I Hate This Place

katewetsell:

Love this, Tracy. He is always there when we need Him. I hate going through the hard times, but the when I feel the presence of the Lord sustain me I know I can make it through.

Originally posted on heart for annie:

I hate this place, I thought as I scurried down the too-familiar hallways of our local children’s hospital to meet a 30-hour-old baby with a heart like Annie’s. I took the sharp left turn to head toward the pink elevators and  tried to suppress the PTSD flashbacks that suffocate me every time I walk that path.

My leftover lunch lurched into my throat when I crossed the route where I chased Annie’s stretcher when she was 4 days old. I swallowed hard and fast, shaking my head to eject the memory, and keep my frozen pizza down. Ugh. It doesn’t shake that easily though. I prayed, “Lord, I want to be here. You have to help me. You’ve given me an opportunity I wasn’t ready for.”

My thoughts were silenced, and I was able to hear a conversation happening in front of me. An older woman held the elbow of a younger…

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ODP Summary (a.k.a My Manifesto)

I’ve successfully completed my October Dress Project and I couldn’t be happier. I got a little bored and frustrated at the end, but I stuck it out. I’m not sure if I will do it again, but I learned a few things about myself. It took a bit of bravery for me to participate in something that drew attention to my body and I have to say that I feel a more comfortable in my own skin now.one of my more funky looks While I did get comments on a few of my outfits- especially the last 4 days when I wore some wackier things- no one really noticed or cared what I wore or how I looked. This is something I need to have tattooed on my forehead or at the very least engraved on my mirror. I am the only one that cares how I look. My husband and my mom think I am beautiful and my friends often have compliments for me. But I am the one that makes a big deal out of my physical appearance. For years I have hated my body, my face, my shape, my height… and the only thing I have gained is depression and bad habits.

Stop the hate, Kate, it’s self-destructive and it benefits no one!

Besides some self-love, the best lesson I learned from my ODP was to stop waiting. In the immortal words of Sound Mound (watch until 3:30, worth every minute), “It’s never too late for now! “ Time to stop waiting and do it now, wear it now, have fun now. When I was a preteen I loved to go crazy with my clothes and accessories. I carried a hot pink Minnie Mouse lunch box, loved to mix and match bright colors and patterns, and always had at least two colors on my braces (usually corresponding to the month of the year: red and green Christmas braces, black and orange for Halloween). One time my teacher asked me in front of the class if I knew I was wearing two different earrings. “Of course,” I laughed! One was a hot pink crescent moon and the other was a blue star. Stars and moons match, right? (Gurl, my style was the bomb in the 90s. Side pony tail with a hot pink and turquoise scrunchie? Wicked! )

Somewhere along the way I stopped having fun and started feeling obligated to be beautiful to look at. I believed that I could be anything I wanted, I could do anything I set my mind to. But I should look good doing it. You can change the world, but there’s no need to look ugly while you go about it.  You can be president of the United States, but you better do it while wearing heels and lipstick. I bought into the objectification myth; the myth that being beautiful is the most important and the most POWERFUL thing a woman can be. So often as women we are told that our appearance is our currency. It may be true that you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but I’m hunting eagles and the flies are just a nuisance.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be beautiful or even wrong to take time to look good. But what is wrong is believing that our looks are the best thing we have to offer. For so long I’ve felt that because I am overweight or not the most beautiful girl in the room, I don’t have the right to say what I am thinking or to act on my ideas. I put myself in the place where fat and ugly girls “should” be- the sidekick, the funny friend, not the main character in my own life.

Here’s what I’m learning: when I focus less on my physical flaws I can appreciate everything else I can offer.

When I’m not estimating the weights of the other women in the room, I can brainstorm and share my ideas in a meeting at work. When I’m not making myself feel like I need to be feminine and delicate and not take take up too much space, I can make jokes and laugh loudly and have fun. I’m not here to be a pretty face for you to look at or a curvy body for you to desire. I am here to be myself, to have strong loves and overwhelming emotions that spur me to action, and to be missed when I leave the room.

Before: Good Morning!

