This Funk

Yesterday one of my co-workers (an elderly man) asked if I was feeling ok; he said I didn’t look well. I explained that I was just stressed out…holiday stress I explained.

While I have some holiday stress, the truth is I hate my job.

I LOVE being with the kids and seeing them everyday; the atmosphere with my coworkers though leaves much to be desired. The gossip runs rampant, the two-faced conversations at nearly every turn, the manager threatens termination to at least one coworker – to everybody BUT that coworker (but has yet to sit down with them and discuss what she sees as issues) it’s disgusting and sad.

As much talking as goes on, you’d think communication is top notch. You’d be wrong. People who have been there for years get yelled at for not doing things they didn’t even know they were supposed to be doing.

I’ve never been given a job description or list of duties. I’m lucky to be able to work on the fly and learn as I go and read between the lines and see work that needs to be done. However, when I get reprimanded in front of students, staff, and coworkers for not doing something I don’t even know I’m supposed to do…no thanks.

I had only been there a month when my work partner had the day off. Our duties are nearly identical…but not quite. Well, I’ve never done her job and am busy enough doing my job that I have no idea what she’s doing when I’m not watching her. Anyway…so a sub comes in and half way through serving, I get yelled at by the kitchen manager for not doing something that was my partner’s job. I explained that I didn’t know I was supposed to do that…I had never seen who did that particular job. She told me, “Well, she better tell you what her job is then.”

Well, that’s fine and dandy…but then you complain that we are working together and wasting time. It would be so simple to have individual job duties lists for each member of the staff. There is so little variation in our daily tasks, that each job should have a job description if nothing else, for subs and new staff.

So every morning, I wake up in this funk and it sucks.

I pray for my work situation, for each of the people I work with and for. I pray for the spirit of grace and mercy as I know each of us is fighting our own personal battle outside the workplace.

Then I pray for my kids, and their needs and wants.

Then after all the kids get on the bus, I go skating for an hour. I do laps, squats between the blue lines, one foot between the blue lines, power turns, lunge-crossovers, circles, and some quick skates.

My time on the ice is magic. I work my butt off most days. Some days are just for conversation and leisurely skating. I’ve already noticed my skating improving and my stamina increasing.

When I had cancer, I would sometimes spend 8 hours at chemo and then run to the rink to coach hockey practice. Luckily, I didn’t have visitors at chemo so I was able to sleep all day…if I slept all day I had enough energy to be on the ice for 45 minutes. Once I was on the ice though, you’d never know where I had spent the day. Except for being bald, you probably wouldn’t even know I had cancer. I loved that 45 minutes. We got to forget about cancer completely…45 minutes at a time.

I need to find a way to completely forget about work. I took this position at the other school for more hours. I needed the extra hours as I was tired of not being able to pay the bills. Now at least they are paid…but it’s at such a high personal cost.

This morning, there is no open skating. I’m going to take the time to take care of myself for a little while…an extra long shower, a power breakfast and then go pick up cat litter I’ve been meaning to get all week.

Life is good. I’m just in a rut.

Dear Father in Heaven;

Grant me peace through this season. We both know I took this job for reasons other than money…to be able to shine Your light into darkness. Keep my feet grounded and my head in the game as the time passes.
I knew going in that this would be a challenge. Help me to not jump ship when the going gets tough. I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge, keep my feet firmly planted in Your light and truth.
Cover my workplace in peace and prosperity for all.

Amen

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I Shouldn’t Have Waited

On Thanksgiving Day, I had so many thoughts of all that I am thankful for that I wanted to post about. I knew I had to spread The Good News about how I see God work in my life. There were so many amazing thoughts in my head as I spent the day in restoring rest.

Then Thursday turned in to Friday.

I ran to the store to buy milk and ran into a friend and her kids. Her son plays hockey with mine and her baby is just an adorable little munchkin who is always quick to tell me, “I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy.”

