Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Jar of Soup and a Loaf of Bread

After yesterday's post asking for help and understanding, I was shocked at the flood of messages I received. Several of my friends posted loving, supportive, and compassionate comments. A few sent encouraging private messages. A few friends sent me texts offering support and advice. I truthfully didn't expect any of those responses. But oh, how they filled my heart and soul. I have amazing friends.

Reading so many messages of comfort and hope made me feel stronger than I have felt in a long while. This morning I made several phone calls and was able to arrange for a visit to a doctor and find a local therapist. I'm  fortunate that the company my husband works offers provisions for mental health services. Initially, I can get 8 sessions of therapy without paying anything out of pocket. After that, we can assess my future needs. I feel confident that with these measures, I am going to find help and solutions. I do experience depression occasionally, but they are often temporary-lasting no more than a few months at a time and I don't expect that my malaise will linger much longer with good care and help.

The most humbling and soul-filling moment also occurred today. Last night, my friend sent me a very long text sharing thoughts and offering concrete advice. This morning she asked if I wanted to spend time at her home. I wasn't up to that just yet and had to finish some other things at home. Later in the day, she sent me a text saying she was bringing dinner over and would let me know her arrival time later.

A few hours later she showed up at my back door, arms laden with grocery bags filled with food: delicious warm soup in jars, bread, salad, muffins, doughnuts, and potatoes. It was just so generous and wonderful that I could hardly believe it. We talked for a few minutes and she encouraged me in my efforts to get help.

This evening as I served this meal, I couldn't stop the tears. My kids watched me dish out soup, spread butter on bread, and spoon salad onto their plates in confusion as tears rolled down my cheeks. I couldn't even explain why I was crying to them. As I ate my friend's delicious soup, I swear I could hear a gentle voice saying, "You are loved, Tiffany. Everything is going to be OK."

And it will be. I feel like a giant load has been lifted off my shoulders. I have already taken steps to get help. I discovered that I have this amazing network of friends ready to lift me up and encourage me. My husband, parents, and sisters are all reaching out to me offering their love and support.

So thank you, friends. I certainly don't deserve you or your kindness, but I am wholeheartedly grateful for it.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mothering Monday: Mom Burn-Out

If you have been reading my blog over the past summer, I think you can tell that I'm experiencing mom burn-out. The kind of burnout where I went from regularly cooking homemade meals to considering fast food as a viable option for dinner. Every.Single.Night. While I didn't serve fast food every night, I fantasized about it everyday. I used to read to my kids all the time but the other day, I searched for bedtime stories on YouTube. My patience and interactions with my children are extremely short. The worst thing is that I don't really feel much happiness when I'm doing my work as a mom or when I spend time with my children.

Let me be clear about something. I deliberately chose to be a mother. I was not coerced, manipulated, or forced into having babies. Most of my children were planned and those who weren't, were welcome surprises. I think being a mother is an extremely important calling and I willingly accepted that calling. I am proud of the work I am doing as a mother. Raising kids who are independent, hard workers, kind, compassionate, helpful, and decent people is worthwhile work.

Right now I am not feeling the joy of working on something important. I just feel cranky, tired, out-of-sorts, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I find that when faced with challenges (which is normal with kids) I don't even have the energy to cope with them. This is not good, people.

So how do I get my mojo back? How do I find happiness in the experience? How do I find more pleasure in interacting with my children? How do I stop being/feeling so darn grouchy with my family?

Seriously, I am so curious what kind of answers you have to offer.


Friday, September 23, 2016

An Explanation on My Absence

To all my readers (the faithful few),

I apologize for my absence and missing posts. When I set out to start writing daily, I thought I would do it for a month and see how it went. I found so much enjoyment from the practice and effort that I thought I could continue indefinitely. I still hope to resume my practice of daily writing.

However, the events of the past few weeks have been overwhelming. My children started school again and the transition to the new schedule has been a difficult one. I'm still struggling to find the right sleep schedule for myself.

I am also learning some hard parenting lessons right now that are sensitive and difficult. Because they involve other people I don't feel comfortable with sharing those struggles so publicly.

My oldest son has decided that he wants to graduate this year, instead of next year. This moves up his timetable significantly and means that we have to make a multitude of decisions about his future plans very quickly, which is also contributing to my stress and work load.

