A notable change

Since the beginning of the year, I have been doing two things consistently every morning. I read the daily office and the Forward Movement’s Forward Day by Day meditation (they have an app for that so I’m not constantly hunting for the little book) and I read the Bible in one year reading plan at She Reads Truth. During Lent, I’ve added a couple of different devotionals: Lent is Not Rocket Science; Holy Habits: For the Holy Season of Lent, and 40 Things to Give up for Lent and Beyond. I mostly manage to read these all before or during breakfast and it works for me. I didn’t realize the total change it was making in me, though, until today.

You see, today was hectic. We had our bi-weekly service project that we do with the Men’s Ministry at our church. Last spring, I asked if there were jobs that the kids could do and I was told that they could try, now they are a significant part of the team. But to do this, we have to leave the house rather early and given certain people’s ability to sleep in (mine), especially when I spent a good portion of the night with Katie sleeping on me, it wasn’t possible to read before we left. When we got there, we realized that the job we were doing was going to be quite a bit larger than usual and we were there for a lot longer than planned.

When we got home, after a stop at Steak and Shake because the kids worked super hard and because the thought of trying to make lunch actually terrified me in that moment, we were in a whirlwind of homeschool stuff and then blessed quiet time. Except that during quiet time I was trying to deal with things that need to be dealt with before we go on a field trip tomorrow followed by me teaching a children’s lesson during our Wednesday night program at church. So, no the reading didn’t get done then either.

After P came home, it was dinner: biscuits, brisket, and broccoli — one of Ben’s favorite meals (partially the alliteration, partially all his favorite foods on one plate). And then it was on to working on a paper for my paying job. It took longer than planned (they always do) and then it was bedtime and story time.

Once my little people were tucked into bed, then it was time to crank out the stuff for the church newsletter. This involves editing, hunting down photos and other such fun tasks, so I can hand it all off to the person who doesn’t use a Mac and who does all this spiffy stuff in Microsoft Publisher. So, again, no reading for me.

Once I finished all of that I realized that my edges seemed sharper today. I was more emotional and more easily upset. I sat down a bit ago and did the reading that I hadn’t done this morning and I noted a significant change in attitude just from reading. I feel calmer. I feel more at peace and more connected with the world and more forgiving.

I hesitate to call it intentional time with the Lord because, well, I feel like I’m making more of what I do than it is, but on the other hand, that’s my time to seek to understand and to pray and to make requests. I pray at other times, too, but I think the daily action has spawned something I didn’t anticipate.

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What Happened Yesterday?

Some folks may have noticed that my blog disappeared yesterday. If I could have figured out a safe way to save Katie’s posts, I probably would have detonated the thing right then. Late last night the tide turned and I feel like I can bring it back online with no serious issues. This is not to say that I’m not going to back the thing up six ways from Sunday and be prepared to pull it, but I suspect I won’t pull it.

Essentially, what happened was this. I am a fan of Peter King, a Sports Illustrated writer who covers the NFL. He’s a good egg, mostly (never enough love for the Bucs, but hey, even I can’t muster that much love usually). He writes a really interesting column every week (Monday Morning Quarterback) and he’s on Twitter. He’s especially unusual on Twitter because he responds frequently to people. He’s also a Hall of Fame voter, which, as you might imagine causes him to catch rashers of shit every year right after the HOF vote. This year? No exception.

Except.

Except that two days ago someone called him a racist. A writer for another group thinks that King is the mastermind behind the HOF voters and that he is essentially a puppet master of a good ole boy network. Sigh. He’s from New England. I don’t think he’d know a good ole boy if he met one up close and personal. I’m also convinced that he doesn’t have as much power as people credit him with. He’s just more willing to share what his thinking is and some generalities about the voting process. HOF rules state that they cannot get into specifics about the process or who votes for whom.

A second person confronts King on Twitter about it, specifically calling him out as racist and Mr. King responded sarcastically about being Mr. KKK and pointing out that the selectors group is roughly the same racial make up as the pressbox at any NFL game (to wit, a small percentage of African Americans). A third person comes in and accuses him of yet more racisim. Specifically claiming that he had used the term “honky” in a tweet.

