when you are trolled by life volume 249034902384902348903248903489290

I’ve got a lot of questions.

I’m not always the best Christian.  In fact, I may be the worst.  Truly.  My sin and my flesh would embarrass most everyone reading this, but I’d venture that if you were honest with yourself, yours would, too.  I am nothing if not honest and I reckon you already know that.

Last week, I wrote about how angry I was with God about what was happening with my Mom.  I realize by stating that publicly, I opened myself up to a plethora of platitudes (and I got them).  I was honest about my feelings anyway.

I was mad because I know the level of faith my Mother has and it is unfair to think of her struggling with something that was supposed to finished.  I was mad because it shouldn’t happen to people like my Mama, or my sister in law’s Mama, or children, or… or… or… (this list goes on and on).  Perhaps anger is an immature reaction, but nobody else gets to decide that for me.  As human beings, we go through the stages of grief on an individual basis.

Grief and acceptance of circumstances are an emotionally draining, life sucking roller coaster of doubt and pity; you will be bruised, you will be beaten up, you will hurt, and you will be broken.  These are just the facts.

Last week, we were bruised and bloodied, and all I could do was beg for some good news.  I remember saying, “I just need it to not be as bad as they think it is.” and that was the best I could muster.  My Mama, though, she was not defeated.  She KNEW we were getting good news yesterday.  See, that’s the kind of faith I’m talking about, and even if we didn’t get the news she wanted, she still would’ve had it.  “He is still good.” she would’ve said, and I’m sure of it.  I’m just not sure I would’ve been able to agree.

I wish I had the kind of faith that made me agree.

These are the kinds of things I really obsess over and spend a lot of time turning over and over in my mind.  Why did my Mom get good news yesterday and yet, so many other folks don’t?  I don’t have those answers.  I want them, I want them so badly for the people I love and care about who are going through this, and for people that I don’t even know.  I want something more tangible than ‘bad things happen to good people’ and ‘it rains on the just as well as the unjust’ because I’m just not satisfied with those answers in the face of imminent, horrible pain, suffering, and loss.

Maybe not being able to ‘trust God’s plan’ makes me a bad Christian.  I remember talking to my brother a couple of weeks ago and I said, “Mom said that God’s got this.” and Tommy said, “Does he?” and all I could say was, “I don’t know.”

I don’t always know, but I scrape my way back to the foot of the cross and I beg Him to love me, flaws and all, doubts and all, rebellious flesh and all, questions and all, and He does. I will open up my most broken parts and tell you that sometimes I question if God is even there, I get frustrated and upset, I’m not good at church, I’m not good at (always) being kind, I’m less than stellar with my potty mouth, I do things that would probably be a stumbling block to most of you reading this, and I am honest about them all.  I don’t hide anything about who I am and I can’t hide anything about who I am to God anyhow.

That being said, I am clinging to the news that there is no cancer in my Mama’s kidney’s with the greatest trepidation and the most sincere hope.  She told me she believed God would heal her, and I’m hesitant to say that’s what happened (or is happening) because so many other people believe and the healing never comes.  But, I can tell you that I saw those scans with my own eyes and an oncologist looked straight at her and said the words ‘advanced cancer’ and then there was literally nothing on a PET scan a few days later.  I can tell you that with certainty because I lived it.  Whatever was in those scans last week was either never there or was removed and I don’t know which it was, but I will certainly breathe a sigh of relief and thank God through it all.

And you better believe I’ll hug my sweet Mama’s neck just a little bit tighter for as long as I possibly can.

Advertisements

i couldn’t possibly have a title.

I have stared at this blinking cursor for what feels like an eternity.  I’m not sure where to start or what to say, so I’ll just start typing and see where this ends.

Life is not fair.

I hate that saying.  Of course life isn’t fair.  Of course I know that.  Life isn’t fair.

That phrase has ruminated through my skull for the last 24+ hours.  I replay the moment Dr. Lopez pulled up the radiologist’s report of the pelvic scan my Mama had done yesterday and it said “consistent with metastasis” over and over and over again in my head.  My sister made a sound, a gasp, I don’t know, and Mom and I sat there silent.  I think I nodded.  I think.  Maybe.

This was the moment we feared the most.  No, I don’t live in fear, but reality exists for a reason, and the possibility of this happening never left the back of my mind.  But, it still feels very surreal.  We stood in the lobby awaiting our respective turns in the bathroom and my sister said, “This doesn’t feel real” and I nodded.

