Posts in October 2015

Halloween: the last 10 years

Steven and I have been together since October 2004 – we joked that we’d start officially dating if the Red Sox won the World Series. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! 🙂

I went as Johnny Damon to one of our multiple Halloween parties that year. I don’t remember what Steven went as, and sadly, we don’t have ANY photos of that first “date.” I got to thinking about it this morning and realized that we DO have plenty of other photos from past Halloween costumes, however.

2004:
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The only Halloween photo from that first year together. I’m pretty sure I wore my cool leopard pants to go along with my face paint, and Steven went as a Pizza Delivery Guy because he just got off work doing just that. He smelled horrible while working at Pizza King. And then he started delivering flowers.

2005:
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Senior friends dressed as Harry Potter characters. No one could figure out who I was because I kept changing my outfit and hair color throughout the night. Duh, Tonks!

2006-2008:
I don’t know what we did for Halloween post-college. Likely rebelled against the idea of Halloween parties because we were so hipster-professional, you know.

2009:
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The dating, soon-to-be-engaged Reynolds pair went in with us to become Team Zissou from The Life Aquatic.

2010:
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Cut Man from Mega Man and Werewolf Marilyn Monroe. Uh huh.

2011:
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Wesley’s existence made Halloween change into adorable. Because we were so heavily involved in the Irvington Halloween Festival, I had to have several costumes for Wes – a frog and a lil’ slugger.

2012:
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Wendy, Captain Hook and Peter Pan – easiest costumes ever.

2013:
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Prepping for our friends’ annual “Reforween” party (Reformation Day + Halloween) as Finn, Jake and Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time.

2014:
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Wes decided early on that he wanted to be an elephant construction worker for Halloween. Ok, then. Let’s make it happen! “Chucky cheet!”

2015:
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Because of last year’s amazing costume idea, I asked Wes in September what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween. Immediate answer, “an icicle.” Really?! Ok… so we went to Target to find some frosty-looking things to make up his costume, and everything was branded as the Frozen movie, which he despises.

“UGH! I HATE FROZEN! I DON’T WANT TO BE AN ICICLE ANYMORE.” (Sees Mario costume) “Oh, Mama! And Daddy can be Luigi!”

(It’s yet to be determined if he will.) Happy safe and fun Halloween, everyone!

More photos from our first trip to Indianapolis Zoo Boo with my family can be found here.

Posted: October 30th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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First Fire of Autumn

IMG_2129Wes and I have some good conversations on our daily commutes. This morning we remarked on the vibrant colors of changing fall leaves.

“Which color that you see is your favorite?”
“Oh, Mama, I love the red leaves.”
“Me, too. The way the sun shines on them, it looks kinda like–”
“FIRE!”
“That’s just what I was going to say!”
“I know, Mama.”

(And YES, he DOES tack on “Mama” to nearly everything he says to me. It’s like he likes the way it sounds, or maybe it’s a way to reiterate his points. I don’t know, really, but it’s pretty great.)

Usually I dislike this time of year because the season changes quickly in a long, drawn-out winter. Subconsciously I’ve associated fallen leaves with deadness and lifelessness, and it spoils my chance to embrace the beauty and coziness of October. Easily affected by sunlight and season changes, I know it begins with my moodiness.

I’ve felt pretty dead inside most of this calendar year. I’ve experienced death in various forms: the death of my grandma in January, friends recovering from miscarriage, and the recent death of a friend in September – the combination of which left me shaking and unstable. I didn’t realize how much I had been exponentially mourning these losses. During this time, I felt that I had also said goodbye to unrealistic hopes and dreams. And, in a way, saying goodbye to our first home in a flurry and whirlwind didn’t easily close a door that I had wanted to shut gently behind us.

The extended dry spell (and resulting sunshine) and surprising warmth over the last couple weeks has helped tremendously. It’s like the fog cleared some of the haze away. I’ve spent more quality time with loved ones and friends, which does wonders to my soul.

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Picking up a friend for an evening play date of leaf piles, bonfires and s’mores with fellow neighbor kids.

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And October brings many chances to celebrate LIFE. Our Godson, Lucian, was a long-awaited answer to prayer on October 13, 2014. It’s hard to believe he’s here – let alone 1 year old. Last week, my grandpa turned 89, and on his birthday my sister witnessed a few of his good, hearty laughs that we used to hear much more as kids than we do now. And this week, we celebrate my wonderful mom and my vivacious 3-year-old nephew, Josiah.

