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Maybe you should pray for me…

When I was a little girl I thought prayer necessitated folded hands and kneeling bedside. The problem is that I was smart enough to know that monsters live under the bed, so I knew that kneeling next to the bed was just asking for it; prayers or not! Not much later in life I imagined that prayer deserved gowns and candles and chanting. Actually that makes me wonder what ancient religion I was channeling. Plus, it seems wise to never mix fire with long gowns. Now I’m at a very different stage in my prayer life. I just sat here and wrote a beautiful account of how I’ve matured into a solemn and professional praying Christian. Then I laughed out loud and deleted that steaming pile of lies. The truth is that sometimes praying is emotional and powerful, but mostly it’s awkward and organic. I have proof.

The following is an (almost) unadulterated account of a recent prayer session of mine:

I was in the car stewing over a rough family situation and obsessing over how to handle this delicately festering relationship. I finally decided it was time to give it over to God and I began to pray out loud:

Dear God.

Sheesh, why’d I say that so stupidly formal. 

Yo, Big G.

Oh that’s just wrong. Sorry.

Okay, God, here it is,  I need to unload this…

** Suddenly a car cuts me off, causing me to spill my hot coffee on my lap**

OH FIRETRUCK! (except, I didn’t yell firetruck, because who says that when they scald their crotch during a near-death road rage incident?)

Oh great, I just said that during prayer. I’m sorry. Wow. Um, God? Did you hear that? Of course you did. Duh! Yeah, so, I’m a hot mess, obviously my problems are probably my fault.  Throw a poor dog a bone? I may not be the most lost sheep in your herd. I’m just the one walking in circles and butting my head into the fence over and over…

Beautiful prayer time. Just precious.

The only reason I share this ridiculousness is because sometimes prayer seems like it’s supposed to be beautiful like a Norman Rockwell painting.  It feels like it requires fancy clothes, gentle words, and pomp and circumstance. In reality, prayer can be as messy as life.  Prayer is a conversation with God. Sometimes those conversations are thoughtful and eloquent, but more often they are sloppy and barely coherent. And that is okay.  Better than okay: It’s important and necessary.  If you wait until you think you are all put together, or until you have the perfect words, to take your needs to God you will rarely, if ever, get there.

My prayers are more like a slop bucket filled with life’s messy leftovers.  That sometimes feels like a really unfortunate gift to offer God.  If prayers were given line numbers according to their eloquence, I’d be waiting outside, in the cold and around the corner. But thankfully (and thank God) prayer is not like that.  It is beautiful just to offer genuine prayers about genuine life, laid before our genuine God.  I like to think it’s okay to get real and get messy. Prayer isn’t about coming to God once you feel worthy of being listened to.  It’s about realizing that you have been listened to all along. And you have always been worthy.

And, don’t drink hot coffee and drive.  Or at least be smart and use a travel mug with a lid. Better yet, maybe you should pray for me.

~~Delaney Rhea

prayer-hands

 

 

 

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Don’t be the bird in the bush

My mom has a beautiful and powerful saying, “Don’t be the bird in the bush.” It’s a reference to a scene in Bambi. The hunters are coming through the woods and the animals run to hide. There are three quail hiding under a bush. Two of the birds remain calm and quiet while the third one starts to panic. One bird keeps telling the panicky one to remain calm and quiet. As the hunters draw near the panicked bird just can’t take it and instead of heeding the warning, flies out into the air in an escape attempt. Then you hear a shot fired and see feathers floating down.  Oh little scared bird, if only you’d remained calm and quiet in the face of danger you’d have survived this scene.

bambi-quail

I live with generalized anxiety disorder. There are many treatments and coping tools but my reality is that living with anxiety is like having a permanent, unwanted, roommate living in my brain.  This roommate is a jerk too. She’s always telling me that the worst is going to happen, I’m not good enough, everyone hates me, and that above all I will never be strong/smart/good enough to handle whatever I might be facing in life. This roommate also has the most amazing imagination. Anxiety can act out the worst case scenario in my head with the full force of emotion as though it already happened.  Hollywood writing and special effects have nothing on the horrors my anxiety creates. No wonder so many artists are tortured souls, without their anxieties their art might be nothing more than scribbles and blotches.

