Girl Time

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve begun to accept that I can’t get through this life without my girlfriends.  They are there for me time and time again, even when I think I don’t need them…I really do!  And in the last few months in particular, I have made a conscious effort to make girl time a priority.  And my SOUL appreciates it!  No really, it is more important…vital…than I ever expected it to.  I need to laugh, I need to talk, I need to listen, I need to connect on a level that no one quite gets – except my girlfriends.   And you know what, my girlfriends need this too.

This past weekend I did my annual first craft show of the year.  Stress, long hours, hard work, a booth neighbor with migraine inducing lights shining RIGHT IN MY FACE, and hours and hours of talking with the public.  But at the end of the day, I got some much needed girl time with my dear friend Yvonne.  We got caught up on our lives, we talked about snow and spouses, we talked about firewood and flooding, and we laughed and cried a little, drank some wine and had some really good long hugs!

Also last weekend, my best friend on the planet, Eileen sent me a text – Hi Honey, how are you?  Are you ok?  My BFF-ESP kicked in….  Awww…how does she always know???  Because she knows me so well, and we really are connected soul-deep.  I assured her I was fine, told her about the craft show, the lights, and the girl time.  We set a phone call date for Tuesday.  On Tuesday we laughed and got caught up on the last week or so, talked about spouses and work obligations, summer plans, we laughed and cried a little, we talked about priorities and standing up for myself.  We made plans to talk again next week.

And also last weekend, we had Girls Night In at church.  Its our new women’s ministry group where we host a monthly get together for ourselves and women in the community.  We laugh and play crazy games.  We spend some time in the sanctuary talking about God and the role of women in the bible, and in our lives.  We eat fabulous food, and we laugh and talk and pray.  This month we also planted flowers to celebrate spring, and talked about some options for service projects – and you know what came out as the favorite idea?  Working with organizations to support disadvantaged women and children in our area.  Not sure what that will look like exactly – but I’m sure some “drive” of some sort to collect things women and children need – diapers, clothes, feminine hygiene products, toys, blankets, and the like.  I’m excited to work with my friends over the next few months to make a difference in some local lives.   Working on projects together brings us all closer – to each other, and to God.   When we are serving others, we are serving God.

And while I wasn’t able to participate because of my craft show, this past weekend was also another fabulous gathering of girlfriends in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was MRKH Day  – A day of Education, Sharing, and Support for people with MRKH.  This special day is sponsored by the OB/GYN department, Gynecology division of Michigan Medicine In cooperation with Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.  A full day of MRKH information and support…for those of us with MRKH and our parents and partners.  The full day conference event is followed by an evening social – you know, the after party!  I haven’t had a chance to attend an MRKH conference yet, but from all the reports of those who attend…they are incredible.  While we all enjoy the online support groups, Facebook friends, and the incredible opportunities for “instant support” we can find on the internet – nothing quite compares to meeting another MRKH woman in person – and a whole house full of them….MIND.BLOWN.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my local girlfriends…wine, chocolate, giggles, tears, talks, phone calls, texts, the whole shebang…but when you have something in your life like MRKH…well, you’re always just a little detached from all the other women in the room.  You can’t quite relate to the period talk, or the parenthood talk, or the grandchild stories – and how in the world can they truly relate to us?  They try…with valiant effort…they ask thoughtful questions and try to understand my perspective…but they don’t quite get it.

The first time I got to meet another MRKH woman face to face, 3 of us got together for dinner.  It was effortless – we instantly connected and could relate to each other just like life long friends.  We laughed, talked about diagnosis and treatment, life choices and having our choices taken away.  It’s been close to 3 years since that encounter….I’ll let Jen tell it, as I think she summed it up perfectly!  http://humoringmylife.blogspot.com/2014/08/mrkh-meeting.html  I’ve met up with others since then a handful of times.  And each time it’s the same kind of instant connection.  And each time I spend some girl time with MRKH women, I heal just a little bit more.

That’s what girl time is about I think – it’s restorative.  It’s a chance to look at life from different angles….share the heavy burdens….get some insight from trusted friends.  While I love my husband and family dearly, and love to spend time with them – nothing quite compares to girl time.

I’ll leave you with this song by the incomparable Reba McEntire – it’s a new favorite!

 

 

Squirrel!!!

