Home and Family, My Awakening

“You’re Good.”

Self awareness and growth are two aspects of life that I value very much. But, they are not always easy and often come with some discomfort. The last couple weeks have been full of personal epiphanies and a fair amount of tears.

When I realized that I’m a Perfectionist, or an Enneagram Type 1, it helped clarify a lot of aspects of how I process thoughts and feelings. I definitely related to the desire to control and the harsh inner critic that is constantly telling me what I should do or what could be done better. I related less intensely to the passion of this type which is resentment or repressed anger. Also, I didn’t focus on the desire to “be good” and take responsibility for everything.

Through a recent situation at work, I recognized that I’d spun quite a story in order to preserve my belief that I was good and right. As I unpacked what happened and how I’d responded, it was very apparent that being “good” was the motivation behind my behavior. I’ve also come to see how often I take responsibility for the outcome of situations that are really not under my control. This isn’t the best quality as a manager, since one of my primary jobs is to hold others accountable for their work performance!

As I’ve been processes these experiences, I’ve spent a lot of time praying. I’ve been feeling unsettled and realized that I’ve strayed from many of my mindfulness practices that help me stay in the moment. Instead, I’ve been fused with my thoughts, aka “stuck in my head”. This is the pattern of my life. Surrendering and letting go usually takes a few days of prayer, defusing my thoughts, and accepting my feelings.

This morning, bright and early, I sat outside and read the Bible and a few pages of Thomas Merton’s No Man Is An Island. Merton describes “pure intention” as the desire for God’s will and “impure intention” as the desire for your own will. This passage struck me powerfully:

Only a pure intention can be clear-sighed and prudent. The man of impure intention is hesitant and blind. Since he is always caught between two conflicting wills, he cannot make simple and clear-cut decisions. He has twice as much to think about as the man who seeks only the will of God, since he has to worry about his own will and God’s will at the same time. He cannot be really happy, because happiness is impossible without interior freedom, and we do not have interior freedom to do what we please without anxiety, unless we take pleasure in nothing but the will of God.

thomas merton

Wow. When Dennis and the kids came out to the backyard a few minutes later, I read them this passage and asked Dennis, “Can you read me this every morning?” He replied, “Let’s post it up all over the house!” He knows me well.

Sienna asked me what that passage meant. As I described it, I explained, “Sometimes I really like to feel in control, but it pits my will against God’s, which causes me a lot of unnecessary frustration and anxiety.” She looked at me with her big brown eyes (I swear that child looks straight into my soul) and simply said, “You’re good.” Those words touched something inside me as I’d recently come to know how deeply I desire to be good. Tears sprang to my eyes as I gave her a hug.

These tender moments of connection truly give life meaning. These are the moments that I miss when I’m “in my head” being all efficient and under control. While a desire to “be good” is a helpful trait, it can quickly become all consuming. Always being good is impossible and leads me away from dependence on Christ’s righteousness and grace. God is good and His will is perfect.

All my seeking and striving finally rest when I rest in God.

Home and Family, My Awakening

Intention WITH Action.

While on a prayerful run Saturday morning, I let my thoughts ebb and flow. I’d returned from a three-night work trip where I had several epiphanies about my identity as a leader and how I choose to spend my time. Suddenly, a phrase popped into my head: “Intention without action.” Hmm, interesting. For the past couple years, I’d been thinking about living intentionally. Just that week, I’d heard myself tell my Team that I had intended to do something that I’d neglected to do. A lot of good intentions do! In order to be a strong manager and leader, I need to take action. Intentions are very similar to plans, they are a good starting point, but meaningless if not put into action.

Years ago, I had a similar realization that life happens in the here-and-now. Instead of getting all caught up in my thoughts, plans (and intentions!), the fullness of life occurs when I focus my attention and awareness on doing something, or taking action. This is especially true when it comes to building relationships. All the good thoughts within my mind about a person or how our relationship could improve never make an impact on the other person! They only know my heart by the things I do.