A couple of days ago, we learned that my BIL's younger brother died tragically. My BIL is devastated by the loss. I have spent quite a bit of time speaking with my sister and looking for ways to help her husband and family.

I have cried more in the past few weeks than I think I have ever done. Usually writing is my therapy, but I can't even get words out when I sit down to write.

On top of this, I have felt completely overwhelmed with parenting responsibilities to the point of exhaustion. Writing doesn't feel pleasurable or happy at the moment. I am pretty sure I am experiencing a low-grade depression that is likely caused by a hormonal balance. Trying to figure that out is also not fun.

All this to say, I'm having a hard time; I don't feel like writing right now. I want to return to my blog when things feel better.

Please don't give up on me! I'll be back.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Friday Favorites: A Tale of Two Cities Links

I loved reading A Tale of Two Cities. There are some great discussions of the book I want to share.

Some strong swearing in here, but this guy clearly loves literature and knows how to pick out the best bits.

Wikipedia has an excellent overview of the novel. The analysis is a bit weak, but provides some good notes to ponder.

This 18 minute animated short gives a good summary of the book.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Scrapbook Saturday: Telling My Story

I have a passion for understanding the stories of people's lives, especially the stories of my ancestors. My great-great grandparents immigrated to New York from Ireland during, at least I think, the 1840s. As I have followed their movements through census records and directories, I have asked myself lots of questions about them. What took them to Cayuga county in New York? Why were they living with David and Sophronia Taylor? When did they move to Pennsylvania? When did their daughter die? Why did they move to Pennsylvania? Were they a happy family? What were the kids like--were they happy together?

I doubt I will ever find the answers to the majority of those questions. As far as I know, neither of them left behind a diary describing their lives. So I have to make guesses.

Sometimes the stories disappear shockingly fast--within a generation. My mother moved a lot during her childhood. I know and understand why those moves were made, but will my children or grandchildren?

Those questions haunt me and press me to record my own life and the facts and stories about my own little family. We live a rich and complicated life that deserves to be recorded and shared. I want my children to understand what drove me to leave my small hometown in Wyoming. I want my grandchildren to understand their parents adventures as kids. I want my children to understand that despite the challenges of being a mother, it was work that I found (mostly) joyful and meaningful.

Do you know that if you don't share the stories you know about your family or stories about your past, they will die with you? The only way those stories will have any lasting power if they are written down, in hard copy form--on a piece of paper, in a journal, in a letter written on paper, or in a scrapbook.

Do you know that all those pictures you take will die with you if you don't print them? They will just go away if you don't print and curate them.

What's holding you back from sharing your story? Start telling it. You have meaning and your stories are important.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Throwback Thursday: That One Time I Was Stuck in Paris

A few years ago, my husband and I while traveling got stuck in Paris. It was such a delightful adventure that I feel like sharing and revisiting here. I blogged about it on my Saudi Blog, In a Maze of Beige.

Stuck in Paris

Have you ever had an unexpected detour on a trip? If so, what happened?


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wondering Wednesday: Thoughts on a Tale of Two Cities

I'm reading A Tale of Two Cities for my book group. Here are just a few thoughts about the book:

  • I'm kind of annoyed at how Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross (and other characters) conspire to hide events and truth from Lucie, as if she weren't strong enough or capable enough to understand them and appropriately process them. 
  • I found the rather matter-of-fact description of Mr. Cruncher beating his wife to rather shocking. I know the laws at the time permitted such behavior (and I know domestic violence is still epidemic in the present day) but still, it was rather horrifying.
  • The description of the poverty and distress of the French people was pretty awful. I don't know what the rates of poverty are in present day. Considering other works of literature, it seems the grinding aspect of poverty wasn't eliminated because of the French Revolution.
  • Some of the parallels with our present day are quite striking--the mass incarceration of people for relatively minor offenses in London could very well be a description of present day in the United States. 
  • Syndey Carton's character is my favorite in the book. I found his despair about his own character very sad. Somehow he found hope in finding redemption. His final act was profound and powerful.
  • I LOVE redemption stories and this was packed full of redemption.
  • I find Dickens easier to understand and absorb while listening rather than reading it.
  • The first chapter, man.... The first sentence is one of the best I have ever read. 
  • So many funny moments...
  • Why hasn't a current film been made of this story? It is so relevant and almost modern-despite being over 150 years old. What about a setting in Syria or the middle east? 

Have you read this book? If so, what did you get out of it?