It was this person who tripped my trigger and who I asked for evidence of his claim. And then all hell broke loose. After Iasked for evidence he first suggested I was angry because I’m a King fan, but I wasn’t. I didn’t believe his claim, but wanted to see his evidence, I’m like that. He clearly went to my blog because at that point he said that if I had the time to read the Bible in 90 days, then I surely had enough time to search for his evidence.

Because I had the temerity to ask for evidence, he claimed I was harassing him (identifying me at that point as male). He then suggested that I only wanted evidence because I was interested in Mr. King. All the while, pinging me back and saying I should do the research myself etc., which, of course, anyone who knows me knows I’m going to make you provide your own evidence. You want to argue a claim, fine, give me evidence. And then it stops.

The next morning, he tweets me evidence of his claim. And two minutes later is complaining because I’m not responding quickly enough. He also made a point of saying that I should have learned how to Google. Once I confirmed my basic facts — that Woodhead is white. I asked how that is a racist comment when both parties are white? He then said that I should rethink homeschooling my children if I don’t understand how racist that is.

But in all honesty? I don’t.

He went on to send another couple of tweets about me and about how I’m obsessed with Peter King and that I’m a stalker — I’m sorry: stalkaaaa — whatever the hell difference that makes. At which point I blocked him.

But he wasn’t quite finished. He made a remark about wanting a truce now that he knows that my dog requires daily maintenance medication. And that is the point that I locked down my blog for a while. For the first time in a near decade on the Internet, I didn’t feel safe. I did feel enormous gratitude that I don’t post pictures of my kids online and that this sick individual didn’t decide to get his rocks off talking about my daughter.

Now, the really bizarre part of all of this? The supposed evidence he had? It was fake. He was trying to get attention and get Peter King to retweet him, which Peter did to prove that his claim was bogus. It doesn’t make me feel a lot better. And there’s a real queasy feeling in my stomach as I reset the blog to open and as I get ready to post this, but you know what? Idiots do not get to dictate how I run my life. I let him win yesterday and I feel sick about that.

I stand behind what I write here and what I write on Twitter. I do not make claims without providing evidence and I am not in the wrong here. Thanks for reading!

Out of Whack

I’ve been feeling particularly emotionally fragile for the last week or so. I don’t know how to explain it except to say it feels like I’m inside of a hole, dirt is falling all around me, and I can’t get out. People reach in to try to help me, but I can’t seem to raise my arms to accept the help. I feel sad. I feel stressed. I feel pressured. And all of it is internal. No one is making me unhappy. No one is pushing me too hard or expecting too much of me. I’m creating this all inside my own head.

And I couldn’t figure out why. I normally get like this right around the 13th of February. That’s the day that my grandmother died almost ten years ago. It always sneaks up on me and I feel just . . . off and then realize that I feel off because we’re coming up on the anniversary of her death and I miss her. And this feels like that, but it’s not that. No one died in October.

And then I realized, in a way, someone did. Last October 20th, Katie had her surgery. Right now is when we were rushing around trying to get ready for the surgery on Tuesday morning. We had to get a blood draw for her. We had to get the girls to their vet, where they stayed a week until we were home. We had to get Ben organized for his extended stay with a good friend (who is still a good friend after taking care of Ben, no small miracle that). And then we checked into a hotel room and waited for morning.

Katie was uneasy that night. She wouldn’t sleep. She struggled with everything. The only thing that let her sleep was to lay directly on top of me with a blanket over her back. So, that’s what I did. Hour after hour of holding my precious, beloved baby girl. It was a long night, but my sunny, happy girl was clearly in evidence in the morning. We got her dressed and drove over to All Children’s.

We did all the things we were supposed to do. They got her as prepped as they could. We met her anesthesiologist and saw both of her surgeons. And then we handed her to a nurse who took her as she screamed and screamed, walked down the hall away from us, and we didn’t see her again until the surgery was over.

