I’m Fine… Really

So, I haven’t written in ages. Not really. There’s been too much in my life that I can’t share online for reasons of legal nature, personal nature, or just because all sharing does is invite questions I can’t answer for those aforementioned reasons. Sometimes it’s self-defense, and sometimes it’s “to protect the innocent.” Hence the ending of my “Laughing at the Moon” blog several years ago.

But, because people have actually expressed that they miss reading my writing, and because I’m often asked, yes, I’m fine. Really, I am. Life’s been rough and there have been a lot of major life changes over the past year alone, but mostly, life is good. So here is what I can and will tell you – and feel free to ask questions, but know that I may or may not be able to answer them:

We’re moving. We are very excited about it. The where and why has nothing at all to do with you, the reader of this musing. Unless I have specifically verbalized that it has something to do with you, it doesn’t. There are exactly 8 people that this move has anything at all to do with. And unless you are one of those 8 who will be living in the new house, you can rest assured that we are not running away from you, avoiding you, or otherwise allowing you to impact this decision to move. We’re moving because we feel that this is what is best for us and our family at this time in our lives. There has been much prayer, much contemplation, and much discussion with people we trust to counsel us in this decision. We are aware of the challenges we may be facing here, and we’ve chosen to embrace them for the greater good.

I struggle with my inner demons. I have been extremely close to losing people I love desperately over the past year to accidents and/or their own emotional struggles. I’ve been fighting physical illness as well as emotional illness in my own life, as well as in the lives of many people I love. And frankly, I’m exhausted. A simple cold virus has had me down for the better part of the past month. And prior to that, migraines and other nasty side effects, triggered by hormonal imbalances that I have been trying (and thus far failing) to correct through med changes. I’ve changed meds at least once a month for the past 6-8 months, and I’m not done. And, frankly, the hell that med changes put one’s body and emotions through is not for the weak of heart.

My daughter is also looking for the right meds – and therapy – for several conditions that she is dealing with. I love my daughter – adore her even. Most days, however, she is a trigger to my own disorders and feelings of inadequacy. And most days I’ve run an emotional marathon with her before she is even on the bus at 7:40am. And then… I have to start my day. And some days, I just don’t have it left in me to do that.

As a result, I struggle with social events. I want desperately to go out and do something and be with people. I don’t, however, feel “safe” in large groups. Even if it’s people I know and love. I don’t have the emotional energy most of the time (or often the physical energy) to care for myself in large groups. Often, I even struggle to hang out with people one-on-one if I feel the least bit as if I’m being “evaluated on my performance” or assigned motivations for the things I do and say. In other words, I have to feel utterly safe with you, knowing you care deeply about me and my people, respect my personal limitations and boundaries, and accept me for who I am, whether you agree or not with who that person is.

I won’t remember the “last time” we were together. I’ll remember the phenomenal times – whether they are negatively so or positively so. As someone with a bipolar disorder, there are no real in-betweens. And that’s not something I know how to explain. I’m not trying to leave you out of anything… I’m just trying to survive the day, same as most people I know.

 

– Nean

The Sound of Peace

I’m sitting on my porch swing at my new house enjoying the peace and quiet of the beautiful evening.

There are children in most of the surrounding houses, much to my son’s delight (and daughter’s too, even though they’re all her big brother’s age). I can hear the muted sounds of them in the distance playing.

And all I can hear is peace.

Instead of roaring motorcycles circling around our block, where we can hear them the whole way around, there is silence. Well, ok, there is a gold finch fluttering and singing in the tree next to me. And yes, there are cicadas chirping… loudly. If I have to be honest, I’ll admit that I can still hear the sounds of occasional cars on the road… And sure, there goes the obligatory plane overhead (one of the joys of living within miles of an airport).

But there are moments of stillness and peace.

In the midst of it all there’s the rhythmic creak of the swing as it slowly sways back and forth. Even the noisy cicadas have become little more than a lulling hum. And it’s slowly starting to feel like home here. Slowly.

It’s slowly singing the song of peace.

Welcome to the Jungle!

We camped in our new house last night. Packed bags and sleeping bags and went over to the new place so the kids could sleep in their rooms. They were thrilled.

There’s nothing in the new house yet, except the debris of construction. It’s just bare rooms with freshly painted walls, still awaiting carpet and then furniture, and then the things that make it home.

