Neighborhood Pavement

This past week I’ve been walking each day from one to two miles, depending on my endurance and how much my ankles hate me. I’ve been outside, and it has been strangely cool for what is normally a sweltering, sticky July in hotbox east Texas. The skies have been overcast, but not too gray, and I’ve bravely stretched out socks – I can never find women’s running socks for my size 11 boats – and tied on my Pumas, locked the house door behind me, and tackled the neighborhood pavement.

I have even rocked an awesome pseudo-fanny pack.

It has felt so good to be outside and to accomplish. Then I get home. Today, I just couldn’t do it. Today, I have sat in my dark house all day. As I write this, the only light I see is through my front door, the half circle window at the top, where I can see the first bits of blue sky in days; just enough through the green tree top that lets me know it is sunny outside. I can’t decide what is worse, staying inside indefinitely or going outside only to come back to this dark place again.

Neighbors: I’m Nervous, Unsure, and Diffident

I am nervous about tomorrow, my D-Day of determining whether I have the real guts necessary to meet my neighbors. Well, it is beyond nervous and beyond just meeting them. I’m so anxious that my medicine isn’t working for my anxiety disorder…my heart quickens and my breath shortens into fast, nasal inhalations so that oxygen continues to pump through me, but I’m feeling like tomorrow’s uncertainess is swirling around me and I’m not really in my body, but more like I’m looking at myself go through this painful experience.

And tomorrow is more than dropping off tiny, Christmas gifts at the door, regardless if they are home or not. Tomorrow is about action and engagement: fellowshiping and building relationships. Why am I so scared? The worst thing that could happen is that no one comes and I’m left with twelve dozen eggs sitting there. No, the worst thing that could happen is that I start a conversation and then end up making a fool of myself by whatever comes out of my mouth. The worst thing that could happen is that I don’t build any relationships and I’m left with nothing.

I believe in a real, viable Devil who sends out thoughts of uncapability, that scare us into thinking that we can’t do what God tells us He needs us to do. The Devil has infiltrated my plan already; my husband will be in Dallas tomorrow and there is enough of a chance that we might not make it back home in time (although he assures me he’ll be back with no problem), the weather is supposed to be coooold – 57 degree high, but that is cooold for this time of year in Texas, and now the anxiety attacks.

Please pray for our work tomorrow and what can be accomplished through a simple egg hunt. I hope to update you all with happy and relieved thoughts afterwards!

My Update Hits a Road Block

I’ve been feeling the need to give an update on my neighbor project, my Spanish usage, and anything else that involves this blog.  However, I’m hitting a road block.  There are plenty of ideas driving in cars, but the writing police are saying, “Hold up, you can’t drive through, you can’t go this way.” 

I’m reading a very interesting book that my father recommended to me, because he said, “It sounds like you.”  It is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, a book, in which he writes about writing.  I’m at the point in which he is attempting to explain to his publishers the concept of the book.  He states, “all of us are living stories, and those stories teach other people to live stories.  And what our stories are about matters, not just for us but for the world” (125). 

It makes me wonder what my story, my blog, is teaching others.  Has it really made a difference in any one of your lives, or am I just writing to hear my fingers type on the keyboard as if I’m trying to play a highly staccato song?

I have hit this road block and there is a lot of honking in my head.  I see flashing lights, warning me to stay back.  I can picture police officers in long trench coats, telling me and my ideas to turn around because there is danger up ahead.

I’m not sure where my story goes from here.

Neighbors: Reader Advice Needed

I brought up my “neighbor project” in my small group fellowship this evening as an example of the correlation of faith and action.  However, as I reflected, post response, I realized that I really hadn’t done much of late towards my neighbor project.  Short of saying hello to the neighbor at our school Fall Festival, I hadn’t really reached out to any more of the unknown neighbors.  In fact, lately I’ve been kind of not-so-neighborly in my thoughts and words behind the closed front door.

I’ve posted before about the little tyrants [ahem, children] in our neighborhood.  Since new families have moved in, bringing new children with very different learning of what is socially acceptable than I, I’ve slowly fallen backwards into my “curmudgeon next door” ways.  I find myself griping about the kids walking through our yard when there is a perfectly good street three feet away; it’s always too loud outside after hours; the kids just won’t get out of the middle of the street when I’m trying to pull into my garage.  I get so frustrated that I’m frustrated about being frustrated.  I’m ready to be okay with the children doing whatever they do outside and not stressing about it.

What should be my next move?  Do I try to work on my approach to the children in the neighborhood or do I move on to the next unknown neighbor?

Diffident Observer Equals Diffident Voter

I hate discussing politics.  The fact that I’m writing about them now causes all sorts of nauseousness rising in me like a volcano.  The main reason I hate discussing them is because, the “conversation” is mostly me listening to someone else rant about why such-and-such president/candidate is not a good fit for our country.  I’m not that passionate about either side, because I don’t take sides.  I’m a peacemaker, a stand-in-the-corner-while-others-hash-it-out type, a write-about-it-later-but-never-utter-a-word-in-person type.

