The New Beginning

Well, here is yesterday’s journal page where I began to work out the details of my New Year slogan that  I wrote about yesterday:

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Yep, that didn’t go so well.

Here’s what happened…

In celebration of the success that was our Christmas Day, I decided to take a short nap.

I define success by reaching the conclusion of a big holiday event without verbal disagreements evolving into a physical altercation.

If there is more than one person present in the house during a major holiday, I feel this is a somewhat hopeful goal, but probably doable.

I don’t like to set the bar too high.

I avoid all possible Christmas advertisements featuring magical Christmas festivities or any sappy Christmas movies that feature perfection as their story-line.  I have found that these are not representative of real life.  I personally like Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation.  I believe it to be a realistic goal to strive for.

Anyway, I decided to reward myself with a nap.  That fit within the parameters of my New Year Plan, right?

Taking a nap in this house yesterday was akin to meditating on the Titanic.  It wasn’t a complete waste of time, but it wasn’t very successful either.  Between the telephone calls, the knock on the door, the barking dogs, the dog fight over the plastic container of leftovers stolen from the counter, and the set of cabinet doors that got knocked down during said fight…it took almost 3 hours to get  30 minutes of sleep.

The journal page did not get done.

I did think about it though.

Points for me!

I woke up this morning in a determined and optimistic mood.  Today was a new day.  The journal page beckoned!

Then there was the bad tire on the truck. Oh yea, and the missing key-lock that allows one to access the spare tire on the truck. No access to the spare. Great for theft protection.  Not so great when husband needs to be at work in an hour…and work is 45 minutes away.

And the missing keys to the other car.  They have since been located…in Houston in my daughter’s car.  Not helpful at all.

Today will be a day to be a taxi service.  Unless I can journal while driving, it is unlikely that the page will get done today either.

It’s a good thing that I started my New Year a week early.

At this rate, I just might get started before 2018 arrives.

 

 

Sometimes

Sometimes when I am going about my day, this blog writes itself in my head.  It’s not a planned thing.  The words just start appearing.  And then they start multiplying and rearranging themselves in proper order.

Sometimes there is a rabbit trail of thought which I store for another day.  Sometimes I remember the alternate post, but sometimes not.  I don’t worry too much about it.

I’m learning to trust the process and believe that the important stuff will reappear at the appropriate time.  I rarely sit down without a piece already started in my head, but do occasionally if nothing has presented itself for a while.

I think those times of writing “drought” may be an indication that I’m too busy and not listening to myself…not allowing enough time for thoughts and dreams and ideas…or that they are being drowned out by too much busyness and reality.

And that thought has led me inadvertently to my slogan, theme, or plan for the next year…

I started making an intentional focus for the new year a couple of years ago.

The first idea was “to be the change I wished to see in my world”.

Last year was “turn my cants into cans and my dreams into plans”.

This year I think I’m going with “Re-think, Re-imagine, and Reflect.

These are the words that have been running through my head the last couple of days.

Now I have the words I’m going to use.  The exact details aren’t clear, but I’m going to spend some time with a journal this week and think about and imagine the possibilities…

As for today, I’ve decided to start my new year now.

It is a beautiful day…warm and spring-like…it feels like a beginning.

The bees are busily buzzing on my front porch looking for any jasmine flowers that made it through the last freeze.

Lots and lots of tiny birds are flying from a thicket that edges my yard to the bird feeder hanging by my front window.

As I was standing quietly on the porch the bees and birds flew past me going about their business.  The buzzing bees and humming wings were the only sounds I heard.

How many times have I missed this scene outside my own door?

How many times has the noise of my life been all that I’ve heard?

It bothers me that my focus is so much on what is going on right around me and that I don’t spend enough time looking and listening and being still…

Today is a new day.

It’s a good day for beginning anew…for thinking, imagining and reflecting.

Today will be spent creating order from the chaos that is leftover from the Christmas festivities and creating pages in a new journal.

Today will be spent ridding myself of some clutter…both physical and mental.

Today will be spent in some busyness and some idleness.

