Enough

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I didn’t write about food yesterday.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t write at all.   You probably didn’t actually notice because you have a life and are not sitting anxiously by your electronic device waiting for my newest missive.

I don’t feel like writing about food today and sharing with you that although I didn’t find the hidden Rice Krispies treats, a bag of vegan oatmeal cookies did find their way into my shopping cart while picking up Thanksgiving menu items yesterday.

And I ate them.

Not all of them.

Maybe half of them.

At least they were vegan so I just blew it by eating too much sugar (which I have now figured out definitely affects my mood…and not in a good way). I am grateful to have food.

Anyway, I didn’t write because it is the week of Black Friday and the folks in this family who work for actual money work in retail. I am grateful that they are employed. They are all working crazy and overlapping schedules while trying to share one car.  I am grateful for that car. It is a logistical nightmare.  We hold planning sessions  every day to figure out how to make it work.  I am grateful that we are making it work.

I can’t drive in the dark because of my eyes so all I can do is pack lunches and wash work clothes.  I am really frustrated!  I am grateful to have eyes that work well enough and food to pack in lunches and clothes to wash.

No one is getting enough sleep. I am grateful for the sleep we are getting and a warm bed and shelter.

At least we have a holiday this week so everyone can rest.

Oh wait, no we don’t.  Some have to work on Thursday afternoon.  Black Friday isn’t just for Friday anymore. I am grateful for the time we will have and friends to share a meal with.

I hate Black Friday.

I hate that we have traded a day of thanksgiving for a day of rushing to acquire more.

How much crap do we need?

Enough I say.

I am grateful for what I have and I have enough.

I won’t be shopping on Black Friday and probably not on Saturday either.

I will be at home eating my leftovers and counting my blessings.

I have enough.

 

 

thankful & grateful

thankfulIt is the season of gratitude and thanksgiving.

So today I will attempt to list ten things that I am grateful for…but with a twist.  Since I am in a creative mood today, I have decided that I will not fill the list with the easy things like family and health and friends.

(Not that there is anything wrong with being thankful for these things and no judgment is intended. These are certainly valid things to be grateful for, but they will not find a place on my list today.)

And by writing this list and joining in on the season of thanksgiving, I am not condoning or validating the original Thanksgiving celebration which may or may not be represented correctly in our traditional telling of the Thanksgiving tale.  I wasn’t actually at “the first Thanksgiving” and I do not know anyone who was so I don’t have anything factual to contribute to that debate, nor do we discuss it over dinner on a certain Thursday in November in our home.

Those legalities being out of the way, here goes:

