Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My advent plan. Part 1

It's been rough around here lately. For me at least. Real rough. I once read somewhere that the first 3 weeks you move somewhere new you will feel like you are on vacation. 3 months later you feel like you want this all to be over and you'll want to go home. And then, later, some months later, it will all start to work out and be "normal."

I'm hittin' that 3 month mark (although we are going on 5 months now , aren't we...goody) like a champ except  *it's* winning. And I feel like telling a story.

Last Lent - yes, Lent, not Advent - I "gave up" Facebook. I gave up Facebook for two reasons.

1) The internet and all it's attractions were taking too much of my time away from my family. Not only was I chatting with friends and family through Facebook, but I was also reading blogs, articles, doing research for Homeschooling/Theology class, etc. Just spending lots of time on the computer. Not actively *with* my kids. And I hated the thought of them always seeing my face in front of a screen. Hated it.

 2) Facebook was killing me. Literally.

Most of you practicing Catholics will know that the beginning of last year was a rough one for us ol' Papists living in the U.S. This year coming up will be no better, I fear. And any time anything controversial happens in America, it's not the news channel we switch on first, it's social media. Because we all want to discuss "it."  We had to talk about it. It was important. We had to change hearts! We had to stand up for those that couldn't speak for themselves!  We have a responsibility!! And I was *on* it. I entered all those debates. I read all the articles, I commented and posted and checked and checked and checked to keep the conversations going. Meeting the opponent head on. Because in my family, when someone is wrong, you talk it out to find the truth, until you both see the truth, and if you walk away in disagreement, that means you didn't talk long enough.

And it was killing me.

 At first I seriously just thought I was ill. I was pale, having trouble sleeping, I had no appetite, prone to bouts of crying. I was short winded. Couldn't catch my breath. And the scariest thing...my hair was falling out, in huge clumps. No joke. This is what sent me to the doctor where she took a whole bunch of tests, asked me a whole bunch of questions. I was hoping something was wrong. Please just let it be anemia, or Vitamin D deficiency, something that I could understand and treat and get on with my life, because right then I couldn't take care of my kids properly, I had no energy, no patience, no presence. I was wilting. And I was scared. Because nothing was wrong with me. In fact, the doctor's words were, "incredibly healthy." And that was worse. Because I came home thinking there was nothing I could do to make myself better. No pill or diet. I couldn't live like this!

All of this happened right before Lent.

I decided to go off of Facebook for Lent. I figured it would be a good sacrifice because not only would I be giving something up but I would also be able to use that time to spend being really present to my kids and it would also help cut down on screen time overall. I made a rule that the computer would only come out after the kids were in bed, and that  I would only check email. And I stuck to it.

Over the next 40 days, very slowly, my health began to improve. I felt some peace in my mind and heart. And I realized, as my body healed, that what I had been experiencing, was one long, drawn out, anxiety attack. Because I just couldn't shut it all off. I couldn't shut it all out.

Since then I have had people ask me why I'm not on Facebook and I try to explain (I leave out the hair falling out part because then they sort of just start moving away slowly ). I always get the same response, "just block those friends," "just skip the articles," "just get on there every once in awhile to look at pictures," etc. etc. I tried that. The moment I started to put in my password to reactivate my account I had a panic attack. Facebook represented sleepless nights and a sour stomach, not friends and pictures, and funny convo's about the smells you smell in a public restroom. I just couldn't do it.  It might help you to know that my personality type is an INFJ, and that I am a Melancholic, if you are into that type of stuff. Needless to say, these types of personality take everything to heart and can be passionate to a point of obsession. (they are also really friendly and kind, and make good cookies, and I promise I'm not weird, and  you still want to be my friend right?, right?!...*crickets chirping*.........)

And since then I have visited Facebook about 10 times. And for only one purpose...to see the people I love.

It's the only place where I get to see pictures of my very pregnant sister sheathed in all black accepting her doctorate degree. It is the only place where I can see that same baby wearing the knitted things I made for her just a couple months later. And it's the only place where I can see my godchildren. And when you can't hug people, you at least want to see their faces.

Darn you, Facebook! (keepin' it G-rated, but boy, I oughta'...)!

Why did you just have to read all that?

It's Advent. Advent is the beginning of a new Liturgical year in the Catholic Church.  In our house we try to celebrate the people, events and seasons of the Liturgical Year as much as possible. Advent is a big one.  We try to stress to our children - who are so young, and so very excited about Christmas Day - that  this is a time in the Church when we are preparing and waiting in joyful expectation for the birth of Christ. An event that changed the world forever.  I once told a friend (over Facebook, ironically) that I like to think of Advent in the same way that people like to look at New Year's Day. Purging, Clearing out, Preparing, Examining.

There are a lot of reasons why I am having a hard time right now, all related to the move of course. And while I promise that my hair has not been falling out (although I'd probably have to brush it to know), I have been feeling without patience, not present to the kids, and anxious. It probably doesn't help that along with the lovely peace and clarity that came with dumping Facebook, also came a complete void in terms of human, adult interaction. Couple that with moving to a new country, and you have complete isolation. That doesn't help. And as much as I would love to keep filling the blog up with crazy stuff that happens in Poland, and the plans for our new home (first drafts are in!), my heart is just not in it.

