Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Testosterone Triangle

A modern comic tells of his family situation by describing the environment in which he  lives. he says, "In my house there's my two daughters and my wife and I. Next door there's my sister-in-law and my three nieces. Between My girls, my wife's family and frequent visits from my mother-in-law...I live knee deep in the estrogen ocean."
He talks about the hair care products, the multiple lotions, perfumes and polishes. He rants and raves about the clothing, accessories, and hormones that fly around him constantly. I laugh every time I hear him tell about it because I remember growing up with my sisters, friends and cousins ;all of us knee deep in the estrogen ocean. The difference was we were acclimated.
Now, as the only female in a house full of men, I find myself lost in the testosterone triangle.
It is a group of highly dangerous, complicated and nonsensical islands that bring down sane, rational, normal women from every walk of life.
The major islands in this destructive chain are named: socially inappropriate body noises, the 'nothing box', short term thinking, and short circuited brain function.
Between my husband's 'white board' mentality. In his words his brain is a white board. Everything is written down on it, considered for quantity of importance and then wiped clean of everything that doesn't matter. This boils down to what things cost. How much effort is involved. What temperature the environment is and whether or not it will cause confusion for females traveling in the triangle.
Take this mind-set and combine it with boys who #1 know everything. #2 are never wrong and #3 will do it again, stir in a little hormonal imbalance, a touch of immortality and a dash of inflated self importance, and you live in the Testosterone triangle as well.
Its fraught with backward logic...i.e. "Well if I told you i wrecked the car you'd kill me. If you found out about it from someone else, the only person who gets hurt is you.
Its a tangled obstacle course of silence, 'read my mind' don't ask me questions, and What do you mean I can't choose my consequences?
As the only woman, deep in the testosterone triangle, I also get the benefit of awkward attempts at charm, flirtation and sweetness before they go out into the world and try them on 'real girls'. I take my little boys, feed them, clothe them, potty-train them , bandage their scraped knees, wipe away their tears only to have them shut me out, roll their eyes and reduce their vocabulary to 'whatever', while I try to navigate   their world during their ascension  to becoming men.
When they're gone and the shipwrecks of dirty laundry, dirty mouths and dirty bathrooms along with the plane crashes  of broken hearts, totaled friendships and shattered confidence, lie as a pile in the wreckage of my memory, I'll look back with fondness as they become a safe harbor for their little ones and the port of call for the lucky girl they marry.
Then I'll go back to 'the triangle', cry in their rooms and thank my Father-In-Heaven He gave me the chance to crash into their world for a little while.
I Love you boys!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Keep Up!

In the years before we moved to the little town where we now live, my family lived in downtown St. George, Utah. At the time, St. George was about 60,000 people. There was a bus system, taxi cabs, and of course plenty of sidewalks. Good news for a blind person.
When my kids were younger, we explored and entertained ourselves by riding the bus, walking and riding bikes and scooters all over town. I had limited sight then and used my ears to keep track of the boys vs the traffic. We had great fun and adventures together, traveling miles and miles all over town. We picnicked, played in parks, swam and fed the ducks. My kidneys were failing and my diabetes had to be controlled so I was exhausted, but it was a blast.
A few years ago when I shattered my kneecap, those days ended. I could no longer run, scooter or walk very far without horrible pain. The form of exercise I'd always used to stay healthy, in shape and active was gone. The physical therapist told me the best way to keep from becoming unable to walk at all was to keep my knee strong. The knee cap was gone but the muscles in my legs would support my weight and I could keep going as long as my legs held out. I went from walking miles every single day to steps, streets, blocks and eventually working my way back to a few miles. Downhill was a struggle, as my knee couldn't hold my weight. Uphill was also tough, but I figured out how to lift with my good leg and just support my weight for a second with the other.
The pain was the hardest part. Every step felt like someone had driven a knife into my leg and eventually I couldn't walk on it.
This new part of my life brought on new challenges I'd never faced before. I didn't know if I could keep up with my kids, keep up with all I had to do when walking was my only form of transportation, or just keep up my strength.
One day as I struggled down the sidewalk with my youngest, half limping, half walking to get him to his soccer game on time, I started to cry. How was I supposed to function as a mom, a wife, a daughter of God when I couldn't even walk anymore? As I struggled onward, each step painful and slow,  I cried away my frustration with every step until I collapsed on the sidelines of the soccer field. The pain eased, the tears stopped and the soccer game went forward.
Yes, we were a minute or so late. My son cheered with the rest of the team and got on the field a few minutes later. I stretched my leg, rested, and gulped water like I was dying, but it eased until I could walk to the bleachers.
It was at that point, I realized. I'm never again going to ride scooters, run, or walk miles and miles with my boys. I'll never play co-ed softball with my husband or dance like I did when I was in New York.
I will however, keep up. God gave me the strength, the tenacity and the sheer stubbornness to do what ever had to be done. Isn't that what every one of us hopes for? The strength, and tenacity to keep going?
For some people its to keep up with their kids. For others its just to keep themselves out of jail, off the ground, or close to The Lord.
It doesn't matter what bone, or muscle, or body part is missing. It only matters that you have everything you need.
Everything to love, laugh,  and go one more moment further.
I still ride the bus, walk, limp often, and skip some activities. I don't however let what doesn't work determine how happy, loved, or lucky I am. It could be a whole lot worse.
When keeping up with the neighbors, or the other moms, or with anyone else, becomes more important than doing what you can and being happy about it, then you're not keeping up.
God loves you. He has given you all the strength, wisdom and comfort any of us will ever need. More than we can handle if we look around and see how blessed we are. So , the truth is...What else is there to try to keep up with?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Edge Of The Light

