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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

In the Meantime...

These are my new friends. There's a couple of journals I bound myself (I am particularly fond of the one I made from a deconstructed cigar box. There are two travel watercolor sets (because what if something happened to one of them?), a spray bottle, some water brushes and a small cigar box with pens and pencils in it.

I am still sketching every day. This feeds something in me that needs feeding. I believe a part of this is my need to connect with my dad in a new way. I'm not painting for him. He can't see anymore and he's not present a lot of the time, but I suspect that it is some deeper connection--a shared love that I am celebrating. He inherited this love from his mother and I got it from him. I am sharing it with my nieces. It's a circle of life thing.

Speaking of Dad, I went to visit him on Sunday. Jill beat me there and she had him all wound up and talking. She's really good with him. She was asking him questions and he was really animated. It was good to see him happy. I'm glad I went and I'm especially glad Jill was there too. I wish I was better at interacting with him right now. I just have so many feelings about all of it that I get tangled up and I freeze. I'm going to have to face this anger to work through it. I don't do anger well. My M.O. is to stuff it and be surprised when it seeps from my pores. This isn't staying stuffed very well this time. It's making my body ache. I'm tired a lot. The waterworks have become more unpredictable. I know these are signs of depression, as we are well acquainted and the painting is a part of my treatment of that as well. Creative activities, soul feeding, help me slow down and listen to my thoughts without having them drag me around the block.

Poor Big Daddy has his own row to hoe himself. He's seven weeks into a job we thought was going permanent and the word is today that the family is still undecided. That's it. That's the only word. They don't tell him what's wrong, what they expect, what they'd like to see, nothing. There are a lot of very nice things about this job but seven weeks of wandering in the dark wondering what they want from him isn't one of the nice things. Seems like the Kelleys are just going to have to pull out the serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I hope you are finding a quiet spot for reflection. Peace, love and watercolor.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love is a Decision

This is a sketch from my journal. I am in love with sketching. Yesterday I stopped in front of Race Trac to draw my view of the  Sonic across the parking lot. I couldn't throw away the empty ketchup bottle until I drew it. I am a little consumed. Sue me. I drew on a 3x5 during the sermon on Sunday. In my defense, I still remember the sermon as a result of the sketching so there is that bonus! I go through these really intense phases and then they pass. Sometimes they circle back around (art, reading, writing, riding my bike) and sometimes they don't. This is a view of Big Daddy as he looks in his recliner most nights. I like the picture of him sleeping even though his ear looks really orange in my photo. I love that face. I love to see him relaxed. Sometimes that feeling fills me up and sometimes I can't find that feeling at all. The good news is that I don't believe the feeling is the love. I like it when it circles back around, but those feelings are the sparkles in our relationship but the important part is what's underneath the sparkles.

When I was rediscovering the world outside of my hamster ball, someone told me that love is a decision followed by action. He was pretty adamant that love was not a feeling and being impressionable I borrowed that and parroted it as fact. I had a lot of experience with infatuation and obsession but not much experience with love so his definition sounded as good as any but deep down I believed in fairy dust and unicorns with flowers in their tails and standing in the rain holding up a jam box. (Which is kind of funny since I never saw that movie.)

My first practical experience with love as an adult was in learning to be friends and man, did I go through a lot of friends! I didn't know how to pick. I didn't know how to accept that people change sometimes. I didn't understand how to manage the give and take, so many of my friendships died from imbalance or inattention. Some of my best friendships have been this exercise where we build little barriers and then tear them down, build a little fort and then tear it down. Right now I have a friendship that is like a super cool tree house we built together that we don't play in enough, but it's there and there's a great comfort knowing it's ours. I have a few friendships that feel like home base--friends that I know I'm "safe" with. These friends are teachers. They teach me about myself. They teach me about God. Some let me mess up and come back. Some let me go on to find something that fits better...

