The hell that I’m in…

Hell. A place different for every person, and yet the same for all.

Willing yourself out of a hell-hole is fruitless. You can no more decide to get up, toss the cot depression has forced a deep slumber in, than the ocean can decide to leave it’s bed. Those who reside on sunny beaches do not understand. Lying on a sandy towel is far different than drowning in the sea’s bed.

I’ve not been able to write. For a writer to not be able to write, it is a very specific kind of hell. The way I keep the world from running me over like a Mac truck is to restrain it and contain it with words. Forcing life to conform to a page; insisting that it take up residence within letters, words, and sentences; it takes the helplessness away.

I’ve never written like other people do. I’m kinda an odd bird. Most people have a vague idea what they want to express, feel a burning desire, and then grab a pen and paper or the keyboard to sketch out what they want to say. It maybe only be an outline or a cluster of words or quotes, but they have a clue.

I’m not really sure how to do that. Writing possesses me, not me it. Authorship dictates what I have time for; what priority my time and obligations get to number in rank, deciding what I will do, in which specific order, to secure my release. Sometimes it can be freeing and heavenly. Sometimes it can be an impatient beast, moody and demanding. Regardless, I live within the parameters that it calls upon my soul in order to keep this life thing rolling along.

keyboard-1176257_960_720Usually I sit down, place my fingers at the keyboard, and I relax. I don’t look at my screen. I stare out the window, maybe watch a bird or a squirrel do their thing. I let my senses loose; let them carry me away while slowing my heart rate slows to a crawl, and, like a burst of life giving breaths, words spring forth and I begin to write.

Now is not the “usually” time in my life, not by a longshot. Now is hell.

Mother’s crave quiet. Mother’s crave the beauty of stillness.

Authors fear the stillness of fingers on a keyboard and the quietness of their minds.

The ability to not be able to write has not just squashed my voice, it’s murdering my wandering soul. I am no longer able to think. I can’t breathe. My lungs have a mountain of hopelessness sitting atop them.

Exhaling. All I can do is exhale. Panic rises with each bit of air that leaks out.

What happens when there’s no more air to release? Tears, sweat, then blood.

Blood begins to take the air’s place. Life giving blood pours out every crevice. Every drop empties me of the will to even try.

There was a time that words were like grains of sand. They flowed from my fingers, escaping regardless of whether I wanted them to or not. Now? What once was life giving, the act of putting words to the page, has turned on me, and, for every word that goes untyped, it punishes me.

I’ve become hollow, empty, depressed. I fell into a hole and I cant climb out.

I’m in a bottomless, wordless, hellish pit that light refuses to enter. The entrance is  sealed with nothing but a password and I can hear the mocking laugher, mocking the fact I have no words to offer.

I must escape. Much longer in this wordless hell and this damned place will become lethal. the last words that will be written will be, “The end.”


First World Probs

First World ProbsI found myself with a couple of days that were not slammed with a bunch of Mama To-Do’s, errands, or work. Before life could come and snatch them up for the mistake, I quickly penciled in some massive time blocks for ME time. I declared a good choice simply because it was good for my mental health.

To be fair, this time was not to be used frivolously, but instead carefully for planning and actual writing of assignments and articles, and to work on upcoming projects and even that book that I’ve had on the back burner for months… that stretched into a full year now. Two days with five hour time blocks. It felt like a retreat while never leaving town. All I had to do was to get up and manage to get out of the house.

Ah! There’s the kicker usually. That’s usually my hang up, even though my kids are teens, not toddlers. So when I got away scott-free? I was lulled into the assumption that I was home free! It was THEN that the chaos began. It followed me. It nipped at my heels, attempting to throw me off my mission. But I am not easily tossed, my foul and trip-happy friend. I will fight for my writing days at every turn. They just don’t come around often enough to let them go so easily.

