Over Christmas, I bought an adorable little house down the street from where we had been living. More details on that process another day, but when I bought it, my roommate and I knew that we had our work cut out for us. This home needed some serious renovations.
For example, this fake wall. Eew. Seriously? What is the point?
And do you see the floors? Tile mixed with carpet mixed with hard wood, mixed with vinyl. Make up your mind, dude!
“Dated” is a really nice way of saying “hideous”.
The first thing Sara and I did was paint everything.
After taping off everything I pulled out my paint sprayer and went to town on those kitchen cabinets.
They weren’t convinced the two-toned vision I had would work, but I love it!
About a month later, I needed a HUGE distraction and decided it was the perfect time to rip up the mismatched floor and fake wall.
If the floors had been wood all over (rather than just the entryway), I would have just refinished them. That would have been SO much easier. But I’ve got to work with what I have 🙂
There are a few things I’d do differently if I could go back and do it again, but overall I’m really happy with how it turned out. I still have to finish replacing the baseboard trim.
There’s always another project.
Yeah, I know I’m a year late on this… but here it is anyway!
One week goes by, then another. Before you know it, a year and a half's worth of memories have piled up on SD cards and computer hard drives. But I'm trying to atone for it.
Public school, divorce, and now we're moving. A lot has happened in the last year.
Meet Astrid! I met her at the BJJ Globetrotters Caribbean Camp last December. Now we're eating our way through New York City... right before I move!
I’m going to say something that most people won’t say out loud. Grief is stupid.
There. I said it. Grief is stupid.
My ex and I have a great relationship. We’re good friends. I always enjoy hearing from him. I enjoy my new life here in Utah (oh, did I forget to tell you? I moved to Utah. Love it!). Sure, I’m stressed. Of course I’m over worked. I’m more physically and emotionally exhausted than ever have been. I’m a single mom. It comes with the territory. But I’m still happy. I still go to bed every night thinking “I’m so blessed.”
Except for last night. Which brings me back to my original point.
I’m not going to talk about the stages of grief, or how long it should take or whatever else you may find on some authoritative website about grief. The only thing I’m an authority on is myself, and half the time my grasp on that is fairly tenuous.
Yesterday was a great day. I was so productive. I worked like gangbusters and had some awesome ideas. I ate so well (and I feel far less bloated today because of it). I spent time with my kiddos. We had a good dinner. I even had some time to relax and enjoy a *small* bit of ice cream after the kids went to bed. I turned off the lights at a decent hour and settled into my very comfortable bed (I insisted on keeping my mattress in the divorce… it’s my favorite).
I started to cry. What??? It was a good day! Why on earth should I be upset! No discomfort, no catalyst, no noisy kids, no sense of overwhelm. No trigger of any kind. I just missed him. I missed his smell. And snuggling up to him after a long day. In all of my reading about divorce, and single motherhood, and co-parenting, no one told me that I would miss him the most when things were going well. Or that I would long for that daily companionship the most when I’m content.
So I’m going to say it again. Grief is stupid. It’s messy. Depression and anger come on suddenly and without warning. I can go months without feeling any sort of regret and then BAM, all of a sudden I wish I could go back in time and do whatever it takes to change the outcome of the last year of my life. Grief interrupts my awesome vision and messes with me.
And you know what else?
Now, that is going to tick a lot of people off, but I don’t really care. This is my story and guess what, my grief lies to me.
My grief tells me I’ll never love again. It tells me I screwed up the best thing in my life. It tells me that if I just worked hard enough, or changed one more thing about myself, I would still be happily married. My grief tells me I’m not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not thin enough. My grief tells me my children will forever be scarred and will resent me for the rest of their life. But that’s all a lie. All of it. Even the last one.
The reason why I know this is because I know who I am. Back in April, Brian K. Taylor said, “Coming to know our Father changes everything, especially our hearts, as His gentle Spirit confirms our true identity and great worth in His sight.” And if I know Him, then I know as long as I am following Him, then the grief can’t hold me captive for too long.
I am an Anne with an E. I feel things. And I feel them deeply. I am not a woman who has ever been able to run away or hide from my emotions. Nor do I think it is ever necessary to do so. I believe my emotions are my spirit trying to tell me something. So when I say “grief is stupid”, I’m not saying I need to “get over it”. I’m saying I hate how it sneaks up on me. And I hate how it lies to me. And it’s stupid.
Emotional pain is just like physical pain. In fact, the most poignant and intense pain that any of us feel in this life will be emotional. Our friends won’t be able to see it, but the wound is there and it can be very deep. And just like a physical wound, healing is a process and it takes time.
