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He asked me if he could help him wrap his presents for his brother and sister.  My youngest, my baby, now 7.  He is no longer a baby.  But sometimes even he will admit that he still needs his mommy.

He was intent on finding little boxes in which to put the presents before we wrapped them.  Decorative duct tape and a Lil’ Webkinz are too recognizable wrapped on their own.  So we found little boxes, the one for the Webkinz with a little plastic window where the baby seal could look out to surprise his brother when he opened it.  We got the paper, cut it to size, and began taping.  He broke the cheap 99c tape dispenser, looked up with surprise.  “It’s not a big deal, Lukey.”  A moment of relief, then a refocus on the task at hand.  I held the paper for him while he got a piece of the Scotch tape and carefully placed it on a wrapping paper seam.  His hand, still so small, so beautiful, acting in a moment of love and joy for his brother and sister.  It touched my spirit in a way I just didn’t expect in that moment, and it’s still bringing peace to my heart.

His sister loved her duct tape, and his brother gave a big smile and a Jake sized-laugh when he saw the baby seal poking his little face out.  And it was beautiful.  And it was Christmas.

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A year ago tomorrow, Cory and I competed in our first triathlon.  And by competed I mean we were both like, “Hey!  Wouldn’t it be great if we finish this?!?!”  We did.  We finished it.  He completed it first, ran back toward me, and then we finished the run together.  It was a good feeling.

In the next 12 months, we completed 2 more triathlons, I did a 10 mile run and a half-marathon, and he did a full marathon.  We celebrated 20 years as a couple, and 15 years of marriage.  It was, in many ways, a successful year.

It was also a hard year.  Probably the hardest year of our marriage (and I don’t think that I thought anything would be harder than the year I gave birth to our second child and watched my father die all within 4 months).  I have battles I’m fighting.  I am still stuck in ditches.  These are dark and deep ditches that I dug myself and then, sometimes, soberly jumped into.  I’m still trying to crawl out in a lot of ways.  And Cory is still there fighting with me.  He’s been damaged by my recklessness, he’s fighting his own battles, and he’s still holding on to me when I can’t even tell him if he should.  When I tell him that I think it might be better for him if he didn’t.

And so, this year has been a lot like that first triathlon.  I didn’t know at the beginning of it that I would consider it a victory, a success, if we both just completed it, and completed it together.  I had no idea what this year would bring.  I don’t know what I would have done if I had known.

Some of sharing this is just processing for me.  Anniversaries of little things will be popping up, and I’m sure I’ll be back just to work things out here.  Maybe it’s just the beginning of that.  I’m also sharing because I went back recently and read my very first post here. While I’ve not always been consistently writing (hello, 2010?), I do want to keep true to one of the main purposes.  I want to be honest.  Honestly, there have been some amazingly good things happening in our lives.  So much to be thankful for.  But, also, some days are just really hard.  I know we’re not the only ones.  I know so many of you are finding it hard some days to just make it out the door and interact with the world, all the while counting down the minutes until you can pull shut the blackout curtains, crawl in bed, pull the comforter over your head, and cocoon yourself for a bit.  And, I just want you to know that you aren’t the only one, either.

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My name is Kerri, and I am not an alcoholic.  Having said that, I will be attending three AA meetings in the next few weeks.  Class assignment.  I’ve asked a friend how a member would feel having a student in there to observe.  She said that it would be fine, that they’re used to having people observe in the open meetings.

I’ve also heard from others that people can be quite upset and abrasive towards those who come in to watch.  And I get that.  If I’m making myself vulnerable in that type of situation, I would want to know that those in there with me are fighting the same battle.  I’d be bothered and much less likely to be honest if I knew someone had a different agenda.

It’s also been suggested that you go in and don’t announce who you are.  I have issues with misrepresenting myself.  That doesn’t feel right to me.

Needless to say, I feel a bit apprehensive about this assignment.  I get the purpose, as it’s an Intro to Addictions Counseling course.  It’s important to know what a client might be going through in venturing out for the first time into a situation that could be anxiety ridden in a situation where you’re already on the edge of coping.  I get it.  I’ll get it more in a few weeks.

Hopefully, it will matter that might intentions are good.  Hopefully, I won’t freak out and make a fool of myself and make others uncomfortable.

Most of all, I hope that I remember that it’s not about me, at all.  It’s not.

 

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….crazy for feeling so lonely.

First of all, crazy is one of those words.  You know, one of those words that, if you keep looking at it long enough, just doesn’t look right anymore?  Look at it:

CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY

Am I right?  That ‘Z’ just starts to look wrong all up in there.  Crazy.

So, I was going to say that I don’t feel lonely, but I do kinda.  I’m surrounded by people I love, newish and old.  This whole family/school/work thing is just throwing me a bit right now.  I’m scattered.  I have one life, set of responsibilities, and attitude at home.  I have another life, set of responsibilities, and attitude at work.  I have a third life, set of responsibilities, and attitude doing schoolwork (and showing up in class).  And then there’s the lives I’m missing, social and physical fitness.  I loved those parts, and I’m just barely hanging on by a thread on those (but still hanging on!!!).  So, yeah, I’m lonely in the way I have to compartmentalize right now.  No one is right along side me in every facet.  Lonely is an apt description.  (Hmmm….lonely is becoming one of those words, too.  Lonely Lonely Lonely Lonely Lonely Lonely )

People looked at me as if I was crazy when I said I was going to start school full-time not long after I started work full-time.  And there’s the family that I love, too.  Husband, 3 kids, a dog, 2 kittens.  Yeah.

I didn’t REALIZE that they weren’t joking, or overreacting, or just didn’t know how amazing I am.  Ha.  Maybe not that last thing.

