I am writing today because writing is a good thing for me to do…not because I can think of anything that really needs to be said.

That parallels my day today also.  I am doing what needs to be done although none of it seems to be particularly important or relevant.

I washed clothes so that my husband has something to wear to work and as a result I am rewarded with an empty dirty laundry basket.  Looking at that empty basket brought a small smile to my face.  A “win”.

And so life is.

I long for peace and serenity and joy right now.

What I have is chores and responsibilities and a total lack of control over circumstances that I can’t even talk about here.

I feel like I’m trapped in a little bitty life and that none of it is particularly important or relevant.

But our little bitty lives are important, aren’t they?

A load of laundry, a note in the mail, the right word at the right time, a simple meal…

We may never know the significance of what we do…but we do it anyway…

and trust that somehow it all weaves together for good to make a difference in the lives of those we love…

somehow.

And we do it because it’s what we do…

because we aren’t great big people with great big answers.

We are just who we are

and we keep trying even when it doesn’t seem to matter

and it doesn’t seem important

and we keep breathing

and struggling

and looking for that little “win”

Peace

 

Today

Okay, maybe recovery from a depressive episode isn’t a one and done deal…

And maybe honesty with oneself about how hard life has been is a good idea…

I think I’m really back in the light again this time.

I feel good.

I’m writing.

The past days have been about rest and art and changing bad habits into better ones.

My eyesight isn’t better and I have a stack of medical bills that have increased the debts I’ve worked so hard to reduce.  I calculate that every trip to a new specialist will add thousands of dollars in debt.  We have insurance.   It doesn’t cover everything. Since I’m not dying of a brain tumor and I don’t have multiple sclerosis, I’m taking my health into my own hands for a bit.

So, the plan is to work towards improving my overall health and continue to work towards reducing stress and changing the way that I react to the stress that is inevitable.

Step one…acknowledging that life has been challenging the past year.  Most of those challenges are here to stay.  My sister’s health will continue to be a responsibility.  We haven’t won the lottery.  The house has not improved itself.  My son will be jumping out of an airplane in a few months and then will move on to being shot at.

But, I have the summer off from teaching and that allows for rest.  And I have come to understand that ignoring the reality of the stress or pretending that it is not a big deal is not helpful.

Step two involves removing as many chemicals and additives from my environment and diet as possible.  Label reading has taken on a new priority!  Our grocery bill has increased, but I figure that I’m either going to pay for healthier food or more medical bills.  The junk food is gone and vegetables and fruit are filling the majority of my plate.

The transition has not been as hard as I anticipated.  If I were to be completely honest, it’s possible that in the past I might have considered a box of Little Debbie snack cakes to be an adequate meal.  Let’s just keep that little confession between the two of us…okay?

Step three relates directly to the house and yard.  I am continuing to declutter and assess the amount of stuff in our house.  But, more importantly, I am trying to be more realistic about how the house looks…and worry less about what other people might think.  A lot of living happens here.  It’s not a magazine photo shoot.  And I am not Suzy homemaker.

Honestly, some days I don’t know who I am…or who I want to be when I grow up.

So, I’m going to keep trying to figure that out.  And work towards being the best “me” that I can be.  I’m acknowledging that looking like Cindy Crawford is probably not realistic. I’m working on that expectation.  I working on a lot of things…

including this..

Still a long way to go.  I’ve figured out the meaning (for me).  I don’t normally comment on what a work means to me, but I might make an exception this time…once it’s done.

Today I am doing laundry.  And making more paper.  And sanding and scraping off the paint that I just added to the canvas above.  And (sigh) figuring out our finances and paying bills.

and reminding myself that life is good and that I am an okay person most of the time…

and that I will write again tomorrow even if it’s hard.

 

Live Today

So.

I’ve been depressed.  If you understand depression – that’s enough information.

If you don’t – a thousand words couldn’t explain it to you.

I’ve been getting up in the morning and doing the stuff that needed to be done.  I’ve had good days and not so good days.

Unless you know me well, you might not have even noticed that something was wrong.

I’m doing better.

I think I’m feeling free of the “blues”.

Life has more color.

So we shall start the blog with today.

Some of the yesterdays may find there way here in stories.  Maybe.

I’m just planning on living today.

A month or so ago, I bought a paper-making kit for my art classes.  It turns out that it was more for me than for them.  The paper-making classes turned out great, but the last few days have been even better.

I have become obsessed with making paper!

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I’ve cleaned off my desk and shredded junk mail.

I cleaned out my studio and shredded scrap-booking paper and old artwork and leftovers from previous projects.

I’ve shredded all the scrap and left-behind artwork from school.

I’ve shredded old magazines and journals.

0518171158

 

And I’ve been making paper.  Lots and lots of paper.

