Friday, August 28, 2009

On Healing

There are certain subjects I just hate to talk about. Some things make me uncomfortable, and others are just downright painful. When these topics pop up, I find the natural response is to pull back, withdraw from the conversation, and sometimes, shamefully, from the relationship itself.

A friend of mine is an occupational therapist, and she recently told me she has to massage the scabs and sensitive spots on the skin and muscles to toughen them up. If you keep them covered up, she said, they will become more and more sensitive and unusable for functional activities. The same can be said of our emotional wounds, my wise friend pointed out.

Convicted, I thought of all the circumstances in which I'd done exactly that. In a myriad of circumstances, my refusal to "go there" has taken me way beyond "touchy." As a result, that part of my life becomes dead weight--a memory, at best.

Next time, my friend cautioned me, don't be so quick to cover up those wounds reflexively. The anticipation is usually a lot worse than the actuality, she concluded.

Pretty healthy advice.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Pardon me for stating the obvious, but haunted houses are mighty awful scary.

I was reminded of this fact during our romantic weekend away from the kids. We visited Niagara Falls, where there are more than a few haunted houses. Since he knew where we were going, and had been there himself before, our oldest son dared me to go into one while we were gone--no doubt believing there was NO WAY I would.

In an attempt to show off my new found brave spirit, I took the dare. The place was appropriately called "Screamers," and I'm still praising the Lord that my bladder hadn't been too full upon entry. As we traveled through the pitch black darkness, "monsters" creeped, jumped, and crawled all around us. I've never been so scared, or screamed so loudly, in all my life.

Well, except for when I gave birth, but that's a subject for another blog.

My boy got a call the moment I'd survived the ordeal, and had finished using the rest room, just so I could brag. It was actually the second call I'd made to a son that day, and we'd end up calling all of them before the end of that very same hour.

It's funny. When we were alone, the communication was productive and the romance was optimal. As much as we were enjoying ourselves, though, there was still something missing.

When we got home, and all the kids were in the kitchen, I started making eggs. Three kids, one girlfriend, and Jeff and I all vied for one another's attention, talking at once and running into each other in the small area. Above all the hubbub, that's when it hit me. We'd loved the vacation, but we'd missed our special family chaos.

Now THAT's scary.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Redefining Vacations

Today, Jeff and I will be traveling to Hamilton, Ontario for a romantic weekend away from it all--the laundry, the housework, and even our beloved kids. For two nights and 2.5 days, we'll try having conversations about anything but the usual concerns. Easier said than done.

It's been challenging to carve out the time for a getaway, but even more difficult to break our pattern of planning for vacations. In the past, we might have agreed together on a destination, but then, I'd leave the rest of the plans up to him.

Jeff's a math teacher, I'd reason. He's logical, he's thrifty, and after all these years of being in charge of all the details of our vacationing, he's experienced.

He was also pretty burdened, I've learned. Being the task master of our respites left him exhausted; the poor guy could have used his own vacation when it was all over, whether we were with the kids or not.

Meanwhile, I graded the entire experience. Had he chosen a clean, well-kept hotel? I'd be the judge of that--and march right into the bathroom upon entering, checking the place out for stray hair and black mold. Was the restaurant really as good as he thought it would be? I'd be the judge of that, too--and I'd let him know.

Convicted of such selfishness, I suggested we plan this trip together. I think he was happy about it. Well...confused, but happy.

Because it was a last minute decision, it took quite a bit of time to find a hotel with a vacancy. The couple we used to be would have given up, decided to forgo the idea, and sulked at home.

Ah many, many games we played.

Reconstructing us, however, involves working things through as a team, no matter how long it takes. We proceeded with prayer and determination, convinced that we really did need this time away. Working side by side at the kitchen table, on two laptops, we found our hotel after four hours.

Yep, four hours. We were admittedly less than happy to have spent so long on the project, but when it was over, we were thrilled.

In my next entry, I'll tell you about the activities--and the relaxation--we've worked into our weekend, and how different such a schedule looks from how we would have driven one another crazy in the past. Jeff and I are redefining vacations.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's In The Dailiness

When Jeff and I renewed our vows last year, after twenty years of marriage, we both knew what the ceremony meant.

It wasn't about celebrating the past. There's a lot to look back on and smile about, but there's also been times in those twenty years that neither one of us would want to relive, ever.

We weren't thinking about the future, either. Don't get me wrong; Jeff and I are committed to living out our days on earth together, for "as long as we both shall live."

We renewed our vows without a great deal of hindsight or forethought. Instead, the meaning of "to have and to hold from this day forward" during our renewal ceremony really centered around two words: this day.

We've learned we need to live, and to love, this day. Today. From the moment we wake up until we lie back down again, we're the only spouses in the entire world for each other. Daily attention to that fact has changed our marriage.

This blog will be a diary of what those changes look like. Sometimes the work is hard, and the process hurts. Other times it's fun, or beautiful, or both. When the day ends, we both agree; no matter what changes we've made, whether in attitude or action, it has always been worthwhile.

Though this change has come in the dailiness of our lives, it is never mundane. The journey is exciting. We're reconstructing us.