Sending Them Up

Anxiety. Fear. Sadness. Unrest. Nervousness. Sorrow. Overwhelmed. Confused.

Any one of those feelings can be crippling. All of them swirling together are scary. With the wrong mindset, it can be devastating. Those feelings don’t hit me all at once often, but when they do, it is easy to try to figure it out myself. That never works. When I try to fix something alone, I just make it worse.

I can never do anything alone. I’m an imperfect being. I will almost always fail. So I remind myself of one of my favorite verses of Scripture:

Careful in the KJV means “anxious or nervous”. Don’t be nervous or anxious about anything. Instead, in EVERY THING – and I believe every thing means every thing – go to God. He knows the outcome before we do. The key is to take things to Him and TRUST that He’s got it.

So just like every day, today I go to Him. He knows what’s on my mind. I will trust that He hears my prayers and He will get me through. He will give me what I need to be the person I need to be for family and friends. He will provide.

My Heart Aches

Andy Marlette 2017

Just shy of 6 months ago, a school shooting happened 45 miles from my home in Oxford, Michigan. It happened at the high school. 4 students were killed and 7 were injured. 10 days ago, there was a mass shooting in Buffalo, NY at the Tops Supermarket that took the lives of 10 people. Today, another mass shooting at an elementary school that killed 19 students and a teacher.

From NPR:

Education Week as been tracking school shootings since 2018. According to its database, 119 such incidents have taken place since then. There were 27 school shootings with injuries or deaths this year.

The Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection organization, has counted 212 mass shootings that have occurred so far this year, as of Tuesday. It defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people were shot or killed, excluding the shooter.

As for school shootings, according to Education Week, 2021 had 34 such incidents at educational institutions (the highest since the organization started its database). In 2020, there were 10 shootings. Both 2019 and 2018 recorded 24 shootings.

Mass shootings are becoming more and more common. I read a blog today that said: I’m not trying to be glib, but mass killings in America have become a bit like living near train tracks. The trains routinely rumble past, but we are so used to it, we stop noticing them after a while. (The blog was pointlessoverthinking.com) I truly hope this is not the case.

It is sickening to me. For the life of me, I cannot understand what motivates someone to do something like this. 19 children – elementary school children with bright futures ahead of them – had their lives taken away from them. 19 families – parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles – all will mourn the loss of someone near and dear to them for many months and years ahead.

Obtained from politicalcartoons.com

How many children told their parents they loved them for the last time this morning? How many parents said they’d see them later when dropping them off at school? How many had plans to go to dinner with family after school? It is SO upsetting to me.

Sam and I were discussing preschools and schools just this weekend. We’d also talked about home schooling as well a few months ago. It scares me to think about it.

I know that “active shooter” and “lock down” drills have become a regular thing in schools today. However, I think about those elementary kids. Do they even know to run? If a gun was going off in a building it would be loud and scary. I know many a child who would just stand there and cry.

When the story about the shooting broke today, it originally stated that 2 children had died. That number quickly grew to 14 and now 19. The numbers don’t matter, because one child is too many. I feel tremendously sad for the families of those children, the children who survived, and the entire community.

Deep down, I also feel anger. I’m not starting a political debate here, please don’t make it that. I am angry that there is so much violence and hatred in the world. I am angry that children cannot be children and have to live ever so cautiously. I’m angry that parents, who already naturally worry about their children, now have more worries than necessary.

Whitney Houston sang, “I believe children are our future.” She wasn’t alone in feeling that way.

Nelson Mandela
Zig Ziglar
President John F, Kennedy

Our children ARE IMPORTANT! It is our job to do what we can to keep them safe. We are to raise them to respect others and to be kind. We are to teach them to be honest and show gratitude. We are to teach them integrity. We are to teach them to forgive and to be compassionate toward others. We are to teach them to be determined and perseverance. We are to teach them to be responsible. We are to teach them that it is ok to fail. We are to teach them love.

I pray that the senseless events of Tuesday will cause us to look for ways to protect our children at all costs. The hurt, the anger, the sadness, and the violence needs to stop.

Mixed Emotions

If I had to describe today with emoji’s, I’d need a lot of them!

Exhaustion – Tuesdays are always difficult. I get very little sleep before having to come into work for the night. I do the best I can to nap when the kids are napping, but things just never seems to line up where we all sleep at the same time.

