Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No More Dog Poop

I have thankfully been able to maintain the peace I received at the retreat this past weekend. Even when things were crazy at my various jobs, even when the coffee pot broke and the mini-blinds fell on my head.

But I had to laugh at the moment Jeremy couldn't keep his peace yesterday.

My husband is very even-keeled. He's alpha, for sure, but he's not aggressive. He's strong, laid back and has an intimidating presence which I have always found safety in. All that said, he's not one to get into confrontations if he can help it. So when someone pushes his buttons enough for him to outwardly react, you start to pray for that person that they won't die of fear.

Let me start the story with this. We have a great house in a great location -- but we have TERRIBLE neighbors. This is our curse as a couple, we always have terrible neighbors, no matter where we live. All of our neighbors, all of them, have barking dogs. All of them have dog doors. And all of them let those dogs roam free while they are away at work during the day. So guess what happens. Yeah, barking ALL DAY LONG. It doesn't stop there, though. They let their dogs bark while they're home, too. And at 3am. And our neighbors to the west let their three big dogs free in their front yard, and those dogs are always pooping on our front lawn.

We've called animal control. We've left notes on doors. We've talked to them face-to-face. We've picked up the dog poop. We've thrown the dog poop into the back of said neighbor's truck (ahem, sorry Jesus). But no change. And the problem isn't just with one or two neighbors -- it's all the houses surrounding us.

We have two big dogs. We don't leave them outside when we're not home. We don't let them bark. We don't let them out front off-leash. We are respectful of our neighbors and we have trained our dogs to be respectful too.

So I guess after almost two years of this, Jeremy was bound to snap eventually.

Jeremy was out front yesterday when our western neighbor opened his garage and let all three of his big, obnoxious dogs loose on the neighborhood. One of those dogs came right over and pooped on our lawn. Jeremy yelled, "Are you kidding me? Hey!" and the dog ran back to his owner. The owner called the dogs inside. Jeremy, for the first time, didn't let it go.

He walked over to the neighbor's house and pounded on the door. When the guy answered, Jeremy said, "Don't let your dogs into our yard anymore. One of them just pooped on our lawn again and I'm sick of picking it up." Now those of you who have met my husband are probably cringing. Because even if he said that in a calm manner, he's a scary dude. But he wasn't calm. He was furious.

The neighbor came right over and picked up the poop. Let's hope that's the end of that problem.

And come on, ladies. Isn't that just the sexiest thing? I do love it when Jeremy "defends" us.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Crossroads Women's Ministry Retreat 2013

I went to the Crossroads Church Women's Ministry retreat in Breckenridge this weekend. And what a weekend!

In the last year, I've gotten to know many women in many different ministries, and Crossroads is really unique. They are well-organized, responsive and so freaking full of love and kindness.

We were all assigned roommates in the condos that were rented for the event. I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the three women I was rooming with were all my age and AWESOME. We became fast friends, and spent both nights there drinking wine and gabbing about life.

The speaker that did the general sessions during the day was Martha Lawley. She taught us some great ways to deal with fear and doubt -- and that fear and doubt were not something to be ashamed of, and did not mean that we don't believe God as long as we hand those fears and doubts over to Him.

She also taught us a great technique for dealing with those fears and doubts -- first stating the problem, then stating "nevertheless," and finally stating a truth about God. So, I'm scared I'll never have children, nevertheless, God knows his plans for me. It's actually a pretty powerful technique.

The food was amazing at the retreat. As a vegetarian, I do worry about those buffet-type situations. There have been many times where there was nothing I could eat. But my plate was full at every meal this weekend.

We broke out into small groups throughout the retreat, to process some of what we were learning. That gave me an opportunity to meet even more amazing women and really dig into the message of the weekend.

The worship team was pretty interesting. They are a married couple that is actually part of the Flatirons Church worship team, and while they are very talented, they were also pretty off-the-cuff, too. The woman/singer is legally blind, and she has a great sense of humor about it.

Though we did have a bit of drama the first night (let's call it a medical emergency with one of the women there), and the first morning we were awakened by a fire alarm at 6am (false alarm, but my roommate Angie and I went outside in our PJs before we were told this), the rest of the weekend was fun and relaxing. Being surrounded by a bunch of Godly women when I'm in such a vulnerable place in my life felt like being wrapped in bubble wrap and placed on a down mattress. Such a lovely experience. I am determined to not only save up to go to the retreat again next year, but to sponsor another woman as well.

The weather couldn't have been nicer this weekend. It was in the 60s both days. Angie and I went out for a walk into town during our break on Saturday, and if I wasn't so exhausted I would have happily walked for hours. But instead I went back and took a nap. I do love naps... :)

It takes the same amount of time to get to Breckenridge as it does to get to Colorado Springs from our house, so the drive home was easy and gave me an opportunity to listen to my favorite new age Pandora station and contemplate everything I'd learned over the weekend. I was so happy to come home to Jeremy. I took a nap, made some dinner, and then we went out for Blizzards at Dairy Queen.

I admit I'm having a hard time getting my brain into work mode today.

Oh, and the puppy has a new obsession since yesterday: the lint balls in the trash in the laundry room. :-| Weirdo.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lice Box

Ugh. Migraine today. Again. Anyone else getting sick of reading that?

I leave for my first women's retreat tomorrow. I'm excited!!! And a little nervous. I feel like I'm in high school again, afraid everyone there will know each other and I'll be the odd one out. Which is funny, because even if it takes me a few minutes to warm up, I never let myself be the odd one out. I always make friends. So nerves are silly.