Spring is a busy time of year in my world, and so there are lots of potential stressers that rear their ugly heads.  Whether it is in my work life, my home life, my farm life, my business life…when spring rolls around, my stress notches up.  And let’s face it, most of us don’t do “stress” well.  Spring is the season for renewal, rebirth, life starting back up again after a cold dark winter.  It should be bright, happy, clean and fresh…but often, that’s not the case either.  Spring on the farm is mud.  Beneath the melting mountains of snow is several months worth of:

  • trash the dog has scattered
  • broken branches from trees
  • poop – lots of poop!
    • Dogs
    • Ducks
    • Goats
  • mud

And it all gets tracked into the house right?  But let’s talk about the house for minute, too.  We burn wood for heat – it’s the only heat in our home.  We don’t have a furnace, we don’t have baseboards, we have a stove…that burns wood and heats out house quite well….but wood heat is MESSY.  First, you have to haul it in from the woodshed, so you track in snow, mud, and muck.  Then you drop the arm load of firewood – and you get bark, splinters, leaves, dirt, and pitch.  Then, you open up the stove and a cough of ash comes out…  Wood heat is messy heat, but it’s still hard to beat!  We have fans that run 24 hours a day to circulate the heat from the wood stove, but that also means that any lingering smoke and ash gets blown through the whole house.  And we have indoor dogs and cats…so there is hair everywhere, and cat boxes, and muddy dog foot prints – my house is a mess!  And I’m not great neat freak…nor is my husband.  We are both busy and tend to walk in the door and dump whatever is in our hands on the nearest flat surface…so we have clutter…in a small house, with furry friends who aren’t neat freaks either.  I try and make time to sweep up the dog hair, vacuum the hallway and bedroom, and gather up the recycling every week – but it doesn’t always get done….laundry and dishes take priority….usually.  I don’t make the bed when I get up – because it’s usually still occupied.  I scrub up the basics in the bathroom every couple of weeks – and do a thorough clean when I know company is coming.  I keep up on the laundry in the hamper, because if it overflows the cat pees on it.  I do the dishes every couple of days, and when I run out of counter space because the clutter is encroaching….then I spend the time and do a deeper clean and declutter.  My home is well loved, and lived in.  We rarely have visitors, since most of our life happens away from our house – so we don’t spend much any time making sure we are ready for a better homes and gardens photo shoot.  Now, don’t freak out on me…we aren’t candidates for a spot on Hoarding, buried alive…I take my trash out when it’s stinky or on trash day.  There are clean dishes put away in the cupboards, and I wipe down my food prep areas with clorox on a regular basis – but I don’t bother to dust, and I don’t wipe my stove down after every meal.  There is probably a half empty coffee cup somewhere in the house, and there may be a plate or bowl on the floor the dog licked off.  My mirror has toothpaste splatter, and the floor needs to be swept.

But here’s the thing…I’m obsessive about food safety – keeping things refrigerated, eat your leftovers within 3 days, bleach after raw meat, and keeping surfaces that touch food very clean.  Especially if I’m cooking for other people!  And if I’m doing any sort of bath & body production work (making soap, lotion, lip balm or whatever) you can bet that my work area is SPOTLESS – decluttered, scrubbed up, wiped down with bleach  – everything to ensure that there is no “organic contamination”.

Sheesh…see, here in lies the problem…I have the tendency to OBSESS about things.  Maybe overthink things is a better term…or not.  Or maybe it’s both things…but I get into a cycle of thinking of one thing that is bothering me…pretty soon I’m unable to concentrate on any ONE thing because there are 47 other things I’m thinking about too!

In the past couple of years, I have learned to manage my runaway freight train of thoughts by writing.  Writing helps me find the answers that are in clear sight if I would just open my eyes.  But I can’t…because I’m too obsessed with the micro thoughts.  Just ask Chel…I am out of control when I need to write for clarity.  I told her a week ago I felt the need to write about obsessions, and confessed to her again this morning that I still hadn’t done it….and my world is just kind of spiraling into the chaos vacuum right now.  Her advice to me…Write your obsessions! then organize them if need be….AFTER you get them down.  Right…I gotta Write….

So…things I’m obsessing about in no particular order:  flooding, mud, barn cleaning, flood clean up, hay, broken branches, recycling, oil changes, clean sheets, clean eating, chocolate, coffee, bills, book keeping, craft shows, tablecloths, lip balm, beeswax, lotion containers, nitrogen tank, a new couch, a new mattress, new pillows, vegetables, breakfast options, hemming pants, dresses, shoes that go with dresses, recall training, JESUS, time with girlfriends, time to read, pedicures, spa days, upcoming meetings, taxes, end of semester paperwork, edTPA scores, MRKH conferences, making soap, reunions, relationships, humility, pridefulness, devotionals, love notes, being a mentor, and bread.

Ok…let’s see if I can make some sense out of that:  Lot’s of spring cleaning types of things – making time and taking the time to do them.  These are things I have to either have cooperation and help from the hubs to get done, or I just need to tell him “today I’m staying home to do this:______”.  I know I can also spend a little time each evening before it gets dark to do some of it.

