Category: Thoughts

Goodbye, Childhood Home!

As you know, Ryan just came back from visiting his childhood homea last visit.  His parents are officially moving!  It doesn’t feel at all real to me probably because I wasn’t there to help box things up and watch the house become bare.

We are so excited for them.  So excited.  But there are definitely a lot of emotions going on!

Stolen from Jenn

Stolen from Jenn

I know for me it’s super weird to think that I’ll never walk into that house again.

I’ve only been a part of the family for 12 years and, even for me, there are so many memories there.  So many things I am sure I will miss.

Like visiting and meeting the Mecham’s for the first time when Ryan and I were dating, sleeping on Jenn’s trundle bed and being so completely intimidated by Craig AKA Grandpa Mecham (Haha! All the in-laws have said this. I have no idea why. He’s such a teddy bear!)  Matt coming home from his mission.  Or the time Ryan poured ice-cold water on a teenage Jared in the shower—and throwing Jenn in fully clothed.  Lunch at Applebees.  Watching Jared’s pole-vaulting meets and Jennifer’s track and cheerleading.  Listening to Grandpa jam on the guitar when he’s supposedly “working” in his office.  Seeing our dog Annie gave birth to puppies (“Our Dog.”  Hear that? LOL.  Their dog! Their dog!  They felt like our dogs too…)  and Wrinkles grew up into this amazing, feisty, hyper dog who would throw herself head over paws to fetch whatever you threw her way.

Nate, Matt, Ryan, and Jared Mecham

Brothers

Then there was the Christmas Grandpa-Great and Grandma-Great came to visit. How Grandma-Great busied herself helping with cooking, laundry, and re-arranging all the cupboards so no one could find anything—but oh how very organized and neat they were!  How Grandpa-Great insisted on joining me when I ran to the mall to get Jared’s gift of Victoria’s Secret Cologne.  Yes.  He went into Victoria’s Secret with me.  It was stupendously awkward.  Mostly for me, I believe. Afterwards, we sat outside in the car for about an hour, engine running while he told me story after story from World War II and about meeting his dear wife Wanda and starting their family.  He gave me advise and sucked me into his world and loved me like his own Granddaughter.

There was also the time when I was visiting Ryan and staying in Jennifer’s room, pre marriage.  Nathan was packing up to go back to the school the next day. Ryan was asleep in the basement, and I was reading my scriptures (of all things) on the kitchen table.  To be fair, it was pretty late.  Probably 1:00 am.  All of a sudden Craig wakes up and realizes I hadn’t gone to bed yet, comes bounding down both flights of stairs and turns on all the lights in the basement to find a startled and bleary eyed Ryan. The best part was Nate running after him saying “Dad!  Dad!  Wait!” knowing full well what he thought was going on.  As I was reading my scriptures.  At the table.  At 1 AM.

Image-124933E47A4A11DA

I remember coming home after Matt and Em’s Spokane wedding reception, everyone hurrying home to curl up on the couch to watch the pilot of a new TV show, Psych—which ended up being a family favorite for years to come.  Them renting a tiny apartment for the summer and going running with Emily every morning (okay fine….most mornings….when I woke up in time), buzzing about starting our college majors in the fall and talking about our brother-husbands.  Later on, Matt and Em moved back and Ryan and Jared helped him tear down the rock wall and Matt completely re-did both the deck and the living room.
DSCF2042

I was also so excited when Mel and Gary came to visit because it meant we could force everyone else into doing what no one else really liked to do, but we loved (and by “we” I mean Mel and I.  We, in no way, includes Ryan. =) —the competitive sport of board-gaming!  Killing many zombies and Horde.  Eating Sunday dinner on the back porch in the summer and being eaten ALIVE by mosquitos while everyone else was untouched!  Jared and Jennifer graduating high school.  Jared leaving and returning home from his mission in Finland.

Jared Jenn

Then, of course, there was the time I forced everyone to be my patients through dental hygiene school and they single handedly made it possible for me to pass (They love me. There is no other explanation. Why else would they endure a three hour, snail-speed dental appointment every 6 months for 3 years?).

1

After college in Spokane, we sold and packed up everything we owned, waved goodbye to friends and family, and moved to my home state of Colorado. We were so excited for what came next and I was surprised to feel my resolution breaking as we pulled out of the driveway, feeling that familiar sting of change and grief peaking over my eyelids and stealing down my cheeks.

