girls’ night

right now my husband and my brother are attending the first playoff game (in a best-of-seven series) between the utah jazz and la clippers. this is the next round of the championship tournament. i’m watching the game on tv, and it’s not looking that great at halftime.

i’m rooting for the jazz, by the way.

while z was taking a bath today i decided to make my bed. i read a blog article a long time ago referring to oprah’s advice to make your bed every day. something about discipline and starting your day right. something like that. my mom is a professional at making beds: super tight corners and everything. i used to make my bed every morning. i used to be good at it. now: not so much. if i’m lucky, i’ll get around to making the bed once a week.

i don’t hate making the bed. in fact completing this chore feels pretty good. it makes the room feel calmer. i feel more motivated to do other housework.

so yeah, while z was in the bathtub i’d begun straightening the sheets and blankets. i aligned the pillows then checked in on z’s bath. then afterward i set out some clothes for her when she finished her bath. then i came downstairs to get a few minutes of work done in the office.

then i checked on z, and we decided to drain the tub. she got dressed, and i brushed her hair, then we decided she could watch (rewatch) a bug’s life while i wrapped up my work for that day.

maybe an hour later i walked back upstairs and opened my bedroom door to a semi-made bed. i’d forgotten that i started making it a few hours earlier. already well into the afternoon, i decided to leave it. no guilt: i’ll make it another time. and when i do, it’ll feel awesome.

but now i’ll wait for halftime to end, watch a couple minutes of the second half of the clippers-jazz game, then check on our child. she’s the best child, and i’d rather snuggle with her than stress out about basketball. that the jazz are trailing right now means that the guys who drove all the way up the arena may not be having the best time. but i still hope they’re having at least a little fun. (as of this very sentence, the jazz have closed in five points on a 10-point clippers lead. hope the momentum keeps up.)

speaking of fun, we’re going to the dentist tomorrow morning.

Quick Sunday Thoughts

I let another day get away from me, and there’s so much on my mind.

We did return to church in-person today, and it was really interesting. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces after not seeing them for a really long time. We think Z loved seeing all her church friends. I know they loved seeing her.

Reilly and I got to know our new Sunday School class. They seem like a great bunch of youth.

What I really wanted to ponder through writing was my thoughts on being a little bit depressed. It seems possible, and I’ve been mulling over … symptoms(?) I’ve been experiencing lately.

I gotta get on top of my writing. Which is one thing: I’ve been going through the motions with daily journaling and not feeling motivated to think or express more deeply. Gotta get to the bottom of that.

More later.

Damn, This Album: Outside Child, by Allison Russell

A lot of critical acclaim erupted for this album, which does one of two things for me: makes me wait until the hype dies down, or makes me super excited and listen to it immediately.

I ended up waiting a couple of weeks and listened to it yesterday, back to back. I wanted to listen to it sooner, but I wanted to make sure I had enough time to give it my full attention. And since it’s so fresh on my mind, I didn’t do what I usually like to do when actively listening to an album, which is take notes and jot thoughts that cross my mind as I experience the music.

I will do this, I promise. But for now I’ll post the album here for you listen for yourselves. It seriously blew my mind. I hope you appreciate it as much, or more.

Mother’s Day 2021

This is my mom and I, sometime in 1976. My resting face has not changed all these years.

I love my mom. I love being a mom. Every Mother’s Day I think about people who didn’t have wonderful mothers or had a particularly difficult childhood, or struggle with becoming a mom or are striving to be a good mom. Or mourn or grieve in any way because of Mother’s Day. And it’s weird because I don’t know how to think of these people without them thinking that I think I’m superior to them. Or that they want pity. Or that I’m gloating. I don’t want to be condescending. I hate comparing, and I hate being compared to.

But I do think it’s important to acknowledge people’s individual weariness. Because I want them to know they’re not alone. Maybe that’s also being condescending. I hope to get this right someday. I’ve found value in listening. That’s probably the best I can do.

I am grateful, though. And I want to acknowledge the amazing women in my life and how they’ve empowered me. My mom is wonderful. Generous, kind. Good teacher. I’m grateful to have known and grown to love my mother-in-law. She showed gentleness, strength, and grace through her last moments on this earth.

I’m grateful for friends who’ve shared wisdom and courage in and beyond their own circumstances.

I’m grateful for my daughter’s continuous patience and endless forgiveness.

I don’t ever want to take any of you for granted.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Um, I got about three hours’ sleep last night.

Earlier this month or late last month I read somewhere that May, among other issue awarenesses, is also Mental Health Awareness month. According to Wikipedia, this month has been dedicated to spreading awareness since 1949. I definitely wasn’t aware of this. Does that reflect on the effectiveness of the campaign or my negligence? or both? Well, I’m trying to do something about it now. Know better, do better. Right?

Speaking of mental health, I’ve been reading a recently published biography, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath. I’m about a third of the way through and the author discusses Plath’s depression in detail throughout the narrative: history, behavior, effect on her work.

I have many friends and some family members who are very open about their mental health. They will discuss their anxiety, depression, ideations, therapy sessions. I’ve come not to expect immediate responses to my texts or calls or emails. In fact, I’ll receive a text and feel a twinge of anxiety and wait until I can handle writing a proper reply. I’ll fight the urge to stay in bed. I’ll set a reminder to turn on my therapy lamp for a few minutes a day, especially in winter months. Still, this is nothing compared to what my friends and family experience.

These loved ones wrestle with themselves constantly. They’re brilliant, creative, deeeeeeply empathic. They care about the world so much.

