Archive from December, 2014

Feeling Seen at Christmas

I got my holiday schedule and noticed the plethora of days on which I had been scheduled to work. Including the entire week of Christmas. Sigh. I was initially grumpy and worried that it would be a hard week. I’d be alone in my house. Alone on Christmas. (Play violin music here).

But several factors made me feel very seen this Christmas. Seen and loved.

  1. Visitors! I had some surprise visitors including my parents, brother, and friend Tracy who adjusted their schedules to spend some time with me this Christmas. Their presence and willingness to adjust their schedules to accommodate mine changed my attitude immensely. Here are Tracy and I in our all our natural beauty.kelly tracy funny face
  2. Food! My sweet friends, Wendy and Mandi, made lunch for my team and delivered it Christmas Eve. It changed my entire day. I was able to notify my fellow therapists that an elf came to deliver treats! We were giddy. Truly. It had been a hard morning, and this magic salad turned our days around. These women were able to provide in practical ways to care for those who care for others. We all felt noticed and loved.IMG_2915 food delivery
  3. 3. Perspective! Many of my friends who heard about my schedule texted, called or messaged me to tell me how important my work was and how special this week could be if I went in with the right perspective. I was able to provide love, cheer, and tiny snuggles to my patients who were stuck in the hospital too. One of my friends, whose son has spent more than his fair share of time in hospitals, thanked me personally for working. It struck me how powerful that moment was because she knows what it is like to parent in the hospital. She understands what it is like to try to sleep next to her little one with monitor alarms and hourly rounding interrupting her. She has experienced staff with bad attitudes which can ruin an interaction and with good attitudes who can be a breath of fresh air. I’m determined to have a good attitude for her, her son, and everyone else in a similar situation.

    Thank you to everyone who cared for me while I cared for others. Thanks for making my Christmas memorable, merry, and purposeful.

What made YOUR Christmas merry this year?

Hospitals Don’t Get Holidays

To celebrate Christmas this year, I am wearing scrubs with a festive vest overtop and snowflake hair flair. This year I’m celebrating a working Christmas. I will be at the hospital performing evals, doing therapy, facilitating discharge processes and providing tiny snuggles. (And helping to make this little rehab patient!)

gingerbread candy cane walker

I must admit, I was pretty grumpy when I got the holiday schedule this year. It took some time for me to realize that this was not a curse, but an opportunity. I could bless my co-workers and allow them to celebrate with their families and I could provide love to my patients and their families in a very tender place as they celebrated Christmas morning in decorated hospital rooms instead of at home.

Truly, it was delightful. I dressed up ridiculously (as mentioned above) in order to provide a little holiday merriment to everyone I encountered. And I had purpose. I determined to provide a little love to those kids and babies whose families could not be with them this morning. I was going to hold, rock, play with, and pray for my patients. And it would be a beautiful day.

I provided hugs to a few family members who were grieving the fact that their little one was hospitalized instead of home for the typical Christmas morning experience. I adjusted bedding and positioning for babies to they could be comfortable, save calories, grow, and go home sooner. I helped another get out of bed after surgery so he could play with his new toys. It was a good day. Hospitals don’t get holidays because illness doesn’t take a holiday. So compassion and care shouldn’t either.

Dec 21, 2014 - My Story    6 Comments

Bon Appetit?

Goulash

Here is my CrockPot full of steaming hot, perfectly seasoned Hungarian Goulash! I chopped and diced and measured in anticipation of a great meal. But there’s something ugly lurking in the midst of this meal. Apparently, when I added the meat and removed one of those silicon meat sleeves, I did not notice a second sleeve lurking. And so I cooked the meal with said sleeve infiltrating the ranks for half a dozen hours.

meat sleeve

Here it is, burst open and leaking on a decorative Christmas envelope. When I discovered the stowaway (which truly I don’t know how I didn’t see it because I stirred the goulash multiple times!) I had a decision to make. Was it worth risking getting sick to throw out a $20 meal and have to scramble for something to eat that night? I weighed this decision heavily. I hate throwing out food. I hate wasting money. I hate feeling foolish! But I also hate being sick. And in this instance, that hatred won out among the bunch.

