Waiting For Someone to Flip a Switch

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I live in a small concrete room.  It has one narrow window with bars across it.  The soundproof glass is dusty and finger-printed but from the outside so there’s nothing I can do to clean it.

Inside the room there is a thermostat on the ceiling.  The temperature reads 50 degrees but I can’t reach it to control it.  Once in a while the temperature will readjust itself to 67, or 95, and back to 50.  I just angrily watch it shift without my permission.

Every once in a while someone enters the room.  They seem not to notice I am there.  I speak to them but when they finally speak back, its in a different language.  I repeat the same sentence over and over to them, getting more and more frustrated at their baffled expression.  It makes perfect sense to me.  As they conclude that we will never understand one another, they leave the room from where they came.  I wish I knew how to unlock the door.

Later, the same person returns but with a train of people following.  Each looks at me sympathetically but does nothing to help me and then exits the room as a group.  I’m confused about their purpose as I’m left standing in this room alone.

Outside the window there is a stage.  Throughout the day people enter the stage.  I can see people on the outside watching them happily, clapping occasionally, and then moving on.  I wish I could be on that stage.

Without warning, someone will appear and announce to me plainly, in my own language, that they need something from me.  My mind becomes clear and I feel a breeze coming through the window that is usually sealed shut.  I have a purpose.  I ask them what they need, and they lead me out of the room and to the stage.  While I’m on that stage I forget where I came from or who led me there.  People are watching me.  Really seeing me.  This is where I belong.

It ends as quickly as it began and I find myself looking out the barred window at someone who looks just like me, only she’s smiling and there are people surrounding her.  I think maybe that person is the real me, and the person in this room is only dreaming.  I wish she would look at me so I can give her some kind of sign that I need her help.

I watch the smiling girl and take note of her mannerisms, wondering if they’re real or if she came from a room just like mine.  I try not to judge and just enjoy watching “myself” be happy.  The thought comes to me that maybe one day I can be just like her all the time.  If that is the truth, can I handle this small concrete room with the dirty, barred window for a while longer knowing what I have to look forward to?

Yes, I think, I can.

But what happens when the sun goes down and I can’t see the stage, or the girl?

After what seems like an eternity of silence and darkness the door opens, letting in a flood of light, and someone comes in.  They look familiar.  They’re smiling and greet me warmly.  I should be as happy to see them as they are to see me.  I bury my face in my hands as they embrace me.  When I look up and scan my surroundings, the person is gone, but I’m standing outside.  I can hear birds and laughter.  I’m not alone, in fact I’m holding the hand of a young child who is gazing up at me.  She tells me that she loves me.  I take a deep breath.

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Even if you know me well, you may still not know that I struggle with depression and anxiety.  The anxiety part is a little more obvious.  The depression part is much better concealed.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when it started, but what I do know is that until I had children I had many more things to distract me from how I really felt deep down.  I was rarely alone; I had great friends and a supportive family, lots of activities and goals that consumed every waking (and non-waking) thought.

For the first year Aaron and I were married, I worked as part-time faculty in the dance department of the college I graduated from, followed by a short stint as a secretary in the hospital ER.  Both jobs were somewhat fulfilling, but as I only worked part-time I spent a lot of time home alone while Aaron was at work.  I had no roommates, and now that we had moved to a new town I had no friends.

When my daughter was born, I decided not to go back to work.  And I have been not working ever since.  For 7 years, I have been in my house.  Alone.  I still have difficulty making friends as close as the ones I had in college.  The decision to go back to work is always there, but this is where the anxiety kicks in.  Where do I take my kids?  What qualifications do I have?  Is there actually a job I would enjoy enough to make up for the guilt I feel about not being a stay-at-home mom?

I wrote the above short-story last week — I was having a very bad day — to try to put into words how it feels to be depressed and anxious.  It was the over-analyzer in me trying to make sense of my brain.  It was therapeutic to write it, but I worried about how people I care about would take it.  So I had my sister and my husband read it for me.

I don’t think they got it.  At least not Aaron, bless his Mr. Rogers heart.  And as I tried to explain myself I felt less and less validated that my feelings were real and uncontrollable.

