Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Consider the Lilies

I cannot get it together today.  I feel horrible and the day is dragging and the office is freezing and I'm just ready to go home.

Here's my week, in a nutshell:

J has a double ear infection.  I thought it was teething.  We all did.  Orajel, by the way, doesn't fix pressure on the ear drums.

I had to interview for MY OWN JOB on Friday of last week.  It was supposed to be a formality, so an interview would be on the books. To keep my boss out of trouble so that if I ever lose my mind and screw things up royally, he can say that he did his best.  An informal, protocol interview turned into a panel interview.  That lasted almost an hour. 

Good news, though, I got the job!  Yes that's right.  The job I have been doing solo for a month now.  The job I've technically been doing since last August.  It's fine though.  Except I was really pissed.

During the not-teething-but-ear-infection-sleepless-weekend J and I just had, I pulled a muscle in my neck/trapezius area.  That special muscle, which helps you turn your head from side to side.  Woke up yesterday morning in almost blinding pain and have been wearing icy hot patches ever since. 

More good news.  I got my raise yesterday.  The one I was sure I was going to have to fight tooth and nail to get.  It's not much.  I still won't be able to pay for childcare this summer.  But it's better than before.  And really, I guess unless you are changing positions or companies altogether, promotional raises don't really change your paycheck.  Not when you're a social worker.

Tomorrow is the big day.  I called and fussed at my attorney's assistant yesterday because I can't get a hold of my attorney.  Poor girl.  I think maybe I should have been an attorney -- but then I believe I'd only get more annoyed with the petty shit people bring to the table.  When there are murders to be solved and rapists to imprison and terrorists to sentence... I'd be more than a few shades of pissed about a custody case like mine.  Eh.  But that's if I was an attorney.  Which I'm not.  So answer the damn phone. 

I woke up yesterday morning and saw a lawn care service sign, and all it read was: "Consider the Lilies".  I knew exactly what I was supposed to take away from that.  So was I surprised when things went a little more smoothly yesterday?  No.  Was I surprised that my day came together after a sleepless night of praying... for affirmation, for provision, for direction?  Not at all. 

Am I heartbroken that the one prayer, which consistently does not get answered, is the one for companionship?  Am I lonely beyond expression?  Do I look at my life and sometimes wonder why anyone would choose to walk into this mess and do I resent him with every fibre of my being for making mine and Judah's lives more complicated?


So what do you do with a Tuesday?  A torn trapezius, an empty bank account, a looming 25th birthday, an empty bed, empty cupboards, a 7 month old on an antibiotic, a demanding, poor paying job, and an approaching court date?

What do I do with the lack of hope in my heart for this prayer that remains on the tip of my tongue?  

Because Don said it best.  I just want someone to watch TV before bed with.  Someone to say goodnight to.  Someone to make dinner for.  Someone, during weeks like this, who will be a source of quiet strength.  Someone to defend me when I feel like I'm in this corner alone.  Someone to protect Judah and me when it feels like the world's crashing in.  Someone who misses us.

But there's an honest, raw, part of me which truly does not believe it will ever happen.

So I stretch this torn muscle.  Sign the paperwork.  Make the phone calls.  Rock my sweet little boy.  And consider the lilies.

Just hoping, praying, with everything I have left that what it is we're hoping for... is just right around the corner. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

the workout

So here is what just happened. 

The childcare at my gym sucks.  My sister and I left our sons there a few months back and came back from Zumba class to crying babies left in jumperoos and a staff person grumpily cleaning up and ignoring our questions.  Kat no longer takes Elijah to the gym with her.  I have fewer options or opportunities to work out, so I complained about the bitchy staff person and tried again.  We did ok for a few weeks.  Until last week.  When the little teenage girl was confused about why I wanted Judah taken out of his carseat.  And then found me.  45 minutes into my workout.  Told me Judah had been crying the whole time I was gone and she "thinks he pooped" and I needed to come get him.  I acted a little more than upset.  Not because my workout was interrupted (mid-rep.  Only my left leg was sore the next day) but because Judah never cries.  Ever.  And certainly not for 45 minutes.  I got into the childcare room and my poor little boy was crying the hurt cry. 

Also.  He had not pooped.

So I withdrew my childcare payment from the gym and have been creatively finding time to workout ever since.  Early in the morning before going to the office.  Quickly before getting Judah from his excellent nanny.

And today.  Today I worked out on my lunch break. 

