Friday, December 18, 2015

365 days ago....

So, if you are a person who notices things, you may have noticed that i haven’t changed my facebook cover photo in a year, which is odd for me, because I like to decorate EVERYWHERE for any occasion. The message on my cover photo came to me last Christmas season, in a time when I really needed it.
I suffer, no, I FIGHT depression, and Anxiety. I choose not to say suffer, as I want people to know it’s a fight, not simply a burden. it affects me every day, in every corner, and 365 days ago, i was pretty deep in a hole. I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t love myself, I didn’t see nearly as much worth in myself as those around me daily tried to convince me of.
I got this message, and a challenge started in my brain, and I took some action, and put myself on a road of self discovery, and started to change the thinking processes I’ve held tightly for so many years.
365 days ago, i was barely holding on by a thread, I missed my dear friends who live so far away. I was feeling some serious rejection that was unfair and mean. I was tired, out of shape, overweight and tired. I didn’t see myself as anything important, even being a mom to me didn't seem like such a big deal. It was so “easy” and methodical and “just what i do” it didn’t seem that significant. My brain threw facts at me, it replayed the lovely things my family and friends said to me, to try to convince me that I was something to be proud of, but none of it could get through the fog, or the doubt, or the darkness. Anxiety takes over then, and I become unable to cope with social occasions, simple getting coffee with someone was such a mountain, the only thing that helped was screen time, when I could just go blank and not think, or a drink, or 4.
365 days ago, I decided God has a plan, and no matter what, I was going to stay in ready mode. I needed to be around to see it, I needed to be someone He could use. I needed a new source of strength.
365 days ago, I decided to cut alcohol from my diet, for a year. To break some bad habits, to work on dealing with social anxiety like an adult, to find myself, under all the masks.
356 days ago, I was getting ready to start heavy training for a half marathon, CRAZY.
365 days ago, I wasn’t really sure what my idea of God was. Or how He fit into my daily life.
In the past 365 days, I haven’t been drinking, (much) There were some events, weddings, retirement, vegas, a half marathon, a couple things where a drink was celebratory, not the only way to get through socializing. It was hard, REALLY hard, i am, no, was, really bad at small talk, and being social. However, in this last year, I have found out that I can be a normal chatty human, and socialize with people like every once else. Yes it takes a lot out of me, but it doesn't kill me, and people actually seem to enjoy being around me. yeah I was shocked too. :)
In the past 365 days, I have embraced my parenting skills. I’m, chaotic, unorganized and a little nutty, but you know what? Who cares?! My husband is solid, and task oriented, and we work well together, and we both want the same outcome. To raise awesome humans. So, it all works out. I have been a lot more relaxed, just being ok with who I am. I have nothing to live up to, I am a grown up, I grew up to be this person, and this person is pretty darn awesome. I like her a lot.
In the past 365 days, I trained, and ran a half Marathon. That is correct, I ran 13.1 miles. I found an ability to tell myself i could do it, to believe it, and to achieve it. In the training process i kept finding myself doubting, and then talking myself out of it. No running to the TV, no beer to drown the anxiety, just me, and the road, and having to just believe that I could do it, and i DID!
In the past 365 days I have had a spiritual awakening. I put myself in places that felt uncomfortable, but I knew it was part of that path God wanted me on. I knew if I wanted to see His plan, I needed to do these things. I joined a Moms Bible study. I got Baptized along with my daughter. I remembered what it felt like to be a kid, who was oblivious to the pain of the world, and just happy. I re-connected to God, I heard his message of Love, and it overwhelmed me so much that it changed my thinking. My thinking about EVERYTHING. The world looks so different to me now, I just want to help people, to love people, and have them know this LOVE that i have re-discovered. It’s such a crazy feeling!
In 365 days, I have discovered new things about myself that I like, things that i need to work on, things that aren’t such a huge deal, that I really need to just get over. I have missed wine with steak diner, and real beer while watching football. (I have a 6pack chilling for the packers game on Sunday) I started weight watchers, and thanks muchly to Braces, I am doing really well! :D I am proud of myself for the control I have taken over my mind. I still have a laundry list of things about myself that need work, but not stressing about it, I’m not worried so much about what people think. I’m getting back to my old “water off a ducks back” self of the late 90’s (yeah, I’m THAT old :P)
In 365 days, life has changed for me, a year ago today, such a different frame of mind from what I have today. I kept the verse as my facebook cover for a year to remind myself that I was doing serious work. Well, I have done serious work, and I have serious fruit, and now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna take that fruit, and make some wine. ;)
SED 12/18/15

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Why my phone is part of my life......

