I’ve been putting off writing this post. It’s outside of my usual scope of blogging topics, so while I’ve entertained the idea for several weeks and written multiple updates in my head, I haven’t sat down to get it on virtual paper until now.
You know that from time to time I share details of my personal life here on the blog, but I figure that typically this is not why you visit The Gathered Home. So I walk a line between wanting to be open and real here on my little corner of the internet and not wanting to divert completely from the blog’s focus on “finding and making”.
But this has been such a month… SUCH a month.
I just feel the need to ‘fess up to it and stop censoring myself.
July has been an intense and whirlwind month full of the good, the bad, and the stressful. I’m going to spill my guts in a moment and I don’t know – it might sound a little unbelievable. When I sit back and list all off in my head, I’m shocked at how much you can fit in three weeks.
The short story:
(7/8) My mom had hip replacement surgery; (7/9) my sister was in a terrible car accident; (7/10) I went to Haven; (7/13) I got home; (7/15) I was blindsided by some extremely stressful blogging controversy while visiting my family; (7/15-7/22) I commuted back and forth to my family’s house to be with them during my mother’s and sister’s recovery; (7/25) Bryan and I escaped for one blissful internet-free weekend; (7/27) we arrived home to find our AC out on a 100+ degree day here in Dallas… We packed up the pets and escaped to my parents’ house and are currently still awaiting AC repair news (7/29).
The long version:
On July 8th, my mother had hip replacement surgery. It had been planned for months, and although I was a little concerned because I was supposed to leave on plane for the Haven conference in Atlanta in two days, I heard that all went well and I knew I’d be back soon to help out as much as I could.
My dad called first thing the next morning to tell me that my younger sister, Gillian, who had driven in to visit my mom for her surgery, was in a car accident on her way home. Bryan and I headed to the hospital to be with my recovering mom while my Dad drove several hours to the hospital out of town to be with my sister.
Here’s what happened: while driving home, Gillian’s truck drifted off the road and she over-corrected and ending up spinning out and slamming headfirst into a tree. Someone ended up passing by shortly thereafter and seeing her truck off the road and smoking. They were able to wake her up and help her out of the truck and save most of her important belongings before the entire thing went up in flames.
She was taken to the hospital by helicopter and the news slowly trickled in: she had broken her jaw in many, many places, fractured parts of her face, broken her nose, and was going in for surgery. The bad.
My parents’ church just swept in with open arms and filled casserole plates. Friends everywhere were eager to help out and do anything my family needed. Bryan and my wonderful in-laws arranged everything for bringing my mom home from the hospital the next day. The good.
And my family insisted that I still fly out the following morning.
So on July 10th I anxiously boarded a plane to Atlanta, full of one level of stress of traveling alone for the first time ever, and magnitudes greater concern for the wellbeing of my family at home. I spent the flight trying not to awkwardly begin sobbing to the stranger next to me. The bad.
The Haven blogging conference was amazing. Anything I can say about it sounds incredibly cliché, but it was a surreal experience of friendship and education.
As a severe introvert, I was amazed to watch my shyness completely dissipate as I experienced what life might be like as more outgoing person. I discovered that small talk, which generally makes me exceedingly uncomfortable, comes perfectly naturally when everyone has so much in common! It was just so exciting to meet so many of my wonderful online friends and make new ones.
If you’re interested in more in-depth recaps of the conference experience I will refer you to Katja’s, Julia’s, Emily’s, Caitlin’s, and Amber’s awesome posts – all fantastic bloggers I was thrilled to meet in real life! After reading their posts, I really couldn’t add much more. The good.
While filled morning to midnight with fun, my weekend was tempered with concern for news from home. I felt rubber-banded back and forth from enjoyment to worry to sparkles to heartache. Despite my marvelous experience at the conference, I was oh so very ready to fly home on Sunday. I carpooled to the airport six hours early with a friend and spent the day trying to catch an earlier flight home and hammering away at an exciting blog post for the following day.
On Monday, the 14th, I published July’s Knock Out Knock Offs post, a detailed and intensive DIY tutorial of a wall hanging available from Urban Outfitters. The following day, I was contacted by the company that designed/made the product being sold at Urban Outfitters, while en route to my family’s house to wait with my mom to hear the results from my sister’s second surgery. Perfect timing.
