My Teeth Are Falling Out: Coping With Life Changes The Best Way That I Can!

19 Aug
Photo by Daniel Schwartzkopf Photography https://www.facebook.com/danielschwartzkopfphoto

Photo by Daniel Schwartzkopf Photography https://www.facebook.com/danielschwartzkopfphoto

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. I’d say life has gotten in the way. I’m attempting to make a huge life change…well several life changes. Not only am I getting married for the first time, I’m also leaving the single life that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with for quite some time. Not to mention, I’m attempting to find a new home in a new place, I’m leaving my job, and launching myself into the Unknown. Needless to say, the stress of these new changes on top of planning a wedding has left me little time to process. But after a dream I had on Saturday night, that’s all about to change.

You know how there are dreams where you feel they are so real that you wake up in a fright? That’s where I was Sunday morning when I jumped out of my bed in a cold sweat. For the better part of an hour,

I couldn’t shake the feeling of the dream.

Although the topic was pretty standard, I thought it was so real that I had to check the mirror three times before I realized that it was just a dream.

My Mouth TodayI dreamed that my teeth were all falling out one by one, crumpling in my hand and the more I tried to put them back in together, the more that fell out. Soon, not only pieces of my teeth were falling out, but wires I didn’t realize were even in my mouth were falling out! It was scary! Later that day, I Googled it to see what it could mean. I’m not huge on dream interpretation, but when I read the positives and negatives of the dream, I was shocked. They all seemed right on the money!

What does it mean when you dream about your teeth falling out? This symbol has both negative and positive meanings that can help refine your interpretation.

Negative meanings
  • Insecurities, especially about a personal loss  (YES! I’m leaving my life and starting something new. Leaving singleness, which is known for married life, unknown).
  • Anxiety about sexual experience (Without getting too TMI, I’ll just say yes)
  • A compromise that is costly to you (Yes, see above)
  • Life changes and “growing pains” (HAHA. Again.)
  • Fear of becoming older (Eh, not really.)
Positive meanings
  • Signs of personal expansion (WHOO HOO. Yes. I hope to expand personally! Always)
  • Wish or need to nurture yourself more carefully (Yes. I’ve been thinking that once my job is over and before I move, I’ll go get a massage. Wedding planning is rough).
  • An invitation to explore feelings of loss and personal growth (Yes, that is why I’m writing this blog)
  • A call to look at your support system (Yes, I miss my support system. It seems in all the commuting too and from work and the exhaustion that goes along with it, I’ve not reconnected to my support system lately. Definitely need to do that.)
  • The Jungian interpretation: Times of renewal and “rebirth” (Yep, Yep. Excited about that, also a little nervous)
Photo by Daniel Schwartzkopf Photography https://www.facebook.com/danielschwartzkopfphoto

Photo by Daniel Schwartzkopf Photography https://www.facebook.com/danielschwartzkopfphoto

So, as it is, I’m feeling all sorts of things at the moment. Rather than stuffing them down until they turn into me lashing out against the nearest person and then breaking down into tears about it, I think I’ll go back to old faithful–journaling and blogging. Praying again. Getting in touch with the God that I so want to trust through this process. So, if you’re so inclined, follow my journey on the blog as I make the biggest transition of my life! Maybe you’ve already made this transition? Leave me advice in the comments! I could use it! 🙂

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Idealism On Pause: Musing About The Hardest News Week In Recent Memory Accompanied By Ray LaMontagne

19 Apr

 

Although not the Boston Marathon, this one was my first experience with the "heart" that runners have for excellence and perseverance

Although not the Boston Marathon, this one was my first experience with the “heart” that runners have for excellence and perseverance

It’s 9:17PM on Friday, April 19, 2013. It’s a Ray LaMontagne “Trouble” rather than a Taylor Swift “Trouble” kind of night. I don’t feel much like doing anything except for enjoying the creature comforts of my childhood — old episodes of “Growing Pains” and macaroni and cheese. I thought after this week I’d want to go out with friends but truth be told, I don’t have the energy. I barely made it home after sitting in LA traffic and having a mild panic attack because they finally caught “Suspect 2” from the Boston Marathon bombings.

 

I wonder if others felt what I felt this week. I don’t have a TV but I was glued to the news feed and radio, obsessed with learning everything I could about the Boston Marathon bombings, chase, pursuit, and key players. I stayed up late every night feasting on the latest “breaking news”, which, as one of my friends pointed out, seemed as if it were being directed by Michael Bay (think summer blockbuster movie with lots of explosions and his name is probably all over it). It’s strange to think that news can be “breaking” all week. The newness wears off at some point, but it didn’t really for me. For some reason, I just had to know what was going on.I felt like if I missed it, I’d be unable to help, even though there’s really nothing I can do aside from pray, which I could barely do.

