Monday, August 13, 2012

One More Project Down!

I become frustrated often when I am not able to create my ideas.  I blame this excuse on my lack of attempts to pursue art. I am a perfectionist, and sometimes I will admit that I don't attempt something because I am afraid of the results.

One of my projects was to learn to decorate a cake.  Now I can bake, and have been doing so for many years.  Ever since I was a young child, I remember helping my mother bake cookies for Christmas, and decorate cakes.  Decorating a cake really meant smearing icing on the top of a cake in a pan, and decorating it with letters and candies.  My mother decorated cakes for a hobby, but she knew better than to pursue such a project with tiny hands around.

As I grew older, I knew that making cakes would be interesting.  I also knew it was hard work, and I gave applause to any person that was patient and steady enough to handle such a tedious task.  My hands shake terribly, so I pretty much assumed I would never write beautiful script on a cake.

I had a dream for many years that I would make my children's birthday cakes.  I knew they wouldn't be perfect, but they would be homemade, and from the heart.  The biggest thing that kept me from making their annual cakes was that I was afraid they wouldn't be cute enough.  I actually had nightmares of a cake that looked less like a monkey and more like an evil gremlin.  I really didn't want to be the cause of any toddler fears...

Tom decided he wanted a frog cake for his birthday.  I appreciate that he had no other real requirements than that it was a frog.  Or that it had a frog on it. Or it had some sort of frog theme.  Really, it would be pretty easy to make something that fell within those guidelines.

So, I started out with a design in my head.  Then I realized I didn't have THAT much talent, and went for something more realistic.  I scoured websites and watched YouTube videos my friend Becca posted for me. I really thought about the process, and what it would take to produce a realistic frog.  I accepted the fact that the cake was not going to look like my mental image.

And Carly wanted to help... I know that any time a 3-year old gets involved in a baking project, it's more about the experience and less about the result.  She was wielding a spoon of green icing through the decorating process, so as I looked at the final project, I was pretty darn impressed.

It's definitely a more cartoon cutesy version of a frog, but I think it turned out pretty darn cute! And we had a leftover cupcake from the batch, and the cake was delicious!  Looks like another project down!!! Hope he enjoys the results (even if it's a month late!!!)...

Tom's Frog Birthday Cake 

Onto the next project...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Start of Another Year

I wanted to write a nice reflective piece about how the past year has been one of significant evolution. I wanted to write this eloquent piece on the anniversary of my moving back to Tullahoma, and talk about all of the events.

Then I ended up with a 103.8 fever, so I decided on Plan B...

This past week, I ended up with some sort of illness.  Over the years, I have really stopped trying to pinpoint exactly what I have each time (mostly because it will end up driving me mad). I don't know if I can remember being so miserable in my life (which really says a lot when you know about the level of daily pain I have).  I felt delirious from fever, everything in my body hurt at a level I had never felt, and I couldn't swallow. Even drinking small amounts of fluids caused me tremendous pain.

I continued to go to work, because I knew I needed to hear what was going on before school started.  I also knew I am a single parent, and can't afford to give up sick days unless absolutely necessary.  So, I minimized my risk at work, decided not to lick anyone for those days, and sat through meetings while I shivered.

Now that I made it through the week and am feeling somewhat normal, I can get back to my original intention.  I wanted to look back over this year...

I remember a little over a year ago: I packed up my necessary belongings, two children and a dog, and moved to Tullahoma.  The car overheated on the way, and I wondered if I was going to make it to my parents' house in one piece.  I was moving in about twelve hours before starting my new job, and took enough clothing and personal items to last us a few weeks.  We would be moving the remainder of the house two weeks later.  

Well, the two weeks turned into a month, and eventually we just wanted to get everything to Tullahoma.  It's hard to "start over" when everything happens in stuck stages.  What I mean is that the moment of me driving down the road toward Tullahoma- THAT should have been starting over.  But I knew I was in limbo until I had my belongings.  

Then fighting moving companies and packing up everything by hand (and with the help of incredible neighbors and family!).  I remember finally driving away from the old house and FINALLY realizing I never had to go back to that place... There were a lot of rough memories there, and it was a great feeling to let go.