That house was such a huge part of my life.  I know it wasn’t my house and that Ryan’s memories far surpass mine.  I know it’s not where I grew up or where I spent most of my time but I did an awful lot of growing up there too, married and all.

When I am in those places where memories pop up on their own, over time it almost feels like they reside there, like their life-force is somehow infused into the walls and I wonder if we will ever feel those things again quite as vividly, remember those tastes and sounds and laughter quite the same without the walls to hold them in.

It does feels so much like losing something—and yet not.

What are walls? Of course those memories will not be lost (as evident by the “Where’s Jared?!” story that has never lost it’s grip on the family).  And of course we will have many, many more happy and ridiculous memories together.

But, for now, I’m taking some time to be a little sad, allowing myself to feel a little worried, investing a bit in remembering all the love we experienced there, and wondering all those things we wonder when change is looming.

So goodbye blue house!  We’ve loved you!

Sometimes Love is a Four Letter Word

leavesnow-2

We see you.

Close friends. Family members.  Co-workers.  In the quiet (and hopefully not in the creepy illegal way).  Even from afar.

You have an audience, a voice, and a platform. We are all influencers. What do you want your message to be? What is your voice?

What do you offer the world? Do you love? Do you listen?

What does it mean to make your mark on the world?

I have had the chance to be around a group of women that spread light every single day and it is changing everything for me. They seek out the needs of others to fill them. They speak to the hearts of others and their dreams. They help people dream again! They helped me dream again. How huge is that?

I want to be the person who helps others paint their own dreams.  To be the person who welcomes hope in when someone has lost it.

11136778_10101900506920863_4678186262664898655_n

I’m still learning to get outside myself because sometimes the scariest thing is closeness. What if they don’t like me? What if I say something that hurts their feelings or I don’t know what to say at all? Or what if I get hurt? Part of me has always held back.

When we were fairly new in our church I was determined to get to know more people. I decided I was going to talk to the person sitting next to me in Sunday school. Sitting down, I flashed a quick smile at her.  “Hi” we exchanged.  Then I completely blanked, anxiety gripping me. I froze. Looking straight ahead, still determined, I scrambled for words that refused to escape my lips. Nothing.

After a few minutes I retreated to the bathroom with shaking hands and brimming tears. Why was it so hard? I sat and prayed, pleading to just to speak up. Surely God would want me to do this. Almost immediately I received the answer “Just smile. They will feel your love in your smile.” Bah! Makes me cry just thinking about it.

I felt peace and I knew it was enough at that time. That day the best I could do was make eye contact and smile. It really was. I wanted so much to be the person that could put my arm around someone else. I wanted to be the welcomer for once in my life and not on the receiving end. Mostly, I just wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it.

I smiled and loved through closed lips for a while. And in time, I was able to open them.

I still struggle. Every day is a struggle but it has gotten so much easier. I don’t want to throw up every time I pick up the phone. I may stumble on my words or blank–but it’s okay. As my friend Katy reminded me, we wont die! It’s okay to be imperfect.  I hope to be a genuine and sincere person regardless of how polished I am.

Things don’t always come right away.  Sometimes we have to want them and want them for the right reasons long enough to get them. The Lord will slowly fill in our gaps.

That was almost 6 years ago. I think I struggled without progress for a long time because I wasn’t really trying to be a better version of myself. I wanted to be someone else entirely. I was looking for a re-write and I didn’t even realize it.

Things really started to change when I realized I had something to offer in my own packaging. I’m still an introvert (uh, hello! Blogger here.) and I mull things over forever. I will be quiet for a long time and then talk your ear off for an hour once I have made my mind up about something. But I stopped feeling the need to be interesting or entertaining. I just need to be me. It turns out most people don’t even care if you are are interesting—they just want you to be interested.

I don’t even know what I am trying to say. I guess we all have a goodness and light somewhere in there with all the head trash (if you need a definition of head trash, I will gladly supply it). We may not share it the same way that the people around us do. We may not even do it the way we want to at first. It’s not only okay, it’s essential. Our uniqueness is beautiful. Our unique voice can touch a heart the way another’s cannot. Be that voice. Love others. Give. Spread light in whatever way you can. Smile.

