I was the attractive older woman in the relationship and totally good with it

birthday workout with someone I love

How to sum up weeks of crazy in a few short paragraphs:  well, .... with bullet points, of course. 

1.  I've been laid off work for the next indeterminate amount of time... Which means I really need to lay off the chocolate in the coming days. 

2.  Kid 1 was given 3 days notice to get to Mississippi, pack up his dorm room and move out.  Obviously before the world was scheduled to end by X o'clock on the third day.  Proud to report he made it and is unhappily and bored at home without the stimuli of college life to entertain him.  Pray for an adjustment for us all.  Seriously.

3. Kids 2 and 3 will be doing school work from school issued laptops that they received today.  Just like the food distribution that they drove through and got from the school yesterday, it's pretty much a scene from Contagion out there where the lunch ladies and school principals just throw the food and learning materials through an open window of your car as you drive by.  

4.  A couple of my kids - I forget which - were fussed at by a neighbor for trying to shoot squirrels with a pellet gun.  Y'all it's come to this.  They have no clue how to survive without constant entertainment and I hope I never have to live in a cave with them.  Refer back to number 1 where I discuss unemployment.  

5.  And today I did my Birthday workout.  My traditional workout where I have to do squats, pushups, lunges, .... all the things.... each in the amount of my million years of age.  Kid 2 joined me and he now wishes I were younger  - as that was really a whole lotta lunges.   

Which brings me to birthdays and life and all the stuff that I tend to think about more than I ever imagined.  Y'all, I'm pretty sure I didn't do my birthday workout last year.  Mainly because I was still a zombie and I can't even remember the month of March, much less a particular day of it from last year.  So being able to get out and involved in an active part of living is a giant step forward for me.  

And I've actually considered that I might have two different birthdates now.  The one in March, today, when I entered this life for the first time.  And the one pretty much each day where I have to choose to keep on living this life - and sometimes that decision is harder than others.  And thank you sweet Jesus, sometimes easier.  And everyone throw me a party because I think I have to make that particular decision fewer times and farther between now.  And I even felt a bit of an accomplishment to note that I've now lived 3 years longer than Fireman Dave got the chance to.  And if you do the math on that one... you know that I was the attractive older woman in the relationship and I was totally good with it.  

And this morning I woke to some pretty sweet birthday words from a 16 year old kid I know that gave my heart a leap and a jump of encouragement.  Thanks be to God for leaps no matter the size.  And for the courage to make and accept them.  

So, from my darling Kid 3....  words to live and love by for a bit longer - till I find my new purpose and place.  I'm open to suggestions and shared phone numbers of kind, fit and respectable companions.  ...

"Happy Birthday, Mama.  I know we do not spend as much time together as we used to but I still love you just as much.  I know it may seem like I write these notes to avoid getting a gift, but actually it just helps me say what I'm trying to say better.  Well I hope you enjoy your day as much as possible.  Love you. ❤"

And as I listened to a phone message from one of our ministers at church this afternoon, wishing me well, she told me how she saw a baby bird learn to fly this morning from his nest.  And how she hoped that I was able to find a small moment of joy like that in my day.  

I did.  

A man friend and a 12 pack of gatorade

a little throwback to way back when

As I sit here on a rainy Sunday afternoon and pore over the fascinating article titled, Pulmonary Function Decline in Firefighters and Non-Firefighters in South Korea, a lovely little read about all the crap that firefighters' bodies go through and people don't even know it..... I thought I would pop on in here and catch y'all up on some things.  

I guess #1 would be that I still read things, things and more things like, Pulmonary Function Decline in South Korean firefighters.... not because I want to actually know anything about any of it, but because I just have to.  I'm smack in the middle of Year Two of this battle for benefits and basically, all I have is me to wave the battle flag. The Workers Compensation insurance carrier for the City of Dallas has turned down my claim for death benefits regarding Fireman Dave.  And go figure, but the attorney that I relied on to help me file the appeal doesn't like or appreciate me very much as a person - but I'm really sweet down deep inside, I want to yell at him... but I think he blocked me and applied for a restraining order.  And in short, y'all, I need him every hour, sort of like the good ol' song talkin about Jesus - but in this case his name is Randy.  If y'all see Lawyer Randy out and about, put in a good word for me, please.  

