Thursday, July 17, 2014

Little House of Dreams

Lately I find myself most in love with things that are falling down.  This little house was half a mile from our home.  It sat unnoticed by me for 6 years.  I am certain that I had seen it, but I was looking without really seeing, which is an easy thing to do.  Then one day as I was driving by, a fight over the radio started to erupt from the back seats of the minivan.  I began to search my mind and reach into the deep well of patience that is a mother’s love when I saw the little house.   I called into the back seat,  “Hey babies, what if that was our home?  What can you imagine there?”

 Fight over, radio ignored and off they went.  Max wanted a Goldendoodle to explore the property with and the “most hugest” strawberry patch to tend too.  Charlotte saw chickens, a garden and her own room with a comfy chair for reading and an easel for painting.  Willa wanted cookies and a swing.  Then it was my turn.

My first dream would be to make all of theirs come true.  Then I would add a barn/sewing studio where my friends and I could help people with their creative journeys and take care of each other along the way.  I would love a big kitchen where I could cook and the feed people that I love.   I would adore a porch with a swing, where I could sit and knit or read or just bask in the quiet of a sunset.  We went on like this for a year, tucking into that little home the only thing it could safely house: our dreams for ourselves and each other.

We came home from vacation to find the little house gone.  It had been burned safely to the ground, ashes and an empty space remaining.  When we saw it at first we were somber, but even my children can tell you what the best thing about a dream is: it can’t be burned down.  We don’t need the little house there to keep going.  Today as we drove by I turned the radio low and listened to three beautiful little people rebuild the house with their words, and when it was my turn I added some of my own.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer So Far

Our first few weeks of Summer have been spent close to home.  We have been on several hikes and discovered that in addition to looking exactly like him that Willa has her brother's zeal for hiking.  While Charlotte and I are just along for the ride, those two scramble with all the power in their tiny bodies to get to the top.  It is so nice that beautiful views of Boise are so easily obtained, and that our favorite trail is only two blocks away from the ice cream shop of our dreams.

With school out I now do all of my chores with three little people.  The shopping trip above ended with my children befriending the lady who was bagging groceries next to us.  Introductions were made, pleasantries exchanged and somehow the four of them ended up singing, "Puff the Magic Dragon" altogether.  The cashier and I were laughing too hard to join in. 

Charlotte has picked up her knitting once again, this time with vigor.  Her first big project was a scarf for me which I will  be blocking later today and happily wearing all next winter.  Now she is making herself a cowl.  I am rewarding all of this effort by sewing a new knitting bag for her today.  Knitting is 51 percent about nice yarn and 49 percent about having an awesome knitting bag.

This Friday we are packing up and heading to Portland, OR for a little vacation and a celebration of Alan's 34th birthday.  I foresee fun times with friends and meals in breweries in our near future. And maybe some time in yarn shops, just maybe.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hello Summer!

And just like that summer has arrived.  While I am always able to find reasons to love each and every season, I must admit that summer is my most favorite.  I wait patiently all school year  for my playmates to be freed and plan for our time together.  When I am running in the snow I look forward to the time when I will be able to run at 4:30am in shorts and not be cold. Driving to and from a twelve hour shift can be a gorgeous thing when light greets you at the door on the way to work and heading home.

Our little garden is growing.  My tomato plants are getting bigger every day.  My third attempt at basil is just now peeking out of the soil.  I finally got wiser and planted this crop under the cloak of nap time.  My little Willa finds the planting of basil so enchanting that she decided to prolong the process by digging it up for me, but I will prevail!  I love having this little patch of earth that depends on me.

My children have put me to work making things for them.  Charlotte ordered her fall sweater and a scarf.  Willa needs a pink back pack and a quilt.  Max would like a sweater with a hood that doesn’t itch.  After years of wanting to do so but not having the courage, I finally started making clothes for them too.  It has been sew much fun!  For the fall I am hoping to make a few items for each one.  The byproduct of all this sewing for the kiddos has been a few items of clothing made for me.  Wearing something I made myself makes me ridiculously happy.