In essence, my anxiety causes me to approach daily life as the bird in the bush. When I encounter the typical setbacks and frustrations that happen to all of us, that nasty little roommate of mine tells me to panic and my default coping method is to start flapping my wings, making noise and commotion that just causes chaos and confusion.

My anxiety is having a field day with my shattered ankle.  I’m constantly comparing myself to others, even those who have had very different injuries, just to judge and berate myself for my slow recovery.  I must be totally wimpy and lazy that I’ve had all these complications and I’m not walking yet. I project thoughts into the heads of my family, friends, and doctors thinking that I’m a worthless slacker.  People climb Mt. Everest after leg amputations and here you are crying over Plantar Fasciitis, and an SI joint out of place, my anxiety quietly tells me.  I try to cling to the hope of a full recovery and then anxiety whispers in my ear reminding my of the last ten years I’ve lived with chronic hip pain that has never left me alone even after two surgeries. Just like the bird in the bush I want to freak out and give up without even trying. But just like the bird, that will seal my fate.  My fear of failure will force my failure. I must conquer my fear of tomorrow in order to succeed in the tasks of today.

Anxiety convinces me that I’m a terrible person and that my mistakes are immense and unforgivable. My immediate inclination is to save myself.  I want to send crazy texts and make phone calls explaining everything I’ve ever said to everyone I’m convinced hates me. But this too is the bird in the bush. All of us make mistakes. We all do and say the wrong thing. That is being human and we have to forgive and expect forgiveness. The number one reality  is that other people are rarely thinking of us at all.  If you start acting crazy, then they will think you are crazy. And if, by chance, another person really is mad at you, or truly doesn’t like you, then that is a choice they have made and there is probably nothing you can do about it anyway. I must focus on loving myself and not get lost in the fear of the opinions of others.

Anxiety tells me that any failure of my children is a reflection of a failure by me. A bad grade means that I didn’t teach work ethic or skills. An angry outburst is proof that I haven’t parented with enough love or support. Anxiety tells me that every bad choice or wrong move on their part will start the domino effect of unraveling their future success all because of my faults and flaws as a mother.  I don’t blame my parents for my collection of poor decisions.  We all lay out our own path and we are all responsible for following or straying and I know this includes my own children. But anxiety says that it’s too late and the damage is done. It’s never too late. Every day that I can spend with my children is a blessing and I can’t let anxiety steal these blessings away from me.

I was very young when I heard the first murmurs of self-doubt and was filled with the desire to flee from the hunters.  In reality, the hunters only exist because anxiety tells me that they do.  In the many decades that followed I have tried dozens of methods to evict this unwanted roommate. I don’t think I can. Some days anxiety torments me, but it also makes me empathetic, creative, and helps me boost the funny and comedic side of my personality for balance.

I have learned to quiet, cajole, work alongside, and cohabitate with anxiety. I have learned to listen to my mother, “Don’t be the bird in the bush.”

My favorite bible verse is no surprise:

be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god

Even scripture affirms my mother’s wise advice. “Be still.” No need to panic and fluster in the face of anxiety.  God has this.

Be still. Be safe. Be blessed.

~~Delaney

 

 

 

Nothing is normal

I gingerly rubbed lotion into my broken leg and foot today. I sobbed. It wasn’t painful, it was just the first time I’ve really and fully touched my bruised, swollen in some places, saggy in others, flesh of that foot since my accident. It has taken three days since the cast removal to work up the nerve.  I knew I had nerve damage and numbness, but wasn’t sure the extent. I knew it wouldn’t feel like ‘my’ foot but I wasn’t ready to get personal with my new foot. 

I’m off of the major pain medicines. The good news is that I now have a clear head and can make decisions and memories (so sorry I didn’t remember your visit, Ang, I’m glad you found that funny instead of offensive!) but the bad news is that now I have to process my injury and recovery without blurry, drugged, edges. Now I have to learn to live with terms like, limited range of motion, limp, orthotic shoes, and permanent damage.  Under the beautiful blanket of opiates I heard, “minimum six weeks no weight bearing” to mean that in six weeks I’d walk out of my doctor’s office. Now I realize that means they won’t make any predictions until reviewing what the six week x-rays reveal.  

I don’t have a new normal yet. The bathroom is so far away and my blood pressure is still f*^%ing unstable so even peeing is an exhausting experience. 

I’m not the same mother. My kids have to help me get food and drinks. They help me get dressed. I’m not upholding any of my previous doting duties.

