Newsflash: I AM the CEO

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A few days ago *h came home to find 8 large bottles of water on our front porch. This was quite concerning to him, since, being from a small island nation (England), he gets the heebie jeebies whenever he sees food packaged in large quantities.

Yes, after all these years of me buying in bulk, *h still hasn’t fully embraced the idea that to feed and care for a big family takes mucho stuff. It’s not that he doesn’t try, bless his heart, but he still thinks that a 5 pound bag of flour sounds like a lot (we buy the 50 pound bags). If I don’t specify how many of something I want at the grocery store, *h will sometimes buy 1, rather than calling home and asking me how many he should get. This is because he knows his fears will be realized and I will likely ask him to buy about a dozen. Poor guy.

He also got very stressed out that we have “too much” cereal downstairs. Now, in my mind “too much” of something like cereal means that either we don’t have space for it, or that there is so much that it will go stale before we can finish it. In his mind “too much” means we have more than a few, or more than we need for our next meal, or more than he remembers having in his house when he grew up (one at a time maybe?). Currently we have about 20 boxes. When I told him that, in the event of a crisis, that would not even last us a week he was mortified. Apparently he didn’t realize that we have two teenage boys in the house. And I won’t tell you how quickly we go through 20 boxes…

So this got us talking about exactly what is in our pantry and what quantities of each thing item we have on hand. *h feels overwhelmed by the stock and I feel vastly underprepared. Since I can recite the foods and the counts off the top of my head at any given time, I usually have a pretty good idea of the state of affairs of the Bass family situation. This is how I broke it down for *h:

I don’t come to your job and tell you that you have too many files or too many computer windows open or too many staplers on your desk. I don’t try to rearrange your things in your briefcase or micromanage your meeting schedule, so PLEASE do not try to manage my job either.

Basically, I am the CEO of the Bass family.

*h can be the CFO and we can work together to run the company, but I was really feeling like there were too many chiefs and not enough indians. I don’t think it is unreasonable since I do the shopping (or at least some of the shopping- and the menu planning and list making) and the cooking that I should also be in charge of inventory control. We are not in debt because of food-hoarding, nor or we struggling to find space in cramped quarters because I have jam-packed our house with food and supplies (although in my dreams I would). It’s not like we have a zillion cans of cat food and no cat because I impulse-buy things we don’t need, and I certainly don’t buy even half the amount I think I should buy to store up for a true emergency (this is something I think needs to be negotiated with the CFO and not done behind his back…). So I truly don’t understand the buttons this pushes in him- except that this is not how he grew up.

The first time I went to England and realized that people had no basements and very little storage in their homes, I got a little bit of insight into the buy-only-what-you-can-use thing. Their fridges are tiny compared to ours, but their stores (the shops! or shoppes?) are like a few blocks away at all times. So everyone is constantly walking on over to the shops to get about 10 minutes worth of groceries which they then carry home and cook. What culture shock it must have been for my in-laws the first time they came here and saw a gallon jar of mayonnaise in my fridge! hahahahahahaha…

I remember the first time I brought home a 5 gallon bucket of laundry detergent from Costco. *h came home from work and was absolutely incredulous. I think he thought I was pranking him or something. He really thought we would never use it up. Ha! The next time I went to Costco I brought him with and his eyes were wide with astonishment- I guess that pretty much sums up America in a nutshell. We like to do everything big and excessive. But if you have a large family, buying in bulk is awesome.

Over the years I have found cheaper ways to buy in bulk than Costco, but I still get lots of things in mass quantity. *h has reconciled to the idea that his wife is somewhat eccentric, and I guess he just chalks it up to that. But I truly save the family buckets of money.

And if there is ever a problem, we can always eat cereal.

At least for a few days ;)

Unhole-y

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For the last few months one of my sons has been out of school with health problems. At a recent doctor’s visit, they picked up something rather concerning with his heart, unrelated to the original condition.

A trip to another doctor the next day confirmed that there was definitely an issue in his heart, and it was definitely concerning. We got an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist, and when that office got his records they called us and asked if we could come in the next day.

