Freedom

I post this on Facebook pretty much every year. But this should be its permanent home.

MLKJR

Every year on Martin Luther King Jr day I think of this story. As a sensitive human and more so as a mom it totally got me. Telling our children about history, about why they are "mixed" and what that means, about how not long ago their daddy and I couldn't have been married legally, how people discriminate others for just the color of their skin or where they're from or the way they talk is a tough one. Their child hearts and brains don't compute such hate, ignorance, or bigotry. Neither does mine. Luckily I haven't experienced or witnessed too terrible acts of hate as I know were normal and are still every day occurrences for some. I love what MLK Jr stood for, what his name and legacy still stand for, and appreciate this day to reflect on that even if it makes me sad. One of my favorite things about him and his story is that despite his downfalls and we all know some of them, he persisted. He still did the thing and the work THROUGH the struggles of his own selfish sins. The same kind we all struggle with. I've shared this story the last couple of years and I probably will every year. It's a good reminder of how far we've come and how much more we still need to work on just being kind to one another, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us... No matter what they look like or where they come from.

"Well, it all began at Christmas two years ago, when my daughter was four years old. And it was the first time that she had ever asked about what did this holiday mean. And so I explained to her that this was celebrating the birth of Jesus. And she wanted to know more about that. And we went out and bought a kid's Bible and had these readings at night. She loved them, wanted to know everything about Jesus.

So we read a lot about his birth and about his teaching, and she would ask constantly what that phrase was. And I would explain to her that it was "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And we would talk about those old words and what that all meant, you know?

And then one day, we were driving past a big church, and out front was an enormous crucifix. She said, "Who is that?" And I guess I'd never really told that part of the story. So I had this sort of "Yeah, oh, well, that's Jesus. And I forgot to tell you the ending. Yeah, well, he ran afoul of the Roman government." This message that he had was so radical and unnerving to the prevailing authorities of the time that they had to kill him. They came to the conclusion that he would have to die. That message was too troublesome.

It was about a month later after that Christmas. We'd gone through the whole story of what Christmas meant, and it was mid-January. And her preschool celebrates the same holidays as the local schools. So Martin Luther King Day was off. So I knocked off work that day, and I decided we'd play and I'd take her out to lunch. And we were sitting in there, and right on the table where we happened to plop down was the art section of the local newspaper. And there, big as life, was a huge drawing by a 10-year-old kid in the local schools of Martin Luther King.

And she said, "Who's that?" And I said, "Well, as it happens, that's Martin Luther King. And he's why you're not in school today. So we're celebrating his birthday. This is the day we celebrate his life." And she said, "So who was he?" And I said, "Well, he was a preacher." And she looks up at me and goes, "For Jesus?" And I said, "Yeah. Yeah, actually, he was. But there was another thing that he was really famous for, which is that he had a message."

And you're trying to say this to a four-year-old. This is the first time they ever hear anything, so you're just very careful about how you phrase everything. So I said, "Well, yeah, he was a preacher and he had a message." She said, "What was his message?" And I said, "Well, he said that you should treat everybody the same no matter what they look like."

And she thought about that for a minute. And she said, "Well, that's what Jesus said." And I said, "Yeah, I guess it is. I never thought of it that way, but yeah." And that is sort of like, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And she thought for a minute and looked up at me and said, "Did they kill him too?" {Jack Hitt on This American Life Episodes 188 + 605: Kid Logic https://www.thisamericanlife.org/…/episo…/605/kid-logic-2016}

I love driving and where we live the sky is vast and the stars bright. I think I see shooting stars often. However, I also know myself and convince my mind it's probably just something else out of the corner of my eye or a reflection off my glasses or something else. Tonight, when I was almost home from a 4 hour drive, I'm 100% sure I saw a meteor. It was beautiful and then I cried at how perfect it was and the reassurance that God knows what we need and when we need it and gives it to us freely. I had just been thinking about how I needed to post this story again and then this video below came to mind. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech along with Bey's Freedom is POWERFUL.  This is one of my favorite Beyonce performances. (+ that fringe you guys...) Happy Day! 

TPS

Sometimes I do read more news or listen to more talk radio but this girl that feels too much cannot handle listening to everything going on in our world. So I start most mornings with just listening to NPR's UpFirst. It is just enough of what I need/want to be in the know about, + I can always dive in more on my own if I want to. Steve Inskeep makes my mornings! Monday when he quoted Donald Trump I almost spit my toothpaste out. He didn't have to make a comment, just read what Mr. Trump said and it speaks for itself. Steve Inskeep is honest and blunt without being smug or rude and asks the questions that should be asked. 

