All Shall Be Well

All in all, this has been a successful week.  It’s necessary to look back on it as a whole though.  Picking it apart makes it possible to focus on what didn’t work…and more things worked out than not.

I have followed through with my plan to eat a more healthy diet overall this week.  Lots of veggies and fruits and whole grains.  More plant based protein and less meat.  Cutting out sugar and anything overly processed.  My neighbor did make us a deliciously awesome, totally homemade, absolutely decadent cake this week.  I may have had more than one piece.  She is the best cook ever and does everything from scratch.  And the cake had fruit in it and maybe some carrots, and nuts…so it wasn’t a total oops.

This is lunch.

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Ummm.  I have to say the picture on the box looks better than the food in the bowl and it smells a little funky, but it tastes ok.  It’s not a Sonic cheeseburger or a chopped bbq baked potato from Smokey-Mo’s, but I am learning to like it.  There are some good flavors in there.  Old habits are hard to break.  And I was drinking a big glass of ice water with it, but I set it down somewhere and now I can’t find it.  Sigh.

The decluttering effort is back underway.  This all went to the thrift store yesterday.

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Most of it is from my youngest daughter’s room.  She is growing up and parted with quite a few of the formerly cherished toys from the back of her closet.  I had more problems with it than she did.  When I asked her if she was sure about such a drastic purge she replied, “Mom, some little girl is going to have so much fun when she finds this stuff at the thrift store.”  True words and ones that I will replay in my head as I tackle my stuff.

Speedy, the dog is recovering from his back injury.  It only cost $200 (sarcasm intended here) and he is almost back to his old (slightly annoying) self.  He is not yet following my every footstep, but he does manage to whine when I move out of his line of vision.  He has a lesion on his spine and is basically “a ticking time bomb” according to the vet.  Bassets are prone to back problems so we will just make sure his remaining time is good and take each day as it comes.

The rental car is being returned today although we haven’t actually gotten a check from the insurance company.  I’m not sure what they think we are supposed to drive while we wait for dispensation, but I guess it’s not their problem…in their opinion.  We do have my sister’s car to use, but one car for 3 drivers who all have different schedules is not fun.  We can make it work, but it’s still extremely frustrating.

I am still making paper and having a lot of fun doing it.  It’s become my “go to” thing when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life.  This is just part of what I’ve created so far.

 

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Some ideas for using it in projects are percolating, but real life is taking a lot of time and there hasn’t been much left over for artistic pursuits.

I haven’t heard from my son in over two weeks.  Last time I talked to him he was still in the hospital.  He said the medical discharge from basic training could take up to a month. I’m assuming that he is doing okay.  It’s hard not to know what’s going on.

I keep telling myself to be patient.

Things will work out.

The healthier diet and regular exercise will improve my health and the way I feel in noticeable ways.

The house will become even less cluttered and easier to manage (and maybe I’ll find my missing glass of water).

The vehicle situation will work out even though it seems hopeless right now.

There will once again be time for art and creativity.

And all the other realities that are crowding in and making things challenging will be dealt with and resolved…

some to my satisfaction and some in ways that I will learn to deal with.

Patience brings peace

and peace births happiness

and happiness brings joy…

and none of it comes easy, but it is doable.

Life is good and all shall be well.

 

 

Where the hell am I?

Well, literally I am here, at home – most specifically seated at my computer desk typing this note.

But in every other sense of the word, I feel very lost.  This may possibly be one of those brutally honest posts – the kind where I throw punctuation and grammar to the wind and just write.  We shall see.

Where am I?

I am lost.

Lost in the realities of stressful everyday life.

There was never enough money and then my husband’s overtime was cut.  Shit.  I don’t blame him.  I feel badly for him.  He works so hard to provide for our family and I know that he’s blaming himself.

Lost in a vicious cycle of trying to get things done.

The house needs so much work.  We haven’t had the time or resources to do any of the planned projects.  The floor in our hall bathroom and laundry room need to be replaced due to a water leak.  We haven’t been able to recover the floors since we removed the carpeting.  The sub-flooring is so difficult to clean.  I so badly want to repaint the walls.  There’s been a lot of living done since we moved in 10 years ago.  It just feels old and dirty and worn-out.

Lost in a stupid battle of self-loathing and self-criticism that spews out on all of those around me.

….If I could just figure out how to make the money stretch far enough.  If I could just keep the house clean enough.  If I could just manage my time well enough to get things done.

