Hitting Pause.

180605 Cahaba River NWR Trail Piper Interpretive Trail IMG_8693 small

I’ve been struggling through my relationship with this blog for the last three years, for a myriad of reasons.

…Writing is so much harder for me than it used to be (I’ll get back to that.)
…Blogging is a “dead art.”
…My kids are growing up and not as entertaining/deserve their privacy.
…School and life take more time than they used to. When I started this blog, I was blogging during naptimes. Naptimes haven’t happened in years.
…Thankfully, we seem to be on a drought of misadventures, which were oddly always the easiest thing to write about.

But I have trouble quitting anything – even when quitting might be in order.

Every summer I get really close to writing a post similar to this (I probably have half a dozen in my drafts folder) but I always talk myself out of it. But the time has come.

The bottom line is, I need an indefinite break. The thought processes that have gone into this decision are far too vast and agonizing for something as silly as writing a personal blog (I’ve been mulling over it this time for at least 5 months), but I’ve been writing here for over a decade – it’s been a part of my life for nearly my entire career as a mother. So it feels as if it is a big part of who I am, even though I don’t give it nearly the time I used to. The idea of stopping has always felt like peeling off a part of my identity, which seems as painful as peeling off a layer of skin.

But taking a break doesn’t mean I love it any less.

I love what I’ve accomplished here. Over 2,300 posts documenting pieces of life that I certainly would have forgotten if I hadn’t written them down (I know this because I can read old posts and have no recollection of having written them or of them happening.) So many of those posts were my own personal therapy, helping me recount my days in a way that was entertaining enough to make whatever pain was involved feel inconsequential. I loved the way I was able to document Noah as a toddler. There were bats in my baby’s room. There were multiple house floods. There were crazy medical tests and procedures. There was Dysautonomia. And ultimately, it is that last one that brings me to my need for a break.

I’ve become pretty adept at fighting my symptoms of Dysautonomia – I get bi-weekly IVs to combat dehydration, I run and hike several times a week to keep blood flowing up to my brain, I drink powders that keep me going and guzzle crazy amounts of water. I (try to) hardly eat sugar and watch my caffeine intake. But the one symptom that I have found nothing that helps it is the effect Dysautonomia has taken on my brain function. I cannot think, write, or analyze creatively like I used to do on a daily basis. My brain feels sluggish and thick, and it’s not easy to sit down at a keyboard and come up with ridiculous analogies or observations on life. I mourned this loss for the first three years after my diagnosis. I pointedly avoided reading old blog posts because it made me so sad to remember what I used to be able to produce with such ease.

Every now and then, my brain will click on and it’ll work nearly how it used to. I’ve produced a blog post here and there that I have been proud of. But before 2013 I was producing 4 or 5 of those a week – and with hardly any effort. It’s not been the same.  I’ve tried to push through and make myself write anyway – and I’m glad I have – but writing has become much more of a burden than the life-giving therapy that it used to be.

But I want to write so badly.

Or rather, I want to want to write. And I want to be able to write.

To do that, I need a break, so that the negative feelings associated with writing (anxiety, guilt, mourning) can fade and I can start fresh and hopefully one day rediscover my ability to put words on a page.

If, however, I have a fantastic story I must tell, I will certainly tell it here. This blog isn’t going anywhere. I can’t imagine taking it down, and I can’t imagine saying with finality that I’m done. It will wait here, and I will write when I have something bursting to get out. But I need to remove myself from any sort of schedule or expectations of journalling my life.

Thankfully, at the same time I began the process of Dysautonomia and grappling with what it took from me, God gave me the gift of photography so that I could use it to help The WellHouse. That creative outlet has been my saving grace while I’ve been working through the frustration over my disability to write. It’s something I can do – something that isn’t affected by my brain limitations. It’s been a gift that I’ve been able to lean on. I never wanted photography to take the place of my writing, and it hasn’t – but as I face the inevitable fact that writing needs to pause for a bit, it gives me the creative space to feel like I’m not giving up. And, sometimes, I’ve been able to tell short and silly stories with my photos, and that kinda nearly feels like writing.

So for the next little while, Instagram (I’m @ObjectivityRach) is going to be my main internet nesting place. I’ve enjoyed posting Instagram stories (those little circles at the top of the home page) as we go throughout our day, and I very much enjoy posting photos. I hope to continue writing snippets and short stories as I post (like this one from Sunday), and I hope that you will follow me there for a time. I’ll be on Facebook too, but Instagram is my happy place, and it’s where I end up spending most of my online energy.

Thank you all for being a part of my life, for being my friends and my encouragers over the past decade. It has meant so much to me, and I have loved meeting you – both on the internet and many of you in real life. I don’t want to lose these friendships, and that has been a huge reason that I’ve pushed through to this point. Our relationships are a big part of that identity that pains me to think about giving up. So I hope we don’t have to do that. Please stay connected. Email me. Let me know how to follow you on Instagram (or other channels.) Friend me on Facebook. Text me. Stay my friend.

Thank you for living life with me.