Today I knew El Salvador would be talked about.

It's rough being what my friend Julia calls "a coconut". Brown on the outside, white on the inside. It kind of offended me at first, because though I knew it, I'd never been referred to that way. But it is who I am. I enjoy brunch and yoga like all the white girls but would never turn down a pupusa or be afraid to go to the sketchy taco place. I am both proud of this country and saddened by it. I am both concerned about being careful and protective of its borders and pro the "American Dream".

I AM The American Dream. I am blessed, lucky, fortunate, privileged. My mother suffered for me to be where I am today. It is only by God's grace that I am here. That I live in a house with finished floors, heat, plumbing. 

TPS is why I was allowed to stay here. And though I have not been under TPS for a long time now, nor do I think that I am in danger or losing my right to be here. It does cross my mind. 

From when they are toddlers we tell our kids those mantras we think will help them be who they are where they are, yet want them to excel in everything they do. We use those phrases you tell yourself to make you feel better about not losing the weight or quitting the job. The lines you repeat to allow yourself to be lazy. Though I agree that you should work with what you have and make the most of what you're given... What are we teaching our children when we tell them that "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" or to "make it do, or do without"? Don't we all want better for them? For ourselves, for our community, for those around us, for our world? 

You get what you get and you don't throw a fit, but what if what you get is nothing?

El Salvador TPS convo - at 4:35

Break

Usually when I break, it happens slowly. I see it coming. Every time, I try to delay it though I know it's inevitable.

The hardest part about being bipolar is realizing you're in a manic phase only when you're about to come down from it. The manic phase is kind of awesome though. You're so productive and you feel the most like yourself. You could take on the world! Last week + weekend I caught up with friends, took down the Christmas tree THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS (never happens!), went through the kids' clothes, organized and set up all christmas gifts they got, went through my clothes and donated a lot, cleaned out my drawers, organized my shoes, got HHM applications going, worked a few hours at my old job aside from my regular job, and countless other things. By Sunday evening around 5:30pm (New Year's Eve), while I was building a shelf, I started to feel kind of light headed... I thought back to my day and realized I hadn't eaten at all that day and had only had like 3 sips of one of the kids' gatorade. That's another symptom of mania - you don't need sleep, food, or care about consequences much. I told myself I'd eat after I finished building that shelf. (Which was the second one I'd put together that day by the way. - queen emoji) Then I ate a few bites of some leftovers, ordered something from a local restaurant for us all, and went to pick it up. On my drive I thought - "oh, I'm manic. Dammit. ok. It'll be fine. I got this." Came home, didn't eat much more and wanted so badly to not stay up until midnight. Of course I did because #momlife. Part of me craved going out to any of the places we were invited to, but wasting time showering and getting ready when there was so much to do at home still was not happening. I begrudgingly played card games with the kids and M. God allowed me to turn the tv on when Britney was performing and then Imagine Dragons was next so that helped. Wait, is it begrudgingly or grudgingly? The Grudge was a terrible movie you guys. It scared me so bad.

I managed to avoid it so far but by Monday afternoon I was fizzling out. I reached out to some friends, sent multiple texts. Did the texts say help me? I need a friend? nope. Just inappropriate jokes and conversations trying to delay the darkness. I only mentioned something about post holiday blues and how wishing I could just be productive without having to get out of bed to one person. Then I did the hard thing. I text M and told him I wanted to be a blob. He told me he'd be home soon and it would all be ok. He's been there for me so many times. I told him he should play video games that night and get a new headset before his surgery the next day. I thought I was being a cool, nice, understanding wife when I suggested this. Now looking back I wonder if I pushed him into Call of Duty so that I could try to cling to my mania a little longer. I scheduled out my Tuesday kind of heavy after Mathew's *procedure. But I felt off. I didn't sleep much and when I was driving him to the doctor's office he asked if I always drove so anxiously and cautiously - definitely not. I just knew we'd die on the way to the office. All day my mind was distracted and wanted to chase something to numb the bad feelings, something to make it feel good, even if it was just temporary. I trudged on and checked off everything on my to do list. I finally got some sleep that night. Then today, I hit a wall. I thought I was ok, I thought I would go back to work and be productive and just kind of ease over the transition back down from the manic phase.

