Cold Water on a Hot Day

Today I am thankful for cold water on a hot day

or in other words…

Our water heater isn’t working.

It’s been going out for a while.

It is officially gone.

It’s not so bad, really.

Our electric bill is lower.

I am boiling water for dishes which I am actually enjoying…

it somehow makes dish-washing more intentional and important.

There is thought involved.

It is less of a task and more of meaningful ritual.

Showers aren’t even bad.  We are in our first heat wave of the summer.  Temperatures outside are slowly rising…an interesting reversal of the temperature of our water slowly decreasing.  A cool shower is a blessing in this heat.  Not first thing in the morning, but a pleasant respite in the evening.

Now, if this were winter it would be a whole ‘nother story.  I would be hard-pressed to find anything to be grateful for in this situation.

I could try.

You know, we have running water and we don’t have to trek 10 miles uphill in both directions to get water.

It would be a valid point, but nevertheless, you would not find me in the shower in the middle of winter without hot water.

But, for right now, it is good.

As is the de-cluttered and organized hallway and living room.  Another small box of stuff going to the thrift store and another bag of trash/recycling ready to go.  The empty plastic storage bins are still empty.

On to the kitchen (insert tiny sigh here)…

Peace

 

And…another plan

Two blog posts in a row!

And…a new plan of action.

I’ve talked before about how I bounce back and forth between liking a bit of homey clutter and thinking I should just ditch all the stuff and become a minimalist (or a quasi-minimalist because I’m pretty sure I can’t go all in on that plan).

I’ve been on a roll lately and have accomplished a lot.

I’ve crunched a lot of numbers and drawn up a new budget that might actually work in the real world that we live in.  I’ve added and subtracted (mostly subtracted) and come up with a plan to try and pay down some debt.  We are pretty much paycheck to paycheck, but I’ve re-dedicated to managing money better.  I use YNAB (You Need a Budget) and “undebtit”.  Both are programs that are helpful for the math challenged me.

I’ve roughed out a plan for next year’s art class that I will hopefully be teaching.  That depends on whether enough folks think art is important enough to sign there kiddos up for the elective.  In the past I’ve planned as the semester moved along.  I’ve already got the whole year planned out and a list of supplies put together.

And, since youngest daughter is starting high school next year, I’ve already pulled together the plan for what we are going to do in the fall.  A rough plan, but a plan.

I’ve accomplished a lot.

But yesterday, I kind of hit a wall.

I looked around the house and started thinking that I couldn’t manage it all.  It’s such a mess and there is so much to do.  Piles of laundry, drifts of dog hair, a science experiment in the fridge, suitcases still out, and a completely buried dining room table.  I know that it’s the same house that I was okay with the day before.

My perception and attitude is what changes.

But that’s a situation that is my reality.  I need to plan for the days when things aren’t going to go well and I can’t cope or handle life the way I would like.

So, a new plan for the summer.

Today, I am going to pack up stuff – getting rid of the stuff I don’t need or want along the way.

I’m going to pack up stuff that I like, but that isn’t essential to our life.  Mostly the decorative or sentimental stuff that is lying about.

Just for the summer.

I’m going to clear surfaces for easier cleaning and make more time for fun and relaxation.

And then we’ll see if the stuff needs to come back for the fall…or if we did just fine without it.

A minimalist-ish” (I know it’s not a real word, but work with me) summer.

Those “mountain-top” days or weeks are great.  I get a lot accomplished.

But they are not worth the time spent in the depths of the valley.  The time depressed and anxious and angrily frustrated.

I’m going to keep trying out new ways of doing things to maintain an even keel avoiding those ups and downs.

Now, to work…

Peace

 

Travels

Days and days since I last posted.

It wasn’t an intentional thing.

I missed a day, and then this happened and that happened and so on…

You know how it is, right?

Then so much time passes and the thought of doing a “catch-up explanation” post is exhausting.

And because I’m me, I start feeling guilty (or guiltier).

So, maybe tomorrow becomes I don’t know when

or

today.

Today it is.

Here’s a fast re-cap.

I’ve had good days and bad days.

Mostly good.

Husband took a week long business trip to Atlanta followed immediately by two daughters heading off to Florida for a visit to Harry Potter world.

Lots of lists and laundry and a few shopping trips.

Mostly laundry…before and after!

