The Weight of Age…

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Most people are making posts (facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc) about the things for which they are most thankful. I think that people are being honest; however, the bandwagon has made it feel almost cliché. Last month a group of us ladies went on a cabin retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the theme was “Eucharisteo,” which means “Thanksgiving.” We talked all weekend about cultivating a personal culture of gratitude. I believed in it at the time and I still do – but today, I am struggling to feel that warm and fuzzy kumbaya campfire rally in my heart.

I’m struggling today because right now I am sitting at Panera Bread waiting for my dad to finish with his Myelogram and CT Scan. Also, my mom is waiting at a totally separate doctor’s appointment for what seems to be a minor injury to her leg while playing tennis. Because I cannot duplicate myself, I am only with one parent at their doctor’s appointment. Since my dad cannot drive after his procedure, I am with him. Last night I drove to his house, which is about 80 miles from where I live. I am staying for the rest of the week, so I will get to see that side of my family.

The reality of aging parents and the resulting responsibility on the children is weighing heavily on me today. My dad has been disabled for quite some time now (over 10 years). His health is not really getting better. Having had multiple back surgeries, his mobility is weakening, and there are some chronic issues that he has to abate with medications. His mind is still sharp, and there is youth there; he is only 60 years old. But, he is trapped in this unforgiving body that has him shackled to spasmic pain and imbalance. It makes me wonder about my own aging process and what that will feel like.

It’s especially on my mind because I wonder if I will be alone. I don’t have children, and I am not sure about having children, and furthermore, there is no guarantee that your children will even care about you when you’re old (one can only hope). I do not have a spouse, and that’s another large question mark. While I am only 32…time is not waiting on me to get myself together. Time ticks on and has no favoritism toward people, places, animals or things. Time is honest.

Now, I am grateful that I am working a job where I have the flexibility to work remotely so that I can support my family through these challenges. I’m thankful that I am even living in the area now in order to help. I am thankful that I am stable so that I can weather the instability around me. I am thankful that God has made a way for all of this, even though I don’t know what’s next or the specific outcome. Though I know all of this in my heart and head, it doesn’t make this situation any less emotional or difficult.

A couple of years ago when my dad had surgery, he gave me a packet of information that indicated his last wishes, including a notarized living will, and instructions for his burial should anything happen. I am being reminded of all of this again right now because at that time he was in recovery from the same surgery he may need again now. I don’t want to have to deal with this right now. I had a mini breakdown as I left the medical center where the procedure is taking place. I was in Florida during all of the other surgeries and procedures. That distance took away much of the sting of what was happening at the time. Even with my mom – knowing that her injury has stolen time and ability from her is very difficult. Tennis is a big deal in her world, and I know that when she can get away and play, that it helps her deal with all of the other demands that include being a grandparent taking care of her child’s child full-time. Being here and present, being able to see pain on a persons face and in their body language, trying to be stoic and take care of your own emotions quietly so that you can help bear the weight of another’s burden – it’s all quite complicated. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this is part of our purpose this side of heaven.

We all know that our parents won’t be around forever, and that they may become ill. The actual experience is just different than the thought. My mom has talked at length about her experience of caring for her mom who had a lot of complications due to diabetes. She explained about going back and forth to dialysis and doctor’s appointments. It’s all pretty scary. At the end, there is a relief from the drudgery and the suffering, but then you are left with the loss of that person. How does one really deal with this? Is my dad going to die? Yes. Yes he is. I don’t know when that will be, and I feel anxious about it as he goes through these health challenges.

So now my prayer is for strength. That God will help me to remember the joy I have because of him, and that this life – challenges included – will not last forever. My prayer is that my mind stays on heaven, and that everything I do from this point on is to be a witness of what I have waiting for me there.

I made the decision to move back to Georgia to be closer to my family. I didn’t know that it would be this easy and hard at the same time.

15 Weeks Postpartum…

This is my birth story… Where do I start? Labor was pretty tough. In total, it lasted about 25 hours. It started a little slow around 9:30am on July 9th.  I was excited and scared. It was a bit of work, but I was able to get some rest around 6:30pm. I slept until around 12am on July 10th, and then the real work began. Hard and steady from 12:30am until about 10:30am. I was tired, but surprisingly energized at the same time throughout the entire morning. There was singing, shouting, some crying… ok let me be honest, I was bawling at times. Then, there was a relief. I have never been so excited in my life for this newness that I was experiencing. I was so grateful for everything to be over, but scared because I had no idea what I was supposed to do next. I fell right back asleep until about 12pm and my mom came home from whatever she was doing. She missed the arrival, but she was present for the best part!