I didn't.

I completely broke down. Luckily, my boss was on a phone meeting when I felt the tears rise up. I was right in the middle of some work when all of a sudden I wanted to just crawl under the desk and never come out. I went to the bathroom and though I tried to stop it, I cried a little. I looked in the mirror and man.. it wasn't good. I decided I needed out. I emailed him and let him know I'd be right back. I knew I needed to get outside so I'd walk to the coffee shop I'd just been at an hour earlier. As soon as the freezing cold air hit me and I took in lots of deep breaths, I felt a little better. I talked with the coffee shop owner, ordered my soda, sat there for a few minutes, then walked around the block a few times. During this time my boss emailed me and asked if I would be ok, said he had chocolate, and asked if there was anything he could do... The best boss I tell you. I asked a friend if I could pop in and see them, but they were unavailable at the time so I just kept walking and breathing and tearing up and being still and praying and letting go. I texted a friend and got nothing but love and wisdom. I did what I needed to do for me then. As embarrassed as I am about it, if we saw each other right now I'd say - "I had an anxiety attack today! But I'm ok now." The reason it's embarrassing is because NOTHING was wrong. Nothing. Just me. 

The hardest part about the awesomeness that is being manic is knowing that that crash is coming. Knowing that you won't be able to avoid it and just holding on and hoping people stick by you. That they love you despite it and don't consider your friendship a burden like you think they should. 

The best part about the the crash, the coming down, it balancing back out, is feeling the weight come off. Letting the crash happen and then carrying on. I am so happy I have Mathew, my mom, by brother, my friends, my kids. I can say, "I had an anxiety attack today! But I'm ok now." And they just know it's part of who I am, part of what makes me feel so much, love so big, and try my best.

In Love Warrior Glennon Doyle talks to herself and says, "treat yourself like someone you love, Glennon. Listen to what you want and need and give it to yourself. Be your own friend." Today I stepped away. I went outside in the cold. I showed my crazy to people that I wish would never have seen it. But it's ok. I did, said, and asked for what I needed and that crippling pit of darkness and despair lasted only hours not days. This evening I got to see my mom and brother and help celebrate my grandma's 80th birthday after work with my kiddos. They made her birthday cards during the day and used google translate to say what they wanted to say in Spanish and make sure it was spelled correctly. It made my heart happy and it appeased my soul to hug on my family and be around them. Tonight I showered (and danced) with Beyonce blasting, picked out my clothes for tomorrow, and am ready for what Thursday brings. 

Side note: Mathew had a vasectomy on Tuesday morning. I appreciate him because we know we are good with our two children and if we ever do have the desire to have more, we'll adopt or foster. I had scary deliveries both times and we both don't want to go through that again. Not to mention the hormone craziness that goes on ALONG with the mental illness. He did this for us and I am so thankful to him but guys, he's fine. It's not like he had a baby or something. He'll be fine in a couple of days and Call of Duty is keeping his company. 

Glorious

I started writing this in August. But it's that time of year where I say things like: "I'm going to write once a week!" and "I've gotta work out more" and "we're going to have friends over for dinner every day!" I know myself enough to understand this will pass. But while the feeling is there, it's too good and even if we only have a couple of dinners with friends - those are my favorite memories. So I'll take it.

I was going to delete it. But I also want this out there for when my kids are older and they need it. For when I need it. And in case you need it. 

August 6th, 2017:

Last Sunday was Isabella’s friend’s last day at gymnastics before moving out of state. I told Isabella that she should tell her good luck and goodbye since it would be a while before she saw her. Isabella just said bye and acted kind of like she didn’t care really… didn’t even think to give her a hug. Yet as we were pulling away from the gym and heading home she just broke down crying and said she didn’t want her to move. Somehow that got her thinking of her great grandpa that passed away a few years ago, then about our dog Bruno that died this last winter. She pretty much started thinking of all the bad things that have happened in her short life.

I pulled over, parked, held her, and let her feel it all raw and deep.

It always amazes at how much that little one and I are alike. This last week was an emotional one for me and I had the exact same thing that happened to her happen to me. With some recent events I found myself having mostly existential thoughts and some weird skewed form of survivors guilt. The death of a coworker/friend made my heart so heavy even though I knew it was coming. She had been so sick and I am glad that she isn’t suffering anymore but my heart broke mostly for her babies. It also reminded me of another dear friend that left my life last year (I talk a little about it here) and made me miss her even more. I think of how lovely, caring, giving, and just amazing some people are yet get dealt a bad hand and I’m over here failing at everyday life. I'm alive and well but not being all that I wish I could be, or doing all that I should do, and most importantly doing things I know I shouldn't. Here I am,  perfectly healthy despite treating my body like a garbage can.