A tiny little voice in my head says that I’m doing the best that I can.  The loud voices are yelling that I’m a stupid failure that isn’t good enough.  That it’s all my fault.

I’m tired and sad.  Probably more than sad.  I’m having trouble keeping my eye on the dream…Honestly, I’m having trouble maintaining any optimism or hope at all.

The “I want to” is bigger than the “I can”.  I want to make home-made nutritious meals for my family.  I’m lucky to fix boxed macaroni and cheese.  I want fresh sheets on the bed every week.  Even if I get them washed, they don’t always make it on the bed.  The dog hair on the floor is starting to look like really ugly carpeting.  I don’t even know where the broom is right now.  Let’s not even get into the art-making process. There is neither the time or energy for that.

I know that things will get better.

I just need patience – with myself, those I love and our situation.  I need to take more time to breathe and look for the joy around me.  I know it’s there.

I know that I need to start writing again.  The process of putting words on paper (actually putting fingers to keyboard) is a magical way to stop the racing mind and see things more clearly.

And I know from your kind comments that I am not alone in any of this.  Stressful lives, despair and hopelessness are not uncommon out there in this world of ours.  This difficult and sometimes scary world – this world that is also full of love and beauty.  We can help each other with sharing and kindness.

It’s so often easier to be kind to others than it is to be kind to ourselves – easier to see the hope for someone else’s life.

I hope that each of you can find some small measure of beauty, joy, peace and hope for yourself today.  I am off to find some for myself.

 

Lonely and alone

It’s quiet around here today.  I am home alone – but not lonely.  There’s a difference, ya’ know.

Hubby, youngest daughter and I tried a new church today.  I have a long and complicated history with church.  Long story short:  I used to and now I don’t.

I’m still a believer.  Just not an attendee – and not a believer in organized worship.  I’m not sure I ever will be again.  I don’t know.  My life and I have changed.  I do miss the community.  I don’t miss the scheduled worship (and meetings and busy-work).

My life seems more intentional now.  Worship is a moment, an observation, an experience – not an hour on Sunday morning.

Prayer is a continuous and ongoing conversation.

Service is a spontaneous reaction to circumstance and not planned.

The church service was strange.  I liked some things about it.  And I didn’t like a lot of things about it.  The worship environment was beautiful.  The message was good.  Worship was uncluttered and focused.

But it all seemed carefully planned.  And as I looked around the room, there was little diversity. Everyone looked happy.  The people in the seats didn’t look like the folks I spend my days with.  My husband and I were the oldest people in the room.  No one looked like they were worried about whether their next paycheck would be enough or if there would be another paycheck.  No one looked like they needed to be there.   Everything looked fine and good.  I’m sure they were perfectly nice people.   I’m sure that If I go back, I would enjoy getting to know some of them.

Maybe the timing wasn’t right.  Maybe it was just me.  Maybe my focus needs to remain where it is right now – on family, home, friends and self.

Will I go back and give it another try?  I don’t know.  I think I’ve reached an age and stage of life where appearances aren’t all that important.  I hope so anyway.  It’s what I’m striving for.  I want real.  I want tears and hugs.  I want fear and reassurance.  I want to know what the challenges are and to work to find solutions.  I want emotions and truth and sharing.  I want to be there for people who need me and I want someone to be there for me.  My life is messy and I want to be with people who are struggling just like I am.   I’m past trying to keep up a front and pretending like everything is just fine.  I grew up in that house and in that family – and everything wasn’t fine.

I felt lonely.

Except for two of my favorite people in the seats next to me, I felt like I was the only one in the room.

I enjoy being alone sometimes (maybe a lot).

I don’t like lonely.  It’s a big scary world out there…and sometimes right here, too.

Layers

Something happened yesterday.

It didn’t seem like much at the time.

I was working through my cleaning list and dusting.

Have I mentioned that I really don’t like cleaning house?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a clean house – a lot.  I just don’t like the process involved in getting there.  That may not be true now that I’m typing out the words. I don’t like always living in a mess.  I don’t like cleaning when there’s always more to do.  I don’t like feeling like it’s a lost cause.  That I can never win or catch up.

I sort of enjoy the wiping down of a counter and feeling the satisfaction of a job well done.  Cleaning a grungy floor and seeing it shine.  Opening a fridge and knowing that everything in it is fresh, useful and available.

I don’t like having to do a load of dishes, putting ten things in the trash, taking a load to the compost pile, and returning a number of things to their proper place – and then wiping down the counter.

