A Mama Never Forgets…

My memory is terrible. Not just the “Now what did I come in this room for?” kind of stuff. My memory for life in general is just lacking. There are the insignificant moments that are clear as day. There are happy and sad and horrifying and joyous things I remember and some I should, but don’t. I’m certain there is an explanation; whatever the reason behind what I do and don’t remember bothers my psychiatrist much more than it does me. Continue reading

1 Down, 30 To Go…

Day 1 of #MentalHealthMonth…

Those would have been my words to the social media world today with great hope they might catch someone’s attention. With hope another Warr;or might read them and know there’s someone else who does understand. With hope someone, who thinks we are soft, weak and just “need to get over it”, would see those of us who claw our way through 5 seconds at a time, just a bit differently or at least with less contempt. With hope family or friends, who couldn’t save someone they love from a war their own brain waged against them, might find peace or understanding or self-forgiveness in the words of someone who is somehow still managing to enter the battlefield each day.

Not this year. Self preservation won about a week ago. Not sure how I feel about that but here we are all the same. Continue reading

The F-word…

Remote learning. Stay at home orders. Unemployment. Childcare challenges. Sports postponed indefinitely. Milestone events canceled. Kids missing friends. Nursing home residents separated from their families. Work from home chaos. Toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and mask shortages. Concerts, vacations and celebrations that won’t happen. The list could go on and on.

How could the “F” word not come flying out of our mouths multiple times a day? I mean, it’s beyond appropriate. Even if they’re not saying it, everyone is thinking it. It seems an absolutely perfect response to fully express our frustration! And it seems if we just say it, rather than just think it, we should feel better. Right?

So why isn’t our repeated use of “fair” not doing the trick? Continue reading

2 words for 2020…

Welcome to March. Wait. What? How in the heck have we burned through 61 days of 2020 already? Where did they go? And how in he world have I no posted for 67 days? Wonder if needing just 9 days to decide my New Year resolution was dumb has anything to do with me not writing? Could not writing make it feel crowded in my head? Are there way too many words fighting for space in my brain and is that why I feel so exhausted? But what to write about? I’ve amassed 49 ideas “drafts” (and I use that term liberally) and they are all garbage. Since I have to start somewhere, my failed 2020 resolution seems to make sense.

For the last couple of years, I’ve ditched the concept of traditional New Year resolutions. They’re basically regurgitated year after year anyway: Eat better. Go to the gym consistently. Date my husband more. Read more. Journal more. I routinely end up in the corner with the 80% of Americans whose resolutions fail by the 2nd week of February. My gift of perfectionism is on hand to help me beat myself up every time I crash, burn and quit. Rather than an unoriginal list, I’ve switched to a 2-word resolution, inspired by a colleague who has become a trusted friend.

A little recap on the journey to the why behind the words I’ve chosen. I’ve spent most of my life in some sort of physical pain. A slip on some ice in 2011 would lead to a hip-to-ankle immobilizer, crutches, hours upon hours of PT, etc.  The more time I spent in the brace followed by recovering from 2 surgical attempts to fix my knee, the more the pain spread. A 3rd surgery would be to remove my kneecap and was a true last ditch effort. After 6 months of recovery, I tried to pretend like the pain that should have gone away did. Even went so far as to run a 15K, which was ridiculously stupid. Your kneecap is vital in the function of your quad and hip; all three are vital to running. It doesn’t help that Cincinnati isn’t exactly flat; the course I ran was more than happy to flaunt the hills of our beautiful city. Have I mentioned how dumb an idea this was?

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The year following that run would be filled with some of the most painful days ever. Days that made me angry and were so dark that suicide crossed my mind regularly. Steroids (a blatant no-no for bipolar Warr;ors) and a lifetime of pain killers (too much addiction in my family to have those around and insurance companies aren’t super excited to give mentally ill patients pain killers, especially in the age of an opioid crisis) weren’t viable options to manage my pain or to help me set limits on what could take up space on my calendar and still allow me to be the wife and Mama I wanted to be. My therapist at the time had done her Masters work in values based pain management. It sounded awesome and then not so much when she fully explained it. She gave me a list of 86 values, told me to pick 10 and then instructed me to only say “yes” to the things that fell within at least 2, preferably 3, values. Communication. Integrity. Belonging. Leadership. Faith. Compassion. Connectedness. Kindness. Perseverance. Respect. These 10 words were to become the measuring stick I would use to make any commitment that could impact my physical and/or mental health. They hang on the mirror in our bedroom and are the wallpaper on my phone. No escape.

I found myself needing more ways to put these 10 values into daily practice and serve as reminders to pause and consider them before saying “Yes!” Which brings me to my 2 words. Each year, I have very small, custom rings made with my 2 words hammered into them. I wear the current year stacked with my wedding band. When the year comes to a close, it moves to a bracelet that was my first Mother’s Day gift and I wear almost daily.

2018: Be intentional – an attempt to really stick to those 10 values and be intentional about committing only to what fell within them. Also to start shedding the stuff that didn’t. The “Yes” person in me found both equally as difficult.

2019: Get to – a plan to shift my mindset from focusing on all I was unable to do and find gratitude in what I was able to. I’d gotten bitter about the limits my EDS diagnosis carried and the things I still had to do that were painful and would typically continue to be. “Have to” became “Get to” for everything from grocery shopping and laundry to enduring a PTO meeting or a business dinner with My Fave.