  1. I am grateful that I may have broken my toe on Sunday when I tripped over the vacuum cleaner cord that I left lying on the hallway floor. I am grateful because I normally only think about my feet when I happen to glance down and observe that they are not particularly attractive. Having a toe that is painful and not functioning optimally reminds me that I am fortunate to have toes and feet that work perfectly well most of the time.  There are many who are not so fortunate.
  2. I am grateful for slightly smelly shelter dogs (including the one who is frequently incontinent and the one that barks randomly at nothing at all hours of the day and night).  These dogs of mine of profoundly imperfect and loyal beyond all imaginings. They love without reserve and forgive all. They remind me on a daily basis that I’ve got the imperfect part down pat, but have work to do on the rest.
  3. I am grateful for being able to write that I am grateful for anything today.  In periods of depression – sometimes profoundly dark – I am often unable to think in terms of gratitude or thanksgiving.  In those times it is not a choice. Today, it is and I can so I will.
  4. I am grateful for books and blog posts to read and connections to be made.  I am grateful that today I have eyes that work well enough to read. I am also grateful for being hopeful that in the course of my reading and connecting I will find answers to my health issues. (I think I threw in enough gratitude that this does not simply mean that I am thankful for my health.)
  5. I am grateful for running water and flushing toilets.  I think we take this for granted all too often.  For years we had an issue with toilets that stopped working often…usually when we had a house full of friends.  Many cold and dark evenings were spent trying to clear septic lines. Eventually it turned out to be a toilet paper issue.  A simple solution to a really crappy problem.  Yes, I went there.
  6. I am grateful for a  regular trash pick-up service.  I don’t realistically think that we will ever be a zero-waste home, but you never know.  We are recycling regularly and have reduced our trash by about half.  We are thinking about packaging and ways to avoid producing garbage much more than we used to.  Still, garbage happens.  I am thankful that I have a place to put it and for someone to pick it up and take it away.
  7. I am grateful for my washer and dryer.  I have washed clothing on a concrete washboard with carried water.  I have helped my mom wash clothes in a wringer washer on the front porch.  I have carted laundry to the laundromat. I have hung clothes on the line to dry (and actually enjoy it although not in the rain when clothes have to be draped on every available surface throughout the house and you wear damp jeans – enough said). Washers and dryers are awesome.
  8. I am grateful for being able to cook.  I learned from my mom who learned to cook during the depression.  She taught me  (not from recipes) but how to make something edible (and sometimes even delicious) from what you had available.  There have been many times when that ability has served me well.  Empty pantries or lack of transportation to the store doesn’t mean that we  won’t have a meal on the table. Thanks Mom.
  9. I am grateful to live in these United States of America.  Don’t ever talk bad about this country around me.  It isn’t perfect and how could it be when it provides a home for a diverse group of people who have a multitude of rights and opportunities and choices.  The very things that makes this a great country are the ones that can result in less than optimal situations.  Given a choice, I would rather live here and have the freedom to solve problems than live with no freedom and choices.
  10. I am grateful for all the luxuries that I enjoy:  a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in and a blanket to cover myself with.  I have electricity and running water.  I have clothes to wear and a closet to hang them in.  I have a car in the driveway and access to gas to fuel it.  If I lost my home, I could find a place to go for shelter.  There are days when I worry about having enough and days when I compare my life to others and find it lacking in material things.  On those days I try to remember that I am comparing my life to a select group and not the whole world.

There you have it. My list.

I thought it might be hard to fill, but in reality, since I started writing this I have continued to think of more and more and more.

Gratitude is good.

An awareness of all my blessings is even better.

I think I’ll start a list and keep on adding to it.

Maybe in the times when I can’t find joy I can refer to it and be thankful.

My life is good and I am grateful.

give thanks
Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

Amen.

 

Looking Back…

Friday already!

Slow down world…

Today, I am packing and prepping to head out to Sherwood Forest Faire for the weekend.  I’m working there again this season.  Sherwood is similar to a Renaissance Festival, but set in a different time period. I’ll once again be working in the kitchen of the Italian restaurant…behind the scenes, but still involved with plenty of time for wandering around and taking in the sights.  People watching is one of my favorite activities.

I’m only slightly anxious about leaving for the weekend.  I can feel it building, but I think that I’m dealing with it fairly well.  Maybe the new meds are helping?

Looking back is not always a bad thing (as long as you don’t live there).  I can remember a time not so many years ago, when going away for the weekend would have been almost impossible.  I certainly wouldn’t have been able to drive myself an hour and a half away.  In fact, there was a time when going to the grocery store was a serious challenge.

It’s good to remember those times and to realize that progress and improvement is possible.  Things can get better.  Maybe never completely resolved, but better.

Sorry for the hurried post, but I still have a long ways to go to be organized like I once was.

The dryer load is finishing up with the clothes I need for the weekend.

My art class materials still need to be gathered up.

The car needs to be emptied of things that will be needed here this weekend.

I need to double-check that I remembered everything.

And then triple-check!

I need to take a deep breath and relax.

All shall be well.

And life is good!

Wandering

Warning.

This post may wander a bit.  That’s a good thing. Today, I am wandering for the first time in many days.

I have no specific goals for today.  Nothing that has to be done urgently.  Nothing urgent at all really.  (Happy sigh).