We lost part of Katie that day. The part that trusts easily is gone. She doesn’t trust anyone outside of her immediate family. Even grandparents and aunts and uncles are met with some measure of suspicion. She won’t allow anyone to touch her head. She cannot handle the softest of pats or gentle sweep backs of her hair. She won’t wear anything in her hair or on her head. I finally, a weekend or so ago managed to put a small ponytail in her hair. I got pictures, and good thing I did because she ripped it out fairly quickly.

And there are the myriad other things that weren’t issues before that now are. Her hatred of baths and water and such. Her piercing screams over sudden, loud or jarring noises. Her inability to tolerate some textures and the variances there of. Something that was fine yesterday could be a torture chamber today.

All of this is new. All of this is post-surgery. So, we lost our seemingly normal, pointy-headed daughter and gained this little changeling. Please don’t get me wrong, I adore my daughter and she is smart and funny and a little frightening with her mastery of language (I know, I know, I’m her mother, what did I really expect). But there’s a part of me that mourns the loss of who she was. She was a sweet, easy baby who made her brother look super-difficult when he truly was the happiest baby in the world. And then, like a lightening strike she wasn’t anymore.

That lightening strike signaled a change in our lives that we weren’t prepared for and that we haven’t really recovered from. I always feel like I’m a day behind on everything and a dollar short — always. I can’t seem to keep from feeling like I’m drowning as I try to navigate our family through these waters, trying not to make too much of Katie’s differences, while also trying to smooth the way for her where I can, and simultaneously trying to make sure that Ben doesn’t get forgotten in the wake of Katie’s needs.

My heart shattered last week when my son informed me that we don’t love him as much as we love Katie, and he knows this because we don’t pay as close attention to what he needs as we do to what she needs. I didn’t think we were doing that. I’m still not sure that we do, but now I’m looking again at everything to make sure.

Add in my issues and it’s an amazing thing that the adjunct-house is still standing. But it is. And we’re struggling along as best as we can. It’s not easy, and there are days, like this morning, where I just want to throw in the towel. But I try to shake it off and keep pushing forwards. Maybe someday we’ll all get used to our new normal. A girl can hope, right?

She’s definitely worth it, don’t you think?

B90Days — Puzzled

I hadn’t planned to do a post this week. I’m in the end of term madness and I really have to find time to do a bare minimum of communicating with the people who live with me, but because I was working anyway, I checked in with the chat on Twitter and two things happened that had me reflecting, in part, on what I read and in part of how I feel about what I’m doing.

First, there was what I can only think of as a Twitter troll who appeared to let us know that she felt the goal of reading the Bible in 90 days is pointless. Her feeling was that if you’re not studying deeply, then you’re not taking Bible reading seriously. She then went on to explain that her minor in the Bible in college created this reverence for study of the Bible. At the time, I responded and pointed out that any reading is better than no reading and that there’s value in reading quickly as well as in studying deeply.

But now that I’ve had a little time to reflect on her comments, I have to wonder about her sincerity about taking the Bible seriously in the first place. It’s pretty clear to me that in Proverbs those who mock the sincere efforts of others are not on the side of Right. And, to me, that’s what it felt like she was doing. Mocking the sincere efforts of a group of men and women to accomplish the goal of reading the whole Bible (well, minus apocrypha, but still). Now I wonder if I should have engaged with her at all. The English professor in me (which admittedly, is no small part) was a bit riled up that anyone would discourage reading at any pace. I don’t think that it’s true that the only way to gain value in something is to study it deeply. There is value in surface reading, and to suggest that there isn’t seems to me to be the work of someone who wants to undermine the whole effort/enterprise. And I think that’s a shame.

But the title is weird feelings and I’m having them. I don’t really fit in with this group that I’m reading with. Some of the women (it’s primarily women in the Twitter chats, though today’s check in post at Mom’s Toolbox is written by a guy) are, for lack of a better way of expressing it, very religious. They feel “convicted” by things. They’re not uncomfortable at all to say they’re praying for people or that they’re thankful for Jesus and so forth and so on. These are not sentiments that trip off my tongue. I’m not even sure what it means to be convicted.

And this is why it feels so weird to me, while I was defending this enterprise and arguing with this person, a small voice in my head was going, maybe she’s right. Maybe this isn’t the “right” way to read the Bible. Maybe you should drop this and try reading smaller portions every day for the rest of the year or something like that.