Ok… before you go all crazy wondering why I don’t have some picture of a wrinkled baby posted on my blog, I need to disclose that I am speaking metaphorically.  The birth to which I am referring is the birth of this new season of life. On July 9th, I started packing my car in the morning before I  went to work. I returned my cable modem, went to work, had lunch, said some goodbyes, teared up a little, then I went home when I started packing my car more. I went to bed at 6:30pm that day because I was going to be driving through the night. I woke up around 12am on July 10th and finished packing the car. By 1:30am, I was fueled and ready to hit the road.

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I already had an extensive playlist ready. I sang my little heart out. I cried a lot because I couldn’t believe after nine years that I would be on this journey back to Georgia. I danced. I yelled at some trucks. I ate, fueled the car twice, stopped at rest stops, and finally after a long journey on the road I arrived back home at 10:30am. My mom was out doing things retired people do, and she came back home just as I was waking up from my nap. She came home to an explosion of Dana.

All of this (which all fit into my 4 door sedan):

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Turned into this disaster in my house:

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I wasn’t sure of what I was going to happen, or what would be next. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like working remotely. I wasn’t sure where I would find new employment because my full-time remote status was temporary.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to really be able to make gains relationally with family and friends. I wasn’t sure I was going to find a church that I would love. I wasn’t sure if I was going to even like being back in Georgia.

Fifteen weeks later, I am going strong. I have found a wonderful church. I am making some great gains in various areas of my life. There are ups and downs. There was definitely some “postpartum depression” when I thought about the things, opportunities and people that I left behind. I had some growing pains, discomfort, frustrations, disappointments – you name it. I also had some fun, lots of rest, excitement and peace. I’m not trying to put out there that this move was just some easy remedy to my Florida misery. It was a necessary catalyst to really making a difference in my life, which had to start from the foundation – my family. It’s still hard at times, but I feel that I am growing a lot, and learning how to be a part of this crazy group of people. I have come to learn more about my resilience, as well as some untapped passions that I’d actually ignored. There are some other visions I want to explore that I have verbalized to some of my friends and family, but surprisingly those are not what’s come to the forefront. So… there’s more to come about this journey in the near future. Stay tune!

But for now…

I am thankful.

I am blessed.

I am challenged.

I am joyful.

I am hopeful.

Merry Birthday, K-Mart? You are fooling NO ONE!

So I am aware that 2014 is only 3.5 months away from being over (Yep…). With that said, my biggest pet peeve is seeing Christmas commercials before Thanksgiving. I know that we live in a society where you see displays for major holiday shopping a couple of months ahead, but it doesn’t mean I accept it. I believe that this steals the joy of each individual holiday. This flagrant consumeristic wielding of wares and goods deduces family togetherness, celebrations of affection, adventures, and just pure fun to merely taunts to spend money that doesn’t exist.

Now, I have seen Christmas stuff after Halloween, but K-Mart has struck a new low with their latest commercial that just hit the airwaves in the past week. Maybe because it’s probably not the most desirable stores, and they are trying to get ahead of the game with promoting layaway. “Hey come pick out loads of cheap overpriced junk, finance it for a few months, then pick it up and give it to people who won’t remember what you got them in another four months.” Take a look…

Clever…but no. I’m not buying it, literally. I have put two things on layaway in my lifetime. One was the Littermaid, a $100 automatic litterbox for my cat back when I was a junior in high school. The second was a $150 class ring for my senior year of high school. That was a lot of money for a high school student! Since then, I have not found it necessary to participate layaway. Growing up, my family put back-to-school clothes on layaway, which was exciting. Now, I am not knocking layaway. I think it can be a very practical thing for big ticket items that you really want to pay off rather than putting on a credit card. I am sure my parents maybe even used it for Christmas at some point. BUT as I stand now, a reformed spendaholic, I am reevaluating my consumerism on all levels – especially for Christmas. This promotion just makes it easier for material gluttony.

Last year loved ones received a handmade gift, and I actually received more compliments and gratitude from that than when I have purchased items. I think I will go in that direction this year as well. While I don’t give gifts to get the kudos from the receivers, I do like to know that the gifts were useful. There’s nothing more disappointing than spending a lot of money on items the person doesn’t really care about or want.