I knew her dad had to return to the doctor after talking with them at last week’s hockey game so I asked about it. He is a two time cancer survivor whom had just recently finished his second round of treatment along with a bone marrow transplant.

You know that moment before your life changes…it was right before I asked.

“Well, we got some not good news this morning.”

Fuck

So he goes back to the doctor again this week (6 hours away from home) to figure out what the next course of action is. My friend is scared, her older son is devastated (him and Grandpa have always been very close).

I told her that all I can do is pray…because I don’t even know what else to do.

Then I got a text confirming a fear I’ve had for a few weeks. Another guy I know (although not well, I’ve known him for about 10 years) his brain cancer is back. Stage four glioblastoma.

So, of course I don’t do myself any favors by looking it up. Median survival, 15-18 months. Only 20% of patients area alive after one year.

I’ve been praying for his family…and my friend’s family.

I still want to post about all that I am thankful for…just at a more appropriate time. Today is not that time.

Today I am praying about not killing anybody at work…the last week before my Zoladex shot is beyond hell. It’s like PMS on steroids. I never dealt with PMS before cancer, I was pretty lucky.

Not anymore.

About a week before my shot is due, something will alert me to the shift in my mood; being short with the kids, something trivial causing an explosion…then I will check the calendar and take a deep breath…because it is just the beginning of Hell Week. College frat boys got nothing on me!

I can’t fall asleep at night, I don’t want to get up in the morning. I have no desire to do anything (I even skipped my morning skate today and last Wednesday). Ya, you read that right…I skipped an opportunity to be on the ice…twice.

I get my shot at 2:30 today and then because the weather is so awesome I may even go for an inline skate; whoda thunk we’d be able to skate at the end of November? I think Halloween Day was my last inline skate. Would have been cool to skate on ice and pavement in the same day. Today is not that day.

So I will get up and go to work, I even considered calling in sick today to avoid any potential issues, I’m just not myself and I hate it. Twice last week I nearly quit my job. I saw a co-worker yesterday and she asked if I was ready to go back to work tomorrow after a four day weekend and I told her, “No, I hate my job.” She said that made her sad.

I also hate that it’s four unpaid days (no stat holidays in this country). Ya, I know we’re going to be okay, yes I know God will provide for our needs.

You know what though?

I want more than just our basic needs. I want to pay the light bill AND take my kid for a hot chocolate. I want an emergency fund so that I don’t have to rely on others when my vehicle finally decides it’s done.

And I hate that.

I hate feeling like I want more. I hate to think that I somehow sound ungrateful for all that has been provided for us. I’m not. I am truly thankful to be where we are. I also know that even a few hundred dollars every month would make a huge difference in our comfort level. I could own more than one pair of jeans for work, I would not beat myself up for driving 3 hours (one way) to watch my son play hockey on his dad’s weekend. I wouldn’t cringe at the thought of the fees for archery (although only $40…that’s almost a tank of gas).

I had a great idea for Christmas for the boys and now I don’t think I can pull it off.

Instead of buying gifts this year, I was going to plan a getaway. It wouldn’t cost much more than what I would spend on gifts, and the memories would be way better than any gift I could buy them.

We even received an unexpected monetary gift in the mail last week. Well, between travel for hockey this month and other unexpected expenses, that was swallowed up like a snake eats a frog…like it was gone before I even realized it.

Add on the fact that my December 15 paycheck will be smaller than normal, and I’m right back to counting pennies in time to pay rent for January.

This is where that ‘cushion fund’ would come in handy. If I had a couple months of expenses saved up, and the security that I had the money on hand, I could let go of the stress.

So, instead. My kids will be on the local ‘Giving Tree’ and somebody will pick the “Boy – age 10” and “Boy – age 13” off and bless them, again.

I thought I had it all figured out.

Turns out God’s plans and my plans are not always the same.

Heavenly Father,

I am so thankful for the blessings bestowed upon myself and my boys. I do understand how blessed we are and how good we have it.