I thought about that little voice and how insidious it sounded. I wondered what about the timing. We’ve reached the halfway point. We’ve been meeting and talking every Monday since the beginning of January. Why did someone show up now, right when we’re getting to the “hard part.” And I wonder if I suddenly feel so conflicted because she voiced a thought that I have rolling around in the back of my head, but I know that’s not it. For me, it’s more of a “who are you to do this?” I’m not a particularly strong believer. I know that, comparatively, I am nowhere near the level of most of the women I’m reading with. I get confused by things that they say: they’re uncomfortable reading the Psalms because of David’s sin. And I don’t understand that. Is David not allowed to sing praises to God because he broke commandments?

And please understand, if you’re reading this, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have those feelings or shouldn’t express them, I’m just saying that I find them confusing. Maybe if I felt more grounded in “the church” or if I felt more of the call that they seem to feel from God then I would understand more.

I guess this is all to say that I’m a bit confused about why I’m doing this. It doesn’t mean I’m stopping, but I’m not sure what I’d hoped to get out of it is in any way the same as what everyone else seems to be getting out of it. I’m feeling a little lost, I guess. I don’t know.

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

1. The illness I live with is: cough variant asthma, chronic hypertension, chronic anxiety, and PTSD (from Katie’s delivery)
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2002 with the first three, the last was late 2008
3. But I had symptoms since: childhood for the asthma. Since college for the anxiety
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: shifting from teaching in person to teaching online.
5. Most people assume: that I can do anything and everything because Jerome Bettis played football and Jackie Joyner-Kersee was an amazing athlete.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: remembering to take my medications with the hustle of children and dogs.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: Diagnosis, Murder.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my nebulizer
9. The hardest part about nights are: getting to sleep. I’m always afraid of waking up in the throes of an asthma attack. It’s the scariest feeling.
10. Each day I take _16_ as needed pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) plus two puffs of advair and albuterol as needed.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: have not really found any that are viable for me.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I don’t think I would change for something more visible. I just wish I could make people understand that there are things you just shouldn’t do around me
13. Regarding working and career: I miss the fact that I don’t see my students in person. I miss teaching books that I love. I miss going to conferences. I haven’t been since Colorado Springs. I spent the whole thing wandering around wheezing.
14. People would be surprised to know: how much I hate leaving my house and being exposed to triggers. I have my asthma under good control as long as I don’t have a lot of exposure.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: how hard it is to do things that I consider normal. I can’t even weed my garden because it stirs up too much pollen and makes it impossibly hard to breathe.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: travel to a school graduation last year. The last time I did extended travel, I got really sick, so I was worried that this, with all the people in enclosed spaces, was going to do a lot of damage, but it didn’t.
17. The commercials about my illness: make me sad. I can’t do anything and everything and the commercials make it hard for people to understand that.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: being spontaneous. Everything has to be planned and organized. I have to remember medication whenever I go anywhere.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: being places like church. The enclosed space, lots of people thing is like a breeding ground for illness for me.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: I started knitting. It helps me calm down and keep track of my breathing. Particularly good for the anxiety portion of the program.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: go to the movies. I haven’t been able to sit in a movie theatre in years. I start wheezing and I have to leave.
22. My illness has taught me: that patience is important. I might not be having a good breathing day today, but tomorrow might be better. I might not be be so stressed or so easily triggered.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: You don’t really have asthma. Or, my other favorite, you use asthma as an excuse not to do things.
24. But I love it when people: are considerate and remember that things like perfume trigger me.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: Just keep swimming. (Dory from Finding Nemo.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: It’s not the end of the world, but it will change your world and the way that you view it.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how much my perspective changed. I always thought that I was good at empathy, but I’ve discovered I wasn’t nearly as good at it as I thought I was.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: bring things for the baby. After the delivery, I couldn’t do anything and the people who helped in that first two week period really made things so much better. They honestly have no idea how much.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I don’t look sick when you look at me, but my body knows differently. I want people to know that you just don’t know who might have what by looking at them.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: like you care. Thanks for taking the time :).