Human Highlights: Surviving Stress

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy life’s little lovelies in the interim.


Human Moment: Friday, June 23

Normally I look forward to writing these installments, making mental notes of my highlights and humanness during the week. I’m struggling with this one.

My week has been one continual human moment. I’ve been filled with stress, like a riptide that lurks just beneath the surface. At times it’s altered my mood, thinned my patience, and flared my tension spots.

But…I’m not ready to tell you about it. I try, but there’s a wall there, like a dam. A no. A not yet. I’m still processing. Still sifting. Still listening.

Even though I’m not ready to talk about it, I also can’t pretend that it’s not happening. I’m not a pretender. A dreamer, yes. A pretender, no. That’s why I’m struggling with this post.

Every word that I’ve typed on Commode To Joy has been true. I’ve shown you personal parts of me, my thoughts, and my life. To skip over this as if it’s not happening would be dishonest to me, thus, dishonest with you. I can’t do that.

So here’s what I can tell you: I’m having surgery Monday, tomorrow.

It’s a date that I’ve awaited long before it was ever set on the calendar. It’s an operation that I want, and at one point was willing to beg for. It’s also a very big decision.

In my 20s I became aware that I still had a lot of time left in life. (This was not a premonition. It’s an assumption that I’ll make it well into my 80s.) I realized there was still time for me to make decisions and then completely change my mind – without much consequence – thanks to youth.

I pictured life as a big hill, a ¾ climb followed by a ¼ downward slope. As you near the crest of that hill, big decisions continue to be made – marriage, children, career, where you’ll live, and so on. At the crest, you look back on your life and see the decisions you’ve made that have gotten you to this point, for better or worse. I knew that, at some point, my decisions would be with me forever; for life.

Choosing to get married? Big life decision. Wasn’t a difficult one for me to make.

Having a child? Big life decision. Easy peasy. We were ready. We had a child.

This decision? Big. No going back.

It’s easy and it’s not easy. 98% of me screams yes. 2% whispers no. That 2% has been making her presence known all week. She’s the stress, the undercurrent threatening to take me under.

If you know me, you know that I typically don’t operate in percentages. I’m black and white with decisions because I follow my gut instinct. Always. It’s never let me down or led me astray ever. Not once. Except my gut doesn’t always weigh in. Sometimes it lets me just live my life. It might offer guidance in the process, or it might not.

For this surgery? No gut instinct. I’ve got my head (98%) and my heart (2%), and my gut sort of shrugs. Whatever you decide Jamie. It’ll be okay.

My head knows that there’s no turning back from this surgery, and that scares my heart. But not having the surgery means that I keep turning in circles, and I can’t keep turning in circles. So I’m doing it. Majority wins, and here I go. Forward trajectory.

That’s what I can tell you.

I’ll also ask something of you.

Whatever your deity is, however you connect to God, Source, The Universe, Nature, Jesus, Buddha, Mother Mary, or your Angels. Whether you’re religious or spiritual. Whether you’re New Age or newly ordained. Please say a prayer for me. Please send me your high vibes and feel goods. Please think of me and wish me well. Don’t feel bad for me. Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t add worry to this equation. Add love.


Because I do believe everything will be okay. And I also believe in the power of prayer. I’ve experienced firsthand what it means to have love coming at you so powerfully from so many directions that it washes away all undercurrents and leaves peace in its wake.

With a ready mind and loving (and slightly scared) heart, thank you.


Highlight: Friday, June 23

CrossFit. I went in the afternoon to get one last workout in prior to surgery and to work out some stress. With one round left of the wod, with accelerated heart rates, shallower breaths, and sweaty skin, my fellow CrossFitters started cheering one another on. Hootin’, and hollerin’, as folks back home would say. What began with claps ended with smiles and extra steam to attack that last round.

There’s something to be said for being with a group of people that are all experiencing the same difficulty and still take the time to support one another. It collectively lightens the load.


Life’s Little Lovelies: Saturday, June 24

A wedding, at a place surrounded by buildings, many of which my dad built. At a reception in the same room as my high school proms. Both people and food from my childhood. With Mark, right by my side.

It’s the first time we’ve breathed as a couple recently. Sure, we go out to dinner back home, but it’s not like this. Here we aren’t so close to our house that it’s tethered to us; a reminder that responsibility is just a short drive away. Here, it’s just the two of us.


We do a lot of grinning, which reminds me of when we dated. The sun shines off of his hazel eyes, and I feel a swell of how much I like him. Do I love the guy? Of course. He’s the family member I chose. But I also really like him. As a person. As a friend. As a partner.

At first I thought the wedding would be a distraction from my surgery. Nah; I didn’t have to keep shooing thoughts of what’s ahead from my mind. Instead, the whole experience was a grounding. It always is when I return to my roots.

