I haven't actually done any volunteering so this post is a little bit premature but... my blog; my rules!
I have been looking for volunteer opportunities for a while now. I felt as if something was missing and that I needed an outlet outside of work. I also felt called to do something more than myself- to give back to my community. So I was on the hunt. And there are a lot of opportunities working with children. Those were always the first things that would come up. The problem: I don't love kids. I really only like them on a case-by-case basis. :) So my search continued...
Not long ago, I was at Overton Square crawfish fest and they had vendor booths set up. We stopped by the booth for Literacy Midsouth and talked to the volunteer for a little while. Everyone grabbed a koozie and moved on, but I got a bookmark with more information and continued to think about it.
Then I went home to find out more information about it. It is basically a program to teach literacy in Memphis. Most of the learners are adults with a specific goal (to get their GED, apply for a job, get a driver's license, etc.) or ESL adults. I was intrigued and so I filled out the volunteer application.
Last Saturday I went to volunteer training. It was a good training, but a lot of information. I should get an email soon with information about the person that they matched me with and a baseline assessment to get a better idea of their starting level. I'm a little overwhelmed. I'm worried that I'm not qualified to do this- that I won't be patient enough or won't be able to effectively communicate. But I'm also excited about it. I'm excited to be able to help someone else in this way and expand someone's world through words!
I'm also pretty excited about just getting to hang out at the library!
Somehow I have turned in to an impromptu therapist. And it's kind of freaking me out!
It started off innocently enough. One of the girls from work would talk to me about her crushes or dates she had been on when she would see me on the floor. It then progressed to random texts. No big deal. Dating and crushes- I can handle. I may be a total train wreck when it comes to myself, but I am generally better at giving advice to others. But then she kind of started dating this guy and I know better than anyone that flirting is all fun and games, but dating brings up all sorts of previously repressed shit!
What started as talking about frivolous escapades quickly escalated to insecurities and past hurts. And wow! I felt privileged to be let in, but also like I was responsible for something fragile and had to treat it that way. I felt inadequate and as if I didn't have the words that would make things better and take away hurt. Therapy is a big responsibility, y'all! One night after a particular text, I had no idea what to say. I literally had no words. I was afraid to say the wrong thing and make things worse, or say something flippant and appear calloused. So I got in the shower. It's where I do my best thinking, after all! And I prayed- for guidance, for the right words to say, for the way they were received. Then I got out and texted her back. I don't know if anything I said was helpful or resonated with her at all, but I hope it did.
It made me start thinking. I always say that God wants us in a place of total dependence on Him and that He will do whatever it takes to get us there. Most of the time, for me, this involves tears, kicking, and screaming. But I think this was another subtle way to get my attention and bring my focus back to Him.
Guys, I can do nothing without Him! He continues to remind me to return to Him. To come to Him for strength, and peace, and rest. To return to Him to provide daily bread- the nourishment that only He can!
Today is my mom's birthday! We are planning to go out to dinner and celebrate...
But last weekend, we threw them a surprise party and it turned out better than I expected. There were some flaws in the initial plan. The twins are very stubborn and controlling! Ha! Our initial idea was to have my uncle suggest that the 4 of them go out to dinner. They turned that down because they said that they didn't want "a big party." We had to move on to plan B (or C). My aunt thought that my uncle had brought her to Memphis for a nice dinner just the 2 of them and my mom thought she was going to dinner with me and my dad. The one hitch in our plan: it was the weekend of Music Fest so traffic/parking downtown was crazy!
The "kids" all met at my house and ubered down. We had a private room reserved. Everyone stayed in the room to set up the table and place pictures and I went outside to wait and act as the decoy. My aunt and uncle arrived first. At first my aunt thought it was just a coincidence that I was down there. Then when she realized we were all together, I acted like it was just going to be the 5 of us. "You don't mind if I join in on a couples dinner, do you?"
