Mama Spike

Architect: Ricardo Bofill | San Just Desvern, Spain

Spike showed me pictures like this one awhile back and I went completely Pinterest-nuts over finding everything I could on converted warehouses. I love this like I love my own soul. It reminds me of how I designed our wedding invitations. We only invited about 40 people, so we only had to make a couple dozen invitations. And they were awesome. I had the invitation printed on metal and then I wrapped each one in satin and ribbon. It matched us perfectly: Spike the metal worker, and me the lover of soft and delicate things.

A home like this would fits us like nothing else would. We’ve considered the tiny house idea, but as introverts, we need more space between people. The more space the better, really. We need a fortress of solitude (yes, like Superman). We’re homebodies, so why shouldn’t our home be a castle?

I adore the white linens and white stairs. People think it’s hard to keep clean, but have you ever tried to keep dark colors looking crisp? The moment there’s a spec of dust, it looks shabby. White is easy to match too. White towels, white bed sheets, white drapes. It looks so clean and fresh! I don’t know if I could do the white couches and chairs though. I don’t think people would be as likely to feel relaxed if they think they’re going to mess up my furniture, including me.

I could never live in a home like this with just one or a few other people. But what if we were Fostering? We’ve talked about being Foster parents before. Spike even became a approved Foster parent in another state to get our girls out of the system before we were married. My eyes have sparkled to think of taking kids out of the system who are about to age-out; to give them a place to finally feel safe and accepted and supported.

And what if I was an MBA and Spike was a mechanical engineer, which is the path we’re on now? We could offer the world to those kids. They might not take it. They might hate us for trying. But some might latch on to the opportunities. Some might come alive to see how their life could be. We could teach them mechanics, bookkeeping, customer service skills, and even just basic life skills to give them a handle on being full-fledged adults.

Of course, this all sounds so easy in a dream, but it feels like a dream that’s been building since I was first told I would never have children of my own – ten years ago. There’s that number again. Ten. That same year a woman I trusted said she saw a vision when she was praying for me. It was night and there was a house with a single light in the window, and the light never went out. Ten years. I had no idea what it meant then. Could this be the house with the light that will forever welcome people home?

The plan no longer includes having babies, but it doesn’t discount the idea that I could be Mama Spike someday.

Relating to the Gods

The Veiled Virgin by Giovanni Strazza

Two of my closest friends and I have been meeting irregularly for the last couple years. We finally managed to nail down a night awhile back that works for all three of us and read through Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. I had never even heard of it, which was odd since I thought I new C. S. Lewis pretty well. Apparently it was the last book he ever wrote, and arguably his best work. Really, better than Narnia? Yeah, I’d say so.

The story is a re-telling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, from the perspective of Psyche’s sister. The story itself was excellent, but the end completely baffled me. Wait, what happened? I re-read the last few chapters again before we met, and I still felt like I wasn’t connecting all the dots. It made a little more sense as we discussed it, but wow… the line between myth and reality was pretty rough. Curiously rough. It begged to be talked about, which is what we did.

I could never be at peace again till I had written my charge against the gods. It burned me from within. It quickened; I was with book, as a woman is with child.

From the first page, the story eloquently describes the process of having it out with the Divine and ends with why it is so essential to do so. There are many other themes and powerful revelations, but that is the one I related to most.

Dostoevsky’s Pride and Joy

The best version of myself. That’s what I’m hoping for. Since having my education plans slapped around for ten years, I’ve at least learned to be flexible. I’m okay with the plan changing, as long as there’s always a plan. But the plan has always involved having children, and now it doesn’t. Suddenly, after a long while of dragging myself through the mire, it doesn’t. It’s the first time I’ve ever been comfortable with the idea that my own offspring will not be ruling the world. No one will see epitaphs like these: Here Lies Mrs. Spike’s Son, the Ultimate Bad Ass, or Beloved Daughter of Mrs. Spike, Supreme Diplomat and Queen. Just no.

