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.

 

Advertisements

Kummerspeck

The sharing of words from my “new to me” thrift store book purchase continues…

Today, I am dealing with the aftereffects of kummerspeck (noun, German, excessive weight gained through eating as a means of relieving stress or strong emotion).

Today, I finally feel like I have beaten back the flu, the allergies, and the virus that mimics allergies…all basically resulting in congestion, coughing, and exhaustion.  I feel almost back to normal and can take a full breath without gasping for air.  Air is good.  Air in the lungs is even better.

Now, I can start back with my resolve to eat healthier and walk at least 10,000 steps daily.

Over a year ago, after my surgery, I went from weighing in the 230 range to 180 pounds. Since then I have slowly gained back a lot of the weight.

First, a skipped day of walking and then a junior hamburger.

Then some hot weather so a couple more skipped walks.

Then a half-price milkshake from Sonic.  (Note to self:  half-price does not mean half-calories)

Then a bad day (or two).

It all adds up to weighing 200 pounds again.

I am definitely a stress eater.  Almost any food is comfort food for me.

Thus, the word of the day:  kummerspeck.

I have too many health risks to live like this.

I have too many things that I want to accomplish to risk my life like this.

Healthier choices.

Smaller portions.

Food is fuel, not a reward.

The reward is feeling better.

It matters what I eat.

I matter.

 

 

 

Schwellenangst

0129171753I found a new to me book at the thrift store the other day. ( I was hunting for wedding decorations, not stuff for me!)  I was hesitant to purchase the book seeing as how I’m working at curtailing the amount of stuff entering and taking up residence in my home.

I decided that this book was a worthwhile purchase though.  It is full of wonderful words, most of which were unknown to me before.

I believe my life will be all the better for having found and read this book.

For example, I now have a word to describe my current journey to redefine, rethink, re-imagine and reflect during 2017…

   Schwellenangst (noun, German) Lit. “threshold anxiety”‘ fear of embarking on      something new or entering a place.

This word is perfect for summing up how I feel about embarking on this new phase of my journey…more ruthless de-cluttering,  contemplating the changes that may be necessary and anticipating what will be happening.   Challenges are good, but change is hard for me.

Nevertheless, I will be dealing with my schwellenangst and moving forward into my next reality.  All shall be well.

A word for my decision to leave Facebook for a bit…Aeolist (noun, English) a blustering windbag of a person who only pretends to have inspiration or wisdom.  These are the type of people I am choosing to avoid for a while.  Those folks who believe that if they cite enough sources, “facts” and isolated examples in loud enough voices with a sufficient amount of foul language and name calling, they will change someone’s mind and all shall be well.  Their opinion is, of course, the only correct one and everyone else is an ignorant, uneducated, trailer-dwelling moron who has no feelings or concern for anyone else.

I just don’t have enough sizfleisch (noun, German and English), literally “sitting flesh” or posterior; the ability to sit through, tolerate, or persist in something difficult or severely boring.  I’d like everyone to take a deep breath and reread the story of Chicken Little or maybe Aesop’s fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

At this point in my life, I am more interested in developing querencia (noun, Spanish), a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self.

So, here is tomorrow’s project – The Dining Room.  Keep in mind before viewing these photos that there is a wedding happening in two weeks and there is tons of stuff everywhere as a result.  There is also laundry and who knows what else!  I’m dealing with it tomorrow.

Deep breath and sigh.

All shall be well.

It’s going to be okay.

One thing at a time.

One day at a time.

Querencia.

What Now?

No writing the last few days…just a lot of thinking and a bit of keeping my mouth shut and some reevaluating my life.

This flu bug just keeps hanging on.  No fever, not really sick, but not feeling well either.  Lots and lots of coughing that’s threatening to become bronchitis.  I’m sure some allergens are responsible also.  I’ve been trying to take it easy and just do the really important stuff, but mainly thinking….

Thinking about the other night when I went into my studio and realized that my work table was once again so cluttered that I couldn’t actually use it.

One of the things on it was an old visual journal from 7 or so years ago.  It’s part of a box that I packed away about a year ago because I couldn’t make a decision about what to do with them.  And then I brought the box back out because there was an empty shelf in my new studio. Sigh.

I started paging through it.  There wasn’t actually much in it as far as original art went. There were a lot of articles about creativity and quotes.  There were some collaged pages using images and words from magazines.