And you know that’s never good.

So, off we went to the cardiologist, who was really nice. Unlike many adult specialists, I must say that all of the pediatric specialists I have dealt with in Seattle seem to be patient and warm, willing to explain things without being condescending. They all take as much time as you need, in spite of everything I am constantly hearing about how doctors are spending less and less time with their patients. And this cardiologist was no exception. We were there for quite a while, since my son required a whole battery of tests. There were several things that needed to be ruled out, the most concerning of which was a hole in his heart that would have required surgery.

And I am very relieved to announce, to nobody in particular, that my son is hole-free.

It’s so bizarre how when something like this is weighing on you your world becomes all tunnel-vision. The other thousand things that were on my mind took a distant second place until this was resolved, and after we got this news those other things seemed way less important.

That’s not to say that I have put everything into correct perspective and I am now here to share with you the secrets to better living! Ho, no, my friends! I am still sweating the small stuff and perseverating over minutiae. To wit:

* Another of my kids has a job every week to collect all of the garbage and recycling from around the house and take it to the curb on Thursday night (our pick-up is on Friday morning). Consistently- like, without fail, this dear child with leave some of the cans full and untouched, and SWEAR that those cans are not supposed to be taken out or that nobody said to empty them or that they didn’t have trash in them, or some other excuse. This morning had me wondering what kind of spouse this child would make (overreaction, anyone???) if this is the type of shoddy work they do when they are given a job…

* I will regularly lie awake at night thinking about things like whether it is cheaper to throw leftover food in the trash (we pay for garbage collection and we only get to put a certain amount in the container each week) or in the food waste container (which is enormous, but we pay for bags to collect it in that we use in the house. We have tried just using a container and dumping it straight into the outside bin, but that doesn’t work well for our family. I don’t want to talk about it.). Can we afford $10 a month either way? Yes. So why do I care? Because I do. Truthfully I would be better off getting the extra sleep, but tell that to my brain.

* We keep extra blankets on shelves in my laundry room. They need to be refolded neatly (technically they don’t need to be refolded. In truth I would just prefer for them to look neater…), but most of the time I am too sore and achy to do it and nobody else really cares about it. It’s the kind of thing that I could probably get someone else to do if I asked them to, but I had an OCDish parent growing up, and always resented having to do crazy tasks to impossible standards for no particular reason (other than someone else’s mental illness) and I am loathe to inflict similar hell on my own family. On the other hand, this causes me real stress every time I walk into that room. Welcome to my tortured mind…

I could probably go on and on, thinking of examples to entertain you (or horrify you completely) about how skewed my worldview continues to be. I have a good friend who very poignantly talks about how important it is to have a mindset of gratitude, and I think remembering that would help me as well. I think the more I can count my blessings, the less brain space I will have for silliness like the best way to stack bowls in the dishwasher.

I am trying very very hard to use the extremely limited time I am out of bed these days to be of service to others, and at least at those times transcend my own limitations. Some things I can do even in bed, and here is a great one that has touched my heart. It’s a project online that matches up people who are willing to do acts of kindness and compassion in the merit of an Israeli soldier. It matches you up with a soldier who has requested to be in the program, and any time you do a meritorious act, you are asked to please sort of “spiritually dedicate” it to him. Here is a link to the website for more information:

http://www.shmiraproject.com/en-us/home.aspx

I don’t want to debate the situation in the Middle East with you right now, so let’s not go there. Let’s just hope that we can all be a little more compassionate, a little more loving, a little more holy, and a little less hole-y.

Sad news- No Snappy Title

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Sorry, but I do’t have the emotional wherewithal to come up with pithy title for this post. If you have an ounce of humanity in you, grab a tissue:

The three kidnapped Israeli boys have been found, dead, near Hevron.

You can find links to news articles all over the web about it, so feel free to research to your heart’s content.

What I won’t do right now, although part of me is sorely tempted, is rant and rage (publicly) about the situation.