“This is what we were afraid of this whole time. This news.” Andi looked at me and I looked at her and we were both completely blank.

“I know.”

Life is not fair.

We don’t have all the facts, a treatment plan, or a full scope of what’s happening, but I can tell you this from the jump – I am not ready to give up my Mama.  I guess that’s pretty selfish since a lot of people reading this have given up a parent, but I’m nothing if not honest.  I’m not trying to do any of this.  Nobody ever is, huh?  Yeah, I get it.

Watching a natural disaster unfold never seems entirely real because it isn’t you.  You can hurt for folks, but you aren’t living their nightmare, so it’s not the same.  I have wept for folks experiencing devastation and loss, I ache for them, I pray for them, but it was never me.  I can remember hearing bleak diagnoses and prognoses for other people and feeling grief for them, but it still wasn’t me or mine.  My day continued and my life had to move forward as normal.

At this moment, I am trapped inside a hurricane, frozen in my own questions and grief.  I am so angry.  Not for myself, believe it or not, but because life is so unfair.  It should be anybody OTHER than my Mother.  As if life hasn’t already taken enough from her or dealt her enough crap hands.  A natural disaster is unfolding and I can’t do anything but watch.  There was no way to truly prepare, but there never is.  We will watch helplessly and pray to God there is something salvageable when this storm, too, passes.

I am so mad at God, just like I was last year.  I keep muttering, disgusted, “You weren’t supposed to let this happen again” but I’ll still call on Him because it’s all I know to do right now.  I don’t deserve His mercies, but my Mama certainly does.  More than anybody, she does.

I am not giving up on my Mom, but the only thing I know to do is write when my heart feels this way.  This burden, this heavy cloak of dread, depression, and pain weigh on me and this is my outlet.  I will be strong for her and everyone else.  I will put on the straight face and deal with what comes.  I will be the rock, steady and solid, no matter what comes.

Right now, I must believe that she will beat this, too.  I must believe it.  I do believe it.

I believe that she will beat this, too.

I have no idea why I picked this hill.


kathy
This is not great

If we’re keeping it a buck, I don’t respect Donald Trump.  I rarely use the title of President in reference to him, not because he isn’t my President (I am an American, so technically…), but because I’m petty.  Not “I’m a whining libtard that’s mad that he won” petty, but I think he’s a disgusting, vile, garbage human petty.  He doesn’t deserve my respect.  He never will.  I would also tell you that I respect the office of President far more than he ever has or will.  Don’t @ me.

Still, I’m not trying to see a mock up of Donald Trump’s severed head float through my news feed like I’m watching Game of Thrones.  Not because I respect him, but because I do have a shred of humanity left (barely) and I try to leave any and all severed heads to Ned Stark in the land of white walkers and make believe.  It’s not a great look, it’s not art (I don’t know, do I get to decide what ‘art’ is? I’m guessing no…), it’s actually pretty revolting.

That being said, it’s Kathy Griffin’s right do whatever in the world that Kathy Griffin wants to do.  If this is her art, she gets to do it.  There are typically consequences to garbage like this, just like ol Kathy found out, and that’s part of it (ask the Duck Dynasty dude about saying stuff and getting fired).  See, that’s how freedom of speech and freedom of expression works.  You can sever Donald Trump’s fake head and show it off to a camera, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to call you an asshole for it.  It simply means that the government cannot come after you.

Take that in again. Read it one more time.

In the same way that you have the right to be offended by this, that, and the third, Kathy Griffin has the right to express herself freely, without worry of persecution from the government.  I mean, the secret service totally has to come to her house and make sure she’s not a real threat, but nothing should be done to her.  She should not be arrested or ‘locked up’, as I have seen so eloquently expressed on the book of Face.  That’s not how it works according to the Bill of Rights and if you don’t like that, you gotta call 411 and get the number for Jimmy Madison and the boys.  These are facts only.

Personally, I don’t feel like we should be in the business of depicting the death of anyone, much less the current US President.  Not everyone agrees with me and that’s cool, I don’t really get that, but I digress.  Anyhow, I figure if you are mad online about this picture, you were surely mad as a hornet when all the pics of Obama being hanged, etc., popped up in your timeline, right?

obama
This, too, is not great

Right, guys?

