I gotta have Faith…

Remember that song by George Michael? And I know all the games you play because I play them too…umm, yup. I have been playing games and I need to have faith instead!

My best friend’s husband died about a week ago. He was having surgery and it didn’t go well. The thing is, he had been in a car accident a few years ago and several surgeries since then. He even learned how to walk again! So why did God chose the final surgery to be the one that ended everything? And why did God let my bestie find her true love only to take him away?!

I haven’t written about God lately and to be completely honest, I haven’t spoken to him much either. Everything that has happened to me and everything I have endured didn’t turn me away. Something lately has really taken Him out of my focus, though. I don’t know if it is the virus and how the new normal is making me feel crazy, or if I am just tired of trying to justify all the bad by saying, “I just know something good is coming for me, God wouldn’t send me through so many fires and not have something on the other side to make it all worth it.” Nope, I have lost my Jesus mojo.

I started seeing someone a few months ago and it has been so amazing in so many ways but not in so many other ways. The thing is, he wants a casual relationship. He wants to be able to just have fun and hang out but not have any of the pitfalls of a relationship. Pitfalls? Like what? When I try to tell him about my day or something that is happening at work he listens but then doesn’t respond about it. Actually, his response is usually something to change the subject! Except that sometimes he is all ears. And he makes me food when I go to his house. Lately he had been opening up to me more. It is starting to feel like a relationship amd I am confused!

When we first started seeing each other, I told him a lie. It was a douzy, too. Not going to get into the details except to say that when I talked about it in the past I was not met with peace and understanding so I chose to keep it to myself this time. We were casually dating, after all. Except that the more he opened up to me, the guiltier I felt. One day last week I blurted out the truth. He was shocked but not too shocked to get up and leave. It has been almost a week without any contact. I texted him every day to say I was sorry and to tell him I hoped he would be able to talk to me. The last text I sent was to say I was not going to text him anymore and if and when he wants to talk he could. Now I am left to my own devices. And that is not usually good hahahaha!

To bring it back to my friend, I have been thinking about the whole soul mate thing. I am alone right now, hoping he will reach out to me. I still want that to happen but if it doesn’t that will be okay, too. I am enjoying spending time with this man and I love the feeling I have when I am not with him and I am remembering something we did. But I DO want the pitfalls of a relationship. I want to have a bad day and have him tell me I am being terrible. I want him to be a jerk because of something going on in his life and me to understand why because we are talking about everything. And I want to be able to tell him it will be okay and that he is being a jerk! I hope I am strong enough to tell him that when we talk again.

One thing I do know is that I need to go back to understanding that Jesus is walking with me. I am not going to sit here and say that I have full faith again but I am going to work on it. I am stronger when I know God has my back! I gotta have faith!

Oh, when that love comes down without devotion
Well, it takes a strong man, baby
But I’m showin’ you the door–Faith by George Michael

Pie Face

Hey all! It has been a slow month for the most part but something kind of big did happen–I cut and dyed my hair. I went back and forth about the color I wanted to do. I have always chosen red because it looks good with my complexion so it is “safe.” This time, however, I went bold. I did full blonde highlights. My hairdresser assures me that if I like it we can just keep adding more and if I don’t it will be easier to return to brown instead of just straight dying blonde. I love it though so adding more it is!

I had not really considered blonde. I told myself it was because it was just too drastic of a change. I didn’t want to be one of those women who has brown hair one day and blonde the next time you see them. When I really thought about it though, it was none of those things. It was a worm that had been planted in my brain a long time ago from someone I was desperate to hold onto. He had told me that if I ever dyed my hair blonde he would break up with me since his ex and his ex wife were both blonde. So I never did. Never even thought about it, the reasoning was sound and I was not willing to ruin something just to be able to say I had gone blonde once. But this time, when my daughter asked me to go blonde I jumped at the chance to try it.

It looks amazing, like I knew it would. Honestly, I definitely think the reason I was told not to go blonde was because he KNEW it would look good and didn’t want that. He wanted me to look good, just not TOO GOOD after all.

So all is well in Amanda-Town, right? Not exactly. The hairdresser straightened my hair after she colored and cut it. It looks amazing. I straighten it myself now because it just looks too good not to. Everyone tells me how much younger I look (not that I look old but I am close to 50!). But deep down inside, I hate it straight. I like the natural messy waves my hair has when left to it’s own devices. Sure, I look like I am pushing 50 or like I just got out of a Jeep with the top down. But I like it. It is comfortable. Looking younger is overrated anyway. What gives?!