After my run, Sienna and I had a mother/daughter date, starting at the hairdresser. As we were getting ready to leave and outlining out day, she said, “And then, we can come home and rearrange the pictures on my walls, right?” I agreed we would. After a fun and full day, I’d started to settle into an evening of reading outside when Sienna reminded me about her bedroom project. So, I mustered up the energy to put my book down and go into her room. As she started to explain her vision, I could feel a little resentment simmering inside. I wanted to read and retreat into my own little world.

Thankfully, a small little voice (the Holy Spirit most likely!) suddenly reminded me of my morning lesson: What you really want is to spend time with Sienna. That intention doesn’t build a relationship, these actions do. Be here now. We proceeded to spend over an hour rearranging the art on her walls and matting several of her drawings onto card stock so they’d look more uniform and artistic as a group. She was delighted and the finished room is beautiful!

Just as we were finishing up in Sienna’s room, Mateo burst into tears. That morning he and Dennis had seen The Art of Racing in the Rain and several of the images were “scary” to him. It’s a really emotional film and he was having a hard time processing all the real life drama. I sat with Teo for quite awhile, just letting him cry and reminding him to breathe! Sienna started trying to cheer him up. We moved outside to the fire pit, where Sienna retold him stories from the Ramona Quimby books. Teo started giggling through his tears. Then they got blankets out and read together. I hated to have to break-up this sweet, bonding moment when it was way past their (already late!) summer bedtime.

“That was nice of Sienna to cheer you up,” I said to Teo as he was getting into bed.

“Yeah, it really helped,” he’d simply replied with the sweetest smile.

The next morning at church, I whispered into Sienna’s ear: “You were such a kind big sister to Teo last night.” She smiled.

Witnessing this interaction, I was reminded again that relationships are built on action. If Sienna had just intended to be a loving sister or thought loving words about her brother while he was sad, it would not have much impact on Mateo or his perception of their relationship. Instead, by putting her love into action through storytelling and reading for him, she conveyed love and care much more than words or intentions ever could.

Over the past six years, mantras have been very helpful for me as I practice letting go of control and being present. “Intention without action” didn’t have quite the right ring to it. As I prayed about this simple phrase, it transformed into an affirmative statement: “Intention WITH action”. Much better! I’m going to post this reminder in various spots so I’ll remember to put my intentions into action by doing the things that will build relationships, both at home and at work.

Happy Monday everyone! May today be full of meaningful actions for you.

Uncategorized

The Joy and Angst of Film Viewing

Yesterday afternoon, Dennis and I were trying to decide on a movie to see for our date night that evening. One of our favorite babysitters, Grace, is home from college for the summer; so we scheduled a date night just to have her babysit one more time! Going to the movies requires a bit more planning these days as all our local theaters have assigned seats. It’s a cool change, but you have to plan ahead unless you don’t mind craning your neck from the front row!

We’d heard good things about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood but I was a bit dubious. I’m not a Quentin Tarantino fan. My attempt at watching Kill Bill several years ago was quickly abandoned when the violence and disturbing images became too much for me. Visual images REALLY stick with me. I’ve been haunted by many movies over the years. My brother is an independent film producer but there are many of his films I cannot bring myself to see. I’ll force myself to endure something disturbing for my brother, not so much for Mr. Tarantino.

But, in an effort to embrace “feeling my feelings” (this is the same logic that caused me to watch The Shining a few years ago – a decision I’ve regretted ever since!) I said, “Let’s go for it!” and we purchased two tickets online. Then, I decided to Google “How much violence is in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and found several reviews. Turns out that most of the violence is saved for the end of the movie, during the scenes of the Manson murders. As I read a few reviews, I was already repulsed.

“What was I thinking? I can’t watch this movie!” I exclaimed to Dennis.

“Okay, we don’t have to. Can you get a refund?” he replied.

Turns out, you can! I quickly clicked on the Fandango link and chose the “Our plans have changed” option. You forfeit your convenience fee, but the ticket price can be refunded. Whew, what a relief!

We decided to see the romantic comedy Yesterday instead – much more our pace! It was a delightful little film! The premise is a struggling musician in England has a head injury and wakes up in a world without The Beatles. His manager and longtime friend Ellie stands by his side as he recovers and starts performing The Beatles’ songs in local pubs. Jack ends up becoming super famous for these songs and he has to decide whether to continue with this lie or return to a more fulfilling, smaller life back in England.