The money situation has been challenging.  We’ll leave it at that.

The vegan diet didn’t work out well for me.  My vision showed no improvement and my moods didn’t either. In fact, I feel that I was more depressed and anxious overall.  A visit and discussion with my doctor showed that I was seriously deficient in vitamin D.

I’m now on a supplement to remedy that and I’m feeling much better.  Research has shown that a vitamin D deficiency can affect mood so maybe that is part of the answer. Multiple stressful situations have been handled with relative calm and clear thinking.  I’ve worked through them without losing my sh@#.

It is really hard and a lot of work to get all the nutrients one needs on a vegan diet. It can also be more expensive than I can afford.  I did pick up a taste for some new veggies and our diet improved overall.  So, the new plan is to more veggies and meat only a couple of times a week. We’ll continue to keep out processed food.

I’m going to just keep reading and looking for answers to be a better and happier me.

It’s all about growth and taking the next step.

I guess the adventure wouldn’t be as much fun if we had all the answers ahead of time.

Here’s to trying new things and enjoying the journey…

celebrating the wins…

and learning from the things that don’t go as we’d hoped (see how I avoided the word “failure” there?)…

Life is good – it’s all good.

Welcome back me!

Peace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a Deep Breath

Mondays.

I don’t know why we make such a big deal of them.  Especially in my case where the majority of my family works in retail so Mondays aren’t the first day after two days off.

Almost every day is a work day for someone in my family.  It is a rarity for us all to have the same day off.

Still, I wake up on Monday with a vague sense of anxiety about all that I need to accomplish, and that needs to be dealt with before it blows up into a disaster…mood wise.

I have a friend who is dealing with Stage 4 colon cancer and is participating in trial treatment at MD Anderson.  She writes every day on her Caring Bridge site.

I take great inspiration from it.  She regularly talks about managing time and energy and the challenges of that for her.  In her previous life she was a very active pastor, activist, writer and just general accomplisher of everything.  She had a journal calendar that was bursting with notes and memos and appointments.  She was a marvel.

She still is.  Just in a different way.

Her musings on making time for what’s important…including rest and walking have made a difference for me this Monday.

I am taking a deep breath to calm the anxiety.

I am making a list of the things that have to be done to stop the swirling thoughts in my head.

I am reminding myself that it doesn’t all have to happen today.

Tomorrow is a viable possibility for some of the to-do list.

Today I need to take a shower.

I need to make a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow or the next day before I run out of meds.

I need to gather all of my supplies and teach my art class this afternoon.

I would like to wash my sheets and bedding.  That has been pushed to tomorrow too many times.

Cooking dinner would be a plus, but realistically there is food and everyone is capable of fending for themselves.

They will probably still love me if I don’t get that done.

The house has moved past the lived-in stage and is teetering on the edge of possible crime scene.

I am reminding myself that the state of my house does not necessarily make me a bad person.

As I make my list, I am realizing that today is doable.

I’ve got this.

Anxiety, go somewhere else.

This Monday is not yours.

It is mine and I may not do it perfectly, but I will do it with a smile.

Peace.

 

 

The Work of My Hands

“The real enemies of our life are the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs’. They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future.  But real life takes place in the here and now”  – Henri Nouwen

 

I wanted to put in a garden this year.  I had hoped for a greenhouse.  I’d planned on building numerous raised beds and filling them with the compost I was making and then planting seeds.  I’d intended to have all my existing beds weeded and dug and ready for spring.

There is no greenhouse.  Two raised beds are built but not filled with soil.  They lean against the side of the house. There are weeds in my garden beds.

I ought to have gotten more done.  If I’d gotten these things accomplished, I would be ready for the garden that I had hoped for and envisioned…

But now, today, I have a choice.  I can work with what I have here and now and choose to place my seeds into soil…

or leave the seeds

in their packages

in the shoe box

on the shelf

in the cabinet

in the dining room

in the dark

where they will surely not sprout and grow.

How many other aspects of my life does this same thought process apply to?

Brushes not dipped into paint create nothing.

Blog posts not written can’t be read.

Cards not created and mailed can’t be received.

Art cards not imagined, created and shared can’t be found.

How often does my fear of imperfection or failure or rejection keep me from trying?

