The post you should probably just skip

I’ve been wrestling with this post for about 25 days, but I think it’s time I publish it so I can move on. I’m taking a firm stance against something many people hold dear. I’m sharing negative thoughts and feelings on an issue in a way that I usually just keep to myself. I’m standing in stark opposition to many of my friends and neighbors, but it’s really nothing new about me, y’all just didn’t know it before. Once this is out there, it’s out there. No going back. I’ll probably instantly regret clicking the publish button, but here goes.

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October is not my favorite month. What I want to say is that I hate October, but I tell my kids “hate” is a very strong word and should be used sparingly. So, I’ll just go with I really really really dislike this month and use hate a bit later.

Now, some of my best friends love October, and I can respect them for that. I’m not trying to say that everyone should feel the way I feel about October. I’m happy for you if you love it. I may not understand or agree with your reasons, but if you’re happy, I’m not trying to take that away from you. Please don’t take it personally, unless your name is October, then of course  you know I love you. Even if you love everything on this list, I still love you and I hope you can still love me when you hear all my grievances with the 10th month. (Or you can stop reading now and save some shred of your admiration for me.)

1) Football. It’s on some channel every night of the week. And baseball is still on for most of the month, so there is no escape from sports on TV. Take me out to a ballgame, I’m a happy girl. Sports on TV, not so much (Olympics are the exception! And maybe now the World Series since Cubs.). In our current home, we don’t have an actual TV, since it has been in transit from the Middle East to Virginia for the past five months, so we watch TV on our computers and devices. So that’s multiple screens being watched. By the same person. In the same room. Three games at a time? No problem. Except, yes problem. Can we fast forward to the Super Bowl and be done with this sport for the year?

awareness-ribbons-and-their-meanings_55ca34a839f96_w15002) Awareness Months. According to Wikipedia, October is home to no less than 25 awareness causes. And they’re big ones, too: Breast Cancer, Down Syndrome, Bullying Prevention, Pregnancy and Infant Loss. Every year there seems to be more. Each and every cause is dear to someone’s heart and all month long my social media feed is crowded with fundraising and awareness posts. Ok ok ok, I’m aware, I’m sad, I’m heartbroken, I see you, I’m holding a place for you, but my little ol’ heart just can’t hold it all and I just want to crawl into a hole until November (only 7 causes there). I’m already overwhelmed with the broken state of the world anyway and October’s awareness month bonanza about does me in. Why saturate October? I’m sure January, February, March and July could all hold a few more causes. At least October is also National Pizza Month, so I can eat my feelings for a cause!

3) Election seasons. Do I even need to expound on this? 2016 is especially bad, but every year this is the last lap for politicians to do their best (worst?) to get votes and I just want to mute everything.

4) Pumpkin Spice. Everything is pumpkin spice, which is bad enough, but then all the people crazy about pumpkin spice everything never ever stop going on and on about it. Stop the madness and give me my peppermint everything!

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5) Columbus Day: We get one official day off this month and it’s to commemorate someone terrible. I love that in some communities, they’ve changed the name of the holiday to celebrate something else, but come on, it’s 2016! Can’t we do better?

6) Halloween. First, there is one and only one thing I like about this holiday. Cute and clever costumes. I love it when families wear theme costumes or work together to make homemade costumes. I’ve had fun dressing my own kids up as our last name, but I think we’ve reached the ages where that’s not going to work anymore. Sigh.

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Ayla on left, Judson on right (twins 3 years apart)

I hate the glorification of everything scary, gross, slutty, demonic, death-related, and gory. People here start decorating early in the month and it’s inescapable by the end. Everywhere in my once-sweet neighborhood there are ghosts, corpses, bloody heads and hands and zombies. If it were just spiders and skeletons, I don’t mind. That’s nature and science! But this world is hard and scary enough as it is, I don’t understand the need or desire to spend money on making it worse.