I’m not a big fan of The Beatles. I know that’s not a popular thing to say! I just didn’t listen to them very much growing up and haven’t listened to a lot of their music since. But, of course everyone knows their songs! Seeing this movie gave me a new appreciation for their music. I also loved the quirky dynamic between the two main characters – Jack and Ellie. And best of all, I had a lovely restful night without being haunted by scary images. To thine own self be true!

Home and Family

Fun Ways to Pass the Time on Family Road Trips…

Who doesn’t love a good family road trip?! We are big fans and our little ones are pretty good travelers. However, since we’re a decidedly low-tech family and don’t bring any screens along, we inevitably need some games or activities to pass the time. On our way back from Arizona last year, Mateo asked us to tell him “everything that happened” between our wedding and his birth. That tale passed a lot of time! Another fun car activity is just listening to music. I have the fondest memories of little Teo singing along with Alan Jackson to “When Somebody Loves You”. Alan Jackson is our favorite!

This year, we stumbled upon a couple new “games”. Teo came up with the first one, which we’re dubbing The Favorites Game. We each took turns coming up with a category, such as “type of dog” or “color” or “tree” then everyone went around the car sharing their favorites. We covered several topics, including state in the U.S., country, song, movie, etc. You get the idea! Although Dennis had to be somewhat prodded into playing along, this is actually pretty fun and insightful!

The other activity isn’t really a game, but the kids kept referring to it that way. As we were listening to Pandora, whichever adult wasn’t driving became the D.J. while we took turns requesting songs. Obviously, this can go on for hours! The variety of music was really fun as Teo methodically chose every Journey song he knew then several Queen songs. Dennis kept us guessing with selections from various genres and eras. Sienna kept choosing musical numbers from the new Aladdin movie and the animated ballet movie Leap!

Part of the fun is anticipating what each other will select. It’s also fun to plan ahead to what surprising song you’ll request next. The kids kept exclaiming things like: “I know the next three songs I’m going to pick!” At one point, as we approached Oxnard, I thought to myself: I’ll pick Green Day’s “21 Guns” next. A minute later it was Dennis’s turn and he chose 21 Guns! “Crazy, I was just thinking of that song!” I exclaimed.

As we sat in Southern California summer weekend traffic on our return trip home, our musical request “game” morphed into something new. Dennis chose a song from the Les Miserables movie soundtrack, which prompted the kids to start asking about the story. We ended up playing nearly the entire soundtrack while taking mini breaks between songs to explain what was happening and filling in context. This was super fun! Since we’ve really fallen in love with musicals, this will surely provide hours of entertainment in future family road trips!

What games or activities do you play on road trips?

Lutheranism

Grace Never Asks for Perfection

When I dig deep into my heart and look closely at my tendency to try to control my life, I often feel sheepish and silly. Perfectionism is such a ridiculous condition for a Christian! I believe that we are all sinners: …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3: 23 – 25). But, then I so easily slip into behaviors that reflect different beliefs. These include striving to improve myself, ordering my external and internal worlds, and seeking to do the “good” and “right” thing at all times. In other words my actions take on the utmost importance in my life as I basically tell God, “Thanks for everything! I’ve got it from here…”

In Chapter 5 of Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus concludes the challenging directive to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… by announcing: You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). Yikes! Doesn’t that just sound condemning! I absolutely cannot be perfect enough for God’s standards. Fortunately, God knew this and provided an answer to our human condition by sending Jesus to be the substitute and propitiation for our sins. He upheld the law of perfection and, when we’re united to Him, His perfect righteousness covers our sinful hearts.