Seeking balance.

 

 

Just Enough

I am good with just enough today.

The house is almost picked up.  There is just enough done to enjoy Christmas day.  The important parts are cleaned up.  We can cook.  There are places to sit.  I am not going to spend today becoming exhausted and stressed out trying to make everything perfect.

Perfect is not happening here.

There is plywood and boxes of tile and paneling and…lots of other stuff everywhere.

Wedding decorations and check-lists are stuffed in every nook and cranny.

Christmas has exploded and landed on every flat surface.

That’s okay.

This year I am determined to remember that my house is not me.  It does not tell the full story of who I am.  I am going to focus on what is most important.  I am going to do just enough to get the job done.

I am not going to lose my cool over undone lists.

I am not going to get so tired that I don’t enjoy myself.

I am going to prioritize and let the rest go.

The perfect holiday has nothing to do with all the ornaments being on the tree or the house being spotless.

It’s all about the smiles and memories.

On a decluttering front…I let go of a whole lotta wood and building materials that had been stored in the tool room (2nd master bedroom closet) and in the new apartment area,

I had held onto it because it had potential. It “might” have been useful for “something”.  That thinking is good up to a point, but when the objects’ potential interferes  with my potential, I need to let go.

Those piles of wood have been moved countless times during the renovation projects this year.  Enough.  It is gone and I felt great relief at it’s leaving.

Once again, why is it so hard to let go of things? Why is it so hard to choose simplicity over things?

Today is not the day to worry about the mysteries of the universe.

I am going to focus on what is important and joyful.

I am going to do “just enough” of the mundane and let the rest go…

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

What a busy week this has been…a sometimes frantic mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The tree is finally up and almost decorated.  The decorations are decorating.  The Christmas cookies have been made and iced.  Two shopping trips are completed.     Now it feels more like Christmas and my youngest daughter is happy.  All good stuff.

I made a run to the thrift store this week and scored the rest of the stuff needed for the wedding table decorations and a couple more table cloths.  I have a plan to piece together vintage tablecloths in a sort of bohemian patchwork thing.  It looks great in my head!  We’ll see how it works out in the real world.  A good thrifting adventure!

While running errands that day, I was thrilled to realize that my jeans were feeling loose.  I was happy to see that my meager efforts to eat less and better, and to walk more were paying off.  Very good news!

That evening as we were getting ready to go out Christmas shopping as a family, my oldest daughter was searching frantically for her jeans. The ones hanging in the bathroom were too small. It turns out that I had put on her jeans by mistake that morning.  Bad news.  No actual weight loss for me.

Still, we had fun shopping and most of my Christmas list is done.  I feel good about the things that I purchased…gifts that will be enjoyed and are needed or wanted.  Even though it feels like I waited until almost the last minute to shop, I don’t feel like I bought just for the sake of buying or spent money carelessly.  A huge improvement over years past.

Barret the dog has been off his 3rd (or 4th)round of steroids for almost a week and is doing well.  That is good.  The meningitis seems to be in remissions or gone or whatever.  He is happy and reasonably healthy and has only knocked over the Christmas tree twice so far.

Speedy the new, old Basset is recovering nicely from his surgery to remove his “anal tumor”.  The vet’s words, not mine.  I prefer to refer to it as a “posterior growth”.  That has been the ugly part of the week…having to look at a dog’s butt a couple of times a day to make sure it is healing properly. It is.  He has settled very well.  He has decided that the Christmas tree skirt is his new bedding and sleeping spot.  We are in negotiations about that.  I doubt that I will win.

Both vehicles are running and nothing new has fallen off, or broken, or quit doing it’s intended job.  We have all gotten where we needed to go – when we needed to be there.  That’s definitely good.

Son’s ankle is not broken.  The orthopedist believes it to be a sprain that will resolve on it’s own…just needs some T.L.C. and time.  It was originally believed to be a much more serious injury…Yea!  Good news.