Here’s another thing. I have a problem with candy. I don’t like having candy in my house, I don’t like people giving my kids candy, I don’t like my kids asking for candy constantly when they know we have it, I don’t like the expectation that I’m going to give someone else’s kids candy (or whatever healthy or non-food alternative is suggested). I have this problem every holiday that involves candy (which is all of them), but Halloween is the worst.

I realize my issues with this holiday are very personal and American culture is not going to let Halloween go away, so I’ll just have to continue navigating my way through the blood-soaked headless corpses that line the way, but I don’t have to pretend to like it!

I have social anxiety about this, too, because I don’t want to make other people feel bad if they do like Halloween. I don’t want to miss out on the opportunities to get to know people in my community by avoiding events. I don’t like feeling like the weird one for not wanting to spend money on costumes, decorations or candy that serve a purpose that I wholeheartedly disagree with.  I thought we’d avoid Halloween when we moved to a Muslim country. Halloween is forbidden there, so we’d be safe, right? No! The Embassy went all out to decorate the halls and even outside public spaces, so for the entire month of October I had to take my kids through a haunted hallway just to go to the pool. It was out of control! I’m seriously not trying to take away anyone’s right to celebrate or decorate for whatever reason they choose, but there is no space for me to not have it in my face. November first can not come soon enough!

So, there it is. All my soul vomit about October, released to haunt cyberspace forever. But vomit is gross, so that’s in the spirit of Halloween, right?

All month-shaming aside, I know plenty of good things happen in Octobers. Wonderful people are born in Octobers and many good times ensue. I, myself, have experienced God’s new mercies every day so far this month, spent time with people I love and, for the most part, enjoyed life. It’s just a month and I can get through it, having many meaningful and enriching experiences. November is one of my favorite months, so if I have to pass through October to get there, I will. Every year. (Unless/Until I figure out a way to skip it.)

How about you? Want to correct me on why October is absolutely the best month ever or commiserate with me on why it’s not? Do you have any coping strategies I could use to get through it or referrals to a therapist who could help me work out some of my issues (but not all of them, I still want to be funny)?

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Beginning of the Ending(s)

As I type this, the clock is ticking down the last day of this month. When we hit May (like in a few minutes), the changes will be fast and furious for our little family.

IMG_5498We decided to put the kids in the Embassy day care for our last month here. I’ve held out for almost 3 years, relying on our wonderful part-time nanny, the preschool co-op I started with friends, copious playdates and just actually spending time with them myself. But now, the many closets and drawers in this house and their possibly unnecessary contents are beckoning me, so I’m taking this next month to downsize and organize. The kids will be happily entertained and I will have some time to get my act together.

So, we’re moving. And I’ve realized that as a communication major, I’ve done a terrible job of communicating about what our future holds. Part of the reason for that is not actually knowing, and part of it is that for now, this blog isn’t high on the list of things that gets my time and attention. (Sorry. Really. It’s not always going to be this way!)

We are moving to (drum roll) Arlington, Virginia! I can spill more when the ink is dry, but it looks like we’re going to rent a townhouse in a neighborhood there we know and love, not far from some of our favorite people. There are not enough exclamation points in the world to express how I feel about this provision.

So, with that as a known (finally), I can start to get Ayla prepared for the Kindergarten (Kindergarten!!!) she’ll be going to and think of the fun I can have with Judson while she’s at school.

IMG_5424But before I get too far down that road, I still have loads to focus on here. The biggest challenge is to be present for my people here. I need to be here for my kids, who need their mom to still be in the moment with them, who don’t quite understand future tense but absolutely feel the tension and stress of upcoming changes without being able to articulate it. I need to be here for my friends, some of who are leaving with me and others whom I will sadly leave here. I know I won’t get these days with them back and I don’t want to wish them away.

I have the Semisonic lyric in my head as I type, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

I’m interested in how you’ve ended a chapter in your life well (or not well). Advise me, friends. How do you balance planning for the near future and staying present in the now?