Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Yeesh! Where Have I Been???



I feel like I might as well have been on the moon - for the last 15 years!!
I understand that, for someone who knows me a bit or has been following me a bit, that is a profoundly confusing statement. My own counselor (who has only known me about 4 years) felt the same confusion. I'll unpack that statement in a moment... I promise.

Looking back on my past posts, I've been absent a few years. That's mainly because my husband went to prison and my life fell apart. Suddenly, I was a single mom living with her in-laws and fielding the emotional damage of everyone in the household. It was hard and depressing and miserable. Thankfully, though, I'd had a few years to grow accustomed to the idea that my husband was going to prison, so I had a plan of action to fall back on: I made my life even more complicated by going to university online.

At first, I was going to try and be a paralegal. No one laughed in my face when I told people because, yeah, I could pull it off (and I like to argue so they could see me someday being a lawyer). I took a bunch of courses that were heavy with writing papers, and I thought I was going to die. I mean, don't get me wrong - I loved the courses and the material - but writing so many papers was so endlessly tiring and tedious (If you know anything about an ENFP, you'll know what kind of a death sentence it is for anything to be tedious). I had one course that assigned a few Power Point Presentations and I felt like I had found a glorious oasis; I knew I was majoring in the wrong field. And, lucky me, my online university was unveiling a new Graphic Design major (one of only a few in the country and the only decently-priced one). So, I jumped on that, and all my friends said a collective "duh."

Step one to getting myself back on track had commenced and I didn't even realize it was in "The Plan." But, as I traversed the misery of the next year (this previous year), I came to realize that nothing I had planned was part of "The Plan." (And, since the banner of my blog discusses THE Capital-G Man Himself, it should come as no surprise to you that I'm about to drop His name.) God was making "The Plan" for me, and where was I? Hell if I know. Somewhere in husband-land with my head so far up his backside that I had lost me and lost me well, perhaps?

See, I spent roughly a year trying to carry the whole world on my shoulders, by myself, because every support I thought I had for me had crumbled away. I spent a lot of time angry at God, and in retrospect, I think He was just sitting there wondering when I was going to stop trying to ride a dead camel. My husband was in prison having a pity party while I was managing everything, every mess, that he had left behind. And instead of getting encouragement, I became my husband's whipping boy - for everyone who was mad at him but couldn't express it to him. It might have been manageable, I am a pertinacious person when I dig my heels in against the opposition, but my husband was refusing to be supportive of me. He refused to send me a single letter until I resumed sending him one on a more regular basis (on top of daily phone calls), and he didn't want to hear anything negative.

At that point in my life, I didn't have anything much more than negative things to say. I was at the point of praying for God to just let me die already. It was the beginning of a serious change in my life, in my head.

I realized that I had been packing pieces of myself into boxes that I had shoved into the sidelines of my head and it dated back to about the time my husband and I had started our relationship. I would sometimes take those pieces of myself out of the boxes and wear them when I was around certain friends and I could wear them all when I was on the internet. But, eventually, all of me got packed away until I didn't really like myself much anymore, or even know why I couldn't be my whole self around my husband.

See, after 14 years, I finally fully revisited a traumatic experience of my newly-adult life that had marred me, I thought, irreparably. Four years prior, Beth Moore's Breaking Free study had made me aware that there even was a problem, and I had sat on the bathroom floor (where I was self-studying in the middle of the night) and prayed to God to address those ruins in my life and to no longer let me sidestep them. I had finished the study just in time for my husband to get in trouble and it gave me the personal value and clarity to realize that my husband's sins were not my own. I thought that was the end of God's work in me. I was wrong.

Step two to getting myself back on track had commenced, and I still had no idea what was really going on. Then, I faced the man who I had let obliterate my self-esteem. And I realized that his life was terribly depressing, that he carried the guilt of what he had thought he had done to me through his life for 14 years, and that he had been pining for me.

