Wednesday, March 20, 2019


(I have children. Of course Cars 2 would be my reference for fragile.)

I had promised to blog more in 2019. I had promised a lot of things. I have a compromised immune system now. Lots of things are harder. But what I didn't expect was that the hardest part is not the things I can no longer do physically (I really did like mowing the lawn myself), but the emotional pit falls I keep stumbling into. In the past, I have been terribly judgmental of people whose bodies are failing and how they didn't keep up with the changes emotionally. They didn't accept their failure with grace. I now understand (a bit more) how difficult that is. I'm not accepting my limitations with grace. I'm snapping at my children for not picking up their rooms because in the past, I could have helped. I'm spending all that time lying down reading (which isn't, in itself the problem) except hardly any of that time is spent reading scripture. Instead, I am reading escapist books because I don't want to confront my anxiety about my fragility. I am broken in ways I can no longer hide.

I do not have the spiritual gift of faith. I have friends who do and they encourage me a great deal, but I have an average faith. It maintains itself intellectually out of habit but often feels like it fails me when I'm in an emotional ditch. How do I maintain my faith when it blossomed from going to church 3-4 times a week for services and bible studies and fellowship when now, it's a good week when I can manage, physically, to go once? I have volunteered with our Youth Ministry program for years and now can barely attend one meeting in 7. What do I do now? How do I live like a disciple essentially from my bed?

If you know me, you know my children are on the autism spectrum. Which means we live a life full of procedures and routines, because there is comfort for all of us in that. But, lately, I find that I crave the routine even more than they do, because it means I know what to do next. I was a good student in school because it was easy (sorry; I came out that way) and because it gave me a concrete path to follow of what to do next. I enjoyed pleasing my teachers the same way I enjoyed pleasing my parents. When I worked outside the home before I had kids, it wasn't much different. Then they were small and home all the time, and I had plenty to do. But now, they are away at school much of the day (except this winter, when someone was home sick, with me, at least every other week) and I have to spend most of my day resting anyway and the silence is oppressive. Shouldn't I be doing something?

I have a feeling the next year or so, I will be finding new ways to do things. I'm not sure I ever wanted a contemplative life, but here I am, with one shoved in my lap. I will never believe God doesn't have a sense of humor.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

7 Things to Look Forward to in 2019

(I started this blog post 2 weeks ago and then we got the flu. We did all have flu shots so we didn't feel like death, but it's been a lengthy recovery for me. So, trying this again.)

1. I have pretty much given up on television beyond the live tennis and futbol (Liverpool FC) that I watch. We still watch Doctor Who, of course, and Star Trek Discovery was interesting, if only for the excellent casting. But I don't like sitcoms and I've lost my patience with network series. We also don't do any streaming beyond Amazon prime. But I love movies. I've been trying to see Aquaman for six weeks. We did manage to see Into the Spider-Verse on Boxing day (it's excellent and beautiful) and I still want to see Mary PoppinsBumblebee and Ralph Breaks the Internet. Maybe A Star is Born. Like my books, I need my movies to have happy endings. Life is hard enough before adding sad fiction on top of the regular depression.

******Saw Aquaman last Saturday with my mother. Very fun; very pretty.******

Upcoming films to look forward to?

  • What Men Want looks very interesting even though I despised What Women Want
  • Isn't It Romantic could work.
  • Captain Marvel
  • Shazam! looks very funny.
  • Hellboy might be fun.
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Pokemon Detective Pikachu could work. 
  • Aladdin. Maybe. I love the 1992 film.
  • Godzilla: King of Monsters
  • MIB: International could be fun.
  • Toy Story 4
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • Lion King might be pretty.
  • Hobbs & Shaw absolutely.
  • Jumanji sequel; the first one was so funny.
  • Episode 9. Of course.
2. I read a lot of books. I love Goodreads because it helps me keep track of what I've already read and, more importantly, what I want to read next. However, my TBR pile hasn't fallen under 600 for more than a year and it's currently running at 682 while I'm (technically) reading 18 other books. I also am an equal opportunity reader: audio, digital and paper are all utilized, depending on where I am and how I'm feeling. I listen to lots of audio books in the evenings when regular headaches don't allow me to focus my eyes.

In 2018, my favorite new writers included

I also continued to read

Two male writers on the whole list; (well, Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife team, so 3). I guess I have favorites. But I am always interested in a male writer who can write women well.

Many of the writers I follow on Twitter encouraged those of who identify as WASP's to read books by authors who aren't. I've read at least a dozen excellent books and am trying to keep diversifying my author choices. I also managed to start reading romances with characters who are on the autism spectrum. Since I live with autism daily, I avoided it for years, but I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of writing by Talia Hibbert especially.