I had headed out to my favorite local coffee hub and after circling the parking lot twice, longingly looking into the windows like a reverse pet shop puppy. I told myself unconvincingly that I didn’t really want to be there anyway. It was busy and crowded and would be full of glorious chatter, I mean distracting chatter, and I was better off somewhere quiet. Yes. I would find the quiet.

I turned into traffic and thought of the next closest place I still loved. I mentally crossed off a spot I had already passed that was packed with tot totting mommas and their sanity dates. It was pouring down rain and the sunny spots outdoors that I could use other days would be off limits this day.

I went past a tiny Starbucks, knowing that the few seats it had would be more than filled with the people in the parking lot and in line. A sudden thought of inspiration hit. The bookstore! I swung around, parked, and dashed into the wonderful aroma of new books and music swirling overhead. Yes. This would do.

With my pick of the entire seating area in the coffee nook, I choose a little table out of the way. I set up shop and congratulated myself. This was gonna be a great day! I got started and began the planning. I wanted all the assignments on a calendar. I have a habit of not noticing them when left to my phone’s list. I was feeling proud of my organizational awesomeness when I was rudely disrupted by two men talking loudly. They decided to plant themselves at the table next to me.

I am not sure how I manage to be a magnet, but seriously, I could have chosen any seat in that place and they would’ve sat next to me sure as anything. I’m sorry, sir, but you and your conversations are not interesting to me nor do I want to nod your direction in camaraderie. Sorry to disappoint.

They proceeded to make business calls loudly, clear their throats as with an annoying vocal tic vs cold need. I wasn’t sure I had the ability to be boldly rude and move to the other side of the cafe. I dreamed of doing so, since I’d forgotten my headphones. I sat with my fingers quite literally in my ears, hair draped over my face like a curtain, attempting to block it all out.

I was set to move, to actually do it after a long, slow, steamy burn when a frazzled mom and three kids plopped down in the middle of the cafe and took up residence. She’d had her limit; they’d reached theirs an hour ago from the look, but by God, they’d come for story time and they were gonna stay and do it, or else Mama would be joining her kids for a hearty meltdown.

Listen, I get it. Okay? I got three kids who used to drive me to frazzle daily, and while I wanted to send sweet smiles of understanding her way, well, for once this patient and usually understanding woman had had her own personal limit and needed her alone time, alright? So NO. I ignored them and did not send her sweet “I get you” looks; instead letting my burn become a blaze.

The screaming, quite simply, broke me. It fueled my ability to pack up my crap and reprimand myself for such an early celebration, and make my exit. I gunned it over to the target across the street and entered the empty Starbucks outlet; planting myself again. There I made it a whole ten blissful minutes before being found by the retail-therapy shopping moms. An ankle-biter sized foot race path was apparently plotted along my table side, unbeknownst to me, and again, I packed it up after trying to outlast them. Once a third mom joined an already crowded table, I realized this was not going to be a quick stop for mom’s caffeinated cleanser.

I plopped down across this latest parking lot in an Arby’s, bought a drink so I could use the booth without guilt, and finished the last piece I was trying to get out of my head before heading home. Instead of refreshed, I felt like I’d just run a half marathon in an attempt to get my 500 words out.

Truth be told, I accomplished a lot, I actually slugged out three of those, but I wanted more. I had so much more in me to do. But hey, tomorrow was another day and I’d have another try at this. Take heart, girl.

So, seriously, if you’re still ready my rant, you’ll laugh at this …

On the advice of a friend about their past favorite writing spot, I decided to begin today there. “Oh there’s never anyone there, so it’s really quiet.” Here’s the thing about quiet spots no one is ever at…they go out of business. I sat in the parking lot and was forced to laugh at the stupidity of it all.

I am now sitting in the McDonald’s across the street from the would be wonderful place and writing a rant.

Next up? The library. I know, I know. Why not just START there? Well because I love coffee houses, and out of the way spots. I love to sip on a beverage and think while looking out a window at the world passing by. If you are local, and you love coffee houses, tell me your favorite, because I plan to look up a lot of new ones this summer and fall. Hopefully my old favorites are not overloaded every free day I have, but in case they are, I’ll have some back up plans!