IMG_2059On a lighter note, Steven and I were featured in an Indianapolis Star article on divided households in preparation for this season’s Colts vs Patriots game. It was great fun to be light-hearted, and we received a wealth of fun support and (mostly loving) teasing from family to people we haven’t heard from in years.

Twice in the last few weeks I have heard people use the same analogy about their desire for a “burning bush” from God – a clear directive. Maybe the fire we saw in those red leaves today were shining for me. When God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, he said (paraphrased):  I have seen the misery of my people, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come to rescue them.

Those red leaves were beautiful. And the sky was so blue against them. How could I have not seen such October beauty before? Also – it’s so good to have the Good Guy on your side, isn’t it?

Posted: October 19th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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Healthy Mourning

candleI’m not sure how to write this post. I’ve attempted it several times and given up. I started with a letter format, and then I thought about creating lists and self-help guidance, and I kept getting it out all wrong.

I’ve been grieving. I’m mourning for a friend who buried a spouse, and it’s affecting me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I mourn for my friend who is now head the household and a single parent to a toddler. I know they are well supported by an amazing community and a small hometown full of family and friends, but my heart aches deeply for these sweet people who deserve the whole world.

I feel the need to protect the goodness from seeping out of my friend. A friend who is the first to volunteer, to give back, to organize – it’s not fair.

And then my thoughts instantly shift into feelings of guilt. I feel guilty for thinking that my friend needs overwhelming support, perhaps making the subconscious assumption that my friend cannot deal with grief – that the strength isn’t there. I mean, I know support is appreciated and likely needed from time to time, but we’re talking about one of the strongest and selfless people I know.

I feel guilty for “stealing the thunder;” like, the grief belongs to my friend and not to me, really. I shouldn’t blunder along and unintentionally make my own sorrow my friend’s problem, too.

Because of these feelings of guilt, I tried to overcome my grief by layering other thoughts on top of it, but it didn’t work so well. I couldn’t concentrate at work and found myself more irritable at Steven and Wes. I knew it was because I wasn’t properly addressing the grief nagging at me.

Everyone says you need to face it head-on, so remember the post about love languages? It came in handy again. I realized that acts of service was not only one of my love languages, but I knew it was also very strong on my friend’s list. Finding tangible ways to move this grief into something productive seemed to work. Wes wanted in on the action, because, well, he’s my little helper, and acts of service is one of HIS love languages, too. We worked together to make small things (like household chores and playing with our friend’s dogs) into big pieces of love.

And to top it off, our church sermon series called, “One Another,” concluded this weekend. Sunday’s scripture in particular moved me. “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” – 1 Peter 4:10. Though not a “love language,” I do think I have the gift of empathy. And yes, that’s a way that I love others. I love my friend, and my feelings of grief aren’t bad – they’re real, raw and full of empathy. Of which moves me into acts of service.

What I think many people forget is that, yes, life goes on, but support is still needed. At my office, I found several tips for friends of families living with Alzheimer’s disease surprisingly helpful and applicable. Though meant for a completely different audience, the tips resonated with me as a friend who desperately wants to be supportive. (And you know I have to work a list into a post somehow!)

  • Educate yourself.
    Learn about its effects and how to respond.
  • Stay in touch.
    A card, a call or a visit means a lot and shows you care.
  • Be patient.
    Adjusting is an ongoing process and each person reacts differently.
  • Offer a shoulder to lean on.
    Simply offering your support and friendship is helpful.
  • Offer assistance to help the family tackle its to-do list.
    Prepare a meal, run an errand or provide a ride.
  • Engage family members in activities.
    Invite them to go on a walk or participate in other activities.
  • Offer family members a reprieve.
    Spend time with dependents so family members can go out alone or visit with friends.
  • Be flexible.
    Don’t get frustrated if your offer for support is not accepted immediately. The family may need time to assess its needs.

It’s important for me to mourn in a healthy way – a balance of respect, empathy and encouragement. If you know of a friend or family member who has recently (or not so recently) endured a tragic experience, please reach out to them. He or she may need a reminder that you’re thinking of them, and it may also help you.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

Posted: October 13th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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