“After you.” 

I said that, in all it’s various forms-including: “No, go ahead.” and “No, Really. You first.” Approximately 6.3 million times during MOPS International Convention.  It wasn’t because I am nice. (I’m not. But, I try. Sometimes. And, it certainly wasn’t at the doors before general sessions. (I have been around long enough to know to duck and cover when those doors swing wide. Imagine a stampede of 2000 moms unencumbered by strollers or diaper bags… they. can. run. You over. No need to let them by- they pass you by. Those mommas are on a mission.)

Nope- mostly it was at the top and bottom of escalators, at the convention center.

My neck brace caused an inability to see both my feet and the escalator’s steps at the same time unless I leaned foreword  far enough for gravity to take over my body like an alien and propel me headfirst towards the escalator’s always moving, metallic, maw of death. Which sounds even less terrorizing than it was.

One.

Two.

Three (or more) steps would roll by. Shining and toothy as a shark’s teeth, as I tried to time my step. Just. Right.

One.

Two.

Three moms would go past, as I tried to play off my fear as politeness, maybe even humility. “You first.”

Which really meant:”I’m totally gonna try and to follow you so I don’t fall and  lose digits or end up with a shark-like escalator chomp out of my face. So go ahead… you first. I’m right behind you- possibly holding onto your tote bag”

Which was kind of a workable plan-except, it was still hard to go ahead and take that step. The one from the stable platform to the moving escalator. Even when I was following right behind a totally confident and capable escalator operator. (AKA: a mom- but “escalator operator” sounded considerably more official and sesame street like- so I’m leaving it’s irrelevant self right there.) Side note: Women don’t like you grabbing their tote bags and dragging them backwards on an escalator cause you’re rooted in fear…probably. I mean, I’m assuming.

The thing is- I could SEE where I was going- the top or bottom of the escalator was in my line of view, even with the neck brace of doom. I also knew I was right there on the edge- in the right place heading the right direction. I just couldn’t be sure I was taking the right step at the right time.

It paralyzed me.

I didn’t miss anything due to elevator angst. The paralysis only felt like it lasted forever. It actually just lasted until I’d built up a nice cushion of moms both before and aft- that I imagined would catch me if I fell, and lift me up over their heads to invent some cool new escalator crowd surfing thing that could either: A) Kill me or B) Make me internet famous. (Which would also probably kill me.  The internet has trolls, they  are killers and do not stay under bridges. You’ve been warned.)

What’s the point? (Other than I’m experiencing post- MOPS Convention exhaustion that could be affecting my writing today? (Shh I know what you’re thinking… what was last weeks excuse? Or next weeks? No worries, I’m working on a list …)

The point is- sometimes you have to take the next step. Even if you can’t see your feet and fear being eaten by an escalator. (Please note: the longer you entertain fear- the bigger it’s nightmare like story gets… we’ve moved from few of losing digits to internet trolls to being digested by machinery….)

Or, not.

You could stand there on the edge, watching the steps go by. Watching others pass, while you look very polite, but never get anywhere.

I vote you give it a try. Even in my broken, messed up  and neck braced condition- I managed to make it to my sessions- and meetings. Most of them even on time.

I’m pretty sure that as long as you’re going in the right direction and keep yourself surrounded by others moving in the right direction…….you’ll get where you’re headed. Either way- if you do take a tumble, you’ll  be caught by those who surround you. (The terms “Caught” and “land on,”  are pretty much synonymous here.)

But, I’ll warn you- it probably won’t be quite as cool as crowd surfing. Trust me. As a leader, wife, woman  and a mom, I’ve taken plenty of falls while heading in the right direction….the key is the cushion….and the fact that elevators have a tendency to keep moving even if you fall down on one. Once you land- you still be moving in the right direction.

Which I kind of think works the same in faith and life journeys…..God’s sovereignty keeps moving us forward even when we crash.