I have all the “seeds” I need both literally and figuratively…

seeds and soil and canvases and paint and ideas…

I also have fear and anxiety and doubts…

It is my choice to make…

Dwell on the mistakes and rejections of the past?

Anticipate with fear and anxiety the future?

Or do the work of my hands in the here and now with the potential to bring a little hope and beauty and light into the world?

Today I choose to believe in the potential of the seed to sprout and take root and grow and bless the world.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

here i am

try

That quiet voice has been an important part of my life lately.

It has been a constant when other, louder voices in my head have kept up a continual chant of negativity.

Every day, I have thought about sitting down and writing here.

I had planned to.

I just didn’t.

And then it got harder and harder.

The voices told me that I was a failure as a blogger because I wasn’t writing regularly.  That maybe what I had to say wasn’t worth writing about.  That it was ridiculous to share these thoughts and vulnerabilities with complete strangers and the world.

And so I didn’t write…

day after day…

the words circled in my head…

both things I thought about sharing and doubt about the worthiness of those things.

here I am

I’ve been working on art cards a lot lately.  If you don’t know about them, you can find information here:

unearthedart.wordpress.com

One of the quotes I’ve been using says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.”  -Brene Brown

vulnerability

truth

courage

Today, the quiet voice is the one I choose to listen to.

Nelson Mandela said that “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

I don’t feel brave…I am afraid all the time.

But today I am writing…

I share my vulnerability because it is my truth and there are many who are struggling in the same way I am and maybe my voice can make a difference.

When you are depressed, sometimes all you can accomplish is one little thing.

It may not be big or even that important.

You just have to do one thing.

And then take that “win” and try one more thing.

And nuture the quiet voice that is named “hope”.

The quiet voice is the voice of truth.

All the other is just noise.

Today I have written here.

And I shall make more art cards trusting that quiet messages of hope will find their way into the hands of those who need to hear…

 

 

I Once Was Lost

Hello.

It’s been a while.

I haven’t wanted to write very often and when I did, I couldn’t.

This has probably been the worst I’ve ever been.

alone

It hasn’t all been bad, of course.  It’s honestly been a roller coaster ride.  Bad and good.  Highs and lows. Fun times and disasters (literally).  We’ve had hurricanes, a Carnival cruise, new health issues for my sister, unimproved health issues of my own, a worsening financial situation, unemployment and job searches, and car troubles.  Some of it was our life, some of it our children’s.  All of it managed to bring forth a serious depression that I am just now dragging myself out of.

There are, of course, a lot of stories to be found in the past several weeks (or is it months?), but it is late and I need to sleep.

Suffice it to say that I have been very lost.  So lost that I was not sure that I would find myself again.  I couldn’t write.  In fact, there were days I couldn’t think my way through the most basic of activities.

There were even days when I didn’t care if I made it through the day.  I didn’t care about anything.  I especially didn’t care about myself.

I felt nothing and everything.

As with most challenging times, lessons can be learned.  Experience is the best teacher or so I’ve heard.

Over the last couple of days, I seem to be in an upswing.  During the times that I did feel a sense of hope, I’ve continued to research my current health issues that I am coming to believe are all related.  I think stress is a common denominator and still believe that diet is key to resolving a lot of what is going on.

I’ve started a journal of sorts that chronicles what I’m eating, exercise, stress, and mood swings.  It will be interested to see if a pattern emerges.

I have been lost and not for the first time.

But today, for the first time in a long while, I believe that I can find the answers I am looking for.

And so the journey continues…and so does this blog.

 

 

New Habits

I guess I was overly optimistic about keeping up with writing here.  It seems that so much is going on that I’m having trouble keeping up with everything.

The moderate depression is continuing with some good days and some not-so-good.  I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and continuing with the new plan or rather the new lifestyle…

Oh wait – I never got around to actually writing about that…

In short, I have committed to eating a whole food, plant based diet.  That’s basically a vegan diet with another restriction – very limited added oil of any kind.

If you want to know more, I was first introduced to the idea by watching “Forks over Knives” which is currently on Netflix.  It explains it much better than I ever could.

Why am I giving this a try you might ask?

Well, let me tell you…

When I first realized that I was having trouble with my vision and thousands of dollars later became aware that medical doctors were not going to be much help, I started by reading and researching and removed chemicals from my home…cleaning products, air fresheners, etc.

