Joy, revisited

 

joy

Really? Really?  Really. Is that what joy is supposed to look like? Cuz my joy hasn’t looked anything like that all year long.  Not even one iota close. Maybe wish it had, maybe it would have felt like the earth moved and the world changed a bit for me, yes, for once, for ME! But nah,  it didn’t.

But what did my joy feel like this year?  Was it quiet? Was it rumbling? Was it at least happy? Let me show you a few pics of what my joy felt like…..

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nothing like mom and daughter bonding! 

 

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Getting ready to celebrate K’s 12th birthday!

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Our new dog, Cooper! 

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Messy hair and out to eat! 

These are the celebrations of joy we had. None were really jump out of our skin into the air moments, and I know it’s not all of our joyful moments of the year. It’s just few that K and I have had along the way. I can tell you that there were definitely more joyful moments in the latter part of 2015 than the beginning because big changes happened in the middle of the summer for both of us for the BETTER!!!! Let me tell you, that made a world of difference in the joyfulness of our lives. More on that when I’m on my laptop to type. But for now, more to think on.  What does joy feel like to you? Like that first pic? Or something in between?

~Julie

Thinking back over 2015

My word for this year was JOY. hmmm.

When I was young and going to Bible school at DeerCreek Lutheran Church, I remember learning that joy represented:

J= Jesus

O= Others

Y= You

That was for us to remember the order in which we pray and give thanks.  Jesus first, then for others,  then yourself.  I still think that is a pretty cool formula!

I want to do more thinking and writing on this subject of joy and what it has meant to me throughout this past year. I will do more in the coming days. 💜

Long Days and Nights

Today is January 2, 2015 and it already feels like it should be later in the year.  I certainly doesn’t feel like only 2 days into a new one.  I wrote this letter to a couple very very good friends of mine at  LifeChurch in Oklahoma asking for prayer.  I am going to paste it here because I don’t want to retype it….too tired tonight.