I miss how things were when I didn’t have to worry about money. I want to have that again. God, I ask for abundant resources to not only meet our needs but to also exceed them.

Amen

When I am Quiet

When I am quiet (I know, it’s not often…bare with me). When I am quiet and focus on the sacrificial life I have led; putting others before myself; doing things I’d rather not when I know it is for God’s glory; I’m at peace.

Sure, I still have crappy days (you know…like earlier this week) I also have days where I look at my bank account and it holds $100.00 more than it should. This has happened on more than one occasion and I have no explanation for it; apparently God just shows up at my bank and deposits $100 a few times a year. Always at exactly the right time, always when I am desperately desperate.

There are just no words for when things like that happen in my life.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, four days after my first chemotherapy treatment my car died. It had gotten me to Rochester several times (384 miles one way) plus over 1000 miles back and forth to Fargo jus since the end of October. It had led a good life.

The following day, I received a call from the local Chrysler/Dodge dealership. The voicemail was a salesperson asking me to call him as soon as I could. Great, I thought, he knows my car broke and thinks I can buy a new one.

When I returned his call, fully prepared to tell him I had exactly zero dollars and thanks but no thanks; I was brought to tears. Somebody had heard about my vehicle and had paid for a 2003 Dodge Caravan on my behalf with the only stipulation that it be anonymous.

I’m still driving that van, and the local paper even did a story on me and he boys and our situation and our Secret Santa. It’s got over 230,000 miles on it and leaks oil bad enough that I never need an oil change…I just add fresh stuff and change the filter now and then.

I’ve been stressing over finances for some time, especially with both boys having their birthday’s come up, Christmas, plus finding out their dad was not going to help pay for hockey after already committing to the season.

My very next paycheck, I had miscalculated…I had anticipated 10 less hours than I actually worked so my paycheck was bigger than I expected. When I looked in my bank account, there was the extra $100.

So as I am recalculating and figuring, I plan for the young one’s birthday party…waterpark with two friends. I always give him an option, more friends, less fun or less friends and more fun.

After understanding God’s got this and I make the plans…two friends offer me Buy one-Get one coupons for the waterpark that they can’t use! So…I’m letting the older boy also bring two friends and having his party as well (his birthday is three weeks after his brother). Today I went and bought them both new Nerf guns as the ones they have are over three years old and have served their purpose well.

When I take the time to sit down and count all my blessings, the other noise in my life goes silent. There is nothing as great as God. He promises to take care of His children.

Tomorrow, my tiny miracle will turn 10…what an awesome kid! To celebrate his birthday we are headed to hockey to play his first game of the year at 11:00 am and then watch one of his friends that is coming play his game (starting at 1pm). Then we are all headed to the waterpark for an afternoon/evening of super fun!

Today, we took 30 cupcakes to school to share with his class. Tomorrow we are bringing 15 cupcakes to hockey for his team, plus picking up a cake for the party. If this kid is not sugared up by then, nothing will do it!

Tonight though, we are headed to a Jr A hockey game (our local team is 18-0 and he has not missed a home game yet). I am so thankful for the gift of season tickets; this would never happen if not for them.

Lord,

Thank You for the reminders of how great You are and how Your love is everywhere. Those reminders are sometimes quiet as a butterfly and sometimes they are a splash of cold water on a sleeping teenager. Without those reminders, I don’t know where I’d be. The enemy is loud and you are gentle. Thank you Father.
As the winter months set in, continue to bring us peace as well as strength to weather any storm.
You love is greater, Your love is stronger, Your love…is all I need.

Amen

Crazy Good

Yesterday I did something I didn’t even know was possible. I went inline skating. Yes, I know I took up this sport in June. Yesterday though, there was snow lining the trail. There was ice on the bridge. It was barely above freezing.

