Monday, October 29, 2007

To Be (a mom) or Not To Be...

This sweet little man (Judah Pendleton, 1 day old) is who made me address the topic...
This is a question I have wrestled with for years now. It's an uncomfortable question to have, because it is hard to dialogue with anyone about it- everyone has SUCH strong opinions on the subject. My parents are gungho on getting some grandkids out of me. My mom even offers to raise them! Every mom I know defines themself in terms of their motherhood (and rightly so). And those without kids (I'll admit, I only know a few women that aren't ever planning to have kids) think their way of things is best.

I have found myself in the middle ground, not identifying with either side entirely. I think that my whole life as a Christian, I have felt like I might adopt a kid some day. The Biblical concept that we are all 'adopted' as children of God is something that resonates with me. When I married Carlos, he too, shared that desire, so I think I put it off on the backburner as something for a decade from now... But then he/others started bringing up the topic of having a baby...

And all my married friends started having one, two, three, even four kids... And I am really excited for them. But when people asked when we might have kids, I would fumble around, and give an answer like 2010. (I am not sure if I said that only b/c it sounded far away at the time) Sometimes I wondered if my 'maternal-clock' was broken? I've never really had the urge to create a life. When I think of adopting, I think about a 7 year old, I don't think infant.

My mom, and those educated on child development speak about the formative first 3 years of a life, and how necessary it is for us to parent and mold an infant. But something in me is just not interested in that very much. I mean, conceptually, I'm all for it, but in reality, when would be a good time to become parents? To lose sleep, to put my career on hold? I think I would be a great parent to an elementary school aged kid, but to a newborn? I just don't know.

So last week, I met our friends' new baby Judah, in the hospital. And he is perfect. And he has my color of hair. And it was the first time I thought, hey, maybe I want one of these? I asked Los, who was astounded, about what he thought about having a baby. He had given up on me, b/c I'm usually so anti. I did the math, and figured that 9 mos. from now, I will be finished with grad. school (which was one of my goals). We'll be moving somewhere else in the country, or world, and maybe that new chapter will include becoming parents?

I don't know. I have all this cognitive dissonance, b/c most pastor's families I know, have a hard time sharing attention with the congregation. I have felt called to be a shepherd in that capacity... And I want to be faithful to that. But if I became a mom too, I would want to give my utmost to our family also. I know women do both. But most were in their mid-30's, "putting in their dues full-time", before they became moms.

So I have no answers. But I'm thinking about it. I'm a big fan of Judah Pendleton. Who knew a 1 day old could make such an impression on me!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall Garden

Well after 2 years of much joy, inspiration, confusion and despair, reading, researching, spending, amending, planting, propogating, replanting, and experimenting with color, size, sun exposure, soil conditions and other factors, I finally am mostly satisfied with our garden... Here are some fall photos of the various beds.
Front yard

Side and flagstone we did last year (I don't know how to turn it right side up)

Back yard, where we also grew pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and lots of herbs...

All in all, I think we ripped out 2,300 sq. ft. of sod (at LEAST), and brought in over 20 yards of compost... Makes for some happy plants, and a happy Casey.

Greatfall: Grateful for fall

I love fall, my absolute favorite season. I love crunching through the leaves on the sidewalk, and marvelling at the colorful mountains, as I drive by on my way to work or school. I love getting hot drinks at coffee shops again. I love pumpkin-flavored everything. I love baking again, with locally grown products such as our favorite berries from our favorite farm.

I love curling up by the fireplace and reading, putting the garden to rest and being creative inside, and making our own artwork to decorate our house, such as our new dining room Pollock-esque painting.

And most of all, I love taking naps with my two favorite guys.