I can’t be the same wife. My husband is always my rock of stability but now he is sole provider, sole active parent, and alone in orchestrating this household. 

I’m certainly not the same daughter who calls her mother everyday to check in and laugh about life’s quirks. I’ve exhausted my mother in ways I can hardly think about over the last few weeks. 

I’m not even the same friend. I forget who I’ve talked to and don’t answer texts or calls for days. I’m taking instead of giving. I’m not there for anyone because I’m not yet able to be there for myself.

So I sobbed as I touched my new, not normal foot because I have to make peace with the new, not normal me. I have to put all my energy into healing, gaining back my mobility, and forgiving myself for not being myself. My husband sat with me saying all the right things but I know he’s hurting and scared too, because he’s also mourning the loss of our ‘normal.’

A friend said that I’ll find my new normal. But not yet. 

I just keep thanking God for kids, and husbands, and mothers, and friends who are willing to give me so much when I have empty arms in return. 

~~Delaney

The Whole Truth and nothing but…

We humans are liars. There are a whole lot of reasons why and a whole lot of ways to go about it, but the bottom line is that our pants are on fire much of the time.

Sometimes in life we need to unzip our external skin of lies and let our ugly guts of truth hang out. It can be one of the most beautiful things we can do for other humans.

On September 13, 2001 I gave birth to six and a half pounds of perfection. I had planned and prepared for this glorious arrival. I brought him home to stacks of congratulatory cards and phone calls.

Something wasn’t right though. The cards all talked about sweet baby cuddles and giggles. The messages all mentioned the magic and preciousness of a new baby. Everywhere I looked in my house there were pictures of smiling, sleeping, or cooing infants.

Reality looked different. In reality my body felt swollen, painful, and eviscerated, I hadn’t slept for three days, and my baby was either crying or pooping out the side of his diaper. I was sad most of the time and pretty sure I’d already screwed up parenting.

When my son was two weeks old I took him to church for the first time. He was wearing a little Pooh Bear outfit and I was still wearing the same maternity clothes I’d put on sometime before he was born, I think. After the service the three pastors’ wives came up meet my bundle. I was meekly smiling and trying to play the role of glowing new mother. Finally one of the women said, “Oh I think all I did at two weeks was cry and refuse to leave the house.” Another piped in, “That’s about the time I thought I’d ruined our lives.”

One by one, those women started sharing stories of sleepless nights, infections, self doubt, and not having the time or sanity to cherish sweet little baby smiles and smells, if they even exist in those first few weeks.

I cried tears of relief, joy, and belonging. These brave women told it like it was. New babies are special and sweet. But there are a lot of really hard and scary moments in there too. I needed confirmation that I wasn’t the only new mom who felt that way.

What else are we not being honest about? I now have a teenager and a preteen. I can’t even be friends with anyone who doesn’t believe that their sweet beautiful child could ever be an major jack-wagon one day. I need people to say that yes, they too can’t stand to be in the same room with the child they birthed and would still willingly die for… in and instant.

What about mental illness? Marital strife? Self-esteem struggles? We are hurting so many people by denying that these are a normal part of life and are not indicative of failure.

I’ve learned to embrace the honest and genuine people in my life. The people who are less concerned with appearing perfect and more concerned with helping out and supporting others. Not whiners and eternal victims, but bad-ass real life warriors who can admit that they too have struggles so that we can encourage each other.

I’m still a liar.  But I promise to try to let my ugly guts hang out when you need it.  When you need to know that it is not just you, but that all of our lives are messy and ugly, and that it’s okay.  It’s more than okay, ugly messes are sometimes the best memories and at the core of all beautiful things.

It is a scary but wonderful thing to be honest about yourself with someone who needs it.

~~ Delaney~~                                                                                                                                                   One energy and one love connects us all; let’s protect it.

Tulips

 

There is no ‘them’ only ‘us’

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My heart is aching and it gets worse every time a news story breaks. Shootings and killings are a daily occurrence. Why are we killing each other and why aren’t we stopping it. Is it because it’s only a problem for ‘them?’  Is it too scary for members of the majority to see and admit that there REALLY IS a very big problem?

We cling to our guns and cry for more guns while the bullets are lodging in the chests of our babies. Our fear tells us that only a gun in our own hands can protect our babies.  Which is admitting that we are willing to put a bullet in someone else’s baby.