Details

rock detail
When life is particularly stressful or frantic, so much in my life starts to slip out of focus.  Survival mode is categorized as such—a blur.  How unfortunate.  So much can be found within small pieces in the day.  Being more mindful of the details is one of my favorite ways to refocus my efforts and gain perspective.

Contentment is:

Hugs from a friend.  Smile.  Soft fingers on soft skin.  Lines tracing a life well spent, smiles around your eyes.  The give and shuffle of rocks beneath my feet.  Snuggle.  Aroma and warmth of spring days within a season of snow.  Spring within her soles, child loving and bouncing without measure.  Breeze in my hair and cool on my neck.  Laughter in times of utter frustration.  Joy in the winding road, the unexpected, the journey.   Sparkle of sunlight in snow, peaking through pine needles, and kissing my face.

We had a lovely day hiking and playing.  Quite frankly, I’m exhausted.  The good kind of exhausted though.

Anne fell asleep during the ride home, clutching her duplo grass and a bit of her quesadilla.  She would not surrender that dang quesadilla. Every time I tried to get it from her, she assured me she was still eating it.  Even as she dozed off.

sleep

It was a magnificent day starting with fresh air and sunshine (it was 75 in Colorado!), and ending with cheesecake, princesses, and Legos.  Just what I needed.

What helps you slow down and gain perspective when life gets hectic?

The Non-Drinking Coffee Lover

Coffee

Growing up I was always drawn to hole-in-the-wall coffee places, ones forged by couches of fluff and throw pillows, vintage unknown board game, and a quiet cool that promoted introspection and leather bound scribbles. I would smile as the stillness washed over and through me, cupping my hot chocolate or herbal tea between both hands, sipping often and slowly,

I was not a coffee drinker so the smell seemed rather awful at first. With the invitation of a friend I would begrudgingly tag along, secretly wishing to plug my nose but not wanting to draw attention. Within a very short time, though, my sensory system was overridden and the smell somehow became pleasant and familiar. Now it brings memories of finger tips on guitar strings, the gurgling of fish tanks, loose locks woven and unwoven while lost in thought, and secreting notes away for strangers to find.

It was a time of closeness and of honesty, both with loved ones and with myself.

We laughed. We played. We held hands. In those times I started to find and plan and make myself. What I really loved was that I was myself there. Introverted, thoughtful, and quiet, there I felt unhindered and free.

These places almost always went out of business. They were too special, too safeguarded, and ultimately too quiet–the sign of a business on the brink of extinction.  That was the sad conundrum of organically cool and authentic businesses. We delighted in them, but shared them way too sparingly and only with those we deemed worthy. It’s not exactly a great referral system for a business to boom.

The places that avoided closure faced a fate almost as sad: They bustled into something unrecognizable. The air filled with new leather couches and the clicking sounds of high heels and keyboards. Walls were repainted, crazy artwork thrown out. Neutral murals and beautiful forgettable photography took over the walls and it became something else entirely. Something successful. Somewhere I never could have belonged.

I don’t know why the authentic was so often overwritten with the mainstream and most widely accepted (or rather the least dis-liked). Do we do that to survive?  Try to creative the smallest ripple possible?  Do we become vanilla to avoid closure? In some way part of growing up is finding yourself in the most unexpected of places, then moving on when the time comes.  I’d rather just do it less traumatically. Maybe I’d mix up the greenery or update the throw rugs…not change the whole stinkin’ place.

Have I changed so much?  It’s so hard to tell.

#TBT Embracing Difficulties

There is something school taught me that is more valuable than any salary, job I enjoy, or the expertise and knowledge I carry around.  It gave me power.  I learned through that crazy hard time that in no uncertain terms:

I can do anything.

This also came with the realization that:

I can’t do everything, but I can do anything.  

I may need a lot of time, tools, friends, support, a helping hand, the guidance of an expert, or an added degree of patience.  I don’t have to do it alone, I don’t have to do it the first time (in fact, I probably wont) and I don’t have to be a “natural” at it.  I may have to approach it 6 different ways or, depending on the difficultly, I may have to sacrifice a lot of other things in my life in order to make time for the learning process.  I stopped telling myself “I’m not the artsy type” or the “smart type” or any other type I believed I wasn’t.

There is something rather empowering about this knowledge.  I take it for granted and am surprised to realize that not everyone knows this about themselves.  It really is true for everyone.