I decided it wasn’t great stuff.  I reread the creativity articles and decided that they weren’t all that important.  You can find millions of articles in that vein on the internet.  I started copying some of the better quotes into a new journal and then realized that these can also be accessed anywhere anytime I might suddenly need a quote.

Then I came across a page that featured the words, “I need a pause button”.  I wrote about that just the other day right here in this blog.

The next page dealt with the issue of clutter…

And the next, dealt with finding time for creativity in the midst of life.

I burst into tears.

This journal is over 7 years old.

I’m still stuck in the same spot.

Sure, I’ll grant that I’ve made some progress.  There have been steps forward and steps backwards.  That’s how life works.

But…I have not changed my life significantly.  I am essentially still working on the same issues.

Insanity, right?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I took the journal and went to the center of my labyrinth that I am constructing in my yard (it’s technically just a couple of circular rock piles, but let’s not judge…work in progress) and set the damn thing on fire.

We could be generous and say it was a ceremonial gesture ritually symbolizing significant change and hope for the future.

Let me be brutally honest.  That’s not what happened.  I was just a pissed off and enormously frustrated woman destroying something that I had previously found significant.

In reality, that journal was just another one of the hundreds of things that are in the way of what I claim to want.

So, it turns out that this year’s motto…Re-thing, Re-imagine, and Reflect…are the correct words for change.

I haven’t come up with any grand solution or any new plan.

It’s just very clear that the old ways aren’t working well enough.  I don’t have time to piddle around with these changes.  I’m not going to live forever!

For now, I’m sticking with sorting through things.  Hopefully, more ruthlessly and with a clearer understanding of what needs to go.

This thinking can’t just apply to belongings.  In fact, “things” are the least of my worries. Old habits, relationships, emotional baggage, and choices all need to be brought under the microscope.

What is beneficial?

What brings joy?

What is worthy?

What brings me closer to the life I envision?

Ugh.

Reality checks can be brutal…

and painful…

and enormously helpful.

Last Night

Last night I started to think that survival might be a possibility.  My fever broke…and returned…repeatedly.  I lost count.  The congestion started to clear.  I was coughing.  A lot. I decided to try  spending the night in the recliner so that hubby might sleep.  Someone needed to.

As always the ever faithful Matilda, the basset was by my side.  Sleeping is her best thing. She only does three things well:  sleeping, running away during walks to make new best friends and eating.

She does other things.

No.  She doesn’t really do anything else.  Just the three things.

That’s really all she does unless you count whining and baying at 4:30 every afternoon because she’s ready to go on a walk.  I don’t really count it as a separate activity because she only does it so she can go on a walk and run away.  It’s an essential component of activity number two.  Not a separate activity at all.

Anyway, last night I carried (lugged) her to the recliner and we both kind of fell into place. She’s a pretty hefty chunk of dog.  That’s a result of activity number three which includes the sub-component of stealing every possible bit of human food that she can gain access to and she has miraculous skills for a dog of her height and breadth.

Where was I?

Oh yea, she landed in place right beside me.  I must have dozed off for a bit because when I woke up I was perched on my side on the arm of the recliner.  One leg was thrown over onto the sofa next to the recliner.  Matilda the basset was snoring loudly and contentedly on the other 98% of the chair.  She also had all of my Very Hungry Caterpillar comforter.  Life can be unfair at times.  Unless you are Matilda.  She seems to have very few problems at all as far as I can tell.

There wasn’t really a reasonable way to get out of the position I was in.  If I rolled forward I would end up on the floor.  Well, the top half of me would have hit the floor.  The brain part, mainly.  That seemed a bad idea. I couldn’t get up because I couldn’t get a foot on the floor.  I tried rolling back into the chair, but Matilda didn’t wake up enough to move.  Or maybe she woke up enough and it just didn’t seem to be her problem.

I’m betting on the latter. That’s probably why I like her so much.  She’s very confident about her own self-worth.  She just assumes that she’s worthy of love.  She doesn’t try to be anything other than what she is.  She’s a Basset hound.  She doesn’t try to be a normal dog and bother with silly things like fetching a stick or paying any attention at all to you when you call her.  She doesn’t try to be a watchdog and guard and protect our home.  She does no tricks to try and please you.  She is who she is.  She sleeps with me every night. She is loyal – as long as no one within her hearing range opens a Cheetos bag.  This would include most of the subdivision.  Distinguishing the sound of a Cheetos bag must be something only a Basset can do.  All chip bags sound pretty much the same to me.  Other than Cheetos, I’m pretty much her favorite thing.  That’s okay.  We all have our price.

