Saturday, October 3, 2020

What's saving my life right now...

If you listen to Jen Hatmaker's For the Love Podcast, you know that she asks this question (originally asked by Barbara Brown Taylor - whose book, Learning to Walk in the Dark is on my to-read-soon list) of all her guests at the end of each episode. 

I've co-opted the practice into my own work meetings (if I have any FLTI friends come check this out, they might go "aha!").

This morning, after a virtual community gathering for work, I stopped to reflect on the goodness of the moment in the midst of a very chaotic and anxious world. I landed on thoughts surrounding the two priorities that feel like they are in a cutthroat competition with each other during these historic times of COVID, a contentious election in a polarized nation, RBG's passing (still just so hard to express what and how I feel on that) and as a Christian, the resulting culture wars that are dividing both big C and little c church bodies (oh, and did I mention the environmental stresses of constant sameness due to being safer at home -AND- in the middle of one of the worst wildfire seasons across the west? That too):

1. taking time to retreat from life and engage in any kind of self-care

2. the overwhelming desire to get out there and do SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to facilitate the collective healing our families, communities, and nation need so badly right now

As I said, instead of feeling like a "both/and" combo, lately I've felt like these two needs have been duking it out something fierce, leaving me the badly bruised monkey in the middle.

I took some much needed, long overdue annual leave days last week/this Monday to unplug and recharge. I'm always reluctant to do this, because I fear the pile of "undone" that will inevitably be waiting upon my return, but especially when I have nowhere special to go (COVID) with my loved ones (I may be able to take PTO but they have school and work). Nevertheless, I put my time to good use - got caught up with a mentor from the past, went and got a massage, and fed my soul by reading strictly for pleasure and sleeping in. 

Tuesday was re-entry, and for whatever reason, my boys were really not doing well with each other that day - and the lines between what had to be done vs what should be done began to blur - which is a huge trigger for my anxiety. My therapist got an earful that day. "I did ALL the right things - I took some time to myself, I communicated expectations, I was all Zen-ed out and ready to engage as Nice Mama, when all HELL breaks loose. I mean they're physical with each other and screaming hateful things and it was just like the universe was giving me a big ol' 'Eff you, Mama.' Like this is why we can't DO nice things instead of 'this is why we can't HAVE nice things." 

And the week just kind of went to shit from there with the fiasco of a debate, the subsequent fallout on social media, church stuff (our youth ministry is in transition after losing our youth minister to irreconcilable differences - a split from which I'm still reeling - and parents are trying to provide opportunities for the kids in the very messy and disorganized way that these things tend to go), our dryer is broken - we're waiting on the part but outside not only smells like campfire, but the soot/ash that falls out of the sky would dirty clean laundry, so we are limited in what can actually get done/air dryed in our already small home (so there was TONS of clothes drama between the bigs and Mount Washmore jutted up into an epic peak), and being a doer, I was stressed because I was feeling like I was already behind the 8 ball with ALL THE THINGS.

Self-care went out the damned window this week. 

So I was a giant turd to my family as a result - and you know, we are a family of givers, if nothing else, so they gave that turdishness right on back. Love you Seth, love you kids! No really, we're all pretty good now.

Anyway - this morning. A friend had an excellent post on Facebook about all the feelings and the need for us sensitive, empath, types to remember how to care for our selves in the midst of all of the world's chaos, callousness, and well, everything. So, when I had the opportunity to do work I love this morning - promoting the Family Leadership Training Institute work with my colleagues and other community members - I got up early and showered, put on some 'more I work in an office' clothes than the athleisure wear I've been living in these past 7 months, and did my hair and makeup (which is a rarity in these remote work days - it's a weird mental block that I can't quite explain, but I think it's just soul fatigue?)

I felt good about my appearance for the first time in, oh, lets be honest, months? and left the meeting feeling accomplished and inspired. So I snapped a selfie and reflected on it.

Later, I cracked a window downstairs, as it was a rare day that isn't blowing the smoke of the fire on us, turned on some fun and upbeat tunes, and danced about as I did some household chores. As a particular song was boosting the mood, I thought, "I need to add this song to my self care sheet."