It’s a freeing notion that I’ve never thought to revel in. I’ve only thought to grieve – always grieve. It’s like I’ve suddenly realized the tightrope I was walking toward motherhood is actually a six-lane freeway bound for… anywhere! The potential and the possibilities are vastly more appealing than I ever thought to explore. I’m only surprised I’ve never wandered down this line of thinking before. Really, never? No, never. I’ve joked about how 3:00 am feedings and diaper changing would be nice to skip, but to be free in my prime to pursue anything I want? No responsibility of child care (our goddaughters are half-grown already). No guilty conscience for having borne a horrible human being. No paralyzing pride for having borne a saint. Just no.

I met with a Degree Completion Program Representative at lunch today. The cohort starts in August. If all goes according to plan, I’ll graduate February 2017, which is fitting. It will be almost exactly ten years from when I originally planned to graduate. Ten:

The number of divine perfection. There are 10 commandments (Ex. 20); 1/10 of your income is a tithe; the were 10 plagues on Egypt (Ex. 9:14ff); 10 x 10 silver sockets formed the foundation of the Tabernacle (Ex 38:27); There are 10 “I AM’s spoken by Jesus in [the book of] John…”

I’m not usually into numerology, but I’ll go with that.

It feels exhilaratingly self-absorbed to take a step that is one hundred percent for my own good. I’m not sacrificing another day of this thirty-year-old life for children that will never be. I will not make another decision with their best interests in mind. The plan doesn’t have me pregnant and raising children. For the first time. It’s the very definition of existentialism:

a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

Dostoevsky, my favorite author, would be proud.

Reaching Out

crying girl by lourithesugarqueen | Deviantart.com

I failed today. I didn’t even see it coming. Suddenly I couldn’t even recognize myself. What was I saying? I sent the girls to bed after dinner, they were both crying. The older cried for a long time before finally I heard her calling out, “I want Mom.”

She’s never said that before. Not in two years. Not out loud.

I failed today, and my heart is rent with grief and pain. No one will ever want me the way those girls want their mom. No one will ever reach out to me like that when they’re hurting. No one will ever want me to hold them the way they wish she could. No one. Because I’m not only re-grieving my infertility, I’m grieving the loss of any possible children in the future.

I’m enrolling in school. I’m taking out student loans to finish my education. I have refused for twelve years to do this, because I didn’t want to leave a husband with the responsibility of paying my student loans while I raise children; not because he demanded it, but because I made a personal choice that I wouldn’t do it, even before I was married.

Call me an idiot. Call me a woman of the past, but it’s the decision I made, happily and without coercion. Most would say that’s even worse, but I simply could not make the logical leap to put myself tens of thousands of dollars in debt only to work a few years, get pregnant, and leave the workforce. I wanted the option to stay at home and raise babies, and I couldn’t do that in good conscience with a mountain of debt hanging over our family with only a diploma on the wall to show for it. I’m confident enough in my brilliance not to need a piece of paper to prove it to myself.

It’s taken me three and a half years to make this decision. I thought we would be bouncing babies on our knees by now, but they’re still a dream. And so I’m reaching out for a different future. I have to. The dream of having my own children has caused me so much pain and misery. I have to put it away. But tonight tore my heart like its never been torn. I held her and quieted her and told her I was sorry. I was so sorry. But it wasn’t me she wanted. “I want Mom.”

Those words may haunt me the rest of my life.

Five Year Goals

I woke up early this morning. (I’m still in awe of my actually being awake in the morning these days.) I read through a lot of new blogs, searching out tags on introverts, INTJ, INFJ, minimalism, etc. (By the way, if you haven’t discovered Readline – the Chrome browser Extension, it’s pretty awesome for being able to speed-read!)

Continue reading Five Year Goals

Forgiveness Without Magic Words

“Long Path of Dreams” by Teakster – Deviantart.com

I had another appointment with my naturopath today – my third since the end of December. I gave him all the positive feedback I’ve mentioned here before, which he was very pleased to hear. Then came the emotional therapy.

Forgiveness is such a cliche thing to talk about in therapy, but I reflected for awhile after my appointment, and God put the pieces together for me:

Beloved, your life is settling down, and it’s on a good path. Your healing will not come through magic words. We will walk through it in My time. The first step is to stop blaming them for the way things are now. You have two hands, two feet, a beautiful mind, inspiration to last a lifetime, and your mind is healing from its deficiencies. You have what you need to make changes. Stop blaming them for pieces of your life that We can change. Your healing will come as you take these steps. Walk the path I have blessed, and your forgiveness will blossom. Your resentment will fade.