Confident – Recently I was presented with an opportunity that peaked my interest. It was one of those things that I really wasn’t searching for, but I looked at it very carefully. After much discussion and weighing all the pros and cons, I made a decision that I feel is best.

Afraid – At the same time, looking on the horizon, there is something I stumbled on that has positives and negatives. I took a leap of faith today. It would be a HUGE change. It has been something that has been on the back burner for some time. Whether or not anything comes of it is yet to be seen. If it does, there are some big things to think about and consider.

Angry – Annoyed – Exasperated – Done – One phone call can bring about so many emotions. How many times can the same things be rehashed? When do you just say “Forget it? I’m done?” An hour and 20 minutes of being on speaker phone being accused, judged, called every profane name imaginable, and treated like a piece of crap is not exactly how I want to spend my time. Once you apologize for something, you shouldn’t be expected to keep apologizing for it over and over again. Especially when the other party has said they forgive you. My God, it was a vicious circle of things that are from years ago, yet here we are talking about it again! Enough is enough. If you can’t get past it, I don’t know what to tell you. Don’t feel sorry for me or my family, because quite frankly, we are fine! Please just let it go!

Dedicated – It is time for me to stop letting the outside BS affect me and my family. I am dedicated to being the best husband and father I can be to those who will let me. I have found happiness and NO ONE will take that away from me. I love my family more than I will ever be able to express here, and intend to keep it together. Leave your negativity at the door or better yet, keep it away. There is LOVE, tenderness, faith, and joy in my house! I intend to increase those feelings with every moment I am alive!

Sadness – With every day my kids continue to grow up. Ella will be two this week. I am having a very difficult time wrapping my head around that. Andrew will be 4 months old this week and it seems like time won’t slow down. Sam has often said to me that she feels when she is done with work for the week, she feels like the look older and are bigger. I feel the same way. Despite having gone through this with my two older sons, it feels like time is going by even faster than before.

I will end on a positive emotion:

Happiness – This week, Ella started saying, “I love you, too, Daddy.” and “I love you, too, Mommy” after we tell her that we love her. There is nothing that will melt your heart faster.

Earlier today, Andrew was laying on the floor and he was giggling. I snapped a picture of him and Ella immediately came over and laid next to him and said, “My turn, Daddy!” In an absolute amazing moment, she grabbed his hand and I snapped the picture.

THAT IS WHAT MATTERS! Those two amazing kids (and my beautiful and wonderful wife) are the source of my happiness. There is nothing but joy connected with them. There is no negativity. There is no hate. There are no grudges. There are no hidden motives. There is LOVE. There is JOY. There is HAPPINESS. There is DELIGHT. There is LAUGHTER.

This is what is important! THEY are what is important.

On my bad days, those two special kids remind me to focus on what really matters!

Close, But No Breakthrough … Yet

I wrote a fun blog already today, so now I need to get this down in writing before I lose it.

In therapy the past few weeks I’ve been working through some pretty deep stuff. Death has been at the forefront of my mind lately, probably due to the many deaths that I have seen in the Facebook feed over the past couple years. Whether those deaths were caused by Covid, cancer, heart attack or whatever, I have certainly felt it hit close to home. Just this week, a friend lost her fiancé and another school friend lost his mother.

This week, we dove into the subject of death itself and people in my life who I have lost. We looked at the loss of my grandparents and the loss of my mother specifically. My therapist asked about the first death I every experienced (my grandpa when I was 11). She asked what I felt when that happened. I wasn’t sure. So we moved ahead to my mom (when I was 36). What was I feeling then?

How was it so hard to come up with what I was feeling? Am I blocking feelings?

I came up with: sad, confusion, fear (scared), helplessness, regret, and guilt. I am guessing that there are many more feelings associated with death, but those are what I pulled out of the top of my head.

So I have a homework assignment. I am to look at each of those words and see how they play into things. How did the deaths affect others in my house?

Basically, it seems that grief is a theme in many of our sessions and we are going to examine it further. We’re going to try to pinpoint what event has brought me to where I am today. She told me that there is a phrase that says, “When your hysterical – it’s historical.” There is usually something “back there” that can lead to the way you react and behave.

Why can’t I accept and get past things? What may be hanging around in my brain? What am I protecting myself from?

I don’t know any of the answers.

After therapy my wife asked how it went. I told her I was still trying to process it. I knew we really struck on something, but I didn’t know what. I also expressed how it scared me. Have you ever been afraid to proceed, because you are just not sure what you might find out? That’s where I am at.

