A Baby Step Forward

So… I have a new place to live! No more tents or cars or anything half baked. I have an actual apartment with a kitchen and *gasp* a bathroom too. : ) I am still moving in and will be for a few weeks, but I am slowly trying to figure out the new routine in my life. Some parts feel so strange and unreal. And I am very much on an emotional roller coaster. I suspect that will continue even as I finish moving the few belongings that I have left into the apartment.

There have been many blessings in this move. One is that I haven’t really had a way to cook really healthy food for a long time. Not having a set kitchen has made things pretty difficult. But I have a kitchen now and some friends have made sure that kitchen wise I am all set! I know have all the needed dishes and I have been spoiled with a hand blender as well as a few other appliances. I have bowls and pans and so now I need to change my old mindset…. as I can cook again! I have gotten in the habit of I can’t cook so why bother and I think that habit has taught me to skip meals like mad – gotta stop doing that too. Another blessing is the opportunity to be able to actually spend time with my cats. My ex is in a bit of a hurry for me to get on my way and so he has been very helpful in giving of his time, energy - and today his blood- to get my stray friends boxed and to the vet for neutering and then pills and flea treatments. They are comfortably resting in the ‘extra’ bedroom in my apartment. (I feel a little ‘wealthy’ and wasteful to have a room for my cats… doesn’t that sound so ridiculous. : ) They will have a bit of storage in their room for a while and as they seem to like using the storage as forts that seems very doable. I don’t have any furniture with the exception of two chairs and a book case, but that seems like a good start. A part of me is starting to feel excited about my new opportunities.

One hardship that I am trying to figure out is the idea of living alone. I have realized as I have thought about it over the last few days that I really have never lived alone. I am not sure that I even really know how to do so. I will hear noises in the night and sit up, confused and frightened… listening and then finally able to go back to sleep. I find myself trying to fill the quiet and even a little bored as I look around wondering what I should do next. (I think putting myself on a schedule will be a bit important to stop that… I don’t think that’s a good habit to start.) I can have horrible dreams- many of which I can’t really fathom how to interpret so I find them not only terrifying but confusing and perplexing as well. So I no longer have any one to disturb if I can’t sleep or I am struggling, but that seems to make the struggle seem more difficult as it becomes even more obvious that I am all alone. I have the freedom to do whatever I want and so, in theory, that should be a benefit. But I guess I haven’t really ever learned to be alone and so I feel it keenly sometimes and I find it very difficult to not just lay down and cry. I find myself starting at the fridge and feeling relief and a little joy that I have food and a fridge and then think… but why bother… no one to eat with. How ridiculous is that? I think in some ways I have become a fresh adult ready and moved out from the parent’s home… I need to learn all the things that I never learned and I need to develop the wish/need to care for myself again. Scheduling, coping, all that stuff.

But I have made a good step forward. I have a safe place to stay and even though I am not sure I want to plants any real ‘roots,’ I can rest and try to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I feel a little like my apartment- mostly empty but with good things and ready to accept them. Bug also enjoyed his visit today and I was able to really enjoy his company and we were both comfortable…. a wonderful experience. So I will see what I can do… and what other steps I can make…. : )


On Children and Rodents...

I had a fairly neat experience the other day. I forget sometimes that not everyone gets the same experiences that I had in my childhood…. And I will admit many parents would probably find my need and almost obsession for a rodent to play with to be at best, bizarre. So having a hamster or mouse to hold and feed and play with is something that I not only enjoy, but I almost do not feel ok without one. (That’s a little hard to explain and many people will not understand so I apologize… but those who do understand will nod and know exactly what I am talking about.)

My current friend is named Maximilian Robespierre. He was a gift from one of my CPR classes- repeat customers are awesome because they remember the things that you like. :) I have never had a gerbil before and he has been quite a new experience for me. For one thing, he is much quicker than a hamster, but not as quick as a mouse. He also has a personality that is pretty hardy and amazing. He loves people and has never bitten anyone; well, except the cats who have tried in the past to figure out how to remove him from his cage. I never knew whether to laugh or cry when I came home and found a cat crying and whining with a hurt paw or nose… and my small white gerbil looking pleased with a bloody face. It is such a bizarre and yet powerful example that my Robespierre has given me over the last year.

So I’m packing and moving and so it was with slight trepidation that I took my current ‘rodent-in-residence’ and strapped him into the front seat of the car. The trepidation is that rodents easily die if they become too frightened or stressed… and he isn’t really young, ya know… I shouldn’t have worried though. He climbed up to his pink penthouse and just watched out the window the whole drive. I couldn’t ever really tell what he was thinking but he made the trip safe and sound to a friend’s house for a few days visit while I get the apartment set up. She has four children who have never had a pet before so Robespierre was quite popular… wasn’t in the house long at all before they figured out he was there. And so in the evening I had the opportunity to sit down on the floor with all four of them and Robespierre. I could answer questions and watch their reactions to him. Claire, who is two, was a little afraid and very excited. She would move closer and then get close enough to see his nose twitch… and then she would scream! (Lucky, he clearly doesn’t stress easily huh. ;) Finn and Ian would pet him and were clearly excited but also had lots of questions such as why he doesn’t have a ‘kitchen in his cage’… that one was really hard to answer! Alia showed a slight amount of fear, but was willing to pet him and ask some pretty intuitive questions about his eating and grooming habits…

