Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Girl Who Never Entered a Wellness Center...

Up until a week ago last Saturday, I could have used "girl who had never entered a wellness center" as an identifying phrase.

After talking with Jillian about PCOS and the struggles it produces in our bodies, including being overweight, I was inspired to check out a local wellness center. I had seriously never done so, because I'd always seen them as scary, intimidating, and a potentially embarrassing rendezvous.

However, after talking with Jake about my initial interest in checking one out, and finding he was pretty excited about it, the idea never left my head.

We hadn't had much time as a family to go check it out, until almost two weeks ago. But, as soon as we did, I was latched on the idea of joining. We got a free week pass to try it out. The next day, Sunday, we took Spencer swimming. Shortly after, the center closed, so we didn't have time to do much else.

The following Wednesday, we again took Spencer swimming for almost an hour. That was followed by nearly two full hours of working out!

I have to tell you, I'm still proud of myself. On my very first visit, I did 27 minutes on the elliptical machine. I lifted some weights/used the weight machines (pardon me for not knowing what they're called), and realized I'm stronger than I thought I was! I can probably thank Spencer for that, I guess. Then we rode bikes for a bit (I did a bit over a mile while Jake tinkered on one to get it set right and then he quit and waited for me) and walked a mile on the track.

We haven't had the time to go back yet as a family because the next week was oddly busy and had a strange schedule with Easter holidays and everything thrown in, but I'm hoping we buy that membership this week and then make a regular event out of going. Generally, we're thinking we'll take SJ swimming one day each weekend, and again on Wednesdays, and work out together those days as well. Then, I just have to partition some time to go alone during the week.

So, while I can't report that I'm a sudden gym/fitness guru, I can proudly state that I HAVE in fact gone to a wellness center to work out, it didn't "kill" me, I was not at all embarassed, or self-conscious, and I did actually enjoy it.

Woah, right?

Never saw it coming!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Odd Wheel

For nearly five years, I've been in a constant struggle. I try to "give it all to God" as it comes, but I often find myself thrown back into it.

Jake has been working with Schwan's for nearly five years. For that time, he's been working really long days, 4 to 6 days a week (usually 5). At least one night a week he doesn't come home at all.

When we were dating, we were excited and enjoyed spending time with other couples, having double-dates and doing all sorts of things. It was pretty fantastic. However, when he took that job, those events were reduced pretty drastically. Usually, he has 2 days or 3 nights a week where he's around. We've had to try to divide that time between us, family, and friends. We're pretty good about it, I guess you could say, but it's not easy, nor is it fun.

The struggle I've found since he took this job is that I feel alone pretty frequently. For the majority of the week, my other half is nowhere near me. I rarely see him, and I rarely seem to get to hear his voice on the phone, because he usually only has a few minutes here or there between stops, unless it's late at night. We text pretty frequently, which is sufficient at times, but not always.

It gets to be an especially difficult struggle when I see our couple friends having fun with other couples, or making more and new couple friends, while Jake and I are not involved. I've been told many times that "just because Jake isn't around doesn't mean I can't come," or do whatever is going on, which is totally true. I try to interact and socialize with couples without my other half, but it's not always easy.

I still really enjoy having time with our couple friends, but it's hard. I see my friends together, and I look around, but Jake isn't near. He's not even close. We can't just call him up and have him meet us somewhere after work, or join us for supper. So, I have a great time, but at the same time, I'm trying to balance my loneliness and feelings of jealousy (yes, at times, I will admit I am jealous that my friends' husbands are around during the week) with the fun and happiness I'm feeling at the very same time. I often find myself welling up with tears on my way home, knowing that Jake missed out on it again.

I know I don't have it "as bad as others," and I won't pretend to, because he is sometimes around. But, I do sometimes feel like the third, fifth, seventh wheel. I hate when I feel like I'm in the single girl, and yet knowing that I'm not. I hate feeling like I always have to go out in public and run errands and do everything without him. I get really sad eating supper alone 5 out of 7 nights.

I feel bad, also, when I feel like I wasn't prepared for this big cut in our time together... but I wasn't. When he signed on with Schwan's, I had no idea he would be gone as long and as often as he is. I had no idea the holidays for Schwan's men aren't quite like having a holiday at another job. That you can't just call in sick if you're not feeling quite up to the task because you really need to find someone to work for you and if no one is available, well, you pretty much have to work. I hate the income based on commission and how it sometimes doesn't matter how great he is at his job, people just sometimes will not buy. I dislike going to family functions without him, and everyone asking if he's working when he obviously is. I hate it. And I wasn't ready for it. Sometimes, I feel like I'm still trying to adjust. Maybe I am...

Sorry to whine.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

According to tradition, our value is PLATINUM.

7,284 (or so) days...
or... 1,040 weeks
or... 240 months
or... 20 years
or... 2 decades me, that's nearly a lifetime. I'm 27, after all.

In the spring of 1991, my parents moved our family (of four at the time) from a farm that we loved into town. I don't remember if I was nervous or excited, happy or mad. I just know it happened.

Not entirely sure when, exactly, and my parents don't know either. Judging by my memories, and the amount of school I recall having left in the Christian school I went to that year, I think it would have been in April.

Ah well. Doesn't particularly matter.

What I do know is that in the spring of 1991, we moved.

