Archive | January, 2011

Living your Buried Life…

29 Jan

 

 

Do you ever feel like your Life is living you?  Like the life you intended to live somehow got buried beneath the life you have?

 

 

It’s been a while since my last post because I have been so busy.  I have been racing around, doing and accomplishing and checking off the things life demands of me.  That’s when this post came into my head and I thought it should be shared.

When we are kids, we are told we can do anything we want to do.  And we believe it.  We can’t wait to grow up and go do all the things we’re told we can do.  And sometimes we hold on to that belief through High School and maybe even College, but somewhere in our twenties Life finds us.  It steers us off course with marriage and kids and jobs too good to pass up.  And before we know it there’s a mortgage and bills and pets and insurance and we find ourselves buried beneath Life.   Most of us go on living beneath the rubble, some completely unaware, and we find we don’t even recognize ourselves anymore.  We go into “sleep mode,” working and saving for that last little bit of life, when let’s face it, some of us are too unhealthy to enjoy anyway.

We put our dreams in a box marked ‘tomorrow’ and we bury the key.

I know I am not the only one who feels this way.  There is a famous literary poem by Matthew Arnold about it called “The Buried Life,” and then a show on MTV based off that poem also called “The Buried Life.” There have been countless songs about it.  Some of my favorites are “I’m in a hurry and don’t know why” by Alabama (hear it).  “Live like you were dying” by Tim McGraw (hear it).  And one of my favorite kids songs “Fast and Slow” by Laurie Berkner (hear it).  There are whole movies also about it, “Fight Club,” and “Office Space.”

Every once in a while, when Life finds us again and awakens us from our “sleep mode” we are reminded of what is truly important.  Unfortunately it usually takes a tragedy to do this.  Illness, Death, a Close Call, and for a brief time we live life differently.  We try new things, we go new places, we cherish the ones we love, and we dust off that old hobby of ours we once thought would make us riches.  We change and we find happiness.  But if we aren’t careful, Life’s cold hand will find us again and place us back into the race of living to work and saving life for tomorrow.

When I am feeling lost and regret about all the things I haven’t done yet I remember an article I read a while back about how to find the true value in your life.  It said to do this, first ask yourself 3 questions:

Question #1:

What would you do if you had a million dollars?

Go ahead and answer, I’ll wait.

Did you answer?

My answer is probably pretty standard to most.  I would buy a slightly bigger house.  Nothing enormous because who wants to clean that?  But one that definitely has an office.  Then I would set aside money for my kid’s college.  I would travel and see all the exotic places I’ve envisioned in my head.  And I would probably start a non-profit to help keep drunk drivers off the road.  Pretty typical right?

Question #2:

What would you do if you only had 2 years to live?

Go ahead, answer.

Ready?

Knowing my time is limited, I would do all the things I save for tomorrow.  I would write that book and I would publish it without fear of rejection because hey, I’m dying.  I would still travel.  I would spend money more easily, so long as I knew the people I was leaving behind were taken care of.  And I would write letters to my sons.  I would want to leave a piece of me with them for every birthday they would have without me, every celebration, and every milestone I would miss.  Suddenly the house from my millions doesn’t seem so important with only 2 years left to live.

And now the final question.  Are you ready to find out what you should be doing with your life?

Question #3:

What would you do today, if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?

Please, if you answer any of these, answer this one.

Ready?

I would spend it with my family.  I would take them to one of our favorite places like the beach or river and I would just play with them.  I would laugh and cry and be entirely in that moment.  I wouldn’t be worried about the bills or dinner or the next holiday coming up.  I would just breathe them in and tell them all that I love them.  And then at night I would still write those letters of things I wanted them to know until I physically couldn’t write anymore.

You see, that last day I wouldn’t spend it vacuuming.  I wouldn’t spend it traveling to some far off land and taking pictures of the 7 wonders of the world.  I wouldn’t spend it working for a job I hate or with people I don’t like.  I wouldn’t spend it surfing the web or tweeting to my peeps.  I would spend it doing the only thing that really matters.

I know we can’t just shut off our life and live that last day every day.  But maybe in understanding why we are running the race in the first place can we start to find ourselves.  We can start to live our buried lives because none of us really know when we are living our last day.

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Boys RULE! (Literally)

18 Jan

 

 

“Snakes, snails and puppy dog tails

That’s what little boys are made of…”

 

 

 

Let’s add worms, frogs, mud, spiders, scabs, boogers, swords, fire, and any other dangerous or gross object out there.

Testosterone swirls through my house like a hormone induced tornado.  There’s wrestling and punching, sword fights and Nerf wars.  We have more bug catchers than I can count and they house a varied number of species on any given day.

My toilet seats never down and my hair is always up.

I’ve considered replacing our couch with a full sized trampoline since that’s what they use it for anyway. We camp, hike, skateboard, play soccer and anything else that will tire them out.  They know the Rocky Theme song by heart and can somehow always manage to fit the word “poop” into any sentence.

I don’t go anywhere without hand sanitizer and band aids, and I’ve considered just leaving their bike helmets on permanently.

Who knew a tissue could be turned into a weapon?