But the kids love their willow tree in the back yard. They ran back and forth from the tree to us and through the branches. They “hid” from us and they imagined they were exploring some new territory. Zoe’s claimed it as “My MY Jungle!”

This whole experience feels a bit like being lost in the jungle to me. For the kids (and hubby even) it’s a huge adventure. To me, it’s a never ending struggle for survival. I’m tired and this trek feels eternal.

But carpets and cable/internet come Tuesday. And then we can start feeling like we have a home again, even in the midst of the chaos of this jungle.

Someday I’ll Learn…

I’ve been going, going, going lately — trying to create a new home for my family. I’ve packed and painted. I’ve purged and prepared. Then I’ve packed and painted some more.

And somehow, I’ve missed a lot. There’s so much to be done. There are too many little things to take care of before we move into the new place.

And I need to slow down. This is a painful lesson for me — literally.

I was smacked with a migraine on Monday, which left me nearly immobile from pain down my neck, shoulders, and back.

Do you think that was enough for me to learn? Nope.

Yesterday, in spite of the pain, I knew I had too much to do. So, I was carting things out to my van, getting ready to take a load of stuff to the new place. Halfway down the sidewalk, I turned my ankle. I thought I actually sprained it for a while.

So, I went to my massage therapist last night (also my father-in-law, but that’s beside the point), and he took care of most of the pain in my back and the rest of the migraine after-effects. He looked at my ankle and determined that I’d be alright. Told me to ice it, elevate it, and rest it. Same as I had been. I felt a lot better when I went to bed.

Was that enough? Nope.

Still planned to jump back in the saddle today. BUT, for the second day in a row, I woke up barely able to walk. My ankle swelled overnight and wouldn’t take any weight when I got out of bed today.

So today, I’ve done nothing. I had a visit from a friend. She brought her son to play with the kids and a cup of coffee for me (and a baby to snuggle). She made me sit while she kept me company.

Someday I’ll learn to accept my limitations. I’ll learn to be and not feel the need to judge myself on my performance. Yes, there is still plenty to do, but it’ll get done eventually. For now, it’s time to slow down and rest, to allow myself to become reacquainted with the people I love.

And it’s time to remember the family that is my home.

Homeless

I have two houses, but the funny thing is I feel homeless these days.

I have renamed our houses. The old house (which we are technically still living in) is the “landfill” — full of clutter, boxes, piles of semi-sorted stuff, trash bags, etc. The new house is the “construction zone” — full of ladders, painting supplies, lighting fixtures, carpet pieces, etc.

Because of this, I feel like I have no home. Just two buildings that I go back and forth between. Sleeping and eating at one (and accessing the internet) and working and sweating at the other one.

It feels particularly odd since my parents have now moved out of their side of the old house. I often think, “Oh, we’re out of milk; wonder if mom has some I can borrow” or “I wonder what kind of coffee dad made this morning.” (Yes, I now have to make my own coffee. It’s a routine I have to reestablish.) And I realize they’re not there. And I miss being able to pop next door and just chat whenever the mood strikes. Yes, there is still the phone, email, IM, texts, etc. We make use of them, but it’s not the same and I have to adjust my thinking and habits.

So, not much is consistent right now, and not much feels like home. But I know it’ll all be worth it in the end when I’m finally home again.

Better than a Raindance

You need rain? The best way to make sure you get it, is to have a picnic, plan a camping trip, or HOST A HUGE YARD SALE! All week, I’ve been sorting through my precious junk. Looking for treasure that might benefit someone else, now that I no longer need it. And today is the day – and it ushered in the rain of course.

Happily, we have the luxury of setting up inside the house. My parents moved out of their half of the house last weekend, but they don’t have to be “out” until tomorrow afternoon. So, their entire first floor has become a veritable treasure house.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nicer. And there’s the huge craft show in Lititz, to bring in the crowds. I don’t care so much about making money (although that’s a nice side-effect). I just need to get rid of stuff. So come and check it out. All reasonable offers considered!

And then it’s on to the next big chapter in our moving saga!