There will also be lots of time at lessons, Charlotte began violin this spring and Max had his first karate class yesterday.  Soon swimming lessons will start too.  Watching my kids out in the world, learning to do the things that they have been dreaming of is nothing short of magical.  Most of our days though will be spent at home.  Soaking up this precious and fleeting free time, days upon days of greeting the sun and going where we want to go and doing what we want to do.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

On Depression

After high school I suffered through a major depression.

That is the hardest sentence I have ever written, hands down.  It shouldn’t be hard to write or say at all.  Mental illness is no different from any other sickness.  If had, for instance, pneumonia, I would have no hesitation in saying so.  As a nurse I know that we are all susceptible to sadness and that sadness can evolve into an illness. I know that I am no more at fault for having had depression than I am for getting strep throat.

I am writing here today because I keep having the same conversation over and over.  I have had it with my co-workers, with friends, hair dressers, in bible study, everywhere.  It always goes like this:

Other Person: I have this person in my life that is really sad.  I think they might even be (hushed tones) depressed.  It is so weird though, because they are not the kind of person that gets depressed.

Me:  No one is immune to depression.  We are all susceptible; given the right circumstances we can all be overwhelmed by sadness.

I cannot pinpoint for you where it began for me.  I do know some factors that lead to my depression.  One of them being that after high school I was afloat, without purpose.  I am not a person that can tread water. I need a point to swim for, and every day I need to stroke my arms and kick my legs to there everyday.

I also know that my sadness made it impossible for me to really love anyone.  Anytime any person during my depression said that they loved me my mouth would say it back but my head would be asking, “Why?”  I could not fathom why anyone would love me.  The sicker I got, the more I questioned.  At my saddest point, loving me became a reason to discount the other person entirely.

The gold at the end of this dreary rainbow is this:  I got help. My doctor put me on an antidepressant. My parents put me in therapy.  My psychologist saved my life.  I will type it again.  My psychologist saved my life.  I was in therapy for over year.  Near the end when I was mainly using my session to crack up my therapist with anecdotes from my daily life she told me that I was better but she asked me to stay a little longer.  The purpose being that she wanted to help me find tools to that I could use to take care of myself.  So that is what we did.

You know what?  They worked.  They still work.  I left therapy 14 years ago, was able to stop the medication and have done extremely well ever since, even in the face of hard times.  Also, when someone says that they love me, my mouth and heart get to say it back, because I love me too.

My purpose in sharing this here is this; if you are sad, please be brave and get help.  If you know someone who is sad, do everything you can do to get them help.  I am posting one of the best TED talks that I have ever seen on depression here.  If you are person with a brain and a heart beat who talks to other people with brains and heart beats, please watch it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Small Courage

                Last summer we went to Portland for a weekend getaway.  We have a favorite hotel on the riverfront that we always stay at which provides perfect scenery for my runs and is directly next to a street car stop.  We love hopping onto the street car and being deposited right into the heart of downtown where our shenanigans begin.

                On our first day in Portland we did just that.  As we walked, we began to understand that our little people were weary and would have much more fun in the hotel pool than they were having walking with us.  This dawned on us just one block shy of Powell’s Books, my most favorite place in Portland.  But the needs of many very much outweigh the wants of one and so back to the hotel we went.  While on the elevator my husband offered to take the kids swimming alone so that I could go back to the bookstore. 

The thought of going out into the city on my own scared me a little.  Then the idea that it scared me a little made me very scared.  Twelve years ago I would not have been frightened to go into a large city by myself, I know this because I used to do just that once a week.  Often after a long day of classes I would throw my backpack into my jeep, jump onto the freeway and head for Seattle.  Once there I would head into a coffee shop and study there until I couldn’t make heads or tails of one more nursing diagnosis.  