I've learned the lessons of light and darkness over the last 20 years. As I went from sighted, to visually impaired and finally, totally blind, my faith in God and the people around me has grown. A few small steps at first, but by leaps and bounds as I trusted, walked, fell and found my self in His loving arms. I first learned this lesson though, when I was 20 years old.
As  a college sophomore, spring break, held the promise of parties, guys and fun for a week. For the college it was not during the school's break, it was during the high school's. My roommates and I still had to go to class, our on-campus jobs and labs. At night though, the pull of the music and the crowds couldn't be ignored.
In the parking lot of a grocery store a block away from our apartment, there was a crane set up for bungee jumping. It was at least fifty feet in the air and held a spot light on the platform from where kids would jump.
I'd seen it before, I'd watched other  people screaming from the top, plunging into the darkness, only to come up laughing.
One night my roommates and I decided we'd jump. A friend of ours was working the crane and he told us he'd give us one jump for free.
Climbing up the the light at the top of the platform wasn't nerve wracking at all. Our friend was at the top. He was charming, funny, and totally confident. He rigged us all into harnesses, explained what would happen, and warned us to relax and not stiffen during the fall.
We huddled around him and the light as the people in front of us took their turns. One girl was hysterical and had to be lowered down. Most looked either a little impaired or just plain crazy. When it was my turn, I left the circle of light where my friends stood and walked forward on the platform. Chris hooked up my harness, tested the connections and stepped back with a grin.
"Okay, trace, walk to the edge and then just step off."
Easy enough, I remember thinking. Just walk to the edge of the light and then take a few steps into the darkness.This didn't sound deep and profound to me in that moment. I was psyching my self up to jump. Taking those first few steps was terrifying. It was pitch black below. I could hear the people on the ground laughing and talking. I could hear Chris and my roommates behind me. All I could think...Take a step into the darkness.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and walked off the edge.
The drop was a thrill, a terror, and the most fun I had that spring break. I flew for about 3 seconds, got my shoulders wrenched on the landing and never felt more free than during that three second fall.
It was years later when I'd lost my eyesight that the memory of that night came back to me. The feeling of absolute terror before I took the step into the darkness and the adrenaline soaked moments of the fall following.
As more falling moments approached me, I always pulled up the memory of the bungee jump and reminded myself. No matter how frightened I was, I wouldn't give up the ride to stay safe back on the ground. My harness in life, is my Savior. I expect to fall, its part of the ride. I also expect Him to catch me at the bottom, and He always does. Sometimes I wrench my shoulder as He stops me from crashing. Sometimes I end up with broken bones, surgeries and minor injuries, but He always catches me. I never worry about hitting the ground at the bottom, sometimes I never even fall. No matter what happens when I step out though, He is always with me. In His arms I'm always safe and I love the ride.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


This past weekend, I had a good friend, who took care of me. Perhaps she got tired of looking at my plain, unadorned face. Maybe my mop of brown hair made her want to pull it all out. For whatever reason, she straightened the rebellious curl out and taught me what make-up was for and how to apply it.
It was a lot of fun. I haven't had someone do that for me since I first lost my sight and my sisters tried to help by doing my makeup every day. 20 years without seeing your own face has definite benefits.
The last picture I have in my head of myself was from when I was in my early twenties. Imagine if your mirror worked that way and every time you looked in the mirror, all you saw was the twenty-year-old you used to be. Awesome! Its one of my favorite things about being blind. Everyone, including myself, look like they're in their twenties. They also look like movie stars and supermodels. What a beautiful place the world is!
Logically and sensibly, I know this isn't true. I know I don't have beautiful green eyes, long dark, pretty hair and high cheek bones. Without the mirror's reflection to tell me I'm wrong though...its easy to pretend.
So here's the down fall. If you ever see me, you get just me. No glamour, no style, no hiding of my flaws. Without a reflection to tell me what needs to be different, the flaws and scars and marks are written all over my face.
Worse than the absence of a mirror to look in, is the absence of self reflection.
In our own eyes...we're super models and movie stars, internally though, we feel like bag ladies and street bums. Our spiritual 'make-up' is a physical mask of denial. We're so afraid of the truth beneath the mask, that in all reality we're covering up a road map leading to purity and success.
If the reflection you see haunts you even when your physical appearance is gorgeous. Take off the make-up and uncover the parts of you that would be perfect if you allow The Savior to fill them in.
The cover-up is an illusion of beauty. True glamour is in the loving of others, your self and Him. If you do that, than who ever sees you without your mask doesn't matter. In His reflection you're perfect.