I don’t know, I guess I missed that outrage.  Maybe I was off the internets that day.  Maybe you kept it to yourself and didn’t feel the need to write a post about it on your wall?  Maybe I’m just Facebook friends with folks who didn’t get amped up over Obama slander. Who really knows?  Also, I mean, there’s also the subject of the history of lynching black folks in this country and how racially charged those effigies were, but I’m sure we don’t want to touch that.  It’s kinda uncomfortable since you were maybe super disgusted and outraged by this Trump picture and not so much by Obama’s likeness being hanged.  Yikes.

I didn’t even know Kathy Griffin was still a thing or relevant until this, so I guess she got her wish.  Truth be told, I imagine getting her own name back out there is what this was really about anyway.  Perhaps that is a bit cynical?  Do I think she hates Donald Trump?  For sure.  Do I think she hoped it would be a huge story and get her name out there?  Yup.  Do I think she’s really sorry?  Not a shot.  And I don’t care that she’s not.  I don’t care if she really is sorry.  She doesn’t matter to me.

The thing that really gets my goat is the righteous outrage regarding this bull and the silence when it’s someone that you don’t like.  I’m here to tell you I don’t like the picture, I think it’s awful.  And if you didn’t think it was disgusting when it was Obama, then Lord have mercy, why have you bothered to read this far?  Do we have anything in common at all?  I would guess not.

I’ve been extra, super good about not posting on Facebook about Trump, unless my comments on news stories show up to you, and in that case, I’m sorry — I have to have an outlet.  So, I took this to my blog and if you chose to read, yay, hi!  You probably regret it.

But, hey man, I had fun writing it.

How A Leaky Roof & My Husband Ruined The Elite 8

Anyone that knows me knows how I feel about Kentucky Basketball.

“I’ll get married when I meet someone that I love the way I love Kentucky Basketball.” I used to say it often, and I meant it.  It really wasn’t hyperbole.  I love it, man.  I still do.  And I love March.  And, coincidentally, I love Chad.  I love him so much that he lived to tell the tale of ruining the 2017 Elite 8 game against North Carolina.

A little context.

In August of last year, I noticed an unmistakable spot in the ceiling of our hall bath.  It’d been raining for 40 days and 40 nights and we had a leak.  Homeowners, man.  This is what we’d signed up for, you know?  There was no water on the floor, so it was new and the ceiling was absorbing the moisture (very bad), but that unmistakable brown ring let me know that death was coming for us. But when?

September..
October…
November…
December…
January…
February…
& 25 and a half days of March…

That’s the amount of time that passed before the sweet embrace of death came in the form of a downpour a mere 20 minutes before Kentucky and North Carolina would tip and vie for a spot in the Final Four.

That’s also how long my husband knew about this leak.  He wasn’t NOT reminded about it, either. I would say, in passing, “That really needs to be looked at before it’s too late…” more than once over the course of those months.  Chad may not remember it, but I certainly do. I’m a very proactive person, I could certainly caulk a leaky spot myself, but it’s the principle. My Dude had one job.

Being the garbage human that I am, I watched the first 10 or so minutes without him. 2 trips to Lowe’s later (you can never make just one), and I knew he would continue to be rushed, frustrated, pissed, and forgetful because he really wanted to watch the game.  I started to feel super freakin’ guilty.  So, I hit record and backed the DVR up to the exact moment of tip off. Thanks be to the God of Abraham for DVR, amrite?  I turned my phone off and put it on charge and switched my Apple Watch to airplane mode.  It was lock-down. If we go down, we go down together. Or something like that.

I found Chad in the garage after his second trip to Lowe’s and apparently, he had gotten the wrong size caulking gun, so a 3rd trip to Lowe’s was imminent. I hopped in the car with him, and we were on our way for trip numero tres.  Luckily, even though we live in the sticks, we don’t actually live too far out of town, and Lowe’s is only a short drive from our house. IT SAID STANDARD SIZE, YOU WOULD THINK IT WOULD BE, YOU KNOW, THE STANDARD SIZE, he lamented. I put my hand on his arm and spoke softly, “Honey, it’s fine. You aren’t missing anything. We aren’t missing anything. We’re unplugged, the game is recording, it’s like it’s not even happening for us yet.” in that moment, I could feel the mood change and he loosened up, although still quite aggravated. However, it was going to be okay. I’m a REALLY, REALLY good wife, y’all. Like. The best. The best wife. Nobody wifes better than me.