As the end of the 2018-19 school year came to a close, bringing with it an end to a very involved four years at our middle school, my psychiatrist and I started to work through my “What’s next and who am I if I am not known for spending every waking moment at my kid’s school?” I’d always been busy. I like busy. Busy leaves very little time to think. Like it or not, come August I was facing a reality of 4-6 hours a day no longer filled with being at school, busy with all the outside of school tasks and driving J & C all over. “What am I supposed to do to fill all that time?” to which my psych replied, “Why do you have to fill it with something else? What if you didn’t fill all that time? What if you used a little of that time to just rest?” In November, my 2020 ring arrived.

Find Rest.

Ummm, yeah not wired or comfortable resting. And I suck at it. I mean I did fall off the wagon on January 9, 2020.  But I’m trying and the more I try, the messier it gets. I thought spending some quiet time with Jesus first thing each would be an excellent idea. Except it wasn’t; the more I tried to use that time to spend in rest, the “ickier” I felt. The more exhausted I was. The darker my days got. The more my anxiety reared it’s ugly head. I’ve had more crumbled mess on the floor sob sessions than I can count. I swear I’ve bought more Kleenex this year than I did all of 2019. We’re sort of in the bottom of the pit at the moment. The pit contains awesome moments like the one this weekend when My Fave had to ask the most dreaded question you can ask a Warr;or: “Do we need to go to the hospital?” They say that if you want to get under the skin of the enemy, just start giving Jesus a whole bunch of your attention. Whoever “they” are wasn’t lying when coining that bit of wisdom.

I think He knew how hard this was going to be for me and sent me some assurance I was exactly where He wanted me, courtesy of an email in early December from the leader of high school ministry at our church. He asked if I’d be willing to give a message on February 9th about how kids can find rest by simplifying their lives and being mindful about how they spend their time. To be clear, this leader had no idea I’d made “Find Rest” my 2020 resolution. He didn’t know the date I would give my message would mark the start of the 2nd week of February and it’s the week 80% of New Year resolutions fail. Jesus does not and never has done coincidence, y’all. His final, “I am the ultimate show-off” moment came the morning of my message.  I was listening to Judah Smith’s Churchome podcast on my way to church. In all honesty, I was rehearsing my own message more than I was listening to his. He got my full attention when he said, “Pastors talk most about the very thing they struggle with.” (Yeah, I know I’m not a pastor; logic still applies. Don’t ruin my moment.)  You win, Jesus. But to be clear, there is nothing remotely “restful” in any of this. 

Rest, it looks like we still have 10 months to find each other. I’m ready to try again if you are.

It’s a tradition…

A sure fire way to make Christmas the most un-wonderful, exhausting and dreaded time of the year? Work in retail. I’m certain restaurant veterans could say the same, but retail is where I spent entirely too much time during Christmas. So much time, that when the boys were younger, December 23rd rolled around and the Millers didn’t have a Christmas tree.

Yep, December 23rd. No tree. And Santa was coming soon. Yikes!

Kroger to the rescue – that year and every year since. Continue reading

Just don’t die…

image_80775643-afa7-4b93-9448-c0963076a08f.img_3285My baby is 15 today. I am not old enough to have a 15 year old. I am not sure how I blinked that much. I am not ready to let go of him needing his Mama. I am not sure how to loosen the white knuckle grip I have on the stage of parenting that I can see coming to an end. I am certainly not looking forward to the speed at which the next few years will fly. I am not at all prepared for his Launch and yet its target is in sight. I’ve been really emotional about Coleman’s birthday this year. He’s 15; it’s not really a milestone of any sort. Doesn’t come with any real “rights of passage”. Doesn’t evoke some new freedom. So it seems a bit odd that 15 would hit my in the face, and heart, the way it has. Continue reading

Who are these people…

I cried myself to sleep last night.

It’s not the first time in the last month or so and it won’t be the last between now and March, when the clocks “spring forward”. It sucks. It makes for crappy sleep which makes for a long next day. It makes clawing my way through the days, when psych meds just aren’t enough to make my brain believe that quitting life isn’t an option, increasing difficult. It makes it harder to not let the miserable people, who want to make others miserable so they aren’t alone in their own misery, get to me. It makes getting through the “get to” list of tasks, that requires me to juggle multiple hats, really hard to concentrate on and check off, making the next day’s list longer and leave me feeling like I accomplished nothing and hence am worthless and letting the people I do life with down. It makes me feel weak and pathetic and like the person who will in fact be driven into the ground because I care entirely too much. It makes everything more difficult and ultimately makes me feel like the two things I have as non-negotiables each day, I can’t possibly succeed at: 1) Be the person I was on purpose made to be by a Creator who me as a Masterpiece in His image. 2) Be the wife to My Fave and Mama, I believe He wants me to be, to the greatest gifts He gave to me. Continue reading

A new chapter…

jancoaStop me if you’ve heard this one before: Girl, recently diagnosed with bipolar, gets into a car accident and her injuries require finding a new job. Girl uses a temp agency and gets placed at Boy’s family’s company. Boy comes into the office to meet the new Girl one day. Boy and Girl talk for 2 1/2 hours. Boy asks Girl out. Boy shows up 2 1/2 hours late for their first date. To “end” their first date, Boy crashes at Girl’s house and never leaves. Continue reading