Boxes and Crinkly Bags

 

The table we set at our house is undergoing a gradual change.

For one thing, this little guy is joining us now.

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Because of him, some health issues, and a myriad of other reasons, we are changing up our diet.

Small changes, gradual changes, with some compromises here and there, but with a clear goal in mind.

No more processed (factory food) and more real food with real ingredients that we can pronounce.

We’ve made the switch to organic produce and are working towards meat raised humanely on small farms and ranches.

As we eat down our pantry and freezer we aren’t replacing the boxes and crinkly bags that live there now.

There have been some challenges along the way – mainly folks wandering into the kitchen looking for something to eat and finding more ingredients than food.  We’re all on different schedules around here and dinner is the only meal we share.

We’ve been working towards keeping the fridge and freezer stocked with prepared foods that just need to be heated up.  It just tends to get eaten up before we get enough stored back!

I’ve become a master of the frittata which uses up leftover veggies and the abundance of eggs we’ve been getting as the weather warms up and the chickens start laying.

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We’re experimenting with recipes we find on the internet that replicate favorite snacks.  Some are wins, some are not…still looking for a Little Debbie Nutty Buddy substitute.

The pantry and freezer are getting low and that is causing me some anxiety.  Some of these choices aren’t cheap and money is always an issue.  I’m taking some deep breaths and reminding myself that any change in the right direction is better than not trying at all.

Don’t let perfection get in the way of better, right?

And reminding myself of the wins…last night’s dinner –  soup made from leftover chicken (free-range, organic chicken that spent its days roosting in a barn and and exploring the great outdoors)  home-made egg noodles  and lots of organic veggies…

There are no pictures of the soup because it was all eaten.  And every meal won’t be scratch-made like this because I’m just not that together.  But this one was and that’s a step in the right direction.

They are probably going to want to eat again tonight.  I probably should have thawed something.

 

 

Good Enough

Don’t let perfect get in the way…

of good,

or better,

or even just good enough.

And so, taking this advice, I am posting today

…an imperfect post written

with a baby boy playing at my feet

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and in full view of my imperfect kitchen

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while sitting in my messy dining room

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…and despite the imperfection I am choosing to be grateful for the dinner meal already cooking in the oven – hours before it needs to be ready.  And I am grateful for the aromas of said food starting to drift through our home.

I am grateful for the abundant signs of life cluttering our dining room…

a jigsaw puzzle in process on the table,

a half-built ukelele awaiting completion.

laundry (some clean, even more dirty)

groceries waiting to be put up,

baby toys,

a make-shift green-house

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and sprouting seeds

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One day the kitchen will be re-modeled.

One day the dishes will all be caught up.

One day there will not be so many signs of living cluttering our living space.

But it will never be perfect.

I am content with today’s imperfections…

with an imperfect home filled with family and life and living.

It is all good…even the parts that are good enough.

Peace…

 

 

I Don’t Know

I had another post in mind to write today and it was even a little bit funny.

And then a bit of real life entered my little world and this post is in response to that reality.

I don’t know.

I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.

I don’t know why some young men die and some don’t.

I don’t know why someone who is doing a lot to make the world a better place gets cancer.

I don’t know why some people work so hard and can’t make ends meet.

I don’t know why life isn’t fair.

I don’t know what to say when the people in my life are hurting and struggling with difficult situations.

I don’t know how to make it better or explain it or make the pain go away.

I’d like to think that there is some master plan and that all the pieces work together in a way that would make sense if I could see the “big picture”.

But, sometimes I think that if I had a bird’s eye view of the world, I would  see a million card tables covered in unfinished jigsaw puzzles because the dog ate some of the pieces.

That maybe it doesn’t make any sense at all and it just is.

I don’t have any words that make any of it any better.

Sometimes it just hurts and we cry and we scream and we get mad and we feel guilty…

I pray that my faith is strong enough to keep me upright so that I can support those that I love.

I pray for wisdom to know what to say and when to remain silent.

I pray that I am present for those that feel alone…even when I know that we have to do the hardest things by ourselves.

I pray for hope that when we can’t see the light, we can at least see the faintest twinkle of the stars in the darkness.

And I try to make peace with what I can and cannot do.

And believe that we are not all in this reality alone.

Peace.

Addendum:  So I typed this post and headed off to my cleaning job – not realizing that I had failed to hit “Publish”.

