On Christmas Card Cramps and Connection

Every Advent season, when my husband sees me stooping over the pile of cards and envelopes, flexing and unflexing my writer’s-cramped fist, he asks “Why?”

Why spend all that money creating and sending cards that are likely going to be read once and then hit the waste can?

Why spend hours in an already busy season writing and folding and sealing and stamping?

Why bother when most people are already connected through various forms of social media?

This is my Why.

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Grace, Anywhere

A sweet friend took me out on the town last night. We dined at the only fancy-ish restaurant in our small city, swooning over Greek Bruschetta and perfectly roasted artichokes before scurrying to the theater to support friends in a local production of Rent.

Another friend met us at the show where our three mouths hung agape over the showcase of local talent. (“Wow, that girl can WAIL! Where do these people COME from? Do they LIVE here?”) After the performance, we chatted in the street beside my friend’s ginormous SUV, wishing there was somewhere we could grab coffee.

“There’s always McDonald’s,” someone offered timidly, more like a question than a suggestion. . .

***

We rolled into Mickey-D’s at 10:15, settling in between the giggling high school crowd in the back and the cat-vibes lady with the pink sequined scarf up front.

Four hours later, we were still in the booth. Our conversation had rambled through the territories of foster care, intercessory prayer, seasonal depression, religion-based shame, Kindergarten crushes, self-love, gluten farts, and the most absorbent mom-bladder pantyliner. Continue reading

Broken Places

This is the view from my recovery recliner – my view for the past month.

FullSizeRender (56)
NKOTB blanket circa 1987

It’s the best time of year here in Michigan and I thought for sure I would miss it.

I would miss my walks beneath the wooded canopy of Fumee Lake, calico leaves swooshing underfoot.

I would miss the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch, cornstalks rustling as kids dart in and out of rows.

I would miss cinnamon and nutmeg, spicy Chai, the flavors and smells of my autumn kitchen.

I’d miss it all because I’d be stuck in this stupid chair with these stupid crutches and this stupid aching hip.

Somehow, that’s not how it went at all. Somehow, I didn’t miss it.

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A Swell Day

Dear Friends,

I was draggin’ my wagon after last week’s hip surgery, but I think I may have turned the corner this morning.

I’ve already. . .

Cleaned my eyeglasses.

Color-code highlighted my appointment calendar.

Soaked my feet in Epsom salts.

Swatted four houseflies from my recliner.

Took my blood pressure three times.

Cleaned and oiled the foam pads of my crutches.

Clipped coupons from the grocery store flier. You wouldn’t believe the prices they’re offering on Ensure and Metamucil! (I wonder if they deliver…)  Continue reading

Where I’ve Been

Yesterday, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a while, and she asked me where I’ve been. I tried replying, but I’m not sure I even knew the answer.

If this post had a subtitle, maybe it would read “That Time I Tried Working Two Part-Time Jobs While Homeschooling My Children, Supporting My Husband Through a Career Change, Becoming Foster-to-Adopt Licensed, and Why Not Throw in a Trip to Disney World Followed Closely by Influenza, a Stomach Virus, and Two Minor Household Floods.” Continue reading

Dashboard Jesus

We were the silliest of girls.

We rode around our neighborhood on ten-speed bikes belting out The Song that Never Ends, stopping to scoop up dead critters from the side of the road and burying them in the “cemetery” at the edge of the woods behind my parents’ house. We’d mark the resting place of squashed squirrels and flattened frogs with cinder blocks scrawled with our own Sharpie blessings. Continue reading

Your Struggle Makes Me Stronger

I recently interviewed two women living with Multiple Sclerosis for a Grand Edits guest feature. When I asked them to speak about the life they envisioned as young women compared to the reality of their lives today, they both agreed that though they never dreamed they’d have MS and surely don’t want MS, the diagnosis has allowed them to connect with and help others who are facing the same illness, or working through other life struggles.

I think about this often – the way our circumstances create opportunities to help others who are suffering.

In my days of volunteering as a client advocate at a pregnancy resource center, a young woman came to an appointment in distress because her baby (still in utero) had been diagnosed with renal hydronephrosis. This malformation causes dilation in the kidney pelvis and can mean surgical correction shortly after birth.

My client and I had a long conversation that day about the what-ifs. It’s hard for a momma to be faced with the possibility of her newborn baby being whisked off to surgery in his or her first days in the world. We talked a lot about fear that day. About vulnerability.

I told her I understood how she was feeling, and I really meant it. My own son had been diagnosed with renal hydronephrosis less than two years prior to the conversation. I remembered the diagnosis, the scans, the machines. I remembered the fear.

Read the full post (HVFH) –>

May the Fourth

My three boys (okay, my four boys) were way into the MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU pun yesterday. They donned their Star Wars gear and waved colorful light sabers in my face at every opportunity.

Is anything more exciting to young boys than a battle between Darkness and Light?

But as much as Light vs. Darkness seems a game, a fantasy, to them, it’s been pretty real for me lately.

Have you ever felt that when you’re on a mission to carry out some weighty work, the powers of Darkness launch a full-out attack on your hopeful, bright-eyed self?

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Team-up Time

As much as I love doing my quiet blog thing here at Revisions of Grandeur, it’s fun to step out and work with others who are doing creativity in other ways — and I was lucky enough to do that twice this month.

The first fun project was a team-up with my friend Jenny over at Three Letter Birds to create these funny and sweet Mother’s Day cards. I conjured the words and she made them sing with her magical design eye.

Classic Love Card — >

Just Like Me Card –>

They turned out pretty wonderful, don’t you think?

The second collaboration was with another Jenny, the lovely and fearless editor of ForEveryMom, who kindly featured my essay about saying YES when you can. I’d love for you to give it a read this fine Monday morning and let me know what a YES looks like for you in the comments below.

If you’re a writer or other artsy type who feels the creative world can be a bit lonely, don’t forget all the others plugging away out there who might enjoy an ally. Reach out and team up, even for one day or one project.

Cheers, you artsy people,

Stacy

*featured image via Three Letter Birds


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Goodbye, Old Boy

We lost our dog this morning. He’d been sick off and on for a few weeks, and we tried all sorts of treatments. This morning, his breathing became labored and I called the vet’s emergency line. She met me at the office for a chest x-ray that revealed severe blastomycosis.

We discussed the options, or lack of them, really, and I knew what we had to do.

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