 

I’m having what my friend calls “a dry spell” with God. I’m not really sure why but in times like this when I get totally overwhelmed with bad news and I sit in it for too long, I start to realize how much I really need God and how horrible a world without God would be. I think of those who don’t have his comfort because they don’t have a relationship with him and it saddens me to the point of tears.

 

I wonder what else I could be doing tonight. The anxiety surrounds me like a blanket. I know I’m safe. I know God is good but I can’t help but wonder what people in Boston thought as they quickly watched their town turn into a police state. Running free on Monday to locked in their houses as the police searched up and down for a 19-year-old accused of wreaking havoc on a city and the American psyche as a whole. I don’t know what to do with that. 19 years old. And the 26-year-old. I think about what I was doing at 26 and it definitely didn’t involve 200 rounds and robbing a 7-11.

 

“Sometimes it feels like worry is my only friend.” Ray sings. 

 

That was me today. Worry and anxiety seemed like constant companions.  Was it the stress of covering a busy CEO’s desk? Or did it really have to do with me experiencing what my life coach calls “the dark side” of my strengths individualization and empathy? Apparently when those two talents are paired in a person, it can mean that one has a blind spot and can overly experience situations and emotions of others all around them. If this is true, it explains why after this exhausting week both at work and news wise, I’m just spent. Over. Done. Cooked goose.

 

I thought about those people all stuck in their homes in fear today. What kind of a world do we live in right now when someone can set off a bomb affecting hundreds of lives and then set off a police chase affecting millions more just four days later? I’m having an increasingly tough time with that. And yet, I know that the police worked so diligently together. They caught the suspect. They made the streets safe. For that, I am grateful. The waving American flags. Bostonians with smiles on their faces for the first time since the marathon’s beginning. And now that the fear has subsided, the city of Boston cheers tonight because they can come out of their houses a little less fearful.

 

Hope in the desert

Hope in the desert

If you want the honest truth, some days I don’t know how to live in a world where weeks like this one are commonplace. I don’t know how we can just get “used to” school shootings, bombings, poisonous letters, 8 year olds dying, demented doctors getting away with murder, entire towns blowing up, and the like. I don’t know how to pray for that, because doing so would admit that this world is so very broken and I don’t often like seeing it that way even though it is true. As an idealist, I prefer the rose-colored glasses. Oceans. Sunsets. Nature. People loving one another well. Bubbles. Babies and puppies. Silly smiles. Meadows. Fresh laundry. Anything good you’d see on Pinterest. But right now, I don’t have the words to pray. My faith feels fragile tonight. It’s hard to see the good in this moment. Yes, the terror has subsided. But a small part of me wonders “What next? Will next week be worse?”

 

As Ray sings these lyrics from “Empty,” I pause.

 

Asking questions that don't have easy answers

Asking questions that don’t have easy answers

“There’s a lot of things I don’t understand/Why so many people lie/Well, it’s the hurt I hide that fuels the fires inside me/ Will I always feel this way/So empty, so estranged?” 

I let myself sit there while the words hang in the air for a moment.

And then, slowly, as if coming out of a fog, I remember the words of my pastor last Sunday. We’re currently in a series called “Sifted”, which is about how following Christ means we’ll go through trials. He said, “Hold on. Cling on tight. Don’t waste a sifting because we’re all going to be sifted.”

In my doubts, in my fears and anger and grief about this situation and others this week, I’ll do my best to cling. I’ll not waste it. I’ll do my best to see a bigger picture where people come out of their houses after a horrible week so that they can wave flags and smile because justice has been done. I will choose hope, once again.

Another song just came on…

 

“I will shelter you…I will shelter you…I will shelter you.”

I will do my best tonight, despite my uneasiness, to cling to that promise.

 

Welcome Fieldnotes Readers!

9 Apr

100thThis is actually my 100th post on my blog! How exciting. Today I had the privilege of being featured in Fieldnotes Magazine! After posting an article about leadership, Stephanie, a friend of mine who works for Fieldnotes Magazine, wrote me and told me about it.

I was excited and soon she connected me with Gideon, the editor and the executive director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership. And voila! I was asked to write a piece about what gets me going in the morning. 

Sometimes life is like this. You can see the destination in the distance but you need to get through rain and traffic before you get there.

