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.

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.

 

The Walk

Yesterday, in an attempt to improve my health, I ventured into unfamiliar territory with my dogs.  It’s a route that I used to walk all the time, but haven’t traveled much in the past year or so.  The homes in our neighborhood are on 1 to 5 acre lots and its got lots of gentle hills…an ideal place to walk.

So, I leashed up Matilda the Basset and Barret the Dog and we started walking. We walked about a mile down the road, hit the dead end, and turned around.  The weather was beautiful and we were just slightly winded…having a good time.  All is well.

On the way back, however…

One of my neighbors, who I had not previously met, had let out (into her fenced yard) three of the biggest, bad-ass looking dogs that I have ever seen.  They may well be the sweetest dogs on the earth.  I try not to judge by appearances.

Matilda is one of those dogs that thinks every human and every dog on the planet is here to be her best friend (and rub her belly).  She is also very vocal.   Barking away, she tries to run up to the fence and say hello.

I try to discourage her.

She does not want to be restrained.

She really wants to meet these dogs.

I am becoming entangled in her leash.

She pulls out of her collar.

I am completely hobbled by her leash.

She is at the fence.

The three dogs go wild.

Matilda is baying.

The three dogs are gnashing their teeth and lunging at the fence.

Spittle is flying.

They are all running up and down the fence.  Matilda is apparently unaware that they want to completely rip her to shreds.

Barret decides to come to her rescue.  Barret is a very, very scary dog when he gets riled up.

The neighbor comes outside screaming.

I am still tangled in the leash and my shoe has become untied.

The dogs are raising holy hell.

I can’t hear what the neighbor is screaming so I think she is yelling at me.

I’m apologizing…we are in her yard and my dog is loose.

Turns out she is yelling at her dogs and not me.

I am trying to get untangled and retrieve Matilda and keep Barret from going over the fence and introduce myself.

At this point, Matilda grows tired of “playing” with the three dogs and catches the scent of a rabbit.

When a Basset catches the scent of a rabbit, what little brain function they have shuts down and pure instinct takes over.  They will run for miles.  This property backs up to over 300 acres of undeveloped cedar and rock.

As I finish the pleasantries with my neighbor (which we are yelling at each other over the chaos of the four dogs trying to kill each other) I manage to free myself from the leash and hand Barret’s leash to my new friend.

“I’ll be right back!”

I take off after Matilda. I can hear her baying as she runs.  The path she has chosen is uncleared , cedar covered, rocky terrain. After climbing and sliding through a 6 foot deep rock ravine about a half mile away, I finally catch up with her.  She has come to a wildlife fence and stopped to rest. She is very pleased with herself and happy as can be.

I pin her in place with one knee and finally tie my shoe.

Then, I hoist up her long, wriggly, loose-skinned 50 pound body and balance her on my shoulder. I’m not trusting the collar again.  We hike back through the ravine and cedar.  Matilda is drooling down my back.

I retrieve Barret from the neighbor and once again apologize for the whole fiasco.

Then begins the long trek home. We still have almost a mile to go.

Today, I think we’ll take another route for our walk.

Surf’s Up

Today is a good day.

I voted.

And that’s pretty much all I’m going to say on the subject.  Except maybe, that I’m glad this election season is over.  I’ve grown weary of the anger, rhetoric and fear.  Of the voices growing louder and louder as they attempt to convince themselves and others that their choice is the correct one.  Of friends that I know to be kind and good people posting things on social media that they (in normal times) would never dream of saying face to face with a real human being.

I will not be spending the day anxiously watching the news to see what’s happening.  I will not join in the media circus that has fueled so much hate, divisiveness, and frenzy.  The votes will be counted, the decisions made, and pretty much no one will be happy with the outcome.

Life will go on.

Life today will consist of a visit to the local library and we might even get a few book that are “educational”.  We will certainly get a huge stack of lovely picture books far below our actual “reading level”.  Youngest daughter and I will snuggle on the couch and pretend it’s a blustery fall day and share some stories.  We have at least turned off the air-conditioner for the first time this season.  It is November, right?

We will continue to shred cardboard and paper for use in our chicken yard.  We have quite a pile to work through. Our chickens do such a lovely job of composting it for us.  We are still far from a zero-waste home, but we are trying.  Recycling is a challenge because we don’t have curb-side service.  We have to haul it quite a distance away.  Mainly, we’re trying to focus on not bringing in things that we can’t reuse or recycle easily.

We will be especially aware of Barret the dog’s behavior today.  He just completed his third round of steroids for his meningitis.  The last two times he completed his medication, he fell ill almost immediately.  We’re experimenting with immuno-suppressants now to try and care for him.  He is the biggest, goofiest, clumsiest mess ever.  He has grown huge.  The shelter definitely missed the call when they claimed he was two years old.  They missed a lot of things – including that he was seriously ill.  Now we are “emotionally invested” in the big mutt.

The move into my new studio is almost complete.  I’ll spend some time moving things and finding the right place for everything today.

