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.

 

 

 

 

 

That Post That Almost Wasn’t

I had a post all planned out in my head, but I don’t think that I can write it tonight.  I’m just “full” and “empty” at the same time.  Full of emotions and tiredness and stress and fear…empty of strength and optimism and energy.

This month has been a long haul so far.  Some bad stuff and some good.  Mostly my focus has had to been on the bad because it had to be dealt with first.  The good stuff I shall ponder and reflect upon later when the pace is not so hectic.

My sister continues to slowly recover from her surgery.  That’s good.  It’s been more challenging than she anticipated, but things are getting better.

School schedules and homework are not yet a habit, but are becoming more familiar each day.  Soon that will be easier to deal with.

I went and saw my son’s new apartment today.  We packed up some more of his stuff and took a load of boxes over there.  It’s a nice place and I am excited for this new chapter in his life.  It’s a good thing.  It’s what we raise our children to do.  Yet, I am sad that this chapter is ending.  That’s all I can say about that right now.

Oldest daughter leaves tomorrow to begin her season at the Texas Renaissance Festival.  That is a good thing also.  She loves her job and has been home for quite a while.  I know she’s anxious to rejoin her “family” there.  She misses them.  I couldn’t have made it through this month without her.  It’s time for her to go.  Yet, I’m sad.

I’m tired of crying and being sad and crying and being happy.  I’m tired of change and excited for the changes.  I want the kids to be little again and I know that its time for them to fly away.  I’m afraid of how quiet it’s going to be and wondering about the possibilities of the free time.  Mainly, I’m tired and afraid.

This turned out to be a post after all.  Short and rambling…full and empty at the same time.  There is more to be said  and somehow it says it all…at the same time.

Today is almost over and tomorrow is on its way.  Time keeps moving on by and change comes with it.  Change is neither bad nor good.  It just is.  And so is life.

The end and the beginning.

 

 

 

 

Lesson Learned

It’s been too long since I wrote something uplifting, inspiring or philosophical here.  I’m just so busy putting one foot in front of the other that I don’t have the time or energy for deep thoughts.  I’ve reached the point where I feel that if I don’t keep moving, I’ll stop completely.

The challenges just keeping on coming.  A difficult recovery from surgery for my sister.  A flooded bedroom from a leaking air conditioner that resulted in a wall and floor (yes, another one) being destroyed.  Stuff piled everywhere as we try to salvage what we can. Trying to adapt to a full school schedule.  Bills to pay. Car repairs and wrong parts and pieces that don’t fit where they are supposed to.  Planning for art classes.  And a handful of other things going on that I haven’t even shared.

One at a time wouldn’t be much of a problem, but one after another is getting old.

I’m trying not to whine.  And I’m trying to be optimistic.  I know it will all resolve itself – one way or another. I’m aware that most of it is out of my control.

In a way, this time has been a blessing.

Simplifying life can be challenging.  Sorting out the important stuff is sometimes hard to figure out.  Priorities shift and often it’s impossible to put things in proper perspective.

Until…there is literally so much that you can’t get done because there is so much to be done!

That’s when you have to pick out “one”, “two” and “three” and let the rest slide.  I’ve left things undone lately  that used to seem terribly important.  They can wait  I need sleep or I can’t cope.

Number one priority has to be family.   Quieting the endless to-do list running through my brain so that I can really hear what loved ones are trying to tell me.  Remembering to say “I love you” and be present as much as possible.  Not yelling and remembering that everyone is dealing with the stress right now – sometimes in ways that I don’t understand.  Individually. it is all too hard.  Together, we can somehow work through it.

After family, priorities shift day to day or minute to minute.  A lot isn’t getting done. There isn’t enough time to rest.  It’s one thing at a time and sometimes that one thing isn’t finished as well as I would like or at all.

This posting is a perfect example.  I’d love to write something wonderful or at least proofread it, but this will have to do instead.  These imperfect words are the best I’ve got.

I’m thankful that I have hope.  In the big scheme of things, my problems are small. They are all surmountable.  I have food in the kitchen and all that I need.  Time will solve most of my problems with a little bit of patience thrown in for good measure.

When all of this is said and done, I will have learned a bit more about simplicity and living intentionally.

I am blessed.

And I am tired.

Good night.

 

And…stop.

Whew.  I feel like I just finished a race.  I crossed the finish line this afternoon and I feel like sighing the biggest sigh of relief everrrrrrr.

