Friday, March 31, 2017

dear little body of mine, 

whew. i love you. i try to tell you i love you every day. i try to tell you i love you within the first two steps of my run because it is actually amazing to me that you can run at all. every doctor ever told me i shouldnt ever run. actually, every doctor ever told me i shouldn't be alive. but that is too much to unpack for one letter.

 this letter is about my 102 pound body. it is small. my hands are nearly child sized. but, despite all the negative words, i do love my little body. but little body, right now you are broke as hell. and i'm sorry for that. but also, needing you to be healed soon. 

my insides are literally falling apart. nearly every organ is messed up. which, if you think about it, is actually pretty amazing that my little body can be so synchronized that it fails in unison. i digress. little body, please stop failing me. i eat healthy. i see a chiropractor weekly, i exercise, i soak in vitamin D and even recently have started using sunscreen. I'm just trying to do all the things i want to do, adventurous and mundane, and you are making that pretty difficult. 

i'm not sure what you need. i'm not sure if you need medicine, if you need voodoo medicine, if you need a vacation, if you need a swift kick in the pants, or what. let a sister know. i'll do what i can to take care of you better. i'll do whatever you want. i am doing the best i can though. we've come 26 years together, surely you want to hold on quite a bit more time? 

little body of mine, i'll try to listen to you more and continue telling you i love you. but please don't fail me now. 

your concerned and sick owner

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

here is a secret. part of me actually likes fighting with my fiancĂ©. before you get your panties in a wad  hear me out. Brandon and I rarely fight. I am SURE this will change and we are soon to spend all of our days together and surely things will occur. we have been dating 15 months and engaged for 10 days. while dating we had honestly probably 2 fights. one knock out drag out fight, and another where I got mad and we talked about it and it was over. for the first six months of dating we didn't fight. at all. literally. and i would talk to my friends and say "i want Brandon and I to fight." and they'd look at me like I had three heads which you may be looking at your screen right now and thinking the same thing.

here is why: I wanted to see how we would fight. Would we yell? Would we listen well? Would we be honest about things? Would things come out in fights that we had been holding in and building resentment about without ever expressing them until the lid came off the pot and we fought? Would we seek forgiveness? Would we need space? Would he push me to tell him what was wrong when I inevitably said "nothing" when asked?

I'm not always great at sharing my feelings. I'm really great at being honest until I actually feel hurt about something. Then I close up like a little clam. My poor family knows the struggle of my silent treatments, refusing to actually acknowledge hurtful things. I've tried hard to get better at letting people in in the moment. The first time we fought I remember driving around in silence with Brandon, who surely did not actually know why I was mad or refusing to talk, but who has always been very gracious and patient in all things. I remember him saying something to the effect of "ok yeah you can be mad but when we get to (insert destination here) we need to talk about this." He gave me space but also acknowledged what needed to happen without me even telling him that's what I needed.

This weekend (7 days after getting engaged) we had a huge fight. The subject of the fight mattered in the moment, but it doesn't matter now. What does matter now is that Brandon listened really well, he apologized, and he gave me a real plan of how to change the situation, he gave me endless words of affirmation, and at the end of it all when I was feeling worn out, sad, and semi sheepish for how I handled things, he gave me constant reassurance that it was all ok and that it was going to continue to be ok. He gave me space to be honest about what hurt me. At one point I could tell he was super frustrated with me and he could have easily reacted poorly but he didn't. I don't mean any of this patronizingly like oh pat on the head good boy Brandon. All this to say, we fought really well.  Yes, he did something that hurt me, VERY unintentionally and indirectly, but we fought well. Through my tears, through him letting me verbally process why things hurt me so badly, and through holding me tightly.

I'm CLEARLY no saint (see above paragraph) and I am sadly certain that I am going to hurt Brandon way worse than he hurt me on Sunday. I don't want to ever hurt him but I reckon it'll happen. I am hopeful and pray that I will have as much grace as he has shown me.