What I will do right now is just offer up a few prayers (privately) for the souls of those boys and the comfort and healing of their families. And I hope you will do the same.

Out of Time

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Thanks to airline points or credit card points or some type of accumulated points which were about to become obsolete, I now have a subscription to Time magazine.

Normally I would have let the points just go to “waste”, since I hate clutter (I think I may have mentioned this about a zillion times), and extraneous magazines definitely fall into that category. But as I have become increasingly house-bound, I have made some exceptions to what I have allowed into the house. So in has come Time magazine. Some of the stuff I read is interesting, and some is kind of crazy, but one article I read made me angry and incredulous and huffy and just itchy to blog.

The article, called The (Slow) Greening of America, by Michael Grunwald is a weird rambling rant about how Americans have failed to embrace the crisis of global warming, even though, according to Grunwald, “Really, the debate should be over.”

Grunwald is incredulous that “many Americans don’t believe it”. He talks about how this sets them apart from people in other countries (40% of Americans strongly agree the earth is getting warmer contrasted with 71% of Indians, for example). “On almost every question, Americans were the least likely to back the scientific consensus on climate…”

Now I should probably back up and tell you that this particular article appeared in the same issue of Time magazine whose cover story was that science has been wrong all these years when they have been telling people not to eat butter and other fats. Yes- holy science got things completely wrong and not only caused people to become fatter, but to become sicker as well. However, people who have been eating according not to the latest science fads but according to their traditional diets are healthy and fine. Hunh. That’s curious.

Other articles in the magazine similarly call into question whether science deserves to be put on quite the pedestal some would worship it on, or whether- just perhaps- science is lots of theory and guesswork and speculation and sometimes they get things right.

Whoa. Do I believe the Earth is flat? Do I not believe in GRAVITY???? Am I saying science is worthless??? What about MEDICINE, huh??????

Okay, calm down. Science has its place, as do taxes and board games and eating pizza. Everything in moderation. What I think is great is that Americans aren’t drinking the kool-aid as much as other people. To me, reading that other countries have higher rates of people who believe in man-made climate change tells me that they either have better propaganda, citizens who are more afraid to tell the truth about what they think, or a dumber populace.

Frankly, the debate about climate change is NOT over. The fact that it is now being referred to as “climate change” is proof of this- remember that is used to be “global warming” exclusively, until there was also a distinct lack of warming, and also some cooling, and also some unexplained weather phenomena- and voila!- now we discuss “climate change” as if that was always the issue at hand and we won’t remember that they have changed the playing field just so they can stay in the game…

There are credible scientists on both sides of the issue, and unless we allow for the possibility (I say there is often a probability) that science can be flat out wrong, then we are all just worshipping in a cult. Just because we call our cult by the name of “science” doesn’t make it any more unassailable or infallible than any other cult, and until we accept that science is sometimes not made up of the hard facts we think it is, and that it can be wrong at least as often as it is right, we are all just Michael Grunwalds flipping out because Americans dare to question the global climate change hysteria.

Any time you have a political issue, especially one where huge sums of money are involved, you will have people who are deeply invested in swaying your views about it. Is that a revelation? Is that subversive to say?

Do I think people should be responsible about how they live their lives on this planet? Sure I do. Do I feel a moral obligation to try not to trash the world I am leaving for my children and grandchildren? Of course. (This is one of those leading questions like when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your door and they ask you, “Do you want to protect the physical and mental health of your child?” Um, what are you gonna say- ‘No. Not so much…’?) The real question is, do I believe that by running my air conditioning that I am ruining the planet? Do I believe that if I use disposable diapers I have committed a grave atrocity? If I search my soul, do I truly believe that by using styrofoam once in a while, I am damaging ecosystems that won’t be able to recover?

And the honest answer, friends, is no.

I am someone who used to go through garbage to find those plastic rings that hold together 6-packs of soda and cut them apart so they wouldn’t trap wildlife scavenging in landfills (the only reason I don’t do this now is that I don’t buy soda in 6-packs). I recycled in Oak Park even though we didn’t have to, and even though we were allowed to have unlimited free garbage (but I had to pay extra for the extra recycling bins). I adopt animals rather than get them from breeders and reuse what I have whenever I can and I could list for you a gazillion ways that I do things to try to be a responsible citizen of the world.

