@#$*& and other words that nice ladies don’t say…

I was hanging out last Monday evening thinking that life had been a bit boring…that our life had fallen into a sort of rut and that nothing eventful had been happening.

So, after working all day at another part-time job that I picked up to try and get our financial situation on an even keel, I suddenly felt a couple of sharp stabbing pains in my lower abdomen.  They quickly went away.  No big deal, right?  By 10:00, I just didn’t feel too great.  I headed off to bed.

Two hours later and I am starting to throw up.  And have cramps across my mid-abdomen.

Let’s fast forward through the next couple of hours.  (I wish I could have).  Emergency room, abdominal hernia, intestines where they aren’t supposed to be, incarcerated colon, diverticulitis and a mightily impressive white blood cell count that bordered on septic.

Five days and one surgery later, I am back home and doing okay.  I’m resting and walking and trying not to think about the medical bills that will soon come rolling in.

My mantra – All shall be well…

There’s probably more that I could write, but I hear the recliner calling my name.  I’m not really moving forward in any discernible direction right now, but I am trying to stay positive.

Let’s just say that I haven’t given up.

Going Back to Move Forward

I read somewhere that if you get stuck in a problem, physical activity can affect your brain and make physiological changes that result in new perspectives.

So, since I feel somewhat mired in multiple challenges (my positive word for problems), I’m going to travel back to the beginning and try a fresh start.

I had figured out our budget so that it was working somewhat.  The bills were getting paid even if we weren’t making much progress in getting out of debt.  It was working.

“Was” is the operative word.  The insurance company’s quote for our truck is a tiny bit more than the “blue book” quote.  The appraiser did deduct $50 from it’s value because of the flat tire.  Hmmm. The tire that is flat because their client caused an accident that totaled our truck.  I don’t think so.  And he deducted $60 because the seat had a rip in the upholstery.  Right.  Because it was our idea to sell you the truck in the first place.  The wear on that truck didn’t affect it’s ability to transport us anywhere we needed to go.

So, the person who caused the wreck gets a nice, new car and we don’t even have enough to even make a down payment on something that we can afford to pay out.  All because my husband actually stopped at red light while she chose to run one.  We lose the rental car on Friday and have no way to replace the truck we lost. In case you can’t tell, I’m a tiny bit pissed off.

Most of the time I can deal with the fact that the world isn’t fair.  Today is not one of those days.

But where was I before I started ranting.  Oh yea, the budget.  Today, I am starting a new budget.  Working with where we are and playing with numbers to see what I can make work.  It’s the grown-up thing to do.  It’s moving in a positive direction.  And we all know how much I like working with numbers.  It’s okay.  Doing something is better than sitting around being pissed off.

And, I have realized during this bout of depression that the house has remained relatively together.  Not ready for a magazine photo shoot, but just slightly worse than “lived in”.  That’s got to be the result of the decluttering efforts of the past.

So, we’re going back to the beginning and doing another round of clean-out.  Life is changing again.

Youngest daughter is growing up.  She’ll be 14 in the fall.  Her interests are evolving and she is working on decluttering and organizing.

Oldest daughter has moved back home to do some evaluating of her life goals.

Son is coming home from basic training at some point.  He is receiving a medical discharge and will be back here to figure out his next step.

For now, we are moving folks and stuff around in the house to re-configure the best use for our family.

So far, lots of things are in the give-away pile.  Pictures to follow…

Life happens…good stuff and bad stuff.  That’s how life is, if you are actually living it.

And I love quite a few things about our life.

Mostly, I love our family.  I love how close we are and how supportive we are of each other.  I didn’t have that growing up.  My siblings were older than me and were grown before I was really aware of what family could be.  My parents struggled with a lot of personal issues.  Emotionally, I was on my own.

If I have done nothing else right, I didn’t suck at building a family.  I wasn’t a perfect mom and we aren’t a perfect family, but we are making it work.  Together.

And we will get through this rough patch.

We will keep moving forward.

Even if we need to take some steps backwards to do so.

Progress, not Perfection

Third post I’ve started for today.

Reality and perfectionism at odds in a big way.

This has kept me from writing for so long already.

I kept it simple yesterday.

A part of me needs the connections that I find here.

I’d like to think that it matters in some small way.

I have big thoughts and dreams and ideas.