Psalm 37 (read the whole thing, it pretty much rocks- even if you don’t have anyone persecuting you.)

The Lord makes firm the steps 
    of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, 
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

So….what’s your next step? A spot in leadership that needs you to step in? A phone call you need to make? A question to ask?  A project to finish? A dream to follow?

Not sure?

What direction are you heading in? Is your phase of mothering changing? Are you starting to think it might be necessary to step into the workplace to make ends meet, fulfill a call, or meet some goals? Do you want to walk closer to/with God?

You don’t have to be like me standing at the top of the escalator paralyzed with fear of taking the wrong step…. the truth is…steps will keep rolling up and moving on…. God knows that we (I) often need time to catch (or hold) our breath before we can make the next move. I think He gives us plenty of opportunities. He’s awesome like that.

If I had a body part that wasn’t hurting or exhausted it must be one that I’ve never heard of- even on House M.D.  My neck arms and shoulders hurt from craning my neck to make eye contact during meetings…my feet were a blistered mess (because I don’t have enough sense to pack only shoes I know to be reliably comfortable- for Convention. (After 20 Years- you’d think I’d have a clue…but I’m slow. Actually, I suffer from SVD Shoe Vanity Disorder- Whatever. My legs hurt from running through the airport dragging an over-weight suitcase, laptop and purse. My hair hurt from the humidity. Even my smile was exhausted. All I could think was: Room. Bed. Now. As I pushed the elevator button. (Approximately 13,000 times because- repeated pushing of the button always makes the elevator arrive faster. (Hint: it doesn’t. Elevators are card carrying passive aggressives- you push that button after the light is on?  You’re gonna be searching for stairs. Just saying.)

When the doors finally  opened I dragged myself and my always-too -full -of -stuff -because- I -may- need -it -but never do- bag onto the elevator. Turning to face forward, took what was left of my energy. I was relieved to be in the elevator- alone. Sometimes you use need a minute to be, and maybe to- breathe.. know what I mean? I claimed the elevator space in the name of Tracey- with a huge sigh, then I pushed the button for my floor and mentally willed the doors to close.

Which is when I noticed (more…)

Everyday I hear about people preparing for the Zombie apocalypse. They hoard food. They hoard gold. They hoard weapons and write books about Zombie apocalypse preparedness. These people are intense in either a fear of, or love for, zombies. (At least that’s what I read on the internet….)

I think the fear is misplaced. They are preparing for the wrong apocalypse.  I doubt the dead will rise and suddenly decide that human brains are a delicacy. (Although people DO eat sushi and sweetbreads…so- it could happen…)  But, still. We ought to be more concerned about the Mom-bie apocalypse.

I know this because they already walk among us.

I’ve met one.

I’m not sure what did it. Maybe it was the pallor of her skin, or her disheveled hair (that really needed a washing and a trim) that gave her away. But once I took in the full picture- complete with  suspiciously stained clothes, bloodshot eyes and a gait that was one part shuffle one part limp- arms holding a bundle so close to it’s chest that they appeared to be unable to move from that position- I knew it was true.

I was face to face with a Mom-bie. (more…)

“So…. can I run?” I asked hopefully.

“Well, you seem to be having trouble walking..” Replied the orthopedic specialist.

“But, I need to exercise.  I’m trying to lose weight. I just got into a good habit.. I don’t want to have to start all over.” I argued .

“There are other exercises you could do. Biking and swimming don’t result in  running injuries.” He countered. “You can do what you can tolerate. We’ll schedule an MRI, and go from there. It could be a stress fracture, internal knee derangement, tendonitis or pes bursitis. Wear the immobilizer or don’t, whatever feels better. Do you want a prescription for pain meds?” He offered.

“No, I should be fine. “ I replied. I was convinced the pain would be gone, soon.  I’ve had sprains and tendonitis before.  I can handle it.  I thought.