It’s a long story and one I’m still not eager to rehash, but suffice it to say these people weren’t happy about my perfectly-legal DIY project and proceeded to pitch a fit on social media that turned ugly very quickly, despite my initial attempts to resolve the issue. I was so upset by the whole thing and it left such an utter distaste in my mouth for my project and the company that I removed the post. Let’s just say I do not thrive on conflict. From Tuesday through Wednesday night I was absolutely physically ill with stress, anxiety, and panic attacks every time my phone buzzed with a new social media notification. The bad.
But do you know what? Those fantastic, wonderful friends I had just hung out with for 72 hours at Haven stepped up, had my back, encouraged me, defended me, and reassured me. This aspect of blogging is beautiful, and despite the incredibly stressful circumstances that prompted it, I was honored to be on the receiving end of such friendship and community. The good.
Once that situation was resolved, or at least laid to rest, I was able to devote my attention to my family once more. My sister was able to come home. Unfortunately I came home from Haven with some sort of allergy/sinus/cold so I couldn’t see her right away for fear of getting her sick. But finally the day came that I could come visit and give her the hug I had been waiting to for two weeks. The good. It was so incredibly hard to see this precious woman in so much pain. The bad.
Family health update: Gillian’s surgeries both went well and her surgeon is pleased with her recovery. She will have her jaw wired shut for several more weeks due to the many shattered pieces that are healing. Right now she can only consume liquids through a straw. It’s a painful healing process, but she has an indomitable spirit and is plugging away at her second novel during this recovery period. (Find out more about her writing here.) I also managed to get her hooked on Dollhouse on Netflix. 😉 My mom is also recovering well from her hip replacement surgery and we are all spending some quality time together.
Several weeks before all this chaos went down, Bryan and I had planned a weekend getaway to the Austin area to visit some friends who recently opened a brewery (Save The World Brewing Company – go read all about it!). Given recent circumstances, I was torn between (a) wanting to visit with them, enjoying a relaxing weekend away, and (b) just collapsing on the couch with some Sour Patch watermelon candy and Netflix (my therapy of choice).
I’m so glad we went. Our friends are the most gracious of hosts and the sweetest of people! Bryan and I drank their fantastic beer, went for a kayak ride, visited a local vineyard for a wine tasting, and enjoyed delicious food and gorgeous lakeside views. Oh, and we didn’t have any internet. My phone was useless. I left it in my room. Most of the time. (To be honest, occasionally I would watch it lazily scroll for internet service and hope for a spurt of 4G connection to check emails… Yes, I admit it – I am an addict.)
See that? That’s bliss right there. Distraction-free, breezy blue bliss. The good.
A stark contrast to what awaited us when we opened the door at home after our three and a half hour road trip back: a heat wave to rival the one outside. Our neighbors had graciously been watching our cats for us and mentioned that the air conditioning unit outside had been making a strange noise recently. And apparently on Sunday it decided to give up the ghost entirely. The temperature inside was almost 90 degrees, which was less than pleasant for humans, but very concerning for our pets, especially our chinchilla Pocket. The bad.
Chinchillas apparently do not do well in temperatures above 75 degrees, and he was wilting. (Side note: the photo above is just a regular photo of napping Pocket – I didn’t stop in his suffering to snap a photo.) We made calls to our home warranty company, but they weren’t able to schedule anyone to come out on Sunday afternoon, so we quickly packed up Pocket, Abby, Tina, and their various paraphernalia, threw our still-packed suitcases back in the car, blasted the cool air, and road tripped over to my parents’ house. They welcomed us with open arms, zoo and all. The good.
And here is where I am currently.
Bryan went home last night to await an early-morning repair visit, but I wasn’t up to camping out in the heat in our upstairs bedroom. Call me spoiled. I know it’s a first world problem, but I’m thankful for my family’s hospitality and refrigerated air!
And as a nod to the DIY spirit of this blog, I present his late-night DIY cooling contraption. Never say I don’t share awesome projects with you:
If you’ve made it this far into the post, you now have one resourceful alternative to indoor air conditioning. I told you this was a DIY blog. Go ahead, pin it.
So my July…
Good. Bad. Stressful. A painful blend of all of the above. A nearly lethal affront to this control freak.
Obviously, what has happened is not all about me, and I have not had the worst time of it. (Although I may be the most vocal/overdramatic). Our family has been torn down, built up, and knocked over again but given and received enough love to see us through it.
And I just had to share that with you today. The patchwork of chaos that is my life right now. The stiches of good that bind it all together.
Thank you for being part of “the good”.