My heart is happy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Emotional Exhaustion

After week three of working at the hospital, I feel emotionally exhausted from the sheer volume of information and encounters I’ve experienced… I’ve cried every week. At least I am in touch with my emotions and can do that; one lady related that she and her husband are emotionally frozen and she can count the # of times she’s cried in her life… I laughed inside, since Los and I are both big criers. It’s so cathartic, I can’t imagine not being able to cry! Thank God my mom always encouraged that when I was a kid. I cry at movies, when I talk to friends, wherever- out of sadness, joy, love, whatever. This weekend I cried b/c one of my pastor’s 2 year old has cancer. I want to go to the blood drive in his honor in November. I can’t imagine the pain that family is experiencing.

One of the major foci in my experience as a chaplain is getting in touch with deep buttons within yourself, so that when they are pushed, you don’t react from a place in the past, and can identify the situation for what it is. One of my buttons is needing to achieve/belong, so when I heard the 6th person (in 3 weeks) remark on how young I was (“you are my kids age!”), it began to get to me… What I heard was, “you’re too young/not qualified to be here…” which I took offense to. But when I brought it up to people, I heard the exact opposite. They all said how jealous they were of me for being “wise beyond my years” and wished they’d known how to be more confident/assertive/perceptive at my age. Funny how communication erases misunderstandings.

When you are living out of your ‘true self’ then you can be present for others, to hear beyond their words. This great speaker we listened to said to pay attention whenever you feel ‘resistance’ inside of yourself. Exploring that resistance can shed light on what you might need to change to be fully available to another.

Thinking about that I realized that even though I’ve done a pretty good job (I think, so far) as a chaplain, I identified that I have a desire to assure people, or fix people, rather than to stay present with them in their pain. So I’ll need to explore that some. For example, one of my favorite people just lost a sibling to suicide, and I lost my grandpa to suicide, so when in the ICU today, there was a 25 year old guy who had just attempted suicide, I wanted to go in his room and tell him so much stuff, “You’re not alone!” and so forth. But a seasoned chaplain asked why I had that need, and encouraged me not to impose my needs on the patients, to be more of a listener, etc.

It’s SO hard to leave my own stuff at the door and not to say everything I’m feeling. I’ve always been more of a speak-first, think-later person, a terrible flaw at times… So I have lots to work on. But first, I’m going to lay down on the couch.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Grey’s Anatomy vs. My Real Life Hospital

While Los was gone this summer, I caved to the pressure of friends/mother in-law who have long watched Grey’s; I watched all 3 seasons at once! Intense… So when I started my new job as a chaplain (intern) at a hospital this past week, I thought I knew everything☺
Then I took the tour and went in to the E-R for the first time. My heart filled with fear. I have been doing ministry for 7 years, but as I looked at the empty trauma operating rooms, I thought, “who am I to be standing here? Do I have what it takes to walk alongside people in crisis?” I thought the answer was a resounding “NO!” To get away from feeling like an imposter, I had a big consult with my mom (psychologist for 30 years now) who reassured me that I was in fact prepared for this new season in life.
I believed her. Until 14 minutes after I went on-call for the first time. That’s when my pager went off, with a loud BU-DU-BE-DU-BU. I felt frantic. It said there was a double trauma. Not good. I was not expecting it so soon. I wasn’t dressed nicely, didn’t have makeup on, couldn’t think straight, yet I knew I needed to be in the ER in 30 minutes (which is a 30 minute drive away)! Here goes nothing…
Los drove me up there, for moral support, and so I could have time to clear my head. I walked in, was greeted by a nurse screaming at me for being late, then she dumped me into a small room of 15 sobbing people. Uhhhh… what do I do?
What started out as the most awkward situation I could imagine, ended up being a great experience for me. It turns out that my mom was right, and I loved being able to love on broken people who were devastated, and anxious about their loved ones… I thought I might faint at the sight of broken necks/femurs/bashed, bloody faces, etc. but I didn’t. I was strong and confident to support family members who couldn’t be. It was good to know I do have what it takes.
I’m sure this job will stretch/break/redefine me, and I am looking forward to that growth. But, as if to keep me humble, after my first evening of a job well done, right before I left the hospital, I missed a step and fell down stairs in front of other people. That would happen to me. Embarrassing but hilarious, and at least, if I had broken something, I would be in the right place. I am in the right place.