I guess I haven’t actually shared that news with you.  With only one kiddo left at home full-time, we’ve found that we have more than enough space and have spent some time envisioning what we might do with it all.  We have a huge room at one end that is going to become a small “apartment”.  We’re moving the classroom and studio space out of it and into the two extra bedrooms.  We lucked into a great deal on appliances from an apartment complex that was upgrading – a Whirlpool stove, fridge, dishwasher and microwave in excellent condition for $100 total.  The space will have a small kitchen, bathroom, living area and it’s own outside access.  When it’s complete we will have a space for family members in transition and friends in need.  It’s one of those ideas that just came together as if it was meant to be…I’m very excited about it!

The annual pre-holiday decluttering activities look a little different this year.  So much has been decluttered in years past, that it’s challenging to find much to box-up. Nevertheless, a box is ready in the hallway as we work on tidying up and preparing for the holidays.  This season we are focusing more on better organizing our belongings and finding suitable storage for what we have.  It doesn’t matter how much stuff you have if you don’t ever put anything back where it belongs!  I am so guilty of that.  Piles of stuff everywhere!

Today is a good day.

A day in a free country with the right to cast my vote.

A day in a home that I can organize, tidy-up and share.

A day with family that I love and that love me.

A day to jump in the water and enjoy the waves…

Do-Over?

Can I have a do-over for today, please?  Just press a rewind button and try it again.  I promise I’ll do a better job.

I’ll be more patient and understanding with those that I love.  I won’t say (or yell) ugly words that I can’t unsay and that linger in the air between us.

I’ll start working on homework with my sweet girl earlier  and we’ll just be frustrated together over our slow progress in getting caught up.  Maybe that way she won’t think she’s stupid as she struggles with math (even though she is working through some really hard problems that are grade levels above what she could do just a month ago).  We’ll take more breaks and not push so hard and just do the best we can and that will be good enough.

I won’t get angry at everyone else because I’m feeling guilty that I wasn’t a better caretaker for my sister and because I feel so alone and tired even though people are being supportive.

I’ll just generally be a kinder person and even try to be nicer to myself although I don’t feel like I deserve it.

And I won’t write this blog post because it sounds like I’m whining and feeling sorry for myself.

Because I’m not feeling sorry for myself.  I’m feeling sorry that all I have to offer the people I love is an apology.

And “I’m sorry” just doesn’t seem like enough.

There aren’t really any words that can fix today.

And I can’t wind back the clock and start over.

All I can do is try again tomorrow.

I’ll wake up and start a new day.  I’ll send my daughter off to school with a hug and love. I’ll go to work.  I’ll visit my sister in the I.C.U. at the hospital. I’ll try to remember to pack my husband a lunch to send with him to work.  I’ll pick up my daughter from school. We’ll try to catch up some more school.

I’ll do all the things that need to be done or more likely some of the things that need to be done.

And I’ll have another chance to do a better job of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Days…

Some days the world is a sunny place – regardless of the weather or the circumstances or the realities of existence.

Some days it rains – whether water actually falls from the sky or not.

On the sunny days, anything seems possible.  I can handle it all.  Bring it on world….taking care of a household, teaching an art class, figuring out Latin homework, relearning division, waving good-bye as my kids go out into the scary, bad world alone, training a spastic, brain-damaged dog to be sociable, working two other part-time jobs, being there for my sister as she recovers from surgery, laughing off the 20 pounds I’ve put back on over the summer and being a patient and supportive listener.

And then there’s the morning I wake up, and from the very start of the day, it’s all too much.  The smallest thing triggers tears and the urge to crawl back into bed with the covers pulled over my head.  Everything seems to be moving too fast and I’m moving too slow.  I’d give anything for a “pause” button so that I could gain my footing.

When anyone speaks to me, I hear disappointment in their voice.  Their awareness that I’m just not up to the task.  That I’m falling short.

It’s not really their voice I’m hearing though, is it?  It’s my inner voice.  I’m disappointed in myself.  Yesterday, I could handle this.  Today, not so much.

What’s the difference in yesterday and today? Good question.  My anxiety disorder? Depression?  A good night’s sleep?  I’ve got nothing in the way of an answer.

I’ve been told that I’m my own harshest critic.  That’s probably true.  Being kind to a stranger is pretty easy for me.  Cutting myself some slack is much more challenging.

Maybe that needs to go on the list of things to do.  Learn to be nicer to myself.  Be kinder and more understanding that some days are harder than others.  Tell myself that I’m doing the best I can and to take a deep breath.  But not today.  I’m not adding anything more to today’s to-do list.  I’m done with today.

I’m going to go wrap up in a blanket and listen to the rain fall.

P.S.  Just one more thing.  Tomorrow, when you hear that little voice whispering that you messed up, that you haven’t done enough,  that there’s too much to-do…when you feel overwhelmed…hear these words…

I think you’re doing okay.  That you are doing the best that you can.  And it’s enough.  The world is a better place with you in it.  And the sun will come back out.