What do you think about this?

The Beast of Beauty…

So…I am so not into beauty regiments that include overly being pampered or a lot of make-up (I’ll take some lip gloss please…maybe some eye shadow).  I don’t know, I maybe I’m a bit lazy, but I really do enjoy how I look without any added flavors or dyes (I do enjoy fragrance a lot…maybe too much). I don’t like having to “keep up” the look. I mean I think it confuses men when you are all dolled up. Then they get hooked, they marry you, and then they wake up to the unmade up woman they married and think they got the Leah-Rachel switch from Uncle Laban (read Genesis chapter 29).

This is the normal day-to-day Dana:

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I went natural in 2009 and haven’t looked back at chemical relaxers since. I do cut off my hair once every two years because I love it short, but lately I have been getting it blown out and am thinking about training it to be straight again, but carefully with just heat instead of chemicals. This is a much more temporary arrangement because it will always have some kind of wave or curl after it gets hit by water/humidity, but the straight styling can be a lot more appealing at times.

Now here are some enhancements all within the past couple of weeks (eyebrow shaping and hair blowout with flat iron polish):

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Hmm… I am liking this look. I have wanted to spruce up my presence as of late because well, I am interested in dating again. I know that men are very visual so you have to throw them a little something. Plus, I am in a brand new season of life and I am up to try something new. Since I definitely value my goodies and prefer conservatism, I decided to amp up my game a bit without showing more skin. I have been keeping my nails and hair done lately (What?! Blowouts and flat irons-r-us). On my last trip to the nail salon, I allowed one of the estheticians to apply lash extensions. YEA I KNOW! It took about an hour and voila…the result was this:

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Ooooo… so pretty! It’s amazing what happens to your eyes when they are enhanced. I have almond shaped eyes and the extensions accented the shape very well. This looks hot even with my hair still in pin curls, y’all!

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Ooooolalah… I can get used to this. Look, the extensions even make my scrunchy face so cute! 

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But wait, this requires a lot of work to upkeep!

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Now, I only paid $25 for this service. My friend’s niece is a Licensed Esthetician, and has her own business doing this in Atlanta. I looked up the services…let me just say my future hubby will really have to value those lash extensions, because let’s be honest ladies, it’s really for them. Yes, I love looking very exotic, but I really like the regular me too.  Don’t get me wrong, we are responsible to make sure that we look neat, polished, presentable, and attractive – we must take pride in ourselves and it does require some extra time. I think the point I am weighing is, just how much ‘extra’ is enough and what is too much for me?

I will give a shout out to Nancy Shim at Sweet and Lashful. No, I have not used her services, but I would love to one day. If you go to her Instagram page, you can see some examples and her clients look FAAABBULLLOUUUUSS!!! She does eyebrow services too. Look her up Atlanta ladies (and gentlemen because some of you have some caterpillars resting on your face that need to be tamed)! 

Anyway because of my workouts, those bad boys came right off within 24 hours. So… about $1 an hour for the pleasure of looking like a goddess for a day. I can dig it… a little. The hair, nails, lashes…everything on top of regular maintenance is getting pricey!

So my prayer is that my future hubby really appreciates and adores the natural me, and also enjoys the perks of these little extras from time to time because they are really extra. I can do my nails on my own. Granted, I can’t do certain styles, but I can keep them neat and polished. I can do my own hair, but I limit certain heat styles since I don’t want to damage it (I leave it to the professionals). I can apply [some] make up. I’m hitting the gym to get things really right if you know what I mean, which is also part of that – hey I appreciate you appreciating me deal. BUT I don’t want him to fall in love with a persona – I want him to want the real me, so I am trying not to get caught up and go crazy where I am literally unrecognizable unless I have had $500 worth of beauty services. I have definitely seen women who wear a lot of make-up, and when they leave the house un-done it looks like they have caught the plague! I’m not about that life…

Beauty can be such a BEAST!

What do you think about all of this? Ladies AND Gentlemen, feel free to weigh in with comments below.

 

 

Write Your Story…

I LOVE this new song by Francesca Battistelli called “Write your Story.” It epitomizes my life in general as a Christian. It’s especially applicable to my life right now. I have been given a new chapter in my life book. I am waiting for God to fill it up with his plans for this next season.