But I am a small person.

Fragile right now.

I’m trying not to confuse that with weakness.

For I am strong.

I’ve made it this far.

Full of emotions and fear and hopes

and plans

Committed to taking small steps

Progress not perfection

and art…

lots more art

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Live Today

So.

I’ve been depressed.  If you understand depression – that’s enough information.

If you don’t – a thousand words couldn’t explain it to you.

I’ve been getting up in the morning and doing the stuff that needed to be done.  I’ve had good days and not so good days.

Unless you know me well, you might not have even noticed that something was wrong.

I’m doing better.

I think I’m feeling free of the “blues”.

Life has more color.

So we shall start the blog with today.

Some of the yesterdays may find there way here in stories.  Maybe.

I’m just planning on living today.

A month or so ago, I bought a paper-making kit for my art classes.  It turns out that it was more for me than for them.  The paper-making classes turned out great, but the last few days have been even better.

I have become obsessed with making paper!

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I’ve cleaned off my desk and shredded junk mail.

I cleaned out my studio and shredded scrap-booking paper and old artwork and leftovers from previous projects.

I’ve shredded all the scrap and left-behind artwork from school.

I’ve shredded old magazines and journals.

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And I’ve been making paper.  Lots and lots of paper.

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And I’m starting to have some ideas for how to incorporate it into an art project.

I’d tired of using other people’s artwork for my mixed media and collage projects and this is the next step.

I’m getting braver and am using confetti and glitter and grass and whatever else I can find.  Some of it works…some of it doesn’t.

I watched the starter video on how to make basic paper (so my class would think I knew what I was doing), but I haven’t done any other research.  I’m enjoying the process as much as the product.

It’s great fun to see how it turns out!

I hope that you are doing some living today and not worrying about yesterday and tomorrow too much.

And I hope that, today,  you make the time to spend at least a moment doing something that helps you smile.  The joy is there.  We just have to take the time to embrace it.

Peace…

 

 

Perspective

This morning after my shower, I spent 20 minutes trying to find a pair of clean underwear.  Most of the laundry is washed…just not folded or put up.  In frustration, I yelled out into the empty house, “I’ve got to get my act together”.

Well, not a completely empty house.  The dogs are all here.  What they heard me yell was, “Let’s go for a walk”.  Chaos ensued.

But, back to paragraph one.  “I’ve got to get my act together” is, in fact, a true statement.

It is not, however, a particularly helpful one.  It is negative, rather vague, and distinctly lacking in helpful details about how to accomplish such a task.

Sometimes I feel like I’m stumbling around in a fog trying to live life like a grown-up.

Anyway, I did manage to find clean underwear, pants and a shirt.  No clean bra, but I am sufficiently covered to start the day.  After starting the washer, I started back down the hall to start “the list” that would help me get my life in order.

I saw this sitting on the studio table…

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…the same encaustic piece that I posted here on Monday, but viewed from a different angle…a different perspective.  The same, but different.

And, I remembered that this week was going to be about creativity and not stress.

And, that led me to think about the fact that I may not have my “life together” with regards to housekeeping, but I I’m pretty good at making a home…

I’m okay with being a homemaker and not a housekeeper.

I’m also good at making some pretty cool stuff sometimes.

It all depends on how I choose to look at it.

Perspective.

So, no giant list detailing the steps I need to take to “fix” my life will be written today.

I will attempt to get the clean laundry put up.

And, I’m not going to clean the whole house in order to satisfy that part of me that thinks I need to do so.

I’m going to stick to my plan to be creative and make something today.

But first, the doctor appointment on Tuesday…

Helpful and not at all helpful.

I like the doctor.  I feel that he is an intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced physician.  He reiterated that I do not have Multiple Sclerosis.

I pointed out that I was relieved to hear that, but that there is still something wrong with my vision.  He repeated that my vision problem was not caused by Multiple Sclerosis.

This pattern repeated itself a few times.

So, it would seem that from a neurologist’s point of view, all is well.  It’s not M.S.

From my perspective, the journey continues.  We have good insurance.  We pay a lot of money for it.  It doesn’t cover everything.  Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to cover much of anything at all.  I can’t just randomly keep seeing doctors and rely on them to solve the problem.