Jeremy found me a TARDIS phone case. I'm so in love with it. Even though "PO" is missing where the camera lens is, so it says "LICE BOX."

You should worry about me now. I have a TARDIS phone case and a sonic screwdriver pen in my purse. But I suppose my superhero wallet balances out the geek a little...

I stopped work about 15 minutes early and took Hero out for a walk before dinner. We went to the open space across the parkway instead of over to the lake because the gnats have been crazy lately. One downside to living near water. Even in that open space where the water is pretty much just a little creek, the gnats were pretty bad. Eew. I need to look up when gnats are most active so I can avoid walking at that time of day. Anyway, Hero is doing great with his leash training. He still goes bonkers when we walk by someone -- he wants to go visit SO bad. But at least he doesn't bark or whine or anything more obnoxious than just trying to pry the harness off his nose.

Woe is me! Mom won't let me slobber on every passerby!

Okay. I'm cool now.

What's that? I'm adorable?
My brother has been at our house all day. He helped Jeremy work on the brakes on the 4Runner, and then we had dinner together. The guys have spent the rest of the night arguing immigration law while I pack and catch up on Facebook. I wish Drew would come over more often, just to give Jeremy someone new to argue with. :p

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Out, Darn Rut!

I'm in a rut. For weeks, now, after work every night I come downstairs to eat dinner with Jeremy -- and I can't get off my butt again. We usually end up watching a couple of episodes of something on Netflix (Doctor Who is our latest series), and then I go to bed around 9:45 and read for an hour.

I'm being boring. I have a million ideas for fun projects, but once my butt hits the couch, all my motivation drains.

I signed up for this free video series from one of my favorite artists, SARK. I have been watching bits and pieces as I work over the last few days, and her message drove this home even more: It's time to get off my butt.

It's time to paint. Explore. Try a new restaurant. Catch up with an old friend. Write something I'm not getting paid for.

It felt SO GOOD this past Saturday to be out of the house all day and around people I don't see every day.

I'm going to a women's retreat in Breckenridge this weekend, and I couldn't be more excited. I think it's just the spark I need to beat this rut once and for all.

I also finally bought a book I've been hearing so much about, called Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. It's based around A Course in Miracles, and it is aaaaamazing. I don't know why it took me so long to get my hands on it. It's one of those books that I know I'm going to read and re-read a hundred times. It's helping me pull out of my rut right now, so I suppose it came to me at the right time.

I met up with Erin for coffee tonight. We haven't had the chance to really catch up with each other in a couple of months, now. We have seen each other at Bible study, but that's about it. It was nice to just have a couple hours of girl talk. And Jeremy was happy because he got to watch Haunted Collector without me whining about it. LOL

And to all the people who messaged me today to let me know they were thinking about me and praying for me, thank you. I didn't realize yesterday's blog post would hit such a nerve. I really am okay -- this is just another phase of grief I will need to work through. I've got the support system to get through it and I will be okay.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Hallway is Hell

I had a brainstorm last night before bed, so I was up until almost midnight. I got all kinds of ideas for Horizon Peak. And e-books. And some new graphic design skills I'd like to acquire. Because you know, I don't have enough going on every day, right?

Anyway, I was up too late last night, so I was dragging this morning. Multiple cups of coffee later, I was buzzing along at work. I am backing up multiple people this week, so I had to lead a call this morning on behalf of a colleague. It was supposed to be an hour long -- and I think I wrapped it up at about 12 minutes. I have become a ridiculously fast talker as I've gotten older. Not fast in speech, but fast in thought -- I don't need a lot of verbiage to convey my message. Though I suppose that could have come from being a copywriter for 13 years, too...

I have always wanted to be a speaker or workshop leader of some kind, but my brain doesn't lend itself well to that. I can't stretch things out. And then there's the whole fear of public speaking thing.

I had a great conversation with a client today, too, about some new work. I may talk fast, but when I am excited about a topic and really knowledgeable about it, I can really infect others with my enthusiasm. That's what makes me a great salesperson -- simply expressing my love for a product. I can't sell ice to Eskimos like my father-in-law can, but darn it I can sell things I love. I'm thrilled to say that this particular client was a happy camper when I got off the phone with her. I feel very good that this project will happen.

Speaking of talking, I have started seeing a counselor again. Jeremy and I both are big proponents of counseling. Counseling saved our marriage, got Jeremy through depression, and last year it gave us tools to get through our grief in a healthy way. You all know I have my good days and my bad -- but in the last couple of months I've been feeling more anger than sadness as I process my grief. I know what to do with anxiety and sadness, but I don't know what to do with anger. So I started seeing a counselor to help me get the tools to deal with this particular phase of the grief process.

And that's all my anger is, according to my new counselor. A part of my grieving process. One more thing I need to work through as I heal. And it's totally natural, totally normal, and totally process-able. Whew.

She told me something today that I'm going to remember forever. "They tell you that when God closes a door, He opens a window. What they don't tell you is that the hallway is hell."