That day in the hotel elevator I realized that somehow, without realizing it, that this small part of my courage had quietly slipped away.  There are very good reasons why this occurred, one being that in the last 12 years I have been working on other larger forms of courage.  Like the courage to stand at the bedside during a code blue and calmly draw and administer medications in an attempt to save a life, or the courage to kiss my children good bye on their first day of school.  If I was ever made to choose between my old courage and my new, I would gladly pick the new.  The beauty is though, that I don’t have to choose; I can have them both.

So I helped Alan wrestle the children into their suits, kissed them all and headed back out.  On the street car I looked around at my fellow passengers and shook my nerves away.  Once inside Powell’s, I wandered through the aisles, picked up books for each person that I had left behind in the hotel, and then sat with a pile of my own to explore.  Thumbing through the pages, I felt my old courage introduce itself to my new, then we sat there all together and enjoyed the day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


This fall after finishing a quilt top I asked my kids at the dinner table, who wanted the next one?  Max spoke first and asked if I would make another for him.  I said of course and what would he like it too look like?  His answer startled me with its sweetness, he said, "make it look like the night sky."

I don't know what I thought he would say, Max is my first close study of a little boy, but the night sky was not one of the options that ran through my mind. What did, in the seconds after he said it was along the lines of, "you, little man, are so amazing and beautiful that I alone could not have dreamt you into being."

Max's request of the night sky has something to do with his love for space, and likely for Star Wars.  My adoration of his choice has to do with something entirely different.  I love running at night, always have.  In the dark with only street lamps and the expansive sky filling with stars,  I make my way.  At the end of a busy day these runs are my quiet retreat.  My time in my own head, to think about the little people that I have been given to love, to dream for them, pray for them, be thankful for them. 

I finished Max's quilt top two weeks ago.  It was a long,meticulous haul.  I realized that I needed to make it not only for Max right now but also for Max five or ten years from now, so I doubled the size and kept working.  It will soon be sent off to be quilted, and then I will bind it by hand.  Before long, Max will be sleeping with his stars and his mom will keep running under them.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tuesday Sewing Nights

          Every Tuesday evening my friend Amy packs up her sewing machine, sewing box and whatever project she is working on and comes over to my house for dinner.  After we tuck the children in for the night we turn the kitchen into a sewing room, put on some tunes and sew until we are too tired to do another stitch.  

I have wanted to write this post forever, but was having trouble finding the words.  Then last fall I had a conversation with a patient that helped me find my way here.  I asked her if I could share her wisdom and she said that I could.  Through the course of our day we found ourselves talking about crafts.  I freely admit that this is a common source of conversation for me.  At one point Amy who was acting as our charge nurse that day came in to help me with this patient and we told her about our Tuesday Sewing Nights, and this is what my colorful patient had to say on the matter,

“You know what? That is what is wrong with women these days.  We used to get together, to do blankity whatever, can, sew, knit, quilt.  And now we don’t.  You know what was important about those times?  It wasn’t the blankity that we were making, it was being together.  It was figuring out this blankity life with one another, it was supporting each other through the blankity-blankity stuff that gets thrown at us. It was our time to celebrate joy.  If women started making those times a priority again, I think we could deal with all of the blankity in this world much better.”

I have found everything that my patient said that day to be true.  We are not only exercising the artistic parts of our brains, we are figuring this life out.  In the middle of deciding if this fabric goes with that fabric, we are tackling life’s obstacles together.  Trying to find away to keep a calm, clear head in the midst of a storm, and having a good cry while we are at it.  We decide how to use our lessons, and if we are going to let our scars dictate our future.  We have learned that Amy’s ability to navigate tasks after 10:30pm is greatly diminished.  Also we have recognized and embraced the fact that I am not the tidiest person (think stacks of fabric, papers and books, not vermin). There is a lot of laughing, especially when discussing the shenanigans of our little ones, and we celebrate the people that we see them becoming. 

I am so thankful that we stumbled onto Tuesday Sewing Nights.  I don’t think that either one of us realized what we were creating for ourselves, but I know that we both understand how much it has helped us continue to grow into the women that we are supposed to be and also we get to make cool things. You couldn’t ask for more than that.