Sometimes life is like this. You can see the destination in the distance but you need to get through rain and traffic before you get there.

 

If you haven’t had a chance to take a look, please do! It was fun to write.

With this launch of my 100th post, I’m hoping to take this blog to the next level. In the coming days and weeks, I will be posting on here much more regularly and defining a little bit more of my vision of what I want the blog to be. If you know me at all, you know I’m usually changing my whole life all at once. This is one of those seasons.

I’m working with a life coach, counselor, and spiritual director to refine some of my goals, specifically in the writing realm, since I’ve declared that writing is what I want to do full-time.

As Ira Glass says, “Stay with us…” as I work toward that reality both on this blog and outside of it!

 

 

The Eulogy I Gave For My Grandma

14 Mar

I wrote this the night before her memorial service. Some of it I ad-libbed, so it actually went over really well in person. Reading it might leave a lot to be desired but some wanted me to share it with them! Here it is:

 

On behalf of the Mills family, I want to thank you all for being here today. My grandma, Loma Mills, has meant a lot to so many people, and your presence here signifies just how many lives she impacted during her 93 years here on earth.

 

Grandma pics Her roles were many. She was the eldest daughter of Frank and Alice Oesterle, German farmers living here in Marion. She was a sister to Ruth Staub and Doris Beaver. She was also a high school history teacher for 32 years, a wife to John, a mother to three sons, Judd, Craig, and Kim. A grandmother to 7 (Laurel, Stacy, Jenna, me, Belinda, Chris, and Josh) and great grandmother to Gretchen, Nick, Hannah, Jake, Josie, and Oliver.  She was a friend to so many different types of people, whether you knew her for a few minutes or for decades. Even last year, she wrote more than100 Christmas cards to people she loved.

 

Family. Firey. Fiercely Independent. Spunky. Kind. Giving, Woman of Great Faith, Generous, Charitable, Optimistic, Saw the Silver Lining, Avid reader, Loved children, celebrating holidays, and God. These are all words that people in Loma’s family used to describe her. My cousin, Belinda, always laughs because when I was younger I said of Grandma that she was a tough cookie. She’d been through a lot and just kept on going.

 

One word that keeps coming up for me that I think described my grandma the best is grit. My grandma had “grit.” I looked it up in the dictionary.  Grit is “the firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.” Loma learned independence from an early age. Her father was a frugal man who made wise investments in other farms during her early years, which happened to be during the Great Depression.  Her mother used the money that she got from selling her chicken’s eggs to clothe my grandmother and her two sisters. Committed to educating his three daughters,  Frank insisted that Loma, Ruth, and Doris go to college, which they all did.

 

The values of faith, family, charity, and a hard work ethic were instilled in my Grandma from an early age and she passed them on to all of us. And we are so grateful for these.

Because we’re all knew my Grandma differently, I thought I’d share a few reflections on her life.

 

A glimpse into Loma’s inner life:

 

Grandma was a full time mother and full time teacher as well as a farm owner simultaneously, before it was cool to be all of those things at the same time. Grit.

 

Grandma and GrandpaShe raised her eldest son, Judd, alone for two and a half years while her husband, John, was off at war.

 

Her faith inspired me and others she knew to care about the less fortunate and beyond it all, trust in God. She would often say to me in a knowing voice, “Kid (because she called everyone “kid”), life is hard. But the Lord is with you. He is.” More than anything, she believed that we were to cling closely to God. Whether I was going through a breakup, a move, or another traumatic life event for a young adult, my Grandma would encourage me and all of us in her determined voice that God would and could help, if we let him into our lives.

 

 

-Grandma loved bonfires, Weenie roasts, and pig roasts. If someone were having a birthday, we’d all go out into the back yard and roast weenies in a bonfire.

 

-Grandma also loved lawncare- We couldn’t believe it when she actually hired people to do her lawn because well into her 70s, grandma would be seen tending to her flowers and mowing her acres of lawn by herself, waving to those passing by.

 

-Grandma had a keen fashion sense which she passed on to her granddaughters, great-granddaughters, and daughter-in-laws. To show our love and appreciate of that, we are all wearing hats from the Loma Mills collection.

 

-Vacation – Our family has been taking an annual vacation to Rehoboth Beach, Deleware since 1953. Boardwalk. Funland. Grotto’s Pizza. Rented beach umbrellas. Apartment over Lingo’s market. This was a family tradition that was etched into our lives, since we’ve been going there for so long. It was one of her favorite yearly traditions.