I don’t like sweeping up a full dustpan of crap, putting up three pairs of shoes and figuring out what-the-hell that spill was – and then mopping.

I don’t like opening the fridge to prepare dinner and seeing a mess – out-of-date produce that didn’t get eaten because it was shoved to the back instead of in the overflowing produce drawer.  Meat that got thawed and not eaten because a schedule changed.  Leftovers that got forgotten.  Waste.  Not being able to grab a healthy snack out and going to the pantry for “easy” instead.

I like the ideal of caring for and cleaning our home.

I don’t like the idea of struggling to get to the point of being able to clean.

And that, folks, is why I starting de-cluttering to begin with.

Now, back to what happened yesterday while I was trying to dust.  I picked up an item to clean it off and that little voice said, “get rid of it”.  I tried to ignore it because this was an item that has been passed over for de-cluttering for a long time.  Years.

Here is the conversation that went on it my head (please don’t judge, I know I have a problem with stuff):

“Get rid of it”

“But I love it.  It’s on my list of favorite things.  Things I might actually grab on my way out of a fire”

“Get rid of it”

“What if one of the kids likes it and would be sad if it was gone?”

Silence

“What if I get rid of it and change my mind and really want it back but it’s gone forever?”

Silence

“I know.  I’ll pack it in a box and store it away and that way if I miss it I can get it back out.”

Silence

Sad to say, I actually did find a box and wrap it up and put it in the box.  The box sat on the dining room table and I found some other things that fit into the same “once loved” category.  A lot of things.  Now, there is a box on the table and I can’t clean off the table.  We can’t eat at that table.  We can’t play a game on that table.  The stuff is still here.

I’ve been at this de-cluttering game for quite a while now.  I realize that it will never be completely done.

It’s like peeling away layers.  I am at the center – the heart – of this place called home.  New layers are formed and old layers need to be peeled away to make room for the growth.

I have chosen to live more intentionally and to make choices that will foster my growth into the life I dream of for me and my family.

The early layers that needed to be removed were fairly easy.  These layers are closer to my heart and are becoming more challenging.  It’s scary to think of how many layers have already been discarded and how many more there might be.  What will I find when I get there?  What mistakes might I make on the journey – how much will it hurt?

I think I’m getting closer – hence, the voice that is getting louder and saying “get rid of it”.  That voice has been there for awhile and I’ve heard it.  But, I’ve had trouble responding.

It’s hard to learn to trust yourself.  It’s all wrapped up in the big picture – trusting yourself and loving yourself.  Listening to your own voice and not the voices of your childhood, your past, your “inner critics”.  Taking control of your life – including owning your mistakes and learning from them.  Looking forward and moving forward.  Remembering the past, but not holding onto so tightly that you don’t have open hands available for the next gift and opportunity.

Of course, it’s not just about the stuff.  The stuff is just a symptom.  But, it’s part of the process.

I’m getting up from here and the box is going to the car – off to the thrift store this afternoon.

The table will be cleared and I will make it shine.

Behold!

I seem to be on a word binge lately – remember juxtaposition, plethora and epiphanies from yesterday’s post?  I don’t actually talk like this a lot in my everyday life.  I am usually prone to conversation (often one-sided) that goes something like this…

  • Did ya’ pick up your clothes off the bathroom floor?
  • Did that seem like a good idea?
  • Take the trash out – NOW.
  • If you don’t pick up your room now, I’m coming in with a trash bag.
  • Did ya’ pick up your clothes off the bathroom floor?
  • Go do your math – NOW.

There is more, but you get the general idea.  So, this blog is fun for me.  I get to remember that I actually did go to college, am educated and could converse in a pompous manner if it is ever required again.  I am flexible.

Today’s word is “behold”.

I have a revered reverend friend who pondered yesterday about why the word “behold” has fallen out of use.  I pledged to use the word today…so here it is.

Behold!

I looked up the meaning to make sure I got it right:

Basically it means to see with attention, to see clearly, to direct the eyes to, or fix them upon an object.

And somehow that totally fits with what I am thinking about today.  I love it when those mysterious coincidences happen.

I suppose that when you behold something it seems to happen in an instant…Wow, look at that! I am suddenly seeing that for the first time.  Amazing!

Sure, the actual seeing happens that quickly.  But, what groundwork was laid before.  What brought you to that moment when you were able to behold?  When the realization and recognition were possible?