Monday, October 8, 2007

10 year Reunioning

Last night was Los’ 10 year Seattle Prep high school reunion. Up until 8pm we weren’t sure we were going to go. I don’t know how many people feel apprehensive before reunions, probably a lot. On the one hand, high school was amazing, and you made memories with great people that you are fond of. On the other hand, being a teenager can be a painful experience for a multitude of reasons, and reentering an environment like that can dredge up old insecurities/anxieties. Add to that that 10 years is a LONG time, and so many changes happen during that. You don’t want others to put you in a box of who you used to be, but you don’t know otherwise, unless you’ve been invested in the same people the past decade.
So anyway, we didn’t know if we’d go. But we went to the waterfront Marriott bar to meet some of Los’ old buddies (of the group of 6 of them, 5 were represented last night, impressive considering that they live around the nation and married people from all 4 corners of the country). It was a lot of fun for me to have insight into a portion of Los’ life that I have only heard about and seen pictures from.
So we got a cab with them and went. It was in Post Alley in the upstairs banquet room of Kell’s, great little place. Los had said the only reason he wanted to go to his reunion was to apologize to a couple people for the jerk he’d been to them in high school. He got to do that, which I was all about, just to wipe the slate clean and have peace. I don’t have many regrets from my high school years, but he did, and it was meaningful for people to have him apologize.
We ended up having a lot of fun and talking to all kinds of people he liked, that are now doctors, lawyers and other professionals. It’s cool to hear what people dream about, and who they have become. Since Prep is a private school, his class was pretty small, 150ish, and everyone has become pretty successful.
Even though we may never have any of those couples as our close friends, it was fun to revisit the past with them, and to hear about what 10 years has done in different lives… I am really sad I will miss my own reunion next weekend in California. The timing of it just didn’t work out for us; and I am sad not to have the chance to see people I cared a lot about. So at least I got to live vicariously through Los last night, a good time was had by all.

Having Hubby Home

Soooo good. Our first weekend back together has been amazing. When he is gone, I am busy and “fine” (using that word makes me think of how Meredith/Cristina use it on Grey’s Anatomy- they’re always ‘fine’ though they are not…). But when Los is back, life is just so much sweeter. Better. I forget that until I can touch and smell him, but then I remember. Everything is better with him…
He flew in on Thursday and it’s the first time I have seen him fly a plane, that was cool! Our wonderful friends, the Pendleton’s (about to welcome a little Pendlebaby this week) took me and Burly out on the flight line as Los landed the plane. When they parked it and all the gear was off, Burly and I got a tour of it. It’s huge! Pretty cool to see what he does for a living for the first time☺
Thursday night we had dinner, and one of the high school seniors that Los loves, Matt, came over; then we went and played with our favorite friends, the Woods. Nick, the husband, is our area’s Young Life Director, and Lindsay is a teacher of middle school students. If we could live near them the rest of our lives we would. Pretty amazing people.
Friday we hung out in Anacortes (little town by us that’s the gateway to the San Juan Islands, which are fabulous). We went to lunch at Gere-a-deli, which is a popular spot, and we randomly saw 10 people we knew there! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people we know at a restaurant… Fun. We also went to our fave farm in Burlington, Sakuma Bros. and bought pumpkins and berries (since Los missed the plethora of berries this summer).
Then we relaxed before our big day yesterday. I had class in Seattle and Los chilled at one of our fave bakery/coffee shops, Macrina. (who made our wedding cake) Then we walked around Green Lake, went to dinner in Ballard, and to his Seattle Prep 10-year reunion until midnight. Full day.
Good weekend. So glad to have him home and to resume normalcy. We’ve been test-driving cars/researching them, we are hoping to buy something this week… Life is good.