 

-YMCA – Grandma often used to wake up at 5AM to go swimming at the Y up until her 90s. In fact, I just met two of her Y friends before the service who reminded me of how much Grandma loved that daily ritual.

 

-She was also a dedicated sister to Doris and Ruth, with Doris even being across the street. She really looked up to and was grateful to be near her sisters both spiritually and physically. With the Beavers living across the street, their children had memories together. This meant that our family has an entire set of second and third cousins that are actually very close and share holidays and vacations together.

 

-She’d often have 70 person family reunions in her two bedroom cape cod making traditional Thanksgivings and other meals.

 

-An evidence of my Grandma’s grit is this: “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith, developed perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work, so you can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4. Her steadfast strength in life and in God were her foundation and she took trials as they came, looking to God for help during troubled times.

 

-Baking cookies and pies. Always a pecan or apple pie waiting or on its way when I visited.

 

-She loved her sweets. My cousin, Belinda, reminded me that she would make people go to two or three different drug stores until she found her favorite, Russell Stover’s candies.

 

-She was a woman of habit, making her infamous Santa Cookies. It was an orchestrated event down to a science. It wasn’t just a dedication to tradition and the holidays IE holiday cookie making, you weren’t just signing up for cookie making, but more a full-fledged production, with 15 minutes spent decorating each cookie.

 

-Grandma wouldn’t want a big “to do” for her funeral. I think she’s glad that we’ve come together as family and friends to celebrate her life because togetherness is what she always wanted and loved best. She might say this if she were here, paraphrased a bit from a poem that Matt Burke, my grandma’s favorite grandson-in-law:

 

”Speak to me in the easy way which you always used to Put no difference in your tone, Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.”

 

In that spirit, let me tell you the ice cream story. We were driving in the car in the summer with the windows down. I was about 10 or 12 years old. Grandma had just treated Belinda and me to ice cream. The day before, I had gone to my first ever pig roast at the Lashey’s house and Belinda hadn’t been able to make it. Grandma was always a little bit absent minded so as she was describing how big the pig was, she took her ice cream like this (open arms wide) and it flew out the window, only leaving the cone left! This was a typical kind of story you’d hear about my grandma.

 

To finish, she had a solid 93 years. I think she’d be pleased to see how life came full swing. I don’t think there’s anything else she would have wanted to accomplish in her life. This is her legacy. We are her legacy.

 

And now I’d like to invite her grandchildren and great-grandchildren up to read a poem that was one of our Grandma’s favorites, “The House By The Side Of The Road”.

 

Grandma’s Favorite Poem

11 Mar

I’ve just returned from Ohio where we laid my grandma to rest. She’s leaving quite a hole in our family, but it was so good to be together. The next few posts will probably be about her, as she left a lasting impression.

As part of her funeral, my cousins read from a poem that my grandma recited when she was young, winning an oratory contest for her performance. The poem is called “The House By The Side Of The Road” and perfectly encapsulates what my Grandma believed in. She grew up in a house by the side of the road, just like this one. She was a friend to man, just as the person in the poem is. It’s strange how much this poem that she read when she was young ended up emulating what her life’s experience was.

This is my Grandma's house. It's on 80 acres of farm land.

This is my Grandma’s house. It’s on 80 acres of farm land.

The House by the Side of the Road

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man. 
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat
Nor hurl the cynic’s ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man. 
I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man. 
I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone. 
Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man. 
Sam Walter Foss

March Musings

5 Mar
Sunset at Santa Monica March 30, 2011

Sunset at Santa Monica March 30, 2011

I’m just writing something short to say “Welcome” to some of my new and old readers. My goal in 2013 is to really write more on my blog and hopefully focus it a bit more. I so appreciate you reading it and giving your input. I’m also doing some guest blogs this week and in coming weeks for my friends, Dave and Nan and for one of my favorite organizations, A Beautiful Mess. So glad to get to share my heart as I’m learning more about God, life, dating, and waiting.

As I think about life this week, I’m reminded once again to slow down. I cancelled all my plans for the week because on Thursday, I’m flying to Ohio to be with family to celebrate the life of my grandma, who died Sunday night. She was a pistol. Sometimes you never knew what she was going to say. So many crazy stories about her…I’m looking forward to sharing memories with our family this weekend and for her memory. She was a bold one! I only hope to be that audacious in my life!

All that to say, sometimes the silly things I worry about are trivial. This week, hug a friend or family member and express to them what they really mean to you. Say “I’m sorry” where you need to. Keep short accounts. Love well, trust more, and be open. Enjoy a sunset, be grateful for life.