My moods have been bouncing around between good and bad and everywhere in between.  There have been more than a few moments of feeling like I couldn’t make any progress in getting things done or in getting ready for Christmas.  Feeling discouraged and negative is definitely in the bad category.  I have been trying to make an extra effort to get enough rest and spend at least a short amount of time in my studio each day.

We have filled four bags and another box with stuff to leave the house…trash and thrift store donations.  Good!

The sub-flooring and tile is almost finished in the apartment.  Move-in starts tomorrow.  Then I’ll consolidate all the wedding stuff into the guest room.  That will help with a lot of the piles of stuff all around the house.  It looks like the house will be tidy and ready for the holiday festivities.  Super good!

I am actually looking forward to this weekend.  I’m okay with what hasn’t gotten done.  Christmas isn’t about doing it all.

The tree is up.

The family will be together.

Folks are working Christmas eve, but not Christmas day.

The bank account isn’t overdrawn.  The mortgage is paid. The lights are on.

Everyone is healthy.

Life is good.

 

 

I woke up this morning wishing, once again, that I could hit the pause button.  I started off the week with what I thought was a reasonable list of things to do.  I have been accused of being unrealistic in my expectations in the past…with good reason.  I’ll freely admit that I’m a perfectionist although I’ve been working on being a kinder and gentler me.

This was just one of those weeks where the interruptions became the real work to be done.

What I failed to do was realize the amount of unplanned stuff happening and adjusting my expectations.

This morning I was thinking about what I hadn’t gotten done and not what did get done.

Not helpful.

This intentional living stuff can be hard.  It requires diligence, optimism, and a lot of thought.

Mostly it requires a lot of change…a change in attitude, as well as behavior.

Perhaps it can be summed up as learning to be flexible as I change my expectations in alignment with what’s going on around me.

This week four people had to go to work at different places and different times.  We had one car since the truck was still in the shop.  I did quite a bit of driving to and fro.  We made it work, but it took a lot of time.  With patience and planning this is a workable situation.

On Wednesday, I was awakened early by my son with the news that he had “rolled” his ankle and it was very, very swollen.  I told him to prop it up for a bit and we’d see if the swelling would go down.  Then I fell back asleep and failed to wake up in time to go help my sister shop.  Next up, a doctor’s appointment and x-rays.  The ankle is not broken.  This is not actually good news.  Breaks heal more easily than whatever is wrong.  Monday is an orthopedic appointment and probably and MRI.    Not a good day.

On Thursday morning we were able to pick up our truck.  Yea!

On Thursday night the key to our other car broke.  Our only key.  Not good….at all.  One place wanted almost $200 to make a new key.  Another would make it cheaper but required a copy of the title (which I can’t find because the house is a bit untidy and disorganized).

On Friday, the truck would not go into gear properly. Now we have no transportation.And everybody needs to go to work…

Husband manages to get the truck to the repair shop.  It turns out that the cardboard seal on the bottle of transmission fluid ended up in “the thingie that holds the stuff that feeds the something that makes the transmission work”.  I am not mechanically inclined.  That’s the best I’ve got as far as what was wrong.  An easy fix.  Anyway, the truck is running beautifully.

Oldest daughter found a place to make a key for the other car for only $5.  Now both cars are running.  This is very helpful!

This was a challenging week.  The Christmas tree is still not up.  I’ve not shopped much for Christmas.  A LOT of things that I wanted to get done are undone.

There have been a lot of times when I’ve felt frustrated and angry…with myself.  How can a reasonably competent grown-up find it so difficult to keep up with a house and family? This thinking is not helpful.  It just piles on more stress and makes it even more difficult to cope.

I did accomplish a lot this week…just not the things I had planned on.  The emergencies got handled.  Three big bags of stuff left the house.  The studio is unpacked and organized(ish).  The hallway/classroom is set up and workable.  Progress has been made in laying the new floor in the apartment. (I didn’t actually do any of the work on the floor other than moving stuff out of the way.)  We did a lot of school work.  Everyone got fed and has some clean clothes.

I’m starting up the decluttering project in earnest again.  There is just too much stuff around here.