So I bring you Thing One of what is saving my life right now: 

Passion Planner and their FREE printable planning sheets, in particular, the self-care reflection check in sheet. Y'all - these prompts are like going to therapy, which I do every other week, but they help me track my feelings and WHAT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER. In this very surreal time that has a Groundhog Day like feel to every day, this is important. What I also like about their monthly calendars is there is a space for "People to see," which is perfect for someone like myself who deeply cares about EVERY ONE - but unless I have a regular place in my routines/places to see you - I tend to operate in an out of sight, out of mind kind of pattern. It is the single most hated characteristic trait of mine, and this HELPS me get out of that self loathing and find a way to think about "Who do I actually want to engage with?" and then..... I DO IT! It's great. Small caveat is that "people to see" is more like "people to write" because of the 'VID, but it still feels better than texting/social media scrolling.

That's not the check-in, but just an example of the journaling bits I'm able to do with this planner.

Thing Two: Passionfruit Green Tea drink

A hydration hack - I am chronically dehydrated because I ABSOLUTELY LURVE coffee but hate drinking water, especially water alone (without a meal) because food aversions are funny things. Wait, how does one get a food aversion to WATER, Heather? Uhm, pregnancy does weird things, and - no that's not an announcement - apparently those weird things stay with you, for oh, 20 YEARS AND COUNTING. Long story short - in prep for an ultrasound while I was prego with Kelsey (as a busy student) I tried to drink a lot of water, per instructions from the OB/GYN, in the morning before my appointment. Tried being the operative word. In the throes of horrible morning sickness, said volumes of water came up violently, not once, not twice, but 3 times. And I've never been the same.

So that means staying hydrated is hard for me. I don't care too much for hot teas unless I am sick because they don't have a lot of the body and mouthfeel that coffee does. I like iced, SWEET tea, but hello, liquid calories in a woman's 40s are not her friend. Well, I was introduced to Panera's lightly sweetened passionfruit green tea, and I loved it. So I came up with a recipe to make a version of it at home. This makes a gallon

Steep 8 decaf green teabags in 2-3 cups of water to make a sort of "concentrate" 

Add the following to a gallon sized pitcher:

1/4 c Guava Torani Syrup (I buy these at our local Shamrock Foods because they are inexpensive there and more flavors tend to be available)

1/4 c Passionfruit Torani Syrup

2-4 Tbls Honey (serves as an electrolyte)

Pour hot tea over and stir will til the honey is disolved

Fill pitcher with water until full. 

A 16 oz glass runs 56-72 calories depending on the amount of honey used. Less calories that vitamin water, gatorade, and no nonsense ingredients like you find in diet sodas.

Thing Three: Discbound Planner, Special Pens & Journaling Stickers

This goes with Thing 1, but I love a planner that I can change up and customize like a bullet journal (bujo) but not have to commit to page orders falling in weird places (I want to do things MY way, not according to the latest fad planner - yes, even Passion Planner has its shortfalls when you buy their preassembled planners!)

So I have a nice leatherette Arc discbound planner from Staples, the punch, some nice heavyweight paper to print my pages on, and stickers/pens to make them pretty. I am not an artist like my talented daughter, but, oh, how I love good aesthetics and layouts. I'm tracking my favorite podcasts, books I've read, and different insights with the self-care check-in. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Now Featuring: Tact and Humility

Two posts in one day?

Is this 2006, the hey-day of blogging, relived?


Just thought I'd balance out my last post with some more diplomatic, dare I say, tactful, words about current events.

One of my favorite quotes, and a challenge to which I aspire!

Yesterday I sent a message to our Celebrate Recovery group at church regarding our need to pause our meetings while we figure out remote options during COVID-19 mandates for social distancing.

I got several messages back saying, "Wow, great message," so I figured I'd share in the event that something resonates with anyone else.