0518171157

And I’m starting to have some ideas for how to incorporate it into an art project.

I’d tired of using other people’s artwork for my mixed media and collage projects and this is the next step.

I’m getting braver and am using confetti and glitter and grass and whatever else I can find.  Some of it works…some of it doesn’t.

I watched the starter video on how to make basic paper (so my class would think I knew what I was doing), but I haven’t done any other research.  I’m enjoying the process as much as the product.

It’s great fun to see how it turns out!

I hope that you are doing some living today and not worrying about yesterday and tomorrow too much.

And I hope that, today,  you make the time to spend at least a moment doing something that helps you smile.  The joy is there.  We just have to take the time to embrace it.

Peace…

 

 

Radljost

Radljost (noun, Icelandic) enough light to find your way by

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It would seem that I am raising a pretty smart kiddo.

Last night she was my “radljost”.

She often is.

This was her response when I commented that I was old…when I felt old and tired and depressed.  She said it out loud in the car and I made her write it down so I could keep it always and remember it.

I have made it this far.  Some days that wouldn’t seem like much of an accomplishment. Last night it was a struggle.

And then simple words said in love…radljost.

I want to remember what she said because it is so true.  It was the perfect thing to say and exactly what I needed to hear.

She didn’t try to tell me that I wasn’t old.  She’s 13.  I’m 55.  In her eyes, I am old.  And based on my family history, I am well past middle age.  I am unlikely to live to be 110.

She was honestly optimistic…Here are the facts.  Be grateful for what you’ve got.  Move on.

Today is a better day.

I slept well.

It is payday.

I get to teach art.

The problems of yesterday are still with me, but I’ve made it this far and have hope to keep on going.

I am not going to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

The journey is worthwhile and all the better for the loved ones that I get to travel with.

 

 

 

f life lately…

 

Lost

I sit in the doctor’s office and tell her about my issues with my vision and make excuses for why I haven’t come in sooner to explore the possible medical issues like I was supposed to.

She says, “You are here now.”

I sit in the doctor’s office and list the stressful events of the past six months and then try to apologize for why I haven’t handled things better.

She says, “You are obviously under a great deal of stress. Let’s work on fixing that.”

I sit in the doctor’s office and cry because I feel lost and wonder where I went wrong and when I lost control of everything.

She asks, “When were you in control?”

Now, I’ve done lab work, have new prescriptions and an order for a MRI of my brain.

That will all be helpful and will give us some new information and possibly provide some answers, and maybe even fix some things that need fixing.

I sit at this computer and hesitate to write because it doesn’t seem that I have anything worth saying anymore and I can’t imagine that any worthwhile words will come.

It seems that I have reached a point somewhat near the bottom where it is  dark and hope seems difficult to see from where I sit.

I am lost.

Tick Tock.

Although this line of prose appears directly below the words “I am lost”, a considerable amount of time has passed before this line was typed.

A copious whirlwind of thoughts are churning in my brain, but it is not so easy to sort out cohesive and coherent ones to share.

It’s kind of messy up there in my head right now.

It seems that I should write even though I don’t know that I have anything to say.

Having started this blog, I feel that I should stick with it.

Worrying about the reception of my words seems to be a dangerous path to venture down.

My writing has taken on a life of its own and reaches a diverse audience that I could not have anticipated, and in fact, do not even attempt to understand.

I have to believe that writing today is the thing to do.

If I am lost today, then maybe someone else is also.

I know that our stories are important.

Our voices connect us and keep us from feeling alone.

When we are lost, the words of others can help us find our way again.

And despite the somewhat wandering and depressed tone of this post today…

in the words often shared by an important person in my life,

“Be not afraid”.

I have been in the dark before.

I have been lost before.

Life has ups and downs.

Mountains and valleys.

The important thing is to keep walking.

You can’t stay in one place.

That is not living.

 

 

For now, I can quit making lists of what needs to be done.

That is not helpful.

It is not time to catch up on all that is undone.

That is the past.

It is time to seek that which is ahead of me.

To search for the things in the light…

Love and laughter and forgiveness and hope.

 

 

Stopping the Waves

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”  -unknown

So…I’ve been having a rough time of it lately.  Too much time has been spent trying to keep my head above water and battling the waves of life.

I can be a slow learning or put another way…I can be incredibly stubborn and become so intent upon reaching a goal that I hurt myself, and anyone on the journey with me while plowing forward.

Hurricane force winds…no problem.  I’ve got this.  Crashing waves…I’ve got a floatie from the Dollar Store.  Caught in an undertow…I can still see the shore so all is well.

And then comes another wave.  Small or large – it doesn’t matter.  I’m going under and everything is topsy-turvy and I don’t know which way is up and I can’t breathe and all is hopeless.