I’m going to continue my research.  It’s good to know what I don’t have.  I’m grateful for that information.  If my eyesight stays the way it is, all is well.  I can still do everything that I need to do.  In the big scheme of things, it’s a mild inconvenience.

Maybe it is stress.

Maybe it’s age.

Maybe it’s related to my hypertension.

Maybe it will get worse.

Maybe it will get better.

The plan is to clean up my diet (again) and lose some weight.  I’ll walk my 10,000 steps a day.  I’ll keep working on reducing stress and trying to get my life together.  I will not stress about getting my life together.

I will be kind to myself during this journey.

I will view things from different angles and keep things in perspective.

Above all, I’m going to spend more time doing that which I am good at…

and spend less time worrying about what I’m not good at.

Journey well today, my friends…

 

 

 

 

Travel well

Monday mornings present an interesting juxtaposition of thought for me.

On on hand they are an opportunity…a new beginning and fresh start.  A chance to write down that to-do list and accomplish…whatever it is that needs doing.

On the other hand, Mondays can just be frustrating.  So much to do and so much undone from the week before.  The feeling that this week might be just as difficult, or more so, than the week before.

The latter thought process is not helpful.  It is self-defeating and starts the week off with negativity.  Nevertheless, the thoughts are a reality and cannot be ignored.  Sometimes life can seem to be an endless loop of beginnings and endings and not much in the middle.

So, today I shall acknowledge that sometimes life is frustrating.  And that sometimes the end of my week does not meet the expectations of the beginning.

And I shall continue to try and live in grace and hope…and be grateful for the opportunity a new week provides.  I’ll make a new list and continue to be optimistic about the possibilities that this week of my life might offer.

I will attempt to live through the ups and downs that these days of my life will certainly serve up.  I know in advance that there will be failure and tears and happiness and beauty.  I will travel through the challenges and dwell in the good.  That is my plan for this week.

And now is the time to share the news that I have been alluding to over the past several weeks.  I can share the part of the story that is mine.

Our son, Jacob, has joined the Army.  He completed the last of the process and was sworn in last Wednesday.  He reports for training the middle of this month.  There is much I could write about this journey.  I shall keep it simple.

I am his Mom.

I love him.

I am proud of him.

I am afraid for him.

This decision has been a long time coming for him.  I have watched him carefully consider it.  Research it.  Carry it in his heart and revisit it from time to time.  This is what he feels called to do.

I believe in him and am in awe of his ability to listen to that “voice” that is guiding him.  I have struggled my whole life with finding my way.

I read a quote the other day.  I can’t remember where.  “To find your purpose, follow your passion.”

He is doing that.

Travel well, my son.

May we all find our passion and our purpose and travel well.

 

Back Roads

Hello.

Once again, so much time has passed.  The thought of trying to chronicle the events of the past days is overwhelming and so, I don’t believe I’ll try.

I shall start writing and we will let the important stuff reveal itself…in it’s own time.

I do know for certain that the past days have been shadowed by a rather high level of continuous anxiety.  That is most certainly not helpful.  I have been consciously trying to deal with it by travelling along back roads and unbeaten paths metaphorically speaking. I’ve avoided social media, the news and anything else that could be potentially unsettling as much as possible.

I’ve tried to shed unneeded baggage for this portion of my travels…a full car load of superfluous belongings to the thrift store and another box almost full in the hallway. We’ve streamlined our school plans and made them more efficient and applicable to our lifestyle and my daughter’s learning style.  The housekeeping chores are limited to what has to be done and not what “should” be done.

Basically,  I’m trying to live more realistically and become comfortable with what works for us rather than what I believe the world expects.

This is a work in progress.  Trying to figure out what our new normal will be.  All of this is good stuff.  Steps towards the life I’ve claimed to want for so long…accelerated with a sense of urgency due to circumstances beyond my control.

It seems that losing control…or the illusion of control can have it’s good points.  The silver lining, so to speak.

And what has brought all of this anxiety and goal evaluation on?

Some of it you know about…

The incurable, progressive “whatever” that I have.  Not multiple sclerosis, which is good news, but something.  My doctor’s appointment is on the 18th.  I wait until then and try not to worry or anticipate, but to be patient.

Until then, I’m working my extra job at Sherwood Forest Faire and enjoying the company of some really fantastic individuals who bring me joy and lots of “food for thought”. Definitely good traveling companions for this life’s journey.  Still, it’s fairly obvious that this very physical job is more difficult for me this year than last.  That makes me sad and worry about what the future holds.