Yeah, it's hell. I know there's a light at the end of this tunnel, blessings on the way, an open window ahead. But this meantime, this path between points, this hallway is hell. Thank God I've got people holding my hands as I walk it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

TV and My Paycheck Symphony

Netflix just launched their first ever TV series, called Hemlock Grove. Jeremy and I watched all 13 episodes. Not because it was good, but because we had this ridiculous hope that they would start answering some of the questions they raised, removing some of the obstacles they placed around the characters, or resolving SOMEthing. And every episode left us disappointed. Every episode just raised more questions. About 50% of it got resolved in the last episode, but that wasn't enough to satisfy us. I hope Netflix does better next time around, because I think the idea of presenting an entire series at once (versus one episode per week, like on regular TV) is novel, and if it's done right it can become the next big thing in entertainment.

So now we're clearing our palates with Doctor Who. We are still getting used to Matt Smith as The Doctor -- he hasn't grown on us yet.

I'm rethinking some things with Horizon Peak. I'm not sure I'm offering the right service packages. Plus I really want to create a business I'm going to be able to stay passionate about -- so some reswizzling might need to happen. That's the great thing about starting a business when you've already got a steady income, though. You can be experimental with it, and take your time growing it into something really great.

Only once in my life have I ever done the "leap of faith" when it came to a job change. And it was in rather desperate circumstances. Every other time, I have spent time transitioning from one role to another, or one job to another. I am more comfortable having one foot on solid ground. So this method of business fits me well -- working other jobs to pay the bills while growing into something new. Though now all of my jobs fit so neatly together, it feels more like an orchestra learning to play the same song than a true "transition." Each job, each role, is a part of my paycheck symphony.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tour of Denver

I got the tour o' Denver today.

First thing this morning, I hit the road to Castle Rock. My parents' neighborhood was having a book sale. I made out like a bandit.

After catching up with my parents for a bit, I hit the road again and went to Lakewood to meet up with a good friend from high school. She and her husband were told they would never have children, and they have been on a waiting list to adopt a baby for two years. They were about two months shy of getting to number 1 on that waiting list when they found out they were expecting. Amazing!!! I'm over the moon for them.

Those same friends just got some goats, so I spent time playing with the little cuties. I love goats. I want to get a goat someday. Jeremy tells me no -- but I'll wear him down.

After my friends treated me to lunch at this adorable little family-owned Greek restaurant, I bid them goodbye and hit the road again. This time to Lafayette.

Church tonight was amazing. I know I say that every week. But it's amazing every week.

I'm still in kind of an angry place, but being around family and friends today helped boost my mood. I'm gonna be okay.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Backward Blessings

I felt overwhelming grief and rage yesterday afternoon after catching a glimpse of an article on Gosnell. I purposefully stay away from crap like that, but it caught me off-guard. I was already feeling low, and thus sensitive, so when my eyes brushed that one sentence, the floodgates opened.

I went into our bedroom and grabbed Bun Bun -- Scarlett's stuffed pink bunny -- and just sobbed and sobbed. I wanted to punch a wall, throw something through a window, DESTROY something. Anger doesn't even begin to describe what I was feeling, knowing how long it took to have her, then having her taken from me after only 19 months with her, and God blesses people with babies and those people kill them. Kill them. Do you know what I would do to get my child back? Do you know the lengths I would go for just one more minute with her? And God blesses murderers with babies.

It's unfair. And I know life isn't fair. I know God never promised that. But sometimes the world just feels backward.

It's times like that when the anger takes hold.

I honestly thought about taking a hammer to Scarlett's crib. Then I thought about taking it apart and throwing the pieces off our second-story deck onto the concrete patio below just to hear the wood splinter and crack. Blinded by tears, I managed to find a screwdriver, and I went into that closed-up room -- the room that still smells like fresh paint and baby shampoo -- and I dismantled the crib. I cried as each screw came out. I ached at the teething marks on the front top edge. I cringed as I pulled the mattress out -- the place she died -- and leaned it up against the wall. But with each piece taken off came a little more calm. And by the last screw, I wasn't crying anymore.

I leaned all the pieces up against the wall. I don't know what to do with it. I can't bear the thought of giving it away, or throwing it away. But I can't bear the thought of ever using it again either. So I suppose it will stay in pieces in storage until the time finally comes when it's clear what to do with it.

Yesterday was one of those days when my gratitude journal didn't cut it. The rage needed to be released. I'm glad those days are few and far between.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I May Never Write That Book -- And That's Okay

Last year I wanted nothing but to talk about and write about my daughter -- or rather, the loss of her. I wanted to get that story out of me.

But after the first anniversary of her death, something shifted inside me. I made it through when I wasn't sure I would. In that first year, I sometimes wondered if I would just crack. But I didn't. So the first anniversary of her death also turned into an end-goal. If I could make it to that benchmark sane, I knew I wasn't ever going to lose my mind.

Jeremy and I watched an episode of Doctor Who last night where a man was so devastated by the loss of his wife and child, he literally lost his mind. He forgot who he was. I understand how that could happen.

Last year was like holding my breath, and this year is like finally exhaling. I'm not sure what the future has in store, and I'm not sure what path all of this is leading me down. I'm lost, in a way, but at the same time comfortably found in the arms of my husband and the love of friends and family.

I found myself wanting to move back to Lafayette recently. Life was good, there. That's where Jeremy and I repaired our marriage, where Jeremy quit smoking and started his own business, where I got pregnant with Scarlett, where I gave birth to Scarlett and where we raised her for the first year of her short life. I realize that it's not really Lafayette I want to move back to -- it's that life. I miss that life. I miss my daughter.