I was wrong. Very wrong. almost 2 weeks and an MRI later, the pain is no better.  I walk like zombie. I lurch and heave and swing and wobble.  Every step increases the pain.

I’ve been icing so much, I worry I’m turning into a popsicle. Or, maybe a blood-slushie.  I seriously feared for my life, when I went to see Eclipse.  (If any real vampires were there..a blood-slushie would have been nearly irresistible in this heat, I’m sure.) Apparently, the only vampires present were on-screen. I made it home safely.

I have purchased and tried every type of wrap/ brace I can find.  Nothing is helping.

If I sit just the right way, (which  involves pillows and elevation and just the right degree of bending…it’s a new yoga pose: The IfIdothisitdoesnthurtlikeabear pose. ) and don’t move… it is more comfortable. After a bit in this new pose,  I start to think: “Hmmm, maybe it’s getting better!” Then, I move and the pain crashes back in like a tsunami.

*Sigh.*

I am having trouble concentrating on writing projects. I’m having trouble doing the basic mom-stuff. This weekend was my son’s graduation party.. it was rough and painful and wonderful.  I am VERY thankful I had lots of help. I could NOT have pulled it off without it.  I’m having trouble keeping my sanity.

I’ve been obsessively researching the potential diagnosis.’  I’ve been obsessively reviewing my MRI. (I have it on CD and downloaded a viewer- yup- that really IS my leg in the pic.) Did you know you can see your fat on an MRI?  Gross.  My brain seems to be convinced that if I knew what was wrong, I could fix it.

My brain is confused. I’m not a doctor. Every time I read another article, I am convinced it’s something different. Every time I compare the MRI pics to those I find online… I change my mind, yet again. (Funny how radiologists and doctors go to school for years to learn to read those things.. But, I think a few hours of online research will equip me to diagnose myself…Am I the only one who does that?)

I’ve been wondering if I’m a hypochondriac. Between hurting my back, and the lame liver stuff I had last month and  this, I’m feeling like a wimpy-whiner.

I want my life back.

Once in a while, I pray.

I’m a little (maybe a lot) frustrated right now. To be honest, it’s a toss up who I’m angrier at- myself or God. Myself, because I have a bad feeling this is a nasty stress fracture and it’s my own fault for over doing the running thing… and God.. because, well.. because I believe he could heal me and isn’t.  It’s entirely possible he’s allowing this to teach me to listen to my body and not over-do.  It’s possible I’m hard headed.

Or- it’s possible there is no huge lesson in this.. and it’s simply something I just need to limp through.

One step at a time.

When I started writing “A Mile in Her Shoes” I hadn’t considered having to limp through some of those miles….But that’s for a chapter in the book, I suppose;)

Dear Lord– I don’t know what’s wrong with this stupid leg.  I do know that it’s hurting and making me crazy.  Please give the doctor wisdom  to treat it. I hate drugs Lord- you know that- so if he could put me in a splint that would relieve the pressure..and allow me to at least walk.. that would rock!  I’m worried about being able to function at MOPS Convention, and I’m worried that if I keep walking on it this bone will eventually snap right through. I’m impatient, Lord, and need to get ready for vacation this weekend. Please either heal me or help me wait… let me lean on you during this time of limping… I love you Lord– even if I’m frustrated with you right now- amen

* for the record-I am convinced I see a fracture in this MRI. and also for the record: I will be sickly thrilled if I HAVE diagnosed myself. I’m like that.

**** And now- just for fun. And because I have an essay in it… how bout we have a contest?  Who ever diagnoses my boo-boo, most accurately, including whatever the doc recommends for a treatment plan wins a copy of “Momology“.. we’ll call this a scientific application of the book….. ;P

options:

Group A (choose 1)

Stress Fracture

Pes Bursitis

Internal Derangement of the Knee

Tendonitis

Hypochondria

Some combination of the above.