I hold personal beliefs that both Democrats and Republicans are for and against and so I can never decide.   When I listen to political debates, all I hear is “money, money, money” and “this is who should get it.”  As a Christian voter, I’m equally torn.  Many Christians believe that in order to fix our country we need to tell people that they can’t have abortions and they can’t be gay.  Many Christians believe it’s not right to favor those who won’t take personal responsibility and clean up, shape up, and move up the economic ladder. Alternatively, other Christians feel it is right to be the voice for the lower class, even when some of those in this class don’t try to help themselves.

I find myself adhering to my Republican beliefs when I am among my conservative friends and my Democratic beliefs when I am with my liberal friends.  This shapeshifting is a conundrum for the undecided voter.  I want to be true to myself, but there are just some issues that I worry about facing if I vote a particular way.

It turns out, I won’t get to vote a particular way, or justify my actions to my conservative or liberal friends. I recently looked up my voter status, because I couldn’t remember seeing my card anywhere.  It was effective September 2008 through January 2012.  Awesome.

~~~~~

I’d like to end this post with a Bible verse:  1 Timothy 6:7-10

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Mission Pt. 2

Nineteen days ago, I said I was going to venture out and meet my neighbors.  This daunting task has still not happened.  Believe me, I’ve thought about it.  Nearly every time I drive into the garage with my three kids in tow, I think, “go ring someone’s doorbell.”  But then the kids start screaming for what they want or the oppressive 114 degree weather of east Texas shoves me into my nice, air conditioned, but most importantly – safe – house.

The worse part, though, is when I start justifying why I haven’t gone over there…more than just using the kids and the heat as my reasons.  I use the fact that my neighbors haven’t initited contact with me as the ultimate talk down of why it just isn’t necessary to branch out and get to know the people who are literally the closest to me.

“If they haven’t tried to meet you, then it’s okay for you not to try to meet them.  You’ve lived here longer; they should have introduced themselves when they moved in here after.”  These are only some of the things that circulate inside my head.

I have challenged myself, but how do I hold myself accountable?  I thought that writing it out for the public to see would be my motivator, but that hasn’t been enough.  There are people that could use a neighbor like me, I hope.  Why is it so hard to get over my qualms?

Torn

As I embark on a potential switch in careers while carrying our third child and wanting the best for him/her, I find myself simply torn.  I battle with serious depression and anxiety, for which I am medicated, but the rift within me seems so much greater than any kind of medical diagnosis.  I want the life of a mother raising her children in a focused and loving environment, but I would be devastated if not given the opportunity to use my intelligence and abilities. 

 Fortunately, we cannot afford for me not to work.  While I find myself dreaming of the picturesque day when I could get in some writing before my children wake up, prepare a nutritious breakfast for them to feast upon, have a day lined out with brainwave enhancing activities for them to practice, and retire in the evening with three in the hay and a nice glass of wine in my hand, I know that this will not be a possibility in any near future of mine.  I have married “under” me, which is a term that inherently seems elitist and probably is more than I would like it to be, but at the time of our marriage my husband had no college degree besides his Associates and worked in manual labor.  I, on the other hand, came from a family in which both parents held masters in their fields and I personally was four months shy of my Bachelors.  I graduated with honors and felt that I was smarter than he.  In truth, I do sound elitist. 

 Work, though, is something I have to do because of my intelligence.  I’m inquisitive and simply enjoy learning.  If there was an occupation in which I could sit, listen, take notes, write papers based on all I’ve learned, and then hopefully be praised by others, I would take it in a heartbeat.  There may be variations of occupations with these prerequisites, like being a Researcher, but to my knowledge no such job truly exits.  However, that does not keep me from seeking a job that could definitely use these skills, these favors towards continual education. Work is a place where I can separate myself from “mother of three” and just be. 

 The rift that I previously referred to has grown stronger since the uncertainties have loomed larger.  This rift caused me to ravenously search Amazon for a book that just might give me a glimpse into another woman’s life, whom might just be experiencing what I was.  Then I found it, a buoy in a sea to which I could hang on to and simply rest when the uncertainties chased me like the current. Samantha Parent Walravens compiled Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood which is a collection of stories from women all over the world who sent in their day-by-day struggles with balancing children and career.

 I began reading the stories after one of my largest meltdowns I had had in awhile.  After reading a couple of the true tales, my emotions swung like a pendulum to another side of peace, a place I could navigate knowing I was not alone.  God had blessed me with a gift in Walravens’ compilation and I am compelled to share it with women that I know could use it. 

 One such glimpse into a woman’s life struck just the right chord.  Lindsey Mead, in her story “A Foot in Two Worlds” talks about her prestigious Ivy League education being wasted when scaling back in the professional world to align herself with her family goals.  Her fears resonate with me as I hope that one day I will be able to continue in my pursuit of my masters and doctorate in English and that my education and all the money I will spend to attain that education will be worth it and not a detriment to my husband and children. 

 I strongly encourage anyone reading this who may have the same fears and tears in her life to read this book.  It is a fabulous look at what modern mothers struggle with in our society today.  I pray it gives you the sense of peace it has offered me in these past few days.  It might just give you some direction as well. 

 References:

 Mead, Lindsey.  “A Foot in Two Worlds.”  Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the

            Conflict of Modern Motherhood.  27 April 2011.  Coffeetown Press. 

            Originally published online in PAW (Princeton Alumni Weekly), September 22, 2010.

 Parent Walravens, Samantha.  Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of

            Modern Motherhood.  27 April 2011.  Coffeetown Press.