Dear Friends
Don’t know if you are here the rest of this holiday week or will be back the 6th when Austin gets back.  I sent this email to him as well.  I wrote this in regards to the difficulties I am having with my 11 year old Katey. She has ADHD and it’s going through a lot of non constructive behaviors.  She had a change in medication , I think about 3-4 weeks ago and I think that it is making her more angry and aggressive.  She is threatening me, like throwing stuffed animals and barbies, etc. but it’s just getting worse for her even after we decided to change schools. I wanted you to help me pray for guidance and making good decisions in what the next step should be. I need some added support from my trusted long time support folks at LC.  I really don’t know what to do next.  Her mental health social worker will be coing tomorrow to spend some time with us and we will be talking about options and things that may help or not.  
Well since that phone call, I have gotten other news. Today my mom called me very early this morning. Oh the rollercoaster of emotion today. Overwhelmed to say the least. Need strong, bold, healing prayers for my nephew, Jesse, who was airlifted Mercy Hospital in Mason City early this morning. He has a long road of healing ahead of him. 
He was asleep on his girlfriend’s couch and woke up to her punching him in the face.  I have no clue what that was about.  He got very angry and left. He was also very drunk. One of his buddies was going to drive him out to my mom’s, but he was ticked and left anyway. Mason, his friend, tried and tried to get in front of him in his truck to get him slow down. But Jesse would keep passing him. Jesse was eventually going about 80 mph my mom said. He was just past my brother’s place (his dad) and just before Chelsea’s place (step-sister), when he hit s very deep embankment and then hit a pole just before the bridge at the beginning of the Deer Creek bridge. He was not wearing his seatbelt…then ejected sideways out of the driver’s side window of his truck. Mason was still with him. He couldn’t find him at first because Jesse was ejected from the truck. He called 911. The Northwood first responders came and then called the Mercy Life Flight to get him to Mercy Hospital in Mason City Iowa as soon they could. 
He has a severe flap/cut on his head all the way to his skull…about 200 stitches and staples, where his head hit the glass going through the door window. He broke his nose and has stitches across that as well. Gashes on his cheek and forehead that required stitches too.  He smashed his optical bones in his left eye but his eye is ok and intact.  He broke a bunch of ribs resulting in getting his lung punctured and totally deflated. He has a tube in it right now as it is still not doing what it is supposed to be doing. He broke 4 of those little tree like structures that come out of the main vertebrae, I believe they cover or protect the nerves. They are cracked and broken and the doctors don’t believe that they can be fixed. Jesse also broke his pelvis. Contusions on the bones in his legs. Lots of road rash. 
He will be in intensive care for awhile until they can get his lung to function again and his blood pressure to stabilize. My mom will be staying there with my brother, Jerry (Jesse’s dad).
—There was a praise in all this today too.  My niece Amanda, my brother’s daughter, has been estranged from all our family (by her choice) for the past 4-5 years.)  She has gotten married and none of our family went to the wedding.  But today…Amanda came right down to the hospital at 5am…right to Jesse’s side.  She didn’t want to leave him.  When Jerry and my mom came in, she gave my brother (her dad) and my mom (grammy) the biggest hugs and there were many many tears of  JOY!!!  (My One Word for 2015)  When my mom called to give me one last update this evening, mom asked Amanda if she would talk to me for a few minutes.  So I talked with her.  I cried.  I told her how much I have missed her.  I asked her about her job.  I asked how her new marriage was going.  I also asked if we could  get together and talk some more. We have another Christmas party down in Iowa this coming Saturday.  We are going to cut that visit short so we can head to Mason City to see Jesse.  Then we will travel back through my hometown of Northwood to stop at the restaurant to visit Amanda for a few.  I can’t wait to hug that girl!! 
I won’t be going down any sooner unless things get worse. I have way to much on my plate with Katey at the moment. Lots of things and decisions that need to be made soon. Her mental health social worker will be here tomorrow and we will be talking about what the next step will be. I do know she will be going through more testing and functioning skills also. 
So much stuff. I’m a tad overwhelmed and feeling a lot of body pain from my autoimmune disorders. My immune cells are fighting with each other and have landed in my voice box.  So I sound really funny with a crackly voice.  I will need to find some doctor to take do some extensive testing to figure out what autoimmune stuff is going on.
Thank you for praying for my family and me  We love you and thank you for taking the time to be there for for us.
Blessings.
If those of you that follow my blog are of the praying type…please keep Jesse and the rest of my family in your prayers.  Jesse has a long healing road ahead of him.  I got a call from my mom and he is still in ICU, his lung is still collapsed and the tube is still in place.  He is bruising really bad.  He is in tons of pain.  When the nursing staff moves him just a little he cries out in extreme pain.  He needs all the prayers he can get.  My brother does too.  His heart is breaking.  Thank you, my friends.
No sleep last night. I’ve been awake since the day before yesterday. I hope to get some sleep soon.  I have taken my night medicine and should be getting to bed soon.
I hope your new year is off to a good start.
Blessings and peace,
Jerry (L) and Jesse (R)

Jerry (L) and Jesse (R)

Thinking about expectations

‘Tis the season of expectations and the dreaded let downs.  I have been thinking a lot about expectations in general.  I had a conversations a very long time ago with an old friend who told me, my expectations of other people were way too high.  Since then, I have questioned and analyzed my thinking and what my expectations are doing to my friendships and my relationships with my family.

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This picture is exactly what my life reveals right now.  We all have expectations in our lives: what we want out of life and who we want to become. I think one of the keys to happiness lies within the way you handle your expectations of people and circumstances. If you do not have expectations, you can never be disappointed. Speaking from experience, many times I tend to believe that the way I treat others will be the way I will treated in return. But, unfortunately, this does not always happen.

You need to make sure you enter into relationships with someone who has as big of a heart as you do. If you do not, you may feel as if you are being taken advantage of or are being shortchanged. You need to find people who appreciate what you do for them and who will reciprocate these actions.

