Sometimes Things Don’t Go as Planned

I tried for three days to write what I want people to know about PTSD. I was pretty busy living with it though so I just had to put it to the side.

And then this morning, instead of Mr. Wonderful heading off to a driving job like we thought, we went to the emergency room. Not what we had planned.

He turned gray in front of me. Started sweating so bad he drenched a long-sleeved sweatshirt. He was nauseous and was having pain and since this isn’t the first time this happened, we went to the ER.

Let me tell you a little something about what happens when you go to the ER and you’re someone who has a list of meds you take for PTSD. They write you off. They make up their minds that you’re probably just having a panic attack rather than trying to figure out what’s wrong.

As I’m not a doctor, I only know what to demand you check for based on my vast knowledge of Gray’s Anatomy. So because cardiac stuff is scariest, that’s where we started. 

Good news: he wasn’t having a heart attack. Bad news: they didn’t really try to figure out anything else. 

Not to worry though, as a lawyer I have mad research skillz. And I’m totally up for doing the hospital’s job of trying to determine what in the world made him turn gray. 

Gray!

I don’t like it when I’m advocating for my husband who’s feeling so poorly I need to tell the doctor what’s wrong and the doc talks over me. I don’t like someone looking at me with pity because they think I don’t know what a freaking panic attack looks like when worn by Mr. Wonderful.

Oh, we know from panic attacks.

You, Dr. Doctor may know trauma medicine. You may have gone to med school and done extra training to end up with ER medicine as your specialty. You may know how to stitch people up and set bones and stop a stroke. But today you showed you don’t know jack about mental health.

Here’s a refresher course.

I could understand your reasoning if you would’ve taken the time to listen to me (the caregiver) and heard me (the caregiver) say something like we were newbies at this PTSD thing and we just have no idea what to expect (bats eyelashes as a single tear runs down her cheek).

But when I (the caregiver) tell you that as the caregiver 24/7 for the last three years and on and off for two more years previous that this is not what a panic attack looks like in my house and something is wrong with my husband, you should listen. 

Because though you’re an expert in trauma medicine, I’m an expert in Mr. Wonderful. I know, sometimes before he does, that he is getting ready to have an asthma attack or a panic attack and I can usually pinpoint which one it will be.

I’m the emotional barometer in our house, predicting with 97.9% accuracy, when a seismic shift has occurred that will be causing the ground to rumble beneath our feet. I’m pretty confident in my abilities to advocate for my husband so he can get whatever treatment he needs. 

He is alive because I’m so good at this.

So, Dr. Doctor, before you dismiss another combat vet who protected your right to wake up and get to work today to help people, here are some tips: 

Stop. 

Listen. 

Keep an open mind.

You’ll save the rest of us a lot of trouble if you’ll just help look for an answer instead of taking the easy way out and blaming it on the PTSD. 

It could be something else, you know.

And now I have to use my mad research skillz to do the job you should’ve done before sending us back out into the world. But don’t worry, I got this. And God’s got us. 

And by the way, I’ve already set up an appointment with the specialist you should’ve sent us to.

 (Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer

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Artsy Fartsy

My mom would hate the title of this post-she thinks fart is the F word. As I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog (in her defense she read my book and is also one busy lady who doesn’t do technology-she’s currently teaching French at the college level and taking German and taking Russian. All in the same semester.) I’m probably safe with the title.

I have always been Arsty Fartsy. Interested in any genre that involved creativity or making something from nothing or disciplines involving glitter, I am at home in the arts. This is where I live. It’s where I feel alive.

The arts bring me joy. And when Mama’s happy, everyone’s happy. My Mr. Wonderful has realized this and being the smart man he is, he has decided to give me (drumroll please) MY OWN SPACE! 

Now with four kids and a dog this is a fairly tall order. So he is carving out a spot that will be all my own under the stairs-yes, I’m going to have a Harry Potter closet!!!

 Yikes!

I’m so excited to have a tiny space that I can decorate with girly things and then shut the door to all the noise and children and write or dream or think or just be.

We’ve started cleaning it out (you were scared by the picture above, weren’t you?) and Mr. Wonderful already built me a platform for laying about. He’s also building me a drop down desk for writing. I’m going to cover the mini-platform bed with frilly pillows and lovely trinkets and then ban my children from ever entering. Not because I don’t love them. But because I do.

I am a better Mama when I have a tiny bit of time to myself. And if I’m going to continue the writing part of being Artsy Fartsy, I need a space at home to do that in. A place untouched by the chaos and clutter of the rest of my house. 

 

Oh, this is happening! Since this is one of my Mother’s Day gifts (I sure hope Mr. Wonderful is reading this so he knows I’m expecting something to open and brunch on Mother’s Day. If you talk to him, let him know for me, would ya?) it’ll be finished very soon.

Can’t wait to show you my little grownup playhouse under the stairs. I’m thinking I should name it. Any suggestions?

(1st Photo credit http://www.tonykriz.com)

Other photo credits Meredith Shafer, ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

They’ll Be So Surprised

I fully admit it: I do mornings poorly. I’m not able to adequately function until after my second cup of coffee and that means the kids are on their way out the door by that point.

I’m trying to turn mornings around. Maybe I can’t tell them coherently how much I adore them or think they’re special in the wee hours. I’m not great at communicating til the java kicks in so my mumblings and grumblings probably don’t convince them that I think I have the four coolest kids on the planet.

So I’m leaving them notes that they’ll see when they first come downstairs for breakfast. I know fully 50% of them don’t read yet but that’s what big brothers are for.