Last year I knew I had a book in me. I knew this story needed to be told. This year, I can't tell it. I can't bring myself to type out that story again. I'm scared, frankly. Scared to dredge up that pain when I am finally starting to get some peace.

I'm not completely at peace, but I'm getting peace. In fits and starts, the grief is becoming more bearable. I'm living with it in a more constructive and less parasitic way.

I thought I would write that book when the grief had eased a little. Now I'm not sure I'll ever write it. That's okay, though. This blog is enough. The last thing I need is to feel guilty for not writing a book about such a horrible event. If I ever write it, great -- if I don't, I refuse to feel guilty.

That, right there, is Scarlett's gift to me. She clarified what matters in this life.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

B-School and Putting Me in My Business

I am so sad that I only have one more week of Marie Forleo's B-School before I'm done with the program. It has been such an adventure building my new business from the ground up as I went through all of the amazing training.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the program has been the private Facebook group. My fellow B-Schoolers are amazing -- so talented, kind, helpful and inspiring. I don't think I've ever seen such a positive online community. In fact, I tend to avoid online communities because of those nutjobs who hide behind the anonymity of the web to start fights. But there are no nutjobs in the B-School group.

I have always been interested in personal coaching -- life coaching, creativity coaching, that kind of thing. And I have always been interested in creating and selling arts and crafts. Those things get me very excited, but I have never done anything with that because I have always felt the need to stay focused on the things I know would pay the bills -- namely my writing and marketing skills. 

But I'd say a good 75% of the other B-Schoolers this year are in coaching or arts businesses. So I have really gained a firsthand look at those things from a business perspective, and BOY does it fascinate me. I mean, the bravery of it! Knowing that there is high competition and low margin, and still doing it because it's exciting? Awesome! What chutzpah!

So I see all of these gorgeous websites with pastel color palettes and swirly fonts, drop-dead gorgeous photography, and energizing, rah-rah blog posts -- and oooooh I want to do that! But my customers tend to be conservative small-business owners -- and male. A raspberry-colored website header and perky, feminine language isn't going to help my business. Sigh.

So I'm trying to come up with ideas that will put more of "me" into my business, while still appealing to my specific customers. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Overwriting the Bad

Typically I watch a sermon online before each work day begins. But today was an exception. I read the Bible and I spent time adding things to my Small Blessings list.

Why? Because my heart is aching. It's aching for my own loss, which is raw right now. I have these bouts of rawness from time to time, and I'm in the midst of one of those bouts right now.

My heart is aching for my friend whose mother is undergoing yet another cancer surgery.

My heart is aching for the people in Boston who were hurt or who lost someone yesterday in that terrible bombing at the Boston Marathon.

And finally my heart is aching for my friend who lost her home in a fire last night. She has a farm called "Adonai Acres," and she and her family are some of the most God-fearing people I know. When Scarlett was alive, she had a standing invitation to ride horses at Adonai Acres. Everyone was saved from the fire -- all the people and animals survived, even though one of the dogs ran back IN to the burning house and had to be pulled out a second time. But their home is gone.

It's so easy to sink into the heartache in times like this. But that's just following pain into the pit. Even when horrible things are happening, good things are happening too.

So it's important to note those things, to remind myself that there is good in the world.

When the explosions went off in Boston yesterday, people ran TO the blast to help. My friend who was told she would never have children, who has been on the list to adopt a baby for two years, just announced that she's pregnant. When Jeremy and I were driving to Kansas City two weekends ago, the wind was so bad, we didn't realize how much our gas mileage had been affected until we were under a quarter tank. We were able to get to a gas station with maybe a mile or two left in our tank. But we made it.

Good things continue to happen, even when bad things abound. It's too easy to forget that. So I write it down.

I suggest you do the same. When life gets you down, when your heart hurts, write a list of all the small blessings. The good coffee you had that morning, the meadowlark singing to you from the tree outside your window, the easy drive to work, the great conversation with your sister last night. They all count. Write them down. You'll see the good outweighs the bad.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Scary Situation

It's funny how God works sometimes.

If someone hadn't stolen my daughter's identity, I wouldn't know where the local police department was. And if I didn't know where the local police department was, I may have panicked today when someone followed me home from the gym.

There's a place on 112th Ave where two lanes merge down into one. It's well-marked and there is plenty of room to get over. But it's also one of those places where you get your occasional @$$hole who doesn't want to merge. I encountered one of those people today. And he thought following me home would be the reasonable thing to do. :-|

I had a bad feeling about that guy, so I took a back way into our neighborhood. He followed me through every turn. So there was no doubt in my mind he was following me. I called Jeremy to let him know that I was going to circle back to the police department -- and the guy must have seen me on the phone, because at the next stop sign, he turned the opposite direction.

In that kind of circumstance, you can't pull over and look at a map. You either know where your local police department is, or you don't. The other option would be to call 911, of course, but I was so thankful that didn't need to happen. As shaken as I was, I knew exactly what to do.

Am I thankful that I had to go to the police a few months ago to report my deceased daughter's identity theft? No. Am I thankful that God used that to give me knowledge and confidence in my scary situation today? Yes.

And for those of you who wondered how the ID theft thing turned out, all of the credit checks came back clean. It was an absolute nightmare getting the three credit bureaus to provide that information to us (which sickens me), but it looks like the thief stopped at using Scarlett's social security number on their tax return. And yes, the IRS gave us our full tax refund and didn't give us any hassle beyond what we've already been through.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Baptism Anniversary

I went to church with my friend Jennifer tonight. It was baptism night. When I saw the pools set up in front, I realized that tonight was the 1-year anniversary of my own baptism.