We are friends.

We accept each other’s faults.

We like each most of the time.

Sometimes we disagree.

We aren’t mean to each other (on purpose).

Sometimes we screw up (she steals my food and I get mad at her).

We work it out.

I finally wiggled back into my 30% of the chair.  She protested…a lot.  We worked it out. She kept the blanket.

I couldn’t get to sleep for a while.  I started thinking about friendship.

I thought a lot about friendship.  The friendships I’ve had.  And the ones I haven’t.  There were a lot of revelations, realizations, aha moments…  It turned out to be a pretty good therapy session.  I cried.  A lot.

I think I’ll share…

in a couple of days.

For now, let’s start with…

Friends are important.

I’m not really very good at friendship sometimes.

And sometimes I don’t believe that I am deserving of friendship…of love.

This all probably causes a goodly amount of stress.

But, things can change.

I can change.

Life can be better.

Peace

 

Reality Check

So….what’s been happening since my last post?  Too much it seems.  And that’s not a new situation.  It seems that my body is sending me a reality check…via my eyesight.

And that has certainly caught my attention.

Here’s what’s been happening.

It all started mid-summer.  Remember mid-summer around here?  It’s okay if you don’t.  I can barely remember most of it and I was the one living it…a short re-cap:

Two of my oldest kids moved out on their own.  We were preparing to enroll our youngest in private school (after homeschooling all of our kids for the last 20 something years).  My sister had surgery that turned into a medical disaster of long-term duration.  We were in the middle of numerous renovation and just plain fix-it projects around the house.  We were caring for a seriously ill dog.

Am I forgetting anything?

Probably.

Let’s just say that I was feeling pretty stressed.

I noticed that I wasn’t seeing very well.  I figured that my eyeglass prescription had changed.  I was really busy.  I put off going into the optometrist.  Things didn’t get better.  I started moving my glasses to the top of my head and doing everything up close.  I started watching television without my glasses.  With my eyesight, that means I was listening to the t.v. and not actually watching it.  I started having headaches.  Driving at night was almost impossible.  I started avoiding the computer…important stuff like email and the budget.

I lived with it.  I pretended that everything was fine.  I didn’t really tell anyone. That’s what a “good” mom, wife, person does.  We soldier on.  That’s what I was raised to do.

At the end of December, my husband and kids dragged me to the eye doctor to get my new glasses.

During the exam (which I failed miserably) the doctor commented that my script hadn’t changed all that much.

Hmmm.

Interesting – since I can’t see much of anything…everything’s blurry.

We ran through the test again.

And that’s when I noticed it.

I was trying to read the whole line of letters.  And I couldn’t.  When I tried to focus on one letter at a time, they were going in and out of focus…rapidly.

When I mentioned it, the doctor said “hmmm”.  It’s one thing for me to say “hmmm”.  It’s another thing altogether for the doctor to say it.

Long story short (too late, I know!) it’s not my eyes at all.  It’s my brain.  I’m now seeing a neuro-developmental optometrist.  And having Neuro-Visual therapy.

I’m a reasonably smart person.

I don’t know crap about any of this.

Yet.

I’m learning.

There’s a lot of big words.

Basically, I’m stressed. Not “normal person I need a spa day” stressed.  I am apparently in constant “flight” as in the fight or flight thing.  I’ve heard references to this before from a psychiatrist when we were figuring out whether I was depressed or anxious (or both).  That’s why I take an anti-anxiety med.

I’ve lived with this for a while.

I write about it here.  I’m trying to live a more intentional life. I’m looking for joy.  I’m decluttering crap.  I’ve been working on it…I really have.

Apparently, I’m not doing enough.  Or I’m not doing it right.  Or….I don’t know right now.

I do know that this has all gotten my attention.  We talk about stress.  I know stress is bad.  I know it.  But I didn’t really know.

I knew that stress could cause problems physically.

I knew that it could happen…someday.

But this is scary stuff…right here and right now.

My body is tired and running too fast and things aren’t working right.

Right now, we are at a fixable point.

So, it turns out that my new slogans for the new year were spot on.

Rethink…

Reimagine…

Reflect…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes

Sometimes when I am going about my day, this blog writes itself in my head.  It’s not a planned thing.  The words just start appearing.  And then they start multiplying and rearranging themselves in proper order.

Sometimes there is a rabbit trail of thought which I store for another day.  Sometimes I remember the alternate post, but sometimes not.  I don’t worry too much about it.

