Caffeinated Grace

The tension that exists between the speed of life and the call to love

Perfectionism Is, In Itself, a Flaw December 6, 2014

Filed under: Possibly Inspiring — Elizabeth @ 11:09 am

perfectionism blog pic

As part of a college course assignment, I sat in on an OA meeting yesterday. Within the first 15 minutes, I was drawn in; resonating with every comment after every paragraph in chapter on Step 5. The first go-around the circle, I introduced myself, read my paragraph perfectly, and passed to the gentleman on my left.
Yet, as member after member shared things so painfully familiar to me, I felt the welling of tears – and quickly employed my Mom’s patented mental trick to re-route saline and mucus: The Math Fake-Out. I began to go through the times tables and occupy my mind with the perfect and finite outcomes of sums, factors and products. (This is not always fool-proof, but it really helps during funerals)
By the third lap around the circle, I felt compelled to share my thoughts… and to my horror, began to cry. Not ugly cry, mind you; just a, “Holy-crap-what-is-happening-to-my-chin-and-I’m-new-and-they’re-gonna-think I’m-crazy-and-please-stop-talking-and-what-is-the-product-of-14×7?” kind of cry.

And a weight lifted. I felt honest. I felt surrounded — but in a good way. Rather than feeling exposed, I was sitting with a group of people exposing the lie of perfectionism. It was like casting light under a bed to convince a little one that nothing waits to consume them as they sleep – another way of expressing vulnerability and the discomfort that lurks right behind it. It is good to look into the faces of others and see that my defects are no more serious than their defects. It is to be reminded that we are – humanity – all linked by flaws, self-destructive tendencies, frustrating thought-processes, and coping mechanisms that, although they are not in our best interest, comfort us none-the-less, and we choose them over and over and over again.
I left with a peace I haven’t felt in a very long time. The very things I hate about myself when I am alone or mask while interacting with the world (95% of my life), are in fact the highest quality materials to create a bridge linking me to The Others – those flawed-but-fearless people with my same set of anxiety-producing imperfections. And they are happy to welcome another flawed, still fear-filled soul.
If our failures are what bring us together, does that makes us perfectly flawed?


Is It Just Me? November 29, 2014

Filed under: Possibly Inspiring — Elizabeth @ 12:10 pm

All of my life I have struggled with the concept of Body Honor.

Body Armor is way more familiar.

I am an expert in constructing facades and buffers to keep Inner Me and Physical Me separate. You know what’s frustrating about this? Physical Me reflects the turmoil that Inner Me feels. Physical Me betrays the insecurities, exhaustion, anxiety, boredom and anger of Inner Me in full, Endomorphic glory.

I have subjected Physical Me to shame, starvation and showcasing.

And punishment for failure is binging, and a reconstruction of the buffer.

What is health, anyway? For me, Health has had nothing to do with stewarding Physical Me with care and respect. Health has been some nebulous goal – – – a thing I will be rewarded with after more shame and starvation allows for showcasing. Good Health means friends are complementary, doctors are happy, feedback is positive, and mentally I am an anxious, Xanax- popping mess. Poor Health has meant all the opposite of the above. For whatever the reason, I am calmer mentally when I am completely neglecting Physical Me. See that? See my problem? Discipline and restraint create nuclear mental anxiety, while neglect and over-indulgence give me a sense of well-being (even if the Ghost of Medical Crises to Come whispers of stroke and loss).

Health can’t possibly work this way. Health must not be a goal. Health must be now. Right now. If I don’t acknowledge my finances until I have amassed $50,000, I will never attain my goal. If I don’t acknowledge my current health until it is something to be proud of, I will never have better health. My latest lab work reveals my physical health. My care and concern for my body reveals my mental health. My complete lack of or appreciation for my current abilities reveals my emotional health. My level of shame or freedom when I stand in my spirit before God reveals my spiritual health.

How do I facilitate a respectful relationship between my Physical Me and my Inner Me? How do/have you? Is this a tension common to humans or am I a case-study for other Psych majors?


