Four pages done.  Fifty-three more to go!

Productivity is losing momentum around here as a respiratory virus trudges through our family.

Not seriously ill, but not feeling 100% either.

Yesterday, I sorted through paper in the studio:  going through magazines I’d saved for potential journal pages and possible class use.  I pulled out anything that struck my fancy and gathered the rest up for recycling.  A big bag full.  I also sorted through papers that I had saved and decided that I didn’t need after all. It was hard parting with them for some insane reason. I kept thinking that I might need them for something.

The fear of not having what I need to create is a challenge that I’m dealing with right now.  Actually creating is what’s important…more important than the potential of creating.  Having the space available and access to what is needed is important.

Thinking about doing or actually doing?

It’s not complicated when you actually see it in black and white.

But nothing with emotions is every really simple.

I just read a great post about this very thing.  She talks about her clothing issues, but the train of thought applies to anything that we are trying to declutter and the emotional aspect of it.  Here’s the link:

https://www.becomingminimalist.com/more-than-clutter/

The whole decluttering process is about so much more than the stuff.  There are all kinds of motivational catch phrases that apply, but I’m liking this one right now…

When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. – Marie Kondo

I believe the past should be learned from and visited for the good memories.  I don’t want to live there.

The future should be planned for and anticipated, but not feared.

The present is for living and doing.

I’m trying to make choices today that make it all possible.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

Bent Pins and Collected Things

Life is too short for bent and dull sewing pins, fabric I no longer love and dried up paint.  I could add a hundred and one other things to this list and never even leave my studio.

I’ve decided that it all comes down to FEAR and it’s constant companion ANXIETY.  There is no simple button to press and make those two disappear from my life.  I just need to continue to work towards a peaceful home where we can exist together harmoniously.

My studio.

That’s where I have been for the past couple of days.  Not for long periods of time, but little visits so I can work out a way to want to be in there…

To make stuff again.

I’ve identified two specific things that I fear with regards to that room:

Fear of getting rid of things because I might need them someday and the accompanying fear of using things because then I won’t have it and it might work better in another future project…

and that hypothetical scenario leads to the next fear…

Fear that anything I make won’t be “good enough”.  I can’t even explain that one.

Is it a fear of someone else’s opinion?  Maybe a “real” artist judging what I’ve made or…

Am I really just afraid of my own inner critic?

– that voice that does such a good job of telling me that “I can’t”

In any event, the result of this fear is that I’ve become more of a collector of possibilities rather than a creator of them.

I have fabric, canvases, paint, brushes, ephemera, stamps, ink, adhesives, buttons, threads, jars of fascinating little things, pencils, pens, paper and more paper and a hundred and one other things.  All of this was purchased, found and gifted to me because of it’s potential to become something more.

I’ve even collected quotes about creativity…

But I’ve made enough lists for today.

It’s summer.

I have fewer responsibilities to use as excuses.

Today, I have decided to start a summer journal project and publicly declare it’s existence.

Fifty-seven journal pages this summer.

One for every year that I’ve been alive.

Instead of saying that I want to make stuff over and over again, I’m going to make stuff.

Make pages with no excuses or apologies for what they look like or don’t.

Process, not product…

Along the way, I’m going to get rid of anything taking up space in there that doesn’t work for who I am now as an artist.

starting right now!

use up

 

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.