It was amazing to me how small a piece of plastic could derail my entire night. I mourned the lost food, money, and time as I threw out my contaminated meal. I grieved my expectation of a delightful meal. I bemoaned my own ineptitude and oversight!

And then I realized that I had to share this. I’m determined not to allow my “public persona” –be in on my blog, Facebook, Twitter or any other social site– be a collection of only my good moments. That would be a record of a relatively small portion of my life. I am determined to share a more balanced view. I make mistakes. I cry. I need people. I add meat sleeves to my food and cook and stir for six hours without noticing their presence! That’s real life. It’s messy and hidden and it takes bravery to let people see the less than glowing moments.

I want to share real life moments. But I promise if I ever invite you over to dinner that meat sleeve won’t be on the menu!

Anyway, I blame cheeky for this whole debacle!

cheeky goulash

Dec 18, 2014 - Running    2 Comments

Running into Lessons

In my previous post, I described my heart imploding in loneliness like a dying star after my last race. I was spent physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I felt like I had nothing left to give. I had to be brought low in order to be open to what I was supposed to learn.

Here’s what I’m thinking thus far. I am not sure if this is all God has in store for me on this front, but perhaps you can relate.

Lesson #1: It’s okay to need help.

I much prefer being the helper instead of the helped. I revel in this role. It’s my role at work at least 40 hours a week and I’m pretty good at it there. This dynamic of Kelly being (ore pretending to be) the strong one oozes out into other parts of my life. After my race, I was weak. I was weak physically and needed to eat and I was fragile emotionally. I needed help. And help was provided in likely and unlikely places. When I shared my struggles openly and without pretense, friends rallied to help me celebrate and encourage me. I am thankful that these relationships directly countered the lies I’d believed. People do care. They care about me and about what I’m doing. My needs were met even in the most basic of ways. After the race ran out of food, there were two kids in their front lawn watching the runners and passing out Tootsie Rolls. I grasped one, told them they were my new best friends and ate the calories hungrily. You don’t always have to be strong. It’s okay to need help. And sometimes help comes from unlikely sources.

 

Lesson #2: Expectations are Tricky.

I didn’t think I’d gone into this race with any expectations. I thought it was a freebie. A pre-race. A warm up. But the difficulty of it proved that I had expectations which were unmet. Expectations that I didn’t even know I had! Expectations that there would be food for me! Expectations that everyone knew what I was doing. Expectations that others were aware of my plans and how hard the race had been. I signed up for this race last minute and didn’t share the details widely. I didn’t even realize, until confronted with their lack of fulfillment that I  had expectations. A wise teacher told me long ago, “Unvoiced expectations are preconceived resentments.” Even as I say this, I want to say it apologetically for any resentment others experienced. The resentments are my issues because I didn’t voice my expectations not others’ faults for not living up to my subconscious expectations.  Perhaps you’ve dealt with this. Have you ever had times when you’re upset and not quite sure why. Perhaps your resentments are due to unvoiced expectations.

 

Lesson #3: We need community.

I need people. I need people to celebrate with me. I need people to listen to me when I cry. I need people to give me food when I’m completely spent. And I need to be such a person to others. We need community, honesty, and sharing in the good times and in the trying. We are created to need each other. I was forced in new ways to depend on others during and after my run into loneliness. And for that I am thankful.

I know there are other purposes and lessons hiding in my experience. It was far too powerful to leave me unchanged. But this is where I’m living now. Wanting to share the good and the bad, determined not to paint my life as rosier than it really is. How about you? What are you learning?

Dec 15, 2014 - Running    10 Comments

Running into Loneliness

I ran into loneliness. Literally.

Last weekend I participated in a Half Marathon. I signed up last minute to psychologically boost myself in preparation for my races in January and February. Those are the ones that are important to me. In my head this one was a freebie. I had no time goals. It was just for fun and to prove to myself that I could do it. I thought it was unimportant, but it turned out to be life changing.