Yup, I admit it, I am one of those. One of those people who cannot put down my phone. I am one who needs to be told "it's not phone time now" or "we are doing real time here, face to face, no phone"
I used to deny it, (sometimes I still do) I used to feel bad about it, (sometimes I still do), but you know what? Deep down, the real me, the rational me, says, 'Yup, thats me, and that's ok!"

You want to know why? I am an introvert, through and through. I have anxiety and battle depression. It's part of who I am and knit into me, and I will be dealing with it my entire life. The Deal here is, find ways to live a meaningful life around all that. This is where my phone comes into play.

I am not ant-social, I love hanging with my BFFs as much as the next guy, but I don't have that many really, I don't have a need to gather a whole gaggle of besties to surround me at all times, I like to have a few solids, that I can go to, no matter what, and they have my back, they know me through and through, and i know them and it's safe. The problem with that, is when those people move, I am left with holes, yes, I get my alone time, but even an old tortoise like me CAN get TOO MUCH alone time, i start to miss people, and that sucks!

My phone, it is my friend portal. I am SO much of a better friend because of it! ( I hear you, 'dang if this is her being SO MUCH better, heaven help us if she ever looses it!')
I know, I'm bad at staying connected, I used to have pen pals when I was young, and had time, and stationary, and lots of nonsense to write, these days, who ever sends cards?! Staying connected to my friends online is a seriously a life saver to me. I know, that some of my closest gal pals have the same struggles as me, running, or kids, or family stuff, or even just the introvert-ness. I can help them, as they are helping me. I talk to my friends every day, we laugh, and smile, and vent at each other, plan visits, celebrate our kids' milestones, groan over mom blues and struggles, consult on clothing choices, and home decor, and share our coffee selfies with no judgment. It's a good thing!

I peruse facebook regularly, and you know what it does for me? It keeps me updated on my family, i see my nieces and nephews grow before my eyes. I see my football girlfriends,
(I apologize to you all right now for NOT staying in touch, but i am keeping up on your lives!!! Love you girls!! )
Which make me laugh sometimes, because we all live so close, and our kids are all in school together, but if not for our online connection, i would NEVER see these girls, or know how their lives are going, and I really do care, I really do enjoy staying connected, it is REALLY important to me!
So you see, I am attached to my phone, for very good reasons, (and games, but c'mon, we gotta have a weakness)

Staying connected online for someone like me, with high anxiety, is safe. I know this can go either way, but for me, it's good. Like I said, I'm not anti-social, i just get anxious, i get a lot of internal dialogue when i go into social settings, it can be crippling sometimes, it hinders my ability to be easy going. When i am chatting with friends online, that is all gone, I don't worry about what i'm wearing or how I look, or why i laughed that way, or why my eyes keep going cross-eyed, I don't look at the other persons outfit and think, 'man she is put together, i wish i had her style' or 'i wonder if I only feel like a schlump, or if i really look like one, cuz dang this chic is always so classy'.

(yes, i have stylish, classy friends, and no, i don't think they are judging me, lol, i judge myself enough for the whole world, it's an inner dialogue I can't mute.)

Talking online, it eliminates all of that, and I can concentrate on what is being said, how they are feeling, and what the real stuff is. It also keeps us so close, that when we are together, it just feels like another day, like we have been with each this whole time, and it's just comfortable, always.

It's a tool, a darn good one, and I am glad for it. I have become a better friend, I actually send random cards now, and my birthday cards are getting closer and closer to getting sent out on time. I think it shows some growth don't you? :)

Don't feel bad about being BFF's with your phone, if it makes you a better friend, keeps you in the loop, gives you some sense of 'not so alone-ness', then I say, stick with it! We moms need anything and everything we can get our hands on to stay connected, and to build each other up, and keep each other sane!

I'm gonna go run now, and yes, I'm going to post it on Facebook, because I like to applause. ;)

SED- 2-3-2015

Friday, January 09, 2015

It is Well ......