Here are the steps, in no particular order of importance:

  • Mental Forgiveness: Enroll in a degree completion program. (Already applied this morning!)
  • Physical Forgiveness: Start cooking, and learn how to love it.
  • Emotional Forgiveness: Establish more of your own family traditions.
  • Spiritual Forgiveness: Be what I called and gifted you to be. (This one was actually one of the bigger areas of forgiveness I need to focus on. I’m choosing to leave the step a bit vague. There’s a lot more that I’m still working out.)

The only forgiveness I have ever been taught involves words. Always words. “I forgive you for that… I release you from that… I choose not to be embittered by that anymore… I claim the blood of Christ to wash this hurt clean.” Thank God for showing me how actions can be so much more effective. Move on! Stop holding them responsible for how your life has ended up, like there’s no hope for it to be any different. As long as your life remains the product of how you were treated, you will never truly forgive them. You may calm down for a time, but as soon as an old wound is poked, all the animosity and hurt will come rushing back. And you’ll keep wondering why you haven’t forgiven them.

Now imagine transforming your life into something gloriously unrecognizable from what it is now. You will not be able to blame them for or credit them with that change. They will have no part in what your life becomes. Your old wounds will finally have space to forget the pain, and your scars will turn from red to white.

A Tool Re-imagined

Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread!” What do you think is actually the best thing since Sliced Bread?

It looks like a lot of the responses to this prompt are food-related, but I think I’m going to take a more historical approach. According to wikipedia, sliced bread was first sold in 1928. Since then our world has come alive with new inventions including the jet engine, kidney dialysis, velcro, the polio vaccine, the microchip, kevlar, genetic engineering, and the world wide web.

May 1948 Eagle-Gazette
May 1948 Eagle-Gazette

I’m gonna go with the invention of the ball point pen by Laszlo Jose Biro in 1938. Here’s a guy that dared to re-imagine a tool for the masses that dates back to when cavemen drew on walls. According to this site, the quill pen was invented in 600 AD. No one figured on the fountain pen until 1884. Really? Almost no innovation for over 1,200 years?

I love pens, so for me, this is the best thing since sliced bread.

Love Languages

“My Love!”

These are the words I hear every day when I walk in the door. Soon after comes an onslaught of bear hugs and a showering of kisses. My friends once joked that I wouldn’t make a good wife because I wasn’t touchy-feely. What they didn’t understand was that I wasn’t against affection. I was simply selective! Imagine their surprise when one of my top love languages ended up being physical touch. [The others are quality time, and acts of service, which my friends and I enjoy in ample amounts.]

I now have a steady supply of all my top love languages: physical touch, quality time, and acts of service. You can take the test, based on Gary D. Chapman’s 5 Love Languageshere. Typically you’ll just have one main language and one secondary, but true to my never fitting the personality mold, I have three. It’s pretty convenient though. I don’t need an abundance of any one thing to be satisfied. Thankfully, the hu’band is the family cook, he likes to kiss my face, and he likes to breathe the same air as me, so we’re good!

Acts of Service

Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.

Last month I sent exactly 600 emails and received 947. I have categorized and archived 18,119 emails since February 1, 2014 – and those are just the emails I saved! Thousands more were deleted. Setting priorities is paramount to my job performance. At any given time in the past four years, I maintain about 100 conversations in various stages of completion. By the time I get home, my mind is a blur. All I want to do is kick off my heels, have dinner, watch a show, play a game, and maybe do some writing.

The hu’band has to be the most accommodating partner I could ask for. When our goddaughters came to live with us, we decided he would work part-time so he could be available to pick them up from school, and be with them in the afternoon. I have continued to work full-time. I never expected to end up with this kind of role-reversal, but it’s what made the most sense. And now he does his own homework in the afternoons! He went back to school full-time last month to earn a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. I think I may retire when he graduates! (Not really, I think I’d go crazy, but it’s nice to know he will be out-earning me one day, and I’ll be able to support him the same way he’s supported me.)