Today, I’m waiting for my phone to charge. It’s 44 degrees outside; much warmer than yesterday. I’m going again. I can’t skate the greenwood trail because there is too much snow on the small bridge, I can do the Hartz Park loop though. That bridge has some ice, but not enough to stop me. I may only get a few laps…but at this point every single lap counts. Every mile counts, every stride counts. The wind today is 16mph…which sucks…but it’s better than not skating.

I’m certain there were strange glances yesterday as I skated down the hill, taking strides to build speed at the top of the hill, bent at the waist, hands behind my back…the guy running up the hill seemed happy that he wasn’t the only nut case out there on a Saturday afternoon.

Although I was welcomed to return to coaching youth hockey again this year, I just cannot cover the costs to become insured and certified. It makes me feel horribly sad and like a failure…like I’m failing these kids who don’t even know I should be helping their coaches. Like I am failing the parents who don’t even know I should be out there teaching their kids how to fall down and get back up.

But that’s Satan…he’s so good at his job…making me feel so horrible.

Do I miss skating with those young kids? Of course I do. Do I miss playing Ring Around the Rosie? Probably more than I should. Do I miss skating circles around the kids who are finally able to get up an ounce of speed just so they can giggle and fall down? Of course I do.

There was never anything more rewarding on the ice than seeing a kid progress. Whether it was progressing from 5 minutes on the ice to 30; or a kid going from a duck walk to an actual stride…there was such joy in every victory.

Those small victories gave me something to focus on when Dorothy showed up. I sometimes (but not often) wonder how we would have managed cancer, if not for hockey.

We didn’t have to social support we have now, we didn’t have much of anything…except hockey.

So I know that God will get us through anything…I have no doubt. Even this disappointment.

And now…as there is even snow on the ground, I am going inline skating…because I can. Because God is Good.

Father,

Forever I am grateful. Forever I am Yours.

Amen

Home Sweet Home

The boys and I are back up in Canada at my parents’ home. I cannot ever put in to words just how amazing it is for me to come home. This trip though…even more important.

On Saturday it will be my canserversary. Three years from the date of my diagnosis. As difficult as this October has been, there is truly no place I would rather be than right here, right now.

Three years ago, our world…all of us…had our world turned upside down. On that same day…my mother was elected to city counsel. Maybe turned upside down isn’t correct, it was just shaken up a bit.

I need to be home with my family for this milestone. To allow the day to pass quietly (not noise level quiet, just fan fare quiet).

My niece and nephew are here as well and they are the same ages as the boys.

The first thing my niece and I did when we got back to the house after breakfast was to build a fire out of all grandma’s paper and cardboard garbage. Then I helped my brother do some cleaning and now here I am, with you.

I will be posting live videos throughout the weekend and am already not looking forward to returning to the USA. I need to not think that far ahead yet though. I need to be here and enjoy here. I have no idea how many more trips my vehicle can make. It’s over 600 miles one way and my vehicle has over 230k miles on it. It won’t last forever.

Auntie Awesome is going to make a list of chores for the kids and Uncle Shawn to accomplish today…I’ll supervise…it’s what I’m good at!

Love to all.

Lord,

I am so thankful to be home…home. 20 years and it’s still home and always will be home. Thank you for Your traveling mercies yesterday and the wonderful weather.
Bless our time here with family and give us opportunities to show and be love all weekend long.

When we leave, I ask again for traveling mercies to return home.

Amen

Normal

Life is beginning to feel almost normal again. For us, normal is busy, loud, and often disorganized. Normal is running fast and running behind. Normal is lots of love and little money.

It is our normal. It is how the boys and I do life.

It is amazing just how different we can all be yet still have so much in common. My youngest son plays hockey. The prevailing thought in this town (and many others) is that only rich families can afford hockey and when you go to the rink, it sort of looks that way.

Mom and dad both drive new vehicles, the family goes on vacation every year and never misses a college hockey game an hour away. They live in a mini-mansion with 2.3 kids and a Dog named Spike. Junior has the newest gear, a cool bag, and a $200 stick.