But as far as man-made global warming i just don’t buy it. That’s not to say I don’t think you shouldn’t do what you think is right. If you want to make different decisions than I do go right ahead. That’s the beauty of living in a place where people are allowed to question things and decide for themselves. That’s why I’m proud of the 60% of Americans who didn’t strongly agree that the earth is getting warmer. To agree with a fact is to think it is correct. To strongly agree is to take something out of the realm of fact and put it into the realm of religious fervor, and that has no place in honest debate. This planet is in flux, no doubt. Depending on how you ask a survey question, you can get just about any answer you want. There have been natural cycles of heating and cooling and storming and weather things since forever.

When I was in middle school there was a popular button to wear (did I just date myself or what???) that said Question Authority. Back then it was more of a teenage rebellious attitude thing to wear it and be in the face of teachers and parents and sort of flip them off. But I think it’s time to bring that back. For some reason too many people have forgotten that it’s a good idea from time to time to revisit our younger selves and ask “Why?” and then ask “Why?” again. At a certain age we seem to have replaced curiosity with convenience, and I think we are all going to pay a very dear price for that shortcut…

They Are Our Children…

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This is re-posted from my friend Avivah’s blog. She lives in Israel, so she was able to express more eloquently than I would have what I think most of us are feeling right now. For those of you who haven’t heard this story on the news (and don’t get me started about why I think more people haven’t heard about this, because I’m boiling mad about it!), 3 boys- one of them an American- were kidnapped by Arabs in Israel a few days ago in the West Bank. Although Israeli soldiers have been scrambling to find them, as of now they are still missing, and we can only pray that horrible things are not happening to them. This is my friend’s post about the situation, but I’m not sure if I put the youtube parts in the right places or not (sorry about that if they end up in the wrong place in the writing…)

They are our children…..
June 15, 2014parenting
Yesterday, I had several things that I considered sharing with you.

Today, I only have one thing on my mind. My heart hurts, my tears keep coming and I can think of nothing other than the three teenage boys (two 16 year olds, one 19 year old) who were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on their way home from school on Thursday evening.

Left to right: Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-Ad Shayer

Like so many students, my ds15 also attends a yeshiva dormitory school – just like these boys. Like so many others, he also has to find a way home each Thursday – just like these boys. This past Thursday night – the evening they were kidnapped – he called to ask about the bus schedule and told me he was about to set out. I had an ominous feeling and asked him to wait until the next morning to travel, which I had never done before. He told me he really wanted to be home that night, if he waited until the morning he wouldn’t get home until midday.

Logically what he was saying made sense and I agreed he should return home that night but the anxious feeling stayed with me until he finally arrived home. The next morning I gave him a big hug and told him I had been really worried. “Really?” he asked, surprised.

He’s right, why should I have been so worried? He’s been traveling home from school for Shabbos almost every week. Sure, I sometimes wonder if he’ll miss a bus but I’ve never had this sick to my stomach feeling about it.

This morning, as I read the news reports of the two 16 year old boys and their 19 year old friend who were abducted by brutal terrorists, I kept thinking of my feeling of dread.

The Israeli Defense Forces are searching and according to the last update, have said the boys are still alive and hidden in the Hevron area. No doubt they’ve kidnapped them with the intention to exchange them for the release of thousands of convicted murderers who are Israeli prisons, as they did in the case of Gilad Shalit. As a people of peace who place a huge value on the sanctity of life, we are at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating with representatives of a culture of death.

Meanwhile, there has been a call from the Palestinian Authority (our ‘peace’ partners) to the Arab community to obstruct the army’s search efforts to find the boys, and the Arab street celebrates the kidnapping. Passing out candies and baked goods is mild compared to the glee being expressed via social media networks at the abduction of children.