After: Two hours of primping later

Renee Engeln says that you cannot chronically monitor your body’s appearance and also be fully present in the world. I’ve decided that participating in my life and the lives of those that I love is worth so much more than looking good all the time. I’m choosing to be present and to be real. And if my soul is so filled with love that joy shines from my eyes, my smile lights up my face, and compassion comes quick and often- I will be gorgeous.

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October Dress Project: Halfway there

PartyParty (5)

By the time I post this I will be over the halfway  hump. October is going by super-crazy-fast and I am so happy that decided to participate in the ODP. There’s only been about 3-4 days that I haven’t worn The Dress for at least part of the day and all but one of those days were spent in my jammies cuddled up with a heating pad. (Boo!) A few of my friends view it as their personal entertainment and question me about my look everyday to make sure The Dress is still there. So here’s another list of things I have learned thus far:

1. I have WAY too many clothes. I have only repeated one or two looks in almost 3 weeks. I think it’s time to downsize my wardrobe. Also, why do I have so many pieces of clothing that I don’t like and/or are unattractive?  Less clothing means less money and less laundry. It’s a win win! Part of the ODP is to become aware of consumerism in your life and I have  realized that I’m buying into the consumer worldview. It pains me to admit that I have bought  2 or 3 pieces to go with my dress this month, but I’ve bought things that I love and that I can use in multiple ways. However, it speaks to my shopper mindset that my first reaction is buy new things and not try to shop my closet. This is something I definitely want to work on.

2. Sneaking creativity into the daily grind brings me great joy. So often I feel like my days are just a giant to-do list and I come home to sleep and then begin again. It’s a small thing, but putting together a new outfit each day  has given me something creative to do. Before Piper was born I prided myself on being able to pull together inventive outfits with the things I had in my closet. Somewhere along the way, I stopped taking the time to do this. It’s been fun to get back in the groove.

3. I’m making peace with my body. For about 75% of my life, I’ve hated my body. This is something that I still struggle with and hope to overcome eventually… but the going is slow and often painful. Seeing other women post their not-perfect ODP pictures has been encouraging to me and I’ve been enjoying the positive feedback I’ve gotten on social media and in person.  Many times I feel there is a disconnect between my brain and my body. Subconsciously I think ,  “Brain is good, body is bad.” Choosing to focus on the parts of my body that I do like has been helping. Also, I’ve decided that I don’t need to wait until I am thinner or tanner or taller or younger to have fun with my appearance. I keep repeating to myself “Perfection is the enemy of good.”

4. How I feel (and therefore act) towards my body affects Piper. For better or worse, our daughter’s body images can be shaped at home. As the self-appointed queen of girliness, Piper often focuses on how pretty she looks and what other girls are wearing. I want to be an example to her and I’ve made it my goal for her to never hear me say anything negative about my body or criticize anyone else’s bodies.

I’m enjoying the project so much and I am surprised how quickly the time has gone by. I’m gearing up to get in some more creative outfits before the month is done and I’m thinking about a project for next month. Any suggestions?

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October Dress Project Update

DSC_0254My ODP has been going well. I skipped a few days when I was working outside and when I was doing a service project at Friendly Chapel, so I worn the dress about 9 days total. My only issue I’ve run in to that since my dress is black and has a flared skirt, it looks a bit formal at times. I’m planning on trying to tuck it into jeans tomorrow for casual Friday, so maybe that will give me some new options. Even though I’m only on day 9, I’ve had lots of opportunities for self-reflection and evaluation. Here’s a few things that I’ve discovered.

1. It’s fun to break out of my (non)fashion rut. Outfits that seemed a little out of my comfort zone got lot lots of compliments and I found I enjoyed mixing it up a bit. After the first couple of days when I felt self conscious, I’ve really enjoyed wearing fun things and feeling put together at work.DSC_0272

2. No one notices that I am wearing the same thing. I’m going to get rid of some clothes that I don’t really like and repeat my outfits that I do like more often.