One of my friends asked me why I liked it better wavy and I couldn’t really say, but of course I overthought about it until I had the answer. It is because it makes me feel like I have a big face! I was told (coincidentally from the same person who told me not to go blonde) that I had a pie face (round and fat, like a big ole pie!) and there were only certain hair cuts and styles I should even consider wearing. Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that thinking I have a big face is crazy. I don’t actually even think that! But it is still another worm that has been living in my brain waiting. Frank talked to the worms and reminded me that I could not pull off blonde hair or the haircut. Frank has reminded me how good the red looks or even if I wanted to stay brown haired and just cover the greys it would look good, too. Frank tells me that I have lost a bunch of weight and I am moving in the right direction so why would I ruin that by doing something that is probably not going to look good? Except Frank can go back into his room in the back of my mind on this one because I say, “Shut up Frank!”

If the year 2020 has taught me anything it is that life is too short not to take chances. I am (trying!) to ignore Frank when he starts whispering in my ear. I am not always going to be able to ignore him but this time I am. I am a pie face with blonde hair and I am proud. Take that, Frank!

Adventures in Dating

Hey there! Long time no hear…I am sorry. I must be honest, I have not been feeling myself lately and I haven’t wanted to write about it. I still don’t, but I have to. I have to get it out or else I am going to be like a bomb and blow!

I began seeing someone. I was having such a good time and I think I forgot that I am great when he was being a smooth talker. Every day I tried to become more of the person HE needed me to be instead of the person I am trying to become. He wasn’t a bad person, just someone I wanted to please even if it meant losing myself again!

After a month we stopped seeing each other. No reason, no problems, just stopped. I am reflecting on how quickly I started to be absorbed into another person. Do I need to have someone else tell me how to “be”? Why?!

I am smart. I am beautiful. I can do anything I need to do and if I can’t I figure it out. I spent so much time being told that I was almost there that I go above and beyond as a rule. I am the definition of a “catch.” So why don’t I believe that?

I believe every relationship brings you closer to being the best version of yourself and the take away on this one is that I have to be super careful about handing over my mind, body and soul. Even if I don’t believe it all the time, I am a powerhouse. And the person I am is the person (fill in the blank) is attracted to so becoming an extension of them instead is not good! Also, I have been scared to try and start dating and now I know it is okay and I am ready. Dating adventures…take one!

Professional Room Temperature Checker

Once upon a time there was a girl who only thought of herself and how to make herself happy and comfortable. She was selfish without realizing, she honestly believed that by taking care of her own destiny she would be making everyone around her content as well. “You can’t love others without loving yourself”…”you can’t make people happy without being happy with you”…”you do you” and all those cliches. People around her pointed it out (a boyfriend dedicated the song Cold As Ice by Foreigner to her at a club during a fight) or they followed her around like the goddess she just knew she was. Life was good. Or was it?!

All the narcissism was an act to cover the fact that she didn’t feel important or needed. Fake it till you make it was the true cliche she lived by–she just knew someday she would find the person who would make her want to care about someone other than herself. She even got married right away so she could have a reason to put someone else first. She didn’t know that at the time, just like she didn’t know that caring for her younger brother growing up instead of being a kid who was incapable of caring for others like a normal 4 year old was a huge reason for her codependency and whirlwind relationships.

Then she met someone who was so much more narcissistic and self important. Now, instead of being the rule maker and the front runner, SHE was the follower. She drank the kool-aid, she didn’t make a decision or have a thought without getting his superior opinion first. And again, she was unaware. She fell right in line with the belief that she was less than, she did not think twice about the fact that she had no original content anymore. She had finally found the person who she loved more than herself. The person she checked the temperature in the room for to be sure it was perfect. She could just put on a sweater or a short sleeve shirt if she was uncomfortable, how she felt was irrelevant.

When he left, she began to wake up. She looked around and realized she was temperature checking the room for everyone in it, she still felt like she was irrelevant. Even though she tried to go back to being the leader of the pack, she knew she wasn’t happy in that role.

