Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baby Steps & Migraines...

Today in Toddler Club we had a craft.
We don't always, but lately we've been having them more & more.

When I first started helping with Toddler Club I didn't feel comfortable at all.  A great deal of it might have had to do with my steady mood at the time (which as you read in an earlier blog was pretty low in the first several weeks, underneath the surface), but it's true of me - good mood or not - that I'm not a natural with toddlers (babies are different) unless I know them to a degree.  For the past 2 months, I've been more of a behind-the-scenes helper; I don't "speak toddler."  I've been getting more & more comfortable with my life here and with Toddler Club and today our craft was making future Christmas ornaments out of salt/flour/water dough rolled flat and cut into shapes.

There have been other crafts I helped out with.  But today was different.
There was no discomfort in leaving the kitchen and approaching the table where mothers were helping their little ones add flour to the extra sticky dough and then pound, roll or pat the dough flat.  :-)  I helped a little girl named May make 3 future ornaments; a flower, a star and a musical note.  I taught her how to pat it flat (we didn't use a rolling pin) and then led her over to the counter where I put her ornaments, one by one, onto the tray.  I asked her if she wanted to see her work on the tray.  She nodded and I picked her up & set her on my hip and made a fun fuss over her while I wrote her name next to each of her ornaments on the oven paper in the pan (I don't know the proper name for what I call the "oven paper" - oh well).  May.  May.  May!  Yay!  :-)

I felt part of Toddler Club today in a way that was more than helpful.
It was a baby step forward and I was really happy about it - still am.  :-)

And then came a huge surprise!

There's a little girl named Zoe whom I have adored since I met her when I first got here.  It's been one-sided.  She's one of the prettiest toddlers I've ever seen, very charismatic, very attached to her mother and very picky.  You feel special if she likes you :-)  For the past 2.5 months that I've been here, she's looked at me with a blank expression and turned away.  I've only ever seen her smile at other people.

But today... WOW.

Today, Zoe recognized me for the first time and smiled at me without quitting!  When Toddler Club was over and we were cleaning up, I tried picking her up and she loved it!  Her mom went to go & pick her older sister up from preschool and when I set Zoe down and turned my back to help put toys away, I heard her start to cry and whipped around to see if she'd hurt herself.  No.  She just didn't want me to put her down!  I was in blissful shock for the next 45 minutes!  When her mother (Anne) got back, we basically switched roles and I kept asking, "Are you sure this is the same baby??"  Anne herself couldn't believe it when she picked up Zoe and asked if she wanted to come back to me.  Zoe actually wanted me back!!  I was invited to babysit anytime,  LOL :D  As long as Zoe was perched on my hip, she was totally happy - I managed to still help pick up/drag big toys over to "the loading area" right outside the closet door where they belong.  Whenever I put her down, she cried and came over and grabbed my legs and reached her arms up for me to hold her.  WOW.  WOW.  WOW.  Twice, from a distance, she actually ran to me with open arms!  (The way toddlers run[bob] is so adorable!!)  When she did that it was SO much fun to lift her up high and then dip her low & backwards & blow raspberries against her tummy.  I'm still kind of in shock.  I hope this "new Zoe" is for real and lasts over the next few days so I can get a picture of the two of us the way we were this morning!  

Honestly, it felt like a miracle.  :-)


Last night was my fourth migraine since arriving here.  I only get usually 1-2 migraines PER YEAR and yet last night was my fourth in a 3 month time frame.  Yikes, right?

Migraines always feel like the end of the world - they feel like nothing is more painful.  And when they're over, there's not a more refreshed feeling you'll find.

I only get migraines because of stress letdown.  Once an ordeal has passed (of whatever nature) that was truly stressful enough, I'll get a migraine.  Now, this is my first year NOT in school since I can remember.  I've been in school my whole life.  And ironically, my former years had sleeping habits and eating habits that were unhealthier and undisciplined versus now.  Yet now, the migraines are piling up.  Beforehand, I had less personal peace and way less time to assess my life (past & present).  Yet now, the migraines are piling up.  There's a blood vessel on the back left side of my skull that comes right around to the middle of my forehead, and when some new major stress relief happens: migraine.

But you know what?  I've found a silver-lining - even more than that - a golden BLESSING in these migraines!  My burdens have practically stretched me in half.  When one is released, I go "boing!" like a coiled spring released.  Funny, because crying in Pilgrim's Progress is described as, "the springs in her head were loosed."  Except that stress-release doesn't automatically entail crying and the springs loosed in my head are streams of stress, which utter their dying screech in the form of my throbbing left blood vessel.  A gut feeling suggested double-checking the differences between right-brained & left-brained people.  So I did.  And btw, when I tested for this originally, I was pretty 50-50 between the two but more of a lefty...

Left Brained
Looks at parts

Right Brained
Looks at wholes

Both sets of descriptions describe me.  But I think a lot of my inner conflict (melancholy-sanguine, go figure) has come from these traits warring with each other.  When I was little, my mom always called me "her sunshine."  Yet, no sooner than after turning 13, I was picking up way more left-brained traits as coping mechanisms with what was hard, painful & unfair about life & relationships.  Hence the conflict.  I was a right-brained toddler and grew up into a well-meaning but conflicted young woman who people know as gifted, loving & forgiving but equally capable of intense vitriol & mistrust.

Since coming here to England, I've been healing so much from more than just what was recent.  I've been understanding and growing so much more.  I think that these migraines are my body's way of communicating that the excess of left-brained traits are sloughing off more & more as I return more to the design God had for me.  The changes in my heart make me feel both unfamiliar & like I've come home.  So funny how those two can cohabit, but they can.  It's as if I'm becoming someone I've always known I truly am, but I haven't seen her in ages - I've been grasping on to so much that I thought I needed to for far too long. 

But now I'm learning to let go of very old possessions & attachments and turn life-changing corners.  I'm more willing to embrace mystery outside my comfort zone.  I'm learning to trust God more steadily and keep going forward whether it's on a high plane, lower in the daily mundane, or in a random lull.

In the thick of my left-brained way of life, I never would have thought NOW would be possible.  

Now, I don't look forward to the next migraine.  I am not a masochist by any means.  
I wish there could be another way that was less painful and debilitating for my body to communicate stress letdown to me, but if another one happens, I can remember that it's like I'm living the Bible verse & song lyric that say: 

"Tears may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning ... I'm trading my sorrows & shame for the joy of the Lord."  

God is SO good.  Amen and amen.

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