But it is real.  I have spent many years feeling trapped and alone.  My prayers (when I have the energy and courage to say them) consist of anything from begging for a miracle to admitting that I give up.  I feel forgotten and usually angry when I think that my prayers don’t change anything.

Today I saw this video.

When I got to the part in my story about what would happen when the sun goes down, I felt very hopeless and had no idea what to write from there.  Suddenly, as if someone was putting thoughts in my head, I started typing and what came out was that someone who cares about me, who knows me, entered into my lonely room and gave me peace when I least expected it.  I didn’t know what to think of that.  A part of me thought of Aaron and his support for me even during my most difficult times.

But as I watched this video today, the very strong realization came over me that no matter how lost I feel and that no one is listening or understanding, my Heavenly Father is watching over me and has his hand in my life.  But his timing is different from mine and he knows best when to interfere and when to let things play their course.  In the mean time, he needs me on his side.  Today.

I loved the end of this video: It is part of our condition as Mortals to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness.  But even though we may feel lost, God promises to illuminate the way before us…no matter how long it takes.

Spiritual light rarely comes to those who merely sit in darkness, waiting for someone to flip a switch.  It takes an act of faith to open our eyes to the light of Christ.

Twenty years later, I still don’t know everything, but I now know who I am.  And I know who God is.

I have a feeling that there will be no Mary Poppins that shows up on my door step to take care of my kids, clean my house, get me my dream job, all the while singing happy songs.  But there will be a day when a feeling of peace comes over me.  When I feel as if someone is hugging me.  When I feel as if I am home.

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Drive-through candy stores

As my boys and I were driving home from dropping Jade off at school, Calder says, “A candy store!  Look mom, its the sucker store!”  I looked to see where he was pointing.  It didn’t take me long to realize he thought the bank was the sucker store.

“Oh.  No, Calder, that’s the bank.  It’s where we keep our money.”

“Bunny?!”  He exclaimed.

“Noooo.  No.  Money.  Like dollar bills.  Do you know what a dollar bill is?”

“Buildings?!”  Everest chimed in (“bill is” to “buildings” — sort of a stretch, I know).  “I looove buildings!  I wish I had a…I wish I was…a…I wish I had a construction hat!”  Calder nodded and giggled in agreement and they spent the rest of the drive home singing songs about building things.

I can’t stop laughing as I share this.  Of course he thought the place where we drive up to a window, stop and wait, and are given a sucker, was the “sucker store”.  Recently we went through a drive-through pharmacy and the kids chorused, “Suckers!”  Apparently drive-through=sucker.

Being the overanalyzer that I am, when I got home I started thinking about how this early childhood development theory, sometimes called schema, applies to life as an adult.  Don’t we all organize and interpret information into a conception based on our reality?  And isn’t it really difficult, and sometimes frustrating, when people have beliefs or fears that we can’t comprehend?

Calder also has a lot of fears (the dark, monsters, ghosts…digital clocks…the usual).  We’re really careful to sensor the things that he takes in from the media but you just never know how things are being processed.  And explaining to Calder that the clock isn’t scary when his hysterical “the car is counting down!  It’s gonna explode!” clearly says otherwise, doesn’t cut it.  Since digital clocks are everywhere, sometimes this can be infuriating.

But all I can do for him is assure him that things are going to be okay and be patient while he figures things out for himself.  Sometimes we have to tape a piece of paper over the clock numbers which isn’t so hard.  And sometimes, at the bank, they’ll give us an extra sucker just for me.

Why DJ Lance would make a good president

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Meet DJ Lance, star of the Nickelodeon show Yo Gabba Gabba and my sons’ favorite Television host.

Since I’m quite confident this is something you have not previously considered, I thought it would be of some value to bring to your attention a short list of reasons why I believe he would make a great—or at least better—American president.

•He encourages strong family values, which are severely lacking into today’s world.

•He promotes healthy living habits, which is apparent from his track suit.  These include such things as balanced diet, getting enough rest, adequate exercise, good oral hygiene, as well as emotional health and happiness.

•He’s an advocate for equal rights and accepting each others’ differences.

•He hopes to contribute to the advancement of a green world.

•He embraces creativity and adventure, while supporting a proper formal education.

