Monday, January 23, 2023

A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E: the trek

I took a little circumstantial break from my A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E backpacking mini series because, well, kids. I’ve spent the majority of this new year so far on an ADVENTURE all it’s own, caring for my own three plus a couple of bonus boys through the Strong Families program where we volunteer. The days have been incredibly full and the new-to-us minivan hasn’t had a seatbelt to spare. It’s been the best kind of crazy. I will (likely) go back to “only” three kids this week, and with that, I hope to wrap up this series before my trip becomes a distant memory. If you are just joining in, I’ve been chronicling my first ever backpacking experience and you can find my first two posts here and here

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D-day had finally arrived. I was abuzz with nerves and plenty of caffeine, a hiker’s must before any adventure, but especially an overnight one I’d decided. I might have to pee a lot now, but my other system would thank me later for the pre-hike cleanout perks of drinking coffee, if you know what I mean. If I was lucky, I could escape the horrific-sounding experience of having to cart any used TP covered in you-know-what back down the mountain with me (please refer to my first post if you are unclear what I am referring to).

As I pulled into my parking space where we were meeting, I decided on a whim to do a crash-course last viewing of the videos our leaders had sent on shelter creation. This felt a bit like overkill, since their mention of the YouTube tutorials seemed like a bonus optional activity, not an essential one. The video demonstrated no less than four different ways to arrange your magic tarp, depending on whether your highest priority was shelter from wind or rain, or whether you wanted one end more open to enjoy a view. I’m more of a hands-on learner and the process seemed far too complicated for my brain to memorize so, like every wise outdoorswoman who has ever gone before me, I closed the window on my phone and decided I would “just wing it when I got there.” Surely the leaders would be setting up our church-provided shelters on site, right? We probably just needed the video knowledge “in case we felt like helping.”

After one final gear check as a team, we were ready to head up to Snoqualmie Pass where we would begin our ascent to Kendall Peak Lakes from a private backyard. The hike itself was slow-going but mostly uneventful. It took us much longer than expected to make the trek up, but we all stuck together and cheered each other on during the segments where chit chat was encouraged. Our guides paused at various points along the hike to point out the curiosities of nature, encouraging us to also spend time in silence, pondering specific questions they posed along the way. 

We were required to leave all watches and technology at the trailhead (the photo above came from a leader's watch and was provided to us AFTER the trip). So, we were at the mercy of our senses and the sun in the sky to determine how long we’d been at our trek. At what I would guess was about 3 hours in, we were only a little over half way. It became apparent to our guides that we needed to abandon our plan to wait until we reached our destination to eat our last meal before we began fasting. We pulled to the side of the path and picnicked on the trailside, filling our bellies with a lovely spread of charcuterie and crackers. Some of us honed in on the cheese, stuffing ourselves with unwholesomely large servings in hopes of keeping us good and stopped up for our night without toilets in the woods. (You’re welcome for that complimentary hiking hack).

For the majority of our climb, we trekked along a wide forest service road. Once we got high enough, we took a sharp left onto a road less traveled. I would venture to say very much less traveled. We pressed suddenly into a thick clump of trees, and I giggled to myself as I plowed through the brush, thwapping my hiking mates behind me with the branches I pushed out of the way and then released. There was really no way to maneuver the situation gracefully. Was this actually a trail? What had I been expecting? Maybe more carved wooden arrow signs that read “Kendall Peak Lakes this way?” Even without clear markings, I felt my sense of adventure sparking as I experienced the excitement of this I-think-we’re-on-the-trail-but-who-can-say-for-sure style of hiking.  

After hopping over some felled trees (surprisingly harder than you’d think when wearing a heavy backpack), and climbing a steep final hill, we reached our destination for the night, the second of the Kendall Peak Lakes. We dropped our packs and followed our fearless leaders as they led us around the area, pointing out good “campsite” options (read: patches of flat-ish, bare-ish ground, approximately the size of a human body). Again, I’m not sure what I was expecting. Perhaps a Ranger doling out papers with our last names and the date range of our planned stay to clip on our shelters? Or maybe wooden posts toting the campsite numbers? A list of campground rules and published quiet hours? But there was none of this. Just a beautiful sparkling lake, and total, unadulterated freedom. Glory!