Lyrics:

They say
You’re the King of everything
The One who taught the wind to sing
The Source of the rhythm my heart keeps beating

They say
You can give the blind their sight
And You can bring the dead to life
You can be the hope my soul’s been seekin’

I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I do, that You can make me new, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

My life
I know it’s never really been mine
So do with it whatever You like
I don’t know what Your plan is
But I know it’s good, yeah

I wanna tell You now that I believe in
I wanna tell You now that I believe in
In You, so do what You do, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

I want my history
To be Your legacy
Go ahead and show this world
What You’ve done in me
And when the music fades
I want my life to say

I let You write Your story, write Your story
Write Your story, write Your story

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

The Anchor

Sometimes we have to compartmentalize day to day life. There are moments when we are pelted with so much, for lack of better words, junk that we are no longer able to discern what is true or what is a lie. It’s in these times that any and everything can come into our minds to make us believe that we are drowning in the lake of our own tears of self-pity.

For those who are believers in Christ, we have an anchor. His name is Jesus, and it is him that comes before all things, and in him all things are held together. So, hold on. Things may blow up around you, but you will not fall apart if Jesus is your anchor.

A Church Home

One of my prayers was that I would find a place of worship fairly soon after moving. I started looking for new churches as soon as I made the decision to move since my spiritual life prior to moving to Florida was drastically different. I wasn’t sure what would be available here. I was looking for something similar to my home church, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Now Georgia being part of the “Bible Belt” gave me confidence that there would be no shortage of churches; however, I was looking for a very specific experience. I wanted Non-denominational, contemporary worship, community-minded, mixed ethnicity, big enough for multiple services but small enough to get to know people on a personal level, small groups, and most importantly – BIBLE TEACHING!  I wanted substance, and I wanted to experience more than fluff from the pulpit.

I do believe that for the time being I have found a suitable place to attend church. A Church called TurningPoint has caught my attention. I will go to my third service this coming weekend, and I think I may start their growth track so that I can learn more about their culture. I am looking forward to being part of a small group later this month, and I can’t wait to get involved in some outreach activities. I am glad that at least for the moment, this particular part of my journey seems to have some direction. I have experienced the peace that comes from being part of a good community. It seems when I am being encouraged by those who are around me, I experience a lot of joy and I don’t worry as much about what’s to come.

This is part of the reason of my contentment, despite the issues from my vent yesterday. I know all will be well :).

Over Starting Over and Over Being New

As much as I enjoy adventure and new experiences, I am feeling a bit taxed right now.  My move has been very good, and I am extremely fortunate because of God’s favor in how everything has worked out so far. I have been able to spend a good deal of time with family and friends. Life is good, and I am content. 

BUT

I am still in flux. Right now I am working, but it is a temporary transition that will soon end. I am frustrated with being in this position again. I just started working at my current employer last October. So to be doing this job search and application process again is pretty maddening. It was my choice so I can’t complain long; however, my lament is merely the irritation of having to try to sell my abilities and character again. I just don’t like having to be in the spotlight. And with that, the process is just long. Then you don’t hear word for a long time, or ever. The invention of the online application system is not as advantageous as people would have you believe. Additionally, I will be at some point be starting over with my living situation. I am home with my family at the moment, and one day I will be out on my own again. I joke with my mother that I will stay home until I marry, to which she retorts something to the affect that it’s time for me to get married. Sure mom…where is he lol?! Since the age of 12, I have moved 21 times. No, I am not in an active duty Military family. It can make one feel very unstable.  And since I am still young, I know there are more moves on the way. Starting over in work, love, and just life in general. The love part is also daunting…I’m not even going to really get into that right now, but I am pretty annoyed. 

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

Ok… vent over… moving on now. Tomorrow is a new day, and a new opportunity to have wonderful experiences. 

 

Sachi…

People who are familiar with me know I am a cat person. BUT this little pup has stolen my heart.

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Sachi is a chocolate and blond Labradoodle puppy who is, at the moment, six months old. I have never had a dog with such personality. She is a fast learner, even though she is so, so, soooooo stubborn at times.

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I think we are all part of her diabolical plan of cuteness, and we are all pawns in her game. Sachi is my mother’s baby, and she is so spoiled! Her name means “Miracle.” She was the last of the litter, brought back because she came down with a cellulitis infection on her snout. So, my mom got her for a discounted price.

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Now we get to enjoy her shenanigans. Her personality is definitely sassy! I know that she will change a little since she is not yet an adult, but I am sure she will still retain some of her obstinance and humor.