3. Being plus-sized doesn’t mean you have to be matronly or unattractive. Instead of waiting until I lose weight to wear fun clothes, I am doing it now and loving it. In fact showing a bit of leg and wearing simpler pieces that flatter parts of my body that I like has made me feel more attractive and confident.DSC_0243

4. It’s worth spending a small amount of time to look good. I feel like since I had Piper (5 years ago!), I’ve felt like everything else is more important than me. I don’t think I will ever go back to spending two hours getting primping like I did when I was a teenager, but if I take the time to pull an outfit together or throw on a few accessories I feel better all day.

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October Dress Project: Day 3

faceFeeling kinda ugly and depressed today, I decided I my bathroom selfies weren’t doing me any favors.  I planned to put on some make up and fix my hair and maybe add some accessories before taking my dress picture tonight. After all, I might have gone to work looking unattractive, but I didn’t want the whole internet to see me looking that way! But then I had a wonderful conversation about beauty, make-up, and how society sees women with my sister-in-law (and friend!), Julie. We talked about how we feel less than perfect without make-up and the unrealistic standard of beauty that is worshiped in our society. We talked about feeling so self-conscious when we were teenagers that we wouldn’t even go to the corner gas station without a hair and makeup session before hand. I’m glad I’m not like that anymore and I don’t want to ever feel like I am less than because of my physical appearance.

So my pictures today are what I really looked like after work. I straightened my clothes a bit and fluffed up my hair with my hands, but nothing else. I didn’t even edit the pictures. Hello, world! Judge me for being overweight, unfashionable, pale, or whatever you will. But my worth doesn’t lay in my looks or anything you can see with your eyes. My identity comes from He who is greater and who lives in me. It comes from my kind heart and my take charge attitude. It comes from 31 years of living, loving, and learning.  double selfie

Loving my body and October Dress Project

Have you heard of the October Dress Project? I’m very intrigued by the idea and I am going to try to participate this year. I had originally decided not to do it because I didn’t want to take pictures of myself looking ugly all the time and I don’t have enough time to look pretty. But I’ve decided that I want to just document my life as is. My life is not very glamorous, but it’s my life and being “real” is more important to me than trying to conform to someone else’s beauty standards.

Nope; I don’t wear make up everyday and I don’t wash my hair everyday. As long as I am covered and work appropriate no one needs to  judge me on how “good” or “bad” I look.

IODPday1 don’t owe it to anyone to look pretty.

I owe it to myself to love my body and to be thankful for it and all the amazing things it does.

So here’s to the October Dress Project- today’s feature includes a bloated belly courtesy  of Aunt Flo and a big lunch. I found a strip of leg hair that I my razor missed and I didn’t want to smash myself into control top panties, so my butt is lumpy.

But I also included a picture of my red toenails in my black patent and gold sandals that I love. And I have to say that my cat eye glasses and watercolor print scarf definitely up the hipster-factor today. I’m looking forward to this experiment and learning to love my body and my LBD.

Is it possible to die from fatigue?

What is it about being a working mom that makes you feel so tired all the time? Perhaps its because raising a kid demands physical and mental strength 24 hours a day. Not to mention the fact that you are shaping another person’s life and character and you really can’t afford to slack off when doing something so important. In addition to the “real” job that demands 40 hour weeks plus a 45 minute commute!   I am so tired I can’t even think straight, let alone try to keep my life in some sort of order. Lately my brain is so fried, that instead of thinking, “I could fall asleep right here” I just wonder if anyone has had “pure exhaustion” written on their death certificate.

mommy, Im sorry

But I am pressing on.  I am trying to live purposefully and to take time to be in the moment. Both of those sound like meaningless catchphrases, so let’s boil them down. To me, a good life is one where I am productive and peaceful and my little Pipe is nurtured and fulfilled. My husband feels respected and appreciated and there is a general atmosphere of love. It’s not as poetic but it’s equally true that we need to have clean socks, know where the car keys are, and have at least one roll of toilet paper in the house. I realize that not everyday will be perfect and that some tasks in life just have to be checked off the list. Grocery shopping, poopy diapers, cleaning the bathtub, etc- you have to take care of life in order to have time for the good stuff. But I want to make more time for the good stuff, not just count the hours until bedtime or try to escape by reading all day while Piper zones out in front of PBS Kids.