Most everyone snagged their preferred spot right away. I practiced unnatural-for-me flexibility as I waited to see which patch of ground was still available for me to pitch a tent. Er, I mean tarp. I secretly hoped for a waterfront spot, so I took a little walk along the shoreline with one of the leaders to see if we’d missed any good options. We were about 40 yards from the rest of the group when I spotted a pile of something brown and far too large to have exited out of the backside of a dog. My eyes bulged as I pointed to it, expecting my guide to scream in horror and announce we would consequently need to pack up and relocate to a safer area. Instead, she kicked at the poop with her hiking boot as if it were a rock and then announced matter-of-factly, “It’s old.” 

She said it as if this was some form of great reassurance. I looked at her blankly and then realized I was supposed to be set at ease. “Oh okay,” I say, trying to play along and hoping the cool-as-a-cucumber vibe I was channeling was working. I realized at that moment that I personally don’t really care about the age of bear scat that I encounter in the wilderness. I don’t practice prejudice. YOU GUYS! IT WAS BEAR SCAT! It’s one thing to know there are bears in the forest. It’s another thing to KNOW there are bears in the forest. 

Now, I’ve been watching the History Channel survival show, Alone, ever since I became outdoorsy this past summer. The show chronicles contestants who are dropped off with only 10 items in the rural woods of British Columbia. Their goal is to see how long they can make it in the wilderness living off the land. The individuals encounter many terrifying forms of wildlife; one hundred percent of them come across bears. And before they run into the bear, they first observe the excrement. And people observing poop love making all sorts of comments about temperature, steaminess, moisture level etc. etc. So, as one does after watching a show like this, I have learned to be *slightly* more accommodating of the older, drier bear scats. But I couldn’t say that was the case when I was on my backpacking trip. Who knew I was to become a bear scat connoisseur? I certainly did not. Growth mindset, I tell ya what. 

Anyhow, one of the women in our group had openly expressed her terror surrounding bear encounters prior to the trip, so my leader and I agreed to keep our little scat discovery to ourselves. I managed to act about as casually as if I had just discovered that Santa Claus isn’t actually real as we marched our way back toward the others who had claimed their spots and were beginning to unpack their bags. I pasted a We’re-Fine-Everything’s-Fine smile on my face for approximately 28 seconds before I whispered through my teeth to the friend who had invited me that I’d just found bear poop. We didn’t have any time to discuss matters further because a request was made for a quick shelter-building demonstration with the tarps that had been provided to us.

One of our leaders obliged with a little coaxing (hallelujah!) but something told me a visual demo was not in the plan and that we were intended to figure out how to construct a shelter on our own. Whatever the case, I was grateful for it, and tried to absorb everything she was saying before we dispersed to our individual sites to begin our time of silence and try it for ourselves.

Some members of our group felt most comfortable setting up camp in close proximity to our guides. Others wanted a lakefront view. I was (slightly) more okay with being further away which somehow translated to my snagging the spot that was THE FURTHEST away from the rest of the group. I was either going to be the first one eaten by a bear or the last, depending on which direction he came from. But perk! Since I had no one on one side of my camp, I could easily drop my drawers toward that side when I needed to pee, mooning the empty hillside without a care in the world. There’s always a plus side! 

It probably goes without saying that I didn’t practice shelter building. I didn’t realize that I needed to. I dumped out my fancy tarp and all the silky cords that accompanied it and set to work. Immediately I realized a problem: the spikes on my hiking poles were too large to fit in the grommet holes of my tarp. I had no tent poles, the hiking poles were it. The demonstration I’d just witnessed wasn’t going to work for me. Stubborn to the core and refusing to seek help, I dug in my heels and determined I would figure this out. I dusted off the memory of the YouTube videos I had breezed through in my car before we departed. Little did I realize I should have memorized them step-by-step, that the difference between a wet and a dry sleeping bag in the AM could depend on this moment. 