Learning to surf is a good idea.  Coping strategies are great.  They can be useful, or even essential, for dealing with the waves.

But, I think I’ve finally learned, once and for all, that sometimes I’ve just got to get out of the water and rest.

Simplifying is a great concept.  Hard to implement, but I still believe in it.  But, sometimes I’ve got to go one step further and just put a stop to everything that I can.  I still have to go to work.  Some school still has to be done.  Minimum housework is a necessity, but…

I don’t have to take on new projects or actively work on anything that isn’t urgent

Reading is a perfectly acceptable way for my daughter to “do school”

Home improvement chores can wait for a bit

Facebook will keep on chronicling

The election will still happen

I can remember that the world will keep on spinning without me and my furious bustle of activity.

Why is it so hard for me to accept that anxiety and depression are real?  Why do I feel the constant need to prove that I am worthy?  Why do I consider it “lazy” to rest when I am tired and need to recover from stress overload?

Last week, I practiced being kind to myself.  I rested.  I watched Netflix.  I colored.  I paged through magazines.  I read a book.

I didn’t make lists of things that needed to be done.

Today, I’m ready to dip my toes back in the water.  I’m just going to hang out there for a bit and see how it feels.  I’m giving myself permission to step back out and go back onto solid ground if I need to.  I don’t think that I’m ready to surf, but we shall see.

Anxiety is a real thing.  It causes real physical changes in our bodies.  It can make us more than tired. It can make us sick.  It can keep us on the shore and out of life entirely.   It is not something to ignore or make light of.

We don’t have to let it win.

I’m not going to let it win.

I’m going to learn how to spend some of my time surfing, some of my time wading in the shallows looking for shells and some time sitting in the sand and watching the waves come in…

Balance.

I Should be Asleep…

but I’m not (obviously).

I haven’t felt much like writing out loud…as in on this blog where people can read about me and my life.

I’ve been writing in my head a lot.  Trying to make sense of the events that have happened and are about to happen.

Nothing tragic or serious.  Nobody has died or been diagnosed with a terrible illness.  Just normal life events, but they seem to be happening too frequently for me to handle them.

I feel weak and unstable and lost.  I’m crying a lot.  About nothing.  And everything.

I’m crying now.  Writing things down (out loud) makes them real.  And hard.  And life-changing.

I’ve thought a lot about how to share the stories that have unfolded during the time I haven’t been writing.  There are 3 distinct narratives and I shall share them in the upcoming days and together we shall make sense of this crazy unpredictable thing we call life.

Story #1:

The Youngest Child

Tomorrow, my youngest daughter, will go to take a placement test prior to starting school on the 8th of August.  No big deal, right?  She’s 12 and will be entering the 6th grade at a private school – the same school that I taught art at last year.

Except it is a big deal.  I’ve been homeschooling for over twenty years. Her older sisters were home-schooled almost their entire lives except for Pre-K and 1st grade respectively.  Her older brother never attended school.

Life changes though.  She’s the last one at home and is lonely.  The home-school group we belong to is mostly younger kids.  We live out in the middle of nowhere and friends are few and far between.

It’s the right thing to do.  She’s going to love it.  Her uniforms and books are bought. School supplies are ready.  She’ll attend school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for classroom lessons.  We’ll still home-school some on Tuesday and Thursday.  The best of both worlds.  We’ll still spend time together and she’ll make new friends.  I’ll have a little time to myself…

for the first time in 20 years.  A lot of who I understand myself to be is wrapped up in home-schooling.  I think that it’s true that in committing to raising children we lose a little bit of who we are.

Part of me feels like I’m quitting or giving up…like I’m failing for giving up home-schooling.  I know in my head that this is untrue.  I’ve always tried  to do what’s best for my kids.  Now, attending school is what’s best for this child.

It’s change.  I’m not always comfortable with change…okay, I’m never comfortable with change.  I’m trying to celebrate not having to write lesson plans or set up a classroom.  I’m thinking about things I might do in my free days.  Who knows, I could even clean house!

See what I mean?  It’s not really a big deal, right?  Except it is – to me.  And there is still story #2 and #3.

Stay tuned..I gotta go and stop the new dog from eating more glitter.  That’s a spoiler for story #2.   Not that the dog is eating glitter, but that there is a dog to eat glitter because Matilda, the basset dog and Abbey, the bagel dog may steal food left and right, but they would never eat glitter.

Until tomorrow…

Peace.

 

 

Hey there

I’m still alive.  I’m hanging in there…barely.  So much is going on and I’m finding that the more stressed I get, the less I can multi-task.  Maybe it’s age or maybe it’s the stress.  For whatever reason, I’ve been getting the essentials done and letting whatever could slide do just that.