COVID-19 Changes to CR

Hello brothers and sisters, it's Heather here with a message from Bob and myself.
This week there will be no meeting.
 And, despite what was said in the group text thread last night, we are recommending that group members do not push for meetings on our own as individuals. 
This is in compliance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, Governor Polis, Larimer County Department of Public Health and Environment, and our own elders here at Meadowlark. This virus is real, and while most of us would have a mild occurrence of it personally, if we are still going out to occasionally get groceries, gas, etc., you never know if/when one of us may have been exposed and whether we could transmit it to people who may be especially vulnerable to the infection. This is a time for mutual submission and humility when it comes to doing what we need to do.

Coping with Feelings
Some of us may be feeling like this is all a bit much, possibly overkill, in the response, and that is ok - if we do this right, that is how it will especially seem in hindsight. On the other hand, some of us might be feeling like their fellow Christians are being dismissive about the concerns, and therein, testing God. This is not an either/or time, friends - it's both/and. Both are completely valid.

Some of us may be anxious about the economic impacts this may have for you individually, locally, nationally, and/or globally - and that is also ok. This is a time of confusion and a lot of unknowns. Fortunately, we serve a God who does know and is watching out for us.

Some of us may be freaking out about being "up-close and personal" with the whole fam-dam-ily for the rest of the school year (especially those of us with kids still at home). That is also a valid concern. There are a TON of resources online for families to refer to regarding this. I also know that Shannon Chandler and Daniel Wheat (Children's Ministry and Youth Ministry at Meadowlark, respectively) are working to develop tools and activities as well.

There are going to be a LOT of feels right now - and the best way to temper them is to examine those thoughts and make them submit to the will of Christ (Romans 12:2).

So, let's all be still, take a pause, and gain some perspective in the spirit of Romans Chapter 14 with respect to our various thoughts and feelings about the coronavirus and how we are dealing with it en masse.

Moving Forward and Staying Connected
CR: Bob and I are working on ways to get CR meetings accomplished remotely starting next week. I think we can utilize Zoom to do meetings remotely, and will be getting information out to people later to explain how to do this. In the meantime - I've linked a roster with everyone's contact information (except M's as I don't have it). Do not hesitate to reach out to anyone in our group "just because," or if you 
  • Feeling triggered and/or tempted to use/act out in sin
  • Struggling with your thoughts/emotions
  • Want to pray/study with someone
  • Have a physical need for food/supplies
Meadowlark Information: If you do not receive the members-list emails from Meadowlark, please email to get added to the distribution list. There are communications coming out frequently with updates as to the state of current affairs, as well as prayer requests that are made known to the body.

Inspiration: If you are like me, inspirational scriptures and quotes are helpful to meditate upon, particularly with imagery. To this end, I have a Pinterest Board I've called CR that I'd like to share with you that could help facilitate some quiet time of reflection.

Retracted: Prayer requests specific to the folks in our group that stay in CR.

Big Fam in a Little House

Oh, friends, sing that to the tune of Farley's signature song.

What a time to be alive - eh?

I have so, so, so, so much to say, but am finding myself reluctantly having to face the music of tasks that need doing.

We were supposed to be on spring break, visiting San Diego and Yuma (AZ) for the first times. Feeling sun on our faces, sand and surf on our toes, adventuring with new flavors and experiences.

Instead, we've been confined to our 1240 square foot home, with 4 full-size people, 1 tween, two dogs and two cats.

It's like we're on top of each other all the damn time and we're gonna bust the seams of the house much like the little coat before long.

If I hear one more whiny argument about Xbox time distributions - on the only common tv/sitting area in the house - not being fair, one more frustrated "You're such a dick*!", or have to ask one more time for a basic chore to get done, this perimenopausal, PMSing, COVID-19 at-risk-group** mama is gonna lose her crap in an epic way.

I digress though - what I was trying to say was that thru yesterday, we were doing pretty well. We were social-distancing ok by getting outdoors and enoying some activity/Vitamin D, and mostly making lemonade with this big old pile of mouth-puckering suck that Mother Nature has handed us in spades.

Because we were all off work/school for Spring Break. We have been together and that's all that matters, really, in the end.

But, reality looms.

Kelsey has had a shitty start to 2020.

First her bike got stolen while she was at work.