One video had mentioned something about using a stick to secure the rope in the grommets. If the spike on the pole was incompatible with my tarp, maybe a stick could work? I channeled my engineer father and snapped some thick twigs into workable lengths as I MacGyvered a solution to my misfit poles. If I threaded a loop of my rope through the grommet and then inserted a stick into the loop, it would function as a stopper to keep the rope in place. Then I could loop the rope around my misfit pole a few times and use it to prop up my shelter. As long as I could get enough tension on the ropes pulling in each direction and made no sudden movements, it could work. My next trick was to figure out how to create tension on both sides of my shelter simultaneously so that I could tighten my ropes and secure the shelter. Try as I might, every time I would get one side of my shelter up, the other side would fall as I attempted to stake it in place. It seemed impossible without an extra set of hands. After what felt like the twelfth try, finally, success! Without further adieu, I'd like to introduce you to my pride and joy: my shelter!

For real though, I'm ridiculously proud of this thing. It may not seem like much but I dare you to go out in the woods and built your own shelter and then tell me you don't feel like the most empowered being that has ever walked the forest. It was only after I secured my fortress in place that I realized I’d accidentally built my shelter over a small shrubbery. Oops! I wasn’t about to retry the whole ordeal so I surrendered to sleeping that night alongside my little “indoor” bush (please see the bulging lump on the right). Good thing I'm not a perfectionist! And even better that I’m a plant lady! It’s almost fitting, actually. 

Oh, and guess what I found a mere minutes after pitching my shelter? Yep, you guess it! More bear scat, FIFTEEN FEET from my spot. 

Monday, December 12, 2022

A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E: the packing (who knew!?)


(This post is the 2nd in a series. If you haven't read the first one, it can be found here).

The morning of our adventure, I was abuzz with nerves and excitement. In the spare moments I had over breakfast, I decided to Google important tidbits like “how to pee outside for women.” Nothing like waiting until the 11th hour to educate oneself on the essentials! Taking care of one's business had always proven rather challenging for me, typically resulting in wet socks and shoes, a less than ideal situation for my overnight adventure. Someone had told me about a technique that involved leaning (or was it sitting?) up against a tree. I was having a hard time visualizing this approach and my last minute search did not result in a whole lot of appropriate videos for viewing. Oh well. Sometimes you just have to live it to learn it I guess! 

Packing for the trip had been a little mini adventure all on its own. The detailed packing list provided to us both whispered my love language and instilled a small amount of confusion and anxiety. I always thought a sleeping bag was just a sleeping bag. I learned that this was not the case when I sent a picture (above) of my sleeping bag to the friend who had invited me on the trip, just to make sure it would “work ok.” She spared me all embarrassment when she responded with a simple “I’ve got one for you” instead of laughing in my face and telling me the truth of the matter which was that mine was 7 times too large and I would look like a fool. How I’ve lived this long is truly a mystery. 

I knew it was important to pack light when backpacking but one of my most pressing questions leading up to the trip was one I'm sure many readers share: Would I be allowed to bring a pillow? The team took my query in kind and suggested that perhaps some of my clothing could double as a pillow? I didn’t bite. You can take away my tent but, as a side sleeper, a pillow is non negotiable. My daughter generously offered to let me take a small one that she had made by hand. (Spoiler alert: it worked perfectly and my neck thanked me).

With my sleeping set up out of the way, I borrowed a backpack from my sister and set to work carefully trying to fill it with all of the recommended clothing items. 

I was instructed to pack things made of materials like “polypropylene, Polartec, Synchilla, Capilene.” Honestly, they lost me at “polypropylene.” These terms sounded more like items to add to my growing allergy list than fabric types with which to clothe my body. I grew dizzy with confusion as I read the tags on my clothing and realized I owned exactly zero articles containing the desired ingredients. It appeared that my 4-H sewing education had left out a couple of important chapters on textiles that would have prepared me for my time in the outdoors. This “cheap trip” was about to become a great deal more expensive if I approached it in traditional “Kelsie style,” which is to follow the packing list exactly and purchase everything on it in the vein of “being prepared.” I knew this idea would be unpopular with both my husband and my wallet, and so I reassured myself that I could make do following the simple summary uttered by our fearless leader: “Avoid packing cotton or denim.” Insert a huge sigh of relief here. My running wardrobe would fit the bill!