Brandon is also really good at carrying on with life. Yeah, it sucked to fight on Sunday but he didn't dwell on it (that I know of...). Without this blog probably a month from now we wouldn't even remember it. Similar to how I can't recall all the details of the other 2 fights we've had. We are good at choosing love and joy and are so excited about our lives together that we aren't trying to live in the crap times. When asked how my weekend was yesterday by my best pal Sarah in passing I said Brandon and I had a fight and she said unless it was funny or very important to our relationship I didn't need to tell her about it because it is over and we are ok. And that is very good advice.

So, fighting sucks, and it is hard and sad but also can be really great to see how you and your person react and carry on in love in the midst of it all.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

about a month ago brandon and started a little vegetable garden. i told my friends and family i was very nervous about this. i'm not too good with plants. like i killed an aloe plant after a year and those you should not be able to kill that easily. brandon was president of his future farmers of america club in high school so he assured me he wouldn't lead me or our plants astray. i should also note that the whole month of february was like 70 degrees so we were pretty stoked about this and confident winter had melted away.

we planted them in 30 little pots, spinach, hot peppers, green peppers. then brandon left. like i said, that was almost a month ago and i still text him every day asking him what to do. is it too cold, is it too hot, should i water them, what if it rains and i watered them, are they ok, why are they flopping over are they dying why haven't they all germinated yet? he's very patient and kind and answers all my questions.

i have started referring to them as my babies. because, clearly i'm insane. and again, brandon is very patient and does not remind me that these are not really babies he just goes with it. i bring them and in outside every day and water them and tell them i love them. if i'm having a bad day at work i come home at lunch and sit on my patio with them and love them and they make me feel better.

yesterday at the end of my work day i looked out the window and it was snowing and i literally yelled MY BABIES and grabbed my bag and ran out the door. (have i mentioned that i'm clearly insane). i sped home and got my little plants inside. they looked happier than normal actually i think they liked the snow a bit. it was only like 10 minutes so it was new for them. aww babies first snow!!

this morning i was making breakfast and they were sitting in their boxes on top of my washer and dryer and i told them that they should be grateful that they are allowed to come inside when it is cold out because there is a lot of really sad daffodils outside right now all droopy and sad because it has been below freezing the past few nights. so i told them to shape up and be grateful for what they have. as if they care because really they are plants hannah, they are plants.

but then i told myself the same thing. that i needed to be grateful for things. because gratitude changes everything. so, today i am grateful for these little plant babies and that they teach me funny lessons and i am grateful for everyone who doesn't make fun of me for talking to my little plants and telling them that i love them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

i'm cheating. i was supposed to write 4 blogs this month and i've felt very uninspired. so today on the last hours of february jan told me to talk about simple joys. so here it is.

it is the last day of february and it is 72 out which is my favorite temperature. i'm laying in bed with the windows open and i am a happy little clam. february was a month of frustration and pain, lots and lots and lots of pain, but also really great weekends with brandon, laughing until i cried with two of my best friends that i've known since elementary school, getting to snuggle and watch a lot of golden girls with my favorite puppy, playing games with noah and megan, hiking some mountains (at the gym and in person), starting a very real real budget, got approved to continue living in my little cozy house with brandon (!!!!), and continuing to live life with a lot of my favorite women in richmond and in boiling springs and beyond.

i've realized some hard truths about myself and relationships, i've reconciled old relationships, i've held hands with my favorite baby A LOT, i've shopped at costco more and the grocery store less, i've sat in parked cars and had conversations that are easier to have in the dark, i've taken victory in running 1 mile at a time, i've planted a vegetable garden, i've taken to sitting on my back porch steps in the morning and soaking in the sun and time with jesus, i've cried a lot of happy tears, i've apologized, i've had my heart grow three sizes with love for brandon, i've read 5 books, i've gone to the gym surprisingly consistently, i've tried to listen more and talk less.