As my daughter and I were driving into town, she did that “magic” thing where music from your phone plays on the car radio.   I don’t pretend to understand most electronics.   The mystery of it all is too much for me.

Anyway, she subscribes to some kind of service that sends you song selections that you might like and you pick and choose what you enjoy.

This song by Sam Smith came on the radio.  I’ll just post the lyrics and you can listen to it somewhere if you are interested…

Pray
I’m young and I’m foolish, I’ve made bad decisions
I block out the news, turn my back on religion
Don’t have no degree, I’m somewhat naive
I’ve made it this far on my own
But lately, that shit ain’t been gettin’ me higher
I lift up my head and the world is on fire
There’s dread in my heart and fear in my bones
And I just don’t know what to say
Maybe I’ll pray, pray
Maybe I’ll pray
I have never believed in you, no
But I’m gonna pray
You won’t find me in church (no) reading the Bible (no)
I am still here and I’m still your disciple
I’m down on my knees, I’m beggin’ you, please
I’m broken, alone, and afraid
I’m not a saint, I’m more of a sinner
I don’t wanna lose, but I fear for the winners
When I try to explain, the words run away
That’s why I am stood here today
And I’m gonna pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I’ll pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I’ll pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I’ll pray
I’ve never believed in you, no, but I’m gonna
Won’t you call me?
Can we have a one-to-one, please?
Let’s talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Won’t you call me?
Can we have a one-to-one, please?
Let’s talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Oh, and I’m gonna pray, I’m gonna pray, I’m gonna pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I’ll pray, pray, maybe I’ll pray
I’ve never believed in you, no, but I’m gonna pray
Songwriters: James John Napier / Jose Angel Velazquez / Larrance Levar Dopson / Samuel Frederick Smith / Timothy Z. Mosley
Pray lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Clay Music Corporation
I turned to her and asked if she had read what I had written on the blog and picked out this song for me.
She said no.
Maybe it’s a coincidence?
Or maybe not…

 

 

Possibilities

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Yea!  I’m writing three days in a row.

Things must be going better.

That’s not the only sign.  Optimism is definitely the word of the day.

My laundry room has been tidy and clean for over a week…

and I’m able to see and appreciate the tidiness and organization instead of the unfinished plywood covering the floor that needs replacing. Well, I see the plywood but have hope that someday it will be fixed along with all the other stuff…that’s progress enough for now.

I went out with my sister and we visited the thrift store…something that I’ve been avoiding lately because I don’t want to undo the de-cluttering progress that I’ve made.

And (holy crap, batman) they were having a half-price clearance event to get ready for all the Christmas stuff.

(Insert a brief moment of panic when I saw that sign)

But, I did okay.  I held some things and made good decisions. Only a few things came home and most were on my mental list of things I need (or really want) but can’t afford.

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  1. A can for storing pet food.
  2. A whole foods cookbook that has been on my Amazon list for a while.
  3. A trashcan for next to my chair in the living room where I do a lot of cutting while watching t.v.
  4. A new wallet because my old one is almost worn out.
  5. Fiesta saucers to go under the herbs I’m going to start growing to save money because they are called for in every recipe I’m cooking lately. These were cheaper than actual thingies to go under plant pots and are colorful.  Win, win!
  6. A curtain tie-back because two went into the storage closet and only one came out and there are two windows in the bedroom.  They even match!
  7. A good book for homeschooling that I’ve looked at several times but couldn’t afford
  8. Pencils, because who doesn’t always need pencils?

I’m happy because I don’t see any regrets there and I actually saved a significant amount of money.

It’s been a good day.

Dinner is in a crock pot on the counter.

Today is payday and we made it through the last pay period without going in the red.  We barely (and I mean barely) maintained a positive balance, but that’s enough for now.  The important stuff got paid and by that I mean we still have electricity and water and food.

I read an article today that indicates we aren’t middle class. That was kind of a bummer…

But, today I am able to focus on the good.

We have a floor and a roof and walls all around.

Many don’t.

We have food in our pantry and refrigerator and a means to prepare it.

Many don’t.

And today, I can see my blessings.

With depression, that is not always possible.

With depression, optimism is not always a choice.

Without hope, the world is dark and lonely and impossible.

Today, things seem possible.