What are your Human Highlights from the week?

Human Highlights: The Tesla

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy life’s little lovelies in the interim.


Human Moment: I’m not writing one this week. I’m too excited about my Highlight.

Wait. Did I just write a Human Moment? I think I did. About defiance.




Highlight: I stopped by the hospital Friday evening to say hi to Mark. One of the docs leaving the parking lot offered to give me a ride in his Tesla. Duh.

I get in and he’s showing off how quiet it is and pushing all kinds of buttons on the giant touch screen that operates everything in the car. “Do you like going fast?” he asks. “Yep.” “You like roller coasters?” “I love them. I think it’d be fun to ride with the Blue Angels some day.”

He drives over a speed bump and stops. “Between here and the next speed bump, it’ll go from 0 to 50.” The next speed bump is roughly 60 feet away, but I don’t have time to process that information because he stomps the accelorator.

Feet kicking against the floorboard, shrieking laughter, one hand on the door handle and the other on Doc’s arm – I was having flashbacks of Mr. Freeze, a ride at Six Flags St. Louis that launches out at 72 miles an hour and takes my breath away.

For as much as I love hills, corkscrews, loops, and turns of coasters, I’d forgotten how much shooting straight out scares me. The Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Ohio blasts from 0 to 120mph. I’m not sure how my skin stayed attached to my face on that ride. I am sure that it was too fast for me.

I’m rethinking my statement about the Blue Angels when…

Next Tesla demo. Doc changes the driving mode with the push of a button on the fancy screen. My car has driving modes too, like reverse, drive, and one extra – sport, which is great for taking turns.

The Tesla’s driving option that Doc pushed? “Ludicrous”. No really, that’s a driving mode. It’s one notch faster than “Insane”, if you’re interested.

“Waaaaahhhh!!!! Whoooooo!!! Haaaaaaaahahahaha!” I hyena-d from the passenger seat. The good doctor leaned toward his window trying to get away from my loud mouth.

The Tesla goes so damn fast it tickles the lady parts. No joke.

The next time you’re at a carnival or theme park, observe the rides like the giant ships that rock back and forth. Note how many riders are female. That’s because those rides tickle the hoo-hah like you wouldn’t believe. Not in a turn me on way. More like an insane laughter type of way because how in the heck does it tickle there so much?

My husband says guys don’t experience rides that way. It’s a good thing, because in the case of the Tesla, your nuts would be in your bladder. Doc would have to surgically remove them for you.

Moral of the story? No moral. Other than I have no business ever driving one of those cars unless it drives for me. And, this was hands down the highlight of my week. All 2.8 seconds (times two).


Life’s Little Lovelies: The Forsyth Family Fest. This year Miller is tall enough to ride the spinning strawberries (same concept as the ever famous teacups). This boy likes rides too. Looks like we have a lot of theme parks in our future. And maybe a Tesla ride or two.

Strawberry Ride

What are your Human Highlights from the week?

Supporting Children For Who They Are (not who we think they should be)

Leaving Target yesterday, another mom said to me, “I like his nails,” referring to Miller’s fingernail polish. “Thanks,” I responded smiling. “He likes having them painted.”

“My son was the same way,” she said gesturing to a boy who looked to be around 9. “He still likes getting pedicures.”

I’ve witnessed only a few people chide Miller for wearing polish, because “it’s for girls”, to which I smile and say, “He loves it, so that’s what we do.”

My goal is not for Miller to conform to all of the labels reserved for boys – it’s to raise him to be confident in who he is, however that winds up looking.

One of the biggest gifts we can give our children is to support them for who they are. Not who we think they should be, not what society tells us is acceptable, but for who they’re showing us they are.

To the little boys who like wearing nail polish and the little girls who play with cars and trains. To the girls who prefer short hair cuts and to the boys who enjoy pedicures. Keep showing your true colors.

To the adults in these little ones’ lives, whether you’re the full-time caregiver or a perfect stranger in a parking lot, when they show up, show them love. Not disapproval or ridicule, but love. Again and again and again.

It’s the simplest thing we can do for them…and it’s everything.


Human Highlights: Walk Despacito

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy life’s little lovelies in the interim.


Human Moment: We went on a “walk” around mom’s neighborhood. That translates to Miller pushing his Thomas toy until seeing something of interest and putting in the storage seat. Then he’ll stop, lie on the sidewalk, and push Thomas back and forth to watch the wheels work. At one point Thursday evening he announced that he had to potty. We mad dashed to mom’s yard so he could take care of business.

Take Two: About halfway around the walking loop – after filling Thomas with more items of interest (rocks, weeds, etc…) – we stopped to play with some little neighborhood girls. Fifteen minutes later we were on the move again until we halted for some good “bumps”. More lying down, more pushing Thomas over a deteriorated part of sidewalk covered with concrete chunks aka the bumps. At this point I’m reminding myself that it’s about the journey, not the destination…but I’m really over it.