I’ve Been Thinking … October 24, 2012

Filed under: Now Talk Amongst Yourselves — Elizabeth @ 12:13 pm

I’ve a taboo confession to make:

I’ve never appreciated The Poor.

As a people… 

(Some of you can stop reading. As my Sounding Boards, you’ve heard this phrase ad nauseam while I’ve wrestled with the implications of this discovery over the last 12 months. So with my hearty thanks and a fist-bump, you’re excused.)

And there it is; hanging out there on the line like your neighbor’s overused unmentionables… unsightly, personal. Awkward.

The Poor have always violated every one of my senses.  Sight and smell are a given, but I also haven’t ever wanted to hear their stories or put an arm around them.  And though I’ve never tried it nor been tempted, I’m certain if I licked one they wouldn’t taste good, either.

My worldview was simple (but hidden under a super sweet personality (ahem)) and it made the world – and my place in it – comfortable, and easy to understand. I’m not sure what bible I took it from, but here it is, in all it’s glory:

Sucks to be you…” ,who begat “You made your bed, now lie in it.”,  who begat “If  I sold my plasma for Thunderbird, I’d be unemployable, too”.

I don’t care who y’are, that kind of thinking is going to affect (infect?) every single interaction with every single human being with whom we come in contact.  It made me glad I wasn’t carrying cash. (Better yet, glad they didn’t have x-ray vision and couldn’t see the cash I’d just denied having). I could look the other way; walk faster; fake cellphone calls (not kidding).  I could slyly pull my kids over to the Non-Poor-Person-Inhabited side of my body.  It also produced a spastic, trigger-like use of my vehicle’s door-locking mechanism.

So, it’s been a minute since I’ve blogged anything.

That’s because I’ve been wrecked… and when something you valued is lying in shattered pieces on the floor, and you’re on your haunches with a tube of Gorilla glue trying to figure out what-goes-where, taking the time to give a shout-out seems somewhat of a waste.

I’m publishing what’s been going on because, although I’m still processing all of this, I want to be known.

And I want you to know that I’m not exactly who I was 1 year ago.

I promise to keep my posts brief.  To be frank, I usually don’t read super long blogs and I don’t expect you to, either. Neither will it be daily – – – I can’t fit that into my life. (And you’re welcome)

I promise honesty, which at times may seem irreverent, but I never intend to offend anyone or be shocking for it’s own sake. Abrasiveness is sooo 2005…

Credit to:

So I’m sitting here, holding a new thing in my hand.  The glue still drying and some pieces are still on the floor, but what’s taking shape is something useful.  A thing that may actually hold something helpful to others. This new thing is not nearly as attractive, but that’s okay.

I’m no longer afraid of it breaking.


HE LIKES IT, HEY SUCKAAA!!! December 6, 2011

Filed under: Possibly Inspiring — Elizabeth @ 1:01 pm

Can’t believe it!  I made cookies from a diabetic recipe I found on the internet, and my 7 y/o son is in love.  They contain sugar, butter, chocolate chips, flour, and oh ya, 1 cup of shredded zucchini!  Haha!

In yo FACE, Picky Eater!  Mama’s slippin’ in some veggies, now!

I win! I win! 7 years of arguing about eating your veggies… You didn’t even detect them in the BATTER! Oh, new doors are opened to me, and you’re not even gonna know what hit you. You’re going to be healthy in spite of yourself! Ahhh, I’m tearing up a little bit with this triumph. I feel so mean, so good, so victorious, so…. so… I win! I win!

Haaaahhh… I just had to get that out. *sniff*


A Grateful Update August 19, 2011

Filed under: High Drama — Elizabeth @ 9:28 am

Yesterday was one of those days that sticks with a person.

Carson was climbing the tree in my parent’s backyard yesterday while we were all enjoying some pool time with Jen Altig and Sarah Sykes (and respective children).

