All posts by katypayne

Wife. Mom of 3. Missionary.

Interdependence

I like to be in control.

I like to do things the right way.

I don’t like to need people.

(Insert life… with a cackling evil laugh.)

Hectic schedules, parenting struggles, cancer. Combine all of that with my own weaknesses and insecurities. And boy, am I limited.

But I think I’ve finally surrendered. I’ve decided not to be limited by myself anymore and found people that felt the same way. I’ve learned to live life in a way that honestly, is starting to feel it has no limits. Gasp. I can’t believe I said that.

Interdependence.

Interdependence has changed every aspect of my life. It took surrender. Giving up all the control, giving up being right and trusting others. Finding those people is HUGE. But if you do, interdependence changes your whole world.

I am no longer confined to the space where I alone can soar.

I am no longer only able to successfully take on the projects that have three components where I am strong in all of the three areas. My realm and sphere of influence is greater, multiplied many times over.

I have started living a life that is much more interdependent in basically all areas. Family, friends and coworkers. It means that now I am only responsible for my pieces, and my strengths, and that there is someone else to do the other pieces or to guide me through growing in those areas.

This concept has changed my life down to the tiny details. I’m not just talking about projects at work. I’m talking about cleaning my kitchen, selecting the right shoes, and knowing the right words to say to a child.

There a few key things that you have to do to make interdependence work.

You have to trust others.

If I don’t trust you, I can’t talk to you about embarrassing things or confess my weakness and need for help in an area.

If you find people that you can really trust with your dreams and projects and parenting struggles and your entire life, interdependence changes how you operate. If you find people who even share your dreams and want to make them happen with you, the results are exponentially insane. The places you can go and so quickly are a wild ride.

You have to give up control.

Interdependence means sometimes the idea will be someone else’s. And sometimes you will be wrong. And sometimes there will be two good ideas but you will end up going with the other person’s plan. Allowing someone else to call the shots is surrender.

If you have the trust, you’ll be willing to give up the control. And actually, if you are “deciding” to give up control, that is in your control anyway. It’s a controlled giving up of control because it’s calculated and safe, and to those that you trust and know can make the particular decision better than you for whatever reason.

You have to be willing to see your weaknesses.

You’ve got to be real about yourself and allow others to talk straight about areas you aren’t good at. In order to let others shine in the areas you don’t, you have to first be willing to admit and recognize those areas. Pretending to be able to do all the things or lacking self-awareness and thinking you are good at things you aren’t causes lots of problems for everyone. Interdependence can’t function under those circumstances. It relies on each person clearly seeing and embracing their role, and being completely good and okay with what is not their role.

You have to spend lots of time collaborating.

I like to work alone and haven’t generally seen most meetings as productive use of my time. But interdependence means I don’t get a lot done on my own anymore. I spend a lot more time in meetings, a lot more time having lengthy lunches or conversations on the back porch or coffee getting to know people. “Work” isn’t just sitting in my office with the door closed on my computer. It is much less that than ever before.

It is hours of meeting together with my team weekly. It is being a part of something much bigger than me. It is realizing that the team doesn’t function well without me, and I that I no longer function well without the team. That I am no longer satisfied with the level and quality of work I can do just on my own, because I’ve seen the potential and I’m not willing to go it alone and settle.

 

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2018 Year In Review

I’ve made a laundry list of the main events of 2018 for me. I cannot think of another year where this many significant things happened.

  • Joined the executive team of East Texas Moms Blog  as the Managing Editor
  • Went on a family ski trip for the first time ever
  • My son became an independent driver and I gave up a lot of my taxi responsibilities
  • Went on a romantic getaway to Italy with Nathan
  • Increased my work hours as well as my role and responsibilities at Hideaway Church
  •  Was diagnosed with cancer
  • Had surgery, six weeks of radiation and started medication
  • Ran away for a week with my best friend to Mexico
  • My mom was diagnosed with cancer
  • A precious new girl entered our home and hearts
  • My senior son did college applications and started getting acceptance letters

Well, that was an eventful 12 months.

It took twists and turns I never in a million years would have imagined. There were blessings and sweet surprises all along the way that I never could have predicted or asked for.

I’m thinking about my plans for 2019. I’m excited, because some things are in place to turn a few personal dreams into reality. There’s a lot of potential for me to grow this year. I plan to be healthy and well and invest in myself and do more things that I love.

But I realize that of all the significant things that happened in 2018, there were only about two of them that I was expecting. And so when I think about 2019, that kind of scares the mess out of me. Because I can make plans. I can dream and set goals and try to picture what the year will look like. I can anticipate my son starting college and some things that are just on course to happen. But for the most part, life will continue to be a surprise. The predicable, organized, planned out life that I once lived has gone by the wayside.

So here’s to being present, seizing the moments, dreaming outlandish dreams and expecting hugely unexpected things in 2019.