This past Sunday, I stood in church. Our church is big church in a metro area, it's a multi-site church, and this past week was our first time in our new local building. A gigantic, new, multi-media, state-of-the-art, BIG building. As we stood, in awe of the industrial design, the new tech, the light-show, the number of people, the music, it was the music that brought me about, and took me to a far away place.
  We sang and old hymn, one reason i love this church so, they respect the way we grew up, they respect "The old ways" and they dovetail it into this new age. Keeping the important messages and making them fresh and new, and helping us to see new things in the sometimes tired feeling tunes and words. On this day we sang "It is well with my soul", one of my all time favorite hymns. it was this song that took me on a trip.
   I was suddenly in a smaller building, the basement, a dusty, echoing, wooden public hall. I am small, in a calico dress made by my talented seamstress of a mother, swinging my legs, clad in baggy tights that rarely fit my chicken like legs. I looked to my right, at the end of the isle of old wooden folding chairs, and there they sat.
   They were like oak trees, or a sundial, always there, never moving, something you can count on, tell the time by, trustworthy, safe and anchoring. They always sat there, three rows from the front, right on the middle isle. Him in a smart grey suit, her in her Sunday dress with red and white LLBean bag in tow. The Grandparents of the church, Dr and Mrs Sanctuary, they were quiet, austere, and warm.  they loved us all as if we were their own grandchildren. He was an elder and respected Doctor, and she was a go-to for advice on pretty much anything from parenting to recipes, to time proven home remedies for any sickness under the sun.
   They opened their old stately home frequently, to everyone and anyone. We were allowed to meet there on Fridays as a homeschool co-op group. Our favorite time of the week was here, atop a hill overlooking our tiny town of Walpole New Hampshire, surrounded by miles and miles of farmland generations old. Lunch was had at their giant farm table in the gracious dining room that time never touched. Movie days were had in the cozy living room, children sprawled all over the antique furniture, pillows on the ancient rugs on the floor, all crowded around an aged Television, watching movies like, Charlotte's web, and Anne of Green Gables. English lessons were had in the sunroom, with giant windows looking over the hundred year old back yard filled with wildflowers and lilacs planted ages ago. The room was filled with houseplants and charming knick knacks, perfect for distracted children to study and wonder about their histories. We even had a special session on manners, where boys were taught how to be gentlemen, and girls how to act ladylike. We practiced proper phone etiquette on a black, old fashioned phone, straight out of a Jimmy Stewart movie. Private reading lessons were had in the kitchen, with Grandma Sanctuary. I would sit at the tiny table in the corner and read, while she cooked on the giant cast iron stove, washed dishes in the big farm sink, or sat with me and worked on her sewing.
   When i think back on these days, and these people, i think about how generous they were with time, and life, and things. I don't remember ever being scolded for feet on a faded antique chase, or spilling milk on ornate rugs, or even for chasing chickens in the old barn. They were patient, and loving and giving.
   Recently the news spread that the dear old Doctor passed away, how very sad. He was so kind to noisy children. So patient with giggly girls. They took in single women who acted as teachers and helpers to the moms in our co-op. They acted as parents to these young women, and let them treat the generational home as their own for as long as they lived there, even giving one the place to use for her reception after her wedding. The other teacher, Miss Sheridan, (now Mrs Beaver), she would sometimes have Sleep overs with a few of us lucky girls. We would get to roam the old house in the night hours, and stayed up all hours telling ghost stories. We would pounce around during the early morning hours, laughing and playing, and talking the doctors ear off while he listened, and laughed and somehow still managed to prepare his teachings for Sunday morning.
   The hymn we sang in church this past Sunday brought me back to those glorious childhood days. I could see them standing there, singing this very hymn. No music, no grand light-show, just a dusty town hall basement, with a small collection of locals, singing the words with heartfelt emotion and faith. These were my glory days, the days I look back on and thank God for. They structured who I am, who I have become and who I have the potential to be. Many people in this time gave me so many things, lessons, love, friendship, examples, and faith. These two though, they were truly like Grandparents to me. Mine were far away, and in a time of no cell phones, or facebook, or facetime, it was hard to not have them near. It was fun to watch this couple, married for so long, so grounded in faith in God, so happy to be who they were, where they were, so content with their lives, and so ready to share and give with all.
   These are the lessons I choose to keep, to continue to follow. THAT is how I want to be. I want to grow up, and more in love with my husband, to love my kids, and grandkids, and love other people's kids, and be that couple someday, that grandparent couple to some child who misses their own, who can feel safe, and loved and special. Isn't that an amazing legacy?
    Even now, so many miles away, so many years have passed since I have even seen or spoken with them, I miss the Doctor, I ache for the hole left in Mrs Sanctuary's life by the passing of her lifelong partner. I am so very grateful for them in my life. Thanks to you both, for the impression you have so lovingly pressed into my life. I am a better person for knowing you both!
    This past Sunday, i couldn't find my voice to sing, but I smiled, and listened intently, and thought, yes, yes it is well, it is well with my soul.