Shortly after that her manager quit scheduling her at work with no communication. She would check each week for the schedule only to find she wasn't on it. For four weeks she was constantly asking what was going on, when finally the vapid 20-year-old with a smidge of seniority over her informed her via text that she'd seen some things she didn't like in Kelsey and couldn't have on her management team (Kelsey was a shift lead) thus she had been terminated. Nothing like getting fired via text with no real explanation and after FOUR WEEKS. Anyway....Kelsey is a hard worker and anytime I've met any of her co-workers in public they have sang her praises, so this was a blow.

In the midst of all that, Kels was informed that she was not selected to be an RA at CSU next year which has really cranked up her anxiety about getting her education with as minimal debt as possible, gaining valuable leadership experience, etc.

Then - the first real vacay we'd ever planned as a family got canceled. Her boyfriend has been quarantined. He never got a COVID-19 test, but was told by doctors to isolate like he had it. Don't get me started on the craptastic-ness of that response.

And now, CSU is having all on-campus students who can leave come and move their things out this week.

As you can imagine - this threw my transition-averse, rigid-thinking, over-planning, self-described autistic young lady into a sense of overwhelm and we had full-blown meltdowns Wednesday and Thursday as a result.

Not to be outdone, my boys can't leave each other the fuck alone. One of them is always stirring shit up, whether it's a balled-up sock pelted across the room - hitting the other in the face - fart wars, snide comments, antagonistic measures ad nauseam, there's always a cry of injustice and cruel words getting hurled at each other.

I can only imagine what this will be like next week when I return to work, albeit remotely from home. In theory, my kids are too old to require child-care, but that doesn't mean they are going to self-manage while I'm trying to Do The Things.

Also? It freaking snowed yesterday and is now cold and wet and no one wants to go out in it.

In short - I need your prayers, friends. And this is just me asking for my daily bread. Some people are carrying so much more.

We have friends/families whose husbands are recovering from strokes/bypass surgeries (one of each) in the midst of this weird and difficult time.

I saw on Facebook that a former co-worker's uncle was a COVID-19 casualty.

Another friend's parents live in Italy and were both ill, though they are now recovering.

I love several peeps who work in healthcare, corrections, and other remote-work-not-optional fields who are trying to manage all of what I've shared plus the stress of their occupational hazards of having contact with the world.

My heart hurts for them all.

I'm feeling stretched already and I'm in a bit of a sheltered circumstance right now.

But now, I gotta figure out how to make "office space" for me, Kelsey, and the boys to continue my work/their schooling for the remainder of the semester.

I may be making good on the offer U-Haul has made to displaced college students to make that happen.

Hang in there folks - we're all in this together.

* The official Sweary Magdalene policy on swearing in casa del Meyer is that curse/coarse words may be used to express strong feelings, describe things, but ARE NOT to be used to denigrate people, so this is not okay with me...

** Thank you Pneumogedden for making me permanently susceptible to respiratory illnesses.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Failing forward

I've only told a few people, but part of my no-holds-barred, This-Is-Me-bellowing, I'm a hot mess mom move to radically accept myself WHERE I AM AT means no secrets.

It means giving up the illusion of juggling* so much "just so well" and showing everybody that the reality is that I'm not even juggling, I am basically dribbling all the balls I have dropped from the juggling circuit.

*There may be some folks out there that I actually lied to, in effort to save face, saying that I had finished the incompletes. That's embarrassing to admit, and I hate it because it feels like I let my integrity go by doing that, but anyway...celebrating that mistake right now.

You thought this girl was perfect? That's cute.

So without further ado...roughly 10 days ago I rolled my eyes when I saw mail from CSU. I thought it was a reminder of our outstanding balance from Sunny's kidney infection adventure in November, despite just having received an e-statement days before. Nope, it was worse.

It was the Graduate School writing to inform me that my lack of progress in turning my mountain of incompletes to completes had created a string of Fs, thus I have been dismissed from my Master's studies.


Ten years later, I am in the same sinking boat I was in after Christopher's birth and the ensuing hell I so fondly named Pneumogedden. This degree is never going to happen.

Months ago, as I started to realize my need to bail water out of said boat, I was told by a professor that I was going to have to get my MA "in a way that works for" me.