The Emotional Magnifying Glass of the Holidays

There’s something that happens during this most wonderful time of the year.

To the same degree that it is wonderful, it can feel terrible.

Emotion is magnified in December. The highs are higher. The same hot cocoa you drink in February feels warmer and more magical and soothing during the month of December in a Christmas tree mug while you’re wearing an ugly Christmas sweater.

There’s something about the connection with family, traditions, and the environment of warmth created by lights and music and all things lovely. It allows us to experience and connect with out emotions like no other time of the year.

Now this is the part where things get ugly. Because the emotional magnifying glass doesn’t just enlarge the happy emotions. The lows are lower. All the feelings of pain and heartache and grief are that much deeper as well.

If you’ve lost someone recently, you know this well. You know that your heart aches more this time of year. But even if you’ve lost someone years ago, and even if the loss wasn’t near Christmas, you’ll probably find that your heart aches a bit more in this season of the year.

Perhaps it’s because we see so much that looks like happiness and joy and love and contentment. Because when you are observing glimpses of others experiencing the highest of highs, your lows seem especially significant in contrast.

Beyond those who miss someone, there are those suffering in physical pain or with health issues. There are those in limbo who don’t know what the outcome of an illness will be. This year I’m dealing with some lingering physical pain, so I am able to understand this just a little bit. Ongoing physical pain is such a strong reminder of this broken world and our mortal bodies. There is nothing you can do to take away this reminder. And yet, we expect people to just be happy because we want to be happy.

There’s a place I go in December that’s not by my own choosing. Sometimes a Christmas carol will remind me of my grandmother and how much I miss her. Some yearly traditions become connected in my mind with particular people that are no longer here. And often, when I see others around me hurting and dealing with their own hard-to-face emotional magnification, my heart breaks with them. I can’t help it. I go there and feel heavy and brokenhearted.

When I land there, it’s hard to come back from. And then the sadness turns to guilt as I beat myself up for feeling dark feelings during the most wonderful time of the year.

I would imagine that almost all of you have some type of grief or experience that pulls at you in a strong way and can make you heavyhearted this time of year. Maybe you miss a family member that you spent most Christmases with. Maybe you are longing for a child that was never born into this world and thinking about what age they would have been this Christmas. Or maybe like me, you take on the pain of those around you in this season in a way that makes it feel like your own.

I don’t have lots of answers to this emotional magnification except to recognize it. Give yourself and the people in your life permission to feel hard things in deep spaces in this season. Quit trying to make everything wonderful and merry all the time. Don’t try to sugar-sprinkle-coat their pain or fix it with extra Christmas presents.

But at the same time, don’t stay there. And don’t allow yourself or the people you love to live permanently in the heaviness of grief during December. Don’t think that those around you who are hurting would rather be left alone. Make sure there are glimpses of joy and light and happiness. Sure, give them space, but not all the time.

Be attentive and in tune to the people around you.

Whether you’re making cookies and happy memories or just sitting with them in the pain as they stare at the Christmas tree. Keep people from suffering alone, and share in whatever joyful moments and “high highs” there are to experience.

Third Tree’s A Charm

Every year our family has an unusual Christmas tree. If you’re new here, find more links at the bottom of this post to catch you up.

It’s taken quite a long while for me to write down our Christmas tree story this year. I guess that’s because we just got the tree decorated on December 21. We brought the tree in on December 16 and it stood bare until a few days later. I can never remember doing it this late and never want to do so again. But now to tell you the story before Christmas has come and gone.

TREE HUNTING

We voted back on Thanksgiving break for our tree after walking out in the woods together and pointing out trees, taking photos and discussing them together. We had a clear winner and Nathan cut down the tree and hung it in the carport and sprayed it off to dry as he usually does. And then it sat a few days.

Well, while it hung outside, there started to be rumblings. By rumblings I mean talks of other trees.  Sam didn’t like the tree and didn’t vote for it and argued that his opinion should be valued more because this is his senior year. Abby argued that she actually didn’t want to vote for that tree and had tried to change her mind but we wouldn’t let her. All the while the tree took up a parking spot in our carport. (insert my eye roll here.)

ENTER TREE #2

A bit later Sam had a burst of teenage emotion and ranted for a while about the tree and his senior year and blah blah blah. Next thing we knew, he asked for the keys to the four wheeler. He went outside and found the tree that he had liked the most in the beginning. He cut it down himself, tied it to the four-wheeler, and brought it back. He hung it in the carport beside its friend. And there they both sat. Now taking up more prime real estate in my carport.

WHEN MAMA ISN’T HAPPY

I felt torn. I don’t like it when everyone isn’t happy and it makes me really unhappy. Meanwhile there was no tree in my house shining twinkly lights over me early in the morning.