The last song the worship band sang had me tearing up. It was from We the Kings, and the lyrics go:

When heaven seems so far away
And dreams are just a memory
Without the dark the light won't show
Remember that you're not alone

When you watch the world just turn away
And break the promises it made
When love is all too hard to hold
Just take a breath and let it go

Woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing
Woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing

2 a.m., too sad to sleep
When what you want's not what you need
And when these walls don't feel like home
Remember that you're not alone

The beginning's just another end
It's not too late to start again
When hope is all too hard to hold
Just take a breath and let it go

Woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing
Woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing

Ooh ooh...

When heaven seems so far away
And dreams are just a memory
When love is all too hard to hold
Just take a breath and let it...

Go whoa oh, woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing
Woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh, woah whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing

And a year ago today, that's exactly what I was doing. I was concentrating on breathing. When we lost our daughter, the pain was so great I felt like I was going to die. Sometimes I was scared to go to sleep, and at the same time I didn't want to wake up in the morning. Life was a storm of grief, crashing and pouring all around me.

Through the storm, this message repeated itself -- inside my head, inside my heart, inside my soul -- Just keep breathing. Just keep breathing. Just keep breathing. And that's what I did. That's all I could do. Over a year later, some days that's still all I can do.

God doesn't promise that life is fair. He doesn't promise that if you're "good," life will be easy. What He does promise is that He'll be there with you, by your side, through it all. "I have told you these things so that in me you may find peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

That's what God gave me last year. His presence. His whispers in my ear to keep breathing. Getting baptized wasn't about proving myself to God, or making a statement -- it was an outward symbol of my internal change.

Watching the massive crowd of people getting baptized tonight, I once again teared up. I knew that some were at peace in their lives, and others were in deep pain. Some were with big families and some had come alone. Some of their lives would change overnight, and others would take years. Some would let God into their hearts forever, and some would abandon Him. But each and every person there had a story, a reason for getting dunked in that kiddie pool.

As terrible as my story ends, it starts with a blue-eyed baby girl who dances and sings and hugs and kisses. And with my last breath, it's the gift of that little girl that I want to be thanking God for.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hammies, Manners and Workaholism

Yoga lesson #354: When an instructor asks the class, "How are your bodies feeling today?" -- DON'T ANSWER.

I take an Iyengar class on Wednesdays, which is a style that involves holding poses for extended periods of time. And the instructor focused a lot on hamstrings this week. So my hammies were sooooore. I made the mistake of telling this to my Vinyasa yoga teacher today. She spent the first 20 minutes making sure my hamstrings were nice and warmed up.  :-|

I can't complain, though. When you sit in front of a computer all day, stretching your hamstrings and hips for an hour ends up feeling like you got a massage.

I actually wanted to go out for a walk after work today, but the wind is crazy. Again. I hate wind. And the wind gets COLD over at the lake where I like to walk.

I took Hero out for a walk last night. He's still getting used to his Gentle Leader. he hates it. But he's too out of control without it. So I have to deal with him stopping every 5 feet trying to pry it off his nose. I know he'll get used to it eventually -- but I wish he'd hurry up. I want a walk companion!

I was looking at the photos of Hero I posted on Facebook last night, and I couldn't believe how much he's grown in the 6 weeks we've had him. I mean, wow. And I'm so proud of his progress. He knows come, sit, lie down, off, no licking, out of the kitchen, kennel and settle. In only 6 weeks, he learned all that. And (when he's not over-excited, at least) he is doing well with his door manners, sitting back from the door and waiting for one of us to open it and give him the command to go through. I have high hopes for him learning his walking manners too.

Can you tell we're big on manners in this house?

I am having a blast at work these days. At all my jobs. At my day job, I spend all my time writing and designing, freeing my creative spirit. For GlobalWrites, I get to put on my editor and website manager hats and go all Type A on that mofo. For Horizon Peak, because it's still so new, I get to experiment with different content and delivery options, which satisfies the research nerd in me.

Jeremy and I had a discussion this afternoon about work types. He's the blast-then-rest type, busting out a ton of work really quickly and then crashing/resting for three times as long as he worked. Whereas I'm a steady, round-the-clock worker. I like to keep the work load even because big spikes create a lot of stress for me. This also means that I rarely have a true rest day -- I have to be diligent about scheduling that in.

I know I've become a bit of a workaholic in the last year. But it's a coping mechanism as much as anything. Working helps me focus on productive things, which helps me manage my grief better. But I'm also careful not to let work consume me. I make sure to go to non-work-related classes and events a few times a week, and spend quality time with Jeremy every single day.

Grief is all-consuming when you don't actively manage it. It's easy to get sucked into that black hole and spiral down until you can't see and can't breathe. Even when you do manage it, it's always there, lurking in the background.

In my nightly prayers last night, I asked God to help me experience my grief through the eyes of immense joy, rather than experiencing my joy through the eyes of immense grief. It's something I'm aiming toward, and time is helping.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Superhero Jeremy

Oh em gee. I almost forgot to tell you guys a really great story.

On Sunday, when Jeremy and I were walking to the comic convention from our hotel, Jeremy saw a drivers license on the ground and picked it up. He looked at it, then looked at me with this jaw on the floor. He said, "This is Scott Snyder's ID."