May your day be filled with light and possibilities…

 

A “What If-er”

 

Mood swings, irritability, frustration, guilt and self-recrimination.  That seems to be my constant lately.

Some days I wonder if it’s worth the effort of maintaining any sense of optimism.

Some days, hope is hard to come by.

And then, something happens that turns things around and lightens the load…

On Mondays, I teach a class of Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders at a small private, Christian school.

I pretty much teach a process over product class and place the emphasis on the “what if” idea.  What if you try this…what will happen?  I emphasize creative thinking.  When the class project is done, the kids get to work (play)  in their journals and work with all of the scraps that we have collected in what they have dubbed the “what if” box.

Yesterday, as we were working on a owl drawing and painting project, I shared a story from my own early elementary days.

A long, long time ago when I was about your age, I was working on painting a plaster owl in art class.  We didn’t have an art teacher or classroom at the school I was attending at the time.  It was my regular classroom teacher and she wasn’t an artist. We had red, yellow and blue paint.  I remember that I wanted my owl to look like an owl with lots of colors and texture.  I was young and didn’t know how to achieve that so I kept layering on paint…lots and lots of layers.  The paint began to muddy and crack. My teacher told me that I was doing it wrong and took my owl and washed all of the paint off.  She returned it to me and told me to start over and do it the correct way.  I didn’t want to finish the owl because I was afraid that I wouldn’t do it right.  It’s important to follow instructions, but it’s also important to try new things and not be afraid to make mistakes because sometimes that’s how we find the answers we are looking for. 

After I told the story, my little artists finished up their project for the day and  moved on to their journal time.

As they were working, one of the boys in my class who I often suspect doesn’t listen very much because he is always talking, stopped drawing in his journal and said to me…

Miss Kelly, what if God gave you that teacher who messed up your owl so that you would become a “what if-er?  What if you were supposed to become a “what if-er so you could help me be one to? ‘Cause I think I’m a what if-er like you are and we’re supposed to figure stuff out.  Is that even a word?  What if-er?  I think it is and I think that’s what we are.

Well.

What if I’m supposed to be a what if-er and I have just forgotten what that means?

What if it took a child to point out to me that there is a purpose and a meaning to my life that I have lost touch with?

What if I just keep trying things out and remember that life is a process and not a product?  And that I’m going to make mistakes and that’s okay.

What if I quit striving to reach the destination and spend more energy on seeing the joy in the journey?

The destination is a mirage that you never actually arrive at.  The journey is the reality and there are magical moments to be found…often when and where you least expect them.

Here’s to what ifs and the what if-ers who explore them…and to the joy to be found in the exploration…

And here’s to the purported wisdom of owls and some art teachers (including myself) and the actual wisdom of small children…

 

– and to following the instructions (mostly) and then celebrating the beautiful, varied and sometimes messy results of our “what if ” life.

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.

 

Another Monday

Monday.  The first day of another working week.  A fresh start.  A new day.

Today, I am battling the effects of a couple of new medications.  All I want to do is sleep.

This could be a side effect that will eventually go away or it could be a sign that the new anti-anxiety med is working and I just need to adjust to not being in a perpetual state of anxiety.  This feeling could actually be “normal”.   Maybe I’m just relaxed.  It feels like I’m moving in slow motion.  When you’re not “normal”, it’s hard to know.  I guess time will tell.

I do know that the words are not flowing well today.  That could be the meds or it could mean that there just nothing much interesting to write about.  I am working on developing better habits though, so I think I shall write anyway. If I miss one day, it tends to lead to missing two…and then weeks have gone by.

I’m starting to realize that developing those habits and creating a routine is an important part of living an intentional life.  It’s hard to be intentional when there is no plan.  This is an obvious realization, I know…a true slap the forehead, duh moment.  Better late than never, right?  At least I finally figured it out and now I can start applying it to my life.

I’ve “played” with the idea of planning out things before.  I’ve set up cleaning schedules and errand days, and written out menus.  I’ve spent hours on developing the routines and then dedicated about the same amount of hours executing them.  They never became habits.  Just dreams that never became reality.

So, I’m rethinking habits.  And writing down some plans.  And not trying to implement them all at once.

So, today…

There is a plan for maintaining the house so it is more of a home.  Today is “living room day”.  I’m not going to try and clean the whole house and recover from the weekend.  I’m just going to clean the living room.  Then I’ll try to pick up as we go through the week.  And clean it again next Monday.