There is rhetoric within Christian communities that promotes the idea that we need to earn God’s favor through our actions. Our former pastor referred to these practices as “sin management programs”, as if we could somehow perfect ourselves by managing our behavior. Fortunately, I’m also hearing more honest and true representations of the “Law vs. Gospel” distinction in contemporary Christian music, which makes my heart happy! One example is from a favorite running song of mine, “Even Then” by Micah Tyler:

When the days up ahead look a little bit brighter
But the grip of the past holds a little bit tighter
I’m reminded Your grace never asks for perfection
Oh I’m restored ’cause I’m Yours and I stand forgiven

That simple line (the one in bold!) always grabs my heart. God’s grace doesn’t demand my perfection. In fact, the idea that I need to be perfect is basically a rejection of God’s grace. Grace is completely unmerited favor. I don’t deserve it at all. None of us can earn something that God freely gives out of His divine love. The MercyMe song “Best Day Ever” also captures this beautifully:

Some say, “Don’t give up”
And hope that your good is good enough
Head down, keep on working
If you could earn it, you deserve it
Some say, “Push on through”
After all, it’s the least that you can do
But don’t buy, what they’re selling
It couldn’t be further from the truth…

Some say, “Don’t ask for help”
God helps the ones who help themselves
Press on, get it right
Otherwise, get left behind
Some say, “He’s keeping score”
So try hard, then try a little more
Hold up, if this were true
Explain to me, what the cross is for

The simplicity of song lyrics often captures an idea in such a poignant way, so that I feel it rather than think about it. Truly, if we are able to be perfect enough for God’s standards, why would Jesus have to die for our sins? When we worry about God “keeping score” and tallying up our sins versus our good deeds, we take matters into our own hands rather than surrendering and resting in Jesus’s perfect atonement for us.

Recognizing our neediness before God completely overturns the modern focus on self-actualization. Instead of striving and trying to control the world around us, we can remember Paul’s experience of the thorn in his side: Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Corinthians 12: 8-11).

God’s strength is made perfect in us when we stop trying to be strong and instead rest in his all sufficient grace. Amen!

My Awakening, Running

Mindful Practices that Enhance My Morning Run

There’s truly nothing like running to work on my mindfulness practices! (By the way, I have definitely written about this topic previously… ) This morning I was able to get in a lot of exercise while spending time with God in prayer and letting my feelings ebb and flow without trying to control them. Over the last several years of running, I have accumulated tips and techniques to maintain presence so that I enjoy the act of running, not just the feeling of having accomplished a run.

Sometimes, not always, I’ll choose to leave my running watch at home. That’s what I decided today. I was headed to Miramar Lake, which is a 5 mile loop, so I can basically track my distance without the watch. Having my mile times staring me in the face often causes me to pick up the pace. It also has the effect of measuring my activity in a way that can detract from the prayerful, meditative atmosphere I so enjoy.

Along the same lines, I didn’t set out to accomplish a certain number of miles. Time and again I have gotten a particular mile goal in mind, only to become frustrated and disappointed when my body, the elements, my blood sugar, or some other factor caused me to cut the run short. Much better to start running with the mindset that I’ll run as much as I feel like running, that day.

I love how running long distances mirrors the ebb and flow of life. There will be several moments in any given run when I’d rather be doing anything else! Little aches, feeling sluggish, and obsessing about how much father I still have to go are just a few of the things that can get me down. However, there are also many moments where I feel elated, energized, happy, and free. In those moments I feel like I could run forever! The trick is, you have to push through the moments of struggle and pain in order to experiences the running highs. Just like in life. Rarely do we succeed or accomplish anything difficult without some challenging moments when we have to dig down and give more effort. Another aspect of changing feelings is the realization that whatever I’m currently experiencing is temporary. I may ache and feel like quitting right now, but give it another mile or so, and that feeling likely will have changed. This too have implications for life, in that we shouldn’t make major life altering decisions based on potentially fleeting emotional states.

Listening to music provides the background to my thoughts and feelings throughout a long run. I love setting the shuffle feature to my running playlist that includes a little bit of Justin Timberlake and Green Day plus a lot of MercyMe and Micah Tyler songs. The mix keeps it interesting and the Christian music helps maintain a prayerful heart. It’s fun experience that little moment of anticipation between songs when you wonder “Which song will play next?” Also, I love letting my pace and energy level change to match the tempo of each given song. Often a couple fact paced songs will be followed by a slower tempo that naturally provides a recovery period before I pick up the pace again.

