The Storm

Three months.  Maybe, a little more.  No pen to paper.  No journaling.  No additional chapters to my current novel.  Nothing.  Empty.

It’s not that my life has been boring. ¬†It’s not even that I didn’t have ideas or material to work with. ¬†The thing is: ¬†I’ve been frozen. ¬†Shut up deep inside myself. ¬†My world spinning around me, faster, faster. ¬†I became so dizzy with all that I kept inside that I became literally unbalanced. ¬†Sitting in the passenger side of my husband’s pickup, I would feel myself falling and would jerk myself upright. ¬†The sensation was so real. ¬†The panic I felt scared me. ¬†Days later, after sitting through a class, I rose to walk but my legs felt numb from the waist down. The gravity of my world was pulling me to it and I had to grab hold of James’ arm to stay upright. ¬†I was tired. ¬†So tired.

I got out my tablet and began my research. ¬†Using clues as search words, I found one article after another that pointed towards vitamin deficiencies. ¬†Monday, I made a call to my physician. ¬†I walked through her door with my list in my hand. “Here. ¬†These are my symptoms.” ¬†Dr. Mulupuri looked at me with concern in her dark, exotic eyes. ¬†She agreed that some of my symptoms pointed toward my diagnosis, but she concluded that together, they didn’t make complete sense. ¬†“Have you been under a lot of stress lately?” ¬†She asked. ¬†“Yes.” ¬†I nodded to affirm my answer. ¬†“Is it something that will go away anytime soon?” ¬†I wanted to simply say, “No”, but instead burst into a flood of tears.

I left with a prescription in my hand and shame in my heart.

All this time, I had felt my world spinning out of control. ¬†I prayed. ¬†I read book, after book, after book, trying to free myself from my own drama by getting lost in someone else’s. ¬†I pushed myself. ¬†Made my body go against its inclination to remain still. ¬†I filled my days, my time.

Poor James.  The only stable thing in my unbalanced home.  He watched me yo-yo.  He must have been scared to call me, and yet he still did.  He must have dreaded getting out of his truck to come inside, but he came.  He let me storm around him with a look of sad desperation in his eyes, and yet there was love as well.

All those feelings are still within me. ¬†The storms are still raging around me… Mom’s cancer and loneliness. ¬†My business failure. ¬†Two dear friends with breast cancer. ¬†A grandson with Autism. ¬†Secrets shared that weigh heavy on my heart. ¬†Illness in James’ family. ¬†World devastation in the form of earthly storms with people I love affected. ¬†The child who lives the closest to me is now moving further away. ¬†My father’s last surviving brother’s unexpected death‚ĶAnd through all this, no tears. ¬†I can’t cry. ¬†The hurricane is just off the shore but the waves are just playfully lapping at my feet.

My energy returned.  I made lists and gloried in marking through each entry.  I even felt a little happy.  I knew that storm was still out there but the sky above me remained lit by an eternal sun.

I spoke to one of my daughters. ¬†I told her, “I feel like everything is just falling apart around me‚Ķall these terrible things‚Ķand yet, the worst is still out there. ¬†It hasn’t hit yet. ¬†I don’t know what it is.” ¬†“Mom!” ¬†She said. ¬†“That’s terrible!” ¬†I nodded and looked down. ¬†“I know it is. ¬†But that’s how I feel.”

And then, ¬†it hit. ¬†That storm that could bring me to tears‚Ķat least just a little. ¬†I sat in a waiting room with my mother and my sister. ¬†It was my mother’s birthday. ¬†My brother came out with his wife. ¬†Both shaky like they had walked away from a wreck. ¬†“It’s throat cancer.” ¬†He said.

My little brother. ¬†The one that I spent so many childhood days playing with, fighting with. ¬†The one who was Tarzan to my Jane. ¬†The one who was Batman to my Batgirl. ¬†The one who took me aside and told me his darkest fears and secrets. ¬†The one who¬†was a storm in and of himself. ¬†Who spent his life bouncing off one rocky cliff to another, never quite able to stay in between the lines on life’s curvy road.

I’ve been down¬†this¬†road. ¬†This cancer nightmare. ¬†I can’t help him, though. ¬†I love him. ¬†I pray for him. ¬†I listen to him. ¬†The choices are his.

Now, I still take that little pill every night even though it doesn’t numb me quite enough. ¬†I wish I was stronger.

A dream comes to me. ¬†One that I dreamed so long ago. ¬†I was in my mother’s back yard. ¬†We all were there, the living and the dead. ¬†A tornado came. ¬†I grabbed hold of a nearby pecan tree. ¬†Just a sapling, really. ¬†I held on to it while the wind blew me like a flag. ¬†If I could just hold on. ¬†If we could all¬†just hold on.

A Word to the Wise: Prioritize

Those first golden moments of the day Рyou know, right after you wake up and the possibilities are endless.  God has just granted you a fresh start.  Now, what to do with those early morning hours!

It used to seem so simple.  What I remember most about my early childhood mornings was crawling out of bed and making my way to the hub of our home: the kitchen.  Curiosity was what got me going.  I wanted to see what was going on in the world and everyone in my world was in the kitchen.  I can remember lying in bed trying to eavesdrop on conversations already taking place and then, padding bare feet across linoleum floors to get to the heart of it all.