Finally on Monday morning, December 16, I stayed home for a few hours and wrapped presents. Recounting to my husband that there was no tree to put them under, I then proceeded to have an emotional breakdown about the Christmas tree. Nathan decided he was done. He said he would go get the tree I had liked best and bring it in the house. And off he went.

We always spray off our trees to keep our allergy people from having trouble. Well, on this cold morning, he sprayed that tree off. But we knew we couldn’t leave it outside to dry. We had to get that guy in the house and make it a done deal while they were at school or the kids would try to negotiate when they got home.

So Nathan pulled this soaking wet tree through my living room, soaking the rug and dribbling wet pine needles all through the house. I had to hold the tree steady and balance it while Nathan bolted it in with pieces of wood to brace it and serve as a stand. I stood under that wet tree in my sopping wet socks as the tree above dripped cold water all over me.

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THE “BETTER TOGETHER” TREE

The end result was a big mess but also a big tree. About 14 or 15 feet to be exact. Not at all a “perfect shape”. But a full tree. And the secret to making it full? It’s actually two trees. Our Christmas tree is two trees. Two trees that grew together side by side and have branches intertwined among each other. One tree is much smaller and shorter, but its branches are what balances out the overall look and makes the Christmas tree full.

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The reason I liked this tree is because it actually represents something to me. It’s our “better together” tree. I’ve shared some how I’ve been learning and practicing in my personal life as well as in my work to function and live more interdependently with others. To collaborate more. To quit trying to be the full package.

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And this Christmas tree demonstrates that and reminds me. Not one tree was the full package by itself. Either one alone wouldn’t make a good Christmas tree. But together they are beautiful. They compliment each other to have all that is needed to be a great tree. To be what they are supposed to be.

The kids were fine with it. They came around and were happy enough with the tree. Finally, as it was still bare, I told my son to at least put lights on it and then do whatever they wanted as far as ornaments and that I was putting the rest of the boxes away at the end of the day. And so they threw on lights and added a few ornaments. (They were very selective about what ornaments they chose and I didn’t even get involved.) And then I just put away all the rest of the boxes and let it be what it is.

I like the idea of having a tree that reflects and represents life. This has been such a different year for me. I’ve wanted to write words lately but I haven’t had them. I haven’t been able to articulate a lot of my feelings. Honestly I’ve shed quite a few tears this year over Christmas trees and decorating and everyone’s opinions on the subject. I’m not sure exactly why, but that’s what happened. My mind has just been living in a weird space. So ending up with a tree in the living room and one that I am happy with was a really good thing.

So we finally have a tree.  It’s different and a little wacky, which reflects us well as in the past years. This year I exercised my given veto-power over the entire Christmas tree process for the first time.

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As I sit in my living room early in the morning to wrap my mind around the day, I am comforted by the glow of the lights shining down on me from 14 feet above.

Read about our past Christmas trees here:

My Family Likes Weird Christmas Trees

Christmas Tree Shelf 2017

Christmas Tree Esquelito 2016

2015 Christmas Tree Story

2015 Decorating Chubby

My Thanksgiving Without Me

This year I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. There were 18 people around my table. Family from both sides, dear friends, and people we literally just met. No joke.

This has been quite a year for me, and it was significant and overwhelming to stop the whirlwind of life and focus on all that I am thankful for. A few weeks ago I just decided what I wanted to propose for Thanksgiving. I checked with the key matriarchs, and they were on board with Thanksgiving at our house. So we went with it.

I’ve never had a Thanksgiving that meant as much to me as this one. My perspective this year is so incredibly different than ever before. First of all, cancer. The way it has changed me and changed my family. I don’t fully, and I barely partially understand it yet. The way I feel being on “the other side” is still strange and unfamiliar. But all of my  close relationships feel a little different.  We show more grace and love each other with a new lens.

My mom is in the thick of her cancer journey. There are so many things I haven’t been able to do for her, but I wanted to give her this Thanksgiving with little effort on her part. That was something I knew I could do.

We set a big table and I delegated most of the tasks and Thanksgiving felt easy and right. Nathan had both of his grandmothers here, and we both had our parents with us. We had our very dearest friends that have become family with us this year for Thanksgiving also. With all that we’ve been through together, it felt so right for this season.

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And then we had a precious girl celebrating Thanksgiving with all new people for the first time. A girl who has, at least for this season and space of time, become my fourth child in my world and in my heart. Though I have known her for less than two months, God prepared our hearts to parent her for this season and equipped us with the tools, provisions and other people to do this. It’s something miraculous and beyond my understanding, and a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Having her in the mix of Thanksgiving represented so much for all of us.

But wait, there’s more. Yet another place was set at the table just the day before Thanksgiving. A visitor came for the day on Wednesday. He was a nice guy and it turned out that he didn’t have family anywhere near to be with for Thanksgiving. So we invited this young man that we’d just met into our home to stay the night and share Thanksgiving with all of us.