The bills for the medical procedures and appointments are coming in.  Our insurance is good, but doesn’t cover everything.  As I enter the amounts into “undebt it”, the program I’m using to track our progress in getting out of debt, I’m watching months added onto the timeline.  Still, we are doing okay financially.  The monthly bills are being paid.

There is something else going on that I can’t share as it is not really my story to tell.  In time, that will be written about.  Until then, I carry a lot of pride and fear for the individual concerned.  Even good decisions can cause stress.

I’m trying to concentrate on the journey and the beauty and joy that are certainly a part of it. Trying to travel at a slower pace so as enjoy the trip more and not miss anything. There are more frequent pauses along the way.  A fancy way of saying that I’m taking lots of naps.

I’m trying to be better about taking care of myself so that I can better care for those that I love.

I’m trying to travel slower and lighter and more intentional.  The same as in days past, but with a greater sense of need and urgency.  This is a conundrum of sorts. Urgency and need do not translate well into less stress and simplicity.

Life.

I’m trying to figure it all out.

Aren’t we all?

Journey well, my friends.

Prayers and blessings…

Advice for What It’s Worth…

There is no such thing as a simple wedding…

Which makes sense because there is no such thing as a simple life (which doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to work towards simplicity…I believe it’s called living in hopefulness)

Simple and small weddings turn into large and complicated weddings because life tends to do the same as we go about living it.

Who to invite, location, decorations, registries, Pinterest don’t get me started on this topic), food, drinks, showers, transportation, and the list goes on and on.

Oh, did I mention the lists?  List after list of things to do and buy and organize and plan for…lots and lots of lists.

And all of this is mixed into a daily life that doesn’t always get the memo that something new is happening.

For what it’s worth, here is some advice based on what I’ve learned from our wedding.

Do not, under any circumstances, spend three weeks out of the month before the wedding with the flu, allergies, another virus and a relapse of the flu.  You will try to soldier on, but end up spending hours in a fog losing every list and forgetting everything that everyone else thinks you are doing.

Being ill will result in you forgetting important things like the fact that people will be staying in your home and will need to eat meals.  The house will not be cleaned and food will not be planned.  Realizing that you forgot this fact just hours before the guests arrive will be a humbling experience to say the least.

Next, do not head out to the non-rehearsal dinner on a limited amount of sleep and leave the wedding cakes securely wrapped in saran-wrap in the center of the very tall kitchen island.

When you return home after a few glasses of wine, you will hear your oldest daughter asking from the kitchen, “Where are the cakes?”

You will answer, “On the kitchen counter wrapped in saran wrap where you left them.”

The cakes will not be there…or anywhere else that you search in your sleep-deprived state.  You will search the oven, the microwave, the top of the closet, the laundry room, the bathroom and other ridiculous places before your husband thinks to go look under the ramp in the back yard.

Sure enough, there you will find the cardboard circles and the saran wrap, but no cakes. Even under intense interrogation, none of the dogs in the house will confess, or even explain, how they gained access to the cakes.

At midnight the night before the wedding, your husband will travel the 45 minutes to and from the grocery store to get more cake mix.

I would like to tell you that it is possible to handle this situation with grace and patience, or even with humor.  I don’t know if it is possible.  I do know that we did not.

And do not waste time lamenting the projects you did not get done.  The signs that were unpainted and the decorations forgotten at the house.  And by the way, no matter how much you plan, your errand runners will make the trip back to the house many, many times.

If you forget the marriage license, for example, someone can always kindly volunteer to run it to the pastor’s house the next week.  Not that I would ever do something like that.

And most importantly, on the day of the wedding, when your daughter walks down the pathway with her beloved, just be in the moment.

Realize how beautiful she is and how happy she looks.

Know that it was all worth it.

And don’t worry about the fact that the Kleenex you are opening and using still has the clearance tag attached to the back of it.

The little stuff doesn’t matter.

It never does.

 

 

Happenstance

I wrote some days ago about realizing that the journey I was on was not progressing as well as I would like

…about coming across some journals from years ago in which I expressed frustration with circumstances that are relatively unchanged today

…that the methods I was using didn’t appear to be very effective

…I’m still decluttering, and trying to find time for things I want to do, and attempting to maintain a simpler and cleaner home

…change has happened, but not as much as I would like

I wrote that there needed to be a new plan, but I had no idea what it might be.