I like to think this move changed my life.

Okay, I know it did.

Not long after we moved (a day, maybe), I met the girl who lived next door. She was bringing over her mom's buns. They were homemade. It was a really sweet gesture. This bright-blue-eyed, brown haired little girl, turns out, was my age. She was 3 days less than 2 months older than I, actually. Her name was Michelle.

She was my new best friend.


And, we've been best friend ever since. (Okay, there were a few months in-between the time I moved away (a whole 5 blocks!) and then she went to a different elementary school, and then moved 7 blocks or so the opposite direction where we might not have been best friends, but in the grand scheme of things, they don't amount to much, so I overlook their existence, generally. Though... they did bring us closer together, in the end, I think.)

We've been friends longer than 3 of my 4 siblings have been alive. We've been friends longer than a handful of her siblings have been alive!

While I was growing up, I was very insecure about myself. I felt awkward and out of place a lot of the time, except when I was hanging out with my closest friends. Michelle, especially, always made me feel like I was a great person, that I was fun to be around, and that I was worthy of having a true friend.

I struggled with the feeling like my family was "looked down upon" by some members of the community, for not being the wealthiest, and therefore, not the most popular.

Individually, I felt like a nerd. I was horrible at almost all sports, but I am very creative and intellectual.

Michelle made me feel like I fit. Her family seemed to take me in as their own, too, seeing the amount of time we spent together, and it was so refreshing to me to not feel judged. I always felt comfortable and accepted.

It's amazing what having a best friend like Michelle can do for a person. I struggled with bouts of depressive thoughts, but knowing that if I really needed a place to go or someone to talk to... Michelle was there.

I have so many fond memories of our 20 years of friendship. We used to make up line dances in our driveways, when we still lived next door to one another. We'd play in her family's play-house in the backyard. We'd play night games with our siblings and friends in the neighborhood. She and I formed many clubs, while hanging out in our garages, on our decks, or in the yards. We would take turns being president, and eventually just co-chairs. We were so "geeky" at times that we would discuss issues like evolving friendships, by drawing them out in diagrams. We loved listening to Reba McEntire on cassette tape. Every time I hear "Fancy," or "Does He Love You?" I remember us singing our hearts out together.

In high school, we basically shared each others lockers. Over the course of the four years, we acquired mounds of post-it-notes, which we would write to one another and leave inside our locker doors. I still have some of them, packed away with notes, letters, and other things from Michelle. She would draw comics of the two of us, doing various (sometimes quite absurd and mischievous things like driving up main-street backwards) with two of our other close friends. We had countless inside jokes (PERPESER) and nicknames for ourselves (Edna & Almirah, for example), and code names for other things in our lives (like Oscar, the one-armed, one-legged skeleton from health class (who also starred in many a comic strip)).

We took various mini-trips together. We went to Glencoe (which for some reason (I cannot remember) was a big deal to us) in her VW Bug. We went road-tripping in our rural area and made a video of silos and other things. We took black and white photos in the area on one of her birthdays. We rode our bicycles from Lamberton to Jeffers one morning, following a conversation we'd had earlier in the spring in which we joked about doing it.

We were involved in over half of our high school activities together, so we spent before school, during school, and after school together, and many portions of a lot of weekends. We were in Lifesmarts, Speech, Yearbook, and FCCLA together, to name a few.

We went to separate colleges, but still wrote each other as often as we would get around to it. Despite the fact that we went for different majors and even switched majors, we both developed a passion and sense for similar things, welfare of the people, for example. We both became even more educated in things we really cared about and acquired intense passions. I look at us now and see many similarities that I wouldn't have seen us necessarily developing as we grew up together, but I find it amazing that they exist.

We now live 3+ hours apart, and we don't talk as often as we used to, but that strong, intense friendship still remains. She is still my very best of friends. I like to believe that there's nothing in this life, apart from death, that can change that.

We were the "honors" in each other's weddings, mine in 2006 and hers in 2010. I will remember each day for the rest of my life. It was such an honor to be there together, still best friends, after all these years and miles now between us. I cried tears of joy as I watched her marry the only man I have ever been really able to see her spending the rest of her life with.

I wrote her a letter once, explaining to her all the ways I was grateful for her, and how she helped me so much to be the strong, passionate, and loving woman that I have become. I thanked her many times for never judging me in the way I thought others would judge me, for accepting me, and loving me all of these years. She has really been a key character in many facets of my life story. I think I sent it to her... but I truthfully cannot remember. (If you read this, Michelle, I am sorry if I did not, as I really did mean to.)

I miss my best friend, Miss Best Friend, MBF, very much, constantly, really. I am lucky, I know, to have so many years of being so close together in distance, and still be so close together in heart despite the distance now between us. I know that there are many out there who are not nearly as fortunate to have the same best friend for 20 of 27 years. I would say that makes us both pretty special.

This weekend, Jake, Spencer, and I are going to be spending time with Michelle and her husband David. I have a gift for her, a surprise, in honor of our Platinum anniversary. Now, it's not platinum (though that would have been awesome), but it's something I find very beautiful and symbolic of such a key person in my life.

I hope that I have a daughter some day. If I do, her middle name is going to be Michelle.

Michelle, MBF, I love you. Happy 20th Anniversary!