So we sat on the floor all together for about five minutes… letting Robespierre be petting or run around and burrow in my lap or even hop in and out of my pocket. I guess I sort of take the joy and wonder of rodents for granted now. Personalities change and they can all have different hobbies or quirks, but I have never met a rodent that I haven’t liked. It was such a fun experience to be able to introduce a pet and friend of mine to others who clearly saw him with a multitude of emotions including excitement and wonder. My life feels so full of negative stuff right now and to be surrounded by happy children who not only wanted my attention but really wanted to enjoy something that I enjoy as well was absolutely priceless. A true blessing and one that I that I was able to repeat before getting him to the new place yesterday. I wish him and his fan club fun in the future ... :)


A Temple Day

… and one that was amazing I might add! I am so excited to share it!

So last Saturday was set for a branch temple trip. A day that so many people were going to come down and watch a wonderful couple get their endowments and then the whole family would get their sealing. I agreed to come and watch children at the nearby church so that whole families could come and other couples could actually do endowments with each other instead of the more usual (one person stays home watching their children and the other gets to go to the temple.) When I agreed several weeks ago, I didn't really have any idea of the full emotional challenges that I would be hit with this week, but I actually should have known... any trip to the temple is usually preceded by challenges so that I have to really actively and painfully force myself forward and those challenges do not end until I get to the temple... or at least a few hours into the drive. This week was no exception... although I think that the challenges I have faced this week were a bit more than I have ever experienced and they never were truly able to be left behind this visit.

So after some initial difficulty of getting into the church building we got all the children in and set in the nursery and the gym. A few Kindles were passed around and my computer was happily enjoyed for a few games of 'Plants vs Zombies.' The younger ones came into the nursery and we found many toys and fun. I got to officially meet a new member of the ward and for the next few hours I lost myself in the task of watching several children – I think eleven at the highest count. Helpers came and went , but the children were a constant and they gave me so many laughs and so much joy. A few things really stick out about this time.

1. At one point early in the day I was asked a question by one of the sisters that I answered honestly, but with great difficulty. I was able to turn away to hide my distress and I think that I managed to actually hide most of it (I'm not foolish enough to think I hid all of it... I think that sometimes my pain seeps through my pores and is always visible no matter how much I try to smile) The second I turned and closed my eyes I was tackled by a beautiful child named Claire. She wrapped her arms around me in a big hug and gave me a kiss..... and then went back to what she had been doing. I am not sure why she did it, but it meant the world to me. I felt this outpouring of love and care that pushed the tears down brought a genuine smile to my face. I felt more confident and just took a deep breath and dived into the work with most of my soul and not just my body.

2. One of the younger girls asked me to help her use the bathroom. I walked to the bathroom with her and stood outside while she completed her business and when I walked into the room to help her finish, she gave me one of the most wonderful lessons I have ever received from a child. She carefully explained that some boys may look like girls... they might have long hair or wear earrings, but she knew a sure fire way to tell the different. See, girls ALWAYS use toilet paper when they use the toilet, but boys will only use toilet paper when they poop. So, she explained, if I am ever in doubt as to whether someone is a boy or girl... I can follow them to the bathroom and spy to find my answer. (I am still laughing about this!)

3. At one point , I was reading a book called “The Tawny, Scrawny Lion' out loud to a room full of children and one of them came and leaned up close. Her name is Kess and she was so interested and was leaning so close I thought she might climb into my lap at one point. I have never really spent any time with her before so it was nice to get to know her a little better on this trip.

After 2pm, I was able to head up to the temple and do baptisms. And to my surprise, even though I was over 1/2 an hour late and wasn't even sure I could sneak in... they were just starting! So I was able to change and join the group. This was the first time that Kess and her mother had ever been to the temple to do baptisms and I earned something really, really quickly... I am not the only person with severe sensory problems in my branch. The idea of total immersion was clearly fearful and terribly uncomfortable for them both. Both of them managed to do one baptism each and it was an amazing experience to view these brave women, struggling so hard to do something that other people find easy or take for granted. Baptisms used to be very uncomfortable for me with my sensory problems and I have really had to work with my body to make them something I can do and still feel the spirit. At one point when Kess was trying so hard to figure out how to do the baptism through her fear, I realized that I was praying and begging so hard for her to be able to conquer her fear for the few seconds it would take.... and I realized that everyone else was too. All the people waiting in the chapel were standing at the window watching, the men around the font, and the rest of us.... just silently pleading with the Father to help her. And she did it! She managed to do it and I am so grateful to have witnessed such a wonderful and brave act. I was so blessed to be there and I am so grateful for the examples that so many wonderful people give me.

After the baptisms and confirmations we started home. I was riding with some friends and they gave me a tour of Kittery and also took me to see a beautiful lighthouse... (I thought of you, Carolyn, as I looked at it. It was soo beautiful and so familiar... I realized it must be a very famous lighthouse because I think I have seen it on cards and some calendars as well.) Then I stayed over at their house in a wonderful cozy bed and slept better than I have in ages. All in all, an amazing day! Thanks for letting me share it. :)