And #2 would be to catch y'all up on some family things:  

We had to make the very difficult decision to put our beautiful dog, Rita, to sleep a few weeks ago.  And it hurt my heart more than most anything should because it seems like every little piece of what we used to be as a family just goes away so darn easily.  That sweet dog hair shedding girl sat with her Mama and listened to me cry a whole lot of late, and I sure miss my sweet friend.  

And there's this.... I backed into a construction vehicle while trying to get out of a parking lot - a retail spot where I had specifically gone to get the very best Valentine cards for all my little loves.  Which reinforces my entire theory on love these days -  It's such a dangerous business.  But I did send a sweet Valentine gift to my angel friend, Loyce, in Uganda, and got something for each of my sort of darling boys. Kid 1 has specifically asked for soap and toothpaste, which is a very untraditional Valentine, but there was that year I got new closet doors from Fireman Dave for the Day of Love and it was the best gift ever.  Love is love, I say and if Crest whitening toothpaste says it, I'm all about it.  

And announcement #3 I guess would be that I am the proud mom of Kid 2 who has been accepted into two different universities so far and waiting on possibly another.  But we are pretty much stuck on the what's next portion of that show.  He tends to be a lot like his daddy and feels so many things.  And he's  expressed concern over leaving me here alone, plus some other issues about going off to school - things that we're trying to work out.  If I could snap my fingers and make each of them about 4 years old again when they dressed up like Spiderman and wanted to marry me, I would totally consider it .... for about a minute, then let them grow up to be the men that God has planned all along for them to be.  So I remind Kid 2 that I got to be 18 years old and go off to college and all that jazz, and now it's his turn.  We're all a work in progress, it seems. 

I think losing a huge part of your security and confindence in how life is supposed to work at the early age of 17 makes what should be a mid level decision actually bigger than maybe it should be.  I get that.  My last 14 months have been all about heavy, dark decisions that I never wanted to make, but yet here I am ....  Still about the business of ridiculous and trying to figure out why.  Y'all, as Fireman Dave sits in Heaven probably in a recliner watching Sunday afternoon football, thank you very much.  

And time to brag about Kid 1 - my college baby - who made it onto the Southern Athletic Conference Fall Academic Honor Roll for his wonderful Grade Point Average his first semester while being a full time student athlete at Millsaps College.  That one can irritate the life out of me, then turn right around and charm me with stuff like this.  God made sure to put a healthy mix in him early on to make sure I wouldn't kill him.  

And Kid 3.  Oh dearest Kid 3, whom I adore with every breath I take.  And the one who is our lead in today's story....

Enter Stage Left ...  into the basketball gym at the high school, me and my "Friend Who is a Man."  From now on to be referred to as Man Friend.  And poor Man Friend who happens to be polite and kind and believes in opening doors for ladies and all the gentlemanly things, thought it best that he be the one to carry in the 12 pack of red Gatorade to the gym as it was Kid 3's required contribution to the concessions sales that day.  And Lord, had I known that a 12 pack of red Gatorade could and would cause such a stir, I would've just made a big ol' monetary contribution to the team and left it at that.  

So we walked in, got body searched by the coach with the hand help metal detector to make sure we weren't bringing in weapons of mass destruction  - as that could erupt into chaos should our team suffer a tough loss.  But turns out so can walking into your kid's basketball game as a recently widowed woman, followed by a man who is not my husband, carrying a 12 pack of red Gatorade.

And I had already made sure to tell Man Friend that he should sit no closer than 18 inches away from my person in the bleachers as not to incite gossip of any sort, as I am a respected member of this community - but I know for a fact that I got the reviewing stare from the boys' Biology teacher and a couple of others as they mentally recounted the sad walk of shame of Hester Prynne and her literary Scarlet Letter.  

And Kid 3 gave Man Friend the teen version stare of "Carry that 12 pack of red Gatorade for my mom again and I'll cut you"  ... and then later texted me with this,  

"Is bringing a random guy to my games going to be a regular thing now?"

To which I replied, "I think if I were to just pick up a random guy and bring him to your game, I would expect to be paid for that.  I am not in that profession." 