2012 Was, In Many Ways, A Horrible Year…And Yet…

10 Jan
Can We Dare To Hope After A Year Like 2012?

Can We Dare To Hope After A Year Like 2012?

It’s that time of year when we consider where we’ve been and where we want to go. Let’s look back in hopes that it can help us make sense of things so as to move forward:

Oh Lord, you know us so well. You know when we sit and when we rise. You perceive all of our thoughts from afar…

2012 was a very disturbing year in a lot of ways. I became increasingly aware of how fragile life is and how hard grief can hit home when, in February, a 15-year-old kid took his own life by jumping off of his school roof in the town next to the Community Center where I worked. The trend continued when, in July, a gunman shot and killed 12 people in the mall where I grew up. How chilling. How unexpected. Death seemed so close. And to what purpose?

You know this season that we are in where it is hard to see the good amidst all of the pain...

In the fall, death knocked again and I lost my Grandmother. Although not sudden, I didn’t really have the opportunity to say goodbye because life got in the way and I had to keep moving forward. With the end of the year came the end of the world, or so said the Mayans. A minute part of me thought that maybe it would actually happen because although I’m not a cynical person, the news seems to be getting worse lately and fear is at an all time high. I wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t reflected in some of our movies like “The Dark Knight Rises” where, for most of the film, Batman is thwarted by a pervasive evil that he just can’t seem to overcome. Half of me thought he wouldn’t be able to beat Bane but the title did have “Rise” in the title, which gave me a little hope.

 You know all of our suffering. 

So many questions, where are all of the answers?

So many questions, where are all of the answers?

And then in the political arena came doomsday talk of “If Obama wins, it’s over” and “If Romney wins, the country will never be the same.” And although I’ve never really seen a James Bond film, can someone tell me why even the title, “Skyfall”, sounds so ominous? And does he always let women die in these movies? I found it more than a little disturbing that some psychopath, played by Javier Bardem, was so obsessed with killing Judy Dench’s character that the whole movie was based on some sort of misogynistic revenge plot against women. James Bond, himself, wasn’t much better, letting the Bond girl die when, minutes later he was rescued via helicopter. He could have stopped her from getting shot. Amidst all of that came Newtown and the tragedy that struck there. What a horrific cap to an already collectively tough year for us all. Where is the hope when 6 year olds get murdered just for showing up to school?

Comfort the needy. Bring peace to the anxious. 

As a caveat to explain my morose tone, I write this at the beginning of January, two days after learning that my dad’s cousin, who was like an aunt to me, lost her 7 year battle to breast cancer. And all that I can do is cry out. Oh Lord, why? Where’s your hope? Where is your peace? Can you please comfort us?

Can We Approach 2013 with Child-like Innocence?

Can We Approach 2013 with Child-like Innocence?

I can’t help but believe that we need God more than ever now. We need more good news. More good stories. Stories of hope and life. Stories to help us remember that the news isn’t so bleak and that we’re going to make it through this dark season.

 Hear our cry, oh Lord and grant us hope and grace to love despite the evil in this world.

On a cold (for California) night when we’re just ten days into the new year, dare I hope that joy is still here? Dare I pray for God to show up in the midst of all of this? Dare I not?! I have to cling. Because clinging is all I really know how to do to cope with all which seems overwhelming.

Hebrews says it best: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

Unswerving. That means to hold on tight no matter what. When the waves are high, when the outlook is bleak. When my soul is downtrodden. When bad things happen to good people. When trying seems pointless. When effort feels wasted. When people die. When the unexpected happens and the healthy become sick. When love is lost. When jobs don’t pan out. When I’m feeling alone and unsure. I hope. I cling.

Help us now, God. We need you. 

So I dare to hope that 2013 is a year of adventure and newness. I hope for a rebirth. I hope for love. I hope for new beginnings and fresh starts. To put behind what was and to hold tight to the hope that I have not yet seen. I hope for good finishes to things I’ve completed and many moments where I’m able to release the breath I’ve had all pent-up in my throat so that I can find peace. With myself. With my life. With death. And with God.

Amen. 

Hope On A LilypadAnd so the whole prayer, we say again slowly, hopefully, and together: Oh Lord, you know us so well. You know when we sit and when we rise. You perceive all of our thoughts from afar. You know this season that we are in where it is hard to see the good amidst all of the pain. You know all of our suffering. Comfort the needy. Bring peace to the anxious. Hear our cry, oh Lord and grant us hope and grace to love despite the evil in this world. Help us now, God. We need you. Amen. 

 

 

 

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