Thursday, May 20, 2010

Give Me a Sign, Lord! Oh...and Fungus

     It started pretty early on; the random confessions from strangers. I was only in junior high (circa 1989) when a girl I'd just met pulled me aside in the locker room to tell me her deepest, darkest secret: she was fighting a most heinous yeast infection. It was not radical, cool, or totally awesome in any way. Now, either I was very sheltered, or as the last out of four children, my parents just didn't have the time or energy to explain things like fungal infections to me, because I had no idea what she was talking about. Still, I sat down on the bench with her and listened with empathy as she explained her discomfort. Had I known what foreshadowing meant in the sixth grade, I'd have realized at that exact moment that this was only the beginning of a lifetime full of random confessions from strangers, and I would have begged God for a rewrite. Or would I? I have to admit, I come by it honestly. When my Mom and I are together in public, the forces of our empathic listening powers combined are too much for almost any ole stranger to resist. Just a few weeks ago, we spent a half hour in Hobby Lobby listening to woman talk about making quilts for her ill sister, the new living arrangements of her mother, the pancakes she made for breakfast, and a knee surgery she had approximately two years prior. She's thinking about having the same surgery on the opposite knee, but her sister still needs her to help out, and her mother, well, I digress.
     So it really shouldn't surprise me when, at 31, I know and have kept more deep, dark, secrets than any one person should ever be exposed to in one lifetime. With almost ten years in the human services field under my belt now, to say I'm feeling a little burned out would be the understatement of the century. I've questioned all of my educational and career choices up to this point, and for the past five years, I've have a recurrent nightmare about untended goldfish. Do you know what nightmares about untended goldfish mean?! They mean that deep down in your subconscious mind, you know you are neglecting your greatest wealth and creative abilities. It's true. I googled it.
     And so the prayers began. "God, I feel like I'm floundering here. I don't think I want to do this anymore. What is it that you want me to do while I'm here?" I think back to teachers from grade school to high school praising my writing; some of whom still ask me today why I'm not writing or when they can expect to see a book. Then I block out the memories of unimpressed college professors telling me I was too cliche and overly dramatic. I keep wondering why God would whip me up with two parts creativity, one part insight, an extra 1/4 a cup of compassion, and ten cups of heavy whipping guilt when it comes to doing anything that doesn't directly, immediately, and physically help people in need. I have continuously asked myself why I ever gave up creative studies for human studies and counseling, and I'm still pondering this.
     Earlier this month, when I was particularly depressed, dissatisfied with work, and drying my tears with stacks of student loan bills, I prayed even harder. "God, this can't be right. I'm not happy. I feel like I'm not helping anybody. What is it that I'm supposed to be doing here? This can't be it." I went to CVS to pick up a few supplemental items for a baby shower gift I was delivering the following day. As I debated between lavender scented baby wash and the oatmeal infused variety, an elfish looking octogenarian shuffled toward me, basketed walker in tow. She was waving a tube of Baby Desitin Cream at me as she said, matter of factly, "This stuff is better than anything you can buy for a yeast infection. My 'doctah' told me so. Ya know what else works? Athletes foot creme! It's the same thing but it's 'cheapah'!" I'll spare you the rest of the twenty minute conversation, but I smiled and feigned as much enthusiasm as I could muster up for her as I asked myself if there was something about me that made people want to talk about fungus, particularly in their nether regions. Then, I had to laugh. Yes, God is listening. He may not be giving me a straight answer right now, but one thing is for sure. He's laughing at me. Also, he really wants me to lend a compassionate ear to people who need it; especially in regard to matters of the fungi.


  1. Uh oh! I am nervous... I am sitting here thinking "What secrets have I told Mandy?" Just kidding! I love this blog and I can't wait to see more!

  2. Bravo! Love the story, love the writing. I can also relate to what you're saying. I have a feeling that many will relate to your stories, as I ended up with a career not even close to what I studied to do. It is a VERY long story, but I studied psychology and, instead, am a freelance writer who also does marketing online for businesses. I have found, however, that I do utilize some of what I learned in social sciences by "identifying their pain" and convincing them that the product or service offered by a specific company is the best. Not sure how I'm helping them, though. Hmm...Anyway, I loved this and am looking forward to more. Maybe a sit down sometime soon?

    Kidding! I'm minus a fungal infection right now. ;)

  3. I love's much needed "Mandalin time" for me across the miles! I can almost picture your face as you write this! I second Kelli...good thing you know how to keep a secret! I wonder, Mandy, if there isn't a way for you to mesh the two - helping others AND writing? Just a thought. Love you & love your blog!

  4. You are an amazing writer Mandy! I enjoyed this very much.

  5. I also inherited this "please tell me everything" gene but luckily yeast infections have never come up.