My sister saw her doctor on Thursday for the follow-up to her last hospitalization.  His first words, “You really dodged a bullet.”  There are a few minor(ish) things to clear up, but basically he told her to, “Go live your life.”  She’s to increase her activity as she is able and not to worry about the blood clots.  They should resolve in the next 3 to 6 months.  It’s been a scary, hard month.  We don’t know if she’ll get back to where she was health-wise, but time will tell.  Life is good.

Barret the dog has had a relapse of his meningitis and is back on medication.  We caught it very early so his prognosis is good(ish).  I suppose that the recommendation for him is the same as for my sister…go live your life and take each day as a gift.  He’s getting lots of treats.  He’s still weird and dorky.  That is good.

Today is my youngest daughters 13th birthday.  My last teenager. Her school lessons are still challenging, but I think we are starting to get the hang of it all.  I’m hopeless at the math, but I have an answer book!  I start with the answer and work back to figure it all out. I’m not crying as much over the homework.  She’s not crying at all.  Good stuff.

I’ve started a new art card…

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And I’m going back to work on this…

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…the door makes more sense now. https://faithacrestudio.com/2016/08/27/doors/

And someday I probably need to work on this, my studio worktable…

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Honestly, a lot (okay, all) of my house looks like this.  Except for the parts  that are really messy.

Today, I don’t really care.  Everybody and everything that is supposed to be breathing, is. Family and friends are gathering for a birthday celebration.

The food is waiting to be prepared.

We’ll shove the mess to one side and eat off of paper plates.  Nobody will complain.  There won’t be many disagreements (it is close friends and siblings after all).  Will have fun and celebrate.

It’s all good.

 

 

 

 

Walking

If I had to name the top 10 most influential people in my adult life, there is one person who would certainly be at the top of the list.  She was a spiritual mentor, a life coach, an encourager (this word flags as misspelled, but I like it so it stays), and a partner in my creative endeavors.

She was a pastor at a church that I used to attend. As our relationship developed, she learned that I was an artist – although at that time I was just somebody who made stuff.  She started sharing her sermon plans with me and I started to create art that illustrated the sermon.  Some of it was pretty bad, but she hung it on the wall anyway.  Eventually, it got better and she hung that too.

Sometimes she would come to me with a sermon and verse and we would find that I had already started the canvas that went with it.

I would sit and draw her sermons on Sundays.  It’s how I learned that art is my form of worship…a lesson that I still value today.  I did a complete book of sermon drawings for her.  When I visited her a month or so ago, I saw that it sits on her hearth along with some other things that she treasures.

We rarely see each other any more as we live on opposite side of Austin.  Though our lives no longer intersect as they once did something interesting is starting to happen.

I faithfully read her postings on Caring Bridge as she chronicles her experiences with metastatic Stage IV colon cancer.  Lately, her posts are becoming more and more applicable and relative to my life – just as her sermons often seemed to be written just for me.

A couple of days ago she wrote something that inspired my post, “Doors”, which turned out to be one of the most popular things I’ve ever written here.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to get a “big head”.  By popular, I mean that more than 10 people read it.  It’s all relative, right.  I favor quality over quantity any day.

Today, she wrote about going through the interview process to try and get selected for a clinical trial of a new treatment.  Although our situations are totally different and I would never try to compare my struggles with hers – when I read the words she had written about being overwhelmed, I could identify with her completely.

First, it put the circumstances of my life right now in perspective.  I’ve reminded myself that the problems that I am facing are manageable and most likely solvable.  The challenges to come are not insurmountable.

Second, her words helped me gain my footing again.  She wrote that “sometimes people who are overwhelmed don’t do anything because they can’t do everything.”

She added that we should “acknowledge it (the situation) , pray, and just do one thing at a time.”

I can do that.  I can acknowledge that while my situation could be worse, it’s still hard and I’m both tired and overwhelmed.  And while I can’t do everything, I can do something.