I’ve spent some time figuring out the mess that is our budget and am almost ready to start paying down the debt again.  Life got so crazy that all I could do was try and keep up with the monthly bills.  Time once again to work on being debt-free.

A huge load of donations is waiting by the door to be delivered to the thrift store tomorrow.  Much of the pile is wedding stuff.  There is a bit of household clutter mixed in. The hallway is passable again!   0227171315

Speedy the dog is not being donated!  Of the four canines, he is the good dog right now.  He just walks around wagging his tail and waiting for someone to pay attention to him.  The only time he barks is when another dog has taken the bed he believes to be his or when he has to wait in line for dinner.

Two projects are active in the studio and two more canvasses have prep coats on them waiting for inspiration.  Making a habit of spending time in the studio is a priority.

 

Just works in progress.  Not very interesting so far.  The textile project gets worked on while watching t.v. My sister comes over several evenings a week and we watch British mysteries.  The canvas is slowly coming to life.  I believe a bird is going into the little box in the lower right corner.  Maybe a window or a door.  Not sure yet.

This week.  A new week.  I’m hoping it will be slow and slightly boring…just building routines and habits.

This month has been full of “firsts”:

  • my first child getting married (which caused all of the following)
  • my first manicure
  • my first time getting my hair “done” (something more than a haircut)
  • my first time having my make-up done (I don’t even own any, not even mascara)
  • my first bra-fitting (that’s actually a funny story for another time)
  • seven trips to the mall (not my first trip, but last time I remember going was almost 9 years ago)

Yep, I think it’s a good week to have a quiet week.  Here’s hoping.

May your week also be filled with only good things!

 

 

 

Ugh.

Or maybe Yuck.

One word to describe the way I feel physically and emotionally.

I’m still tired and coughing.  It doesn’t help that the weather is changing every hour.

Hot enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts going barefoot one day.

Then a t-shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, jeans and socks the next.

Can’t the temperature be relatively the same for at least two days in a row.

Cedar and mold and dust…all at the same time!

We’re all carrying rolls of toilet paper around.  I’m too cheap to buy Kleenex.  I’m very into multi-purpose home supplies right now.

The studio has stayed clean.  I know it’s been less than twenty-four hours, but I’m going to cheer myself on with a win anyway.  I was able to find everything I needed for my art class today without rummaging through piles of stuff.  That felt good.

This second class that I’m teaching is older kiddos…junior high and high school.  I’m really enjoying it, but they are all super-talented.  A couple are more naturally talented than I am.  At least I have more experience than they do.  It’s going to be challenging to keep up with them!

Today on the home-front we sorted through wedding stuff and got a lot of it boxed up into some sort of order.  New lists and more lists – things we forgot and things we didn’t think of.  I think it’s going okay (except when I start panicking and lose it!).

The bridal shower is tomorrow and guess who forgot to get a gift.

Then we just have two more weeks until the big day!

I’ve made a decision to leave Facebook for a while.  I just can’t deal with the drama, the arguments, the name-calling and the total suspension of respect for differing opinions.

If you read my posts as they are shared on Facebook, you can continue to do so.  I will not be getting notifications of comments or “likes” however.  To stay in communication, you will need to log on to faithacrestudio.com and “follow” me here.

This was not an easy decision.   I’ve “unfriended” a lot of folks that just couldn’t let up with the continually negative posting. I kept thinking people could or would calm down and relax a little.  That maybe we could start sharing our daily lives again and keep in touch about the little stuff – the little stuff matters too.

We can’t live in a constant state of fear, panic and readiness to battle every anticipated tragedy.  I know this because I’ve been doing it since childhood and my body is worn out.  I’ve shared this before.  For my health and sanity, I just refuse to do it anymore.  I’m bowing out of the front lines.

When you wake up every morning looking for the next horrible thing that has happened, or more likely the next horrible tragedy that hasn’t happened yet, you miss out on the simple beauty of the everyday.  We see what we are looking for.  I am choosing to look for hope and joy.

I’ll still be here…sharing my stories and my moments.

Our stories and sharing are what is most important right now.

The goodness is still present.

There is still hope.

The steps we take in our daily lives will always have more of an impact on the world than any march.

Little things matter.

Our love matters.

Never stop believing that.