I love what John 10:10 says; Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. (my paraphrase and italics) I don’t want to just make it, I need to do more than just survive.  I want to have life and live abundantly. I want Piper to remember her childhood as a time of love, laughter, and discovery. A time of magical time of curiosity,  unexpected joys, and quick comfort from inevitable heart breaks.   I know my house isn’t the cleanest, I know I am not a perfect mom or wife, I will never be the world’s best employee, but if I can create a chaos-free, love-filled environment for my family I will be satisfied.

I am learning that perfectionism can be the enemy of wholeness and happiness. A few months ago, someone told me that I was a true perfectionist. I looked at her disbelievingly and said, “I am not a perfectionist. NOTHING I do is ever perfect.” Her shocking response? “Exactly.” I was hit by a mental thunderbolt! Textbook perfectionism. Can you believe it took me this long to realize this about myself?

Here’s the nitty gritty that is resonating with me lately; when I don’t behave perfectly or I fall short of my own unrealistically high expectations, I am full of remorse, guilt, shame, and anger. And since I can never be perfect – because I am human- I am full of these terrible and self-defeating feelings all the time. Talk about a vicious cycle!

How to break out of this loop? By living my real life, but not getting dragged down in the mundane mediocrity of everyday tasks. By being aware of what’s happening when it is happening and adjusting my expectations. To keep the cycle broken, I must stay connected to the Lord and tap into His power rather than my own.   It’s a work in progress as I daily struggle with my stubborn flesh. My well of love, peace, and  patience gets drained in the first half hour  I am awake. But if I tap into the aquifer that is  the Holy Spirit, I have enough to fill my cup and my family’s  until they spill over.

I struggle with wanting to be perfect and to record my life with Piper in a beautiful and meaningful way. Consequently, much of the time I don’t do anything because I can’t do it all perfectly. I read a silly quote today – it was actually referring to veganisim- but it works for me on many levels. “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything!”  This rings true for me (and also it sounds rather Dr. Suess-like.  Bonus!)

So here we are. I am not doing a perfect blog post. I am not living a perfect life. I am certainly not a perfect mom. But I am trying to do something. I’m loving on Piper, I’m striving to meet my deadlines at work. I am biting off small bites of projects and being satisfied when I can mark anything off my “want to do” list. I’m listening to Micah and editing his papers. A few things are getting done. Anything is better than nothing.

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Living the Dream

This was practically the mom-est thing I could be doing. Well, I could have been actually giving birth….that ranks pretty high. But I was exchanging some t-ball pants on the way to an OBGYN appointment. As I waited in line clutching the last pair of youth XS gray polyester pants, I had a mental flash back to my teenage self, waiting in a paper gown for my first pelvic exam. It was horrifying, but had I imagined my life now, I probably would have been equally dismayed. Surely there were bigger and better things in store for me than being just someone’s mom. You don’t even get to keep your own name! You are just forever known as “Piper’s mom” (or alternatively the room mom, team mom, special helper mom, snack mom, or volunteer coordinator mom.)

 

Fast forward to later that day and I am on my back wearing only a purple hospital gown and my own pink socks. In this pastel color scheme, sitting on an exam table surrounded by medical equipment emblazoned with drug logos, I feel like I could be in a feminine hygiene commercial. “I always wear Adora-Sorbant brand panty liners- just because I pee when I sneeze now, doesn’t mean I don’t have a sense of style!” {Cue frozen smile to camera left}

 

Back to the socks; you fellow women’s clinic warriors know the importance of your own socks. They are almost literally your last scrap of warmth, comfort, and dignity during an exam or procedure. “Vaginal ultrasounds are the worst!” I think as I wince and try to practice mindful breathing to help me relax and ignore the pain. “It’s almost insulting that they hang a bird mobile over the table. I am 30! Not three years old!” I glare at the spinning birds and scoff at the idea of this being considered art. I hear the nurse. “Hmm…..you may feel some pressure….let me know if this is too uncomfortable.” I’m grimacing and breathe out a puff of air as a series of mild contractions start and then stop. I sigh.