I think I mostly become discouraged when I am trying to do everything.  I start to confine myself again, and tell myself what I can or can’t do.  Or think I should be able to do it on my own.  When really, what I need to ask is:  Is it worth the sacrifice?  Is it worth all the things you’d have to give up to be good at that thing?  What are my priorities and how important is it?  Can I increase my ability a bit without needing to be an expert?  Is it something Ryan and I can work on together?

In a very weird way,  I miss hygiene school.  In those really hard times I find I was most humble, malleable, willing to learn and accept my shortcomings.  I was more kind to others because I knew I needed a lot of kindness too.  In some ways, I was broken.   I knew I couldn’t do it alone.   I would never willingly go through that again, and yet, I wouldn’t trade the way it changed my life either.

It also taught me to embrace the hard stuff.  It’s supposed to be hard and it’s okay.  It can be a good thing.  Some things aren’t worth doing unless they break you a bit and make you see the world differently.  So, for that, I am grateful for the hard times (at least when they are over).  I still don’t walk into them willingly, though.  =)

Of Life and Learning

I’m learning that the details in my life don’t matter much.

They do. They matter.  But not as much as I thought.

I found a blog entry from 4 years ago where I unleashed the stressful happenings of my life in one run-on sentence of a paragraph.  It was verbal vomit of worry, worry that I carried around like a full body suit, that weighed on me and distracted me from just about everything.  Worry that occasionally just shut me down.  I expected, as I read over it, to relive those feelings of overwhelm, vindication, and release.

Instead, it fell flat.  I found myself thinking “That was it?”

This was a time before Anne, before pregnancy.  To be fair we were talking about starting a family at the time.  The terror and excitement of becoming a Mom (or rather the fear of childbirth, inviting a stranger into our family, failing at motherhood, etc) would have been enough to take me down alone.  But still.  I expected this entry to be about the time our cars broke down almost simultaneously or when newborn Anne wasn’t sleeping because of GERD.

Instead it was a time that I would consider rather peaceful.

I realize retrospect is an unfair view, but in this moment I saw my past riddled with stress, regardless of the details.  I felt similarly stressed working three days a week, then six, then Anne was born, etc.

Oh yes.  I can find stress, even a lot of stress, in the peaceful times of life.

I think some part of my subconscious believed that happiness was meant to be bump free.  That hard times were meant to be endured until the good ones came back around again.  I just didn’t realize that I would spend 80% of my time just waiting.

So I ask: If I can find stress in the peaceful times, can I not find peace in the stressful times?   Are happiness, pain, worry, and joy really that exclusive of one other?   Why can’t I be complete, peaceful, and content at all times of my life even if I am grieving or scared?

People sometimes use this argument as a weapon.  If you were more ____ you wouldn’t be so unhappy.  We categorize ourselves as ungrateful to try to guilt ourselves or others into happiness.

I promise this doesn’t work.  Seeing life in all of it’s capacity is about seeing it all; the good, the bad, and the beautiful in one picture.  Crap is far more distracting than the beauty but, I promise, seeing only good and ignoring the bad isn’t a very smart way to live either.  That’s a great way to have the hard stuff sneak up and ninja attack you.  Or make you completely unable to empathize with others.  Or both.

So here is my goal.  When I find myself gripping my steering wheel a little too tight or coming up with endless lists in my head: chill out.  I promise not to badger or bully myself.  I promise to just chill out and enjoy my life right now.  Waiting is overrated.  There is so much awesome to experience!

New Years Resolutions Mecham Style

We are resolution makers. We are those people.

For the past five years I have taken to polling people. Are you a resolution maker? I think we are a dying breed.

A friend gave me a quote earlier this year: “If you focus on the results you will never change. If you focus on change you will get results.” Jack Dixon

I swear it has been following me around. It rings so true to me. There are goals that I make over and over again that I may even be successful with for a season but end up right back where I started.

It’s because I never really changed. I went for the dangled carrot but after the novelty wore off I went back to life as usual. When I have changed, really changed, it’s because it mattered to me. It was meaningful and important, not just part of a competition or a personal challenge in some way interesting to me.

So with that in mind, I decided to word my goals a little differently this year.

Get Out of My Comfort Zone

I am hoping to spice things up a bit. I want to go places I’ve never been, try new things, make an agenda that is more detailed than “recover from work so I can go back the next day” and do grown up things like buy a lawnmower and send birthday cards (That one is ever elusive and my #1 repeat New Years Resolution. Those stupid birthday cards!).