Along with all the other things to think about this month, remember various communities that we should be supporting also have members whose mental health deserve our concern and attention. If you know them, check in on them. If you don’t know them, don’t be that weird person that interjects and invades and magnifies awkwardness and discomfort. You know how to be resourceful.

Just Keep Swimming

I posted this on social media two days ago: Monday, 6/24.

Just keep swimming.

This past Saturday was three weeks since Nana’s passing; two weeks since her funeral. June 22 is Nana and Papa’s wedding anniversary. Z woke up, and she led me through her morning routine. I asked what she wanted for breakfast.

She looked at me and said, “Nemo.”

I very deliberately paused. “You want to watch Nemo? Ok, let’s go turn it on.”

We watched about 30 minutes of the movie when Reilly got home from the gym. After pausing the movie, we went upstairs and started eating the donuts he brought. Then Z headed back downstairs to finish watching. I followed her.

While the movie was playing I had my laptop open, writing and reviewing some personal thoughts. Then I heard Dory sing, “Keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

I stopped typing. This was the motto Nana had applied to her own struggles and afflictions the past couple of years. No matter the procedure, the pain, the fatigue, nausea, heartache: she pushed on. With a smile, even.

As Dory sang, I cried. As Marlin guided her through the swarm of Portuguese Man-o’-Wars stinging her, and Dory fought to stay conscious, she sang: Keep swimming.

After Finding Nemo, Z asked to watch Finding Dory. Young Dory sang “Keep swimming” when a current swept her away from her parents. She sang it throughout her search for her parents. That was how she survived. And succeeded.

I cried again.

It had been a while since Z watched either of these movies, and Reilly suggested she was feeling nostalgic. I agreed, but not just for the movies, but for Nana. I know she misses her.

Z knew what the day was. It wasn’t a coincidence she wanted to watch those movies.

Then while we were in Payson yesterday for dinner, Cousin Jessica made and brought these dogtags for all of us. A reminder of Carla; a talisman for how to live our own lives.

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We’re gonna just keep swimming, Nana. We love you.

A Break for the Tear Ducts

Places I’ve cried in descending order of frequency:

  1. Garden/Flowerbeds
  2. Shower
  3. Work
  4. Car, on the way to/back from work
  5. Talking to Z, tucking her in
  6. In my own bed, trying to fall asleep
  7. Family room

Today might be the first day in over a month I haven’t cried at all.

Weird.

 

A Memory

Disclaimer: I’m grieving and have more feelings than I know what to do with. Writing is one way to sort through them. Not sure if they’ll make sense, but here they are.

Sometime during Carla’s final two or three weeks. Probably Mother’s Day. Maybe the Sunday before. In Reilly’s parents’ house.

We’ve had dinner.

We’re sitting in the living room, just hanging out. All the kids are there.

One of them asks, “Do you want to go downstairs and watch a movie or something?”

Carla says, “I like sitting up here, talking to all of you.”

We stay upstairs.

We talk.

She loves it.

We love that she loves it.

Because we love her.

Last Monday

Disclaimer: I’m grieving and have more feelings than I know what to do with. Writing is one way to sort through them. Not sure if they’ll make sense, but here they are.

On June 10 after work I went with Reilly and Z to a friend’s dance performance at the Provo Library. This was two days after Carla’s funeral. I admit that emotions were still a little bit raw and just under the surface. We made our way to the ballroom on the 3rd floor. Shortly after we arrived my friend walked up behind me, said, “Hey, sexy!” and gave me a hug. As we embraced she asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing ok. She said, “Just ok?” By this time I was choked up, and tears were streaming down my face. We released the hug. I looked at her and said that Reilly’s mom died. She looked at Reilly, and he nodded. The performance was about to begin, so she went to get ready.

We found some seats and settled in to watch the work: a series of dances choreographed by a master’s candidate as her thesis. My friend performed the second dance, and then Reilly and Z left to browse the library, as Z was getting a little bit restless and loud. I kept watching the dance floor/stage. A few minutes later my friend made her way over and asked if she could sit by me. We talked for a few minutes until she had to turn on the music for one of the following dances.

In those few minutes, my friend listened. She held my hand. She cried with me. She said something that’s often said as trite, but she did it with such tenderness and compassion that it opened my heart up to being comforted and not just vulnerable. She said fortunately most of the world has experienced what we’ve experienced. If we pick a random stranger on the street, it’s likely that they’ve lost a loved one–a parent, a child, a spouse.

It helped being reminded that people would be able to relate. To understand. To empathize.

I told my friend that I didn’t mean to come to her performance to dump my emotions on her. I just wanted to be able to partake of something beautiful that wasn’t associated with sadness. Still, she listened. She danced beautifully. AND she called me sexy. I am forever grateful.

May 19, 2019

Disclaimer: I’m grieving and have more feelings than I know what to do with. Writing is one way to sort through them. Not sure if they’ll make sense, but here they are.

We all went out to dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day at Ruby River Steakhouse in Provo. We were supposed to have gone to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse up in Park City on May 12 for the official Mother’s Day, but snow was (not) strangely in the forecast. Geez, Utah.

The whole lot of us. Eleven of us. We talked and ate. I sat at the opposite end of the table from Nana Carla. I looked over at her every once in a while, and I would see her sometimes lost in thought. Or nibbling at her food. Or talking to another family member. Or taking photos with her phone. More often than not I saw her smiling.

A deep, underlying sadness lay just below the surface of … me? My soul? The dinner? Did everyone know or sense this would be our last Mother’s Day celebration with Nana Carla’s actual, physical presence? I know we smiled for her, too.

On the morning of Monday, May 20, Carla sent five photos from the last night’s dinner to my phone. (Three not pictured here.) I replied.

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Ours, too, Nana.

We miss you so much.