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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Roller Coaster Whiplash

Well, I can certainly say the last couple of weeks have been QUITE the roller-coaster ride. There’s been enough change going on that a person could get whiplash watching the calendar and emotional barometer change, sometimes on an hour-by-hour basis.

First it was my birthday. For a number of reasons I wasn’t feeling exactly celebrated and wasn’t sure what the day held. I was more looking forward to the weekend trip to see my Dad than I was anything else. Sometimes when there’s a lot of other stressful ‘stuff’ going on in a house normal events like birthdays tend to suffer. It seemed it would be my turn this year.

But then this wonderful thing called Facebook (FB) awakened. I got a ‘day before’ – you win the Early Bird prize – post. And then the dominoes kept falling. Before I left for work (before the sun came up) I had already received a number of well-wishes which got me started on a good foot. My coworker remembered my birthday so in the craziness of work my boss bought lunch and my coworker stopped for a mini-cake. Celebration indeed. And then I got back on FB and started to laugh. There were over 25 posts or so. I made it my goal to acknowledge each and every one of them.

The plethora of posts spanned almost my entire lifetime. Someone I went to school with from grade school to high school, family members, friends I met on mission trips to Mexico and Honduras, Kamp friends (I’m still waiting on my birthday rap!), someone I met at the Extreme Makeover build last year….it was such a collection of my life. Just knowing how I met these people was like reading the Cliff Notes of my life. You could track where I was when & what I was doing, and most importantly, what was important to me at step of the way. A snapshot of my life was seen in those posts that day. By the time lunch was over I was only 8 posts behind. And then I got home. I still haven’t totaled them but I think there were 40-45 posts, almost one for every year of life. I CERTAINLY felt celebrated and appreciated by this point!

We were supposed to have an appointment (Mom, Scott and I) that would delay the birthday dinner. I got a call early afternoon that the appointment was changed to our house for the following night. Then two hours later I got another call saying the already changed meeting was indefinitely postponed because of yet another development in the situation. Anyone else feel like your head is spinning like in the Exorcist? I just wanted to say ‘call me when someone knows what I’m doing when.’

What was truly sweet, though, was that I had already arranged a ride from work. My bro asked if I could still get the ride because, since we would actually be home for dinner, he knew I liked oven-baked chicken, so he was determined to cook for me. And he’s a GREAT cook! So they asked what I wanted on the rest of the menu and it was like magic when it appeared. I got the night off to do whatever I wanted, which is so rare it almost qualifies as an annual event. I didn’t have to cook, though I offered to help. I didn’t have to clean up the kitchen, though I offered. I didn’t have to do most of what I normally am responsible for. And THAT was the best birthday gift a person could give me…time for ME to do what I want, relax, and not have to be ‘on.’ You see, except for maybe 30 min. of quiet-to-myself time in the early a.m., I’m pretty much non-stop from 5:30am-9:30pm, with a couple middle-of-the-night things to attend to as well. My nightly sleep is never straight-through and sometimes when I’m awake at 3am I don’t get back to sleep before it’s time for me to start my day. I only get 5-6 hours of sleep a night.

I know this sounds more like a long whine list (anyone have the cheese? I like sharp cheddar, please) and I don’t mean it to be, but sometimes a gal just needs to unload a little. There’s been a LOT of emotional stuff going on in a very short time period and as soon as we all got our heads wrapped around how things were most likely going to change for a bit of time (and that alone was a HUGE thing to wrap the head & heart around), it changed in the course of 2 hours. Now at the same time it meant the holidays would be a little more ‘normal’ which relieved the pressure cooker – at least for now. Nothing else has changed – only that we have more time until we see how God has already determined it will play out. And in most ways I don’t mind a little more time. It gets us through the holidays. A double – or triple -dose of stress right now is not even the last thing we need. I enjoy my ‘respite of work’, especially for the next 4 weeks, our busiest time of the year. It won’t be uncommon for me to work a little more than my usual 48 hours a week.

Today we have a family day and that is much needed. Sometimes I feel like I’m just going to fall apart and lose it. I almost did on Thanksgiving Day. Holidays and I just don’t get along too well, aside from everything else going on! We haven’t for quite some time. And for a bit it looked like we may not even have the day today and that sent me into a mini-tailspin that I stopped by doing yard work on Thanksgiving Day. But I’m thankful it all worked out, I’ll see family today (much-needed) and we’ll just have time to build more memories and enjoy each other. I could use a little laughter in my life right now. I certainly need the endorphins! Dad even said on my birthday it was good to hear me laugh. I told him it was good to laugh because there hadn’t been much to laugh about this year.

The roller-coaster whiplash is still awaiting us around the New Year’s bend. But for now, I’ll enjoy the view and the laughter and do my best to keep the tears to myself. Yes, I still need a decompression chamber (as my eyes get moist). I need a good cry. I need to just collapse. But for now, I just want to get through the holidays…one day at a time.

(PS: After I wrote this & before I posted it we had our family day. Very laid back. Enjoyable. Relaxing. Much needed. Nothing special – just everyone watching the OSU – Michigan game, some chat, some banter, some food, and a lot of love. Just ‘being there’ – physically and emotionally mean the world to all of us right now. Have an even deeper appreciation and respect for my brothe & his family. HUGE hearts. I am blessed and just very thankful.)

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