Something has to change. I, who had a handle on life in Texas, but apparently not  in Poland, am really gonna have to change things, because I have a lot of plans for this family and none of them include me wasting away in sweats, eating December 12th - 23rd out of the chocolate Advent calendar wallowing in a mixture of self-pity and resentment. "Deactivate."

I've got 4 weeks.
Starting now.
 So, only 3 weeks really...darn....

Yesterday. It has been snowing on and off for the past 3 days. It started Sunday night. A beautiful start to our Advent season.
Lina's new sweater! I am proud. (why is her forehead so massive? that's a picture of a talking house)
This happened while I was knitting.


Not one to be left out...

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel...


  1. I HATE the idea of you being far away, feeling so isolated. Do you still use your yahoo email? Send me your mailing address ASAP (please ;)). Huuuuuuugs!!! (real tight ones)

    1. Thank you, Lacey! I can feel the hugs! Plan a trip to Poland in 2015, give me something to look forward to.

      I have the same email although that old one is mostly for accounts and junk email. The one connected to this blog is the one I check the most. It's in the "about me" page.

    2. Blurgh! Well, I emailed your Danze yahoo address earlier... and for some reason I can't find your blog email using my iPhone browser (user error, I suppose). Just do me a favor and respond to my email with your new address ;)

  2. Are you close to Krakow? Go to Gaming, Austria- land of many, many Catholic Americans (facebook ;) Bobette Huzovic- she's a great friend- American with Slovak husband)

    1. Haha...I am actually going to look this place up and see what Martin says. I would give anything to hear an American accent from someone other than my husband, preferably a woman.

  3. Maybe a good time to take a vacation and a break from everything? Can you leave the kids with family for a weekend? Maybe a few days in Zakopane? It's a lot of stress over the last few months with the move, new country, new home, planning, adapting, etc. that's maybe now catching up with you. Not to mention the work put into that Turkey dinner and finding all those fixin's. Maybe some help around the house or babysitter once in a while would help too. I would also recommend learning Polish sooner than later to help with the isolation. Hang in there!

    1. Martin is taking off from work from the 22nd to the 2nd...maybe that would be a good time for a vacation. Someone to take all four of the kids at the same time would be a miracle...any suggestions?

  4. Oh, and congrats on the first plans... Hope it's looking like your dream home. Must say they are working fast... working with our architect was like molasses... everything took forever.

    1. I think our architect is excited to work with people who have their own ideas and not so typically Polish. The first draft was in the right direction. I just have some very specific things I don't want ( too many doors and walls...too many doors and too many walls where we live now, I think this is coloring my perspective).

  5. are you sure it is not just lack of sun ? It must by huge difference for you in texas it is average 170-150 sunshine hours in nov,dec in Kraków it is about 40 hours...so if you have lived your life there I think it might be shock (not it sense that you are concious about it). I would say make yourself a brake and go mediterranean.

    1. Oh, wouldn't that be wonderful? Martin and I have talked about going to Croatia in February when we are all just sick of the snow. I can't say that the lack of sun has effected me yet (as you say, "consciously") but I'm sure that as the days go by it will become something I notice more. It's still hard to get used to in a body clock kind of way.

  6. I feel for you, although I'd give anything to trade places with you! I'm an American, but I grew up in Munich, Germany, and lived there until I met my husband. I moved from Munich, to Tucson, AZ, where I felt totally depressed every Christmas for the first seven years. I couldn't get into the spirit of the season surrounded by saguaro cacti strung with chili pepper lights...

    I find I really miss Europe this time of year. I think you've done well to move...I have always felt that it was a privilege to grow up in Europe. I miss the sense of history and the architecture. I miss sidewalk cafes and the Christmas markets...sigh...

    Oh...and in case you don't get back to my Yarn Along post, here's the link to the Watchman's Cap pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ribbed-watchmans-hat

    1. Thank you for coming all the way over here to post the pattern! It is a privilege to be here and I wouldn't change it for the world. I can honestly say that I haven't asked to go back to America because I don't want to. I just have to figure out how to handle the new life. And it will happen. It just takes time...

  7. I always felt that Poland had something melancholic about it, I just could not put my finger on it when I lived there. It might be just the tragic history embedded in its soul. But it mirrors the advent season well - a desperate world longing for a savior who comes in the darkest hour and brings light and hope for all. Unlike in the Sates where I feel like its Christmas already, that anticipation and waiting was a major theme. Christamas did not really start till Christmas eve. Till ten I recommend a tanning bed now and then to catch some "sun rays", try to spend some time outdoors even when its cold and snuggle up with some good (non homeschool related)books. And if possible utilize skype to connect with your family.

    1. I could use a tan! ;)I am trying so desperately to embrace the Advent season, I really am. It is such a wonderful time of year and Poland wears it well (if that's not too crass of a way to put it). I am also looking forward to Christmas Season here, as it lasts well beyond Dec. 25th I hear. A nice change... But, it's still not "home" and until it feels like home I know that it will be hard to find a place for myself.. it will take time, and I have plenty of that.

  8. I know exactly how you feel,its my first polish christmas,away from my family in the uk,and I really miss them and the traditions we do :( Im also pregnant and feeling super emotional over it! Iv put up my christmas tree and I am determind to have an amazing polish/english christmas! I just wish our house was ready so I could cook in peace - we are currently sharing a kitchen with Mareks mama and I love her to pieces but I miss having my own kitchen :( I am happy that I am not the only non polish polska zona feeling this way...damn these polish men and there charms! xx