While running, my thoughts come and go so easily. One minute I’ll be thinking about work situations, another I will remember something we need to do for the kids. Certain songs will make me reflective about my relationships. Others will touch my heart and help me surrender more deeply to God’s plan for my life. The ability to let my thoughts flow from one topic to another without getting “hooked” into rumination has been a huge part of my growth. Running is such a great activity for practicing this mindfulness technique. When I start fixating on the pain or frustration of running, I can simply change the focus of my attention to the world around me. I’ll notice the beautiful lake water, the sound of birds chirping, smile at other runners or walkers as we pass by, or simply focus on my breathing or running stride for several steps.

Today’s run was a really good one! The weather was wonderfully overcast and even a little chilly for summer in San Diego – great running conditions! I thoroughly enjoyed running, praying, and my meditative mindset this morning. Since I didn’t go too fast on the first lap, I was up for running another full lap around the lake for a total of 10 miles. Not too bad for a Wednesday morning!

Home and Family, My Awakening, Uncategorized

Tender Moments Abound

Yesterday evening, Dennis, Teo and I did a boxing workout in our very hot garage.  The guys had been talking about getting a heavy bag for months and then they went on sale at the local sporting goods store. So, they got their wish and a 100 pound heavy bag now dominates our garage.  When the kids were up in Humboldt earlier this summer, I did my first workout with Dennis and really enjoyed it!

With the Rocky soundtrack in the background, we rotated rounds on the bag and I got such a kick out of watching Mateo punch!  He is pretty coordinated and loves all kinds of physical activity.  It’s really cool to watch the dynamic when Dennis is teaching Teo how to do something or encouraging his efforts. Teo really likes to do what’s expected and do it well.  When I’m teaching him something, I can feel our inner perfectionists colliding and it doesn’t bring out the best in either of us.  Whereas, Dennis is just matter-of-fact and unemotional as he coaches and teaches. I feel such peace when they’re interacting, like I can just step back and rest.

Taking in the moment, I couldn’t help but lament at how big Mateo looks now – especially while wailing away on a 100 pound heavy bag!  At one point Dennis and I locked eyes after he’d just reminded Teo to “Keep your wrist straight!” and we both smiled.  There’s truly nothing like the bond of two parents sharing love and devotion for this particular child.  I quipped, “These are the days of our lives” and Dennis solemnly nodded.  This is our shorthand for reminding ourselves that we’re going to look back on these days with longing when the kids grow up and leave our nest.

Later in the evening, I sat in the reading chair in our bedroom while Sienna was in the shower.  Suddenly, through the noise of falling water, I noticed she was singing “True Colors”.  Oh how I love her sweet singing voice!  I put my book down and just listened, knowing I was fortunate to hear this private moment.  My mom is a singer and she has encouraged Sienna to sing, praising her beautiful voice.  I’ve also encouraged her, but she’s reluctant to perform in front of people.  I reflected on her nervousness about performing as I listened to her sing:

I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful 

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This morning, Sienna has to get up early for math tutoring so I went into her room to wake her up.  As I gently stroked her face, she smiled and asked me to stay a minute.  I cuddled up next to her and kept running my hand over her forehead.  The lyrics to “True Colors” were still running through my head, so I softly sang the chorus to her.

“I sure loved hearing you sing last night,” I told her.

“I love you too, Mommy” she replied.

There are so many sweet, sacred moments of connection available to us each day.  I can often get caught up in the routines of work, household chores, exercise, preparing meals, reading, and all the rest.  When I slow down and pay full attention to the present, to my family and the life unfolding around me, tender moments abound.

Home and Family, My Awakening, Uncategorized

A More Meaningful Morning…

I have a little buddy with me at the office today.  Sienna came along to work for the morning!  It’s time sheet day, so a chunk of my morning was spent reviewing time sheets and getting them submitted to payroll, so it seemed like a good morning for a visit.  She brought along her math book and a couple books to read.  We also recently discovered a math flashcard app, so she’s been practicing her multiplication facts on the phone.

It’s fun having her here!  It makes my regular routine of making coffee, reading my daily devotion, reviewing emails, and moderating the morning call with my Team all take on new meaning.  She asked about the time sheets, so I described what I was reviewing and what it all meant.  When I applied my electronic signature to the document, Sienna exclaimed “Wow, you’re good at that!”.  Oh, the innocence and enthusiasm of youth!