I’m realizing though, that the things that I enjoy and that bring me happiness, often don’t make the cut as essentials.  They are the things that drop by the wayside and that just increases the stress and dissatisfaction with my life.

That’s not a good way to live and certainly not an intentional life.

Sure, some things have to be done whether we like it or not…dishes come to mind right off the bat.

But there has to be more to life than dishes.  Please!

After a rather loud venting of my frustration with the unfairness of life last night, I took a moment to assess what was going on…after I stopped yelling and crying and feeling sorry for myself.  It was a rather long moment.

Now it’s time to start finding a balance again.  It seems like it’s back to the beginning, but I have made progress.

It’s not really going all the way back to the beginning of this journey.  So much has changed.  There’s less clutter and more organization.  Priorities have been identified and ordered.  I know so much more about my life, dreams and plans than a year or so ago.

It’s more like I wandered a bit off of the path and not in a good way.  I lost my way, but I know the direction I need to be going.

The main problem with not being vigilant about where I’m going is that I tend to lose sight of the progress that I’m making.

Optimism becomes lost in the day to day struggles.

Neglected tasks become harder and harder to get back to.

Habits become less habitual.

Little piles of clutter become big messes.

And it just seems to become impossible and hopeless and…sometimes even meaningless.

That’s how depression can take hold.

But today is a new day.

I’m writing this post and although there is so much that I haven’t shared – it doesn’t all have to be written today.  I can just start with this post.

The washer is washing away and some of the dishes are drying on the drainboard.

A whole truckload of stuff left the house last week and another box is already being filled.

The table is cleared and that’s a start.

There is a lot going on in my life…lots of changes.  For someone who dislikes change, I’m not quite ready to label them as good (although I know that they are).  I just feel overwhelmed by most of them.  I’m dealing with them…one step and a few tears at a time.

Those are blog posts for tomorrow and the next…

I’m back and that’s enough for right now.

Prayers and positive thoughts for whatever changes and challenges you are dealing with right now.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Looking Hard Enough

Some days it’s easier to live in gratitude than others. As someone who can all too easily free-fall into anxiety and depression, I’m concentrating more and more on living in gratitude.  It’s one of my most intentional of intentional living goals.

Today would be an easy day to just give into the sadness, gloom, depression, anxiety, worry, and every other conceivable dark and sorrowful emotion that exists.  I’m not going to do that.

I’m not denying the negative things that have happened and are happening today.  I can grieve and feel sad.  It’s just not going to be my whole focus.

Amongst all the stuff that’s happening in the world, life goes on.  Good stuff happens.  Bad stuff happens.  We laugh.  We cry.  We play.  We work.  We rest.

My small, little life continues…sometimes parallel to the lives of others and sometimes complexly intertwined.

Some days it’s really difficult to find something to be grateful for.  In some ways it feels callous to seek out joy when others are suffering so greatly.  The truth is that suffering is with us always whether it makes the news or not.

Seeking joy is an act of faith…a defiant action in the face of violence and hatred.

I believe in mankind.  I believe in peace.  I believe in goodness.  I believe that good people are behaving in kind ways as we speak.  I believe that good wins.

And so, I am grateful for little things.

I am thankful that, although we only have air-conditioning in two rooms of our house and it’s really hot today, someone has offered us a free window unit to help out.  And grateful for a relatively small electric bill that is helping balance the budget this month (as a result of not having central air).

I’m grateful for two paid-for cars that started today when we needed them too.  And hopeful that tomorrow they will do the same.

I’m grateful that my family is healthy and that we are not dealing with serious illness as so many I know are.

I am thankful for a full refrigerator, a new washing machine, a bed to sleep in, and a roof over my head.

I am grateful that I have not seen a snake today.

I am thankful for the chickens that are running around my yard eating insects and providing us with fresh eggs.

Right at this moment, I am grateful for a husband who graciously volunteered to clean up the mess from a beer that exploded in our kitchen because it is so hot in here.  That way, I can continue to write this post.

I am grateful that our family has a plan for a better future as a result of a budget that gives us hope to be out of debt (except for the mortgage)in about two years.  I can’t plan an awesome vacation right now.  We don’t have a pool.  I’m hot. But, I have hope that things will get better.  So many folks don’t have hope.

I’m finding that if compare my life to others and find my life lacking, I’m not looking in the right place.  That’s a choice I’m making.  I can look around me and see what I don’t have or look somewhere else and see that I am lucky and blessed.

I am lucky and blessed.  I have choices and options and hope.

My hope for you today is that you can find something to be grateful for and find peace.

0612161940aDecluttered today:

  1. the equipment for Direct TV – we are finally out from under our contract.  YEA!
  2. a box of old records
  3. 5 empty bottles of shampoo and soap from the shower – how did I not see these before?
  4. an old camera and case
  5. another stack of cut-up magazines