“Pix or it didn’t happen!”

The diagnosis? A boggy uterus. I’ve never been boggy before… flaky, sure… but never boggy.

In another room my husband joins me and I smile tensely as he sits down. The doctor will see us soon. My mind is spinning; so many questions are swirling in my mind I can barely focus on one thing at a time. I try multiple times to start a discussion with Micah about future babies. “Will your life be incomplete without a son? If you talk me into one more kid, what’s to keep us from irresponsibility having dozens more?! Should I quit my job and think of nothing else but how I can serve my children?” I’m kinda freaking out and definitely feeling awkward in my cloth gown. I look over at Micah for support, imagining he’ll pat me comfortingly or say “I want to do what makes YOU happy….” But his eyes are closed. Hmmm….I eyeball him for a minute. His head slowly leans into his hand. “Is he asleep?” I think confusedly, “Of course not. I am naked, cold, and waiting for a man to come poke me in the vagina with a piece of metal and ask us about one of the biggest decisions our entire lives. I’m so keyed up that I woke up two hours early this morning. He can NOT be asleep.”

 

I continue watching as his head and hand tilt slightly forward and his mouth opens a bit. I fix a hard stare on him while shifting my butt on the crinkly exam table paper. He doesn’t even twitch. My left eye brow shoots to my hairline while my right one digs a permanent crease between my brows. I wiggle some more. Crinkle, crinKLE, CRINKLE!! Nary a flicker of his eyes. I let out an hearty  bird mobile-rustling sigh. I get nothin’  “Dammit to double HELL!” I think. “He’s asleep. ASLEEP! He’s waiting with me in the OBGYN’s office to hear about his beloved wife enduring extreme pain and to talk about fathering a child he will be responsible for for the rest of his entire life and HE.   FALLS.   ASLEEP.   WELL! I guess he isn’t worried about me. He better be worried about himself, now that I think about it, he might not GET the chance to father another child!”

 

I straighten up and smile as the doctor comes in. There’s a muffled half-snort as Micah wakes up and looks around slightly disoriented. The doctor and I begin talking over the options while I go on pretending Micah is no husband of mine, but just happened to wander in somehow.

 

Long story short (well, at least shorter), my doctor recommends moving up my pregnancy timeline and then having a hysterectomy. After everything is done, we exit through the waiting room, moving aside for more than a couple of baby bumps. I catch a glimpse of a dimpled arm snuggled around a new mom’s neck as she signs in. A blue-eyed man gently pats the knee of his pregnant wife; the diamond in her ring glints as she pushes back dark glossy hair and smiles at him.  I eye another gal’s hard belly and shiny coral pedicure and think, “She’s ready for her baby to come. She got her toes done.”

 

Micah and I hug in the parking lot. All is forgiven… I’m afraid and I need his support. I think I have more questions now than before we met with the doctor. Probably more than anything in my life, I feel that pregnancy timing is determined by God. My surprise birth control baby, Piper, is a testament to that. I don’t know if I will ever be brave enough, or just not afraid enough, to officially start trying to conceive. It seems so frightening. Not having a second baby would definitely be the safest and easiest option. But I don’t want to have any regrets at 75…honestly I feel like our family isn’t complete. But how do you know when you cross the magical line that divides carefree spontaneity and thoughtless, reckless actions? On the other hand, just because something is a challenge to me doesn’t mean I have to rise to it. It’s scary to think about either way.

 

How can I stand to be pregnant again and to puke at work and puke in the car and pee on the floor? How can I stand to never again have that singular intimacy that comes from “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone” putting a tiny hand to my face when we’re alone in the night? What if I get pregnant and then just miscarry? What if there is something wrong with the baby? What if I have twins? What if I can’t carry the baby? What if? What if? What if?

 

I’m praying for direction; clear and specific direction. I am thinking of laying out a fleece. I’m praying, I’m thinking, I’m praying, I’m worrying, I’m praying, I’m praying, I’m praying…..

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