Another goal that used to be a repeat offender was to be more outgoing. Now, altering major portions of your personality isn’t as easy as it sounds. Even when you set a time limit for yourself. As a full blooded introvert, odd things happen when I force my innie into an outie. The charming person that I truly am rarely shows herself and I instead act obnoxious, forced, rigid, or just plain weird.

I’ve decided to shoot for the long game on that one. By the time I hit 80 I will be too busy burdening my grandkids with terrible advice and screwing with the neighbor kids for fun to really care what anyone thinks anymore. So check that one off the list!

Play

The perks of living with a two year old include coloring, nerf gun fights, and squishing playdoh through the spaghetti machine. Having kids definitely helps you to tap into your inner child but I would also like some more grown up fun too. It may involve time at the shooting range, playing at the climbing wall, and hiking in the mountains.

I truly believe that fun is one of life’s best medicines. I know that it doesn’t actually solve anything but it just takes the edge off. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Do More With What We Have

Over the past few years we have learned very tangibly that it really doesn’t matter how much you have. We are like gases. We spend whatever money that comes in and usually on nothing specific. A few years ago we had some friends who started eating lunch together every day and found themselves eating out way more than usual. One month they were running low on money and tallied up everything. They had spent 700 dollars on Taco Bell!! You think that is crazy? Ignore your money and see how you fair.

You can always spend more than you have, but we can also do a lot more with what we have too. I mean this to include more than money. We want to learn to do more for ourselves, cooking, growing food, shooting our gun, wood working, baking, freezing/canning food, etc etc etc.

I want to waste less food—I am starting to think we only buy vegetables to watch them slowly die and then stink up our fridge.

So, yup, that about sums it up.  Maybe this year I will actually remember my goals by the end of the year. Even when it’s time to sit down and write up my 2016 ones.

I still haven’t found the 2014 goals.  Pretty sure I nailed them though.

The Grinch

As a child Christmas was magic.  Just plain magic.  There was nothing I wanted more: presents, singing, cookies, parties.  I could see no downside.  People who hated Christmas baffled me.  I labeled them as sickos.  There was no other explanation.  I imagined them friendless, wearing socks with sandals, kicking puppies and eating nothing but brussell sprouts because the only thing they really loved was misery.

That was before I actually had to pay for Christmas.  Like, out of my own checking account.

The Last Year of Christmas Naivety:  Freshman in College

The Last Year of Christmas Naivety: Freshman Year in College.  Left: Me  Right: Roommate Kristen.  Wow that’s a crap scan.

I know I know. I complain every year. I specifically waited to post this with good reason. Plus I swing pretty wildly between Buddy the Elf and a full out Grinch on any given day. One minute I am obnoxiously full of Christmas Spirit, covering the house with red and green, plotting out my gifting strategies, having a blast shopping and practically bubbling over. The next I am in the checkout line with a few too many things, cranky, frustrated that I have a budget to follow (life would be so much easier if we could just do whatever we wanted, right?) and freaking out about what the heck to buy my co-workers. I have certainly struggled to see perspective, to feel the magic of a grown-up Christmas while staring down bills and days without paychecks.

It seems that Christmas shows us the best and worst versions of ourselves. It calls forth the bleeding heart, the gratitude, the desire to give and the joy in selflessness. Then comes the grinch, the disappointment, the stress, the resentment and seeing the lack in our lives rather than the blessed.

What an opportunity. How often do we face the best and worst versions of ourselves, to feel the stark differences between the two and decide what to do with them?

I have determined that my issue is not with Christmas. Christmas has never done me wrong.  It is with money.  That’s not terribly surprising.  We have been a bit more strict and bossy with our money the last few years (Dang you Dave Ramsey!).  It’s been checking in most of the time but just when I think we’ve built a solid relationship on trust, it stays out past curfew without returning my text messages.  We’ve taken away it’s cell phone.

Dear Santa,
I’m sorry for taking out my money issues on you. I promise to not be such a butthead next year. Maybe if I sit upside down long enough, drink more egg nog, and watch Elf every day my brain will soften into a less cranky version of myself.  In fact I’ll get right on that.

Sincerely, Maria

P.S. If you could explain to my 2 year old why you said you were coming over and then left without saying hello that would really help me out. She is a bit confused about the whole thing.  You may need to bring more presents and stay for dinner this time.