There’s this episode of Invisibilia where they talk about a guy that is worried he is capable of murder because he thinks about all the different ways he could kill his wife all the time on purpose or by accident. Yet after some psych evaluation they tell him he’s actually just super caring. He cares so much that he’s worried he’ll hurt her. It’s like an OCD thing. In a weird way, I can relate. I’ve thought that someone else would love Mathew better, would be a better mom for my kids, a better friend for all my friends, that I’m bad at my job, that I’m basically a piece of crap. I love them so much that I think they deserve the absolute best. AKA, not me. Logically, I know that that isn’t true. Though I’ve had my shitty moments and don’t want you to even ask who I was or where my brain was for a bit 6-7 years ago, I think I'm ok now. I want to hug all those people I screwed over or just completely hurt during that time. I want to take it back. I’m not that person anymore and I genuinely want everyone to be happy. I’m embarrassed at some of the things I did during that “dark period” but it’s also brought me here. It led me down the the path to find out that my brain is a little different. my chemical levels are kind of a mess, but also that it's not hopeless. It diagnosed me with bipolar. It helped make me me, but it doesn't define me. 

I think sometimes we just share the pretty stuff, the fun stuff, the cool things we do. Due to Mathew’s work I see a lot of fitness inspiration posts, lots of meal preps, hours upon hours spent at the gym, but my favorite parts are when someone like Sara Sigmundsdottir say she’s gonna go eat some pizza at the end of the day at the Crossfit Games. I see local trainers that only post about how good they are doing, which don’t get me wrong good for you we all need to see that! We want to celebrate with you. But show us the struggles too. Yes, we all know you can have 1 vodka water with lime when you go out and avoid the calories but c’mon… we know that you too probably turn to our friends Ben & Jerry when you’ve had a rough week. (Or justify it by getting Halo Top) We know that even when your instagram shows only posts of your beautiful clutter free house that your laundry is piled up in a corner somewhere. We know that even if your kids are always photographed dressed in matching outfits and their hair is perfect, that there are days when you are radio silent because one of them threw up on you and you just want to go to sleep and try again. HEY, IT’S OK. I love that there are people that show everyone that side of them, that say, “hey, I’m human too.” If you want to be an inspiration, show it all. The good AND the bad. Seeing all that you are able to accomplish despite the struggles, THAT is inspiring.

There is almost always music playing in our house. From Johnny Cash to Kendrick Lamar the range is kind of ridiculous. This year the song that hit me the hardest was Glorious, by Macklemore.  It's upbeat and positive but surprisingly, it made me cry. The lyrics just gutted me. Things that were hard to process or comprehend happened to families of friends. As one of those weird OCD over caring people when I feel things. I feel them deep. Mathew used to say I was “too sensitive” now he gets it and understands me better... instead he’ll say, “you just feel so deeply” when I cry for Syrian refuges and want to adopt all the Salvadorian kids.  The strongest people cry because they are the ones who feel all the feelings. Picture Glorious jamming through the speakers, bass beating, and me ugly crying.

I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave
And the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name
So when I leave here on this earth, did I take more than I gave?
Did I look out for the people or did I do it all for fame?

Another morning, a morning, don't let self get in my way
I got my breath, I got my faith and I remember why I came

I feel glorious, glorious
Got a chance to start again
I was born for this, born for this
It's who I am, how could I forget?
I made it through the darkest part of the night
And now I see the sunrise
Now I feel glorious, glorious
I feel glorious, glorious {via}

December 30, 2017:

I still love that song and the spirit of it is just what I need when I start questioning me. There are so many things that I know. I know those words. I know this life is a gift. This year I also got my first tattoo, it says "Be Still And Know". Not just because of the Psalm, thought God is God and that assures me oh so much, but also because when the noise in my head gets too loud and I start overthinking all the things I need this reminder. I need to remember to sit still with me, with my kids, with my husband, with my family, with my friends, with whatever is happening at the time and remember who I am. (insert Mufasa "Simba, remember who you are" sound bite here.)

Here's to 2018 and all the New Year feelings bring. Cheers! xo- Emma