I was quick to learn that in backpacking, layers were key. And you didn’t just need one or two of them. What you needed was ALL of them. So I stuffed my pack with a spectrum of polyester and spandex (read: poor woman’s polypropylene) running gear to keep me outfitted for all the weathers ranging from blazing sun to cool mornings in the shade. I almost didn’t pack a puffy coat layer because, after all, it was August! If one was considering putting me in an environment that would call for a winter coat IN THE SUMMER, one would need to think again. I wait a good and long time for the warm months and you wouldn’t find me “wasting” them anywhere that required a layer thicker than a penny. But I threw a coat in when the leaders brought up the point that we would be IN THE MOUNTAINS. Good call. I drew the line at mittens though, which I sneakily left at home because I may look like a rule follower from the outside, but occasionally I know how to live on the edge.

I even splurged on a fancy spray from REI to repel bugs that I spritzed heavily on all of my clothes beforehand. Given my recent development of severe allergies to preservatives that are too long to pronounce, it was perhaps a bit of a gamble to use a new-to-me spray on the fabrics that would be resting against my skin (the body’s largest organ!) But, details! My reactions thusfar had involved my eyes swelling shut, not full anaphylaxis, and who even needs eyesight when they are out in the wild? 

While I was able to scrounge and borrow most everything for the trip, I did make a couple of purchases, which raised by outdoorsy game by a solid 150%. You might be shocked to know that I have never owned hiking boots. Apparently I exude a heavy outdoorsy vibe, because most people are surprised to learn this. I have often been told that I should own hiking boots, but I kind of sing a line of my husband’s tune on this one: Why buy something if what you have already works good enough? My running shoes had successfully carried me on 10 mile hikes. How much did I really need boots? But if ever there was an excuse, it was now. When I went to the used sporting goods store looking for a baseball belt for my son and spotted some gorgeous, barely-used turquoise boots marked down by a couple hundred bucks, it suddenly seemed like a really good idea to own them. And bonus! They were even my size! Well, almost. Technically they were the correct size for one of my feet. My left foot would just have to deal. When one of your feet is significantly bigger than the other (thanks, pregnancy), one can’t be picky.

My boots were nice but probably my proudest backpacking purchase was a set of tiny plastic containers from the dollar store (you're welcome in advance). I don’t know how most people pack their toiletries for the wilderness (do most people pack toiletries?) but I was thrilled by the miniature organization system I came up with for my special nonallergenic sunscreen, deodorant and lotion. Watch out world! The innovation ideas within me abound. 

Now that my toiletries were squared away, there was only one last thing I had to think about: trekking poles. And I only thought about them for a half second. They were under the “optional” section of the packing list, so obviously wouldn't be necessary. I was young! And spry! I couldn’t remember the last time I’d fallen over while out walking. The truth of the matter was that being seen with walking sticks in public felt like the ultimate label of “uncool.” And though I try not to subscribe to the idea of coolness, I'm a recovering homeschooler, and this thread runs deep. So bottomline: I wouldn't be bringing any poles on the trek. I tried to fly under the radar in hopes my secret would go unnoticed, but it was forced out of me at our last meeting, when each participant was asked directly if they had poles. My friend graciously offered to let me borrow one of her sets, and when I learned that even the cool kids on the trip (read: EVERYONE) would be bringing poles, I sheepishly agreed. And it was a really good thing too, as I would soon learn...

Monday, November 21, 2022

A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E, the prelude

Adventure was the thing I’d been missing.

I wasn’t aware of the void until I filled it, the relief flooding through me like an itch finally scratched. 

I was kind of tricked into the trip, if I’m honest. A newer friend who I admire immensely sent me a personal text of invitation: “Want to do this with me? No pressure, but I’ve already signed up and I would love it if you were there too.” 

I wouldn’t have even entertained the idea for more than a half of a second, had it not been for her. I’d always been a tiny bit curious about backpacking, but my insecurities, and the fact that I owned zero outdoor gear, kept me from thinking about ever making a trek a reality. 

I don’t have a backpack.

I don’t even own hiking boots.

I have IBS. 

I don’t really do the whole no bathroom thing.

“I have all the gear,” she told me, “and you can share my tent.”

