A Picture is Worth a Thousand “Likes”

What this picture says about my life:

IMG_1609The sun was shining, the water was perfectly cool, the kids were happy and ready for their first day of swimming lessons!  I was obviously cool and collected, smiling happily at the kids as I said “Say ‘First day of swimming!'”  They did so willingly, and then they jumped in the pool as I lay back on a beach chair, my infant napping peacefully in his stroller beside me.

The Truth:

In order to get to swimming lessons, I had to load 4 kids into the car, remembering to bring suits, towels, sunscreen, new diapers, a double stroller, water bottles, and car snacks, although the car snacks were obsolete as the kids refused to eat them and begged (I mean begged, like it was so loud that things sound like you’ve just left a concert for an hour after) for McDonald’s.

Lessons were an hour away IF I got lucky and didn’t have to stop at the road construction.

Oh, and Calder only got in the water 2 out of 8 days that were already paid for.  Basically my head felt like it was going to explode every.single.day.

What this picture says about my life:IMG_1034I potty trained my twins!  Yay for me!

The Truth:

My twins are not potty trained.  Not even a little.

What this picture says about my life:

IMG_2217Ohh the wonderful summer memories my children will have some day as they sit around Grandma’s house (that’s me) talking about their days of climbing trees and swimming in lakes, catching frogs, and eating choke cherries.

The Truth:

Where did this picture come from?? I sure didn’t take it.  I would never let my kids climb a tree.

What this picture says about my life:IMG_1656Our summers are filled with exciting adventures like this one, followed by putting our exhausted kids down to bed so the grown ups can sit around playing cards and laughing.

The Truth:

Adventures like this one are extremely few and far between.  And when they do happen, they mostly consist of me standing at the shore, panic stricken, because one of the boys just stood up in the canoe.  I probably had just yelled at them to all sit their butts down, but then said “smile for a picture”, which is why Aaron is the only one smiling.  Soon after this I motioned for them to come back to shore because it was getting late and no one had eaten dinner yet.

What this picture says about my life:IMG_1404My wonderfully supportive husband gives me many opportunities to escape the rigors of everyday parenting to get together with best friends and remember the good old days.

The Truth:

Well, that is actually very true.  But this particular day something dreadful happened that was out of both of our control, which is why my memory of this day has been spoiled.

It rained on and off all day and as these wonderful girls and I tried to catch up I couldn’t help but think maybe I should cut the visit short and head home (it was over an hour drive).  But I didn’t listen to my intuition, and shortly after this picture was taken I was on my way home in a torrential downpour that ended up doubling my driving time.  About halfway home, I pulled over into a parking lot and just cried and prayed that I wouldn’t die.  This was a very real concern of mine.  I thought seriously about spending the night in the car, but decided to just forge ahead.  I was sore for several days due to my tight grip on the steering wheel.

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I have to admit, about a month ago I found myself logging back into my Facebook account with every intention of only using it for the “important stuff”.  After 6 months FB free I was sure I could handle it.

I was so so wrong.

I have been more unhappy in this last month than I remember being for such a long time.  Why?  Because every single picture I see of a life glamorized by social media makes me wish MY life was different, or worse, over.  No matter how many times I remind myself that pictures don’t always represent the reality of someone’s current situation, I find myself being dragged into the pictures as if they were laughing at me and telling me my life isn’t good enough.

I do love pictures — I have a gazillion of them and keep getting pop ups that my storage space is almost gone — and its not always the way I describe above.  Many times I am taking pictures to try to capture a very special memory that I hope will still feel as special when I look at it some day down the road.  But my point is that just like I shouldn’t judge someone else’s situation by the pictures they post online, my pictures don’t always show truth either.

I do appreciate having beautiful pictures of the difficult times though because usually the experience seems much sweeter when I look at it through refreshed lenses.

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P.O.W. in my own reality

I have been medically diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  I have been asked to visit a neurologist regularly, get annual MRI scans of my brain, and do a monthly infusion of an MS treatment to hopefully slow the progression.  “You have to do this,” they tell me, “or you will be in a wheelchair.”  So I do it.  This is me.  The sick girl who spends half her income on medical expenses.

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And then I come home, and I forget that I was ever there.  I think there has GOT to be more to life, more to me, than this.  This does not define me.  Maybe I can find a better way.  So I go to homeopathic docs seeking answers and I leave with this:

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Having to take a bazillion pills a day doesn’t make me see myself in a more positive light, free and unattached to medical necessity.  So I agree to join a fitness challenge group with my sister and a dozen other healthy people.  I exercise every single day and attempt to eat meticulously healthy.  But I don’t feel any better or worse and I think what is the point of all this?  What am I actually trying to achieve or change about “me”?

Now I ask myself, who am I really?  What is reality?  Is it what is tangible and provable?  Or is it what things appear to be in my own unconscious mind?  Am I a sick person because doctors say so or a healthy person because…well…look at what I’m doing!  And why does it even matter what is real?  Doesn’t it only matter what feels real to ME?

Almost a decade ago my dad gave me a book recommendation.  One of the things that stuck with me about this book was the following idea:

Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering (concept from Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements).

I thought this was so interesting.  And maybe also too much to wrap my mind around.  I don’t do well with subjectivity.  I like black and white, yes and no, I think within a verifiable frame of mind.  For this reason I have a major preoccupation with being right all the time.  I’d like for every doctor to be able to look at me and say, “Now here is a healthy person.  You just do what you’re doing.  You’re on the right track.”  Here’s another idea to try to wrap my mind around:

I lived in Heaven before I came to Earth.  My body and mind were perfectly healthy, my relationships had a purpose, my perspective was Eternal.  Then my Father in Heaven said, “I’m going to send you to Earth for a short time so you can learn some stuff and when you come back to me you’ll be even better than you are now!”  I’m sure that’s how he talks.  And then he said, “The only catch is that your body won’t be quite so perfectly healthy, you may struggle in your relationships, and you won’t be exactly sure who you are or why you’re doing anything that you’re doing.  And no one will be able to give you answers to these things because everyone will be in disagreement about why they’re there.  You up for that?”  For some reason I agreed.  And here we are.

This Earth life is so confusing!  There is a war going on, both inside me and in the world in general, about what matters and what doesn’t.  Do I want my quality of life while I’m here to be good?  Of course.  Do I want to go back to Heaven? Definitely!  Am I doing so many unnecessary things in my journey to achieve happiness and exaltation that I’m losing sight of what is really important?  Yes…maybe?…I guess that depends on what really matters.  So, in MY OWN REALITY, what matters and what doesn’t?  Let’s give it some objective thought.

Things that NEVER matter:

•Which Salvatore brother Elena chooses today, whether or not Mitch and Cam’s wedding turns out the way they want, How exactly Ted did meet their mother, or who is next on Emily’s list of people to take out.

•That I wasn’t invited to whatever girls night, play group, or exercise club was going on yesterday.

•How many people come to events that I plan (“Don’t take it personally” says Ruiz)

•If today I eat a non-organic salad vs. an organic one, and tonight I have a cookie containing gluten and sugar instead of gf oats and agave.

•Whether or not I post on this blog or Facebook or anywhere else on a daily basis, or what I say when I do post.

Things that ALWAYS matter:

•My family
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•My friends
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•My health
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And most importantly, that I’m doing my best where these things are concerned.  If I were to break down my reality to its most essential components, I would be removing most of the “stuff” I spend my time doing and worrying about daily.  Now take a breath.  Life really isn’t that complicated.

 MSWalkFamily