Family

Sometimes I look at life from my kids’ perspective and it gives the moment an entirely new meaning.  This is just another Monday in the office for me, made more fun and engaging by my daughter’s presence.  When Sienna looks back on her childhood, she’ll have fond memories of being in her mom’s office.  She had pieces of candy as part of her breakfast and made a cup of hot chocolate along with my coffee at the Keurig machine.  She’s now drawing a picture of our house and family on my whiteboard so I can look at it fondly when I’m at the office.

These sweet little moments are the good stuff.  I love being present and mindful enough to truly notice them.

Books Worth Reading, Home and Family, My Awakening, Uncategorized

Each of us is unfinished.

When Dennis and I got married, we were already nostalgic about the life that lay ahead of us.  One of our wedding songs was “Remember When” by Alan Jackson.  It’s such a sweet song about a couple looking back on the milestones of their life together, from a vantage point of their senior years.  One line says, “Remember when thirty seemed so old…” which was funny to me, being that I was just shy of 25 years old when we got married!

I’ve often been told that I’m an “old soul” and I relate to that idea.  The feeling of looking back over my life nostalgically feeds something deep within me.  I just finished reading a book that brought all this up: A Year By the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson.  It’s a memoir of Joan’s year of separation from her husband as she hunkered down in their Cape Cod cottage to rediscover herself after a lifetime of taking care of her kids, husband, house, etc.

Dennis and Kelsey

Many of the lessons Joan learns during her year by the sea felt so familiar as they echoed my own awakening.  She has a perfectionist streak that she had to release and spent a lot of time “in her head” and disconnected from her body and feelings.  A mantra that I repeat to myself often is “why don’t I wait and see…?” This is a reminder that I don’t know how I will feel later or how a situation will unfold, and I don’t have to try to control it either.  Joan says: “In the words of Picasso, ‘I find, I do not seek.’ No longer desperate to know every outcome, these days I tend to wait and see, a far more satisfying way of being that lacks specificity and instead favors experience over analysis.”  Oh, so good!

In another passage, Joan is reflecting upon her relationship with her adult sons and their wives.  She describes the challenge of knowing where she fits in their lives as her role transitions from guide to supporter.  Joan shares that her sons seem reluctant to share their struggles or failures with their parents: “It occurs to me that I will continue to know my children less if they think I want them to be more.  Seeking perfection is a terrible thing when it robs you of truth.” Although Sienna and Mateo are still many years from leaving the nest, this reminder felt so poignant.  They both want to please Dennis and me very much.  As the years unfold, I hope to communicate openness and acceptance to them, along with encouraging their striving for excellence.

For many years, my striving for control could also be described as trying to “figure everything out”.  I’d often get this unsettled, seeking feeling that I finally recognized was that desire to figure something out.  Now, I realize that no one ever has it all figured out.  Life is constantly changing.  We are constantly growing and embracing the next phase of life.  There are certainly aspects to each of us that are unchanging and constant, but life serves up plenty of new experiences, circumstances, and lessons to learn.

Joan refers to this idea as being unfinished.  I love that word!  It denotes the opposite of being “all figured out” or complete.  As she and her husband reconcile, Joan concludes her year by the sea with this line: “Like me, he is on a new path.  I can only sit by and honor what is unfinished in him – in all of us.”  This line touched my heart, as Dennis and me are embarking on a new chapter of our life together.

At the end of June, Dennis “retired” from the law firm he worked at for almost 30 years!  He’s now going to be a “stay-at-home Dad” to our children.  The timing is great as my job now involves a fair amount of travel throughout Southern California. The past few weeks we’ve spent a lot of time sharing our hopes and dreams for the future and discussing the practicalities of this change in our routine.  The feelings of partnership and commitment have overflowed.

The other night, we were watching Frozen with the kids and I cuddled in next to Dennis on the couch.  Sienna looked at us and said, “You two are so cute!”  For some reason, this little exchange was so fulfilling.  As much as we focus on our children, they will eventually grow up and start their own lives.  When they do, Dennis and me need to have a strong relationship that will help us transition into the “empty nest” stage of life.