I don’t know what was in my water that day, but after a two second conversation with my husband and $30 later, I was signed up for a 36 hour backpacking trip for moms. I guess it was the hidden away part of me that longs to live a little on the edge, finally surfacing to see the light of day. My sense of adventure was making a comeback, poking its way out of the piles motherhood stacked over it. I wanted to live a little more wild. Provided I could plan for it. A reserved thrill seeker of sorts. 

As a kid, I always loved roller coasters. I went for the drop waterslides, the rides at the fair where they harness you in a contraption and pull you up to the top of a tower only to release you into a free fall until you soar through the air like Superman. I sought out heights and jumped off cliffs into lakes. I went to Brazil twice in high school, staying at a remote and bare-bones summer camp where we encountered a tarantula in our makeshift outdoor shower. At the end of my junior year in college, I traveled alone to Peru to meet a group of perfect strangers from Iowa and spent a month with them studying abroad. I wasn’t one to shy away from the wild. Though I was cautious, the wild lit something in me. 

This backpacking trip was to be led by our pastor’s wife and her daughter. A fun girls weekend of sorts, I thought. I pictured gathering around a campfire, clinking mugs filled with wine that we’d squeezed into our packs, toasting s’mores and giggling late into the night. In reality, the trip was an entirely different adventure, not at all what I expected, and yet there is nothing about it I would change. We met “together” three or four times on Zoom before the weekend of our trek. At each meeting, I learned a new piece of information that might have caused me to not sign up, had I known it from the get-go. Perhaps this was a well thought out strategy? Lock the buyer in before they see the fine print! Or maybe it was just perfectly orchestrated happenstance. Whatever the case, it worked! The first change in my mental plan was learning that there would be no tent-sharing, which had been the initial carrot that enticed me. The purpose of the trip was to spend time in solitude and prayer, and giggling side by side in sleeping bags would (theoretically) get in the way of that. Even though I missed the memo about the solitude when I registered, I’m an introvert always looking for alone time, so this was a fairly easy adjustment.

The new tidbit of information I gleaned from the second meeting was a bit tougher for me to swallow. Not only would we be in solitude, but we would also be fasting. I had fasted from specific food items or food groups for short seasons before, but the only time I had ever completely fasted from food was for a few hours leading up to a blood draw. And these periods of fasting usually took place overnight. I only had to make it until 9 AM when the lab was sent off before I could drink my coffee and have a bite. The fasting on this hike was much more intimidating. We would be allowed to snack on the way up the mountain and we would enjoy a picnic together too. But once we arrived at camp, there would be no more eating. We were warned that any snacks left in our packs would be a magnet for animals, so sneaking anything would not be a viable option (ok fine, I’m a rule-follower and could never cheat like this anyway…) Daydreaming of cheating aside, I was suddenly acutely aware of an unrealized fear of going to bed with an empty stomach. In my life of immense privilege, this was not something I often experienced. And it felt next-level intimidating to go without food on top of a mountain. I tried not to let my superficial fears show as I smiled and pretended on-screen that this new knowledge wasn’t causing me to seriously reconsider whether I wanted to do this anymore.

We were encouraged to practice fasting before the trip, both from screens and electronics, and from food. It became painfully obvious how little I wanted to go without these vices, as evidenced by my minimal willingness to practice any more than I had to. Embarrassingly, I fasted for one headache-filled day before the trip and called it good.

The last (and perhaps greatest though they all seem rather significant) surprise was learning that we would not actually be spending the night enclosed in the illusion of safety also known as a tent. Rather, we would be in an open-air fancy REI tarp shelter THAT WE WOULD HAVE TO BUILD OURSELVES. My mind proved incapable of picturing such a setup so I avoided spending even an ounce of time on the subject, trusting that we would be instructed on how to go about this once we arrived in the wild.  

At our final meeting, when the discussion moved to digging a latrine toilet and having to TAKE HOME any used toilet paper or feminine products in a ziplock bag, I began laughing as a protective mechanism. This girl has been on many-a-hike but apparently she lives under a rock. I had never encountered a situation in my short 38 years where it would be required that I place feces-covered paper products BACK IN A BACKPACK ALONG WITH MY CLOTHES AND MY TOOTHBRUSH. Honestly the thought had plain never occurred to me. The scales were coming off my eyes in a real hurry.