We got to school this morning – we we early (a full five minutes before assembly started), completely dressed, all of the proper books in the backpack, lunch bag packed (peanut free which I found out about late last night), and a hot breakfast eaten.  I spoke with all of youngest daughter’s teachers after classes and they were all surprised that we are essentially “unschoolers”.   She did that well in orientation, class discussions and syllabus presentations.  One teacher expressed disbelief that it was possible to get to the age of 12 without learning cursive, but life will go on.  The world will continue to spin and she’ll still get her papers written sans cursive.  We’ll learn it as quickly as we can, but it’s just not that high on my priority list.

Best of all, she was sad when the day ended.  She did beautifully.  She handled the classes, got along with everyone, made some friends and wants to go back!  Yea.

My Monday art class only has five kiddos in it which I will celebrate.  Last semester I had a dozen or so.  They were all great kids, but that’s a lot of art to teach with just two hands.  Five students means we will get to do much more challenging projects.  I’m so excited about that.

My sister is improving greatly following her surgery.  That’s a huge relief also.

All the stressors of the last couple of weeks have come to a resolution and I am done – both mentally and physically.

I feel like a balloon with the air whooshing out.  Not a terribly clever description, but it’s the best that I can come up with right now.  The grammar in this blog isn’t so great either, but I think that I’m managing the spelling pretty well.  I’m happy with good enough.

It’s  been challenging and I haven’t always maintained the best attitude.  There have been some short-tempered moments and more than a few episodes of self-pity and low self-esteem.

Okay, if I’m to be honest,  I’ve been in a crappy mood and seriously wondered if I was going to make it to this finish line or not.

Now what?  I don’t have to get up early tomorrow.  There isn’t a mile-long list of things to do and organize.  No more stuff we have to buy and figure out how to pay for.  No big uncertainties to face.

Just normal life to deal with. After dealing with all of the stuff that’s been happening lately, my old challenges seem easy in comparison.

And now, to bed.  I shall sleep soundly as befitting someone that has life totally under control.

Yea, we know that’s not the case, but just for tonight we shall pretend that it is so.

Life is good.

Alliteration is Good…unless it’s Saturday’s Snake

We’ve had a very wet spring season following an unusually warm winter.  As a result, the news has been full of dire snake warnings and reports of snakes in homes.  Ugh.

Kind of everyone’s worst nightmare unless you are one of those weird people who like snakes.  Some reptiles are okay – even interesting – from a distance.  One or two are even okay up close.  Snakes are horrible.  I’m not going to apologize or try to understand snake lovers, at all.  I understand, intellectually, the necessity of snakes in the whole ecosystem thing.  I don’t want to exist peaceably with them.  I want them to live somewhere else.  If they venture into my world…they will die.  They have their space – somewhere else.  I have mine.  I really, really, really don’t like snakes.

Last night, when my youngest went out to lock the chicken house, she heard a rustling in the leaves and saw a snake.  With relative calm, she came to let me know.  I encouraged her (shrieking) to go tell her Dad.  There are, after all, women’s jobs and men’s jobs.  Snakes – definitely man work.

Husband deftly shot the head right off of that 5+ foot rat snake.  End of story, right?

Tonight, youngest daughter quietly suggested that it might be my turn to shut up the chickens.  Sure, no problem.  Son bravely volunteered to accompany me armed with his sword:  A Dunedain chieftain’s longsword that was used by Aragon.  Not the actual sword, but a replica.  Inwardly I was laughing at him.  As I was locking up the chickens, he asked why we had left the snake in the netting surrounding the chicken yard.

I replied that the snake had been thrown way across the yard to be part of the ecosystem – to be eaten by some kind of predator farther up the food chain.

He replied that this had obviously not happened as the snake was right there in front of him.

Sure enough, there was another snake.

Oldest daughter comes to the rescue with the shotgun.  Son and oldest daughter argue over who will shoot the snake.  I will spare you the ensuing lengthy discussion (argument) between siblings.  Oldest daughter shoots snake with the double barrel shotgun.  Son claims she missed and she claims she winged him.  To be fair, the snake had a very small head.  It was dark.  It is unclear whether she mortally wounded the snake.  Son hacked at the snake’s head with his sword.  Son’s friend removed the snake’s head with a bowie knife.  I’m pretty sure the snake was dead at that point.

During this process, I have called husband at work.  He is listening to the play-by-play commentary by youngest daughter as she sits in the house watching through the window.

He repeatedly asks what kind of snake it is.  It was hard to tell at this point.  Remember, it was dark outside and the snake was not in one piece anymore.  Closer examination of the corpse revealed it to be another rat snake.

A cleansing ceremony with fire has completed the evenings’ events.  The snake has been doused with lighter fluid, cremated and finished off with a fire extinguisher.

Oldest daughter is online looking for ways to discourage snakes from taking up residence around here.  A brainstorming session came up with numerous possible solutions including ordering mongoose urine online.  I’m encouraging further research.