today i read a quote that is honestly changing my life. i sent it to chelsea and kept going back to the text and rereading it for myself as my life was changing before my eyes. glennon melton doyle (wombach?) posted a quote today that she got form someone else that said " if you're going to share share from your scars not from your open wounds" and that is good. oh so good. so good. keep re-reading it and post it on all your mirrors and write it on your heart. i know i am.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

i've been thinking about eating lately. mostly about the lack of eating i do. i'd venture to say all like 3 of you who read my blog know that i can't swallow food so i don't eat much. i chomp on stuff and taste things but for all intents and purposes (is that the saying) i don't eat food. this freaks people who do eat food (everyone else) out a bit. and i am trying to replace my I'm sorry's with thank you's lately so instead of apologizing for freaking you out i'll say thank you for your concern. growing up i never thought much about it. my mom packed me snacks in my lisa frank lunch box. i sat at the dinner table with my whole family every night. some nights i'd try things but most of the time i sat with an empty placemat in front of me. it never bothered me. it still doesn't but i feel much more aware of it lately.

brandon and i have been talking about love languages a lot lately and about how we give and receive love. brandon is a really great cook and loves cooking and loves cooking for people. if we are honest, i haven't been feeling tangibly loved by him lately and as we were talking about it this weekend i realized something. brandon would LOVE to cook for me. he'd enjoy trying new things and sharing new recipes and cooking me breakfast and take me out to dinner with him on taco tuesdays. he'd love to buy me drinks at the bar on saturday nights. but he can't. and this obviously isn't news to him he's known since day 1 i couldn't swallow but i think we are still in a learning curve. don't get me wrong, brandon shows me love in a lot of other ways, and is really great, but cooking is definitely one of his strengths and he can't love me that way. so, we learn and we figure out other ways for him to use his talents to love me and for me to use my talents to love him.

i had a conversation with one of my best friends yesterday about eating out. she is trying to spend less money going out and is sad she can't go out as much anymore. to her going out is a good source of conversation, community, sharing meals and stories with friends around a table. i agreed that those things were all true but she could enjoy it without actually spending money. (hello free chips and salsa and water and breadsticks). she lamented that she'd miss out on things. i told her i didn't feel like i was missing out on things by not eating out. no one HAS to eat out. i still have a great life without tabs open at bars or ordering another round of wings. for a minute i felt a little sting like maybe i was really missing out on something. but then she said well you're an exception hannah and i can learn to be an exception too. she and our other friends have always been so gracious to me and other friends on diets or training plans or budgets who bring their own trail mix into restaurants. so i have hope that she can embrace this little area of sacrifice and we can drink a lot of water and eat a lot of free chips together.

hear this though, i understand the community. i understand the breaking of bread together and how that brings people together. i understand cooking as an organic thing that can bond people together. i am certain things shared over time spent lingering at the dinner table are meant to be shared there and not other places. i am grateful that there is always a seat at the table for me and for my family and friends always inviting me along and getting past the awkwardness and embracing the larger spirit of community and looking beyond split checks

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

today i walked out of a spin class at my gym after 8 minutes. i had a goal for the month of going to 2 spin classes. i didn't do that. mostly because i didn't schedule them out well and because i have a giant spleen and because...i just didn't. so today i was going to try. today after being dehydrated due to being on the toilet literally for 4 hours due to barium injections, having an IV, having a CT scan and working 8 hours. i figured it was a good time to try a new exercise you know. so i got there, didn't register because i didn't know how, sat on a bike, asked both my neighbors and instructor for help getting the bike adjusted to me and no one helped me. so i started pedaling and apparently there is a new thing in spin classes for EVERYONE to see how fast you're going and to be called out for not going fast enough. so my bike wasn't adjusted right so i couldn't go fast and i'm clearly not in that great of shape and no one would help me. so i picked up my bag and walked out. which is actually kinda a funny thing to do looking back. but i'm proud of myself. so i went and sat on a stationary bike and put it on a hard track and pretended to ride up mountains and told my friends i had walked out of a spin class and laughed about it. then i started crying. on a stationary bike. in the middle of the gym. clearly today i am not capable of acting like a normal human.