S.E.D. 1-9-2015

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why I Run

I never wanted to run, 
I never liked to run, 
I never felt a need to run
Some of my worst night sweats are induced by dreams of not reaching a goal, or getting out of a situation, or not being able to save someone, due to an inability to run.

Running has never been important, or noteworthy, or even contemplated. I actually wanted to run from the very idea of it (puny i know)

Now, I love to run, I itch to run, I ache from not running
I crave the rush, the sore feet, and the flushed face.
I crave the quiet, of the crisp air passing by my headphones. The rhythmic clap of my sneakers on the pavement while Bono and Adam Levine Sing me to the next mile.

Sometimes i wonder when the change happened. How is it possible that this is now my go-to stress relief? How in the world did we get to a point where I, Sara Doenges, choose a run over a date with Jillian Michaels' Shred video? 

I figured it out. When I was young, living in Rural New England, my sports were Biking in the summer, and skating in the winter. Both involved speed, a steady breeze, and the rush. My face feeling flushed with heat, from the cold, the wind, and the work of keeping up that pace. The better i got at skating, the better I wanted to get. The more tricks I could master, to more I wanted to learn. The faster I could go on my bike, the longer I wanted to go. The higher hills I could climb meant more speed races down them. 
I have always loved speed, and adrenaline, and the RUSH. 
These days, in Ohio, Ice skating is sorta hard to find, especially on a regular basis. Biking is good, but so flat, and not very scenic, and too many cars. So, what is one to do?
I run, I started running to train for one race. To get myself out of a rut of depression. It worked, all science tells us that exercise makes so many things better, including the brain, it also boosts your mood, medically, and mentally. So i trained. 
I signed up for a half marathon, and ran 9.5 miles of it until my knee gave out. 
It was the biggest rush! Bigger then the Tough mudder, since I was running it mostly alone, and running, really running most of it. It was a personal thing, me and the road. 
I had my Bestie in the race with me, but she was doing her personal thing, at her pace.
This is what I love about running, you do it together, but it's still your thing, and everyone knows it. There is no judgment, there is only support, and applause, and pride in every mile conquered, every time shaved off.
 I have recovered from my knee injury, and from a broken foot. I now am getting back into it. SLOWLY
I love the rush. The flushed face, the feeling that I told myself to keep going, and i did. 
Now, I want to run, 
I LOVE to run. 
Every mile I get past, makes me crave the next one. 
Every time I put up is one step to the next Personal Best.
I may not LOOK like a runner should look, I don't keep a pace like you would imagine a runner keeping, but it doesn't matter, because 
My Pace, My Race, 
I am running and I am loving it.

Sara Doenges 
Oct 20 2014 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bare-feet at Twilight .... leave footprints in the dew.

       Once in a while, a child is conceived who is so frail, and innocent, and heavenly perfect, God cannot let it be exposed to the evil of this world.

        It is in these precious, tiny miracles that we see glimpses of heaven. It is in these dark, soul searching times of grief, that we taste God's mercy. In the veil of tears, as we ask the "why", we know, this child will be loved, sitting atop the very lap of God. Our questions turn from, "Why this pain?" to, "Why does He love us so much that He would give us this glimpse of Heaven?" "Why does He even care about my soul?"
      He is the giver, He is the time keeper, He is the great Physician.
     With these facts in place, we can gaze into the still face of this child, whom we wanted so badly, we weep, and we can say..
"Thank you for this moment"


***This was written from a real place of pain, from a moment in time that took me many years to come to terms with, a time that, to be perfectly honest, I don't fully understand still. It was also written in a moment of great faith. I do not in any way claim to have this kind of faith on a regular basis. I am human, and grow more skeptical the older I get, and the more of Life that i see. I think this little nugget of writing I found in a notebook today shows what I am capable of. What faith can do for one's soul. I know I have many friends and family who KNOW the type of moment this prose was written about, and so I share it. To possibly help, or heal, or just maybe give another perspective. ***

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"..don't get too close, It's dark inside.."

Last night, as i laid in bed, I looked up into the sky, and saw a single twinkling star. I immediately thought of Peter Pan, probably because I'm still reeling from the death of one of my favorite actors, but honestly, every time I stop long enough to actually LOOK at a star, the first thing i think is, "second star to the right.." in his voice.
I am sad, so terribly sad that he is gone, his genius, his light, his honesty. I will work hard to be sure my kids see his work, and hear his messages in his movies. I want my kids to be able to laugh at themselves, Robin Williams taught me how to do that, I hope I can teach them as well.
The part that makes me the saddest, is that he was in pain. This disease he battled, of depression, it is an evil bitch. It chews up it's victims, and it is so very hard to get out unscathed.
Two comments on Facebook made me think long and hard, and I just wanted to say some words, from my own experience.