Craft show stress – it’s an anxiety thing, do I have enough product, will I remember everything, etc.  What tends to happen is I get to the day of and realize there is no more time, and it is what it is…take a deep breath and just do it.  (probably good advice for everything…)

Work stress – that mellows itself out as I work through projects and deadlines – so again just take a deep breath and let it go.

Self care – this one is harder for me – but when I’m “on point” with it, all the other stuff seems to take care of itself.  I work best on the self care things when I have a plan.  When I don’t have a plan, I tend to grab whatever is in front of me in that moment….and I use food as a balm for my stressed out emotional self.    But that just starts a downward spiral of negativity and self pity.  I need to work to find the balance and think through a plan that I can and will stick to.  A balance of healthy eating, and healthy spirit too.

As I’ve been obsessing about writing this post for the past week, and trying to determine what direction I wanted to take it, I’ve purposely taken some time to think about options on those big stress categories and what direction I want to go.  I’ve got a few CDs that I cycle through during my commute, and right now a couple of contemporary Christian CDs are in the mix.  I couple of lyrics have really struck a cord with me this past week, and I’m trying to put them into practice a bit more.

This lyric is from Breathe by Jonny Diaz:

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

And then this one from Rest by Matthew West:

Rest in the light of My grace
You can rest here while I put all your pieces back in place
Just come unto Me all who are weary and I will give you rest
Shut out the world
Be still and know
That I am Your God
And I won’t let you go

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist (or me) to allow you to see that the message I CLEARLY need to hear is to just relax, breathe, and trust that God has a plan, and I should trust the plan.  (you can roll your eyes here…I certainly did!)  Recently I also saw a Facebook meme that read, “When you think you are hitting rock bottom, you are just landing in the palm of God’s hand.”  Ok…and now the song we sing each week as we collect the offering – (which is also playing RIGHT NOW on my Pandora) –

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

For the things on earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor and timing – and perfect delivery???  Have a blessed and peaceful week friends!

Beautiful Women

I’ve had some great conversations with some wonderful women over the past few days – weeks even.  It’s really making me treasure the special bond I have with so many incredible women.  I’m not sure I ever truly appreciated it until I really started reaching out to other women with MRKH.  The sisterhood within MRKH is a powerful thing.  I never had a sister growing up, so finding thousands of them as an adult has filled my heart to bursting.  I find that same beautiful bond with my sisters in Faith, and again it wasn’t something I appreciated until I made the point to reach out to them.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  Matthew 7:7

These are just some of the incredible women in my life, and why they mean so much to me.

My Gram…gracious, loving, forgiving, funny, and fun.  She is in the final stage of her life, she’s 93 and is fading fast in hospice care.  She set a fine example of being a wonderful human, a hard working nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother.  She has instilled a sense of peace and faithfulness in me, and her Faith inspires me deeply.

My Auntie, who is giving such tender care to my Gram.  Her independence and strength, her determination and forgiveness.  She has taught me to question and to remain curious; to stand for what I believe in.

My Mom, she taught me hard work, responsibility, and sustainability.  I’ve learned to be independent and self sufficient, to work hard for what I believe in, to not hold grudges, and to forgive with every ounce of my soul.

My BFF, Eileen.  She has been there through thick and thin, through sorrow and celebration.  We have laughed until milk came out our noses and we peed our pants just a little – and we have spent hours in tears as we each battle our own personal demons.  We have prayed, and questioned, and rejoiced.  She is everything to me -a best friend, a sister, a confidant, and of course – a tattoo-twin.  She teaches me compassion, humor, humility, and that hard work and hard lessons often go hand in hand.

Janine has been a fixture in my life since high school.  She was there the day I had my diagnostic laparoscopy and it was confirmed that I would never carry a child.  She inspires me with her Faith in God, her love of family, and the love she has given to her adopted children.  She has taught me that every challenge has a purpose, that prayer absolutely works, and that if you just take life one day at a time, it’s much easier to recognize and count your blessings.

Karen – the big sister I never had until the day we met.  She has a giant heart, a wicked sense of humor, and inspires deep conversations at the drop of a hat.  She has taught me resilience, trust, and forgiveness.  When I was finally ready to reach out and follow my Faith path with purpose, I called her first…knowing she would talk straight and would understand all the subtleties of my journey.  Our support is a two way street, when she has a problem she needs to talk through, she calls me – and I do the same thing.  We talk girl stuff: make up brands, shoes, and eyebrows – we talk wife stuff: husbands, houses, and laundry – and we talk relationships: mothers/daughters, friends, and God.  We laugh, we cry, we pray.  She keeps it all real in my life.