He started with an, “Owwwowwwowww!…” and then began the blood-curdling screams that stop a parent’s heart.  In my case, they stop the parent.  I froze.  I was in deep thought.  “He’s really hurt.  That’s a real scream.  What’s wrong?  He’s not that high.  Is he stuck?  Is there a beehive up there?”  It all happened in a split second, but everyone else had started moving.

I’m still not exactly sure what actually happened up there, but when I reached the tree, blood was pouring out into a puddle at my feet.  His back was to me, so I couldn’t immediately identify the source.  And I never would’ve guessed this. I unhooked him from the forked branches by lifting him a little higher, and when I set him down I finally saw it.  Part of me wanted to pass out, part of me wanted to throw up… the skin was folded back, with fat attached to it, hanging open and bloodied.  I couldn’t think.  I called out to Jen, a nurse, who was already standing there, calmly asking me to get a towel.

Ok., you made it to the funny part.

He wasn’t crying, only screaming.  And now he was yelling, “I”m going to die! I”m going to die!”  Jen was assuring him he would not be dying today, wrapping his arm and asking me if I had a first aid kit.  A what?  I don’t know.  Do we?  Is it yellow?  Would it be in the bathroom? The garage?  The car?

She said I would need to take him to Thunderbird’s E.R..  “But I don’t have time!”, Carson yelled, “I’m think I’m going to die!”

“You’re not going to die!”

“Yes, I am!”

Jen wrapped his arm in gauze, wrapped a clean wash cloth over the top of that, and taped it snugly for the ride.  My contribution:  I thought he should have a shirt on, because I’m a Mom, and felt weird about him being shirtless in public.  So I found a tank-top and popped it down over his head, and threaded his good arm through the hole.  Apparently, if even one nipple is almost covered, I feel like modesty has been served.  Aubrey was in his bed looking for a comforting animal to take with him to the hospital and, in true journalistic form, she grabbed her diary and a pencil.  I have a camera phone.

Oh, this was to be a well. documented. event.

As I hung up with Justin in the car, I told Carson his Dad would be meeting us there.

“To watch my death?” He asked.

When you walk into an E.R., it’s like being the next contestant on a show. Everyone stares, sums you up.  I knew we were being mentally triaged by those who had already been sitting there for hours, to see if they would still hold their place or drop back.  We had to be a sight.  A little boy with blood running down his leg (punctured in the tree; I hadn’t seen that one, yet), a wash cloth taped to his arm, and a cock-eyed shirt bunched up at his neck, a woman with his blood on her, and a little girl with wild curls, scribbling in a book as she walked.  As soon as blood was spotted, the harried, one-woman-admittance-show pointed and shouted, “Is that blood?!?”  I expected lights. Sirens.  Security. Thankfully, we were taken back immediately by a very nice guy to whom Carson, with big, honest eyes quietly asked, “Am I going to die?”

He was a trooper.  And I’m not just saying that because I’m his Mom.  The team that was working on him were commenting to each other.  He was serious.  After his arm had been x-rayed, his doctor, a P.A. and a tech came in to tell him they were going to start working on his wounds.  “So”, he asked, “did you get the results of my x-rays, yet?”  They all stopped and smiled and looked at each other.  “Yes”, the doctor said, “we did.”  “So, no fractured bones, then?” Carson asked.  Another round of smiles. “Nope, no fractures, buddy.”

Even on Morphine and Ketamine, he was awake for the last 70% of the procedure. He had a P.A. sewing up his leg, two techs assisting, one nurse administering the drugs, the doctor working on his arm, and his mother leaning over them all to take pictures with her phone.  (I admitted it was creepy, and all but the very honest Tech named Nick were quick to argue that it was normal. Nick agreed it was indeed, creepy.)

As they worked, he answered their questions about dinosaurs and what he had learned in school that day. (“Stuff I already know” was his answer.  Punk.)

When he was all stitched up the team wished him well and complimented him on his bravery.  The doctor gave us some parting information and as they filed out of the room, Carson called out, “Thanks, guys!”