I know, I know… first world problems.

Living “Alive” or Living “Dead”

This blog is brought to you from the tears I’ve shed for my friend Joyce McCartney.  She lost the love of her life last week to a motorcycle accident and it’s affected me in ways I thought I’d moved on from…

A guy walked up to my husband and asked him if the bike out front was his.  While this man was a total stranger  to my husband, they began to talk bikes with the ease of long time friends.  What’s the big deal you ask me? My husband is not even a smidgen like me, and making conversation with a complete stranger is not something he prefers to do.  He’s as far introverted as I am extroverted.  We are polar opposites in this area.  The fact he was not only talking, but interested in the conversation, laughing, and asking questions of this guy made ME smile.  It’s a side of him I love to see in action.

Bikes – meaning MOTORcycles, not BIcycles – make my husband come alive.  When he pushes his bike out of the garage, zips up his leather jacket, straps on his helmet, and takes off, he’s a whole different person than the one who climbs in beside me in the van and drives off.  I love to see my husband fully alive.  His eyes are vibrant blue, with crinkles in the corners, and he grins a sideways smile and stands with purpose.  He’s a man who is fully in the moment, participating in life, not reacting to it.  I didn’t know this man existed till we’d been married for years.  He began dreaming of owning his own bike long before he shared it with me.  When he finally did, he was sure I’d shoot it down.  I’d been known to say there was no way I ever wanted someone I loved on a bike, EVER.  

Derek with his first bike

I remember the day he first spoke his desire and God silenced my lips.  I shocked myself by hearing him out and telling him that I fully supported any dream he was that passionate about.  Then we agreed to pray over it.  If God could find a way to deliver the means or ways to go about getting a bike, then we’d know it was what we should do.  

When the opportunity that seemed perfect came about later that winter, after about 6 months of prayer, my husband got his first bike. It was an older bike that had been totaled out after an accident.  A buddy gave it to him when he got a new one and they fixed it back to riding condition after long hours of labor and even machining parts for it in some cases.  By late spring it was ready to go.  He’d taken safety riding classes and learned the basics… but now it was time for rubber to meet the road, for real. Derek came alive in a way I cant even put words to that first spring and summer while riding the backroads on that old Kawasaki.  

I wanted to understand his passion.  So again, I called upon God.  I asked that He bless me with eyes to see what my husband saw when he was on that bike.  I wanted to feel what God lit in his heart when he was out on the open road.  I wanted to know what made him tick.  God blessed me with a yes answer to my requests and then some.

The first time I ever got on the back of the bike with him, I imagined I’d feel pure terror as the bike accelerated and took up speed.  Instead, I felt the rush of freedom like I’d never felt it before.  It was like flying.  The wind didn’t noiselessly toss the leaves around outside a car window… it swirled, and pulled, tugging and whipping at my clothes in response to my pushing against it, conquering the resistance of motion.  The air on my skin was invigorating.  Hunched down with my chest wrapped around his back, arms hugging him tight, we moved together as one.  Scripture flowed through my mind and I heard God wordlessly knitting my heart to my husbands as repeated, “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Gen 2:24.  It meant a lot to me then, because both of us had had trouble in our early marriage in learning to “leave and cleave”.  I can honestly say, that first ride was more than amazing.  It was spiritual.

I fell in love with riding, and I fell in love with the closeness it brings any two riders who move in time to the turns and angles of the road ahead.  There are no words spoken on rides, just the rush of the bike down the road,  the intense closeness of God that is so powerful it defies words.  

A girlfriend said to me, “I’d NEVER let my husband have a bike.”  It was in response to my sharing our bike trip to Indy to watch the MotoGP races a couple years back.  I kept my comment to myself, but I quietly realized I’d never make him get rid of one.  Never.  Not even if it meant he’d be here less time with me.  That’s right… the risk of loosing him is worth the “risk” of keeping him.