Random Analogies of Life.

I had a groundbreaking realization the other day while running – which makes sense, since that’s when my brain is most oxygenated. (Too bad I can’t write while running or I might write as often as I used to.) But seriously – this breakthrough could change the economic direction of the American public – are you ready?

New cars are like puppies. Or at least they are while you have young kids.

New cars are so fantastically adorable when you first get one. They smell delightful. They’re clean and lovely and snuggly and fresh and feel so so good to be with. They make precious noises and snuggle with you just right. You delight in their presence and revel in their newness.

But within a year, or maybe a few hours, the kids spill Cheez-its in the seatbelt crack, drop a sucker (and leave it) on the floormat, crunch Chick-Fil-A crumbs into the now sticky sucker puddle, and can’t manage to take a single piece of trash with them. Ever.

Within a year, your adorable puppy is now a mangy mutt. It smells of dog breath and licks you with its gunk if you get too close to it. You try and clean it, but it only stays clean for about a day (and you can’t *really* ever get into all its crevices and have a completely sterile creature ever again.) It has lost all its cuteness and is now just another mouth to feed (unleaded, regular, please.) Every time someone new gets in your car, you have to say, “Sorry for the smell. I hope you don’t get licked. And don’t scratch that spot or it will soil you.”

As cute as puppies are, they’re not worth the smelly dogs they become.


The kids were watching The Trolls Movie the morning of Independence Day. I sat down watched the opening sequence with them.

Let’s review…

Against the advice of wise and paranoid Branch, Princess Poppy throws a giant party.

trolls-ariana

At Poppy’s party, they’re celebrating 20 years since they escaped from the Bergen (those evil villains who love to eat Trolls.)

So basically, they’re celebrating their Independence Day. I thought, as I sat there on July Fourth with my children, “what a perfect time to watch this movie.”

They’re shooting off fireworks and partying and …. all a bit too loudly, because pretty soon, who comes stomping through the forest, but the Grand Huntress Bergen Chef herself – she pounds through, rattling the forest, then towers over the Trolls.

Trolls-movie

She curls her lips into a wicked smile and says “Gotcha.”

Trolls-seven

That night, I was taking pictures of our own Independence Day fireworks. We were right below Vulcan, where the show takes place, closer than we’ve ever been, reveling in the beauty and party and also the loudness of it.

180704-Fireworks-at-Vulcan-IMG_9376 s

But instead of reveling in the patriotic beauty of our independence, I could not help but picture a giant, massive, ground-shaking Queen Elizabeth stomping up 20th Street, pushing past Vulcan, staring down at me,

Queen Elizabeth Gotcha sb 180704-Fireworks-at-Vulcan-straightened-IMG_9377.jpg

then curling her lips evilly down at me and saying “Gotcha.”

queen elizabeth 180704 Vulcan In Gold Dust bIMG_9317 s

I really felt like we should have learned from the Trolls movie and celebrated our Independence just a tad bit quieter. I don’t want to be fed to the British.

Here’s a Little Ditty, about Willard and Eugene.

You may remember dear, kind former neighbor, Not-Crazy-Renee. Or  maybe you don’t. If you don’t, I demand that you immediately go do your homework and read everything in this category. You won’t regret it.

Snakey Butters Buttercup made appearances in at least two of those stories. We’ll refer to her as SBB, out of mercy for my fingers.

SBB is a Butterball Python that is the pet belonging to Not-Crazy-Renee’s seven-year-old daughter. She’s been around a few years and I kinda love her. I’ve fed her, I nearly got to mid-term-babysit her (as their realtor told them they could *never* sell a house with a snake in it and so Renee was going to move SBB to my house for staging purposes, but then her husband stepped in, fed up with realtor demands, and said “If they don’t want my house with a snake in it then they don’t deserve my house!” or something similar, thereby dashing my chances of being a snake foster mom), and in general we love each other.

But Not-Crazy-Renee had the indecency to move out of state last year. She went from being my neighbor to leaving me in distress and loneliness on a daily basis. I’ve been to visit her twice, the second time being last week.

I was thrilled to see that SBB had grown tremendously since my first visit last fall. In fact, I couldn’t tell that Not-Crazy-Renee’s children had grown, but totally gushed over how tall SBB had gotten.

Imagine my further excitement when I realized that I was assigned the bedroom in which SBB stayed, her glass cage just a couple feet away from my feet. And then there was my further incandescent happiness when I realized that SBB is nocturnal – and does little cage dances in the night – cage dances that make a cracking sound and feel thrillingly like she’s going to get out and eat me at any moment. Because it was clear that she definitely wanted to eat me in my sleep.

While I was there, the time came for SBB to have her weekly meal. Since she has indeed enlarged since she lived in Birmingham, she now gets two mice instead of one. Typically, Not-Crazy-Renee puts one mouse in the cage, and upon the finishing of that mouse, she puts the second mouse in the cage – the dessert mouse if you will. This is to protect SBB from any accidental damage from extraneous mice and to not confuse the feeding process.