Remember the days of yesteryear when you could go out the door and just…walk, briskly if you wanted? Get the heart pumping and the lungs expanding.

Instead my lungs were expanding hollering, “Miller come on, let’s go!” Mom’s house was in sight but far from reach teasing us from the end of the block.

“That’s it.” I commandeered Thomas. Desperate times and all. I thought it’d tick Miller off enough that he’d chase after me to reclaim his toy.

Guess what? It didn’t work. He once again *lay on the sidewalk and watched me crab walk that piece of plastic down the sidewalk.

The story (and walk) ends with me carrying Miller the final block home. Mom carried Thomas.

You saw that coming, right? If so, you’re steps ahead of me. Pun. Intended.


Highlight: I heard this song on Friday and have been listening to it on repeat pretty much ever since, so much so that Miller is now randomly saying Despacito. Obsessed.


Life’s Little Lovelies: For as long and drawn out as that walk was…I secretly enjoyed it. That’s the crux of being a mom. Your kid, the laundry, the dishes, keeping up with food and grocery shopping, the constant constant constant interaction and responsibility can rid you of patience and sanity, and still? You love it…


Miller is in the frame with me, unseen, because he’s still lying down.


…even if it doesn’t always look like you do.

What are your Human Highlights from the week?

*I looked up the past tense of lie. According to the interwebs, it’s lay. So while this looks incorrect, apparently it’s right.

Reality Is Relative

Earlier in the week, I was in public with a good friend. We were comparing mom notes – not notes about being moms; notes about not becoming our mothers.

“I don’t think you’ll have much of a choice,” a woman around our age said authoritatively before changing her tone. “My mom died when I was 23,” she added in a hushed voice typically used in libraries and funeral homes. “She’s been gone fifteen years and I still catch myself saying things just like her.”

Her sympathetic tone didn’t mask the patronizing undertones that suggested, Clearly you don’t understand this kind of loss, otherwise you wouldn’t say such things.

Oh but I do. I do understand a very similar kind of loss, and I disagree with your approach. Wielding your pain against others with a different reality helps no one; it creates more hurt.

My dad died when I was 26. Up to that point, he did a whole lot of things that drove me nuts. Example: If dad walked by me and I was unsuspecting, he’d take his index finger and brush it under my chin once quickly, similarly to how you’d rub a cat’s chin.

“Dad! Quit it!” I’d yell while swatting the air. “Why do you do that?!” I didn’t get this pesky quirk of his.

With a gleam in his eye, he’d answer from a safe distance, “Your skin’s soft.” as if that explained and absolved everything.

Fast forward to today. I can’t guess how many times I’ve done the same thing to my son – one quick swipe of the finger under the chin. I can’t help it. His skin is so soft and he’s so stinking cute and I just love him!

I see the joke. I tell myself, “Do unto others, Jamie. You know how much you disliked that…” and I choose to do it anyway. Every time I grin and shake my head. I get it dad. I get it.

When someone dies, the things they once did that drove you bonkers become a little cute. You know it won’t happen again – it can’t happen again – and that knowledge replaces any hint of annoyance with fondness.

Swap out dad with mom and it’d go a little something like this: Remember how many styrofoam cups of iced tea mom used to leave behind? Or how about when she’d forget her cell phone on the counter and you couldn’t call her to tell her; you just had to wait for her to figure it out? Oh mom.

That’s the sentimental recollection of days gone by. The current reality: I spot mom’s forgotten items and barrel out the front door hollering, trying in vain to flag her down as she pulls unaware out of the drive.

I’m sure the gal who spoke to me and my friend would like the opportunity to experience one more habit of her mother’s that would have once elicited an eye roll. I often wonder what my reaction to Dad would be if he walked in the door and swiped my chin again. I’m guessing I’d automatically start swatting and yelling, just like old times.

That’s why when a friend shares a frustration about their dad, I don’t go to the wounded place and think, You’re so lucky! I don’t put on condescending you have no idea pretenses. I meet the person where they are and think, Yep, I get it. Because I get it. Because when my dad was alive, I had similar experiences.

Will I continue to swipe Miller’s chin on occasion a la my dad? Probably.

Will I ever leave something at a friend’s house accidentally just like mom? It’s already happened twice this week. I left Miller’s toys at one house and my socks at another.


How do you forget your socks?

Am I becoming my parents? Yes. And I’m simultaneously becoming more of myself.

Will I use my pain as a weapon against someone with a different reality? I hope not.

Whatever kind of hurt you’ve experienced – loss of a loved one, infertility, medical diagnosis, divorce, etc… – your reality does not trump, discredit, or nullify someone else’s reality. Your truth might not be their truth.

It doesn’t have to be.