i cried because i so desperately want to do things with my little body and i can't. i wanted to start training for a marathon this month and i can't. i want to run every day and work out and be high energy. and i can't. i'm anemic and my spleen is 4x the size it should be. it would be like maybe understandable or something less surprising maybe if this was like WOW VERY ABNORMAL. but its not. yesterday i was texting a friend and she was amazed that all this was going on and i literally laughed and was like oh no big surprise just another crazy part of my life. not surprised.

but it still blows. the other day i was running and literally blood was pouring out of the hole where my feeding tube is in my stomach. and i laughed and thought wow wouldn't it be cool if when i was running all i had to deal with was like cramps and shortness of breath like everyone else? how neat that would be! i would literally be like a multi marathon runner. probably not i'm kinda lazy, but it would be so great! instead i get stomach acid and blood ruining all my clothes.

all this is a lot of complaining. i get that. but sometimes i forget that it's ok to talk about the hard things. that even though honestly 99.999999999999999% of the time i don't ever think that i'm different or that my life is different it is. and not bad. so many good things about my life. i'm about to go to sleep and i'm still eating 4th meal. because i can eat and sleep. praise jesus hallelujah.

my best pal mary reminded me this weekend that actually when i am hurt i have a hard time with it. i'm good at being honest, i'm good at knowing how i feel but when i'm ACTUALLY hurt or scared or have been hurt by someone i have a really hard time with it. so i get defensive and sarcastic and sassy and apathetic and blah blah blah instead of dealing with it. today i got frustrated with brandon for probably 29 things that he did or didn't do. instead of just saying hey i know i've told you how bad my pain is a lot lately but today it is bad and i had to go to the hospital by myself and that is scary and hard for me and so i need a little extra kindness and grace and love. instead i used a lot of periods in my text messages (a sure sign i'm upset haha) and was a grouch.

tonight i was reminded that hard things should come back to grace and truth. grace and truth. grace and truth. they go together. so this is a little truth. and maybe you have a little grace. and next time you'll speak truth to me and i'll remember to respond with a little grace too.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

i know the new year is already one week old so this post is late but i've been busy and marinating on it and so here it is. i've been praying since december 31st that the Lord would help bring things to my mind from 2016 so i could reflect on them. a lot of things happened. i got my masters degree, i got a really great real job after months of struggling and applying to 100+ jobs, i moved into a new house, i started dating brandon, i was told i might have cancer (i don't). i have a spleen 3x its normal size, i read a lot of books, i drove more miles than i probably ever had before, i spent two whole weeks at the beach, i joined a gym, i started listening to more podcasts. but, as i continued thinking and praying i was sitting in church last sunday and reading through past journal entries and came to this one dated 1.3.16 

14 "And now, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to start all over again. I'm taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I'll court her. 

15 I'll give her bouquets of roses. I'll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. 

Goals for 2016- go from heartbreak valley into acres of hope. 

i had another goal of writing 52 letters to friends. i wrote 1. so let's not focus on that. but really, at that time i was in heartbreak valley. i had seriously dated a guy and got my heart absolutely broken and was searching still for the wrong thing. i had a sticky note everywhere i went that had the phrase heartbreak valley into acres of hope. i was praying that the Lord would lead me there. I don't know where the sticky notes went or when I stopped feeling like i was in heartbreak valley but last sunday when i was sitting in church and found that page in my journal i started to cry. because ya'll, the Lord did it. I feel 1000% in acres of hope. I sent my mama a text yesterday morning because Brandon was making breakfast and I was snuggled on the couch and it was snowing so hard and it was so good and so perfect and she said "you sound so happy!" and i said YES I AM!! this is acres of hope. 

things are not perfect, work is hard, i was kinda sick all last week, life is changing and some days really sady and other days really perfect. but, I am setting this up as an Ebenezer - a place where the Lord showed up, because he did. I prayed incessantly that I'd move from Heartbreak Valley to Acres of Hope and I did. & I am so grateful. 

dear little body of mine,  whew. i love you. i try to tell you i love you every day. i try to tell you i love you within the first two ...