Group B (choose 1)

cast

surgery

brace/splint

Physical therapy

suck it up you whiner- call a shrink.

leave your answer in the comments. I have my follow up Ortho appt Friday morning.  I’ll announce the winner then;)

Fedna, the child we sponsored for yrs with @compassion . Port... on Twitpic We met years ago, at an unlikely place  by either chance, or divine intervention. (That depends on your perspective.)

Fedna stood alone, before a plain industrial wall, in a blue uniform dress gingham check blouse and tennis shoes.  She wore matching blue butterfly barrettes, and had piercing, dark chocolate brown eyes, just the color of my oldest son’s.

I stood, in a beautiful convention center. I was dressed in my classic suburbanista style.  I wore uncomfortable (but cute)shoes, dress pants I couldn’t breathe in, and a blouse I had trouble keeping closed. (I HATE boob-gap-age, just sayin!) I stood a in a ballroom full of Mothers of Preschoolers.  We’d gathered to encourage and support each other and make a difference in the world.

Sound like two different worlds?  Wondering if this is an episode of Twilight Zone or a sci-fi movie  involving parallel universes? No.  It’s not, hang with me….this really is where we met.

MOPS International has partnered with Compassion International for years.  We offer moms an opportunity to sponsor a child, asimple and tangible way for her to help make the world a better place. I was passing out Compassion International Child Sponsorship Profiles to moms who were interested in sponsoring.  When I finished,  Fedna’s profile, was left in my hand.  I couldn’t just stick her in a pile to (hopefully) be sponsored at some later date. I took her home with me, on paper and in my heart.

Soon, I started receiving amazing letters written in her childish script and translated to english by a caring helper. She told me she was praying for my family, asked questions about what kinds of things we liked and told us how glad she was to be sponsored.

I could never reply.

I didn’t know what to say. What do you say to a child struggling to eat when you spend more on your hobbies or coffee in a month, than her family makes in a year?

I hate that I didn’t write. I wish I would have.  I wonder if my letters would have meant as much to her as hers did to me?   If nothing else, she would have known that someone cared.

We did. We still do. Click to read more (more…)

Words will be coming soon about my convention experience for now- a photo that sums it up:

not alone

not alone

I stood in the grocey aisle at Target, contemplating cereal options, when I heard THAT SOUND.  The tiny in volume (but so loud to a mom’s ears) *choke, cough, cough, gurgle.spew.” 

I turned to look. (it’s a mom thing, I can’t help it.) There, between milk and eggs, was a red cart loaded with diapers, juice and necessities.  In the front rode a tiny, pink cheeked diva, complete with leopard print coat. 

She was smiling.  Her mom was not.  Her mom’s ponytailed head darted from side to side- while her grimace and out-stretched, cupped hands said it all.  The baby had spit up and she’d caught it.  Literally.

Unfortunately- also like most moms, she then had no idea what to do with “it”.  I grabbed the paper towel roll out of my cart and ran over, ripping it open as I went. (I paid for it when I left:P)

Relief washed over her face.  I smiled.  “Been there, caught that.”  The baby smiled.  She cooed. Mommy cleaned herself up and we laughed that “we’re in this together” kind of laugh. I held my hands out to take the papertowels. (of course- again: I couldn’t help it!) She said she had it.  

“Are you ok?  You need anything else?” I asked.  

“No- Thanks.. All I could think was, that I had to get the cart all the way to the bathroom.. holding that!”  We laughed again. I told her she’ll make it.  I’ve caught my share too, and that it ends… my 19 year old rarely spits up anymore.

Then, we both finished our shopping.

Was it earth shattering?  Did I rescue her from impending doom?  Nope. But, I did what I could.

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
Mother Teresa

Dear Lord- I pray that you’d bless that mom and her little cutie pie-.I pray that she’d know that the reason I was compelled to help- was partly beause of a mother’s instinct- but also- because YOU’VE helped me so much, that I long to help others.  I love you Lord- amen.

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