I was frustrated.

I was hopeful.

I was anxious.

 

Then, by happenstance. I downloaded the game, gin rummy, onto my phone.

I’ve never been good at gin.  I just thought it might be a good distraction, and hey…it was free.

Do you play gin?  It’s pretty simple in theory.  You have a limited number of cards and need to form melds (sets) before your opponent goes out or you get stuck with points. I’m not going to try to explain the whole game…the important part to understand as far as this post goes, is to know that getting rid of “deadwood” is the key to winning.

The game I downloaded has a range of opponents for you to challenge.  They are ranked in skill from not very good to pretty much unbeatable.

When I started I couldn’t beat any of them.

I played anyway.

Then, I actually went and read all of the instructions just to make sure I understood what I was supposed to be doing.

I still lost a lot, but not quite as much.  I started beating the worst player every once in a while.

I started watching what the best players were doing.

I realized that I was playing the same way I had always played…trying to put together the same type of hand over and over again.

I kept losing.

Sound familiar?

Sound like the way I’ve been working on my house?

That’s what I started thinking.

I started discarding cards…ruthlessly.

I stopped saving cards that would make melds that I wanted to make

…and started saving cards that could and would actually win the hand.

I discarded long-shots.

I stopped holding onto cards that were no longer useful.

I didn’t keep a card just because I liked it (I’m partial to hearts).

If it wasn’t going to contribute to a winning hand, I discarded it.

I quit picking up cards that “might” be useful.

A hand plays out quickly.

There is no time for a lot of “maybe” and “someday”.

Holding onto deadwood is no way to win.

I can now beat any of the opponents except for “Jane”.  I’m pretty sure that she cheats. She wins a lot.  She seems to be very lucky.  Yep,  I think she’s cheating.  I may quit playing against her.

In any case, by happenstance, this game taught me a lot.

Help can come from the most unlikely places.

Who knew?

Life is short.

A day is even shorter.

I’ve got to play the hand that I’ve been dealt.

I can’t hold onto cards (stuff and emotions) that aren’t helping me to build the hand that I need to win the game.  The game being the life that I’m hoping to live.

The wrong cards or too many cards won’t ever come together to help me achieve my goal of a simpler, tidier, more comfortable home.

I need to ruthlessly discard cards that are keeping me from assembling a winning hand.

If I have something that I used to like but don’t any longer, it should go.

If something was expensive, but I don’t love it, keeping it just takes up space that could be filled with a more important card.

Just because something once held deep meaning, doesn’t mean that it gets to stick around forever. I change and the things that are meaningful can change also.

There are only so many cards allowed in a hand.

Holding onto the wrong card means that there is no room for the right card.

I have to make sure that I have the right cards.

Oh, and it helps to make sure that I fully understand the rules of the game – the direction I am headed and my ultimate goal.

Clothes that don’t fit right or don’t fit at all.  Gone. Even (or especially) if I am holding onto them because I like the idea of wearing them rather than the reality of wearing them.  You know, all those clothes you keep taking out of the closet and dropping onto the floor – never really wearing anywhere.

Beautiful things that fit the image of who I would like to be, but don’t fit into the reality of who I am – a woman who hates to dust and despises clutter.  I’m talking about those beautiful home magazine pages of meticulously displayed collectibles and art.  I love the way that looks.  It just doesn’t translate into my real life.  I need to be realistic about the life I live and the way I live it.

Things that I used to use all the time, but don’t use any longer.  Interests and needs change, but I don’t always adapt the stuff I have to reflect where I am right now.  I don’t have four kiddos at home all the time now.  I don’t cook the same.  Life has changed.  Stuff needs to be reassessed.  Holding onto stuff from when all the kiddos were home and little doesn’t stop the progress of time.  Those days are gone.  It’s time to let go of the “cards” that are no longer serving a purpose in my hand and start building a new hand.

There are no excuses in gin.  There is no justification.  Deadwood goes or you lose.

There comes a time when you have to quit talking about what you want.

A time when you have to quit explaining why you can’t have or do what you want.

You have to do what is necessary to make space or time for what you want.

And you have to do it.