She is still growing and changing, she always will be. She has found a new person to love and adore, except he doesn’t have a “love me fully or you are worthless” vibe surrounding him. And the funny thing is, she feels like she has known him her whole life. With all the “if I don’t take care of me no one will” decisions she had to make in her life, it is pretty clear that He was steering her then. She knows in her heart that everything that happens, every choice she has to make are put in front of her to help her become her best version of herself. She knows that when she is unsure or worried about something she can go to him and talk freely. And when life is good and things are going smoothly, she knows that He is steering that as well. Turns out He is always with her and always ready to listen. Life is good, for real this time.

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope…Jeremiah 29:11

Molly Ringworm

There is another outbreak at the shelter–the kittens have ringworm. I truly felt like the world’s worst person even though I knew it wasn’t actually my fault–it is not really anyone’s fault! I spent a lot of time feeling bad and sat in the cat room to watch tv with the shelter kitties (yup, cat lady!) but then I moved forward. The kittens were isolated in their own special room so that room just needs to be bleached and cleaned while they are being treated in the back building. Problem solved.

Except, God had a few more tricks up His sleeve. Right when I felt like I was getting a grip on reality and my mind was back at peace, I brought two different cats to the vets only to find out they also have ringworm. The vet is calling it an outbreak now and we have a plan of action to put into place. Oh, and I have a few different spots on my hand and my arm so I am also infected. Well, what the heck?!

Actually, though, I know. I am getting comfortable in my life and I have gotten lazy about my morning “thanking God for my life and my future” prayer. I have never believed in a God who holds grudges or who punishes the wicked or any of that fire and brimstone stuff but it is pretty obvious that this is what is going on. Is ringworm the modern version of a plague?! We are treating them all and using this time to disinfect the main cat area so it is a blessing in disguise. I am also having to ask for help from the other important people who run the shelter. Another push from God?

A little humor about this–one of the adult cats with Ringworm is named Molly 🙂

Hiding my Fear behind a Mask

Do you “believe” in masks? I am not sure actually. What I DO believe in is not dying LOL!

I am the Shelter Manager at an animal shelter and we have been closed since the middle of March. Next week, however, we will open back up. For appointments only, but we will actually be there for the people that inevitably pop in. I have installed a hand sanitizer right inside the door and I will have a basket of masks for those people who “forget” to wear one. I am NOT convinced they work but I would rather be safe than sorry! Today I have someone coming in to relinquish cat. Although I want to be a helpful member of my community, I have a sick feeling about meeting her. Not her necessarily, just strangers in general actually! It turns out that wishing for things to start moving forward was a nice little dream but I am pretty terrified of that happening. I know that if I am supposed to catch the COVID-19 virus, God has already written that. I know that He has plans and I am on a need to know basis with them. Does the fact that I am afraid anyway mean I don’t have faith?

I guess not doing something because I am afraid and I don’t trust that it will work out; and doing it EVEN THOUGH I am afraid because I know God has got me is the definition of faith for me. I am pretty sure if God didn’t want us to feel fear he wouldn’t have put that emotion in our makeup. Except when the Disciples were afraid during the storm on the sea , Jesus kind of chastised them for being afraid.  “Why are you so afraid? Don’t you have any faith at all yet?” – Mark 4:35-40. So which is it? Can someone explain this to me?!

Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self!

I am a little thrown off lately, with the home lock down I am thinking a lot of people are. I have been reading Leviticus and it is dry and long. I am really hoping it ends soon but I am trying to absorb as much of it as I can!

I am having a big breakdown. The email at work got hacked and it has been a nightmare to get it restarted, the email security team promised me that it was finished but I am still not receiving emails. I can send them but then when people reply it goes…I don’t know where but not to me! One of the kittens that were born in March is not doing well. She (or he, I can’t tell and neither can the vet!) is almost half the size of her litter mates. She was still eating, drinking and using the litter box like everyone else but just a peanut; except that while her brothers and sisters keep growing she is staying the same. When I brought her to the vet today they basically told me that she wasn’t going to live but told me to try feeding her every two hours and stimulating her to go to the bathroom. I am doing that but honestly it is just so I feel like I am doing something. I got back to the shelter and there was a message from someone who applied and was upset about the fact that she applied and was turned down for a kitten after she was told they would be available and she wanted an explanation. I had emailed her already and maybe she responded but I didn’t get it because of the hack. I emailed her back today but it still isn’t sending me emails so now she is really going to be mad!