I realized that I had been stuffing myself into boxes for years because I was sure that no one could handle or love me at my full self. And I had realized that my husband had only been encouraging me to stuff myself into boxes to change me into a person he liked better. But the most powerful thing that I learned was that I never needed to stuff myself into anything, ever - and I never needed to do it again.

Step three to getting myself back on track had commenced, and I was finally starting to see the bigger picture.

Fast forward to now, and I am slowly unpacking myself. I have moved in with people who genuinely love me - all of me, especially the pieces I packed away. I am reconnecting with friends who knew me before the packing process. I am realizing that my marriage has been dead a long time. And I am asking God what He has in store for me next with this "Plan" of His, because I'm not completely clueless anymore.

So, where have I been all these years? In a box - in a few boxes, in fact - buried in my head, so terrified of being rejected that I didn't even realize what I was doing to myself.

I don't know how soon I will be back here, let alone with any kind of consistency. What comes after unpacking one's self is trying to balance the time for all of my passions and responsibilities that are not all vying for attention. What does one keep? What does one discard?

Well, following my favourite decluttering genius (KonMari), I've gotta decide which things bring me joy, and I have to discard before I can put things back. I'm partially through it, but it is a long process. And that's a post for another time. ;)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Creative Hiatus, Meds, Books, Birds, and Cupcakes [or, What I Have Been Up To Lately]


So, this is totally what I am feeling right now...

I've been on a hectic creative hiatus for the past month or so... I keep WANTING to digiscrap and be all artsy fartsy, but I just haven't found the time. My computer that I do all my creative stuff on is actually unplugged and half disconnected on a cart in my room that is shoved against the wall and barricaded by laundry. :(

I got my meds changed recently and transitioned from one medication to another - which has made me feel absolutely physically terrible for the last week and a half. Thankfully, I am coming out of that. Unfortunately, there's a TON of stuff that needs to be done that got neglected because I was feeling ill. I am not looking forward to this week of catching up... /le sigh

I finally got tested for Celiac about a week ago, and it came back... negative. Which doesn't help me try any explain why eating gluten free makes me feel better... my doctor says not to worry about it and basically to just do what feels good. But it's hard to validate it in the minds of other people when there isn't a diagnosis - because at that point, it just becomes a fad diet or "in [my] head" to everyone and then no one takes it seriously. /more sigh
I'll keep at it, for sure. But the frustration and resistance of it all just bogs me down sometimes.

Hubby and I WERE going to get a membership to 24hr Fitness Sport, which I was SO looking forward to... and then the car broke. So we spent a weekend troubleshooting and fixing that. And I am still not so sure it's fixed 100%, but it seems to be appeased with a brand new fuel pump, alternator, starter, and a grab bag of sensors and relays. It WAS nice helping Hubby work on it, though - we used to do stuff like that ALL the time, but it has happened less and less in the last few years. (And it wasn't really fun when we were in the military - nothing was; our years in the military are like a black spot of gloom in my memory.)


We've got 12 zebra finches in our cages now - the couple that we started with (Sugar and Spice) have had three clutches of eggs since we got them!! We're thinking that they'll probably make a trip up to the local pet store to be donated next weekend. They're beautiful and lovely, but they're noisy and messy and getting rather expensive and time consuming to feed (plus, we never intended to keep the babies this long - they're all pretty much adults now anyway).

I've been doing a LOT of gaming lately... it's just about the only way I feel creative (aside from baking, and gaming doesn't tempt me with two-dozen cupcakes that my thighs do NOT need), so it's been keeping me afloat, but not really contributing to life as a whole, which is rather depressing in a way. It makes me think of Stephen Covey and his "Sharpen the Saw" concept of taking care of, nurturing, and renewing yourself - and while gaming helps me feel creative in a pinch, it really doesn't offer anything renewing in the long run. I can go ON and ON about the levels I have reached in Farmville2, the milestones in The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD or Hyrule Warriors, or the awesome structures I've built in Minecraft (and that's just in the last month), but what does that all mean in the grand scheme of things? Not much. Not really.