I wish I could tell you this is where this story ends.  I wish I could go on to say that the appropriate place was caulked and patched and we sat down to watch the game on DVR and Kentucky won and… and… and… Well, some of those things happened.  The roof issue was resolved and we sat down, finally, to watch the game from the tip.

But, Chad didn’t turn his phone off. It was just on silent.

You see, my mother in law was traveling back to Kentucky from Kansas yesterday. So, she was on the road and he wasn’t comfortable turning his phone off in case she needed something. That part, I completely understand.

THE FACT THAT HE COULDN’T LEAVE THE DAMN THING ALONE IS THE PART I STILL DON’T GET.

We watched the first half without a hitch.  I noticed him looking at his phone only a couple of times so I asked him what he was doing and he said, “Making sure Mom didn’t text.”  COOL, MAN.  ABSOLUTELY.  NO PROBLEM.  It was even kind of cool to fast forward through commercials!  I knew the game was still going on, but I reiterated several times, how much I wanted to watch THE. WHOLE. THING.

THE WHOLE GAME.  I WANTED TO WATCH THE WHOLE GAME.  NO MATTER HOW IT ENDED!

After passing the point where I stopped watching, my reactions were genuine and we were both super into it.  Halftime came and as I super-duper-fast forwarded, I glanced over and saw Chad looking at his phone. I saw his face.

“Honey. Do you want to know?”

NO, CHAD. I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. BUT NOW I MOST CERTAINLY KNOW BECAUSE OF YOUR TONE, SO IT’S RUINED!

Is basically exactly what I said, minus the caps lock.  I was actually really even, albeit very disappointed. He tried to retract it and kept saying, “Okay, nevermind. Okay.” while still looking at his phone.  Finally, he said, “I think you will want to go live.” I mean, at that point, what in the thunder did it really matter?  I already knew by his tone exactly what was going happening. The ending was completely ruined.

I went live during a replay of Luke Maye’s shot going in to put Carolina up 75-73.  I missed the entire second half. I was stunned.  My mouth hung open.  Why in the actual snot had he told me to go live and been so insistent about it if THAT was what I was going to see?  I didn’t understand.

I never yelled at him.  I need you folks reading to understand how far that I’ve come as a human in that I never threw the months that we’d sat on that leak in his face (I covered it in this blog for comedic purposes and context), and I never yelled at him when we went live and there were .03 seconds left on the clock and absolutely no hope of Kentucky winning. I stood up, sighed, and said, “I really wanted to watch the second half.” and then stepped into the kitchen to get the stuff I needed to clean our bedroom and bathroom and left the room.

So, no, I didn’t yell.  I just didn’t say anything, really.  For about 2 solid hours.  When the room and bathroom were clean, I shut the door and watched a movie and cuddled with Sadie, read social media, and marinated on how mad I was at my husband. I mean, I’d told him a million times (much like reminding him to fix the leaky roof) how much I didn’t want to know the results when the game was finished, how freakin’ hard was it to stay off your phone?  Again, MY DUDE HAD ONE JOB.

Chad didn’t try to bother me.  After almost 4 years together, he knows when it’s time and when it’s not, and he gave me my space.  Eventually, I came out of the bedroom and found him lying on the couch.  He waved at me and said, “Are you still mad?” No. “Do you love me again?” Yes. “You realize why I was so upset, right?” I asked and he responded yes, of course. He paused and I could see how upset he was, “I thought they had more time.” I looked at him, my eyebrows furrowed, “You thought….” He cut me off, “I forgot the alerts on my phone were delayed. I thought I was doing a good thing. I got the alert that we tied it and I thought we had more time and I thought you would want to see it. I thought I was doing a good thing. I thought we were either going to see us win, or at least watch overtime live. I really thought I was doing a good thing.”

My heart shattered. His little face. Y’all, I love my husband. I cannot stand for him to look pained or sad, it absolutely destroys me. I quickly realized that he didn’t even try to explain himself at the time because he was so aggravated with himself and he knew, in the moment, the reason probably wouldn’t even matter to me. I forgave him immediately. Honestly, I already had, I just wasn’t ready to talk about it.