•He has impressive public speaking skills; he speaks very clearly and never stammers or fumbles his words.

•He works along side Gabba creator, Christian Jacobs, who is Mormon, which means he has a strong understanding and support of religious differences.

•While my knowledge of his stance on foreign policy is very limited, I imagine it would include such words as “peace”, “compromise”, and “sharing”.

•And if the way a president LOOKS is important to you, I think its pretty clear that he would fit right in.

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Write in Lance Robertson for Election 2016.  DJ Lance for President!

Leave No Path Untaken

I do some of my deepest thinking when I’m walking or jogging outside by myself.  And lucky for you, we had some uncharacteristically warm weather yesterday that allowed me just such an opportunity.

I jogged/walked my usual path into the wooded part of my subdivision.  When I got to the end of the paved path, where I usually make my kids stop and turn around, I felt compelled to keep jogging.

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As I continued down the very narrow dirt path through the trees, some part of me felt like I was breaking a rule and wasn’t sure why I didn’t just do what I always did and stay on the pavement.  After some time I was surprised to see the trees part into another open area with more paved sidewalk.  At this point I had no idea where I was, but was pretty excited to be exploring by myself, so I kept jogging.  Soon after, I saw a male jogger up ahead and not wanting to put myself in a bad situation decided to turn around and return the way I’d come.

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Within just a couple minutes of backtracking I came to a fork in the path that gave me 3 directional choices.  How had I not realized that I’d passed through a fork in the road?  I chose the furthest left but very quickly came to the dry riverbed of the creek and knew that was not the way I came.  So I went back and now had 2 choices left.  I chose the middle one for no reason other than I had to choose one and they both looked exactly the same.

This whole process, from going off the path to choosing what ended up being the correct path home, took no longer than 5 minutes.  But it felt like forever and I felt really stupid for having chosen to go down a path that I really wasn’t sure about.

Once I was sure of where I was and heading home in the right direction, my deep thinking kicked in.  Why had I been so anxious to try something unfamiliar when no one would have known where I decided to go?   The walk home had me thinking that I was just bored with life and wanted to do something exciting, possibly even dangerous (it wasn’t dangerous, but to a house wife/mom it was extraordinarily brave of me to veer off my usual course).

But I realized that I wanted to push myself for the same reason I make things more dramatic than they need to be, the same reason I chose to major in art when I hadn’t even picked up a paint brush since I was 8, the reason I always feel such a strong need to be teaching dance, the reason I hear a song and think “I can recreate that!”, the reason I have 4 children and still have a desire for more…

I have an innate need to be part of things.  And not only PART of the world, but CREATING it and IMPROVING it.  Somehow my ego thinks this is possible and actually necessary or the world just simply won’t go round.  When I got to that dirt path and decided to just forge ahead it was like I was doing something no one else ever did (at least that’s how it felt even though I’m sure its not true).  I needed to prove something, that I was better today than the last time I went on this run.  But then I was also very humbled when I turned around and had no idea if I was lost.

Its really difficult for me to feel just mediocre.  I tell myself I am destined for greatness and need to be the best at everything I do.  There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself to be this person every. single. day.  Even when I try to GIVE MYSELF  A BREAK by taking a walk (or starting a blog) I still feel like it needs to be the BEST walk of my life, or the absolute most inspiring blog post ever written!

So did I succeed?

Twenty-two years ago I had to choose a poem to memorize.  I’m pretty sure most 8 year olds chose Dr. Suess or Shel Silverstein, but I chose Robert Frost.  And to this day, it is my favorite poem.  My daughter even asks me tell her the “Two Roads” story at bedtime and then wants to talk about what it means.  I tell her that it means that we always have choices to make, and sometimes the right one is the one nobody else chooses.  For me I think it means that I always want to be the first and only one that can take both paths successfully, and that maybe if I choose one and leave some bread crumbs I can return and try out the other.  What does it mean to you?

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

and sorry I could not travel both

and be one traveler, long I stood

and looked down one as far as I could

to where it bent in the undergrowth.

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

though having perhaps the better claim,

because it was grassy and wanted wear;

though as for that the passing there

had worn them really about the same.

 

And both that morning equally lay

in leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

somewhere ages and ages hence.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

and that has made all the difference.

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