Then I started looking at the ingredients in our kitchen.  We’d been eating pretty healthy off and on depending on our income and my mood.  I am definitely a stress eater.

I was focused on subtracting items from our home that might be adversely affecting our health.

And that was all good stuff…as far as it went.

I never really stopped to think about what I needed to add.  I’m fairly knowledgeable about nutrition.  But now, I’m learning a lot more.  A lot more.

I believe in the ability of our bodies to heal themselves…if given the opportunity and resources.

I have hypertension, high cholesterol and triglycerides, am obese, suffer with anxiety and depression, have vision difficulties, and have had bad blood sugar readings in the past.  I take 3 medications and my blood pressure reading are rarely in the normal range…they are still high.  I am tired all the time.  I am not very happy.

I was not a winner in the “genetic lottery” of life.  The women in my family start having strokes early and often.  Hypertension starts for everyone on both sides at 30.  I made it to my mid-thirties.  I’ve been told that this is my lot in life.  Even by a doctor once.  I’m going to die from a heart attack or stroke.  That’s just the way it is.

What if that’s not true?

What if this is one area of my life where I can exert some control?

What goes into my mouth is my decision.  That’s been an empowering experience for me.  I’m juicing spinach, kale, carrots, tomatoes, and whatever other vegetable I have on hand for breakfast along with a bowl of oatmeal or whole grain cereal.  I’m eating vegetables, fruits, whole grain rice and other grains.  I’m not counting calories.  I’ve lost about 20 pounds.

I’m hitting at least 10,000 steps on my fitbit almost every day.  At least 30 minutes is continual walking on my treadmill.

I asked my husband to watch “Forks over Knives” with me so that he would have a clue about what I was doing.

To my surprise, he volunteered to join in.  He’s not “all” in.  He indulges some when he’s not at home, but he’s eaten every recipe that I’ve tried out (including some stunning failures).

There’s more and I will be back tomorrow…even if it’s just to say hello.

I’ve finished my bedtime fruit and veggie smoothie and it’s off to bed – hopefully to sleep. Sleep has been somewhat elusive as of late.

Pleasant dreams dear readers…

The Next Step

It’s been more than a month since I’ve posted here.  I’ve written (or tried to write) a few times, but the words sounded negative, without optimism, and frankly, more than a little whiny.

Why did things keep going wrong?  How unfair that the harder I tried to simplify and improve our quality of life, the worse things seemed to get…

  • a car accident that totaled our paid for truck…the only functional car that we owned
  • another emergency surgery adding thousands of dollars to our debt, not to mention the cost of the stress for our family and the damage to my health
  • the auto insurance for the person who caused the accident determining that our vehicle was worth less than two thousand dollars
  • the same company deciding that my husband’s health expenses could total $300.00, but no more
  • my husband still in physical therapy for the pain in his neck and back
  • my husband developing hypertension – possibly as a result of the stress
  • my daughter who is not yet thirty getting blood pressure readings that are way too high

and the list could go on…

See what I mean about feeling like a miserable, whiny person whose life was out of control?

I’ve not been in a good place.  This next sentence is hard to type, but here goes…

I’ve been so depressed and without hope that suicide has seemed like a real and viable option on more than one occasion.  I share that only because I know I’m not the only one out there who visits that “place” occasionally.

I don’t remember where I initially came across the phrase “treating the symptoms instead of the cause”, but I did happen upon it somewhere…probably in researching health and weight loss because I am determined not to have surgery again.

And that phrase triggered some pretty deep thoughts, reflection and insights.

Yes, I can be a victim and take medications for my blood pressure.  And I can blame my health issues (past, present, and future) on my genetics.

Or, I can take responsibility for my choices and choose the type of journey that I want to make.

I can make choices and have some control over my life.

This same thinking applies just as well to the condition of my home.

I can treat the symptoms of a cluttered, untidy home that does bring me peace and comfort…I can clear this counter or tidy up that pile.

Or, I can exert my energy on resolving the cause of the problems in my home.

I feel that my journey has renewed life.

Changes are already being implemented.

Some are scary and against standard societal norms.

I’m working on being ok with that.

The stuff I’ve done so far has been good.

Now, I’m going to the next level.

I’m excited, I’m scared, I’m optimistic, I’m apprehensive…

And I anticipate that I’ll be back tomorrow to post again…