For you folks who are in long-term relationships or married, you know that this story is the most real crap that ever happens when you live with someone. Sometimes marriage is leaky roofs and ruined Elite 8  games. It just is. And if you don’t love your person through it and learn to laugh, you’re gonna have problems way beyond a leaky roof and a white kid hitting a shot to go up 2 with .03 seconds left in regulation.

So, apparently, I love Chad Hughes the way I love Kentucky Basketball. Actually, I love him a gazillion times more.

Gross.

light bulb moments & other ramblings

Hi, my name is Alena, and I love pizza. And ice cream. And Doritos. And wine. And cheese! And… and… and…

The list, it goes on and on and on and on.  I freakin’ love food, y’all.  People who are all ‘Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels’ are lying to you and themselves and just no.  No, guys.  Coupled right there with folks who say, ‘Oh, I forgot to eat’ — LOL!  What?!  I literally plan my whole day around food.  Seriously, the night before, I plug all my food into my macros app and I’m like OH THANK GOD I GET TO EAT PIZZA TOMORROW or HOLY COW I CAN’T WAIT TO HAVE ICE CREAM and that is just me and that is who I am.

I love food.  But, I’m writing today to talk about my relationship with food and how it used to dominate my self worth through a number.  I want to be honest with y’all about how much I used to not like myself and how much I still struggle with what I see in the mirror every single day.

Okay, so the first thing I do when I wake up is obviously pee, and then weigh myself.  Every. Single. Morning.  I weigh myself and it is literally never the same as the day before.  Then, I go to the mirror in my bedroom and lift my shirt up and look at how ‘bloated’ my stomach looks that day.  On January 1st, I promised my husband that I would stop talking poorly about myself and I would stop my negative thought processes.  So, I still do my morning routine, it’s my thing, whatever.  When I used to roll my eyes and sigh heavily, I now literally laugh at myself (because this routine is honestly kind of silly) and pat my stomach and say something nice about it.

Does that sound crazy? Hear me out!

Back in the fall my therapist told me to start talking to myself in the mirror every day and saying positive things.  I laughed and never did it.  Because how silly, right?  Around the same time, I was starting my journey in an online fitness community and I really started to get into feeling strong and good about myself.  Then Christmas came and I ate 234234023478234 cookies and you know, I did the ol typical reset on January 1 deal.  But, I meant it this time.  ESPECIALLY with positive self talk.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had setbacks, but with the encouragement of my trainer and the people in that group, I feel like I am finally getting somewhere.

I do not have a perfect body.  For several years I took Wellbutrin and I lost about 20 pounds easily because it is a stimulant and yay for me.  When Wellbutrin stopped working and made me an absolutely unbearable human being, I started taking an SNRI and may God himself please bless my metabolism.  It’s awful, and here we are.  Where I used to be able to eat Wendy’s a couple of times a week and run every once in a while and weigh 140, I now workout 5/6 times a week and consistently weigh about 150/155.

Let’s take a quick timeout: I’m being honest about numbers here in the spirit of complete and total transparency and I am not attempting to trigger anyone.  Listen to me, everyone’s battle is different.  Just because you think I look great, doesn’t mean I think it, and you have no way to gauge with is going on with me psychologically.  One of the most hurtful things is belittling someone’s struggle because it doesn’t mirror yours.  Don’t do that!  Don’t be that guy!

So back to loving food, etc.  While I am really working hard on self love, I’m also really working hard on getting stronger physically.  My body isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty freakin’ awesome if you ask me.  I can squat heavy weight, I can run a couple solid miles, I can walk for days, I can lift heavy things, I have SO MUCH endurance and you know what doesn’t measure those gains?  A scale.

Stop right now and say it out loud, say it to yourself, look at your significant other, look at your cat and/or dog and say it — A. SCALE. DOES. NOT. MEASURE. MY. SELF. WORTH.

Your body does awesome things.  If you are reading this, your body might be something you don’t love and I am here for you, I get that on a spiritual level.  But, you are strong, beautiful, intelligent, and so worth the love that you undoubtedly give others!  Just take a second and look in the mirror and find something you love about you.  You being you is an awesome thing.