Dream House with a Side of In-Laws

I have always wanted a house with a wrap-around porch and a swing. I’ve wanted a nice paved driveway with a big garage at the end of it. I’ve wanted a huge back yard with a willow tree for the kids to play in and a deck I could sit on and watch them. I’ve wanted a fireplace for those cold nights in the winter months and a play room to send the kids to when they’re noisy. I’ve wanted a huge kitchen with lots of windows and light. I’ve wanted a nice suburban neighborhood in Smalltown, USA, where there are kids next door and everyone watches out for everyone else.

Well, after years of half-hearted searching, we’ve finally found it, and we’re moving into it. I can’t wait to finally have the house I want my kids to grow up in. I can’t wait to start making that house my home, adding my personal touch to decorate and express my creativity.

Of course, I never realized my dream house was gonna come with in-laws.

Wait for it…

“Oh, you poor thing, I’m sorry. You sure you wanna do that? I mean… your *in-laws*… really? How are you gonna handle that?”

Well, guess what. After a large amount of soul-searching and conversation with the people that matter, I’m looking forward to it.

Yes, really.

I’ve been a “communal living” advocate most of my life. In our married life, Jeff and I have had exactly 3-6 months where we lived completely by ourselves – just the two of us. There has always been a housemate or family either in the house with us or right next door. This should not surprise anyone. I’m an advocate of social consciousness and environmental responsibility. We consider communal living to be a responsible choice for us.

I wouldn’t have my dream house without the in-laws. Frankly, we couldn’t afford it — and neither could they. Together, we share the bills. I’m not living in their house and they’re not living in mine. It’s a joint contract and a shared responsibility.

We’ve already divided certain household responsibilities. Mom deals with the finances and “legal” aspects of the move and home maintenance. I deal with the aesthetics. Dad is in charge of the garden and lawn and Jeff is in charge of the technical stuff. We all recognize and trust the strengths in each other. It’s mutual respect.

And it works for us. And I’m well aware that this kind of arrangement would not work for everyone — possibly for very few people in fact. Maybe it works for us because we’ve always been able to wear several hats in our relationship. Yes, they are the “in-laws,” and most people stop there when they deal with the spouse’s family. But, they are also our housemates in the new move — all of us equal partners. Mom and I are both writers, and without going into detail, have many conversations as writers on topics that I’d never discuss with my “mother-in-law.” Dad is my massage therapist and we hold the same doctor-patient confidentiality anyone holds with a medical professional. More importantly, they’ve always been more than family. They’re my friends.

Am I at all worried about living with the in-laws? Of course. In the same way I’d be worried about adjusting to living with anyone new. It’s a change, and living with someone ultimately brings about challenges to the relationship. Admittedly, there will be times when the roles will cross over and mom & dad will be the parents and we will be the kids and I expect that.

But when it comes to whose home it is, I’m not worried. It’s *our* home — all of us.

I Didn’t Know We Had THAT!

When I declared 2010 to be the “Year of the Purge,” I had no idea what I was signing on for. I’m a packrat and I married a packrat. And guess what happens when two packrats raise children together? They foster tiny packrats who insidiously squirrel away every scrap of paper or cheap toy ever handed to them (include the “cool box” it came in).

Our house is bursting at the seams from clutter. There are moments (far more and more frequent recently), where we’ve actually gotten to the place of tripping through the landfill obstacle course to get from one room to another. And yes, that’a an embarrassing thing to admit, but there, I said it.

So, I’ve slowly (and that’s with much kicking and screaming really) been sifting through things, attempting to throw away or donate things and pare down our possessions. And we’ve honestly gotten rid of a LOT of stuff.

But you’d never know it when you walk into our house. See, the problem with packrats (particularly the crafty and creative types that we are)? Everything is necessary. There’s sentimental value. There’s the obligatory, “I can make something with that” and “As soon as I get rid of that, I’ll realize I needed it to finish some project.”

What happens is that we’ve collected so much of that “just in case” stuff that we don’t even know what we have, and as I’ve been purging, I’ve discovered a whole treasure trove of stuff I always wanted and didn’t realize I already had. And so have my children.

And now, we’re moving. More on that soon enough over the next few weeks, because there are all kinds of stories there. Suffice it to say for now, however, that packing is a monumental chore. Knowing I can’t keep everything, but not knowing what is “safe” to get rid of, makes packing slow or sometimes even stall with the discoveries.

So forgive the silence. I’ve been digging for buried treasure and getting distracted by bright shiny objects.