3. I have never read the Bible all the way through before and am still working on that project. I'm using The Message edition at present and am currently in the midst of the Psalms. Of course, alongside is Anne Kennedy'Nailed It devotional as my companion. I expected to be able to speed through the Psalms but am finding them more challenging than expected. Somehow I quail at the thought of calling down God's power on my enemies, but I have no difficulty complaining to God about my problems. I expect reading through the prophets during the current political climate will be very interesting.

4. I am continuing to learn how to adapt my life with my new limitations due to my chronic Epstein Barr. I do still have grumpy moments when I can't do anything but lie down on my bed, but audio books help. We have a wonderful library with access to books in paper, audio and ebook formats and I take advantage of it often. And our church helpfully posts Sunday morning messages on its website

5. In March, I will take the children to San Diego to attend a final memorial for my grandmother. We have not been to CA since 2015 and so I have a niece, a nephew and a second cousin I've never met. Bring on the babies! Well, toddlers. The youngest is currently 15 months old.

*******************Insert another 2 week break**************************

Really, I just need to finish this blog post.

6. I am looking forward to a time when every encounter with my twelve year old daughter isn't a fight or a negotiation to get her to do homework. We've had a couple of ugly weeks here. I know she's trying to find out who she is in the midst of her disabilities, but this is painful. Any prayers for her well being welcome.

7. I'm actually feeling better this week, which probably means my naturopathic MD has found the right dose of LDI for me. It feels weird not to be exhausted every single moment of the day. But I'm sure I will adjust. Of course, I'm taking my daughter to see him this week. That will be interesting.

And here's Kelly.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

I Took A Shower Today

Anne Kennedy, whose blog you should already be following, wrote glancingly about some new self help book about washing your face, and I've continued to think about her words in the weeks since she posted this. I don't wash my face every day and it started me wondering about why "self care" is so difficult for people with depression.

Then I was reminded of one of my favorite passages from Kathleen Norris' The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work:"

Our culture's ideal self, especially the accomplished, professional self, rises above necessity, the humble, everyday, ordinary tasks that are best left to unskilled labor. The comfortable lies we tell ourselves regarding these "little things"--that they don't matter, and that daily personal and household chores are of no significance to us spiritually--are exposed as falsehoods when we consider that reluctance to care for the body is one of the first symptoms of extreme melancholia. Shampooing the hair, washing the body, brushing the teeth, drinking enough water, taking a daily vitamin, going for a walk, as simple as they seem, are acts of self-respect. They enhance one's ability to take pleasure in oneself and in the world. At its Greek rook the word acedia means "lack of care," and indifference to one's welfare can escalate to overt acts of self-destruction and even suicide. Care is not passive--the word derives from an Indo-European word meaning "to cry out," as in a lament. Care asserts that as difficult and painful as life can be, it is worth something to be in the present, alive, doing one's daily bit. It addresses and acts on the daily needs that acedia would have us suppress and deny. Caring is one response to the grief of the human condition. (pg. 40-1)
(P.S. She also reflects upon acedia at more length in her book Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life.)

One of my biggest struggles, living with chronic Epstein Barr, is finding the energy for self-care. Showers take a huge amount of energy and have to be planned almost days in advance. And I have to be very careful about the temperature of the water in my shower; if it's too hot, it will take more than an hour for my body to cool off again and I'll feel exhausted afterwards. Winter actually makes showering easier instead of harder because it's already cold outside and my body has that external help.

Then there are the days when acedia has me in its grip and I just don't care. I go to bed thinking, Yet another day I should have showered. This is why I attend a weekly Bible study at my church. I need reasons to get dressed and presentable at least one weekday morning. Well, I first started going when Alex was a toddler because they had free childcare, but that was 14 years ago. Now I go for me.

So, today I managed a shower, clean clothes, a quick trip to the grocery store, and several more calls to the pharmacy to find out why they haven't filled Miranda's anti-anxiety prescription yet. Apparently, the insurance company is sitting on it because it's expensive. And they're gone for the day. I left a voicemail.

It's like the company is schizophrenic: Miranda needs her meds to be in liquid form now because pills make her vomit and THIS IS BIG DEAL and takes weeks for approval. But Alex's testosterone shots? No big deal. Here you go. Isn't this a controlled substance? And you're just handing it to me for ten bucks? My insurance company shouldn't be my biggest cause of stress. Oh, wait, it's America in 2019. And I'm ranting. Time to stop.

Please, subscribe to Anne's blog and read Kathleen Norris as soon as possible. If I like you, I might loan you my copy.