At least I have been getting in some Bible study, though... I'm still plugging away at Beth Moore's "David: Seeking a Heart Like His" (I buy the study books and individual videos and complete it at my own pace, not in a small group) and am in week 8, I think. I also got a random Bible study one trip to Sam's Club and it ended up being pretty much exactly what I was needing at the moment, which was really awesome. (I love how God works out those sudden, unexpected moments into something bigger.)

My counselor also suggested I read some of the Love and Logic parenting books (she said they were right up my alley and that I'd love them), so I have been reading those off and on (and she was right, by the way). AND, because I have a rather short attention span and get bored easily, I am ALSO reading through the Giver quartet - some nice little books to entertain my mind (I am mostly done with the last book now)- and "Go! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution" by Stephen Blandino (check it out on Amazon), which I am enjoying thus far.

Yesterday, Munchkin and I made cupcakes, because I discovered that Pillsbury now offers a gluten free version of the Funfetti cake! I think they turned out pretty damn awesome:


And my tablet's camera actually took a pretty nice picture, too, IMHO. lol. Munchkin helped me pour the ingredients into Audrey [my KitchenAid stand mixer], put the cupcake liners into the pans, and apply the sprinkles... though, I really wonder if she ate more sprinkles than she applied. lol. It was a good memory and the cupcakes turned out REALLY good (remember what I said about my thighs not needing cupcakes? yeah).

So, yeah, that's what I've been up to lately... now that it's WAY closer to 3am than I would like it to be, I better go see if I can get some sleep!! Eeep!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Contemplating Esther

So it was, when the king’s command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king’s palace, into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women. - Esther 2:8 (NKJV)

As of late, I find myself contemplating this particular part of scripture in Esther. The Bible leaves me a lot to ponder in this situation, and though I certainly trust that God included what was most important in the collecting of this story, I also find it somewhat cruel in a way that what I want to know is missing...

Suddenly, all of the most beautiful women in the kingdom are gathered up to compete in what we would now call a beauty pageant - all so that the king might choose his new queen from them. And, spoiler alert, Esther impresses pretty much everyone, including the king, and is named queen. The God uses her to save His people. She was put into that place at that time for a purpose. (And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? - Esther 4:14 NIV)

I don't want to undermine what God has done here... but I can't help but want to know: how did she cope with her life suddenly reeling out of her design and into something she had never imagined [or had never dreamed, or maybe something she had never even wanted]?? And that seemingly small tidbit of information is missing.

Did she weep? Did she cry out? Did she once dream of being a simple wife and mother? Did she have a crush on a young man in the village where she lived? Were her hopes crushed? Were her dreams shattered? Did she mourn the death of the life she thought she might have? And if so, how long did it take?

... or did she gracefully accept the change? Is that why it's not mentioned: because she accepted her change of "fate" without a blink of an eye?

I can't help but wonder. Because I find myself relating to her - I am standing at a point in my life where the world is promising me that my life will change in a way that I never ever even remotely conceived. By the Grace of God alone, I am coming to terms with this "fate"... but I am also lamenting the loss of dreams that will never be, time that will be lost, responsibilities that will be gained, and injuries that will have to be overcome...

I know with absolute certainty that God will sustain me, that God has a plan, and that He is working in me. I am not so much afraid for my wellbeing as I am afraid of the pain and heartache that will come... Because the fact of the matter is that I don't want to change; I don't want to relinquish the life I seem to think I could have had.

Maybe Esther was raised accept God's Divine Plan with more grace than I have been. Maybe I am too accustomed to getting my way all the time. Perhaps that is the heart of the problem... It's not that I don't trust His Plan for me... He has led me to greener pastures every single time I have had the sense to let go and just jump into His arms...

But that's the hangup; how do I let it go? And this is where I wish I knew what Esther did. How did she give up her dreams and gracefully accept being married to one of the most notorious kings in history, just one woman among a multitude of concubines? In the end it was beautiful; she saved her people. But what about her heart?