We fear anything that we don’t understand.

We are killing in the name of a God that we don’t understand.

Black babies, white babies, rainbow flag babies, and Muslim babies all have one thing in common. All are babies of God. We all share one earth. We all breath the same air. The water that fills our oceans, falls as rain, and nourishes our bodies is all of one source: Earth. The same air and water that the dinosaurs, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Bob Marley lived off of is still recycling through us.

How do we not feel it in our very soul when a life is snuffed out due to hate and fear? We remove ourselves from it by putting it in the category of “them.”

There is no THEM there is only US. We are the human race. This foolishness must stop.

We must be thinking globally, not locally.  We must be trying to save everyone, not just the educated elite.

Every human must mourn these losses in a gut-wrenching and visceral way so that we can level the field and fight as one against evil.  Evil comes in all colors, genders, and religions. Evil pretends to be fear and self-righteousness. Don’t fall for it any more.

MOMS- I cry to you! All these fools with titles and degrees and rooms of policy makers can’t stop this insanity. But WE can. We must cry for every lost soul. Our children must watch us mourn. They must hear us wailing for the black babies, white babies, rainbow babies, and each and every baby who has had their breath stolen by violence. We must teach our babies to cry over each other. We must mourn together. We must fight for, instead of against, each other.

We have to start accepting that racism exists and is scary as hell.  It’s okay to not understand the scope of the problem. It’s not okay to deny it’s existence.  You can not continue to close your eyes and think that it won’t find you.  Racism is an evil that must be named.  It must be hunted and thrown into the public eye. Then we must painfully and humbly accept and admit that we are all playing into this most dangerous and evil game. Otherwise is festers and grows behind our backs while we try to sleep better at night by pretending it isn’t staring at us all the while.

I don’t want to live in a world where police officers are terrified to do their jobs and aren’t sure if they’ll make it home. I don’t want to live in a world where moms are terrified to let their black babies out of their sight because of police officers. I don’t want to live in a world where gay babies aren’t safe to follow their hearts and love authentically. I don’t want to live in a world where Islamic babies are fearful of wearing their traditional religious clothing.

While we fight, like territorial insects, our Earth is suffering. We are running out of land, water, and clean air. Babies are starving and disease is rampant. We are so focused on turbans, do-rags, and rainbows that we are literally forgetting about the living planet under our feet that we are all dependent upon.

I can’t change this. It is so painful to feel like I can do nothing. But I can mourn. I can wail loudly so that everyone around me must hear and take notice. Maybe someone will wonder why a Christian, affluent, white (ish) woman is wailing over the loss of THEM and will be moved to see that it’s all an illusion. We have all been foolishly led into battle against THEM. As long as we are in fighting mode the blood spills and Satan gets his wish. Who are THEY? There is only one earth to house and nourish all of us. We are all in this together.  We literally share all the same earthly energy regardless of our differences.

Wake up. THERE IS NO THEM! We are killing ourselves.  We are in the midst of an ignorant race for extinction and we are so busy pointing fingers that we don’t even see the blood on our own hands.

We are losing the one race that matters… the human race.

~~Delaney

 

When I realized that ‘she’ is ‘me.’

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She sits on a bench looking at nothing.  Her hair is unwashed and ragged.  Her ill-fitted clothes are mismatched.  She clutches her purse a little too tight and mutters to no one in particular: It’s a dead give away that she isn’t functioning at maximum capacity.

Twenty years ago I would have laughed at this woman.  I would have talked about her to whomever accompanied me.  Twenty years ago we didn’t have cell phones with cameras, or Instagram for instant photo sharing, but I would have been young and insensitive enough to do just that if I could have.

Twenty years ago I hadn’t yet witnessed the decline of people precious to me.  I hadn’t yet held the saggy skin covered hand of a loved one or looked into their face, slackened like an empty bag.  Like you should be able to take their flesh to a tailor, and with a little altering, and a lot of pressing, it could once again fit the younger able-bodied loved one you remember.

I would have scoffed at the incoherent mutterings of this woman.  I had a twenty-year-old brain that would always be sharp and functioning at full capacity.

Of course, at twenty, I hadn’t yet witnessed the mental decline of a brilliant mind.  I couldn’t fathom the gifted mind of an engineering professor slipping away into confusion and fear.  I didn’t know what it looked like when the very mind that so loved you and taught you many of life’s important lessons starts to lose those very lessons, returning to a childlike state of dependency and need.