Take, for example a seed.  It’s tucked safely in a seed package.  There’s a picture on the front of the package, a promise of what’s to come if, and when, that seed reaches it’s potential.  You see the picture.

But, a lot has to happen to that seed for growth to occur. Work has to be done.

The seed has to be planted and watered and have the warmth and light of the sun.

And it has to change…to be damaged in a manner of speaking.  It can’t stay the same.  It has to be broken open and exposed for the sprouting to occur.

It has to struggle to break free of the confines of the earth that has nurtured it.  Yet it can’t leave the earth entirely.  It must remain firmly and extensively rooted or it will not thrive.  It must continue to grow and branch out in the world.  It’s hard work.

And then, one day, a bud…a possibility.

And then, BEHOLD!  A flower, some fruit.

It’s not the same as the picture on the package.  You saw that.

But you can “behold” the actual flower, the fruit.  It’s real and you can experience it.  Smell it, taste it, touch it!

How well does this apply to us and to our lives?  To the growth we are striving for?

The growth I am striving for…a life lived more intentionally.  Potential realized.  Filled with peace, joy, love and creativity.

The promise of the seed is never realized in the package.  The potential of the seed is merely an image.

I want to rip open the package, to break open and strive and grow…to bear bountiful fruit.

And I am afraid of it.

The choice is – to look or to behold?

It’s not a choice you make once and it’s done.  The choice has to be made over and over and over again.  Sometimes daily, more often moment by moment.

A rich, full, intentional life is hard.  It’s full of mistakes, and do-overs.  Lots of learning and frustration.  And rewards.

Today, I’m going to choose to live a life that can be seen clearly.  Behold!

How to Stop a Ginormous Rock Rolling Downhill

I just love the word “ginormous”.

So I figured out a way to use it in a really long title today.

But, I digress.

What I’m really thinking about today is change.  Some folks say that all change is good.  Some of us greatly fear it.  Most of us resist change.

I struggle to be at peace with it.

Regardless of how anyone feels about change or how hard we try to stop it, change happens.

And thank goodness for that.  I, for one, am a big fan of the wheel, written language, electricity, air-conditioning, pre-stretched canvas, and that I don’t have to wear a corset or hoop-skirt.   Cake mixes also.

Not everyone will agree on the cake mix thing, but they’ve never tried my scratch-made cakes.  Nobody has.  Because I’ve never made one.  Honestly,  I don’t even get the box mix thing.  My grocery store’s bakery does an excellent job.  Why strive to achieve out of my comfort zone?

But my Mom thought the boxed cake mix signaled the end of civilization as she knew it.  She refused for the longest time to use one.  She didn’t actually like to bake all that much though, so we just didn’t have cake.

My youngest child doesn’t even realize that there was a time before boxed cake mix…and can’t comprehend a time before electricity.  The power went off the other day, and she just about lost it.  Life was over as she knew it.

Change happens.

You can run from it, ignore it, and try to stop it.

You can yell at it and everyone who is trying to promote it.

Change happens.

It’s called history…and the future.

Instead of trying to stop that ginormous rock of change from rolling downhill –  get out of its way,  ’cause it’s not going to stop.

Take a picture of it if you need to .  Then you’ll have something to look at and remember the time before the change.  You might be shocked  and a bit bewildered to find that you survived it and that the world did not end.  You might even come to like it (or at least tolerate it).

I don’t think that change, in itself, is either good or bad.  It just is.

Change that benefits me, may not be so great for someone else.  A change that you desperately hope for, may adversely affect others.

The Dark ages came and went.  Yea for the Renaissance!  World Wars – not so great.  Peace – awesome!  Lessons are learned.  Newborns are amazing, but not forever (I like to sleep).  Toddlers can be fun.  Then they toddle on to the next stage and we are grateful and a bit sad.  I grow older – and hopefully, wiser.

Perhaps one day, we will all become wiser.  And, realize that fear and yelling and fighting do nothing to change things.  The change is unaffected by our fear.  That big ole’ rock keeps rolling.

Maybe love is the only answer.  Love those who are fearing the changes.  Love those who are hurt by the changes.  Love those who are working hard to change things for the better.  Love those for whom change is not coming fast enough.

Just love.

The Corner

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Another neglected, unfinished canvas languishing in the corner of my studio has been finished.

What shall we title this?

How about:  “What if it doesn’t mean anything?”