For those of you who are into comics, you'll probably recognize that name. He writes a couple of comic series -- one DC series you may have heard of... ahem BATMAN.

So when we got into the convention, Jeremy walked over to Scott's table and handed him the ID. Scott stuttered, "What's this... whoa... what? Is that my ID? What the heck?" Jeremy smiled and told him how he found it out on the street and thought he might want it back. Scott said, "Dude, I wouldn't have been able to get on the plane tonight if you hadn't returned this! I didn't even know it was missing! I owe you. I owe you BIG. Anything you want. Batman? Anything! You name it." Jeremy smiled and said, "Really, it's no problem," and we walked away.

I looked back and said, "His name is Jeremy. Just so you know." Hey, a girl's gotta look out for her husband, even when he's being a good Samaritan.

So if you see a new superhero named Jeremy in an upcoming Batman comic book, you'll know who Scott was referencing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This and That

Night number 4 out of 5 with no sleep. Holy cow I'm getting delirious.

Jeremy has severe sleep apnea and sleeps with a CPAP machine to stop his insane snoring. He forgot the CPAP when we went to Kansas City -- so he snored like a sonofagun and I didn't get any sleep while we were there. I'm not joking, I had earplugs in and wore sleep headphones with white noise playing OVER the earplugs, and I could still hear him snoring.

You know my story from Monday night. But last night, I awoke with a full-blown migraine at 3am. Now, when I get a migraine, I can't take any medicine that actually works because all that stuff is dangerous while you're trying to get pregnant. So the only thing that makes a dent in the pain is coffee and food. Caffeine helps with the pain, and food helps my body process the caffeine. But at 3am, making a pot of coffee wasn't an option. So it was a night full of tossing and turning, trying to get my head and neck into positions that alleviated the throbbing behind my right eye.


Enough whining.

In happier news, I got pulled into a project at my day job to help create a library of support videos. I'm over the moon about it. I've also been tasked to produce a monthly newsletter talking about what our company is doing to improve our working environment. With the way our economy and culture have gone in the last ten years, it's nice to be part of something positive like that.

I've got a lunch meeting with a former client tomorrow to talk about editing some of his small company's web copy, and I'm excited about that too. I love working with these really small businesses and taking them from amateur to pro with a few taps on a keyboard. Watching a website transform with good copy is just exhilarating. And yes I realize that's a nerdy thing to say. But I'm a nerd, so there you go.

Enough work stuff.

Jeremy attempted to make fried stuffed peppers last night. They ended up tasting really good, but boy does our house smell like the inside of a fryer right now. I'm heading out to a yoga class at lunch today, and I wonder if the stench coming off my clothes will distract my classmates. LOL

We had a Comcast technician come out to our house to look at our home security system twice in the last two days. We've had constant problems with it. This is the fourth tech they've sent, and they sent a guy who is fresh out of school. He was here for over four hours yesterday, and most of that time he was on the phone on hold with his support team. Really, Comcast? We've had issues with your hardware AND your service from day one, and you send us a trainee? I felt bad because the guy was really nice, and he was trying really hard -- but he had no business being sent here. They should have sent a supervisor.

I posted on Comcast Xfinity's Facebook wall yesterday about our problems, and they did respond. They talked to Jeremy today about all the issues we've been having. And from what Jeremy just told me that call went like all of our service calls have gone -- nowhere. The guy he talked to was not understanding the problems we've been having, and did not understand why we were unhappy that they sent a trainee to fix our system. This isn't rocket science. I'm sure we'll be switching home security companies soon at this point.

And yes, even with all the problems we've had -- the bad service, the false alarms -- I do find value in a security system. It eases my anxiety when we travel.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Anxiety Out of Her Cage

Rough night. Really rough night.

The wind picked up yesterday afternoon and turned into hurricane-force gusts by the evening. A snowstorm was coming in, and when the weather has been warm, that cold air stirs up the wind. It was gusting so hard that it blew Jeremy's big, heavy gas grill over.

For those of you who have been reading this blog for at least a year, you'll remember me talking about how the wind howled the night our daughter died. Over time, my anxiety during windstorms has calmed -- but last night my anxiety got stirred up as much as the air.

I was able to go to sleep okay using my white noise machine, but I kept waking up when the wind, and eventually the snow, slammed against the house. So eventually I put in earplugs. But at about 5am, one of our carbon monoxide detectors started beeping with a low battery alert. I was so tired, even though the beeping would wake me up every 15 minutes or so, I didn't get out of bed to deal with it until 6am.

When I walked out of the bedroom door, Tyr walked out of the upstairs guest bathroom, cowering. The dogs aren't allowed upstairs, so I knew something was up. And then I smelled it.

All I could figure is that the beeping carbon monoxide detector had upset him, because Tyr had pooped and peed all over my office. ALL over my office. This dog doesn't have accidents -- ever. He must have been really, really upset to do that.

I went downstairs to get stuff to clean up, and Tyr acted like I was going to hit him or something. We never get mad at him for things that aren't his fault, so I get frustrated when, out of fear, he won't come when he's called. But frustration aside, I got him locked downstairs and took care of the cleanup (and took the batteries out of the stupid detector).

At first I was going to go back to bed. I had a rough night and wanted the sleep -- but as soon as I hit the top of the landing, the anxiety took over. I thought, I haven't checked on Hero. He might not be okay. Like Scarlett wasn't okay that morning when I got up to let Tyr out and went back to bed because she was sleeping late and I wanted that extra bit of sleep too. 