And my hope is that they’ll tuck a spark of sunshine from Mama in their little hearts for later and it will remind them while they’re away that I love them so much. And that I think they’re the absolute best.

Saucy

 I love this picture.

This is a four generation span of family, my children with my Grandma Ginger, making her their great grandma.

She’s been one of my Sheroes long before I knew what a Shero was. She and my Grandpa were married for over 60 years. She was a Depression era kid. She found her inner artist at sixty and became a prolific painter, reminding me it’s never too late.

She’s funny-I mean tears rolling down your face funny. And smart. She and my Grandpa managed to put a couple of kids through college and retire, without fancy college degrees or investment brokers. And did I mention her love of shoes? It definitely runs in the family.

I dedicate a whole chapter of my book (which is on sale at Amazon for a limited time, just sayin’) to this lady. She’s one-of-a-kind, and even though my Grandpa passed on a few years ago and she’s lost a little of her spark without her other half, she’s still awesome.

And I’m so happy that she’s still going strong in her 90s. Yes, her 90s. (Doesn’t she look great?!) My kids are getting to know this treasure and getting to learn things from a woman who remembers when people still rode horses and when World War II took too many of our brave boys and when Civil Rights were introduced into law and when people landed on the moon. I could go on and on-she’s a walking history lesson.

But I’ll just say this lady is someone special to everyone who knows her. I wish that everyone could have a Grandma Ginger.

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Birthday Girl

To my darling girl,

I could never have known how you would change my life when we met four short years ago. Even though you were my third baby, you were my first girl and my first pregnancy.

I will never forget the first moments of your arrival: scary, wonderful, messy, loud, then quiet as I kissed your tiny red-headed baby face. You are a precious daughter, and I am so glad I got chosen to be your Mama.
I prayed for you, you know. Even though I was terrified of being a mom to a girl. I had adopted your amazing brothers already so I knew what to do with boys. I loved being a mom of boys. Would I do ok as a mom of a little girl?

This meant I would be the role model. The one you would look to to show you how a woman is supposed to be. The one who would demonstrate, in good ways and probably bad, how to love others, be a mom, be a wife. Be strong when life is crashing down around you but tender when the dust settles.

I’m supposed to teach you how to say you’re sorry and how to stand up for yourself. How to put on makeup but feel good about who you are at your core. How to take care of yourself so you can care for others. I’ll be the woman you measure yourself by, and yet I have so much more growing to do myself.

I’m still learning how to do all these things, sweet girl. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t always get it right. I’m doing my best, and if you only learn one thing from me I hope it’s that you have a heart for serving Jesus. The rest of it is great, but everything else takes a backseat to how you live this life with love.

Four years and so many more wonders and heartaches and love and hugs and smiles and surprises and tears and laughter to come, little girl. Hang on, because it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

I love you,

Mama

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015)

Public Speaking

Last Saturday I got to do something that scared the pants off me but that I knew would be awesome if I just felt the fear and did it anyway.

I got to speak to and encourage a gorgeous group of about 200 ladies at a place called Destiny Christian Center-appropriate name as I was speaking about Destiny.

Or Density as I have typed over and over.

With this book thing going on, I’m getting a lot of interesting and humbling opportunities. I could not be more grateful. Or more terrified.

People are asking me to speak. In front of other people. Often lots of people. In big rooms. On a stage 

Now, in one of my former before kids gigs I actually did a lot of musician-y, performance things. My undergrad degree is, after all, in music. And that’s a totally comfortable sensation for me. Want me to sing and/or play the piano in front of people? No problem, love to, sign me up.

Want me to speak to people imparting these supposed nuggets of wisdom while keeping everyone entertained and engaged and making them feel this was totally worth their time? 

Eek!!  

Maybe this is a bit of self-imposed pressure, but I do feel a certain amount of responsibility once someone has entrusted me with a microphone (and we know I like to rock the mic like a vandal!). With that act they’re saying they believe that I’m not some loose cannon they’ll have to have security tackle before dragging me off the stage. 

This is an act of trust that I don’t take lightly.

Honestly in preparation I do a lot of praying and soul searching. What am I supposed to be saying? Is there someone out there you need me to say specific words to? Oh sweet Jesus, please don’t let me mess this up for you!

Not to brag, but encouragement has always been one of my gifts. I love making people feel better about themselves or their situations. I’m ok with labeling myself a middle-aged cheerleader. No, I take that back. The ladies in my family live to ripe old ages so I’m actually not even close to middle aged.

I also tend to pray a lot as I’m walking onto the stage. Please don’t let me trip, don’t let me accidentally use one of my driving words, and for the love of Saint Peter please don’t let me say anything you don’t want me to!

I feel like I’ve been called to talk to women as a very imperfect, flawed and broken human. And maybe it’s because if others who are hurting and broken can see a hot mess like myself on a stage, they’ll believe it’s ok to take off whatever mask they’ve been hiding behind and be real. Raw. A hot mess just like me.

And I believe with my whole heart that when we are all broken together, exposing our wounds and warts, we start helping each other get put back together. We show our kids it’s ok to be flawed. We show our friends they can tell us dark things because we’ve been to dark places too.

And out of that darkness the seeds of hope come. And bloom. And spread.

So. I’m still going to be nervous each time I speak at an event or lead a women’s retreat or talk about hard things. But I’m going to keep doing it. And I’m going to trust that God is doing his thing, shining light through all my brokenness.

And hopefully I won’t trip.