The laundry piles up at an alarming rate.  We have too many clothes.

I’ve once again slowly accumulated to many art project “possibilities”.  More material doesn’t translate into more art.

The same goes for school stuff.  It’s so easy to gather too many potential things to study and learn.

This is all part of my unrealistic expectations.  There are only so many hours in the day and they cannot all be spent in action.  I need to quit trying to “get it all done”.  This attitude is not helpful.

There will always be something that needs to be done.

I can’t do it all.

The important work to be done is to more intentionally seek out simplicity, peace and joy.

That must be number one on the list…

Stumbling

While stumbling through life, I occasionally discover treasure.  Such was the case as I wrote my last blog post.  I titled it “Not Helpful”.  While writing the post, those words kept popping up…”Helpful” and “Not Helpful”.

Over the last couple of days I have found myself repeating those words in my head as a reaction to situations.  And those words have been most helpful.

It’s helping to identify actions, behaviors, and worries as beneficial or not.  That goes a long way in eliminating stress and achieving a small measure of peace.

 

 

For example, I was planning on picking back up on my decluttering project.  The house has slowly gotten a bit fuller and I’ve realized that decluttering is going to be an ongoing effort for me.  An untidy house with piles of stuff and lost objects is stressful.  Not helpful.

I got an email about joining a decluttering challenge about two weeks ago.  It sounded like it would be helpful and fun.  Each day there would be an assignment to work on, and there was a facebook page to join and chat on.  That sounds good…right?

Yesterday, I got my morning email from the group and failed to open it.  Why?  Because I had not yet opened email number 1….or two….or… You get the idea.  I had not logged onto the facebook page and introduced myself.   I sighed heavily as  I looked around my house and at the long list of emails. I  started berating myself for yet another thing that I hadn’t kept up with or done.

That kind of thinking is not helpful.

I don’t need more perceived failures and recrimination.

The group was supposed to assist me in achieving my goals.  It was supposed to be helpful.

It was not.

I unsubscribed to the group and started setting up my studio…still undone from the move quite a while back.  But, I’m working on it and have filled a trash bag and a giveaway bag during the process.

You can barely walk in there and there is still a ways to go, but it’s a small win for today.

Letting go of what’s not working, or what’s not helpful is difficult.  Sometimes it just feels like quitting or failing.

I have to keep reminding myself of what the goal is…of the direction I am trying to go…

In this case, the goal was not to successfully complete the decluttering challenge.

My goal was to simplify by decluttering unnecessary items and find peace.

Two very different destinations.

Confusing the two was just a “not helpful” part of the journey.

Now that I have checked my map (clarified my actual goal), I can once again start moving in the right direction.  There will, undoubtedly be more detours.  In fact, this was a challenging day filled with road blocks…

…but I had figured out where I was going and that was helpful.

Not Helpful

A large portion of the last several days has been spent around the new doggy door.  With an Arctic front coming in, we finally got the door purchased and installed.  It seemed like a better idea than leaving the back door open all the time for the dogs’ convenience.

I had serious doubts that the dogs would ever figure it out…at least not before the raccoons and possums did.

I’m still not sure.

First, we made youngest daughter go back and forth through the doggy door as the dogs watched.  Barret the dog and Matilda appeared to find this slightly entertaining, but unaware of what it could possibly have to do with them.  Abbey and Speedy just wandered off.  We discontinued that effort once we concluded that youngest daughter had mastered the usage of the doggy door and the dogs had made no progress.  Not helpful.

Next, we tried the hot dog method of dog training.  One of us was outside with the hot dogs.  One of us was inside with more hot dogs.  We kept shoving the dogs through the door and rewarding them when they made it through.  That pretty much ended up in a big fight when two dogs figured out there was a hot dog on the other side of the door and tried to both go through at once.  This would be Barret and Matilda.  Abbey and Speedy had once again wandered off.  Not helpful.