Work has been fifty shades of hell lately.  I am doing the job of three people and getting very little return.  Working non stop and doing people favors and de-escalating and recruiting and arguing and problem solving.  I could make more money probably going to work as a receptionist at a hospital.  But noooooo.  I wanted to be a social worker.  I wanted to have direct access to people.  I wanted to manage care.  Stupid idea.

Anyway.  My point is.  Today I went to the gym on my lunch break because the weather is nice and I want to get Judah early and go home and play outside. 

One of my best friends Brigid is a strength coach and lives in Washington.  The state.  Not the capital.  I wish it was DC.  She'd be closer.  But no, she lives on the Pacific side of the country and she's in love and learning about how beautiful she is and what it means to be in a relationship and work is wearing her out too.  When I hit a pretty bad self-esteem slump a few weeks ago, she sent me some workouts to try. 

I got back into strength training a few weeks ago and can already tell a marked difference in my body.  Ugh. Sometimes the solution is right in front of your face and it just looks like too much work.  But I've been down this road before and I know the benefits.  This time, it was all about making time.  It was all about trying just a little bit harder.  Pushing farther.  Finding my baseline and not looking back.

The workout Brig gave me was ten reps of five "simple" body weight exercises.  The instructions say to do 8 sets.  It was 2:15.  I needed to be done in a reasonable amount of time, and 8 sounded like a hell of a lot to me, so I thought, "I'll shoot for four".  Ten reps of five exercises, four times over. 

Before I knew it it was 2:30 and I had done all four.  I was sweating.  Heart was pounding.  And my quads and hamstrings were on fire from those damned tuck jumps.  (P.s. I dont do "jumps" normally.  I look silly.  And I don't like looking silly.)

I had some more time before I had to be back at the office, so I decided to do one more.  Five, instead of four.  That would push me over my plateau. 

I stretched for a minute and stared at the wall.  I had time.  And really there were only three sets left before I could say I had done them all.  I was over halfway.  Three is less than five. 

So I did my sixth. 

Stared suspiciously at the guy doing halfhearted stretching across the room and turned my back to him.

Eyeballed the snotty desk girl who came in to check on the aforementioned suspicious man.

Took a deep breath. 

And did my seventh.

Abs hurt.  Quads hurt.  Shoulders hurt.  Hamstrings hurt.  Ass hurt.  Heart pounded.  Face was red.

And then I did my eighth set. 

I had set out to do half.  I thought that's all I could do.  I thought, "there's no way I can complete this whole workout".  I had set my bar low.  I had miscalculated, misjudged, my own strength.  More improtantly, I had misjudged my own stamina.  My own determination. 

I will be sore tomorrow.  Muscles were torn.  Reparation hurts.  Recovery is a process.  And often in order to get stronger, we have to re-tear.  Re-stretch.  Re-visit those torn and hurt places so we can build muscle where there wasn't muscle before.

Chances are, what we think we can't endure, we are already enduring. 

Because, chances are, we're stronger than we think we are.

Friday, April 5, 2013

when healing does

It was there when I woke up this morning.

I knew it would be.  I had expected it earlier than today, but no later than. 

A great and tiny thing.  Flat, tucked under the mat.  A great weapon, tool, relinquished back to me.

As I opened the door and stooped down to get it, I heard the axe make the final chop to the tree.

And I was far away then, out of it's shadow, to listen to the mighty falling of it.  The crashing, which meant I had done what I needed to do. 

But it's not one of those hurtful things. 

Maybe, like Judah's umbillical cord, or the scab on a wound.

Separation happens when healing does. 

Still.  It was there when I woke up this morning and bless my heart, if it wasn't one of those concrete, tangible wonders He often uses to cause progress in me.

That big, unmistakable sign.  This time reminding me, Anna, you did not give up.  This was not something you walked away from.  This was not a mistake you made.  This was not your failure.  You just kept the door locked.


Today I had a long conversation with a parent.  I haven't been doing this long, but I can already tell you she is not here to be a foster parent.  Not because she's not qualified, not because she's not ready, not because she's not able, not because she won't finish and take placements.  But God has her here for a different reason.  To walk her through a different journey. And she's found her way to my office, I am the one who's supposed to lead the way.

Inadequate doesn't cut it. 