A couple days ago I was talking to my friend Jenn and I showed her a picture of a woman I follow on Instagram who is recovering from an eating disorder and is a body positivity activist (I don’t really know if that’s the right word for it).  I seriously adore her and her posts. I capped a post and said, “I think her body is beautiful” and Jenn said, “It is, but I don’t understand how you can see her and think she is beautiful and not think the same of yourself.” and dude, that resonated with me.  I stared at that picture and I thought, why on this Earth do I hate myself so much for just being me?  It was like a light bulb went off in my head.

For the entirety of my life, I have tied my self worth to a number — either the number on a scale, or the number on a label.  I claimed that I conquered that demon when those numbers were what I thought were ‘acceptable’ and then, poof, I was back to real life and hating myself more than ever. The bucks stops right here.

I am here to tell you that I struggle every single day.  I love food, I want to eat every minute of every day, I eat when I get bored, I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m sad, I just like to eat.  A restrictive diet is not an option for me.  I never plan to diet again, honestly.  Ever. My goals are to be healthy and enjoy life.  So, when I say I plug my food into my macro app, I am telling you that choose whole foods and sometimes I choose pizza.  My life has been so deeply devoid of balance, and finding that balance has given me a new lease.  A new outlook.  A new appreciation for loving myself and most importantly, what my story can do for you if you’re reading this and feel like I feel or have felt.

You are not alone!  I am a 30 year old woman with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder who is not scared to admit it. Not every day is great.  Honestly, the last 4/6 weeks have been hell.  But, sometimes, you have these moments of clarity and you decide you’re going to do the damn thing, whatever the ‘thing’ may be.

Whatever it is, you’ve got this.

**not proofread, don’t judge me**

 

A Plea For Aleppo

15578655_1374670059233167_6409575549097786500_n

I can’t stop staring at this picture.

I don’t know these people and I don’t have to know them for this picture to wreck me.  I fell asleep in a warm bed last night, next to my husband, our animals flanking us on every side and also in the floor.  In the haven of my bedroom, in the house that I own, in a peaceful nation, in a town far from conflict, I found rest.

The man pictured does not know rest.  His eyes are heavy and weary, and I can’t wrap my head around his burden.  Is that his only child?   Did he have more children and lose them to the tragedies of war?  I want to know his story.  I wish I could clothe him and his wife, give them a warm meal, a shower, a soft bed, and rock that baby so Mama and Daddy could sleep.  No.  So Mama and Daddy could rest.  Truly rest.  I wish I could tell them that peace is possible.  I wish I could hug them so tight and let them weep if needed, or just let them know that someone cares.

Some people are more equipped for empathy than others.  There are people who can see the above picture and move on with their lives, but I am not that person.  I’m still staring at it, searching, wishing I could reach through it and offer everything I have to those 3 souls.  My empathy runs to a fault, my heart bleeds at the sight of injustice, at hurt, at brokenness, at despair.  I stay awake at night, thanking God for the things that I have and asking Him why others aren’t as fortunate.  I don’t understand why I have been dealt a favorable hand and these folks haven’t.  It’s hard for me to accept, and it’s something I talk about with God often.  I don’t have any answers, but I will keep asking and I will keep searching.

This awful world is filled with stories like these.  Aleppo is not new, but it’s here and in our faces this holiday season.  Bloodied faces of innocent children live tweeting their own demise, the story ending as a 140 character Auschwitz in real time before the eyes of the entire world.  I can’t shake it.  With every gift I purchase and wrap, I think about how those dollars could buy meals for the family above or for the families unseen.  Recently, Chad’s overtime was cut and we’ve watched every penny, but every penny that we have is more than what any of these folks have.  So, anything I can give, I know goes to use.  And any spare penny you can give will go to use as well.

Scroll up and look at that picture again.  Step outside of your comfortable home, in your safe town, up your safe holler (hollow for you folks reading not from Appalachia), on your safe street, and imagine being that man and woman.  They are just people, born in a different part of the world than us, who had no choice in the matter.  We must move beyond our own insularity, and realize we are chosen to help and be present. We are the haves, for whatever reason, and we can be the good.

To give some context to this plea, visit PreemptiveLove.Org and read about the work they are doing in Syria (and other places in the middle east).  This is an organization brought to my attention in a post by Jen Hatmaker, but I did my own research on it’s validity.  You can do your own research, too.  But, please, open your heart to the people of Aleppo today.  If you can give, please give.  If you pray, please pray.