Having realistic expectations will allow you to accept the flaws each person has. We need to learn how to take responsibility for our own lives and our own decisions before we can expect others to do the same. I have yet to learn this completely.

One of the biggest challenges we face in life, is learning to accept people for who they truly are. Once you realize that your expectations cannot change people, the better off you will be. The problem will come when the expectations do not happen. If you find that you are going out of your way many more times than the people you surround yourself with, it may be time to find a new group of friends.  This is where I do and do and do for people and my expectations don’t return.

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Unrealistic expectations can and will, and most often lead to disappointment. Too many people are obsessed with finding the perfect career or the perfect spouse, and as a result become increasingly frustrated when this does not work out.  I am one of those who are looking for the perfect job and the perfect relationship/boyfriend.  I have become angry and frustrated when things just aren’t as perfect as I want them to be.

A difficult assumption of having high expectations in certain circumstances is that we stay away from enjoying the experience altogether. If you feel this way in your life, you need to adjust your expectations. Do not expect things out of situations, just go into them with an open mind. This will allow you to fully engage yourself without the pressure of living up to defined concepts.  This makes total sense to me but seems so much harder to do. I kind of meld myself into what my surroundings are.

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When you have unrealistic expectations for people, you place yourself at a high risk of getting disappointed and hurt. This has happened soooo many times that I can’t count them all.  Yes, maybe someone did let you down in certain areas, but isn’t it naturally unfair to have these people on such a pedestal?  Maintaining an honest awareness of your own realities, you become able to determine what is really expected from others.

These kinds disappointment can lead to many outcomes, including trying to get this person to change and/or increased anger and frustration toward the person who is causing the disappointment. This becomes a problem since the fault lies with you for putting such pressure on this person.

There is contradictory issues when it comes to this. If you have high expectations, you can often end up disappointed, but if you don’t have these expectations, you may not try as hard as you could to accomplish a goal. These tendencies can turn people into perfectionists, which is far from a healthy lifestyle.  Let me just say that perfectionism is very exhausting and hard to keep up with.

 

Acceptance is an amazing trait that needs to be actively worked on. When things do not work out the way we had planned, it is much more beneficial to realize that is how life works rather than becoming frustrated at the situation. Have hope rather than expectations and you will tend not to be as disappointed.

 I am actively working on the acceptance of not putting expectations on people.

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Too Sensitive?

Plenty of terrible, shitty things have happened in my life. Those things, are pretty much second to the good and incredible things.  But somehow they seem to hold more significance than the positive.  R told me this, last night.  I am not so sure I see most things in a negative light.  Undoubtedly though, something happens and I find myself crawling out of that tiny, tight, dark space, gasping for air and stretching myself in search for some light. I repeatedly question my capacity to endure. Even though I’ve survived a million different things, I look at myself and feel so defenseless. Sending myself those messages, “You can’t handle anything. The smallest bit of wounded feelings could send you teetering over the edge at any moment. So just go ahead and sit with that. Wait for the other shoe to drop with your muscles impeded and tight and your brain spinning a million miles per hour and that’s what you get for being weak and defenseless.” The one problem for me, though, is that I don’t even understand why I do this to myself. I don’t even know what “weakness” I’m referring to. R also has told me that I am too sensitive.  Is it because I get dark when I feel some uncomfortable feeling or something? Is it because, in times of sorrow or grief or mourning, I find it incredibly difficult to scrape myself off of the ground and face the day? Is it because there are times when I feel this way, even when my life looks well assembled and pleasing from the outside? Is it times when I am so overwhelmed that I am paralyzed to even move or make a decision?  Is it because I get teary at things that touch my heart so much that the tears just begin to fall?

I know a lot of my anxiety comes from expectations. Expectations for myself, for the world around me, for the people in my life, for my career path, for my romantic life, etc etc etc. I could go on for days listing the expectations I’ve devised.  I am basically setting myself up for failure from the start. I realized this in a few of my friendships. I feel like I give and give and give to people.  I know in my heart that I am not wanting anything in return but my head says that they should be returning the favor.  Should there be some standard I hold myself to, strictly to challenge myself into failing, so I could prove my point, that I’m not capable or good enough? That I’m not too old or energetic enough or strong enough or smart enough? Why do I do this to myself?