Yes, there is never a dull moment when raising boys, but my absolute favorite task is the laundry.  After spraying the grass stains, dirt stains, blood stains, and snot stains, I finally check the pockets.  I have rescued many things from the old wash cycle:  Marbles, flowers, leaves, sand, tiny toys, jewelry, I found a battery once, but I think the worst treasure I will forever remember pulling out of my son’s pocket would have to be…

A worm.

Can anyone relate?

The Difference between Boys and Girls…

10 Jan

Twice a week I watch my 2 year old niece.  She is about the same age as my youngest son.  They do everything together!  If he runs, she runs.  If she laughs, he laughs.  If one of them has to go potty, the other one has to go potty.  But even though they are the same age and they do the same activities side by side, their differences are always apparent.

One day, while playing outside, I tossed the football to my son.  He loves playing football and catches it most of the time; quite impressive for a 2 year old.  And once my niece picked up on the fun we were having, she insisted on playing too.  So, after throwing the ball successfully to my son, I turned to throw it to her.  With her arms outreached and her eyes closed tight, the ball bounced off her elbow and landed on the ground next to her.  She quickly retrieved the ball, stood back in place and held it securely in her arms.

And then she did something only a little girl would do.

She rocked her arms back and forth and said “Sshhh…the football is sleeping.”

Brain Injury- An Invisible Death

2 Jan

 

 

Over the past 2 ½ years, I have lived beside the daily struggles of a Brain Injury Survivor.  I have watched the back and forth recovery of this Invisible Death and struggled to describe it to the outside world.  I would have better luck describing a rainbow to a blind person.  This is my account of a Brain Injury and the emotional process of recovery.

Everyone has a digital Camera.  Imagine the Camera you use is the same Camera you have used for years.  It is the Camera that was present at your wedding, at every birthday, every vacation and every milestone in between.  Sure, it has its faults but they are faults you have learned to live with.  They are…predictable.   You know the “Night Shot” button sticks when you press it too hard so you have developed a gentler way to handle it.  You know the “red eye” doesn’t work, so you don’t bother.  You know which USB to use when connecting your Camera to the world.

You know this Camera inside and out.

Then one day, without warning, your Camera shuts off.  At first you stay calm.  After all, there’s never been a problem with your Camera you didn’t know how to fix.  So, you change the batteries, you take out the memory card, you even shake it a bit, but nothing seems to work.  You have exhausted every effort and you decide this is a job for the professionals.

And after weeks of worry and the absence of your Camera, they hand it back to you.  Or, so it looks like your Camera.  But this Camera is a little different.   It feels different in your hand, but the difference is so slight that you doubt your own suspicions.  They tell you this is the newer model with a few differences; they couldn’t fix the one you brought in.  They can’t tell you what the differences are and when you ask for the newer Camera manual, they reply “there isn’t one.  You must figure it out on your own.”

So you go home, you and your new Camera.  You are so happy to have your Camera back that you are in denial of the differences.  After all, it looks like your Camera.  At first, the new Camera just sits there, fooling you with its identical exterior.  You think to turn it on and test it out, but you are hesitant.  You know despite its appearance, it is not the same Camera.  Some of the buttons have moved and the memory card is completely blank.  You begin to feel alone.  Though it’s just a Camera and you remember all the frustration it brought you in the past, it was still your Camera.  You cared for it; you depended on it and it walked through this life with you.  It experienced the same memories you did and recalled them for you when you needed.  This new Camera doesn’t know you.  This new Camera doesn’t remember your life together.  This new Camera is an imposter!

You find yourself grieving.  But you are also confused.  How can you be grieving for something that is still right there in front of you?  You haven’t lost it, not really.  But somehow, you miss it.  You ask a million “why’s?”

But then your denial sets in again and you pick up the new Camera and turn it on.  You struggle to find the buttons you once knew, but eventually you find them.  You take a few sample pictures and you find the “red eye” button DOES work!  The “night shot” button doesn’t stick!  It appears this new Camera might work after all.

But just as you are accepting the new Camera into your life a new fault appears.  Its memory card is malfunctioning and it doesn’t capture every picture you take.  It is inconsistent and you soon learn that some pictures are blurry and some are clear, yet there is no pattern to it.  It also shuts off without warning, a feature your old Camera never would have done.  You go on-line and search for the answers, for the magic fix of others who have owned this very Camera, but there are none.  This Camera is unique to the world.

As time passes you learn to love your new Camera.   You start to accept it and now it has been so long since you saw your old Camera that you can’t really remember it.  Until you see the pictures it took and the time you shared.  And then you find yourself struggling with the loss all over again.  After all, saying goodbye is hard.  The rest of the world won’t see it.  They won’t see the differences; they won’t understand your grief.   This death has been invisible.

Your new Camera is by your side but you have had to learn a new way of managing it.  You have had to be patient, and creative, and you have had to find a new USB to connect your Camera to the world.  You have had to “figure it out on your own.”

 

I say a Brain Injury is an Invisible Death because it is.  You go through the same stages of grief, yet you do it beside the very person you are grieving for.  There is a lot of regret, sadness, anger, denial and acceptance.  But there is also gratefulness and hope.  There is a sense of a second chance.  And while you still must say goodbye to one life, there is a new life ready to be lived.  If only there were a manual on how to live it.