So here’s what I accomplished today:

  • I went to work
  • I visited my sister in I.C.U and initiated a discussion about what her discharge plan might need to look like
  • I spent time with my husband although I did forget to make his lunch
  • We started planning what needs to be done to fix our second bathroom so that it is easily accessible for my sister as her recovery continues – I did not figure out how to pay for said renovations – that would be too much for today and would lead to feeling overwhelmed again.
  • I am committing to filling one bag with trash as I begin to catch-up on housework. Some (most) of it will just have to wait.
  • I took a short walk in an effort to get back to walking two miles a day so that I can lose the weight I have gained.  A long walk just couldn’t happen.  That’s okay.
  • My daughter and I are going to do one math lesson as we work on getting caught up.  It won’t solve the problem, but it’s something.
  • I am going to sit and prepare the bag of worn out T-shirts into strips for my rug as I watch a stupid T.V. show and allow myself to rest. Oh, and by the way…here’s my efforts so far. Barret, the dork dog seems to like it just fine.

Perhaps most importantly, she reminded me that I’m not alone.  I have friends that are thinking of and praying for me.  I have people that I can call on if I need to (even if I’m too stubborn to admit that I need help).

Just because people are no longer physically present in our lives doesn’t mean that the lessons we learned from them, or the experiences we shared with them aren’t still valuable resources that we can draw from when we need to.  Special people who have once been in our lives never really leave us.  They become a part of us…often the best part.

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.

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.

A Different Picture

When I think of simple, intentional living that includes avoiding debt, reducing purchases and living a more self-sufficient life, I get a picture in my head.  Green gardens with chickens roaming free, uncluttered living spaces, and a general air of peace and calm.  You’ve all seen those photos in magazines and all over the internet – living “green”, paying off debt, seeking the good life.  And it’s a great dream!  I’m working on it myself, but sometimes I’m disappointed in how this whole concept plays out in the real world.

The reality is a different picture entirely.0506161701a (3).jpg

So, this is my laundry room (sort of).  I did move the dirty laundry out of the way to make myself appear tidier that I am.  I also picked up the wads of lint that were hiding under the dirty laundry.

The plywood is temporarily covering the ginormous hole from the water leak that remained hidden until the floor caved in.  We’re replacing flooring paycheck by paycheck (no more debt here).

A loooooong time ago, the washer started making a noise.  Not just any noise.  Imagine the most ear-splitting, hair-raising, metal grating on metal sound you can possibly imagine and multiply it by 100.  That’s the kind of noise I’m talking about.  I even blogged about it here and posted pictures of our do-it-yourself washer repair.

In general, the washer has continued to work okay.  It tends to forget what it’s doing and shut itself down mid-cycle.  That’s alright.  I sometimes forget what I’m doing mid-project also.  Did I mention that it’s paid for?

The problem is this:  you can’t balance it and it’s making the noise again.  The dryer (by the door) is level.  The washer thinks it’s level in the position that its in now.  So, I’ve rigged this simple machine lever to hold the washer in the position that makes it happy.  If the washer is happy (and quiet) then I’m happier.

Sometimes the simple life I’m seeking looks pretty crappy.  A worn-out (but paid for) washer rigged in a uneven position using a broken broom handle and a vacuum cleaner. You can’t get to the dryer holding an armful of clothes without stepping over the stick.  My shins are covered in bruises.  If the movement of the washer knock the stick out of place, you have to run down the hall with your hands over your ears and try to get the washer back into it’s “happy place”.

But, today was payday and another $15 went into the new washer fund.  I figured out a solution to the problem.  We had a homeschool lesson about simple machines.  It’s not a pretty picture, but it works.

And by the way, when you let your chickens free-range, they poop on your porch.  That’s not so pretty either.

 

Poem

Last night I couldn’t fall asleep.  I lay listening to the soft tick-tock of an old clock on top of the blanket chest.  And I wrote my first poem since my college days.  One of my majors was English with a Creative Writing emphasis.  I always struggled with poetry – prose was more my thing.

This poem just showed up in my head.  Unannounced, unplanned, unedited.  It was just there and I kind of like it.

Here goes:

The tick-tock of the clock

is the sound of old.

New time is silent,

Yet holds all the noise

of the world.

Why a poem now?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s best to not question creative gifts.