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Second, there’s too much anxiety that comes as a result of being a highly sensitive person. I don’t love buying into the cliché with self-descriptions, but this is a real thing. My energy is sacred and limited. I’ve come to discover many things that drain my energy: being in loud, crowded spaces without a hole to collect myself in. Spending too much time with extremely extroverted people, who I can’t keep up with. Trying to solve so many of my daughters issues and conflicts.  My therapist suggested that I’m also probably losing a great deal of physical energy as a result of the above mentioned expectations. His perfect imagery of a runner, muscles clenched, crouched at the starting line, preparing for the gun to go off, really got through to me. For weeks, before any anticipated events in my life (even seeing my own family) I tighten up and begin to cycle through the conversations and scenarios and thoughts and expectations and potential outcomes and the million of feelings I could experience. This happens more so with anything that has to do with K.  I try to plan ahead to put out fires before they happen.  To figure out what her next meltdown is going to be like.  It really is like being a runner, waiting at the starting line all day, every day, for a race that doesn’t start until next month. It’s no surprise why I’m exhausted (actually, it was quite a surprise. Being the self-obsessed person I am, he had a very valid explanation for my fatigue.)

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I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had such incredible access to mental health services for such a long time. Now my 2nd super kick-ass therapist, I realize just how much these resources can do to help a person heal. There’s so much to be said about both of my therapists(Ang in Iowa and Adam here) and the experiences I’ve had. The way I’ve opened and challenged myself, has never easy.   I think there is a lot within my story that can be of use to other people, especially those in similar places in their lives. I vow to always be candid and straightforward as I continue to share my relationship with mental health, therapy, and struggle with life and in my relationships with others. 

Nearing the Holidays

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I know, I know, the holidays are coming up quickly.  I used to like them all at this time of year but have become more cynical, no that’s not the word I want to use.  I am more and more hurt by the actions of my family of origin.  When I was in my late teens and early 20’s, there seemed to be an unwritten rule in my house that bringing someone with for the holiday was ok and great.  The more fellowship the merry.  If someone has no place, bring them home with ya….mom and all of us will make the food that will fill the tummies of a lifetime.

Somewhere along the way that unwritten rule has gotten questioned and wrinkled up noses to me.  I still  have friends that don’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving let alone the Christmas season.  The older I get, I am still a single person (well not right this moment) but was single with a kiddo, and me wanting to bring a friend or two with for the warmth and joy of good food and some fun, was certainly ok. But…….ok.  I am now in a relationship.  He is an amazing man.  Sure he has his struggles, just any of the friends I brought to our house before.  But he is my boyfriend and I want him to be around for longer than just a few months.  I can see me and K getting used to him being around for awhile.

When I asked mom if it was ok if I bright Robert along for Christmas, I got the hem haw.  I told her that she was going to have to get used to him and me because we are together.  He loves K.  He is very good with her, for her.  I know he cares about me as well.  I know that we have fun together, even quiet times, that are comfortable and crazy times, where he continues to tell me to breathe or take one thing at a time.  But come back to my mom…..what happened to the open door policy for those who have no where to go or no one to be with?  Did that go out the door when dad died too?  There seems a whole lot of things that flew out the door when dad passed.  It’s just not fun like it used to be.  It’s like things are strained and my brother and sister and their families and my mom and probably me too, struggle to find a commonality that we can just talk about together.  Bringing up anything that has to do with mental health or chronic pain, is a NO NO. We just on’t talk about that stuff anymore.  No one cares.  Except for me.  I miss that.

Robert is coming to the Olson Crhistmas this weekend and he will be coming to Thanksgiving if there is one planned.  If not, we will cook up a storm here, making Thanksgiving here with just him and me and K.  That is just as good.

We will see.

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