I showed up at the start line just as the gun fired to release the pack. I was ready. Neoprene donned, water belt filled, bladder evacuated, breakfast eaten! I was ready to go. And for the first 8.5 miles, I did great. I was pacing myself to a 12 minute mile and pleased with how things were going physically. Mentally was another matter though.

Most people deal with thoughts like, “I can’t do this. I have to stop.” when they hit their mental wall. I didn’t. The lies that filled my head were, “You will finish, but no one cares. You are alone. No one is with you. No one cares about this race and no one cares about you.” It was perhaps the loneliest I’ve ever felt. The feelings were real, but the source was false. People do care about me and about my accomplishments. They want to celebrate with me. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t get those lies out of my head. They swam in my brain and took up residence for hours.

I was pacing well and was mentally focused on getting to mile 8.5 where they’d give out Gu packets (an energy gel). I just knew that when I got that, life would be better and I’d be able to finish the race well. Except they ran out of Gu packets just before I got there. Picture Kelly imploding like a dying star. The second half of the race was rough. I was spent physically, emotionally, spiritually, and had nothing to replenish myself in any arena. I walked and ran whenever possible. I was surrounded by people and was at the same time totally alone.

I rounded the very last corner and saw the finish line and started crying. Not out of a sense of accomplishment or joy, but because I knew no one was waiting for me. I cross the finish line crushing my previous recored by 11 minutes, got my medal, realized they also ran out of food at the finish line, hobbled to my car, and drove home. Still believing the lies and unable to celebrate my accomplishments.

half marathon OUC

Why do I share this tear-filled day of terribleness? Because I learned from it. Every experience matters. God does not waste pain. But He also doesn’t necessary share the purpose or the lesson right away. I had to sit in the mess for a while before gaining some understanding. So I will make you, dear reader, do the same. Life is messy, we must live in the midst of it.

What is your mess right now? What makes you cry? What lies are swimming around in your head and taking up permanent residence? Think about those things and know that God does not waste pain.

Dec 13, 2014 - Humor    2 Comments

Oh Holy Night

I cannot go through the joy of this season without giggling uncontrollably at this video. May it give you a brief pause in the midst of the hurry. Watch this and realize that no matter how far behind you feel or what you have on your to do list, you’re having a better day than this guy!

Happy Christmas!

Dec 2, 2014 - Devotional    1 Comment

Life Margins

Leviticus changed my life.

No really, I learned a valuable agriculturally-based life lesson from Leviticus last week. Lev. 23:22 reads, “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.” Life changing, right? Okay, maybe it needs some explanation. Leviticus is a book of rules and guidelines for life which God is giving to His people, the Israelites. He is showing them how to care for themselves and how to care for others. Since most of the Israelites were farmers at this time, agricultural laws were widespread. This one in Leviticus 23 encourages generosity by having the owners of the fields not reap every square inch of their fields, but instead to leave a margin for the poor. And what was the reason given? Becuase “I am the LORD your God.” This was a way to show that your loyalties lay with the Lord instead of on your own productivity. This thinking was training them to leave margins in other areas of life: in their finances, time, and energy.

Light and trees

This is where the message really hit home. I’ve gone to financial classes before and I’ve been trained on how to provide financial margins. I support my church, missionaries, and non-profits. I’ve worked to create margins in my giving. But I have no margins in my time. I try to squeeze as many hours out of the day as possible, (and then have two alternatives for when an appointment falls through.) I joke that my life is one large Tetris game. I am a strategist and a maximizer at heart and I want to wring every last moment of productivity from my allotted 24 hours. But this thinking has me exhausted, constantly wanting to wring out just a little bit more, and trusting in myself to provide instead of God. I’ve realized that my life is inhospitable to spontaneity and I have no margins in my time.

To put it another way, “I can do anything I want, but I can’t do everything I want.” I can write, work, speak, craft, cook, clean, run, and go to Disney. But not concurrently. I keep re-realizing that I have a finite amount of time and that I have to create boundaries which are narrower that the very edges of my life. I need margins in my life. Perhaps you can relate. I am determined not to glean to the very edges of my time, but to leave some for those who need it, and in doing so to trust in the Lord.

See, I told you Leviticus could be life changing!

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