Next we decided to just focus on getting Barret to go through the door.  He is the Alpha dog in the pack and we thought that if he figured it out, the rest of the pack would follow. While we were distracted with working with Barret, Matilda stole the rest of the hot dogs. Really not helpful.  Without hot dogs, all of the dogs lost interest in the experience and wandered off.

It might bear mentioning that the dogs have historically gone in and out through the sliding glass door in the dining room.  The new doggy door is down the hall in the laundry room.  This is not optimal, but was the cheapest option.

It is now Sunday.   At this point, the dogs will go to the closed sliding glass door and wait to be let out.  If you happen to see them, you can go into the laundry room and call them.  If they decide to come, you can push open the flap of the doggy door and they will go out. This is only slightly helpful.

When they are ready to come in, they go to the sliding glass door and bark.  You then have to go to the laundry room and open the door and call them.  You have to close the door really quickly and bend down and push open the flap so they can come in.  This is just plain annoying.

Speedy will only go out if all of the dogs go with him.  He’s really excited about being part of the family.  Since he is old, however, sometimes he forgets that he was gathering up all of the dogs with the intent of going outside.  This results in a lot of non-housebroken behavior. Once again, not helpful.

I’m a bit discouraged about our progress so far, but am attempting to remain optimistic.

Optimism is helpful.

 

You May Be Wondering…

If you follow this blog and read it…hey, I’m a realist…life gets busy…things get undone…

Anyway, if you follow and read this blog – I am appreciative.  I would love to write each of you a thank you note, but I forgot to mail my bills off last month, so I wouldn’t be waiting anxiously at the mail box.  A simple thank you will have to do.

And, one more time – if you follow and read this blog you may be wondering what happened to Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – the continuing saga of “a day in my life”.

Rest assured, those days did happen and they happened despite my desperate attempt to find life’s pause button and stop for a minute.

Any attempt to chronicle the individual activities for each of those days would likely be a work of at least partial fiction.  That would probably make for more interesting reading, but frankly, would take a bit more effort than I can rally right now.  It is 6:30 on Wednesday evening and I am ready for bed.  I finally just pretended that I had a pause button, and closed my eyes and took a nap today.  I just woke up.  The nap didn’t help with all of the things that needed to get done today, but I feel better able to face the struggle.

I am relatively sane.

The Christmas lights have been plugged in.  We didn’t actually hang them on the house.  We just sort of threw them into the crape myrtles in front of the house.  They look suitably festive.  They are out of the Christmas box and in the yard.  They are twinkling.  We are not the best decorated house in the subdivision (or the worst).  We are neither overachieving, nor underachieving.  We are just achieving.  I’m okay with that.  That fits in with my goal of simplifying, but still celebrating the season.  My youngest daughter will not be growing up with the Griswolds (Christmas vacation) or Scrooge.  Just us. That is as it should be.

 

The days since I last posted have been filled with going to work, handling some pesky medical issues, retrieving stranded family members (car issues), making wedding preparation lists, driving people to and fro, a holiday bowling party, more medical issues, a couple of emotional meltdowns (adolescent, young adult and menopausal), and a host of other life moments.

It has now been hours since I started writing this post.  Dinner has been cooked and eaten.

Issues.  Conversations. Family.  Life.

Now, I shall post this.

Then…

I shall load the dishwasher.

I shall load and unload the washer and dryer.

I shall wander into my studio and look around.

I shall work on explaining the function of the new doggy door to the pack.  That’s a story for another day.  Stay tuned.  Sometime tomorrow or the next day…depending on how it goes.

A Day in the Life/Thursday Edition

Hello there to all of you out there. I’m back to share yesterday’s activities…if I can remember it!  Today is cold and rainy and I would love to be taking a nap, but am trying to remain productive!

Yesterday, I woke up to the sound of my son clomping in the door.  He has his own place now, but his Jeep is down for repairs.  He has been grabbing a ride with a friend, but this morning brought our car home…son got off at 7 A.M. and husband got to work at about the same time.  They both work at The Home Depot.