I’m learning to trust the process and believe that the important stuff will reappear at the appropriate time.  I rarely sit down without a piece already started in my head, but do occasionally if nothing has presented itself for a while.

I think those times of writing “drought” may be an indication that I’m too busy and not listening to myself…not allowing enough time for thoughts and dreams and ideas…or that they are being drowned out by too much busyness and reality.

And that thought has led me inadvertently to my slogan, theme, or plan for the next year…

I started making an intentional focus for the new year a couple of years ago.

The first idea was “to be the change I wished to see in my world”.

Last year was “turn my cants into cans and my dreams into plans”.

This year I think I’m going with “Re-think, Re-imagine, and Reflect.

These are the words that have been running through my head the last couple of days.

Now I have the words I’m going to use.  The exact details aren’t clear, but I’m going to spend some time with a journal this week and think about and imagine the possibilities…

As for today, I’ve decided to start my new year now.

It is a beautiful day…warm and spring-like…it feels like a beginning.

The bees are busily buzzing on my front porch looking for any jasmine flowers that made it through the last freeze.

Lots and lots of tiny birds are flying from a thicket that edges my yard to the bird feeder hanging by my front window.

As I was standing quietly on the porch the bees and birds flew past me going about their business.  The buzzing bees and humming wings were the only sounds I heard.

How many times have I missed this scene outside my own door?

How many times has the noise of my life been all that I’ve heard?

It bothers me that my focus is so much on what is going on right around me and that I don’t spend enough time looking and listening and being still…

Today is a new day.

It’s a good day for beginning anew…for thinking, imagining and reflecting.

Today will be spent creating order from the chaos that is leftover from the Christmas festivities and creating pages in a new journal.

Today will be spent ridding myself of some clutter…both physical and mental.

Today will be spent in some busyness and some idleness.

Seeking balance.

 

 

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

What a busy week this has been…a sometimes frantic mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The tree is finally up and almost decorated.  The decorations are decorating.  The Christmas cookies have been made and iced.  Two shopping trips are completed.     Now it feels more like Christmas and my youngest daughter is happy.  All good stuff.

I made a run to the thrift store this week and scored the rest of the stuff needed for the wedding table decorations and a couple more table cloths.  I have a plan to piece together vintage tablecloths in a sort of bohemian patchwork thing.  It looks great in my head!  We’ll see how it works out in the real world.  A good thrifting adventure!

While running errands that day, I was thrilled to realize that my jeans were feeling loose.  I was happy to see that my meager efforts to eat less and better, and to walk more were paying off.  Very good news!

That evening as we were getting ready to go out Christmas shopping as a family, my oldest daughter was searching frantically for her jeans. The ones hanging in the bathroom were too small. It turns out that I had put on her jeans by mistake that morning.  Bad news.  No actual weight loss for me.

Still, we had fun shopping and most of my Christmas list is done.  I feel good about the things that I purchased…gifts that will be enjoyed and are needed or wanted.  Even though it feels like I waited until almost the last minute to shop, I don’t feel like I bought just for the sake of buying or spent money carelessly.  A huge improvement over years past.

Barret the dog has been off his 3rd (or 4th)round of steroids for almost a week and is doing well.  That is good.  The meningitis seems to be in remissions or gone or whatever.  He is happy and reasonably healthy and has only knocked over the Christmas tree twice so far.

Speedy the new, old Basset is recovering nicely from his surgery to remove his “anal tumor”.  The vet’s words, not mine.  I prefer to refer to it as a “posterior growth”.  That has been the ugly part of the week…having to look at a dog’s butt a couple of times a day to make sure it is healing properly. It is.  He has settled very well.  He has decided that the Christmas tree skirt is his new bedding and sleeping spot.  We are in negotiations about that.  I doubt that I will win.

Both vehicles are running and nothing new has fallen off, or broken, or quit doing it’s intended job.  We have all gotten where we needed to go – when we needed to be there.  That’s definitely good.

Son’s ankle is not broken.  The orthopedist believes it to be a sprain that will resolve on it’s own…just needs some T.L.C. and time.  It was originally believed to be a much more serious injury…Yea!  Good news.

My moods have been bouncing around between good and bad and everywhere in between.  There have been more than a few moments of feeling like I couldn’t make any progress in getting things done or in getting ready for Christmas.  Feeling discouraged and negative is definitely in the bad category.  I have been trying to make an extra effort to get enough rest and spend at least a short amount of time in my studio each day.