I didn’t understand that brilliant minds will start to misfire and wander away from current consciousness.  I didn’t want to believe that strong, able bodies will wither and begin the deterioration process long before death.

Twenty years ago I would have looked at this woman, then looked away in disgust.

Today I just looked at this woman.  I really looked at her.  I was looking at myself.  I was looking at my best friend.  I was looking at my favorite teacher.  I was looking at you.

She could have been a mother, teacher, surgeon, mentor, and friend.  I wanted to look past what was clearly no longer working and see into who this woman had been.  I longed to hear her story.   I wish I hadn’t been too late to know and love her in her prime.  I just hope she recognized her prime.  I hope she embraced the vibrancy of youth when she had it.

How long before my body and mind are no longer useful and functional?

“Live In the present.”

“Live every day like it’s your last.”

“Make the best of today.”

I get it now.  I didn’t get it twenty years ago.  Twenty years ago there were an endless number of ‘todays.’  Too many to count each one as precious.

I get it now.  I’ve seen lives end too soon.  I’ve seen lives carry on too long.  I’ve seen lives lived in such agony that they blow out their own flame.

Today I finally understand the importance of today.  I am embracing.  I am rejoicing.  I am vibrant and in my prime.

Namaste

~~Delaney

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The Unicorn Theory

Everyone loves unicorns.  At least, everyone with a soul.

Unicorns are magical. They poop rainbows. And they have a horn… to stab soulless people who don’t like them. Win win! I’ve been obsessed with unicorns since the days of Lisa Frank school supplies.  Unicorns are the unofficial mascot for awesomeness!

I’ve always wanted scientists to discover an actual unicorn on some remote island because I want a unicorn! Or, at least I want to see one.

But all I’ve ever seen are horses. It’s a let down and a disappointment. Horses are just so… plain. No horn. No magic. And their poop is definitely NOT rainbows.

There is one big thing that horses have that unicorns don’t have. Can you guess it?

REALITY!

How many times have you been disappointed by a horse because you were holding out for a unicorn? Or, worded differently, how many times have you been disappointed by reality because you were holding out for a fantasy?

I blame Disney and the media. Disney teaches young girls that they will fall in love with princes who are well dressed, can sing, will slay dragons, and love them without question (or personality) for eternity. Talk about a load of crap, and not even rainbow colored!

Commercials promise that everything from new cookware to a new toothbrush will change our lives for the better instantly. The diet industry has been working via the Unicorn Theory for decades! Eat more rainbow unicorn poop and you too will look like a supermodel!

We even look for unicorns with our friends and family. We aren’t happy with their time/attention/gifts/words/etc. because we were expecting a unicorn and all they gave us was a horse. Be honest, how many times have you placed unrealistic expectations on the people in your life and later got mad at them when they only gave you realistic actions?

Do you have hopes for outcomes of situations that are just too high and then you suffer when life hands you a big dose of reality?

Do you expect your friends to put your needs ahead of their own, or their family’s, on a regular basis and at your every whim? Even though that’s not exactly being a good friend on your part?

Are you so focused on your child getting all A’s that you are devastated by a C? Even though a C is an average grade?

Do you judge your own middle-aged, normal, body by the standards of Hollywood Stars? Even though you know that teams of professionals make a living by making the stars looks as good as they do?

Do you think your significant other should know your wants and needs without being told? And that it is his/her responsibility to make you feel happy, special and important? Even though feeling special and happy come from the inside and not even rainbow unicorn poop can change that if you can’t do it for yourself?

STOP!

There are no UNICORNS! There are also no pots of gold at the end of the poop rainbow, so stop searching for fantasy and start living in reality.

Horses are truly lovely. They are beautiful and majestic animals even though their poop is just brown and smelly.  You can live a happy and fulfilled life enjoying all of the many beautiful horses without pining away for an imaginary unicorn.

Sometimes all we need in life is to adjust our expectations to reality in order to stop the damaging cycle of constantly seeking something that doesn’t exist.

However, if you are expecting a horse and you are given a worn out half-dead ass, well then, pity party on my friend. Pity party on and make some changes, because that’s not good enough for you! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Namaste,

Delaney Rhea

unicorn2

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