We are all car sharing again since our truck is still in the shop and needs some relatively expensive repairs…somewhere around $700.  Our Ford truck is a 2002 model with over 300,000 miles on it.  We bought is used with very minimal mileage.  As this is it’s first time in the shop since we’ve owned it, we have decided to try and keep it on the road.  We do our own oil changes and any repairs that are within our capabilities.  You Tube can be very helpful.  Not having a car payment is a very important component of our financial plan…building and keeping an emergency fund, paying off debt, and maybe, hopefully starting a retirement plan sometime.

I walked the dogs and continued to try and improve the relationship between Speedy the new dog and Barret the dog.  Outside, they get along fine.   Inside, I don’t trust them together yet.  Speedy is older and pretty laid back.  Barret’s goal in life to to defend his home.  He still sees Speedy as a threat.

A large portion of the land that our home sits on is uncleared and in a pretty wild state.  We’ve gotten the front yard and one side under control.  It’s mowed and sort of landscaped.  The other side is rock, underbrush, thorny vines and cedar.  We’ve been slowing trying to reclaim it.  The chicken coop is over there and we’ve got a clear path to it.  Now, with my renewed interest in working outside and increase my activity level, I’ve come up with a plan!  I’ve been clearing off a small section at a time.  Now, I’m building a sort of labyrinth over there.  The center section will eventually feature a water fountain and some sort of plant.  Because we have soooooo many rocks, I’m going to keep laying out concentric circles until I run out of room or it seems right…whichever comes first.  It’s a really pretty area with beautiful huge oaks.  Grass isn’t going to grow successfully because of the shade.  There are some drainage issues because the land slopes downwards and there is a wet weather creek that runs behind our property.  I think the rock walls will help prevent the erosion.  It’s also really good exercise!  I got over 10,000 steps again yesterday.  I’ll share more about it and post pictures soon.

I got four loads of laundry completely done!  Washed, dried, folded and put away.  Only 10 or 12 more to go.  Son brought “some” of his laundry home.  He doesn’t have a washer and dryer in his apartment.  He knows how to do his own laundry, but I sort of enjoy doing it for him.  I miss them all being little and at home.  I don’t miss those days enough to wish them back though. It’s better to remember the good stuff from back then and enjoy the time I am in right now.

I spent some time in my studio and cleared off my work table.  Then moved in the rest of the stuff from the old studio space. That’s the space that will eventually become the small apartment. The table is covered again and there are some boxes to sort through. The studio is almost ready to get busy in again… That’s a good thing because I have a lot of ideas that I want to work on.

School was a mixture of reading and computer work.  We’re trying to finish up a couple of textbooks that were purchased for our time at the private school.  Also trying to keep up her progress in math.  Still a ways to go, but doing ok.

Then, it was afternoon and time to go pick up my husband at work and take a kiddo to the doctor.

By the time that was all finished it was after 5:00 and time to go to work at the two offices that I clean on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.  Nothing much interesting to share there. With three of us working we got it done in time to head home and have dinner together.

Oldest daughter had arrived home by the time we got there.  She just finished the season at the Texas Renaissance Festival.  She’ll be home for a month or so until her job starts back up.  A good friend kindly volunteered to pick up her and her trailer and haul it home since our truck is out of service.

It was pretty awesome to have most of the kiddos at home at one time.  We were just missing second daughter, but she’ll be home tonight (Friday).  We cooked a real meal with a couple of veggies and everything.

And that was Thursday…

A little bit different from other Thursdays and a little bit the same as other Thursdays. Reading over this, it sounds pretty boring.  I still haven’t found time to declutter anything or make any progress on my organizational plans.  The Christmas decorations aren’t out yet.  The house looks well lived in, but just this side of a disaster.

I’m definitely in the “up” side of my mood cycles.  Lots of ideas for projects that I want to work on and energy to work on them.  I’m getting in my steps and making a little bit of progress in a lot of different areas.  I’m optimistic about the things that are getting done. I’m also trying to be realistic and not start too many projects.  I don’t want to get overwhelmed and stress myself out.

So, the plan…living in the needs of the day and having a little bit of fun.  Not an exciting day, but a good one once again.