As Israelis and people of goodwill around the world wait tensely for news of the kidnapped 3 teenage boys, Palestinians in Gaza distribute sweets in a sick “celebration”. More here: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4530227,00.html We condemn the systemic hate education in Palestinian society that causes people to celebrate such a cowardly act of terrorism. We pray for the safe return of Gilad, Naftali and Elad. #BringBackOurBoys
One of the boys is an American citizen and a petition has been started to demand the American government get involved in his release. (Note – a second petition was started at the same time as this, but this is the official petition to sign. )

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/demand-release-16-year-old-american-student-naftali-frenkel-kidnappers-palestinian-terrorists/Qy2N4R2H

100,000 signatures are necessary for the petition to be considered – please click the orange words and the link will take you to where you can sign. His mother has spoken briefly at a press conference – I have no idea how she managed to get through without crying because not only did I cry listening to her, I tear up just thinking of the emotional agony these parents are going through.

She has said they feel waves of love and support surrounding them and asks for continued prayers, ending by expressing her hope that they will soon be hugging their sons again.

Last night there was a prayer gathering at the Kotel/Western Wall and another at Me’arat Hamachpeila/ Cave of the Ancestors. In the clips of both gatherings, they were singing the same song/prayer: “May God have mercy on us and on them, may He bring us from a place of constriction to place of abundance, from darkness to light, from oppression to redemption, may it be very soon.”

You can say tehillim/psalms as a merit for the return of these three teens by clicking here or here – you can say as much or as little as you want in English or Hebrew online while you sit in front of your computer. The names of the boys are:

Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devora – age 16
Gil-ad Michael ben Bat Galim – age 16
Ayal ben Iris Teshura – age 19
Here in Israel we know this could have been any one of our children that was taken. These three teens are our boys, and our entire country is reeling. Throughout religious schools in Israel today, prayers were said for the boys and in synagogues and yeshivos across the country there will be prayer gatherings for them tonight.

Please, regardless of your religious affiliation, if you are a person of faith, pray with full intention that these young boys are returned home soon, alive and healthy.

May we hear good news soon.

Avivah

Mama Lion’s Pride

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A few days ago our family had a milestone. It is one of those things that, at least in our family, would normally pass by with barely a nod of recognition. I know some people will cringe at my lack of enthusiasm for this particular life event, since I have come face-to-face with some people who seem think this is on par with a pivotal day in a person’s entire life, but that’s not really how we roll…

A few days ago I had a child “graduate” from middle school.

Even as I type that, I feel kind of torn between giggling and being embarrassed that it is a Thing. I also feel embarrassed because I know that to some people this is a really super huge deal and I honestly don’t want to seem like I am making fun of that or demeaning that. It’s just that, in my mind middle school is something you age out of. You pass out of middle school because you’ve done your time and haven’t given them any overwhelming reason to either permanently expel you or perpetually hold you back. So middle school graduation is more like getting paroled from prison than earning a degree from Harvard Med. You are happy your kid served his time and you get onto the next thing. And maybe you have some cake.

But when this particular son “graduated” it was a new thing for our family, and here’s why:

When we came to Seattle a few years ago this was a shy, quiet, go-with-the-flow kid. In our old community he was a little fish in a big pond, and that suited him just fine. His default in times of stress was to kind of shrink into nothing and hope to stay disappeared long enough for the storm to pass. We lived on a block with over a hundred kids, but he had one Very Best Friend, from whom he was practically inseparable, and then a few other close neighbors he played with, but he was definitely not Mr. Adventure.

This is our third year in Seattle and he is like a different person. He has become the king fish in the Seattle pond, but he has done it without running over anyone, and without being mean or cruel. He has none of that obnoxious, ‘Now I’m getting mine!’ thing that some formerly mousey kids get when they go in the other direction. He is still the sweet kind child, but now he is a powerhouse. He has taken on every leadership role he was offered, and then he went and invented a few more he could take on for good measure! He became the go-to guy to get things done, and he has more than a few families who call on him when they want a reliable kid to help them with something. He doesn’t discriminate against how he helps, either. If there is a project he is asked to participate in, there he is, stepping up to put his mark on it.