The first was, "Why do the truly brilliant ones have so many demons?"

the second was, something about how this death should bring to light the number of "ordinary or, un-famous people who battle the same thing every day, and end the same way, and lets try to help.

I was thinking about the first one alot. I have dealt with depression most of my life. I didn't know what it was in my childhood, it didn't stem from some terrible home life, or tragic events, or any of that. This is probably why it took so long for me to realize WHAT I was dealing with. I have demons. I call them voices, a very good friend said maybe I should find another word so i don't sound quite so nutty. I suppose you could call it an inner dialogue. It is constant, it is loud, sometimes its quiet, but always there, always questioning me, and telling me every thing i did wrong, or could have done better. It sits and waits with baited breath while people say nice things, and shoots them down, like darts to balloons. it's painful, and exhausting, and some days, it wins. Actually, it wins alot.
I wonder, if the reason people who are so talented at humor, or acting, or imagining, do it because their brain is already on overdrive. It already goes to places you cant imagine. Deep, dark, sad places that "normal people" can't even fathom going to. Its a coping mechanism, it's almost necessary, to create other worlds, other ways of seeing things. Our brain is different, we need to laugh, we need to go somewhere that isn't real. Reality sucks, and our brains are quite adept at shooting down every good thing that exists, but if we create other worlds, by reading Gone with the wind, the hobbit, CS Lewis, Tom Clancy, Hunger Games, these are all epic worlds we can hide in. Neverland, disney, Jumamji, mary poppins, anne of green gables, little women. All places I have spent much time lost in. Us everyday people just watch and get lost in it. I can't imagine the joy of creating these kinds of places, or being part of bringing them to life for other people. Almost like a clean slate, here is a life you can live for a little while, and you are free, for that time, of the demons, you are free to use your brain in new ways, until it's over, then you are back in the real world, where the voices are waiting to tell you how lame that whole thing was, and how no one will probably even like it, or see it, and don't get your hopes up, it'll flop. I'm pretty sure that was a constant thread in this Actors mind. It's so sad isn't it? All the lovely memories we have of his life. All the characters we love, the things we saw him do with the troops, and St judes, and Sesame Street! He just couldn't really grasp the love, or respect, or gratitude, the voices sucked it all away.

Which, brings us to the second comment. It's true, so many people suffer from depression, or some form of mental disorder. It really is a disease, it really does cripple it's victims. I know, I've dealt with it. Ive had some pretty low points in my life, made lower, and deeper and so much more painful by this disease. It makes it harder to climb out. The social stigma is damning, the way people react is painful sometimes, we have so much pain inside already, reaching out to us just seems like way to much work, much too risky, no need to cause myself more pain if I get rejected. We can feel rejected by people who don't even know what we are going through. Many times, its a case of "Its not you, it's me".
I think people need to spend more time listening, and less time judging. Less time talking about the things the people do to cope, and more time asking how they can help. Less time feeling sad, more laughing. If Robin Williams did one thing well, it was making us laugh. Yes it was a coping mechanism, yes it stemmed from insecurity, but it was a gift, even if he didn't know it. let's laugh more. I like laughing, i like to get people laughing, it is a good thing.

I don't know how much sense this makes to anyone, my demons just told me to erase the whole thing and go back to bed with an advil cuz I'm a crazy chick with nothing to say. Such downers those guys are, geeez!

R.I.P Robin William, and thanks :) " .... second start to the right, and straight on till morning..."

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Bitches and hoo.........oooh wait sorry

Sorry if that offends you, you should probably leave now then. 

I'm tired, tired of "mom battles" of grown up high schoolers , of cliques, of ignorance. It exhausts me. None of it has a place in a well balanced, meaningful, grown up life. 

I am not saying I'm old. I'm the youngest nearly 40 yr old person I know. But I'm an adult, I have real shit to deal with, I am terribly sorry if my schedule doesn't give you time to add chaos and more crazy to my life. 

Seriously. Yes, I am being slightly obtuse, but blatant at the same time. I'm me, I was taught by a southern gentleman to be polite but for the love of all that is right, DO NOT be a door mat to other peoples stupidity. 

So anyway. I deal with this waaaaay too often now that I live in suburbia, and have relationships with sports parents and school people and it's exhausting. 

I said all that to say, 

Dude. I'm exhausted.