Y'all.  I've had to really pray about this.  These boys are my absolute top priority.  Have been and always will be.  And that means that they need and expect me to be here when they get home from school and games and whatever else.  They expect me to be in my mom place waiting for them no matter what, where or when.  But I've come to the sad acceptance that Fireman Dave is never coming back.  And talking to myself is sort of not fun.  And seriously, my day after day consists of going to work and coming to home to read about lung crap and firemen's arteries until I fall asleep.  

So I made the choice to say yes to Man Friend a few weeks ago when he asked me to dinner and to a movie and then to dinner again.  And I made the choice to step out of my comfort zone and out of my normal comfy sweatpants outfit and try to grow a little bit beyond where I've been stuck for a while.  I will say, however,  that I went to a late matinee movie on a school afternoon last week and I totally regretted not being here when Kid 3 got home from school.  And I had to give that one a lot of thought to make sure I keep my priority on raising these boys before and above anything else.  

I seriously never wanted to make these decisions.  I never wanted to read about lungs and arteries or know how to correctly decipher a death certificate.   But I never wanted to be sad and alone all the time, either.  Does that make me the East Dallas Hester Prynne with her Scarlet Letter?  I actually think David would be happy that I still make people stop and think about things.  

Y'all. Not. Equipped.

So I took Kid 3 to my hair salon to get a haircut.  Mistake #1 - as it actually has the word, SALON, in the name.  So he walked in, smelled the hair product overload and stormed out, waiting outside on the sidewalk till I basically threatened to Instagram that very tantrum to the nations right then and there.  So he gave up and trudged onward toward his doom.  Mistake #2 - I forgot that his football coach's wife works there.  So now he's afraid that his life as a tough as nails teenage athlete is over.   

And Kid 2 and I, along with my sister in law, went for a sail on White Rock Lake a couple of weeks ago.  The only boat on the water, might I add - and obviously for a very good reason.  Note that we are not technically or in any other way, good at, or even fully equipped to sail.  

And we had a great time, as the pictures reflect... accomplanied by Fireman Dave's very ecclectic Spotify playlist - but that was before we got stuck in the middle of the lake.  In the dark.  In the cold.  But the Christmas lights in the surrounding neighborhoods were quite nice - which was good as we enjoyed them for quite some time.  End of story... we ended up paddling back to the safety of the boat club where we all breathed a sigh of relief, but then had to deal with the aftermath of disappointment and the lessons that go with it.  Kids are complicated.  Just sayin. 

And I got my car stuck in the drive thru car wash because I know how to turn on the "auto hold" feature on my Hyundai... but I don't know how to turn in off.  Lots of help from the car wash staff who patiently reminded me to put the car in neutral approximately 1000 times, but not so patient support from the 5 cars behind me - waiting and smelling the yumminess of the Chick Fil A coming from nextdoor just tempting their senses right out onto the edge of Hangry Street.

And full disclosure, I pretty much said to hell with my Paleo lifestyle for an undisclosed amount of time and ate a bunch of animal crackers from the Aldi while binge watching a very scary show about a crazy online dating maniac that pretty much ensures that I will forever be on this life road alone. 

I also half choked on my chocolate calcium chew last week and was torn between fear of a slow and painful death on my beat up old kitchen tile floor, .... and all out rejoicing that I would make it to my heavenly home in time for me and Fireman Dave to have Date Day Wednesday.  I chose to drink water and live.  I wasn't dressed nearly well enough to die in that particular moment. 

But here it is... New Year 2020 ... and my declaration of truth is that I am at odds not only with myself, but with the Universe, and most  - if not just about all  - of the people in it.

And now it's the last week of Christmas break for my boys and why God thought I should or could be the last man standing to raise these three boys is beyond all comprehension.  Beyond all I can even come up with in my very detailed and dramatically bent imagination.  Because the plain and simple fact that I hear myself threatening to auction one or all of them off to the highest bidder - the milder side of my parental exhaustive state.... all the way to the echoes in my mind of words like strangle and bare hands.... secures in my belief the fact that I am not equipped for this job.  Y'all. Not. Equipped.

I write this today in response to a comment that a reader thought, assumed, that we are a perfect family.  Keep scrolling backward and forward, dear reader, as you will so quickly learn that I never even hinted at that filtered rendition of our conditions.  And sure ain't gonna start now.  

Kid 1 is in a time of learning and challenge.  Stuck between  being an adult but yet still being dependent on me.  That sort of makes for a back and forth of mixed communication and misunderstanding as we try to adjust to each other over this break.  I am happy to receive suggestions.  