And then we walk in. Mom is divorced, drives a minivan with over 230,000 miles on it that sounds like it might die any second with two huge dents from accidents and because she cannot afford collision insurance, neither of them will ever be fixed. We rent, we have used gear that fits and his hockey stick from last year. Two cats, and have not been on a vacation beyond a trip to my parents house since before the divorce proceedings started 6 years ago.

On the ice, they all look the same with helmets and matching jersey’s.

What is normal for our family is only normal for our family. What is normal for each of the other families, is normal for them. It does not make one family better than the other. It does not ensure one child is loved more than the other.

What is normal for us, now may not be normal for you or anybody else. It may not even be normal for us in a year or two.

As we run through life with our hockey gear rolling behind, our iPad in our hand, our phone in our back pocket what you will see, is love. We love each other and we love our life.

I love that I do not drive a new vehicle, I have no financial debt and will do anything and everything to keep it that way. Yes, I would like something that I don’t have to worry about when I drive to see my family and that doesn’t need new tires; I also know that God has provided this long, He’s not going to stop now. When this vehicle is finished, where some people would be panicked, I see another opportunity to trust Him.

As much fun as it would be to take the boys on a week long vacation somewhere totally amazing, the memories we make each and every day are enough for me. I am not going to give up my everyday life (by working two jobs or otherwise) to have a week worth of memories.

I love our life. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love my kids, my family, my friends, and my church family. I love that life is simple for us. I love that we love.

Validation

Today is October 1.

I knew it was coming.

I chose to try to ignore it.

I made the wrong choice.

You see, as much as I would like October to come and go without any fanfare, it hit me today with a force I cannot deny. I got up and went to church and just standing there with people I know and love was anxiety laden. It was so awful that I could not even attend the second service I always attend.

I came home and crawled into bed with the cats. I needed rest, I needed to hide, I needed to not have to do anymore peopleing. My friend texted, asking if I only attended one service today and I said yup, and I was in bed. She was just checking to make sure I got out at least.

When we discussed what October meant to me the other day she asked what I needed from her or what she could do. I told her to make sure I do not isolate myself too much. When she texted today, I almost was not going to answer because I was afraid I had disappointed her by only going to one church service. She knows I thoroughly enjoy both.

Instead she told me she was happy I had gotten to at least one and to sleep well and that she was praying.

Oh I needed that more than anything. It was so validating. I had no idea how invalidated I feel about all of this until that very moment.

I feel like being full of anxiety just because it is October is stupid, that I should not feel this and I should be able to get over all of it. The truth is, I cannot. In October three years ago my world, which was already crashing down around me in the aftermath of a very long and drawn out divorce process felt like it was ending.

As I have moved through cancer and beyond; I do not think I have ever truly validated myself for all I went through. How could I ever accept it from anybody else.

So while I want to cancel the small group from coming to our house tonight, I know that it is only a six or seven people and we are finished within two hours. Cancelling serves no good purpose.

I am stuck between honoring this process and not allowing it to consume me. I am choosing to keep moving forward. One more stride. Head down and just moving forward. I cannot look ahead to how much further I have to go; I need to focus on the next step in front of me, and not one inch beyond that right now.

It feels like cancer all over again and I need to continually remind myself that it is not. That Dorothy is gone and God won. I need to remind myself that I am safe and I am worthy and I am loved. I.Am.Safe.

I thought I could embrace October and a month of advocating for the right charities and the right reasons to pink…it turns out I just need to survive this year and get beyond this pit of agony, despair, and anxiety.

I need to remember that I trust God in all of this. He got me this far.

What can you do for me? Check in with me, feed me, financial assistance, hug me and tell me I’m gonna be ok and the hard part is over. Encourage me to feel; real feelings, real reactions.

Together, we got this. I’m just the one with the puck on my stick right now and nobody to pass to.