A turning point.

I’m on version three…maybe four of this post. With so much going on, I honestly don’t know where to start. There’s continued concern about the pandemic, piled on top of COVID burnout. A fear of loved ones falling ill, the economic ramifications — to our economy as a whole, and to our families, our communities, here at home. As our anxiety and stress ramps up, Zoom happy hours trail off, and the “new normal” starts to take hold. Of course, no one really knows what that means.

And then we’re hit with another awful reality. The video and images out of Minneapolis…of George Floyd pinned down, begging for the right to breathe. The lessons, I feel, are coming at us from all sides. At first, they were whispers: “Pssst…do you see what’s happening overseas? A mysterious illness. What will you value? What will take precedent?”

Then the whispers grew louder: “You’re not listening, so the tough decisions will be made for you. You’ve got to dig deeper to remember, to understand what matters. This is bigger than you.”

Then the screams: “We will come together or be further divided. You see the inequities with your own eyes. Will you still ignore it? Will you scrounge at the bottom of the barrel for a reason to turn away? Will you blame the looters and point to the riots…cast aside the ugly truth beneath it all? The choice is yours — and the decisions you make, the actions you take, the words you deliver — they matter now, more than ever. What will you do…”

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This life is full of choices.

I don’t know about you, but managing my emotions — especially over the past week or two — it’s pretty much been a sh**show. I mean, really, I’m all over the board. Totally in control one minute. Grateful. Hopeful. Dreaming of what’s next. And then – BAM – concern, worry, even negativity creeps in. I find my eyes drilling a hole in the back of my husband’s head as he shovels chips in his mouth and crunches down with the force of a jack hammer. I shiver and walk in the other room – willing myself to “stay calm and carry on” (now realizing I just uttered a phrase that annoys me more than the crunch-fest I’m positive I can still hear from across the house).

Then I remember, this is the husband who just built a beautiful, raised cedar garden for a good friend’s mother. And did it with a smile on his face. He empties the dishwasher every day (a chore that – since childhood – has been the bane of my existence). This is the man who chuckles and slows down his chewing when he senses I’m teetering on the edge. And just like that, I’m grateful again.

Taking stock.

Yesterday, I sat back and took stock of what’s happening all around me — all around us. I was feeling content after time with family (we’re safe and have been together throughout the pandemic – so no need for concern). But days earlier, I’d been feeling out of sorts. Really anxious and frustrated. There were legitimate reasons that could’ve landed me there, but as I stripped away the obvious and looked deeper for the truth, I got it. It hit me. 

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Eliminate the guilt. You’re doing your best.

God, it’s such a weird time, isn’t it? Most of the world is under a ‘stay at home’ order. Normal routines have been tossed to the wind — in a mandated sort of way. And we’re all left feeling a bit — I don’t know — out of sorts. 

For the first time in (who knows) decades, maybe far longer, we’re in something together. We have a common purpose. Preserving life is taking precedence. It doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned about our livelihoods, the world economy, how to pay the bills. We are. But it’s #2 on the list. Maybe further down. Our common enemy, COVID-19, is tearing through our cities and countries, like an invisible wave. It lurks around corners and hides in unknown places. In some cases, it finds us. Or it finds a loved one. At its worst, it takes someone from us. In the blink of an eye, EVERYTHING has changed.

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17 years ago.

The annual message came early. Via text. They’re almost always texts these days.

11:56 pm

“17 years ago.”

The next came at 3:02 am.

I heard the alert. It didn’t wake me. I was already up.

“I can’t believe it.”

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So tomorrow will be different, today I’ll be brave.

I fell asleep at 9:00 pm last night. Ten years ago, maybe fifteen if I’m honest, I would’ve laughed at the thought. But these days, I need my sleep. I need to do what I can to shake off the week; recharge and forget some of the nonsense I’ve continued to allow.

It’s 1:30 in the morning now. I’ve been up since before 1:00. There’s no sign I’ll be back to sleep again anytime soon. It’s an all too familiar dance, really. But tonight, instead of turning on Forensic Files and hoping the narrator’s monotone voice will drown out those swirling in my head, I opened my computer. I came here to talk to you.

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What’s a day without a sister?

I’m afraid that’s a question I can’t answer. I haven’t lived a day without one.

Being the younger one in my sibling crew, I was born into the role — the little sister. But Kim wasn’t. She had a few years of full on only child time before I arrived. I often wonder what she was thinking. For years, she was the full recipient of parental love. And then, BAM, this tiny little pain in the ass arrived.

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With tragedy, comes great clarity.

Writer’s note: This post is a stream of consciousness. It’s a window into life before, during and what we’re left with after Harvey charged through, and then parked his butt over the Texas gulf coast.

The past week, or week-and-a-half (what day is it?) has been surreal, to say the least. And before I get into the details, let me first say that my family was extremely lucky to have weathered the storm without injury or damage to our collective homes. When I say lucky, I mean LUCKY. Go one mile, one block or even one house in any direction and you will find families that were not spared.

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