A few months later, the divorce was final. Another pivotal moment when I walked out of the courthouse and realized that I was finally free.  I had done a lot on my own for quite some time.  But I was finally ON MY OWN.  Some people feel terrified after a divorce is final.  I felt liberated...

And it was after this time, I decided to put this project into full-force.  I had a list floating around in my head, but it took the divorce being over for me to realize my life was ultimately up to me now.  I had two children to care for, but I didn't have anyone to answer to.  I didn't have anyone to tell me that a place was "too far," or an idea was "too crazy," or we didn't "have time" to try something.  There were no more excuses.

And so I began this journey. It really had everything to do with me--what I wanted, what I needed, and what would heal my soul.  There was an awful lot of hurt that had been piling from years of events, and I needed time to sift.  This really had little to do with the divorce, and more to do with recovering from my injury.  I realized I didn't have time to deal with the injury because I was enduring a miserable existence at that time.  I believe the brain is an awesome tool, and it only lets you deal with little bits of information at a time.  If you had to deal with the reality all at once, you would most certainly go crazy.

I didn't have the advantage of having a fully-functioning brain.  

So, I had a flood.

And I felt like I went crazy.  Never in front of others, and it was never noticed.  I just felt like who I was slipped away and returned frequently.  I am not sure who was there, filling the void, during all the other times. I know my eyes looked vacant often, and I imagine those were the times my soul attempted a vacation.

I try to be optimistic and enthusiastic on here. I. try.

Let me say briefly: recovering from a brain injury can be maddening.  There are days three years later that I don't remember a connection I have with someone.  I wake up and don't remember that I love this person? I can stand next to someone, and have to question my exact feelings, because my mind has to remind me how I am supposed to feel. It isn't depression or any sort of mental flatness.  I can't remember who I am connected to and who I am not.

This doesn't happen often, so I hope people don't read that and think I am on the edge of doom here...

But it happens enough to make me very afraid.

And the other part that has been hard? The recovery of my muscles.  For every two months forward, it's one to three months back. I have been working and training, and then resting and moving again.  I wonder if my training did any good, since I ended up with two surgeries and one leg that will never be the same.  In fact, the surgeon is now referring me to a manager for the pain, because a resulting condition from the surgery has no cure.  As long as I have the condition, I will have the miserable agony.  And I will have the miserable condition forever.  Fan-freakin'-tastic...

I do have to pick myself up out of this hole now and focus on the positive of the year.  Any more of the miserable, and I could be stuck for quite a long time...

In the winter, I did meet a most fantastic man.  I will say I was skeptical of the idea of connecting with someone again.  I had an almost analytical approach to dating, and tried to sell myself on all of the reasons I didn't really even need to worry about finding someone.  The reality: penguins have it figured out. They find a mate, and stick with them.  It's better for their physical well-being, emotional security, and sanity.  Being a pair and having a bond with someone is incredibly important.  I get it now.

So, through these months, life has seemed to evolve for Tom and me. I have pushed through these goals, we have taken a lot of walks, had a lot of talks, and tried briefly to solve some of the world's problems.  I appreciate that he endures my enthusiasm for many topics, that he encourages my ideas, and is patient on the days I am feeling rough. I will say that last part was the major reason I really thought about not dating for a long time.  I know I was in pretty bad shape after the accident.  I know it will never be that bad again, but I also never want to be a burden like that for someone.  

I know that none of us can control what will happen in life.  If something happened to him, I would of course do what I needed to do to care for him, and not think much of it.  I guess it was a lot for me to expect someone to do the same.  I'm not sure why, and a therapist would probably have a field day with that revelation...

In a little over 100 days, I will turn 30.  That really doesn't seem like a lot once I write that number.  I still have quite a few projects to mark off the list before the big day.  It seems that life has changed drastically in the past year, and there are many more memories to make in the next hundred days. 

And as some sort of evil cosmic joke, I see a Twilight movie is being released on my birthday... So, there are people with tickers on their Facebook statuses, counting down the days to my birthday... with a wimpy vampire's face next to the number...

Happy birthday to me... :-P