Please, Lord, let this man, woman, and child realize they are not alone.

 

I hate cliche country songs about growing up in Appalachia.  I mean… really hate.  Maybe I’m not supposed to hate anything, but I hate any song about a dirt road and somebody’s Daddy and Bud Light.  Not because Bud Light is awful (it is) and because I’ve got Daddy issues (I do) but because songs like that are just awful.  They’re terrible.  So, when I sit down to write about being from Appalachia, I have to make sure that I don’t reinforce these assumptions about Appalachia.  For example, I have amazing teeth and I love shoes and I’m not on the draw.  I know lots of folks like me, believe it or not.

Considering how opposite I am from a lot of folks around here, people ask me why I stayed.  Well, I’ll be really honest — I didn’t want to stay.  I never thought that I would.  I got a bangin’ job right after I turned 22 and just recently passed my 8th workiversary (10 years total — I worked part time from 2006 to 2008).  I had this big pact with myself that when I turned 25 I would take a look at finances and where I was and decide if I wanted to stay in eastern Kentucky.  I didn’t do that.  You want to know why?  Because I was comfortable, perhaps a little complacent, and more than that, I was home.

See, no matter where I go, these hills are home.  I absolutely love to travel and experience new places, new people, new sounds, new food (omg food), but by the end of my journey I ache for the familiarity of what I’ve always known.  When those hills come into view, no matter where I’m coming from, the feeling comforts me like a big plate of starchy carbs.  Yeah, I just compared the hills of eastern Kentucky to starchy carbs.  They are that good.

I have nothing against anyone who has ever left.  Lord no.  There’s not much here and it’s getting worse by the day.  Friends are leaving because there’s no work, the best and brightest move to bigger areas for opportunity, and I get it.  I get it and sometimes, I get jealous of folks who start to build a life away from eastern Kentucky.  See, I honestly thought I would be somewhere doing something with more value, but I’m not sure I ever really gauged what ‘value’ meant in that equation.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to wrap my head around that I just answer a phone for a living.  Now, this is just about me and nobody else, I earn an honest living just like my coworkers and we work hard, harder than most people realize.  I just, I guess I really thought that I might have a different path and more of a voice.  Good news is, I’m only 30, so there’s still plenty of time left to find that voice.  I hope.

But, I think that voice has to be meant to do something here.  I get so mad at it, but I love this place.  I love how we get the best of every single season, I love summer and the haze that lingers against the greenery, I love winter and a snow that covers every tree limb, I love fall and how the colors paint the hills for weeks and then bleed away, and most of all I love that I can go see my Mom, my sister, my brother, and my in laws in one day and come back home and sleep in my own bed. I love ‘y’all’ and ‘I don’t reckon’, and I love that I hug people like a true baptist and beat your back off if I don’t watch myself.  I love that Paintsville inexplicably has three Mexican places, but I hate that none of them have the right about cilantro and spice in their salsa (Toro Loco does, however.  What’s good, Louisa?).  I love my accent and how I cannot say a single word with a vowel and not make that one single, solitary vowel sound like fifteen vowels.  I love that I can’t hide that I’m from Appalachia, because it’s not something I am ashamed of or ever want to hide.

We’re pretty good folks out here.  I worry on a regular basis about what will come of us and these hills, if we’ll ever find an industry to replace coal, and if we’ll be okay.  Some days, I don’t think we will be.  I think about if I will have to move, if my family might have to leave, and what will still be standing in a decade.  For as long as I’ve roamed these back roads, we’ve figured it out, one day at a time.  I’m not sure how to keep us going and how to sustain life around here, but I want to help figure it out in any way that I can.  The page has turned for us, and if we keep flipping back through the book wishing for previous chapters, we’re going to completely knock ourselves out of ever learning the rest of the story.

Appalachia is a special place, whether people want to believe that or not.  We’re a heck of a lot more than fast food restaurants and Walmart.  Some of the most intelligent, talented, artistic, kind, all around best people that I’ve ever known live up a holler somewhere carved out in these hills.  For as much as I get frustrated, I believe I’m exactly where I need to be.  I am doing what I was picked to do and I don’t think that has anything to do with my career path.

Also, my Diary Queen has the best hotdog with mustard, sauce (chili? do you call it chili? you’re a terrorist), and slaw, so why aren’t you coming to hang out like right now?

Seriously.