Sunday, August 25, 2013

Five Year Plan

August 24, 2008

I’m eight months pregnant. Tomorrow is my first day teaching at a new school. My own classroom, working with kids. I will have six weeks to prepare for my maternity leave, but it will be a short-lived leave, and this will be my home for several years. I am ready.
I will finish my Master’s degree in special ed. Three more classes.

I have just finished quilting a new stocking for Dan. And Kellen. Our son, Kellen. We have no mantle, but it’s ok. We will only live in this house another year or two.
Dan will continue to go to school. He **will** graduate. And he will get an IT job.

I was a planner. I could lay out the succession of Dan’s classes, the preschools Kellen would attend, the exact date we would have a second child. And then…

… my five year plan was gone.

August 25, 2013

It’s been five years since my life changed. Changed in a matter of minutes.

I want to believe the fire no longer defines me. But I am wrong. Everything about my life, about the next five years, about the rest of my life, changed that night. It will **always** be a defining moment in my life. That’s not to say that every moment doesn’t have some impact on the next. But this was profound.
I am not a teacher, at least not a teacher in a classroom.

I don’t have a Master’s Degree.

Dan doesn’t have a degree at all.

What do I have?

I have emotional scars. Anxiety. Fear. Depression. Memories of family nights at rehab.

I have physical scars. An eye that will never be the same size as the other. A small eraser-sized scar from a PICC line. Physical nerve damage from doctors who, rather than seeing a physical illness, saw a woman struggling to deal with a life that was forever changed. Doctors who were wrong.
I also have joy. Joy of two boys. The joy of building a business from the ground up, the joy of learning a new skill and becoming an expert in that field. The joy that comes from letting go of the idea of a five year plan. The joy of reading cards, five years later, of strangers and friends who acknowledged our pain and reached out to show love.

The last five years have not been lost though. There are many lessons that come with tragedy.
I’ve learned that five year plans mean nothing. I can no sooner imagine what the next five years will bring than I can explain the universe.

I used planning to control my anxiety. If I could plan my life, I could control it, and then I wouldn’t be anxious about the unknown. It doesn’t work that way. Life happens whether we plan for it or not. And often, life happens in ways we never could have… or would have… planned.
But I have learned that there are things I can control over the next five years.

My five year plan now involves kindness, love, personal growth. Those things I am in charge of. Regardless of my circumstances over the next five years, I can choose to extend kindness to those around me. I can choose to be more mindful of my thoughts. I can choose to learn – every day. I don’t need to be enrolled in a Master’s program to continue to learn. I also want to be better at sharing my emotions even when they aren't pretty. I struggle with sadness, and I am not good about asking for help - even 5 years later after the biggest cry for help of my life.
I still have a five year plan. It’s just not measured in events anymore, events that I cannot predict. All I hope is that in five years I am more aware, more present, and that I have learned to be calm(er), even in the midst of chaos. I may not be able to control WHAT happens to me, but I can control WHO I choose to become.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

It's just a pair of jeans

It's rare that I get angry about the fire anymore.

There are still plenty of moments when we can't find something, and we go through the obligatory "Before Fire/After Fire" questioning to determine whether the item is, in fact, actually in our home today. But anger? Not really.

Except for this one pair of jeans.

It was hard for us to get pregnant (and stay pregnant) with Kellen. I gained some weight throughout the process. I had been working hard to lose it to be in better shape when I did finally get pregnant. For the first time in years, I fit into a smaller pair of jeans. I was elated.... and then I got pregnant. Like a week later!

I remember recounting this to my mom.

"It will be a good goal after you have the baby," she said. I'd know I was back to my pre-pregnant size when I could fit back into them.

Great, I thought. No money wasted. I'll be back in them in a few months.

Five years, a house fire, Lyme disease, and another baby later, I am now five pounds from that weight. But I don't have the f*ing pair of jeans.

I know, I know. It's just a pair of jeans. It's not like the stores don't have thousands of pairs in that size. But it's not the point. Those were my goal jeans. They were a milestone. As all women know, not all jeans fit alike, and I want to be able to fit into THAT pair.

It's ridiculous. I shouldn't be angry about a pair of jeans. But as anyone who's lost a house knows, it's that little stuff that seems to linger. It's the unimportant "stuff" that gets in the way.

I think part of the reason I'm annoyed as well is that I have no clothes that fit the smaller version of me. If I continue to lose weight, I will need to buy a whole new wardrobe. I know the cost of a whole wardrobe. I've already been through the irritation of having to replace a closet full of clothes.

Trust me. I am fully aware of the problems in the world. I do my part to help where I can. I get how petty this is. But it just makes me mad. I want that pair of jeans.

Scentsy Flameless Candles

It's been five years since I had a candle in my house.

The Christmas right after the fire, my mother-in-law gifted me a candle set; she was attempting to replace our wedding gift. I looked at her as though she had just betrayed me. She obviously didn't have any idea how difficult the fire was, the anxiety that accompanied my every thought of an open flame. It's five years later, and I still don't like the flame on my gas range or even the thought of a campfire.

Forty two house fires are started each day as a result of a candle. Forty two may seem statistically insignificant for a mathematician. But for those of us who have lived through the HELL that is losing your home in a fire, forty two is forty two too many. It's forty two lives that are forever changed. Forty two homes with memories consumed by flame, turned to ash. It's not a risk I'm willing to take.

I'm a busy mom. I own a business. I'm also a tad crazy. So I thought it would be a perfect time to start up a Home Candle Business just to give myself a few extra tasks on the neverending to-do list. No, really. I believe in this product. It takes a lot for me to post about a product on my personal blog, but it's that important to me. Scentsy is based out of Boise, so I've heard a lot about it since the fire. I had gotten used to a home without scents. No Pier 1 cinnamon bun candle at Christmas!

And now I have a bunch of Scentsy products in my house, and it has a smell again. When I signed up to sell, the scent is came with was Welcome Home. I wouldn't have appreciated that message nearly as much if I had never lost my house, had never had the incredibly emotional experience of walking back into my home and knowing that I was finally there.

It's amazing how smells carry so much emotional memory. The smell of a fire, for example, can propel me back in time five years ago to that night, standing atop the hill overlooking our home, staring into a black pit of ash, ash that held far too many memories. The smell of pine, though, can take me to a completely different place, to a cabin in the Sawtooths, serene, peaceful, crisp.

Scentsy's main product are flameless candles that heat scented wax over low heat. Instead of a flame, they use a low wattage lightbulb to heat the wax to minimize any risk of a fire.They are designed in such a way to still be able to create the ambiance of a candle (low light) without the hazard.

Let me know if you are interested in seeing the products Scentsy has to offer. Send me an email at brooke at homecandlebusinessteam (dot) com. If you've lost your home, mention that in the email. I want you to be able to enjoy the experience of having a candle without having to worry about your home. I know that fear all too well.