to walk three times in my life…and that last time seems to have been the charm as the MS has been in remission since before that almost 11-year-old up there was even in the womb and I have gone from using a wheelchair to running 5ks, 10ks, and soon a half marathon!

So, today, that wheelchair and I are parting ways.  Permanently.  I am taking back my attic space and you, dear wheeled chariot, are going back to work.

Let me explain.

My family and I felt the call a few months ago to begin helping refugees who are fleeing horrible, horrible situations.  These new Americans have been vetted by every level of government and have waited through years of paperwork to get here.  They are here to be safe, to be free.

I didn’t know what to expect the first time I visited Mary (name changed) but what I found, was a friend–one of my most favorite people in the world.  I like to think I help her and her family, but what I know, is I love being around her and her family.  It brings me much joy and happiness.

Then there was an e-mail from a local agency asking me to help another family.  I was scared to say yes, but thanks to google translate all went well and I got them to their doctor appointment.  One of the family members Helen (name changed) was in a wheelchair.  A really old beat up wheelchair.  In this family, I saw loneliness.  I have known loneliness many times in my life and seeing it so naked before me, I wanted to run…but my heart was drawn to them.

Then, a few weeks later, the agency sent out a list of things needed for a family.  We had two of those items.  A sofa and a vacuum a neighbor had given us when they moved.  I ignored the wheelchair on that list.  Yes, I have one…but I can’t give it away…what if?

Last night, we went to deliver the sofa and the vacuum.  And who greeted us, but Stephen (name changed), Helen’s brother.  They were the ones moving into an apartment needing these items.  And there was Helen, sitting on the floor, needing a wheelchair.  And there was me, fresh from running 5 miles, owning a wheelchair. But, what if…

What if what?

I called hubby to talk to him about it.  He was all for passing along the chair…and she is not much bigger than I…so even though it was made for me…it seems like it is time for it to be made for her.

So today, I put Sue to work cleaning a decade plus of grime off my chair.  Tonight I am going to drop it off to Helen.  Friday I am going to attempt another 10 mile run.

All by the grace of God.

Sunshine Thoughts

Once, sometimes twice, a summer my daughters convince me to take them to the local waterpark.  There is a nice big wave pool, a waterslide, a lazy river, and a kids area.  And the place is really clean.  A dream come true for three little girls.

Unfortunately, their mother does not enjoy water parks.  At all.  A couple years ago I put them off week after week until we ended up at the water park the last day it was open.  Last year we actually went twice.

Then there was this year.

It is nice because besides the wave pool, they can go in by themselves and I just have to watch.

Wednesday was our chosen day.  Sue packed the lunches and water willingly and quickly.  They each got their suits and towels and did a great job with their sunscreen.  I even remembered to put on sunscreen this year.

All was going well.  And yet…I was grumpy.  And this year, I totally failed at hiding my disdain for the water park.  The girls were exemplary and the crowds weren’t even overwhelming, but I was just fit to be tied. But the fun must go on.  Sue decided to sit out the water slide and read her new book.

Sue decided to sit out the water slide and read her new book.  Caitlyn, on the other hand, went down the slide several times.  Patrice even got in on the fun and this year was able to exit the slide without going under.

And we had to have some of their massive, decently priced, snow cones…

Patrice had one too and boy did I hear it when she discovered I didn’t take her picture too!!

The girls obeyed, didn’t beg for a thing, thanked me over and over for taking them and were really…perfect…but I, was not.

I managed to get badly burned even though I put on sunscreen twice and I just acted like a brat all day long.  Thing is, I had no reason to.  Believe me when I say the girls couldn’t have been on better behavior.

I got home and was just needing some time, so I went upstairs, laid down on my bed and began to pray.  And I quickly realized there was something I needed to say to the girls.

“Thank you for being so good today.  I know I had a bad attitude about the water park, and the thing is, it had nothing to do with you guys or taking you.  I enjoy taking you to fun things.  And you guys made it so easy today.  You listened, you obeyed, you did what you were supposed to, you didn’t whine or complain, you didn’t beg.  None of my unhappiness had to do with you guys.  I love seeing you having fun and playing.  And you were so sweet today.”

I can’t go back and undo my attitude, but hopefully, I can help them see, I was not at all unhappy with them and how we can handle things when we have a bad attitude.

Hopefully, that will be the memory of this years’ visit to the water park.

School Never Stops

We’ve been having fun this summer.  We visit with friends every week, we play with Frazier, we go to parks, we go for a run when it is cool enough, we play with our cousins, we go to play practice, we play games, we skateboard,

we practice our reading, and math.  Wait, the girls don’t find that last one fun?  I do!!

I love watching them tackle another math lesson or a math game.  It is fun to me to see them not losing the skills of what they learned during the school year.  I love seeing them add to what they learned from Labor Day to June.

I love seeing them compete against each other to read or do more reading activities for the library “Build a Better World” program.  Each of the girls has finished the first booklet of 50 items and has earned a free dinner, a free ice cream treat, and an entry into the big giveaway.

They are about half way through their second giveaway entry.  Sue is flying through the Dork Diaries Series.  Caitlyn is enjoying lots of different books, print and Audio.  Right now she is working on Three Cups of Tea:

The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard

Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit (description taken from Amazon).

Not all of our fun has been that educational.  We have spent time watching tv, playing computer games, cooking,

cleaning the house.

It’s a well rounded summer, right?

Between Seasons

*Just a reminder, or if you are new to my blog, I use my daughter’s middle names when talking about them here.

 

July 10.  We have been done with school for less than a month, but at the same time, summer is speeding by.

The girls did beyond amazing on their standardized testing at the end of our school year.  Both Sue and Caitlyn scored significantly above grade level.  Math is still an area of struggle, but just for fun, we are resuming our math studies as of today.  Sue is thrilled (or not).

My running is back.  After weeks of worrying about recovering from my injury in May, I ran 10 miles without stopping on July 4!!!

Caitlyn and Sue started Cross Country yesterday (yay!!).  This makes mama very happy.  I love seeing them get active, it is the one sport I can relate to, and I love the family that runs the program.

Our family has made some new friends that we are spending time with a time or two each week.  Friendship is not always easy for me, but God is reminding me if I open my heart, I just might be very happy with a new friend.

Hubby is growing a wonderful garden again this year.  He has expanded it again so we can share the extra with others.  Why not do something you enjoy and bless others at the same time?

The girls have been reading like crazy this summer.  That is actually what they are doing right now.  They have filled up one booklet of 50 squares (20 minutes of reading or a reading activity is one square) and are working on their second.

Patrice tried her hand at some skateboarding.  She was very safe about it.

Sue got to wash the car last night with daddy and today is just a lazy day as it is predicted to rain all.day.long!!

But maybe, just maybe, there will be a chance for us to do some tie dye later in the week (Patrice is sporting last year’s project)…

Soothe Your Soul

Back when Patrice was just a few weeks old and my brain was on hyperdrive due to the postpartum depression by hubby took the girls and me to a park that I had never visited.  I immediately fell in love.  I felt calm and at peace for the first time since we brought our third baby home.

I went back as often as possible.  I still do, no matter what the weather.  It is my healing place.

The last few weeks have been…odd.  There have been some mania type issues.  There have been some struggles with depression.  I have reached out for help and am looking forward to getting this all sorted out.  It’s not an impossible place to live, just not comfortable.

But yesterday…

We went to my park.

Frazier and I walked and walked.

All three of the girls caught fish.

The girls fished with daddy.

And this place right here is my favorite place anywhere.  It just invites me forward, asks me to run or walk.

I think we all came home a little refreshed, a little healthier.