... I will have to continue digging...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Masquerade

While discussing the February blog train colours at Pixel Scrapper, my muse decided to bite...
So this is my current sketching project.. I don't think the palette/theme is going to win for the Feb blog train, but at least the sketching has been a LOT of fun! :D



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Doughnuts

(Okay, let's get this out of the way, I LOVE Dunkin' Donuts, but for Pete's sake, it really irks me to see it spelled "donut". Ugh.)

I am not at the point of dreaming about doughnuts - my dreams seem to be reserved for the zombie apocalypse, rampaging velociraptors, and negotiating with sentient chocolate milk floods (which steal appliances and hold them ransom) and tornadoes, NOT the gluten-free items that I can't eat anymore. But doughnuts SHOULD be a part of that. They're that freaking good... and I miss them that much.

It's strange how the brain works. When I was a kid, my mother would take me and my sister to the local doughnut shop (who was also in the habit of selling "donuts" tsk tsk) early in the morning for whatever reason (I can't remember). What I DO remember is that I wasn't really jazzed on the idea of eating doughnuts. By the time I had finished half my doughnut and apple juice, I would have a wicked-awful sinus headache, so it really wasn't much of a treat for me...

Somewhere between then and going gluten-free, I discovered Dunkin' Donuts (they didn't really have much of a presence in the KC metro while I was growing up) and I fell in love. The doughnut sticks that they package and sell in vending machines became a breakfast staple while I did the corporate thing working at a call center in my early twenties.

Now that I am gluten-free (and have been for the last 6 or so years)... aside from a few options in the frozen food section of my local Hy-Vee supermarket, I really don't get doughnuts. And I miss them something awful!

My father-in-law, bless his heart, likes to go get doughnuts on Saturday mornings, and though the intention is nice, I cringe every single time he does. Even though I am not fond of the brand, those fluffy little pastries taunt me from their box, and I resist the urge to punch them in their smirking little faces! (Okay, not really - I AM prone to some creative exaggeration here. ENFP.) And it's even more complicated now that my daughter isn't eating gluten either. (It's hard to tell a 3-year-old she can't have a doughnut when her grandparents are eating them. And thankfully, the Saturday morning doughnuts have been scaled back pretty well.)

My hubby, the dear man that he is, has tried making doughnuts at home for me. But, try as we might, they just aren't quite right, and I get that terrible sinus headache (which I am guessing is some kind of migraine) from the smell of the oil by the time we are done... and then I have NO stomach for anything even remotely fried. :(

I am beginning to think that I am going to have to go the yeasty, waking up at the crack of dawn and rolling and cutting dough route... and I am not so sure I am ready to bite on that... but DOUGHNUTS! ugh.

It irks me that the average person gets to wake up in gluten-land and drive to the shop down the street (or stop at the gas station) and grab a wad of gorgeously fried pastry - and that is ALL the work that they have to put into it! But, as for me? Nope. I get to hope I don't anger the yeast. And wake up early. To roll out dough. And let things sit and rise. And then the frying. All for a freakin doughnut!

I mentioned in passing to my mother-in-law that SOMEONE should [get off their ass and] make a gluten free doughnut shop. It would be SO nice.
But, of course, her response was something ignorant about it "defeating the purpose" of doughnuts. It's really not her fault. Pretty much everyone under the sun thinks that being gluten-free is some fad-diet that makes the pounds just fall right off, which is a WHOLE other can of works so let's just go with: it isn't. 

I'm sure someone out there would say "well, why don't YOU do it?" And that's a reasonable enough question... and my answer is that it really isn't my calling in this world at this season in my life. Not gonna happen.

So, until someone else steps up to the plate... I guess I'll be working myself up to the idea of yeast and wishing I could dream about doughnuts for once, instead of shooting zombies or getting chased by brilliant raptors. :/

Ugh.