When my husband and I fell in love he was adorable. He fell Disney-style and it was pretty easy to get swooped up by the bluebirds and bunnies and tattoo "happily ever after" on our behinds. Our wedding was wonderful, our honeymoon was a celebration for two and then the married part unfolded. I remember overhearing him talking on the phone with his dad sometime around our first anniversary and he said, "I never understood when people said being married is hard work. I get it now." I couldn't argue. It is hard learning to be partners. It is hard learning to communicate, compromise and collaborate (and we're really not there on the collaboration yet). It is hard to love someone and not only can you not seem to get on the same page, you're not even looking in the same book. It's hard knowing something you're doing makes your partner unhappy and not being able to change yet because change takes time and effort, and sometimes it takes a lot of tries. It's hard but we stay. We stay and we try to talk. We stay and we turn the page. We stay and send the text explaining what we should have said...we stay because we make the decision to stay and we take the action to make staying okay. And on our best days we remind each other why we choose each other today.

I know Valentines Day is a bummer for a lot of people. Trust me. I've done a lot of single Valentines Days. I've watched co-workers with their six dozen roses and their Tiffany boxes. I've threatened to ram my car into the next florist's van I saw. I've spent my share of February 14ths weeping in a bubble bath and I've had some really fun ones where I delivered goodies and cards to friends and family because who says I can't celebrate all kinds of love on Valentines Day? But this year, I'm going to celebrate the decision. I'm going to celebrate the actions that keep me connected to this lovely man I choose again and again and again. This year I'm going to celebrate the fact that we continue to work at being better to and for each other and I'm probably going to eat some heart-shaped chocolates in the process.

Here's my favorite quote about love by Toni Morrison (buckle up, this is big):

“Let me tell you about love, that silly word you believe is about whether you like somebody or whether somebody likes you or whether you can put up with somebody in order to get something or someplace you want or you believe it has to do with how your body responds to another body like robins or bison or maybe you believe love is how forces or nature or luck is benign to you in particular not maiming or killing you but if so doing it for your own good. Love is none of that. There is nothing in nature like it. Not in robins or bison or in the banging tails of your hunting dogs and not in blossoms or suckling foal. Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God. You do not deserve love regardless of the suffering you have endured. You do not deserve love because somebody did you wrong. You do not deserve love just because you want it. You can only earn - by practice and careful contemplations - the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it. Which is to say you have to earn God. You have to practice God. You have to think God-carefully. And if you are a good and diligent student you may secure the right to show love. Love is not a gift. It is a diploma. A diploma conferring certain privileges: the privilege of expressing love and the privilege of receiving it. How do you know you have graduated? You don't. What you do know is that you are human and therefore educable, and therefore capable of learning how to learn, and therefore interesting to God, who is interested only in Himself which is to say He is interested only in love. Do you understand me? God is not interested in you. He is interested in love and the bliss it brings to those who understand and share the interest. Couples that enter the sacrament of marriage and are not prepared to go the distance or are not willing to get right with the real love of God cannot thrive. They may cleave together like robins or gulls or anything else that mates for life. But if they eschew this mighty course, at the moment when all are judged for the disposition of their eternal lives, their cleaving won't mean a thing. God bless the pure and holy. Amen.”

Peace, love and little foil wrappers!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Is Fat a Four-Letter Word?

Today Big Daddy and I made our "Facebook turns ten" videos and a couple of my posts were about losing weight. I was a little embarrassed for a second and then I got honest with myself and the truth is that a lot of my life is and has been devoted to making peace with my body. The bad news is that this is a life-long journey. The good news is that I'm making progress.

I read an article today encouraging folks to boycott the sponsors of "The Biggest Loser" in an effort to get the show off the air. The writer asserted that the show is a game show based on fat shaming and unhealthy tactics to lose massive amounts of weight at a break-neck pace. While I don't know that I'm on board with the crusade, I will say that I don't watch the show because I look like the women on that show and I really don't need Jillian Michaels shouting at me. Thanks but no thanks. If there's one thing a I can get to all by myself, it's self loathing and I work pretty hard not to let anyone be unkind to me--even me.