Quality Time

Quality Time

In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.
This is what I mean by breathing each other’s air. Whatever I’m doing, I want him there with me. I want his feedback at a moment’s notice. I want him to laugh at something funny that I read. I want him to listen when I make a noteworthy discovery. I want him to kiss me when I say something witty. I want him to hear me, and he does!
Physical Touch

Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.

Yeah, don’t get all squirmy. It’s actually not about sex at all. It’s about foreplay. Okay, sorry, I should have warned you, but it’s true! If this wasn’t such a big part of our private and public relationship, the hu’band wouldn’t have a prayer by the time we get to the bedroom. All the kisses on my face and pecks on the neck and hugs from behind and hands on my back and dances in the kitchen keep an unending stream of affection running between us. It solidifies the fact that we not only love each other, but we like each other too. As a creature who enjoys sex as an emotional connection, you can probably guess that liking my spouse is absolutely essential.

Words of Affirmation

Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.

Here’s where we start getting into my uncomfortable territory. I do not accept compliments very well. Typically, I find them highly suspicious and almost never sincere. Which is odd, now that I say that. It’s not that I don’t think I’m worthy of the compliment. I actually compliment myself quite a bit. It’s just that when it comes out of someone else’s mouth, I doubt whether they’re qualified to give me that kind of feedback. “Oh, you’re so organized!” Really? You should see my bathroom drawer. “Oh, you’re so good with those kids!” Seriously? I’m just trying not to warp them. 

Generic compliments tend to end up in my emotional waste basket as failed attempts to manipulate me. Detailed compliments, on the other hand, I can appreciate. “Your training was fun.” Heck yeah it was! “Your linen closet is so neat and pristine!” Isn’t it, though?! “I love how you taught the kids the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. You hit all the right points.” I know, right?!

I plain do not understand people who have this as their main love language. It’s a perfectly legitimate emotional need, but I have never been able to cater to it. I offer sincere, detailed compliments when I can, but that’s about as far as I can go. Flowery, generic, wide-sweeping, glowing remarks just don’t come out of my mouth.

Receiving Gifts

Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.

Lucky for the hu’band and I, this is the lowest on the totem pole for both of us. So low, in fact, that we don’t buy each other specific gifts for specific events. At least I don’t remember getting or giving gifts on birthdays or Christmas the last few years. He did get me flowers and wine and cheese for our last anniversary, but he does that just because sometimes too. I understand that this particular emotional need comes from wanting to feel cherished and treasured, but I’m just not that sentimental about things. I purge as often as I buy, so unless the gift is priceless, it should probably be consumable, otherwise I’m gonna donate that sucker as soon as I forget who gave it to me or why.


 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little rendition of my hierarchy of emotional needs. Let me know what your top love languages are!

A Burning Scent

“No, no, no, no.”

I feel like complete and utter garbage. I woke up this morning with a terrible taste in my mouth, my stomach was in knots, and all I could think was, “It’s not working. My brain pills have failed and I’m doomed to be depressed forever.”

What a nice way to wake up!

But it was seven o’clock. I don’t wake up at seven o’clock on my own, so something’s got to be working there. I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, took a shower, got dressed, and felt a bit better. Taking care of myself: also something I don’t do on my own without a significant amount of willpower. By the time I poured my coffee I realized what was wrong. People get sick!

Yes, even the most perfectly balanced brain is not immune to all viruses. There are a couple doozies going around my office. Seems like half the staff was out last week, some for more than a couple days. I reached for the Echinacea and Vitamin C and handed out some immune boosters to my family. I still feel awful, but at least it’s not coupled with hopelessness.

What a drama queen.

I haven’t been motivated or inspired to write about much this past week. That might have been the start of my little trip to Doomville. “Why don’t I want to write? Am I still depressed?” I tried to reason that not everyone has inspiration every day, but the nagging feeling that my transformation might be a hoax left me uneasy.

It’s been three weeks. I suffered from undiagnosed, clinical depression my whole life, not knowing I could do anything about it. When I started this journey in December, I resolved to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that good stuff. But the scent of depression is familiar now, and it burns my senses. I just need to remember that physical illness, with its sluggishness and fogginess can masquerade as a setback.