So when the school staff spoke about each graduate, they talked about this aspect of my child.

I guess it helps to know that he is one of our youngest. In our house sometimes he still gets lumped together with the younger kids, and we- more often than we should- refer to him and his younger sibling as “the littles”. Yeah, we should probably cut that out. Since we are a family with a lot of big personalities, it is still easy for him at home to get steamrolled sometimes, so we don’t always give him his due as a young man who has come into his own.

But at the graduation we saw him how other people see him. We saw how people who don’t have history with him look at him. And we were very very proud.

And then he won an award. It is an award given to the student who does things for the community and steps up and takes a leadership role and shows direction… I’m not sure exactly how it is written, but him getting this award- from a community organization, not from his school!- was hugely validating that he has really become an incredible person.

Not that he wasn’t awesome when he was shy and quiet, but he has just totally reinvented himself in Seattle. He has stepped up his game and become such a giver. This middle school graduation was not about him going from 8th grade into 9th, which to me is like going from 4th to 5th, or from Ohio into Michigan, or from a nap into dinner. This graduation was the marking of a milestone in the transformation of a character.

My son is going from an unassuming boy into a man of quality.

And that is something to celebrate.

I am so so proud of him!

:)

When the Ego Hits the Road

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I find it very humbling that we are never too old or too anything to get a good ole’ fashion gut check from the universe.

If you believe in God (as I do), you can say that He is constantly giving you tests to help you refine your character. If you believe in karma, maybe you can say you just deserve an energetic slap once in a while. And if you believe in other things, you can make what you will of this post.

In my last post I wrote in passing that I was so unwell at one point that I had to resort to using a wheelchair when I went to visit a friend. This past Saturday I had an interesting (read: gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, existential-angst-inspiring) dilemma.

Saturday in our Sabbath, and one of the things we don’t do on the Sabbath is travel by car. Usually that doesn’t pose a problem because I either stay home or walk where I need to go- in spite of the fact that we live in a hilly place, and in this hilly place, we live on an especially hilly street. But on Saturday we were supposed to meet someone, and this meeting was pretty important. Since we also don’t use the phone on the Sabbath it wasn’t an option to call or reschedule, and I didn’t want to send *h alone (for various reasons that don’t matter at all for the purposes of this post). And, in spite of the fact that I am doing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than I was even last week, I was in no way ready to make a trek up our hill.

So I did the Julie thing: mind over matter. ‘Don’t be a baby. Of course you can do it. It’s a hill, not a mountain; you’ve done much harder things in your life than talking a walk- get over yourself! Pull it together- you’re feeling better; of course you can walk around your neighborhood!’ But as much as I tried to psych myself up, I knew in my deepest heart that there was really no way I could do it. I could barely make it to the end of my driveway. I am doing so much better, but I am still not on solid ground, and the chances of me making it up to the end of my street were precisely zero.

This left me with one option if I wanted to get to the meeting, and that was to use my wheelchair. Again.

Humph.

Here’s the thought process (which makes very little sense): If I use the wheelchair once, it’s an aberration. It was a one-off thing. It was a fluke. I had been crazy sick, and the place we went that week was super far. But if I use the wheelchair again, I am going to get dependent on it. It’s going to be like a crutch (funny irony in that comparison, huh?). I’m going to start getting lazy and then just use it all the time and stop doing things for myself. I’m going to let people do everything for me and become spoiled and over-indulged and expect people to push me around everywhere like slaves and that is just so obnoxious. Forget it. I just have to figure out a way to walk.

If I was honest with myself, here’s what I would have been saying: ‘Holy cow, not this again! this scares me on such a deep and profound level. I don’t want to be disabled again. I don’t want people to see me as disabled again and I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want to have to explain myself over and over again, and I don’t want my family to have to be ashamed of me again, and I don’t want to have to reopen all the old wounds which I thought I was over, but which apparently I am not because obviously it is such a struggle for me to use the wheelchair which I clearly need, WHICH SHOULD BE A RED FLAG TO BE THAT MY EGO IS INVOLVED HERE’.