Decluttered today:

  1. a snake
  2. more construction left-overs
  3. a shirt
  4. a pile of cardboard boxes saved for some unknown future use
  5. a bowl

Today Needs a Prayer

I don’t talk a lot about my faith on this blog.  It’s not that I’m embarrassed about what I believe or out of some sense of political correctness. Mainly, it’s because at this point in my life, my faith has become more personal and inward. I think it may be a growth period for me after a long period of dormancy.

In any case, for the most part, I believe political correctness is a load of manure. I do, however, believe in being respectful of others’ beliefs or lack thereof.

But today needs a prayer. Feel free to substitute any vernacular that fits your life: happy vibes, positive energy, smoke signals, loud and raucous profanity, meditation, or the like…you get my meaning, right?

Today needs a prayer for those going through changes. Any change, whether perceived as good or bad, can be traumatic. It may involve a wide range of emotions including, but not limited to grieving, anger or joy. Change is hard for most (if not all) of us.

Today, I pray for those trying their best to find their way in the world. Especially for young adults trying to figure out this thing called “being a grown-up”. Wanting to be free of the constraints of parental control and influence…flapping their wings madly…terrified of all the choices and possibilities…peeking back over their shoulder at the shelter they are leaving behind. Some have a nest they can be welcomed back to if the need should arise, but so many don’t have that option, if indeed they ever did. My prayer is that they find a safe place to rest when their wings are tired. A soft place to rest their head when the journey is too hard. A springboard to launch from on the next leg of their journey.  Growing up is hard and should not be done alone. I pray that they have community with friends and family or friends that are family.

Today, I pray for parents whose children are referenced in the above paragraph. A prayer for patience and tolerance and forgiveness…that they remember their transition and act wisely. That they open the door for their children and hug them as the leave. Most importantly, that they leave that door open and are ready to give another hug when their child returns…either triumphantly in success or despairingly in failure.

Today, I pray for those experiencing loss. Especially for those who have lost a parent. Even as an adult this loss is hard. You may have achieved independence and become the “grown-up, but the child within is always there. You are an orphan. The person who has always been there is no longer there. You can no longer peek back over your shoulder at that shelter you so desperately fled years ago. We never lose the need for that anchor.

Today, I pray for those dealing with serious illness and aging. For those coping with the changes that are occurring as their body no longer performs for them as they have become accustomed. For loss of independence and freedom. For endless hours in waiting rooms and treatment rooms and recliners trying to rest and heal. For the uncertainty and loss that is a constant part of this new life they are living.

Today, I pray for the caretakers…the folks who are sheltering the ones in need, making casseroles, fetching glasses of water, running errands, and standing ready for whatever…

Today, I’m rearranging things to welcome a loved one to our home, attending a funeral, checking in on a family member, and planning a piece of prayerful art work for a friend.

Amen.

And now…today

Two more layers done.  I kind of hate it at this point.  I walked away rather than paint over it.  That’s not an uncommon reaction.  Today was the easiest day to work on it so far.  I really have missed making stuff.  It’s been months and months and months.  I kept saying that I would get back to it when I got this or that done.  As I’ve discussed recently this and that never get done.

I’m not really a flowers in a vase, still life kind of artist.  We’ll let it “simmer” overnight and see what happens tomorrow.

Decluttered today:

  1. some old seeds
  2. 3 shoes (a pair and a shoe and interestingly enough, the random shoe is not a mate for the odd shoe earlier in the week)
  3. a favorite t-shirt that was more holes than shirt
  4. a stack of old artwork that my kids made – I saved my favorites
  5. an old journal that is not filled with happy memories

I’m going to count today a success.  I made a little money and I made a real dinner for the family.  The trash is out before the trash men are pulling into the cul-de-sac tomorrow morning.  I didn’t yell at anyone and used mainly kind words.  I had to drive the dying car without air-conditioning and it made it where it was going and back and I didn’t melt.  I worked on some art and decluttered and cleared off a surface or two.  My youngest and I did a bunch of school.  Oh, and I deposited the money I made in the bank before we were overdrawn.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Most of the day, I didn’t feel like it was a good day.  But I’ve been regularly reading a friend’s CaringBridge entries and she is relentlessly looking for the bright side.  If she can do it, then I certainly should be able to do so.

So today, I have been trying to live in gratitude – in all things and in all ways…grateful for a car that serves my needs if not my wants, grateful for a small paycheck that was just enough, grateful for excess that allows me to have trash, grateful for people in my life that I love even if they drive me crazy sometimes, grateful for the opportunity to homeschool and spend time with my daughter, grateful for my talents and the desire to use them, grateful to have choices, and opportunity and wise friends.

And that was today.