Maybe this is the benefit of looking at your life from the “old soul” perspective of experience?  This current stage of life, as wonderful and all-consuming as it is, will eventually pass and we’ll be looking back on it nostalgically.  The relationships we’re building now will, (God willing!) be the foundations of our lives then.  All the little seeds we sow, from daily connection with our spouse, to the acceptance we show our children, we will eventually reap later in life.  Each of us is unfinished.  How exciting to watch it all unfold!

Diabetes, Uncategorized

26 Years

Today is the 26th anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  Every year I mark this day on the calendar and anticipate it.  It may seem odd to “celebrate” such a tragic day in my life.  But, I see it as a time to reflect on the years I’ve spent managing this disease and give thanks for being healthy and (knock on wood) complication free after all these years.

I recently stopped using an insulin pump and returned to injections.  There wasn’t one big catalyst for this change.  My pump warranty expired several months ago and my insurance company has made a special deal with one particular pump company that I refuse to use.  I researched other pumps, but didn’t feel drawn to any of them.  I’ve been pumping for over five years, after taking a three year break when Teo was born.  I was tired of being tethered to the pump.

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One of the big virtues of pumping insulin is the ability to make small tweaks throughout the day by bolusing (delivering insulin) with the touch of a couple buttons.  The thing is, this makes it really easy to snack all throughout the day or overeat.  For example, tortilla chips at a party.  If I ended up eating more than originally planned, I can just keep delivering insulin to cover them.  I felt ready to be more intentional about my eating and injection insulin would make that a necessity.

Last time I used long acting insulin to cover my basal needs, the best option was Lantus.  I assumed that’s what I’d be using again.  But, my medical team advised that I use a newer insulin called Tresiba.  They explained that it lasts longer than 24 hours so you don’t have to be as precise about dose timing.  Also, it takes a few days to “build up” in your system to work at full capacity.

The first day of injections, my blood sugars ran high ALL day.  I was injecting fast acting insulin constantly.  It was very frustrating, but I remembered the advice about Tresiba and talked myself down.  It was such an opportunity to practice letting go of my need for control and recognizing that change and transition are going to bring emotional upheaval!  By the third day, my blood sugars ran low as the Tresbia was fully functional and I’d quickly become accustomed to bolusing extra insulin for meals.  Eventually it all leveled out and I got the hang of it.

Diabetes has had such a huge impact on my life.  When my blood sugars are high or low, it receives a lot of my mental and emotional energy.  Each time I test my blood sugar or check my continuous glucose monitoring system, the result potentially impacts my emotional state.  A “good” number (typically 80 – 160) is met with satisfaction and contentment.  Whereas a “bad” number (anything outside 80 – 160) can trigger guilt, frustration, and anger.

I sometimes ponder what came first, my desire for order and control (aka perfectionism) or Type 1 Diabetes…?  They have certainly developed simultaneously in my life.  Diabetes provides circumstances that exacerbate my desire for control.  That’s even what they extol as the great virtue of diabetes management: being under control!  However, diabetes also provides many daily opportunities to let go of perfectionism and reject the judgments of personal worth based on the current data point of my blood sugar.

While diabetes can be very demanding, there are many times when it hums along in the background of my consciousness and doesn’t demand much attention.  It can be like time in that regard, while always present, it can also slip by without notice for periods.  Speaking of time, when I was diagnosed doctors said diabetes would be cured in five years.  That was 21 years ago.  While technology has made diabetes much easier to live with and manage, a true cure is not something I anticipate or hope for in my lifetime.  I’m sure they’ll figure out the artificial pancreas or closed-loop system at some point.

I’ve come to realize that managing diabetes will look different throughout my lifetime.    Diabetes management could involve pumping insulin, using injections, manual blood sugar testing or wearing a CGM.  Lots of ways to accomplish the same thing: know what your blood sugar is and decide how much insulin you need.  I’m not going to master one way of managing diabetes and use it forever.  Life isn’t like that, we change, grow and adapt.  This is one of the lessons that diabetes has helped me learn.