A few weeks ago when I used the chair we left it parked outside of the house we were visiting (I used a cane inside the house). Someone walked in and asked whose wheelchair was outside. I said it was mine and they asked what was broken (looking me up and down and seeing nothing). I said “my brain”. So they said something like, “Hahahahaha no really. Did you hurt your leg or something?” And I said “No, it’s my brain”. And we proceeded to go around in circles with different variations of that same conversation several more times. Now, I suppose in hindsight it would have been more kind to have launched into a more extended explanation of what was going on, because really it just seemed like I was being evasive and stupid/bratty, but also I really don’t want to tell people a huge life story. So it’s a balance that I don’t know how to achieve- especially when I don’t feel well. But it also brought up to me that if I use the wheelchair going forward, there will need to be explanations given, and questions answered- and this is honestly not invasive from people. If a neighbor who looks outwardly fine and normal suddenly shows up in a wheelchair one kind of wonders what’s up. And that’s only fair. The question is how much of my life story is a fair response. It’s not like I’m exactly private about what’s happened- nor should I be. I have no reason to be embarrassed about getting sick; I certainly didn’t do anything wrong.

But there is always that weird thing that hangs in the air once you are out of the closet publicly, right? That people don’t know quite how to just be around you, because now they know stuff, and they don’t know whether to acknowledge it or to just “act normal” around you- as if you have undergone a transformation from who you were before they knew your big secret. And if you were raised to be decent- as most of us were- you feel guilt in the face of their discomfort. And that makes you feel ashamed of having this condition… this circumstance…this thing that is controlling whether or not you can visit a friend without a public show of weakness.

And that’s all hard stuff. Especially when it’s not in a vacuum.

Because I also have my kids who are heroes extraordinaire, and just want me to be happy and have the best life possible, but who also have feelings around having a mom who is physically unpredictable. They have a long history of their own struggles with seeing me in various states of illness or wellness and this brings up hard issues for them too.

And as much as *h has stepped up a million times over in the last month (and even pushed me up these gargantuan hills!), and hasn’t expressed even the slightest hint of anything negative about me being- um, let’s say ‘compromised’ for the last little while- he’s way too young and healthy to not have any feeling about seeing his wife in a wheelchair- again…

But truthfully on that day my struggle wasn’t with any of these things. If I am very honest my real angst on that day was that if people saw me again using a wheelchair I was going to be a disabled person again, and I was struggling with whether or not I was ready or able to embrace that identity. Unlike someone who has never walked this road before, I have spun these tires.

When I lived in Detroit, plenty of people knew me before I got sick. They saw the vibrant functioning person I was, so even after I lost most of it, they were still able to keep a picture in mind of the old me.

In Seattle, I am just Compromised Julie. I Don’t Do Things. I Can’t Do Things. My son told me the other day that I am unreliable, which isn’t quite true. I try hard to be scrupulously reliable once I commit to something- it’s just that I barely ever commit to anything because I never know how I will be feeling from one day to the next.

So I feel like going back to the chair here is taking the next step down into the vortex. Back in Detroit I had the strength to pull myself out, but here I’m afraid I might get sucked all the way in (that’s totally fear talking- anyone who knows me for real knows that I have a fighting spirit and I only question myself when I don’t feel well…).

I guess the bottom line is that I still have things to learn about humility and grace and who-knows-what. I thought I was way past whatever I could have learned from being in a wheelchair, but apparently that isn’t the Grand Plan for my life right now. I can’t say that whatever happens I will make the best of it, because I am not really a make-lemonade-out-of-lemons kind of girl.

I’m more of a toss-the-lemons-in-the-air-and-use-them-for-target-practice-as-a-method-of-stress-relief sort of person, but hey- sometimes I say, whatever gets you through the day ;)

Sometimes all you can do is just take things as they come and do your best to hope you get it right.

Really, what’s the other option?

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