As I grew old enough to attend public school, my morning routines changed. ¬†Instead of being woken by my inner stirrings, I was blasted out of dreamland by my father’s version of Reveille. ¬†The bedroom door would bust open and if you opened your eyes quick enough, you would see his eyes twinkle with mischief as he sang, “It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up this mornin’‚Ķ‚ĶYou better get up, you better get up, you better get up right now‚Ķ..!” ¬†Then, he would raise his fake bugle to his lips (his hand) and play the melody in his best, most irritating, bugle voice until we waved the white flag and tumbled out from under the covers.

Then, ahhh, my teen years! ¬†I was growing up and I was all modern because my brother, Brady had gotten me a flip alarm clock for Christmas. ¬†In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a clock that has little plastic numbers on a rotating rod. ¬†Each minute would “flip” the number to reveal the next highest number. ¬†It made a nice whirring sound as well as the sequential flipping of plastic plates. ¬†The slumbering soul would hear that final heavy click that signaled the pre-set alarm to sound. ¬†I would slap the button; stare at the ceiling wishing I could finish that dream; and then head down the stairs to find Daddy sitting alone at the table drinking his coffee.

“Why do you get up so early, Daddy?” ¬†I would ask.

“It’s my alone time. ¬†I like to sit here and drink my coffee while everything is quiet.” ¬†He would say.

I wondered what was so great about that?¬†¬†I would rather be dreaming about that boy at school! ¬†I didn’t say that to him, though. ¬†I just went to the cabinet and poured myself a bowl of cereal before joining him at our round kitchen table. (In case you are wondering where my mother was, by this time in my life, she had learned to stay in bed as long as Daddy would let her. ¬†We were old enough to fend for ourselves.)

We make it to my senior year: ¬†the year I actually started caring how I looked. ¬†It took all these years to persuade my tomboy self that boys don’t appreciate you for being able to throw a football or ride a horse. ¬†Before the sun could even start flushing the sky, my alarm would sound and I went straight to the bathroom to plug in my hot curlers. ¬†Then, I descended the stairs, ate breakfast, went back up, put in the curlers, took a shower, dressed, put on make-up, and finally took out the cooled curlers and fixed my hair.

I married right out of high school. (I guess the hot curlers did their job!) ¬†Ten months later, I had my first child. ¬†A year and a half later, my second. ¬†My third, after about the same span. ¬†My morning routines changed along with my fast-expanding family. ¬†This is when I discovered the magic of coffee. ¬†This is when I began to understand my father’s ritual. ¬†Alone time, I learned, was something precious, something stolen if needed. ¬†The golden hours swung between getting children fed and dressed; wiping chubby cheeks; and brushing out tangled, tousled hair. ¬†My attire didn’t seem to matter. ¬†My own hair could be pulled back in a ponytail or hang in a mangled mess until time permitted a better arrangement.

Looking back, mornings may have been busy, but they were simple.  Now, these hours are riddled with decisions and guilt over whether or not I am making the right decision.  I blame a lot of this on Pinterest.  Ever since this app was introduced to me, I feel like Martha Stuart has invaded my every morning insisting that I am not making the best use of my time!

Want to lose weight? ¬†You should get straight out of bed and do 20 push-ups, 50 jumping jacks, 20 crunches, 20 mountain climbers, and a 30 second plank. ¬†Excuse me! ¬†Is this before or after I have had my first-thing-in-the-morning glass of hot lemon water? ¬†Or, wait, was I supposed to drink that full bottle of water that I’m supposed to leave on my night stand?

Do you want to be a writer? ¬†You should get up while you are still in your “dream state” and get all that good creative juice on some paper!

Want to be more spiritual?  Spend this quiet time reflecting on how grateful you are for all the good things in your life.  Try to sit in a cross-legged position (oh, sure!) with your spine straight, eyes closed, and hands on knees while you keep your mind quiet.  Try not to think.  (This, my people, is near impossible if you are in pain from sitting in this position!)

I¬†did¬†read a book once that told how a lady got up straight out of bed and fell to her knees, thanking the Lord for letting her wake up. ¬†The older I get, this seems like the best way to start the day for each day is a blessing. ¬†Maybe, that’s why I feel such guilt. ¬†I’m scared I’ll be like the servant Jesus talked about that wasted his talents, or the virgins that didn’t have oil for their lamps. ¬†I seem to wake up so torn and confused. ¬†By the time I’ve finished my coffee, I’m jumpy from nerves and caffeine. ¬†My list is long, but half my morning may be gone before I’ve got my plan in place. ¬†I think to myself that I should have done this before I went to bed, then I would have already known what to do. ¬†Or, maybe I should have slept in my workout clothes so I would have been ready to workout like that article suggested. ¬†Or‚Ķ.maybe‚Ķ.I’ll just roll over and go back to sleep!

It seems that in order to know the best way to start your day, it is imperative that you prioritize what is most important to you.  If doing it first, instead of putting it off, is what makes you successful in that endeavor, then you need to know what you want; because it is a fact of life that if you procrastinate and say to yourself that you will do it later, chances are that fate will hand you something else to fill your time.

So, sweet dreams or productive mornings, whatever you choose, I hope those golden hours are blessed.

“I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses,‚Ķ” IN THE GARDEN by C. Austin Miles