Friends, life this year has changed me. I’m the gal who sets the table a week in advance and has the meal mapped out and is unhappy with people trying to rock the boat. I’m the one who doesn’t like “uncomfortable” or “being flexible” or changing the plans. I don’t love meeting new people and being spontaneous and all the problems that come with it.

But life, and this year, and oh so much love that’s been demonstrated to me. And somehow this year on Thanksgiving, I just wasn’t the same person. The “me” that I speak of wasn’t here anymore. She’s faded into the background. The things that matter and the things I feel I can do well have risen to the surface, and I’ve  chosen to focus just on doing those things.

This year I went with the flow, I allowed plans to change, and I waited until the last minute to finish all the things so that I could enjoy camping with my family the days before Thanksgiving. I was able to do this because I have people. I don’t do things alone anymore. A beautiful team of people pulled together and just created Thanksgiving in my home with ease. I had an entire crew of maybe eight participants involved in cleaning, rearranging, cooking, and finishing building a table. I literally made one dessert and green beans to contribute to the meal I “hosted”, and that was all.

Loving people has never felt easier. This year Thanksgiving made sense, and it wasn’t hard, and it was so beautiful that I cried at least 8 times in the 24 hours that followed because of all the feelings. I am so thankful for every person around this table and for what I have learned through each relationship.

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Mental Blocks

For the last little while I’ve been kind of stuck. And I’ve been waiting to get “unstuck” to figure out how to tell you about it.

I get the sweetest messages regularly asking how I am doing. And for the most part, I see them and think I’ll answer that when I can really give it the thought and attention I want to.

And then I don’t. I don’t go back and answer.

I’ve wanted to write all these notes of thanks and appreciation. I promise you that I feel so much thanks and so much gratitude, but I’ve struggled hard to get the words out to the right people.

I want to sell shirts about breast cancer awareness and promote and attend events and be “all in” for October being breast cancer awareness month. I mean, when has it ever been so relevant in my life as now? But I’m really just a working mom trying to care for my kids while feeling nauseated, tired and emotionally drained.

I can’t be inspiring all the time.

And I can’t be inspiring and positive just because I want to. Sometimes I’m just going to need to go through this thing, and then I’ll try to be inspiring later.

So this week I’m starting to get a little unstuck from the corner I’ve been camping in. As far as radiation, let me give the update that I haven’t been able to give for a bit.

I’ve had almost three weeks of radiation, which means I am about 1/2 of the way done! The treatments are daily but they are very quick and mostly painless. As far as the actual radiation, it’s mostly a hassle.

I’ve had some fatigue and pain, but not too badly yet. So far the biggest issue I’ve experienced is a lot of nausea.  They say this isn’t from radiation, so maybe from medication. Any time there is a disclaimer that anything in the world “may cause nausea”, I’m there for it. That’s how my delicate little stomach lives its’ life. So this is no surprise to me.

I had in my mind that this whole season of life was just going to be about cancer and getting through this.  Some days are like that. But did you know that there are some days that I get so wrapped up in other things that I hardly think about cancer?

Loving and serving others is a really good distraction and focus.

God brings people and projects into my life right now to keep me sane and give me better perspective. And this works only because so many others are loving me so well at this time. You fill me up in a way that allows me to have enough to give.

I Survived Radiation Day 1

Today is the day.

I started six weeks of radiation treatments. I’ll go every weekday for 30 days in a row. My schedule is basically wrecked. How my body will respond and how I will feel is all up in the air. But let’s do this thing. 

Today I wore my “Be Brave” shirt. I had a fabulous Mexican food lunch date with my love and then he took me for my first treatment.

I am so amazed at the ways God is using countless ones of you.

The cards and messages I keep receiving. The gift cards I can throw at my children when they don’t have time to come home for a meal. The precious ones who have signed up on meal train to bring us food over the next few weeks. And those of you who have given financially to help us in this season of extra burden beyond what we would be able to handle.

It’s hard for me to accept help.

But I want you to know that all of you are making it possible for me to enjoy the parts of my life that don’t have to do with cancer. The moments that I can forget, and my children can forget, and I can just be me.

Spending a Saturday afternoon shopping with my girls.

Helping my son plan how he’ll ask a sweet friend to homecoming.

Pouring energy into work that I love and reaching for goals that help me grow.

Living in the beautiful moments of this season that I do not want to miss, and that ultimately help me stay sane.

I know that I actually could have done all of this without you guys.

Kept cancer private. I could’ve handled all this with personal prayer and struggle and without letting anyone know what was going on. But as I told you, I knew from the beginning that that wasn’t what God wanted to do with my story. And if I had done that, I would have missed out on countless blessings and moments in this journey.

I want to challenge you to invite others in on your own struggle.

Consider the possibility that letting others in will impact your story. It will change your path, and it will change you.