Kid 2 is trying to decide what's next after high school and I totally - and I mean, TOTALLY, get it.  I remember being 18 and it mostly just involved baby oil and hot summer days.  At least that's all I remember, anyway.  The actual decisions of life never occurred to me... until much later.  So we're working on a plan that may or may not be any good at all.  Nothing like being the guinea pig for a mom trying to do things on her own for the first time in .... um, ever.  

And Kid 3 does indeed have a great haircut.  From my salon.  Maybe I'll force him to get highlights next time.  Just to keep him always humble and kind.  And forever guessing what I may or may not be capable of as a parent.  I don't actually know the answer to that, myself.   

I do know that the holidays were stupid.  I truly hope the low that I hit on Thanksgiving was indeed as low as it gets.  If you would like to, and if you believe that it has any sort of Heavenly mojo... you can pray that for me, please.  And you could share with me - here in the comments, or privately via text or email - how you've climbed up and over some of your worst moments.  

I'm starting year 2.  Year 2 of fighting for what is right for me and the boys.  Year 2 of trying to mark off each day while trying not to view it as part of my final countdown.  I can now say that I completed a full year of firsts and lasts missing my love.  And I didn't think I would ever be able to say that. 

I'm wrestling with the ending

At this time last year we had our Christmas tree up and lights on it  - simply because the Boy Scouts came to clean up our yard and do some nice things - and all I know is that they left and we had a tree.  I know, however,  that we didn't decorate it because the day after Christmas - as fast as I could - when I took the tree down, it was a really quick job.

And I have no idea if we had presents last year.  I really didn't care.  I couldn't physically or emotionally care about anything more than getting my bootie out of the bed each day and praying that it would, please Dear God, if you're indeed there... be my last.  

I don't really care this year, either.  But as of today we actually have a tree, complete with a sprinkling of decorations.  And I even just made a batch of fudge - which to the boys signals the season is upon us.  At least there's that.  We may not feel joy but at least we can taste it.

I will also say that by this time last year I had just,  2 weeks prior, stood at the receiving end of a line, 600 people plus,  coming to pay their respects.  And I tried to hold myself together for the sake of just holding myself together.  I was told that I did ok as far as kind words about dead husbands go.  And with a house full of people that night and the Dallas Fire Department escorts waiting outside, I sat in my, our room, alone, and prayed for just enough strength to get through 2 hours.  And I begged again the very same thing the next morning as I had to do it all over again, but this time for the last goodbye.

And people who love me brought over Christmas cookies and other things  - hoping to make this place a little merrier for the boys - as they received things at the door because I literally couldn't get myself out of bed.  And yes, I still have days like that, in case you wondered.  Days that I just might cry right in the middle of the Target - or at work, which is really the HD version of the saddest show on earth - the general reason being that there's so much sadness inside that sometimes the dam just breaks.  And trust it - it doesn't make reservations concerning time or place.

And since I've always prided myself on complete honesty and truth on the blog, today being no different, I have to say it again - that I've never quite understood the whole Christmas thing.  The gifting and shopping and  parties and the idea of a cheer in the air that I never have in all my years, found or felt - at least past the preschool age I think.  

And y'all, despite circumstance, I understand the concept of recognizing the significance of Christ's birth and its impact on the world of believers.  Repeat:  I understand the concept.  And I've voluntarily written on the subject on several occasions, leaning toward that basic understanding, but not much more.  But I don't think I've ever written a piece based on joy that is understood or being any different than just marking off one more date on a calendar.  Maybe I never will.

But I can say that I feel even more now, the confusion over the goings on between November and December.  Because I just want to tell the world to stop running around like crazy people and actually feel - like I do - down so very deep in my gut - the knowledge that life as we know it now could all end any second.  Recently I've heard a couple of people talk about how fast their year flew by.  Words that basically slap me in the face and stop my breathing - and then I consider if I may or may not need physical restraints to hold back me and my words that want to scream how this past year for me and boys has been a nightmare that wouldn't end.  How every day of just waking and getting about what most people think is a given part of their day - owed to them somehow, by someone in control - ... well, it wasn't even close.  And how I hope to goodness that someday soon we wake up to find what ignorant people assume that we already have.  