I recently had a discussion with some friends about the word fat. It seems that among many of my friends, fat is a mean-spirited word that elicits gasps when uttered. I just don't feel that way. I feel like it's an adjective just like short or blonde or left-handed. Maybe the difference is that one doesn't get to choose how tall or short they are or what hand they favor. I don't know. I don't get it but one of the interesting things that came out of that discussion was that I said, "I am well aware that when there is some confusion about which Jennifer people are talking about, I am described as the fat one. I'm okay with that. It makes sense to me." Both friends were quick to say that no one they knew ever described me as "the fat one." Apparently I am the funny one. Oh. Hmmm. I guess I identify myself by size more quickly than others do. Hmmmmm.

So in an effort to feed what is good and healthy and happy about having this glorious container, I'm going to take a risk and post ten things I like about my relationship with my body:

1. I'm strong. When I work, I really work. I lift and haul stuff and I don't need Big Daddy to do it for me. I do it myself.

2. My weight does not keep me from feeling pretty when feeling pretty is important to me.

3. I don't have to feel pretty to feel good about myself. My body is one aspect of who I am but there are certainly other parts of me that I treasure and value and I REALLY REALLY REALLY believe that if you miss out on who I am because of how I look it's your loss. I'm not just saying that. I 100% believe that (now that I'm not dating anyone but Big Daddy).

4. I am learning how to fuel my machine the right way. I had a friend suggest Paleo eating to me several years ago and I immediately shot it down as something too extreme for me to be able to do. Big Daddy and I eat a high protein low-carb diet six days a week with limited dairy and no sugar and no starches (except for legumes) and it's just not a big deal most of the time.

5. I have incorporated some form of exercise into my routine three to four times a week (and that will go up when I can ride my bike again)!

6. I have stopped relying on my scale to tell me how well or how badly I am doing. I know if I'm eating like I'm supposed to. I know if I'm exercising. That's all I really need to know isn't it? I don't think I have weighed myself in over ten days. Only the people who have been on the scale more than once a day (for weeks or months) will understand this one.

7. Along those lines, I have stopped comparing myself to all my gorgeous friends and to my younger self. I wish that I had known that a size nine was not HUGE when I was sixteen but I didn't because I was busy comparing myself to girls with better genes and better habits than I had. I wore a size five the summer I ate only tuna fish and cans of green beans and that's as long as that lasted. I was miserable.

8. My body works the way it is supposed to. I am strong and (believe it or not) healthy. I sleep well. I don't have stomach or heart problems. I am taking action in and effort to keep type 2 at bay. I don't smoke anymore. I don't drink alcohol. I have cut way back on soft drinks. I have fought most of my demons and the others are getting rather nervous.

9. I am honest with myself and others when I am doing well or when I am struggling with taking care of myself. I think the hardest part about getting better is getting and staying honest.

10. I am persistent and I am making progress!

Peace, love and protein! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Today Big Daddy declared that today I would be making all decisions. We left the house and promptly had a flat tire. Big Daddy bought new tires this week so he was super thrilled but we trudged on and had a good day. Around six he asked me what I wanted for dinner and I didn't have a clue so I got a little thinkish and did a little googilinating and I came up with an adventure. We went here and had this:
If you have never experienced chicken and waffles, I'm going to assert that this is a culinary spiritual experience. My first bite was just chicken and waffle. For my second flavor combo I went with the chicken, waffle and gravy. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. After awhile I couldn't stand it so I went for it with the chicken, waffles and syrup. I made noises that made other diners uncomfortable. Big Daddy being a true adventurer went for the waffle, syrup, chicken and gravy "full monty." The thing that made this super fantastic bubble plastic to me is that it's like eating dinner and dessert all at the same time with no vegetables clogging up the works. It was the perfect cheat day meal! 

I hope you're enjoying your weekend! Peace, love and finger lickin' waffle yum.