But NCR always gets a little wacky when I come around, and on a lark, she stuck both mice in at once.

Then we sat back with our popcorn and waited expectantly.

The mice dumbly nosed around the cage, checking out their fortuitous new digs. They nincompoopedly skittered up to SBB, sniffing her shiny, scaly body with interest. We named the mice Eugene and Willard as we watched them idiotically bump into their upcoming fate.

tenor-14

Eugene was the first to make the wrong move. He walked right in front of SBB’s face and just stood there.

giphy-23

We knew it was coming. She pounced at high speed and grabbed him up, curling herself around him and retreating into her cave to finish the job of death before starting the job of lunch.

Meanwhile, Willard kept dumbly loitering throughout the cage, clueless of the dark, choky end that his friend was currently experiencing.

tenor-13“Hey Eugene!! Come check out this cave I found!! Eugene!! Eugene??”

A few minutes later, SBB, needing to stretch out to actually swallow the now-deceased-Eugene (may he Rest In Peace), emerged from the cave and began positioning her jaw and neck (do snakes have neck? Are snakes all neck?) to work Eugene down the hatch.

As she had Eugene, face-first in her throat with his butt in the air (containing a bit of “I pooped my pants” sticking out like a last failed missile), Willard happened to walk by, chanting “der der der”, as is the custom of mice, the dumbest and naivest of all creatures.

tenor-17

But then Willard saw Eugene.

tenor-15

And I saw the scales fall from his eyes.

tenor-16

He, as the first second mouse ever to be allowed into SBB’s domain, had come to realize what this situation held.

And he ran.

He ran across the cage, found another cage, and I KID YOU NOT, started pushing woodchips in front of the entrance to create a barricade.

giphy-24

He cowered in the back corner of the cave, hoping that somehow he could wait out the wrath of this magnificently dinosauric (to him) creature.

But swallowing a mouse is no quick process, and SBB took her time getting poor Eugene down.

Willard is like me, whereas his physical response to emotions takes a few minutes to kick in. After a spell of hiding in his cave, he started shaking all over, panicking. He realized that he could not cower and do nothing. He sprinted for the cage walls and began climbing the seams, looking for any opening or looseness from which to escape.

Meanwhile, The Massive Creature behind him was swallowing the last bit of Eugene’s tail.

Willard began running and shaking, pacing and pushing, doing anything to escape this Jurassic Hell. He pondered his life, wondering what it all meant, how he had ended up here, and was this always his purpose?

SBB finished her dinner and moved on to find Willard, sensing his presence nearby. She creepily began flicking her tongue, chasing his scent in a slow, methodical, utterly horror movie fashion. She’d track him to a corner, and Willard would hightail it out of there. SBB would stick around for a minute, tasting the air, and then determining that the dinner course had indeed moved on.

Two times they came face to face, Willard being very still, thinking this would save him, and SBB tasting the breath coming out of his mouth.

tumblr_mm8pbz2BGB1r0qp6so1_500

Then Willard would peel out, spraying woodchips in SBB’s face. SBB would continue the slow, evil stalk.

I watched this for over an hour. I realized this was the first time in her life that SBB had a cognizant prey. A prey that realized he was prey and not just a dumb mouse walking into her outstretched hands (which she obviously didn’t have but those mice are so dumb she didn’t need them.) I wondered if she was enjoying the hunt. If she was feeling a primal urge inside of her to fully engage and win at something that she wasn’t predeterminedly set up to win.

Oy5o

But finally, she bored of the game. She lay down, stretching out luxuriously, facing the corner in which Willard shook and hid.

Hours later, I came in the room to go to bed. There were still two creatures in the cage. I had gone from sleeping with a snake to sleeping with a snake and his saved midnight snack. The night consisted of cave creakings and the scratches of a continuously fleeing Willard.

When I woke up the next morning, I miraculously still had two roommates. They now seemed at peace with each other, SBB givin’ Willard some respect props, both using the same water bowl and hanging out in the same area. No one was shaking, no one was hunting. They had truly become roommates – the type that maybe is infuriated by the other every now and then but wouldn’t be with anyone else. They were Chandler and Joey sharing an apartment. They were gossiping about Ross and Rachel.

After I left, Renee set Willard free. It had been nearly 24 hours and he clearly wasn’t going to be eaten.

I pondered his life, the crazy turn it had taken, and his new future, free and liberated. He had the world ahead of him, but he was probably also wounded from the horror flick he’d just lived through. He was the one character that made it out, trudging wearily from the haunted house, covered in blood and haunted by memories of his friends being brutally torn apart by the monster.

So I asked Renee. Do you think the PTSD he now lives with was worth his freedom?

I was worried for his mental peace.

But ever the optimist, she replied,

“I think of him like a gladiator that survived the arena and fought his way to freedom. He. is. Maximus Mouse.”

anigif_enhanced-28686-1397795287-2

So there you go. He is a victor. He won The Hunger Games. He survived in the evil, bloody game of life.

At least for five minutes, until a hawk snatches him up.