The pain I feel is like unto that of a severed limb (as is likely the case with anyone who has lost someone through death or divorce). And I still have phantom pain in my heart. Even though enough I know I did everything in my power to make it work. Even though I am confident my children and I are going to be fine. Even though Matt and I are still friends and get along very well (not just as a divorced couple, but as people).
But the healing process is not the same as the lying, stupid grief that makes me cry when I should be sleeping. So when I woke up this morning and (in spite of my dream about dating Steve Rogers/Captain America) I still felt sad, I had a choice. I could either curl up and wallow about my sad lot in life, or I could try and use the sadness to help me heal. Like a wound that itches when it starts to heal, I can either scratch it and open it up again, or I can apply healing ointment to protect it from the elements and kill the nasty germs that are festering inside.
The lies? Yeah, those are the nasty germs. The ointment? That’s Christ. He is the healing balm of Gilead. And my Savior held my hand as I talked to Matt this morning and told him, among other things, that I missed him. And He’s got his hand on my shoulder, drying my tears as I write this. Because this is how I heal. This is how I keep from scratching the healing itch.
If you are dealing with grief in any form, please know there is a way to soothe the ache. It’s not going to happen overnight and you will likely have to apply the ointment and change the dressings several times a day at first, or (as in the case of heart transplants) you may need to have a very strict daily routine to maintain the progress you make for the rest of your life. It depends on the wound. It depends on you.
And, as is the case of my abdomen after three c-sections, it may still hurt for the foreseeable future. But it doesn’t have to stop you from creating and living a life you love! I would gladly exchange my formerly flat and pain free stomach for those awesome kids of mine. A little bit of scar tissue and aching in my belly is totally worth it. And the occasional tear filled bedtime and sleepless night worth the growth and increased knowledge and love for my Savior that I’ve been able to experience in the last year.
I AM happy! I cry all the time but I am so happy, hopeful, and excited for the future.
Provided I don’t believe the lies.
A while ago on Facebook, I shared a talk by Dieter F Uchtdorf. He said, “”If you consider success to be only the most perfect rose or dazzling orchid, you may miss some of life’s sweetest experiences.” My favorite thing to photograph are spontaneous moments that reflect those sweetest of experiences. I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of people don’t “get” it. They don’t understand why I take pictures of crying babies, skinned knees, and toddlers throwing tantrums. I do it for the same reason I take pictures of giggles, laughs, beautiful sunrises, holding hands. Because those moments are real and remembering all of them (warts and all) gives me strength.
A few months ago I was in a bit of a depressive slump. I had just started studying videography and was experimenting with making my own family films. The process really helped me enjoy those ordinary, every day, moments that I’m always talking about, but I felt the oppressive weight of inadequacy and shame for all of those years in which I didn’t.
One week when I didn’t take enough video for a new family film, but my children were clamoring for more, I collected some of our old home videos from my very first digital camera and put them together. While I was watching I couldn’t help but notice evidence of my motherly efforts in the periphery. There was a casserole dish left on the table with a couple half eaten plates; evidence of a homemade meal that we ate together as a family. A laminated piece of paper with the letter “A” was taped on the wall; proof that even before I started homeschooling, I tried to teach my children the things they needed to know. I saw books on the floor, babies running around in nothing but diapers, and a sink full of dishes. All proof, not of my chronic laziness, but that motherhood is hard and I did the best I could then, just as I’m doing the best I can now. Sometimes my best looks better than others. And that’s ok.
All too often I forget to be patient with myself, and that’s why I take the kinds of pictures that I do. Because when I look back and see pictures of Alice sitting on her brother’s head, I am flooded with memories of their friendship and playfulness. I remember how patient he is with her and how she would invite him to play by patting the space next to her in on a chair and say, “sit”.
I don’t want a million pictures of my kids smiling beautifully at me. I already know they are gorgeous. I want pictures that show who they are, not just what they look like. I want pictures of what life is really like, not dressed up versions of what I think it should be.
Not everyone gets it. Not everyone appreciates pictures of their children showing obvious delight in their naughtiness. But I adore them. My life isn’t always pretty, but it’s a beautiful reality.
New Jersey had THREE Nor'easters in just as many weeks. We lost power during the first, and were still without power for the second. Thank goodness for generous friends who were willing to take us in! We moved out of state for the third.
So many things to do!
I've never changed the oil by myself before. There's a first time for everything!