Last year I was asked to contribute an Advent devotional - a writing that was due well before Thanksgiving and well before the World of Walters lost its mind.  And after all was said and done, I was asked permission to share the piece - though it was ultimately decided that it should only be shared via email and not social media.  I think the Walters were already crowding the airwaves enough without a little Kristi essay added to the mix.

And I found that post today.  I still agree with a whole lot of it, but I'm wrestling with the ending:

Philippians 4:4-5
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

By Kristi Walters
When I was tasked with the job of writing something devotionally inspiring, while at the same time sort of biblically sound for this season of Advent, my thoughts immediately went to my most identifiable character from the hit TV show Seinfeld—that being George Costanza and his tradition of celebrating, instead of Christmas, the holiday of Festivus. A holiday made up by his father when George was 9 years old and dad lost his proverbial bananas while trying to shop for a doll for his son. 

In the TV series, Jerry Seinfeld is the snarky stand-up comedian; George Costanza, the grumpy, late 30s, often unemployed man who lives at home with his parents; Elaine Benes, the serial-dating, ex-girlfriend of Jerry, and the only female balance to the men on the show, although mostly through a neurotically skewed lens; and Cosmo Kramer, Jerry’s neighbor who is able to survive mysteriously on short-term, part-time jobs that never last. Add a few here-and-there characters to the mix, and we pretty much have a full person—full of all our natural quirks, idiosyncrasies, desires and disappointments. And the fact that any of us could identify with any or all of these characters depending on the day is, all by itself, a full semester college psychology course. 

The motto for Festivus is “A Festivus for the rest of us!”—a holiday for those who have given up on the others. For Festivus, the usual Christmas tradition of a tree is contradicted with an unadorned aluminum pole, standing in direct contrast to the new normal of holiday materialism. Those attending Festivus also participate in the “Airing of Grievances,” which is an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year, followed by a Festivus dinner, and then completed by the “Feats of Strength” event where the head of the household must be pinned.

For George Costanza’s family, Festivus is celebrated each year on Dec. 23 and, as I learned, has caught on with many even outside the show as a stand against what Christmas has become. I mean by real, live people, who have given up hope on the most hopeful holiday of the year. I may be one of them. 

I think I’ve become more and more anti-Christmas the older I’ve gotten, and my less-than-joyful attitude is starting to spread to pretty much every other holiday, except for the happy fact that I may have the day off work. I can totally understand Fourth of July and support it fully as both a memory and a reminder of some pretty awesome history. I can even understand Thanksgiving, except for the retail portion of the holiday when stores compete over who can open the earliest. Maybe Macy’s will offer a Thanksgiving Day buffet right there in the store to give people more energy to shop. 

And truth be told, Christmas usually makes me sad. Especially Wilshire’s Christmas Eve worship service. But not the kind of sad like when your dog dies, but the kind that I can’t quite figure out so it feels even sadder because it can’t be identified. I’m basically a crier at candlelight anything and at any and all children singing. There’s some buried psychology in that one somewhere, too. Maybe I need to re-watch the entire nine years of Seinfeld with that in mind. 

I also think I haven’t figured out how to calendar the feeling of joy. How to summon it up, to call it to duty for a specific date or occasion. And add to the mystery, the frazzly expectations that the modern version of our Christmas holiday imposes on us before we can even begin to sit down to eat, or in between the million versions of Jingle Bells, and I get a little over the whole thing before it gets started. 

Now enter stage right, the biblical command/request/suggestion to rejoice in the Lord always. Not just sometimes. Not just when I feel like it. And not based upon a previously scheduled event. Just always. Like when I wake up in the morning. When I go to bed at night. When I think I may have serial killer tendencies in the long line at T.J. Maxx in December. In fact, in one translation of today’s verse, the command is to rejoice always and to let our gentleness be known to all. In another version it asks to let our kindness, even our fairness, be evident to all. Because y’all, sometimes it’s just not, and I guess Paul, the author of Philippians, already had a pretty good sense of where our world was headed. 

And I suppose however over the commercialism of the holidays we are, whether we choose to celebrate Christmas or Festivus, or sit this year out as a gap year, the lesson in it all, for me, anyway, is that the promise of Christmas isn’t about the holiday but about the days to come. That no matter how much purchased or created joy we build our traditions on, the real deal about joy is to just jump in somewhere, often and always.  

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