But she didn't want to leave, when our two hours were up.  She didn't want to go, saying that being in my presence was refreshing.  Even though we'd sat in my tiny office and talked through the hard things, the malignant things, the unhealthy things, the losses of it all and the gains, she was walking away... refreshed

So there it is, the new garden. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I wonder sometimes, about growing out of things.  I have a few boxes and bags of clothes stacked in Judah's nursery, filled with clothes he's outgrown.  I look at them occasionally and wonder how he ever fit in them.  So tiny.  He's big now.  He outgrew those clothes, he will never be that small again.

I wonder sometimes, about the purpose of things.  When you come to the other side of a battle, tattered and worse for wear.  You're exhausted from the fight, but how rarely do we see the fruits of our labors in that moment?  We see dust settle.  But in those last moments, we know nothing about victory.  And we wonder... what was it all for

This is why I have a hard time letting go.  I want something to have purpose, meaning.  I want a reason and an explanation.  But therein lies the rub.  If something has a purpose in my life, it is harder for me to walk away. 

Until that moment. 

There is almost always a moment.  No matter how long it is in coming.  There is almost always a moment when you're standing in the new plot of land, having been told to dig a garden.  When you're standing in the shade of the towering, protective tree.  The tree, which gave you shelter for so long.  There it is, then, that you've been told to dig this garden.  To overturn soil and break apart dirt and create space for yourself. 

And you realize, to dig this garden, the tree must go. 

But the tree had served a purpose.  A good purpose.  Strong and steady and tall.  To see this tree go... means losing some constant, some comfort, which you have grown accustomed to.

But the roots are in the way of the garden.  The garden you've been told to dig.  The new plot of earth, which will be the growing place.  For new things.  For sustaining things.  A new harvest, a long time coming.

To dig the garden, the tree must go.

I am looking at this tree, though, and I know it had a purpose.  I know just what that purpose was.  And deep, deep, I know that purpose has been fulfilled.  I do not need this tree and its shade anymore.  I know, if I had the strength to remove it, we would be better off.  The garden would grow, in the space I make.  But the tree had a purpose.  And saying goodbye is hard.

Digging up roots is hard.

But we outgrow things. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I heard it yesterday.  And I really don't know anymore what it is I am hearing, except it seems to be the only thing that makes sense.  I do believe I'd heard these words before.  Two years ago now, before any of this.  Before this part of the story happened.

Actually.  Those words may be the cause of this part of the story.

So hearing them again, I am cringing.  Holding my breath, just a little bit, because maybe that will lessen the pain.  There's a motion to the making room.  Gestures, of sweeping and digging and a deep hollowing out.  If there is anything in my life, which has required courage out of me, it has been this.  This creating space.

The analogy of garden helps tremendously.  I forgot about this picture, until just now.  As I was re-reading this words.  These words I've dug up, from last time.  We might call these words, good intentions, or best laid plans.  You might even say I've failed miserably.  I might agree. 

But I've come to find, in the failure, something else entirely.  I don't even have a name for it, this something else.  But one thing I know, if nothing else, is the one way to defeat fear is to give it a face.  Give it a name, this fearful thing.  Dig your heels in and stare at its face until you memorize.  Until you see it for what it really is -- this shadow, pretending to be a monster.

When I wrote about situational awareness last time, I was in a very different place.  I had come to the end of a harvest season.  It was time to quit.  To lay down the hoe and the seeds and the wheel barrow.  I didn't know I'd never pick them back up. 

I had no way of knowing the discouragement, which would follow.  How empty I would feel, and how useless during a season of "rest".  I had intended to make room and as the water spilled out, I was terrified by the emptiness of it.  I remember spending a month of silence in the car, shortly thereafter.  No radio. 

Waiting to hear.  And never did.

It's been almost two years.

And now I have Judah. 

I never went back to that garden. 

I don't think I ever will. 

So the struggle remains, to find a new garden.  I let my little plot of earth rest, laid down my tools, with every intention of coming back.  But I was drawn away.  Others came behind me and made sense of the mess, brought a harvest from the soil I suppose.  Maybe I'd done the tilling, the seed planting, and was just not meant to reap the harvest. 

But maybe.  Maybe that's what I heard yesterday.  Maybe, when I heard "make room" He was telling me to clear some space.  To stop, where I am, and overhaul.  Clear the trees.  The brush.  And start digging again. 

My stomach hurts just thinking about it.  But maybe.  Maybe the process has begun already.  Maybe I've made more progress than I thought.  Maybe.  Maybe all this hard work, all this pain, this exhaustion... hasn't been wasted.