All this is too much and my mind is fried. I am having trouble keeping my anxiety Frank from trying to make me crazy. I keep thinking stuff like if I got hacked I definitely did something to cause it and that the little kitten is sick because I didn’t bring her to the vet when I first saw that she was smaller than everyone else. None of that is true or relevant, but that doesn’t keep my mind from spinning!!!

I need help at the shelter and I need to ask for it. Gone are the days when I can just do things by myself! Except that when I expressed my feelings of loss and hopelessness to my team, it makes me feel weak. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just ask for help and then accept it gracefully instead of always thinking I am powerless for asking? I know I need a team, I can’t do this stuff alone. Not that there is too much work, it is just better with more than one person shouldering the burdens. Jesus didn’t walk through the world alone, he had his besties (the disciples) with him as he traveled and spread the gospel. He didn’t just do everything alone, he told the disciples to go heal people and to spread the gospel. I have never thought about Jesus and said, wow, he was so weak! He didn’t do anything alone, he had to be surrounded by his people. Do I think I am better than Jesus and should be able to handle life on my own? If God wanted me to be alone he would have written that into my story!

I had a meeting with the team and we made a new schedule that includes help here. The day after I brought the little kitten to the vet I had to bring her back to be euthanized. That tore out my heart but at least I had my friends, my teammates, to help me grieve her. Driving home with the empty cat carrier I realized that it didn’t make me feel helpless to have them. Actually, they are a few of the only people who I know truly understand what it means and how it feels to have a little baby that I watched from birth not make it like her brothers and sisters. When I say I feel sad, they just sit with me because they just know. I have always said how much these people do for my mental well being and I can’t lose sight of that. If Jesus didn’t go it alone, what makes me think I should?

It won’t be easy to give up my feelings of “strength is only accomplished when you are truly doing everything alone” but I have to do it. Very few parts of life can be done solo! I have had managers in the past whose biggest weakness was the fact that they refused to accept help from their team, the reasoning being that they truly felt that they were the only ones to do it correctly and perfectly. The end result was them not being able to do anything well because they were spread too thin. By feeling weak and powerless when I ask for help, I am really making the same choice. Even if I don’t have the same reason, it will be my downfall if I don’t check myself before I wreck myself!

Being grateful even when it isn’t obvious!

It has been a while since I talked about my 21 Days to a grateful heart, sorry I didn’t finish! Things have been so busy and insane between the new job and the state lockdown. No excuses, though. I was on day 18…so without further adieu–

Day 18 focuses on thanking God for the people in my life. Not just the normal people like your family and friends, but thanking for the people who serve my coffee at Dunkin Donuts and the people who bag my groceries at Stop and Shop or deliver my mail. How about the people who do stuff behind the scenes? Like the people who keep my electricity on so I can see at night and be warm when it is cold. Or the obnoxious people at Comcast who make me so furious and still keep my internet running smoothly. Do YOU thank God for them?

The reflect on day 18 is to take a look at the people around me, the ones who interact with me on a regular basis and ask myself if I exhibit gratitude to them. Am I friendly? My gut feeling is that I am. I love talking to people and I love especially when I feel like they truly love their job and it shows. But am I grateful? I have done my best to thank God in my prayers for all the people around me, even the ones who have wronged me because I know there is a reason for their presence in my life. The respond section tells me to make a list and write one specific thing about them I am grateful for and so I will do that. And not just saying thank you for keeping my electricity on because that is their job and not them!

Sorry this is a lame post but it is one that needs to be said. Who are you grateful for in your everyday life?

What kind of prayers are you afraid to pray?

I follow this woman om Instagram who goes to my church actually but she is a published Christian author. Today she posed the question: what kind of prayers are you afraid to pray? (She reposted the question from another Instagram, @thebiblerecap.)

After rolling it around in my mind for a little while I came up with this. I am afraid to pray for what I want for fear that I will be disappointed. When my Beloved was getting treatments for his cancer, I prayed that he would get better. I knew it was a long shot but at the very least the poison he put in his body should be working, right? I prayed every day that his tumors would shrink and we would have more time. When his first scan showed that his tumor had not shrunk, his Doctors were overjoyed. His agressive cancer had slowed down a bit and the tumors had maintained their size. I guess I should have been rejoicing with them but I was too busy thinking how stupid I was for believing that God was going to heal him. From that point on, I always add “or how ever your will needs this to be” or something along those lines so when my way is not His way, I am not flattened like a dried up worm on the sidewalk!