And I feel grateful, too.  Grateful it wasn’t worse.  Grateful Jen was there when it happened.  Grateful for my husband and parents’ presence in the hospital, grateful for a team of people who were very comforting and kind to him, and grateful that he says he feels good today.


An Update on the Maladjustment of My Inner Hippie August 12, 2011

Filed under: Homeschooling — Elizabeth @ 11:09 am

If you feel a draft where ever you might be sitting, don’t panic… it’s me.  Coming up for air.  School has started in our home – under duress – because we are now under the umbrella of K12 Online School.  August 3rd seemed a reasonable date to them, and Summer break came to a screeching halt.  Clearly, I am a Type-B teacher, and when it comes to task-mastering, I take my cue from  ‘Ramone’ in the movie “Cars”… “Looow and slow!”

I think I must fall into the Hippie category of homeschooling Moms.  I’m happiest searching the garden for bugs, taking the light rail to concerts downtown, sketching nature, waiting for our hair to grow… and we’ll stuff a little Math and Reading in there as well, to please The Man.  (Justin)

This year, some Type-A Educational Fascists have taken over, and we are elbows deep in hours of Math, Language Arts, Foreign Language, Science and History.

My favorite subject?  Art.  Sigh.

The kids seem less daunted than their Mother, plowing through it all like champs.  Other than Aubrey referring to her first subject of the day as “Evil Math”, they appear to be adjusting happily.  I, on the other hand, feel like a peaceful flower-child being dragged out of Woodstock by Nixon’s aides.

On a happy note, my parents are two states away, so skinny dipping commences at 9pm tonight.   I did attempt to notify them, (even hippies can appreciate proper protocol regarding possible nudity on another’s property) but Mom cut me off saying, “Don’t care! … just add chlorine.” 🙂


Visiting with July July 1, 2011

Filed under: Possibly Inspiring — Elizabeth @ 1:24 pm

A brand new month.  Very exciting to me!  Although I am not particularly fond of July’s weather (excepting the Monsoon thunderstorms), I do very much love the activities of summer; swimming/floating in the pool, chilled watermelon with salt, camping or playing up North, tossing a ball at the Prescott Courthouse, homemade ice cream, a more relaxed schedule… I could go on!

Here is an excerpt from one of my very favorite children’s story books called, “The Story of May” by Mordicai Gerstein.  It is a story about the months and actually begins in “April & May”… April is May’s Mother, waking her up to show May how to “scatter wildflowers, how to welcome returning birds, and how to make cherry and apple buds swell and blossom.”  May wanders off too far, and meets her Aunt June and learns that her Father, December, lives at the end of the year.  The book chronicles her journey as she learns about her family (the other months), their specific attributes, and how she makes her way back to her Mother, April. 

This book captures the essence of July in a masterful way:

“May could hear music, and as she climbed, it became louder and wilder.  At the top, in the middle of a field of young corn, she saw an immense, red-faced man in overalls.  He sang loudly, and with a hoe he conducted an orchestra of katydids, bees, crickets, and birds.  Buzzing, chirping, and warbling, they warmed around his huge straw hat.

“May!” he shouted through the din. “Gosh, you’ve grown!  Do you like our song?  I call it ‘A Summer Day.'”

“I’ve never heard anything like it”, said May.

“Why, thank you.  Let’s have a snack and go for a swim.  I’m your uncle July.”

Singing with May on his shoulder and a gigantic green watermelon under his arm, July made his way out of the field down to a wide, sandy beach.

“What’s that?” asked May, pointing to the ocean.  July laughed and set her down on the smooth wet sand.  The foamy surf tickled May’s toes like kittens’ tongues.  July showed her how to float and swim.  Then May and her uncle sat in the sun, eating watermelon and spitting the seeds into the sea.”

Next month, I’ll introduce Grandfather August… he’s a laid-back fellow. 🙂

I’m in the mood to celebrate uncle July!  I’m going to put one, for-sheer-fun, purposeless activity on the calendar every week this month… something we can only do because it’s summer.

This week:  A gimme… 4th of July BBQ & Fireworks.


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