Or…

“Connect the Dots”

The second suggests a theme developing from the canvas I finished earlier this week.

But, I’m not sure that I want to take myself so seriously.  I read an old art journal entry yesterday that led to these thoughts:

…not taking my art so seriously, and just creating for the sheer need and joy of it.  Creating because it’s who I am and what I must do to be alive.

…Not striving to create something that is significant and important, but just allowing the image(s) to emerge from whatever mysterious place within us that it originates.

…Staying out of the way of the art (stuff) that happens when I don’t overthink it or overanalyze it.

…I have a modicum of talent, a great love of making art (stuff) and a whole lot of self-doubt, fear, and restraint.  I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to creativity.

…What if I just let it happen?  …Paint the heart in the middle even if it’s cliché, add a big yellow blob, paint over it, let it sit…quit worrying so much.

Very few artists become “successful” in the eyes of the world.

But, what a sad place the world would be without the creativity of all!

Be the Change…

I had several ideas for writing today, but one has very clearly floated to the surface on this Wednesday.

It could actually have been titled:  Perfectionism, Part 2.

Background information here!  For Christmas, I was given a beautiful journal with the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, stamped on the cover.  I had an epiphany of sorts…I had been pondering a “theme” to use for the New Year.

Resolutions just haven’t ever worked out well for me.  Does anyone really have any luck with them?  Who makes it to the end of January without breaking the resolutions?  Certainly not me!

Anyhow, in 2014, I decided it would be my year of “No Fear”.  I consciously decided to face things that I was afraid of instead of avoiding them.  For example, I started this blog (which had actually been started previously, but abandoned because I was afraid).  I publicly shared my art.  I battled my tendency towards agoraphobia.  Whenever I became reluctant to start or do something, I thought it through and tackled it.  Much better than resolutions!

Back to January 2015…I decided to play with Gandhi’s quote a bit and came up with:  “Be the change you wish to see in your world”.  Instead of worrying, perseverating, whining, or giving up on the things I’m unhappy with in my/our life, I decided that I would take action.  Taking steps, even baby-steps, even steps in the wrong direction, is preferable to doing nothing and being miserable.

The thing that I’d most like to change in my/our life right now is our financial situation.  It might be classified as dismal except that’s depressing.  Let’s just call it “a situation that has room for improvement”.

And that brings us back to the beginning of this post…

I’ve been sitting here at my desk for well over an hour.  It’s been a busy month with lots of distractions and I’ve totally let my money management system get out of control.  That’s a fancy way of saying that I’ve just been shoving the unopened bills into a big pile on the shelf above my desk.  Let me tell you, procrastination is no way to get your money woes under control.

Lesson number one:  Remember the theme from 2014 (No Fear) and stop avoiding that which you are afraid of.

Lesson number two:  Don’t forget to  “Be the Change”.  Doing something is almost always better than doing nothing at all.

One of the reasons I had avoided dealing with the bills is that I couldn’t pay them all.  I couldn’t do it “right”.  It wasn’t going to be finished.  Some bills were going back in that pile.

It’s so hard for me to take steps in a journey when I know I can’t get where I want to go; at least right now.

I’m trying to learn to let go of the expectations…that I can somehow be perfect, please everyone, have control of the journey, or change things as quickly as I’d like.

Most importantly, I’m trying to be kind to myself when I can’t seem get my act together…when the fear never fully goes away and when I feel like giving up instead of trying to change things.

Life is hard sometimes.

Life is always wonderful.

Looking up.

I took a bit of a tumble off the top of that mountaintop I talked about yesterday.

Today was a day I’ve been dreading.  I sat down to reconcile our bank account and budget…and…look at this month’s bills.  It hasn’t been done since my stay in the hospital.  What can I say?  I did the best I could.  Some folks got paid something and a lot went into the “maybe next check” pile.  Math is not my best subject by any means, but I’m pretty good with the concept that once you hit zero, it’s all negative on the other side.  I confess that I shed a few tears and wondered what in the world to do, but then I moved on.  You can only do what you can do…

Even good days have bad moments.

I’m close enough to the mountain top that I can see it clearly if I look up. And looking up is a pretty good way to live.  I guess I’ll just start hiking back up there…I need the exercise!

If anyone is reading this who is facing a hard time of one kind or another – please know that you are not alone.  Take a moment to count a few blessings:  we all have something to be grateful for.

Tomorrow is a new day and it will find me waking up with a thankful heart.