Turns out, maybe I should have listened to them.  Maybe I should have slowed down. Stress is what I feel right now.  Stress from good things and bad.  Stress from healthy choices and not.  Stress from healing and growing.  Stress from not knowing if I can do all that I’ve set out to do, all that I’ve told so many others that I will do.  Stress from not wanting to care about appearances of success or failure.

And so, here I am.  Batshit crazy (sidenote, have you seen the book, What Shat That?  I’m such a 12 year old boy sometimes; I had to have it.).  Commitments made, responsibilities set, getting by one day, one hour, one minute at a time.  That’s what I can do.  That’s what I can offer.  So, if I appear to not exactly know what I’m doing one minute to the next, you know that that’s the true me right now.  That’s my journey on this part of the road.  That’s me, giving the best I have to give.

Be gentle with me.

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So, a year ago today I was still technically a SAHM.  I was volunteering at a teen homeless shelter, an agency of which I knew I always wanted to be a part even though I’d never stepped foot inside.  I spent most of my days taking the kids to school, then headed to the gym for a run or a swim, trying to prepare for my first triathlon.

Fast forward one year.  I’ve completed three triathlons, and a half-marathon.  I am going to school full-time.  And still doing the wife/mommy gig, the most important gig in my life. 🙂

I’ve also begun working at that agency that I’d admired for so long.  Full-time.  And today we begin a new venture in that agency.  I was and am privileged to be a part of a new team hired to bring this project to fruition from the ground up.  It has been a growing, exciting, hopeful, and stressful process.  I’ve learned a lot about myself through this process, and a lot about my co-workers.  And, more importantly, how we, with our differences, can feed off of each other to make a great team.  I think we’re getting there.

Today is the first day that we’re opening our new program.  So excited.  A little stressful (remember, stress can be good stress, too!).  And, mostly, tons of hope for our new clients.

New ventures are exciting.  It’s going to take more balancing of all of these good things than I ever thought possible.  I, and my family, are still trying to figure this whole thing out.  I am amazed at how loving, supportive, and patient my husband and kids have been.  I am one lucky lady….

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I had it.  Until yesterday.  Or today.  Not sure.  I’m positive it was tucked in a corner around here somewhere.

I have been decluttering.  Yes, those who actually know me have just sucked in a collective gasp.  I am not a neat person.  I am a very emotional person and often attach those emotions to physical objects.  And I’m not task oriented or structured or focused enough to actually go through all my stuff and decide what is worth keeping versus what is actually trash.  And I’m not that bothered by clutter.

Bad combo, aye?

I’ve started seeing these attributes in my kids, though.  You know what?  It’s not pretty.  It’s not joyful.  It’s not calming or peace-inducing or anything good.  Nothing good about it.  And my kids are like that now.  Shame on me.

It’s been getting to me lately, though.  And, importantly, to Baldman.  He has never been the cluttery-hold-on-to-everything type of person.  He was actually quite Type A when we met 19 years ago.  A little too much so for my comfort.  Now, well, now he’s living in the midst of clutter.  And it bothers him.  And you’d think it would bother him enough to maybe do something about it.  But, you know what I think?  I think he gave up.  I think he tried for awhile, years even, but then just gave up.  Because his best friend?  She didn’t care enough to help him.  Even worse, she maintained a space that was uncomfortable for him.  Shame on me.

Now though?  It’s bothering me, too.  Some of the clutter, and mostly the spirit that it fosters.  Chaos, instability, frustration, other things I can’t think to name right now.  I’m done with it.  I’m ready and eager to let go.  I’m ready to reclaim my home.

Tonight, we watched Enough Already with Peter Walsh.  We all watched it together.  Baldman, me, and the kids.  Yup, the kids, too.  I’ve never gotten as drowned in my home as the people featured on the show, but I know that I could.  I know that.  And so, we’re doing something about it.  After the show, I helped my daughter go through her armoire.  We quickly packed up a big bag of clothes, and toys and actually spotted a bit of her rug!!!  Baldman went with the boys and, shocker of all shockers, there were night tables under all the crap next to their beds!

The best part was that we all had fun.  Fun reclaiming spots in our home, fun thinking of the friends and others who would benefit from our extra, fun doing something so positive together.  My daughter actually said that she was having fun, and was feeling so good about getting her space back.  Yay for us.

Already this week, I’d taken bags and bags of clothes and books to Goodwill, filled bags for recycling, and shared a bag of boys’ clothes with a friend. And now we have bags and bags sitting waiting for more friends, more recyclables, and more to support Goodwill.  It feels so good.  It feels so freeing.  I think it’s for real this time.

I have other thoughts, but will save them for another time.  I need time with that best friend of mine.  One of the best things about a calm and peaceful home is being able to spend it with your most favorite person in the world. 🙂

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Hello, all my friends out there.

See the title at the top there?  THAT‘s the next place you’ll want to check out to make an appointment for yourself.  My good friend Deb Tarr is a massage therapist and is starting her own business.  Massage therapist, people, and she’s awesome.  I was treated to a hot bamboo massage, and it was amazing.  Deb is so professional, yet extremely personable, and very serious about her work.  I felt pampered, and definitely like the focus of that time was completely on making me feel rejuvenated, peaceful, and healthier than when I walked in the door.  Wonderful.

Deb’s business is currently located in At Peace Massage and Wellness in the Vandalia/Butler Township area.  If you’re familiar with the Benchwood Drive exit off of I-75 (formerly the Miller Lane exit), you’re just a hop and a skip from their location.

Check it out.  Let me know what you think.  🙂

AND, if you’d be interested in attending a home-party massage, let me know!

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