So I went and let Hero out. He was fine. He and Tyr played in the snow while I made coffee. I'm sure I'll be taking a nap at lunch today.

I keep the anxiety, rage and grief locked up tight most of the time. I picture a jail cell in my head, and a little version of myself railing against the bars, screaming profanities and trying to shake the bars loose. Outwardly I'm calm, functional. But inside is that jail cell with a raging inmate. Sometimes she gets loose -- but I've learned over time how to get her back in her cage.

I won't let the inmate run my life. That wouldn't make my daughter proud.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Planet Comicon

I don't advertise when we're going out of town because I'm paranoid. So please forgive my silence the last few days -- but I had no time to blog anyway!

Jeremy and I hit the road to Kansas City on Friday afternoon to attend Planet Comicon. 

This is what happens when a Thirty-One fan travels:

I love the iPhone camera, but it just doesn't do the red Kansas sunset any justice.

We arrived at our hotel after 1am. We were both exhausted, but we took note that it had a really nice (and packed) bar. I dreamed of mojitos that night in our king-sized hotel bed.

The next morning, we were up (painfully) bright and early to pick up our will-call tickets and attend the convention. I snapped these pictures between our hotel and the convention center -- but the lighting is horrible, sorry.

Jeremy and I have a system when we go to comic conventions. We walk in together, but then we go our separate ways. He hits the floor to meet the artists and writers, get signatures, and order commissions (he's collecting original work from comic artists and creators) -- and I attend panels. I LOVE panels. I especially love the more technical ones, where writers and artists teach you how they do what they do. But I also love to attend fan panels; "women in comics" panels; costuming, props and movie production panels; and occasionally I attend actor panels as well.

I actually went to two actor panels this time, which is a record. Normally I skip those in favor of more educational panels. The first one I saw Nicholas Brendon (Xander) and Clare Kramer (Glory) from Buffy. Brendon is just as funny in real life as he is on screen -- totally worth missing the DC panel for that.

The other actor panel I went to was only to see Lee Merriweather (Catwoman from the 1966 Batman movie), really. She is just adorable.

The other panels I attended were:

Steampunk costuming
Marvel artists and writers (hosted by CB Cebulski, Marvel's talent scout)
Comic writers
Prose Pursuits (novelists including Elizabeth Bunce)
Doctor Who Fandom

For someone as addicted to learning and creativity as I am, panels at comic conventions are absolute heaven.

I met up with Jeremy at the end of the day on Saturday and walked the floor with him a bit. We saw this Walking Dead target-practice poster that we thought many of our friends would love. And if it wasn't so expensive, we would have bought it for at least 5 people.

Yes, that is a Dalek from Doctor Who, being pushed through the convention.

And of course I had to have a picture taken with the Tardis and this Dalek.

Jeremy found this sonic screwdriver pen for me, and of course I had to get it. We didn't have a ton of money to spend on souvenirs, but come on -- a sonic screwdriver pen! Can you tell I'm into Doctor Who right now?

Saturday night, we were lucky enough to get together with some friends that we haven't seen in almost a year. We met Rex and Shannon for the first time in Mexico last year (Rex works for one of the Mehring family businesses), and we were inseparable from the start. They live just outside Kansas City. Both Jeremy and I wished we had been able to stay longer to spend more time with them. But dinner and drinks Saturday night was a real treat. Jeremy and Rex have the same sense of humor, so listening to their banter is hilarious. Shannon and I just talk and talk until we're interrupted by the boys poking fun at us. It was hard to say goodbye.

I snapped this picture on our drive out of Kansas City on Sunday after the convention ended. It took us a half hour (no joke) to figure out how to get back onto I-670 west. So we got a heck of a tour of the city.

It was a loooong drive to and from. So thanks go out to Jeremy for driving the whole way. Even though I napped a little on the way home last night, I'm still in rough shape this morning. I hope my work day is slow...

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Still Alive!

I know I'm behind on blogging. I swear I'll catch y'all up soon. Just wanted to let you know I'm alive and all is well. Jeremy and I are actually having a blast right now.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Hypocrisy in the Church

I listened to a sermon from Andy Stanley this morning that blew my socks off. He addressed the issue of Christian hypocrisy, which is a big deal to me and a lot of people I know.

Hypocrisy is the number one thing that kept me from exploring Christianity my entire life. And it's the number one thing that I hear people complain about in regards to Christians. And as a Christian, now, I understand it differently -- I understand that we all fail, we are all just human beings. Being a Christian doesn't make you perfect, but it should make you try harder. If you love God, you should do your best to make Him proud.

Sadly, there are a lot of people who claim to be Christians, but don't actually love God. People, in their free will, can easily fall away from God. And maybe those hypocritical Christians that I have met throughout my life had simply fallen away from God. "Christian" was part of their identity, but they weren't living it out.

Speaking from experience, when you are close to God, you want to do right. Like being around your parents makes you put your best face forward, being around your Heavenly Father makes you want to make Him proud.

In his sermon this morning, Andy Stanley talked about the impact we can make when we come together as one and move toward the same mission. When people see a large group of Christians walking the walk, it speaks louder than any evangelistic speech. He said, "It's not like people don't know what a church is. They don't drive by churches and think, What are all those weird buildings with crosses all over them? No, they know what they are but they don't enter because they have had a bad experience with Christians!"