Say what?  

Hear me out… If I had to choose between a man who was truly ALIVE while he was living with me – happy and doing what he loves, and a man who was safely LIVING, and yet obviously quite dead inside… well, I can honestly say I have thought and weighed this many times over and I’d choose risking it and being alive over and over again, every time.  Yes, even now while shedding tears for my friend’s loss.

Biking with friends

Really – this isn’t all that different than someone who takes up skydiving in their spare time as a hobby, learning to fly planes, rock climbing, backpacking in the wilderness, or any other NON-safe, sport.  Why do people pursue something passionately?  Safe or not safe?  Take ANYTHING…  Think here with me?

They pursue it because it gives them life.  It makes them tick.  It makes them come alive inside.  For me?  It’s writing and theater.  I have gone years without being on a stage, and honestly, a little bit of me has died out bit by bit.  My flame that burns hot in my soul only is awakened when I am given a chance to pursue the things that God gifted me with, and I only can hear HIS voice speaking clearly when I am soaring down my own roadway – racing with the adrenaline that God chooses to speak to me through.    It comes out in my writing and in my performing.  I am so incredibly blessed by these two giftings.  

My husband knows this and last week he handed me a postcard with a listing for auditions for “It’s a Wonderful Life” down at the local theater and I did a double take when he said a simple, “You should go,” urging and left it at that.  I asked him later on if he really meant it and he shrugged and said, “if you want to, yeah.”  With that, he’d given me permission to be alive again.  There are a TON of reasons why I shouldn’t go, I told myself.  None were ones I wanted to listen to.  So I went.  It was by far the best three hours of the last 2 years of my life.  I didn’t even care if I got a part.  I had proved I still “got it” to myself, and I knew I “COULD” if I wanted to.  The fire was still there.  

Last night the cast list went out and my name was on it – holding my trend of being cast in every show I auditioned for.  I was over the top.  I was alive again.  My son, in response, asked, “Is Mommy going to be THIS happy ALL the time now?”  Yes, my dear sweet son.  Mommy IS.  Worse things could happen than having a mom who gets to do what lights her passion and she lives fully when present in her daily life because of it too.  I will be a better mom because CHRISTI is alive under the Mom hat she wears.  I had asked God to cast me ONLY if there was something I could do in this season that would be a light to Him.  If it was only for me, then let it pass, the audition would be enough.  Obviously, there is something for me to do this Christmas.  I’m excited to see what that is…

So that said… Is if fair for me to say to my husband to choose something safe, so I can feel better about how God chooses to talk to him?  I don’t have to understand why God chooses to speak to my husband’s inner core by climbing on a bike.  That’s not my job.  My job is to support whatever God chose to do in him, how he chooses to use him, and to believe that He has a purpose for that.

Men fly all over the country on business trips, travel numerous miles down commuting highways, and criss cross the globe in business and in pursuit of providing for their families and pursuing their passions in life, and in following the giftings of their hearts.  My husband works ten miles from home and loves to commute those miles three seasons of the year via his motorcycle.  The odds are against us all – in reality.  Accidents happen.  Period.  There is no way to know when or how.  But to live in fear of the “what if’s” in life is to live dead.

Find what makes you alive inside and begin to live.  If you are not living while you are alive, what’s the point?  Truly?  You might as well be a fatality counted amongst the tragic accidents of lives taken from this earth… for, frankly, you are far from living a life that will be counted as one worth being missed if one day you suddenly weren’t here the next.


And my prayer for you, Joyce, and to Tom’s family, is that I hope you smile with joy as you see the picture of him in front of his new bike.  It was not the one that was to be his fateful demise and take his life.  It was the one he road to heaven, having dreamed about owning for so long.  He would have been riding that day anyway, if he had wanted to.  Accidents happen, and they happen to really good people.  I pray you find peace and can begin to smile again.  Tom would want you to.  He would.