When my parents showed up, my mom and aunt went and got drinks at the bar while my dad parked the car. I anxiously waited for my dad to park, while keeping an eye on my mom and aunt to make sure they didn't wander too much. Then I sent my cousin a text that we were walking in and the hostess took us in. I wish I had a picture of their reaction to the surprise. You could literally see every emotion pass over their faces. They smiled, laughed, and ultimately cried. They were both so surprised! And shocked that everyone was in town. My mom cried the hardest when she saw my brother. She had no idea he was in town from Seattle. It was even better when we told her that he had been in town for days and even spent the night at her house one night without her knowing!
There were plenty of hugs and some pictures before we finally sat down. There was a set menu for the dinner with a few select options for each course. Everything was incredible!
We spent dinner listening to stories about the twins growing up and hearing about how they met and started dating my dad and uncle. We were all laughing so hard we were crying. I'm pretty sure our waiter was a little bit scared of us!
Then between the entrees and dessert, all the kids stood up to share how much the twins meant to us and what we had learned growing up with what felt like 2 moms. There were some laughs at some of the memories, but overall these were pretty sentimental and I'm pretty sure I cried through every single one of them! When the prepared speeches were finished, the spouses and husbands said some impromptu words. Super sweet!
Overall, the night was amazing! The food was wonderful. The wine was flowing. And the memories made and reminisced were priceless!
Happy birthday, Paula and Pamela! I love you both so much. You have made me the woman that I am today. Finish Strong!
I hate fighting. I really do. And you're one of the only people that I care about enough to fight with. I know that doesn't make it better. But that's why I get upset. Because I care. Because I'm invested in us. Maybe too invested.
I know I overreacted and blew things out of proportion. I know that I said some things just for dramatic effect. But you knew too. You knew I was vulnerable. You knew what you could have said to make things better. And you didn't. Instead you played into my rant and said all the things that you knew would push my buttons. Things that would push me further away. Things that would cause me to put my guard back up. And it worked.
Now we're not talking. Because we are both stubborn and neither one of us wants to give in first and apologize. Or just have a normal conversation and pretend like this never happened. But I don't think that we can just pretend this time. The elephant is still in the room. It will come up again. Pretending won't make it go away. It will just delay the inevitable. But I feel uneasy and insecure when I think about it. I hate that. I hate the tension.
So for what it's worth, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I'm not sorry for what I said. It was how I felt and it needed to be said. But I'm sorry if I upset you. And I miss you. A lot.
* If you have no idea what I'm talking about, consider yourself lucky. But if you're just curious and want more details into my crazy mind, you can read all about it in my book. As soon as I finish it. #MyLifeonRepeat
Have you ever been walking through fog and not even realized it? At least not until you are out in the clear skies and look back on it? I think that's pretty common. We get used to our current situation and think that it's normal until we realize what "normal" really is.
That's been my life recently. I've been walking through the fog without even realizing it. See, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Starting in about November, I prepare for hibernation. I physically feel heavier- like I am dragging weights behind me. I am trudging along through the fog. I am usually aware of it in November. I tell myself that this year it will be different and I will do things to combat it.
And then as the days go on, I adjust to it. I try to justify my feelings. I chalk it up to being an introvert and needing time to myself to decompress after working with people all day. That's true. I am an introvert. I do need to compress, but I also need people. Coming home after work and going straight to bed for the night and isolating on the weekends isn't introversion; it's depression. But it became my normal. Part of the issue is that I have dealt with major depression. I know what that feels like and this doesn't feel or act like that. So I began to accept it as "just how life is."
Until the sun starts peeking out and the temperature rises. In the Spring, I start to feel better and have more energy. I'm ready to engage with the world again. That's when I realize how weighted down I had been. That's when I turn around and recognize the fog that I am finally escaping.
I wish that I could say this has happened once and I now know how to handle it, but I seem to fall into the same trap every year. I keep telling myself I need to try light therapy. Maybe this year I'll actually buy one- before the symptoms start. Thanks to all my friends that stand by me through the hard times and cold. Thanks to the ones who patiently wait for me to return to the land of the living or who offer to come over and sit with me while I melt into the couch in sweatpants. Thanks to the people who are still there and ready to hang out and be supportive after I have isolated and avoided them for months.
Thanks! I need you guys. I need you like I need the sunshine!