This can be said for any group of people -- but because it's been going on for over 2000 years (and Paul addresses this in the Book of Ephesians, so you know it was happening from the get-go!), hypocrisy and lack of unity in the church hits people really hard. Just think about the cultural thought patterns that have grown from that, the universal energy.

Anyway, the sermon got me shouting Yeah! at my computer screen this morning, so I wanted to share my thoughts. Take 'em or leave 'em!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Service Launch and Ruth

It's liiiiiive!

I launched the Horizon Peak services page last night. I bundled my small-business digital strategy services and my copywriting services into unique single-price packages. It's an experiment, of sorts. After seeing some other companies doing this, and knowing my own frustration with hourly-rate projects, I decided to move forward with packaged solutions.

I ended up hand-coding much more of the website than I originally planned. Which took extra time, of course, but also made it so everything was looking and functioning exactly as I wanted it to. So, it balanced out.

Before the launch last night, I got a pedicure and went to my Brewed Bible study group. I haven't had a pedicure in ages, and it was such a nice treat for my tootsies. Then meeting with some of my favorite ladies for a Bible study focusing on the Book of Ruth (one of my faves), made my night that much better.

Re-reading the Book of Ruth for this study, and taking the reading much slower than my initial reading, the story is opening up in new ways. I loved the book the first time through, but I appreciate it on a whole new level now. Naomi losing her husband and both her children, Orpah leaving Naomi to return home after her loss, and Ruth sticking with her mother-in-law and returning to Israel with her (leaving her own family and religion) -- these are not foreign or dated stories. These are things that happen to women every day right here in our own world, our own countries. I feel for Naomi in her desperation to return home from foreign Moab after her husband and children died. I feel for Orpah wanting to go back to her own family after her husband's death. I feel for Ruth as she remains loyal to a shaken and grieving mother-in-law.

And then there is the romance of the book. Oh, such a wonderful romance! We haven't gotten to that point in the story, but I remember the story of Ruth and Boaz from my first read-through and I'm anxious to read it again.

Reading a good story the first time through is such an exhilarating experience, isn't it? Oh, but reading a good story again later, there is something so sweet and uplifting about that too. The anticipation of the parts of the story you love best... remembering the way you felt when you first read it... witnessing new reactions in yourself... lovely. Just lovely.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Date Night and Service Launch

Yesterday completely got away from me. I stayed pretty busy all day, and then it was DATE NIGHT!

Jeremy and I instituted Tuesday date night years ago as a way to heal our broken marriage. It worked so well, we've kept up with it year after year.

Usually we just rent a Redbox movie and make something special for dinner at home. But sometimes (when we can afford it) we'll go out and do something special.

Last night we went to see The Host at our local dine-in theater. It was okay. I LOVED the book -- it's the only sci-fi book I've ever really loved -- but the movie was just okay. They left out all the scenes where Wanda was remembering the other worlds she inhabited. I was SO excited to see how they were going to do that in the movie, and they completely skipped it. BOOOOO

When we got home, Jeremy grilled some hamburgers for him and salmon for me as a late dinner, and we watched some Doctor Who. David Tennant has really grown on me.

I only worked a little teeny tiny bit before bed. It's an implementation week at B-School, so I'm catching up on some of the bonus videos I haven't had a chance to watch.

Over the last week, I've done a ton of research on other consulting businesses and decided on what I was going to offer in the way of services. I am capable of doing a lot in the digital marketing realm... but that doesn't mean I should do it all. I really needed to get focused on what I wanted to offer, and what I could offer given my time constraints. Between my research and my experience as a freelancer (and keeping in mind some of my biggest frustrations, and how I could solve them), I decided to package my services and offer customers two-week blocks of time. This also allowed me to offer my copywriting services as packages.

I'm still working through GlobalWrites, but I am just a contractor for them. I have always maintained my own freelance business outside of the agency. So now I'm just bringing Horizon Peak and my freelance copywriting together under one roof.

I'm hoping to launch my new services page tonight after my Bible study class. Then I can really begin marketing my new company. Exciting times in the Mehring household!

And special thanks to Jeremy and my Mom for all the QA, reviewing, spot-checking, proof-reading and gotcha-getting you provided me in the past few weeks. You guys ROCK.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Kicking Habits and All-Consuming Work

I made it through Lent with no Starbucks. I didn't cheat once. I have had plenty of opportunities to get some in the last two days, and I haven't even been interested. Hmm. Could I have kicked the habit?

Jeremy is sick of me working. I knew this would happen. Getting Horizon Peak off the ground is a time-consuming endeavor, as it is with any small business. After my day-job ends, I gather my laptop and sit downstairs on the couch with Jeremy -- working on my business and trying to get some time with my husband simultaneously. It's the wrong kind of multitasking, I know. It's not quality time unless it's focused time.

I'm not dumb enough to vow to do better right now. We both knew this was going to take up a lot of my time when we talked about starting it. I just need to get it going as quickly as I can so I can once again focus on my poor, neglected husband. And pray he doesn't get so sick of this before then that he throws my laptop out the window.

Jeremy has been deep-cleaning our house all afternoon. He moved all the furniture out of our sitting room and our living room to clean the carpets, moved all the stuff off of our kitchen counters to detail clean those -- I'm kind of afraid to go downstairs right now. LOL

And just for the record, I fell for a really dumb April Fool's Day prank this morning.