Chel – the best friend I haven’t met yet.  Chel and I met online in a south beach diet support group and we just clicked.  We are about the same age, height, weight, etc.  We’ve both spent time in the military, and over the years we’ve just bonded more and more.  We text almost daily, and when there is more to say we email.  We’ve actually spoken on the phone a couple of times – but usually  it’s just texts.  She keeps me accountable and honest with myself.  She encourages me to make healthy choices, both physically and emotionally.  She gives me honest feedback and offers a perspective from outside my own little bubble.  When I finally make my way to Michigan, we WILL finally meet face to face and I imagine there will be zero awkwardness and a long anticipated hug and cup of coffee!

There are a whole long list of international MRKH sisters that I treasure.  While most of these sisters I’ll never have a chance to meet in person, we talk regularly through social media and messaging apps.  Deepika of course, my beautiful Indian sister.  She shares recipes with me, wishes me a good morning, reminds me to eat my breakfast, and shares the joys of raising her step-son with me. I am the designated auntie and get to talk to them both on the phone occasionally. My beautiful Faria who is so smart and courageous, doing her part to make a difference in Bangladesh.  Laura, Claire, Aysha, and Hasna in London/UK.  I exchange letters and message them routinely.  Melissa and Kelly in the Netherlands.  Lise, Ally, Bianca, Elaine, Christine, Nicola, Karina, and so many other sisters scattered all over the world, and all of them working to make a difference for women with MRKH.  It’s a beautiful thing to see.

Stateside MRKH sisters too, Amy, Christina, Kristen, Lacy, Brittany, Lindsay, Jessica, Chrissy, Allison, Hailee, Kimmie, Tina, Jaclyn, McKenzie, Krystina, Denise, Dawn, Sara, Patricia, Kay, Kayla, Jen, Danielle, Alyssa, and Lindsie.  So many beautiful, strong, courageous women.  All speaking out in one way or another, all making a difference in the lives of women with MRKH.  And all willing to stop for a moment and chat when you need to.  The outpouring of unconditional love is quite literally staggering – and that fact that each and every one of them “gets it” when you say whatever is weighing heavy on your heart….wow.

Giant hugs and thank yous to a few very special sisters who have taken some time recently to help me with perspective and direction…sharing their hearts, their beliefs, and their love.

Brittany, you my darling girl gave me such peace when we spoke.  Sharing your knowledge and own journey with me helped immensely.  I’ve told you many times that I feel a very strong pull and connection with you…someday soon we’ll have the chance to meet in person, share a much anticipated hug and snuggle doggies together!  I love you, girl…thank you for everything! <3

Patricia, I don’t even know how to thank you…where to start.  Your wisdom and your Faith have been incomparable.  I’ve enjoyed every conversation with you, but when we connected recently when I was more or less in crisis…your love came through bright and strong.  Your wisdom, empathy, compassion, LOVE, FAITH, reassurance…you lit my path and confirmed what my heart already knew.  You inspire me, you guide me, and the gifts you add to my life are immeasurable.  After our talk and prayer session, I left feeling more joy and peace than I had in many months.  Thank you for lighting my path, and walking along side me as I stumbled.  I thank God daily for putting you in my life.

I am lucky enough each Sunday to share worship and prayer with more incredible women from our small congregation.  We are led by Pastor Erica, a beautiful and humble young pastor.  I enjoy her sense of humor, and her honest and direct way of just putting it all out there without sugar coating it.  I’ve had many deep spiritual conversations with her of course, but I also treasure the casual conversations fostering a love of community and “girl time”. Karen of course attends and holds my hand when I need it – and passes me the kleenex.  Lisa who encourages in her quiet and steady way, and has become a dear friend in just a few months.  Good food and a good dog might play into that a bit, as well as a fabulous sense of humor.  Sally and Diane, Beth and Rita – all strong and faith filled women who all make a difference in my life, even if they don’t know it.  Watching all of you, being surrounded by your unconditional love and support is a treasure and an inspiration to be and do more in my own life.

As I look around, physically and metaphorically, I find myself surrounded by women who are bold and strong, faith filled and compassionate, kind and courageous.  I learn so much from each of you, and am truly blessed by each of your presences in my life.

The past few months I’ve been making a great effort to walk a Faith filled path to enrich my own life, but also to foster my relationship with God.  Along this path I am continually visited by incredible women who nudge me this way and that, shining a light when I need it, holding my hand to guide me, handing me bushels of tissues when I need them, and inspiring me to be the best ME I can be.  I am truly blessed.

Be strong. Be Brave. Be fearless. You are never alone.— Joshua 1:9

Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.— Luke 1:45