Friday, January 15, 2021

2016 to 2021

 I realize it's been a long time since I've posted here.  I got caught up in all sorts of things and just didn't make time for the things I used to love, like blogging.  And a lot of blogs have been abandoned over the last few years, mostly because Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are quicker and easier.  I fell into that little trap, I guess.  And the truth is, being a mom has taken up a lot of my energy.  Being a mom, helping my husband take care of his mom during her cancer treatment and subsequent health issues, working toward being healthier myself, and accomplishing other goals have taken priority and pushed writing and even reading to the back burner.  But I'm trying to revive my passion for these things and this blog is a big part of that.

But first, an update.  Yikes.  

Okay, so I joined the local Y and started going to group fitness classes.  I discovered a love for them and they helped me lose 80 pounds.  I felt better than I ever remembered feeling in my entire life.  I even trained in 2019 to teach one of those classes, a mixed martial arts class set to music called Body Combat.  It was thrilling and exciting and I loved doing it.  I only got to teach for about six months and then a global pandemic hit.  2020 was truly a difficult year.  The gym closed for several months and when it opened back, only a few classes were available.  I didn't go to any of them because we decided to remain isolated due to health issues that caused several family members to be high risk for covid-19, the virus that changed the entire world.  We started virtual school in March of 2020 and are still in virtual school today.  A lot of the kids went back in August of 2020 for the next school year, but we opted to stay virtual to minimize exposure.  It was a good decision and I don't regret it for a moment.  But minimizing exposure meant staying away from crowds - especially ones that had people breathing hard while doing intense cardio.  Bye bye, teaching fitness classes.  :(  I've been in a love/hate relationship with working out at home since then.  I do love it and I'm excited that I have access to all the programs, even those my gym didn't offer, but working out at home as not as much fun and I've gained some of the weight back.  I loved the gym for the interaction with people as much as for the exercise.  I hope I can go back at some point.  I've started some new hobbies and have enjoyed them.  I got a lot more proficient in crochet and even taught a few classes at a local yarn shop, but again, covid messed that up.  I started an art journal and tried a few different types of art.  I've realized I really like painting and using oil pastels and drawing.  I'm not great at any of it yet, but maybe one day.  I may post some pictures of my art pieces here just so people can laugh.  ;) 

I've come to the realization that I've always been a progressive Christian.  I just didn't know that was actually a thing.  Over the past few years, I've found some amazing support and resources to help me grow in this faith and meet others who also feel this way.  It is freeing and wonderful and I finally feel at peace with my faith journey and how it's going.  Podcasts and Facebook groups have been so helpful here.  I've started following various people on Twitter and Facebook for their wisdom and insight.  I've realized that there are other ways to love Jesus - better ways.  I haven't been to church in several years because I haven't found one that works for me, but mostly because I feel like I need to work things out on my own first.  Some of the podcasts I've really learned from are: The Bible for Normal People, For the Love with Jen Hatmaker, Straight White American Jesus, and Evolving Faith.  I've been reading a lot, too.  I'm just trying to figure out where I stand and how American Christianity fell so far.  It has been a disappointing four years in faith and politics, and I've had to confront some things I didn't want to deal with concerning the beliefs and attitudes of people very close to me.  They call it deconstruction and reconstruction and I feel that with every fiber of my being.  But, in the midst of all the deconstruction and finding faith again, I do feel closer to God than ever.  I feel like a follower of Jesus, rather than a follower of a pastor or politician or someone else in the public eye.  Reading those red letters in my Bible and trying to understand the cultural and historical context, as well as approaching the Bible as a whole as a book about the way people have related to God historically instead of an instruction book for the way we should always relate to God has been eye opening and very life giving.  I have a long way to go, but I'm hanging in there.  

Jon's mom was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and went through chemo, radiation, and surgery.  She wasn't able to drive because had begun to lose her vision.  We drove her every day.  It was brutal for her and for us, honestly.  The kids came with me when they had to, but mostly my mom watched them while I went and picked her up and took her to appointments.  Sometimes, Jon had to meet us at the doctor's office so I could sit outside with the kids while he went in with her.  She was in a wheelchair because she was too weak to walk at that point and couldn't see well.  Her decline was sharp and startling.  She needed almost constant care.  Our lives were very different for about three years.  Jon had to go over there a lot, and I did, too.  Making meals for her, getting her groceries, paying her bills, and changing her colostomy bag.  It was overwhelming for him and the stress was so, so hard.  We did our best, though, because she wanted to live a few more years so the kids would remember her.  I'm not sure those memories are really good ones, but at least they have them.  She passed away from kidney failure in November of 2020 after spending about a month in the hospital and a few weeks in hospice care.  Now Jon is dealing with all the estate stuff because she never did a will and there's a house and some medical bills to deal with.  His brother is doing nothing to help, of course, and has even accused Jon of trying to "screw him" even though Jon has now spent thousands of dollars on lawyer fees and other assorted expenses.  My fear is that he will cause trouble with the probate case.  In the meantime, we are working on cleaning out the house Jon grew up in so we can sell it.  His mom sold it to him after her diagnosis because she wanted him to have it.  It is full of "stuff" and we've already filled a large dumpster with two more rooms to go.  We've been going over there on weekends to clean and while we are seeing some results, it's a little bit daunting.  But once we are done, we have a realtor friend who is planning to help us sell the house as-is, and we can hopefully use that money to get ourselves into a better position and maybe even close in our garage so we can use that space for indoor/outdoor living space.  I have some major plans for our back yard.  Otherwise, we are doing well.  The kids are growing like weeds.  Nathan is 8 and Nicholas is 6!  I love these ages, but could do without some of the sass.  They got it from me, so I can't even be mad about it.  Going through all this together has made us all stronger as a family.  I'm grateful for that, since it could have gone the other way.  I know a lot of families are torn apart by this kind of stress, so I'm glad we are strong and still happy together.  I feel like I've aged 10 years in the last 3, and I'm sure Jon feels the same.  I'm hoping we can focus on having fun as a family this year.  That we can take back some of the lost time from the last few years and start to really enjoy each other again.  

Dumpster fire.  Since 2016, that's all it's been.  But there have been some positives.  I'm pretty fully in the progressive democrat camp now, and Jon is more progressive than I've ever seen him.  Watching his mom go through the healthcare system really changed his feelings about things like Medicare for All and other more progressive ideas.  Trump was exactly the president I knew he would be - a disaster.  And the evangelical group has become more and more like a cult for Trump than a Christian denomination.  It has been heartbreaking to watch.  I have gotten more active in politics than ever, and I honestly don't care what other people think about my political views.  I've been called names by people I thought were good, reasonable, adults.  I have had people question my Christianity and morals.  But it's okay, I know where I stand.  I feel certain Jesus would be a progressive too, since He literally turned all the religious believes of His day on their heads.  Caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, the voiceless, and those who need our help is his most prominent message, and somehow evangelicals think their policies of tax cuts for the rich are "Christian"?  It baffles me and saddens me at the same time.  We are only a few days away from a new administration, and while Joe Biden is not the candidate I supported in the primary, I fully support him and intend to hold him accountable for all he has promised.  We need to move forward, not backward.  And there needs to be no room in our country for racism and racists.  

I think that's all for now.  It's been a crazy few years.  I'm sure there's more that I have forgotten, but I'll fill in those blanks later.  

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