Hopefully, we are working toward some sort of resolution and not something that will mess up my head even more!

Emotional Weekend Recap

It is taking all that is in me to write a blog today. I don’t feel like writing. I’m numb today.

All weekend long I struggled with whether or not to proceed with something. It is something that has weighed very heavy on my heart. It is something that comes with risks no matter what I decided to do. I have spent three entire therapy sessions (one I scheduled purposely) discussing it with my therapist. No matter how much I talked about it, no matter how I looked at it, no matter what the pros and cons were, I still don’t feel like I was ready to make a decision. Based on previous blogs, you can probably figure out what I am talking about.

It doesn’t really even matter what it is. I wrestled to make a decision and now I am wrestling with the decision I made. I am literally numb. I am feeling many emotions today – fear, anger, sadness, uncertainty, worry, and so many more. As I stared at the computer screen, I wondered just what the hell I wanted to write about. So I grabbed my phone and looked back at some of the pictures from the weekend and figured maybe I should at least talk about the positives.

Positives

First of all, I got to spend the entire weekend with my wife and daughter. It was an extended weekend for my wife and I, and as a bonus we both got Tuesday off. We actually had time to sit on the couch and watch shows we had on the DVR, which is something we rarely get to do. Ella had us laughing a lot this weekend. Recently, Sam’s folks bought her an easel. It has a chalkboard, whiteboard, place for paper, etc… We thought that this would be great for her to draw on. We haven’t let her paint yet, but she can color on it and uses the chalkboard a lot. Up until now, the sidewalk chalk had to stay outside. Now she has it on the easel, which isn’t always a good thing ….

This probably won’t stop her from drawing on the furniture … but it was worth a try!

On Sunday, I got together with two of my close friends from high school – Margaret and Chris. It was probably a couple months ago that a picture of the three of us came up in Facebook Memories. I think it said the picture was taken 10 years ago! While I’ve gotten together with them separately since, it had been that long since we all got together. So we met at Margaret’s house and she had a cook out. The town was hopping because the peach festival was going on. I got their late, because I thought we were supposed to get together on Monday. No matter, we all got to sit around and chat, reminisce, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. Before we wrapped up the day, I said we had to get another picture! I sent the picture to both of them, and each of us posted it on our pages. Margaret joked around and said to crop the picture more …. so I did….

Really a great picture of us ….

Sometimes, I have to do things just to take my mind off the crap that is on social media. I am so sick of the politics, hatred, and sadness that is often the subject of posts on Facebook. During conversation at Margaret’s, the topic turned to some silliness I have been posting. I did this last September, too. I know it is stupid, but it truly makes me laugh and I share to save my sanity.

One of the Three Stooges pages I follow on Facebook takes Shemp Howard’s picture and Photoshops them on other pictures. The can be movie stills, magazine covers, etc. They call the entire month of September – SHEMPtember! So every day this month, I find a silly pic from their page and post it. This remains one of my favorites, and I am sure my musical followers will get a good laugh from it, too….

The Shemptations!!!!!

30 days of stupidity? Yeah, probably. I’ll take the stupidity and enjoy the laugh over the other things I am feeling any day.

The rest of the weekend falls into the area that I’d rather not think about ….

I hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day Weekend.

Music – LISTEN TO IT!

I posted this on Facebook earlier, and thought I would share it here on my blog.  I am WAY behind on my Tune Tuesday posts, and I hope to correct that soon.  I know many of my followers enjoy music like I do, so I wanted to post this article I found extremely interesting.

Cute-baby-with-bigg-headphones

You should listen to music every day.  And according to a new study, you should listen to 78 minutes of it every day.

That’s the amount recommended by the British Academy of Sound Therapy for maintaining good mental health.  But you can’t just listen to one specific type of music.  There’s actually a formula.  You need:

14 minutes of “uplifting” music to feel happy.

16 minutes of “calming” music to feel relaxed.

16 minutes of whatever you choose to overcome sadness.

15 minutes of “motivating” music to aid concentration.

And another 17 minutes of whatever you choose to help manage your anger.

Even though they recommend 78 minutes, 11 minutes a day still has therapeutic benefits, and you can boost your happiness with just FIVE minutes.

studying_jpeg-824x549

Here is a link to the entire article:  https://loudwire.com/study-music-mental-health/

Music background with notes and watercolor texture

So turn up the volume!  Enjoy some music today!!