This Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day

I am pretty accustomed to being single on Valentine’s Day. Most years I don’t really think much about being single. And then during other Valentine’s Days past I had:

A few years when I was casually seeing someone, found myself to be “miraculously” on my own when Valentine’s Day rolled around, and then became a hot item again a few days later. Remember that book “He’s Just Not That Into You”? Yep. Here’s your sign.

A few bitter years.

A few lonely years.

A few years where I was the “coupled up” girl and received flowers from great guys.

Valentine’s Day 2019 comes after a personally brutal January 2019. It’s been tough to process, let alone put into words.

My brutal month involved removing a few toxic people from my life whom I still love but had to separate myself from for my own mental health and self respect.

Simply reaching these decisions was messy, as I had to come to these conclusions on my own. And I am the person who often has to push the envelope one more time, test my boundaries one more time, to get to that point of saying, “enough.” This naturally had a ripple effect on others outside of the situations.

Thankfully my friends and family who know me best and love me unconditionally were able to give me enough rope, stand just within reach, and trust that I would find my internal strength to do what needed to be done. For that I am eternally grateful.

We often think of Valentine’s Day and love in romantic terms, but I challenge all of us to think of it a little differently. We should also see it in terms of all of those who mean the most to us and stand beside us during thick and thin.

My best friends are my valentines.

My mom and stepdad are my valentines.

My siblings are my valentines.

And my nephew and nieces are most certainly my valentines.

Today my dogs are also my valentines.

This Valentine’s Day, I raise a glass to everyone in love, recovering from heartbreak, navigating through some tough stuff, finding peace in solitude, or anything in between.

You are loved. Happy Valentine’s Day!

My 9-11 Story

Everyone has a 9-11 story.  Some seem more significant than others.  Mine is one of the least significant, because I was not working in New York or D.C., I was not on a plane that day, and I didn’t personally know anyone affected directly by the deaths.

But as I have heard the ordinary stories from that day, I have learned that it touched us all in different ways.  Sometimes the seemingly insignificant occurrences can become pivotal down the road.

My day began as usual, in my apartment shared with Lexi on the south side of Des Moines.  One of my nerdy tendencies is listening to and half watching the Today Show when I get ready in the morning, and it was no different ten years ago.  I remember Matt and Katie breaking in with the news that a plane had crashed into the first tower.  And I will never forget the first words.  Lexi’s boyfriend made a comment something like, “Some drunk guy having too much fun,” and I said, “No, that’s something a crazy terrorist would do.”  Those words still haunt me.  Little did any of us know what was to come in the following minutes, hours, days, and years.

I finished getting ready for work and went downtown to a bank, where I worked in an office upstairs, as I was at that time the only staffer for the Sukup for Governor campaign.  Another business had offices upstairs, and I remember someone poking his head in my door telling me to come see the news.  I walked down the hall where several people were gathered around a TV.  Wow.

It didn’t set in until I talked to my boss on the phone, and he said to stay off the phones for the day, that this news story was capturing everyone’s attention and no one cared about campaigns that day.

Then I walked down to the Republican Party of Iowa headquarters just a few blocks away – the old rented space, before they bought the old funeral home.  I walked into the conference room and sat with Darrell, where we watched in amazement at the news developments.  Darrell kept saying, “Where is our President?  We need to hear from him.”  And he referenced Pearl Harbor a few times.  This was officially a big deal.

Finally President Bush issued a statement.  He had been in Air Force One, receiving updates and staying safe.  The news gradually unfolded to tell a story of a group of extremists led by Osama bin Laden.

The rest of the “work day” was a blur, and then I drove home at around 5:30 p.m.  It was a short day, since I usually worked until 9:00 p.m.  I, like many others, was wondering what all of this would do to gas prices, the economy, and on and on.  I pulled over at the Quick Trip and waited in line for 20 minutes to fill up my car.  I could have waited until the next day, but why risk it?

I was glued to CNN, Fox News, and all of the news channels for the rest of the evening.  Lexi and I chatted about it, and I talked to a few people on the phone.

So many things we take for granted as Americans were challenged that day.  However, in the days and weeks that followed, those things we take for granted were very much intact.  We came together to support one another during a tough time.  We rallied around the flag.

Of course, it didn’t take long for politics to divide us again.  But it’s good to know that we can put politics aside when we have no other choice.  That is my lasting take away.  Sometimes it’s good to kick politics aside and just be real.

During Sickness…

It’s heartwarming when people rally during bad times, but it also makes me sad.  Why does it take a crisis for us to unite?

The pastor at my church is very sick.  Major health issues.  I have seen little to no compassion shown toward him since I began my part time church lady job in early October.  Until now.  All of a sudden, people are with him.

I’m not bitter, just saddened.  He has a fighting spirit, always charging ahead and willing to take a stand on the tough issues in the church.  Lately the issue is coming to terms with the bleeding out of people and funds.  Interesting parallel here because one of his health problems has to do with internal bleeding.  It’s a comparison I’d prefer to not make, but it’s there.

Yes, my pastor is my 60-something friend I wrote about yesterday.  As part time secretary at my church, I have learned so much about him, and we have shared a lot of good conversation.  He and I have been a united team of two in the face of a lot of static that doesn’t matter, while trying to wake people up to the larger problems the church faces.

My church is very small.  Other than me, we have a part time organist and a part time janitor on staff.  That is it.  My pastor friend has been ministering to the entire community of Durant for over a year in absence of pastors at the other two churches in town.  And I work 20 hours a week.  That’s a lot of work for each of us to squeeze into limited time.

And now the time seems even more limited.  People had better rally, because he and I can’t do it all.  We couldn’t do it before, but when crisis is ignored, the status quo takes hold.  But the in-your-face crisis of pastor’s illness couldn’t be ignored.

People who once nit picked at every little thing my friend did are now full of concern.  I wonder if they will hold on to that empathy if and when he gets better.  My guess is they will gradually regress to the way they were before.  A few might change for good.

I wish we all could rally on the good days, or even the ordinary days.  We are so independent, centered around our own things.  We divide our time amongst work, volunteer work, family, friends, and other issues.  And in the meantime we forget to respect one another and reach out in kindness.  We also waste our energy on static – the stuff in between the clear pictures that really doesn’t matter.  I just wastes our time.

My friend is waiting for lab test results that are supposed to arrive by Tuesday.  In the meantime, he and I can wait and ponder things like this.