In other words, the set-up of the program (or, really, higher ed system in general) did not really make space for working professionals, particularly mothers (who are already doing the equivalent of 2.5 FTE jobs in the US - God bless the patriarchy), to attend, participate, and complete the assignments for their classes.

So today I go to meet with the graduate advisor, whom I've never met before, because she was not in that role when I started this program almost 3 years ago (where does the time actually go, folks?) and I don't know what I'm expecting.

Mostly because I am so self-flagellating, so exacting that I have zero grace for myself, I was not expecting the kind words of encouragement and acceptance that she spoke to me.

After we'd talked about several things, including Pneumogedden, an opportunity to work with some state legislators to de-silo child abuse prevention efforts in the state - you know me, I love a great tangent to go off on - she said to me, with her Turkish accented English, "You know, you are MA - this coursework only confirms, but you are already performing like [an] MA."

So basically, they are going to work with me. I'm going to get my assignments done for the classes I've already attended and participated in (just didn't get my papers written for) at the pace I can do, we're changing my advisor, and I'm getting this pro-paper done.

Maybe it will be all wrapped up in time to be a 20th anniversary commemoration of graduating with my first post-secondary degree as a 1st Gen non-traditional student.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The way I roll

Dude....this week has been like....transformative or something.

I think Sunday was a start to regaining my muchness, but when I got my new glasses Tuesday, it was like Frosty getting that magical hat.

I came alive.

I was animated and witty. Competent and productive. Creative juices are like, flowing, man. 

(This is not a put-on dialect, I'm writing it as I would speak it, you know, conversationally? I have an inner valley girl that comes out when I'm happy and excited.)

Seth said I looked like a hot librarian, and you know? I think Heather got her groove back with that boost of confidence, even if incrementally.

That night was a CRAZY BUSY day.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


Between sickness, a 3-day training in windowless rooms, and gray weather, February has been a low sun month for me. As a serotonin challenged type, this is no bueno.

As a result of this compound deficit, I've been escaping via carbs, tv/internet and sleep instead of working on the things I ought to be, i.e. school work, family projects, etc.

I don't know who Alicia Cook is,
but that ^ is 100% accurate and
all happened this week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Moving beyond the knee-jerk - is it possible to overcome identity threat in the age of social media?

Note - the links inside the body of this text are for your enhancement - they elaborate the points at which I'm getting.

So...I'm hesitant to go there, but the past 24 hours of my Facebook feed has pretty much made up my mind.

If you haven't seen or heard about the new Gillette ad from last week, I daresay you either:
a. Actually do live under the proverbial rock
b. Have an existence similar to Helen Keller's in which you are both deaf and blind, or
c. Really don't care

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Surprise! We have more in common than you think

Photo by Nuno Antunes on Unsplash
Ring Road of Iceland
"Mom, can you unlock your phone?"

"Why? What?"

"I need to unlock your phone so I can get the singer/song that played last - I liked his sound," Colton insists.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

On coming back

It's me sitting in the gray loveseat that swallows me up every time I visit, my left leg tucked under me. I have so much energy and the words, they are flowing. I'm talking and talking, and talking so much. The filler words are not as prevalent because my thoughts are ordered and navigable.

He asks, "So is it incremental, like each day gets a little better, or a more dramatic epiphany of  'OMG, my brain is back?''

"It depends," I shrug. "Sometimes it's both. Sometimes I just fake it - being functional, ignoring the feelings - that I don't even see when it happens or even have an aha, it just becomes. This time though, like whoa, I got so much shit done for my final paper - and it's just like, so amazing because this time last week, I didn't know what I even would write. Hadn't done my lit review, no clear hypothesis of research questions to guide me, and now? I'm almost done. It feels good to be back."

Friday, November 9, 2018

Here we are again.
My fractured friend.
An unraveled heart,
A voice whose art
Is to say, "Come on, just be done"
How many times can this be overcome?

-- thoughts from a broken mind

Saturday, May 19, 2018

These Shattered States

"Oh Jesus," I pray upon seeing the news of Santa Fe, heart shattering. "It's happening again."