We have filled four bags and another box with stuff to leave the house…trash and thrift store donations.  Good!

The sub-flooring and tile is almost finished in the apartment.  Move-in starts tomorrow.  Then I’ll consolidate all the wedding stuff into the guest room.  That will help with a lot of the piles of stuff all around the house.  It looks like the house will be tidy and ready for the holiday festivities.  Super good!

I am actually looking forward to this weekend.  I’m okay with what hasn’t gotten done.  Christmas isn’t about doing it all.

The tree is up.

The family will be together.

Folks are working Christmas eve, but not Christmas day.

The bank account isn’t overdrawn.  The mortgage is paid. The lights are on.

Everyone is healthy.

Life is good.

 

 

I woke up this morning wishing, once again, that I could hit the pause button.  I started off the week with what I thought was a reasonable list of things to do.  I have been accused of being unrealistic in my expectations in the past…with good reason.  I’ll freely admit that I’m a perfectionist although I’ve been working on being a kinder and gentler me.

This was just one of those weeks where the interruptions became the real work to be done.

What I failed to do was realize the amount of unplanned stuff happening and adjusting my expectations.

This morning I was thinking about what I hadn’t gotten done and not what did get done.

Not helpful.

This intentional living stuff can be hard.  It requires diligence, optimism, and a lot of thought.

Mostly it requires a lot of change…a change in attitude, as well as behavior.

Perhaps it can be summed up as learning to be flexible as I change my expectations in alignment with what’s going on around me.

This week four people had to go to work at different places and different times.  We had one car since the truck was still in the shop.  I did quite a bit of driving to and fro.  We made it work, but it took a lot of time.  With patience and planning this is a workable situation.

On Wednesday, I was awakened early by my son with the news that he had “rolled” his ankle and it was very, very swollen.  I told him to prop it up for a bit and we’d see if the swelling would go down.  Then I fell back asleep and failed to wake up in time to go help my sister shop.  Next up, a doctor’s appointment and x-rays.  The ankle is not broken.  This is not actually good news.  Breaks heal more easily than whatever is wrong.  Monday is an orthopedic appointment and probably and MRI.    Not a good day.

On Thursday morning we were able to pick up our truck.  Yea!

On Thursday night the key to our other car broke.  Our only key.  Not good….at all.  One place wanted almost $200 to make a new key.  Another would make it cheaper but required a copy of the title (which I can’t find because the house is a bit untidy and disorganized).

On Friday, the truck would not go into gear properly. Now we have no transportation.And everybody needs to go to work…

Husband manages to get the truck to the repair shop.  It turns out that the cardboard seal on the bottle of transmission fluid ended up in “the thingie that holds the stuff that feeds the something that makes the transmission work”.  I am not mechanically inclined.  That’s the best I’ve got as far as what was wrong.  An easy fix.  Anyway, the truck is running beautifully.

Oldest daughter found a place to make a key for the other car for only $5.  Now both cars are running.  This is very helpful!

This was a challenging week.  The Christmas tree is still not up.  I’ve not shopped much for Christmas.  A LOT of things that I wanted to get done are undone.

There have been a lot of times when I’ve felt frustrated and angry…with myself.  How can a reasonably competent grown-up find it so difficult to keep up with a house and family? This thinking is not helpful.  It just piles on more stress and makes it even more difficult to cope.

I did accomplish a lot this week…just not the things I had planned on.  The emergencies got handled.  Three big bags of stuff left the house.  The studio is unpacked and organized(ish).  The hallway/classroom is set up and workable.  Progress has been made in laying the new floor in the apartment. (I didn’t actually do any of the work on the floor other than moving stuff out of the way.)  We did a lot of school work.  Everyone got fed and has some clean clothes.

I’m starting up the decluttering project in earnest again.  There is just too much stuff around here.

The laundry piles up at an alarming rate.  We have too many clothes.

I’ve once again slowly accumulated to many art project “possibilities”.  More material doesn’t translate into more art.

The same goes for school stuff.  It’s so easy to gather too many potential things to study and learn.

This is all part of my unrealistic expectations.  There are only so many hours in the day and they cannot all be spent in action.  I need to quit trying to “get it all done”.  This attitude is not helpful.

There will always be something that needs to be done.

I can’t do it all.

The important work to be done is to more intentionally seek out simplicity, peace and joy.

That must be number one on the list…