One of my fellow adventurers next brought up the topic of bears and I pinched myself when I realized I was zero percent fazed. I almost welcomed an encounter with a bear or something large and from the feline family over going without food and bagging my waste like a mother in the pediatrician’s office forced to return a poopy diaper to her purse because the sign says it can’t be disposed of there. 

But I digress. ;) All this to say, the mental picture I’d built of this “mom’s weekend away” was shifting rapidly into something else entirely. That said, though I had (a large handful of) fears and reservations, something in me felt drawn toward the ruggedness I was now picturing. I kind of wanted to do something hard and get out of my comfort zone. Check and check! Is that not more or less the bare-bones definition of the word adventure? 

I just Googled it and I’m not far off. Oxford says that to adventure is to “engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.” I love that the word hazardous is in there!

Had the trip been led by anyone else, I might have reconsidered, but I adored the two ladies who were guiding us and trusted that they knew what they were doing and that the experience they facilitated was going to be worth it. 

And it was. 

(To be continued...)

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Holy smoke


This week, when my small region of the globe officially took the lead as having THE WORST AIR QUALITY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, seems like a great time to do a check-in on mental health. 

Holy smoke (pun intended) - I lost it yesterday. I don’t know what came over me exactly, but I found myself suddenly crying, a spontaneous and unexpected onslaught of tears. I felt like I needed to hug someone or talk to someone or be with someone with an intensity I have never experienced. I was equal parts lonely and sad and I just couldn’t deal with being cooped up any longer. 

With such poor air quality outside, I found myself locked indoors, without the option of running off my angst (a guaranteed endorphin boost), or sinking my gloved hands in the earth, my other tried-and-true mood lifter. While I, like the rest of my region, is thirsting for rain to water the earth and put out all the wildfires that are smoking out our beautiful air, I could not handle the weather forecast before me: rain, every day, for as long as my phone was capable of predicting. We need rain. The earth needs a good soak. But endless moisture? Exchanging the darkness of smoke for the darkness of clouds? I lacked the ability at that moment to cope.

It goes without saying that I take the shift from summer to fall a lot harder than most. I love the changing seasons and a clear fall day in the Seattle area is pretty hard to beat, but the dropping temperature brings about a significant shift in how I spend my days. And it gets me every time, and fills me with dread. I go from spending hours outside in the garden to sitting inside and looking out upon the yard in which I toiled, watching it move toward a winter slumber. I transition from making regular bouquets and playing with flowers, to anticipating what the next growing season might bring. Floral requests come to a screeching halt, and its effects are jolting, as sudden as the first frost. Though I am learning to shift my focus toward growing things indoors (pictured above), I miss being outside in the typically-fresh air. 

Midway into the summer, I shared candidly about my struggles with overthinking. And then I almost instantly regretted it, a classic case of vulnerability hangover. If I lost readers, I’ll never know, but what I do know is that many of you so gently reached out to encourage and share your own experiences. This was so powerful. Even though these past few weeks of accumulating smoke are taking a toll on me (hello, sudden eruption of tears yesterday), I actually have been doing relatively well and wanted to share a few celebrations.

I don’t know who might need to read these words this week, but I’ve learned that when I’m feeling something, someone else usually is too. So I wanted to write a little update, in hopes it’s just the snippet of encouragement your ears might need. Since writing that post in July, I have made a whole lot of changes. I started with a new therapist. I changed psychiatrists, in hopes of finding a medication that worked better for me. I started a new medication. I am also changing to a new primary care doctor, as well as seeing an OB GYN who specializes in women’s hormones. I’m doing short, regular runs (minus during this smokiest of weeks, which brings us full circle yet again to that sudden eruption of tears..are we sensing a pattern?) 

While I might not recommend making ALL the changes all at once, I will say that making these moves has been so beneficial for me. I worried about how hard it would be to start with a new therapist and tell my story all over again. This barrier has kept me from making an arguably needed switch for years. In reality, this was almost a nonissue and my new therapist has equipped me with tools and a new angle for addressing my thought life. We have been able to jump in and get to work almost immediately, combating some common unhelpful thinking patterns. The other day I had an intrusive thought pop up and I actually told my husband that I would need to pause life for about five minutes but that I would be mentally present again shortly. While sitting with him at the lunch table, I pulled out my therapy notebook and worked through the problematic thought and was able to reframe it all on my own, before I informed my husband that life could once again proceed. :) A longer term goal perhaps might be that I am able to address these unhelpful thought patterns without pausing life and jotting things down in my notebook, but hey, progress is progress and I’m thrilled. 