We are going through a crazy, unbelievable time right now and my prayers focus around the people in my life. I pray that if they get sick they will recover. I haven’t thrown in my “if that’s what you want” clause at the end for some reason, maybe because I am not praying for the disease to go away completely or for it to spare my loved ones?

I need to figure out how to move past this hurt and love my God with my whole heart–NOT if that is what his will desires. Of course he desires for me to love Him completely and I am holding back just a little. The thing is, I am not sure how to build that trust back up. Guess I have a little more thinking and praying to do!

 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37

Hanging up the Pity Party Dress

Hi there!  I trust you are all safely tucked in your homes while we wait out this pandemic.  I know I am. This is such a scary time to be living through–I saw a meme on Facebook that said something along the lines of, You know how you thought your grandparents were weird and your parents would tell you it was because they lived through the Great Depression?  Our grandkids are going to think we are weird and our kids will tell them it was because we lived through the coronavirus pandemic. I laughed, and then realized that it was true. 

It has become habit for me to wipe down all the doorknobs and cabinet handles several times a day.  I now think nothing of putting on latex gloves when I take care of the dog or the cats at the shelter, and it has become something I do when I am just getting the mail or really doing anything now.  And grabbing one of the face masks in the adorable wicker basket by the front door before I leave the house is as normal as grabbing my car keys. My new version of normal will be one that sticks with me (and you, I bet!) for a long time to come, even when the threat of illness has gone away.  It is kind of comforting to wear that mask when I am going out in public. I think it will be scary NOT to wear one anymore when we get to that point. And now I know I am going to tuck a few away to be more prepared for the next virus. Gone is the innocence of thinking that there could never be an outbreak like this.

With all of this turmoil and uncertainty, there have been good things as well.  For instance, I was promoted to Shelter Manager and moved into the onsite housing right before the world really went crazy.  You know, back when we SHOULD HAVE been taking the protective measures we are taking now, except no one thought this was real?  (For the record, including me.) I had been working closely with my team to get everything in order. Even when the shelter was closed to the public, it was still me and our assistant shelter manager taking care of the business.

Now, however, I am alone here.  A couple of weeks ago I realized that I might have been exposed to Covid-19, and everything changed. I met with the Board, and we decided that since we had only one dog on premises, I’d try to manage it until it’s considered “safe” to go back to some form of normal life.  The truth is, it isn’t too much work to handle; I just had no idea how isolating this would become. New house, new job, then the quarantine. Also, I am not open to help like I should be. I just don’t know how to say, I am feeling lonely or I am crying and can’t seem to stop, can you help? That pesky voice in my head just reminds me that if I express feeling  bad then I am just going to make everyone else feel bad, and it won’t accomplish anything except killing everyone else’s good vibe . Best to just suffer in silence and keep the peace.

I am reading on social media about other shelters and how they are delivering pet food to people and how they are acting as a temporary shelter for animals when people are sick.  It feels like yet another way that I am failing- as a shelter manager. We are not doing any of those things and the whole team has agreed that we don’t want to take in sick people’s pets.  Today, however, I reminded myself that I am running the place completely alone. No matter how you slice it, that’s just hard..

I started to feel a little better, but then I talked to a friend and she went over all she was getting done while still working.  She is also running things solo for the safety of everyone. It occurred to me that I don’t do much of anything outside of the normal care and love for the animals here.  I mean, yes, I am answering emails and such. Honestly though, that is about 2 hours of a day. When I really thought about it, I spend a bigger portion of my day laying on the couch watching movies or laying in bed because I am just tired.  I am not a psychologist but I would say that sounds like a pretty clear case of depression!

Maybe it is the self isolation that has thrown me into a pit but it is going to be me to start digging out.  Tomorrow morning I am taking a yoga class online and following it up with a 30 minute rebounding video. I am not going to sit here and say I am going to be productive and Superwoman, but I am going to keep track of my days.  One of two things will happen–either I will realize that I actually do have productive days, or I will realize that I am wasting time and be more motivated to fix it. I am not usually a pity party girl and I don’t intend to start now!