Changing to a new psychiatrist has also been so helpful in bringing a fresh perspective. She has asked really great questions that have helped me identify my root challenge. Is it depression? Or OCD/anxiety? It’s kind of like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg, because they are both so interwoven. But determining that intrusive thoughts are my primary challenge (which has led to depression because it’s so dang exhausting to deal with intrusive thoughts all the time), has helped us choose a medication that better treats the symptoms I’m experiencing. She restarted me on the medication that helped me when I was in 8th grade, and, not surprisingly, I’m having positive results once again. 

There’s so much more I could say but in the interest of time, I’ll try and wrap it up here. I would be lying if I said it was easy making the changes I listed above. It took so much mental energy and time to find new providers that both accepted my insurance and who were a good fit for me. It felt like nothing short of a totally unfulfilling way to spend my kids-in-school hours in the short term. But in the long run? That effort is paying off. Movement is movement, and hopefully eventually it will be in the forwards direction.

I also want to say that if you too are looking at the weather forecast and getting that sinking feeling in your gut, I get it 100%. At the recommendation of my doctor, I dusted off my therapy light last night and you’d better believe you’ll be finding me puzzling in front of it in the early hours of the morning as I drink my coffee and tune into my favorite podcasts. It’s a win-win, really: I get to sit still and do something I love for a full 30 minutes. Every day. Doctor’s orders! (I’m pretty sure your doctor would recommend it too). ;)

Lastly, I’ll share this tidbit that my doctor shared with me: sometimes as humans, we just have blue days. When we struggle with things like anxiety or depression, we tend to hyperfocus on categorizing how everything in our lives fits into those diagnoses. But sometimes we might be blue because we haven’t connected with friends in a while. Or because it’s smokey outside. Or because we are spending so much time doing active work in therapy and we just need a little bit of time sharing our feelings. We might need some downtime. Sometimes it could be hormones. Blue days happen. But so do days filled with sunshine.

Until then,


Monday, October 17, 2022

Mr. Crozier

I’ve often written about the challenges in our relationship. Today I want to jot down some of the perks. Living with Mr. Crozier is surely one of life’s finest adventures!  

I love this man who will don a makeshift beekeeper outfit to save me and my bare feet from the yellow jackets that have established residence in our yard. I love this man who will take a bite of the miniature Dutch Babies I made this morning for breakfast and try to hide the fact that the look of horror on his face was indeed in response to the taste of my baking (they basked in a VERY smoky oven and absorbed all the flavors of smoldering).

I love this man who can belt three part harmony while rocking out on an electric guitar.

I love this man who goes along with all my flower whims and buys me a new one when I declare that I would like a “treat.” I love this man who goes swimming in the lake in October, who tells the truth, who rocks my twenty-two-year-old-stolen-and-recovered Honda and parks it at work amidst the Teslas of his colleagues.

I love this man who gets out and runs the pre-game soccer drills to get the boys warmed up when the coach is running late. And who can blow that hand whistle like a boss when he plays referee. 

I think it goes without saying that I love this man who is for sure the hottest dog I've ever seen.

All antics aside, one of my favorite parts of the past 18 months has been watching this man that I love take in the offspring of strangers and welcome them into our roost. I love seeing him snuggle and rock and read to and teach these sweet kids who are innocent bystanders in chaotic situations. I love that this man volunteers with Strong Families, serves at church and then works in a caring profession and still wonders if he is doing enough. 

We've done a lot of work, endured a few growing pains, Mr. Crozier and I. I've been struck lately by the sacredness of the covenant we made as we were declared husband and wife. In good times and bad. When we show our worst sides and our best. When we are easy to live with and difficult. When we are in hysterics from laughing or pure frustration. Praise Jesus that we didn't quit when times were tough.

Mr Crozier, it's a joy and an honor to be your misses. Thank you for loving God and loving me. You just get better with age.