A Glass of Tea

Hello.

No luck falling asleep last night.

This morning started out with a sense of being behind and unable to catch up.  As a result, I know that my perceptions of my life are skewed and everything seems worse than it is or even than it was yesterday.

Being tired and anxious and tipping into depression have a way of putting a negative filter on the way I see things:

The budgeting problems couldn’t be solved with a bevy of mathematical geniuses.

I am the only homemaker in America (maybe the world) who can’t keep a clean house.

We have the worst looking yard in the neighborhood.

the dishes, the laundry, the unmade bed, the piles of paperwork to be dealt with, the recycling, the boxes of donations, the stuff to be sorted, the unmade bed, the bathrooms waiting to be cleaned, the books unread, the projects undone, the clock is ticking and I am getting nowhere…fast

STOP.

It’s time for a glass of tea and some perspective…and a talk with myself (preferably not aloud where I can add crazy to the list).

I am doing okay.

Things will be okay.

It could be worse.

There are solutions to the real problems.

Some of the problems aren’t really that big a deal.

The sun will still do it’s thing even if everything doesn’t get done so there is always tomorrow.

I can fold one load of laundry.

I can wash one sink load of dishes.

I can stack all of the paper in one place and deal with it one piece at a time.

I can clear one counter.

The lost things can be found.

And so can peace.

I can stop and have a glass of tea.

I can make the baby laugh.

I could even read a chapter of a book.

And then I can do one more thing to make our home more comfortable.

Comfortable, not perfect.

What I can’t do is everything…right now.

There.

I feel better now.

I’m glad we had this talk.

Until tomorrow…

Peace.

 

 

Lost in Anxiety

Greetings fellow travelers,

Welcome to all the new followers.  I’m always a bit surprised (but grateful) when someone new chooses to “follow” me.  Be forewarned, I tend to wander and often get lost.  I guess that’s part of the adventure.

I did get lost this weekend metaphorically speaking.  It was a payday weekend and after I paid the bills there was so little left.  I know that’s a thing for a lot of folks and we are lucky that I made at least the minimum on everything.  My husband has a good job and I have a side gig that brings in a bit.

Still, as a I stood in line at the grocery store and watched the organic and healthy stuff ring up, I was consumed with doubt.  I could have spent significantly less by buying conventional produce and meat, and skipped the non-gmo goods and whole wheat stuff.  I stood there thinking that maybe it wasn’t worth it and I was just adding more stress to an already stressed budget.

As I talked it over with my husband later, he reminded me of the reasons we were making these changes and, ever the optimist, he reminded me that it always works out somehow.

That’s true.  We’ve never gone hungry and we’re not homeless.

The changes we are making aren’t easy, but with effort, some mistakes, and course corrections, we will figure it out.

The anxiety persisted through the weekend.  Once it starts, it’s hard to turn off.  It’s like some perpetual motion wheel powered by an anxiety hamster.  And, like a hamster, it runs loudest and fastest at night.

As I’ve tried to go to sleep each night, I start thinking of all the unfinished (and urgent) projects around here:  the failing floor in the hallway and laundry room, the collapsing deck, the not quite ready garden, the too-small chicken coop…all waiting for funding and time…

The lack of sleep only intensifies the issue.

Today, I have made a list of the projects and brainstormed plans and cheap solutions.  Some of the brainstorming is less practical than others.  I did find a you-tube video that shows how to make a perfect chicken tractor!  And it’s doable with some junk (resources) we have laying around here.

Detailing the problems on paper and finding solutions is much more helpful than worrying about them when I should be sleeping.

I refuse to let anxiety get the upper hand.  I may have to live with it, but I won’t let it win.

There will never be “enough” money for all the hopes and dreams that we have.  But there is enough for what we need.  The trick is discerning the needs vs. the wants and balancing it all out.

Accomplished today:

Most importantly, I’ve fed (homemade baby food), loved, rocked, talked to, and gotten to sleep for two naps the cutest grand-baby ever.

Got red beans and the Christmas ham-bone in the crock pot simmering for dinner.

Planted my echinacea seeds and have them out in the sun in the plastic storage box “greenhouse” while I dream of a real greenhouse someday.

Watered all the tomato, pepper, tomatillo, and herb seedlings I’ve managed to keep alive thus far.

Washed and dried two loads of laundry and decided that a clothes-line is definitely on the to-do list.

Turned my compost pile and shredded all of my newspaper and brown paper to mix into it.  I’m mowing the knee high grass in the dog yard and need to balance out all the grass clippings.  The compost pile is almost ready to tuck-in for “cooking”.  There’s another thing on the to-do list…another compost pile.

Small steps with optimism and a clear goal…anxiety be gone.  I’ve got a plan and I don’t have time for you.

 

 

Boxes and Crinkly Bags

 

The table we set at our house is undergoing a gradual change.

For one thing, this little guy is joining us now.

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Because of him, some health issues, and a myriad of other reasons, we are changing up our diet.

Small changes, gradual changes, with some compromises here and there, but with a clear goal in mind.

No more processed (factory food) and more real food with real ingredients that we can pronounce.

We’ve made the switch to organic produce and are working towards meat raised humanely on small farms and ranches.

As we eat down our pantry and freezer we aren’t replacing the boxes and crinkly bags that live there now.

There have been some challenges along the way – mainly folks wandering into the kitchen looking for something to eat and finding more ingredients than food.  We’re all on different schedules around here and dinner is the only meal we share.

We’ve been working towards keeping the fridge and freezer stocked with prepared foods that just need to be heated up.  It just tends to get eaten up before we get enough stored back!

I’ve become a master of the frittata which uses up leftover veggies and the abundance of eggs we’ve been getting as the weather warms up and the chickens start laying.

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We’re experimenting with recipes we find on the internet that replicate favorite snacks.  Some are wins, some are not…still looking for a Little Debbie Nutty Buddy substitute.

The pantry and freezer are getting low and that is causing me some anxiety.  Some of these choices aren’t cheap and money is always an issue.  I’m taking some deep breaths and reminding myself that any change in the right direction is better than not trying at all.

Don’t let perfection get in the way of better, right?

And reminding myself of the wins…last night’s dinner –  soup made from leftover chicken (free-range, organic chicken that spent its days roosting in a barn and and exploring the great outdoors)  home-made egg noodles  and lots of organic veggies…

There are no pictures of the soup because it was all eaten.  And every meal won’t be scratch-made like this because I’m just not that together.  But this one was and that’s a step in the right direction.

They are probably going to want to eat again tonight.  I probably should have thawed something.

 

 

Mother Earth News Fair

Today, we are off on an adventure.

We are road-tripping to Belton, Texas for the Mother Earth News Fair!

I am super excited that is so close (close is relative in Texas).

It almost seems epiphanous in light of the changes I am working on: zero-waste, a vegetable garden, healthier eating, a more minimalist lifestyle…

…trying to be more comfortable with who I am and working to worry less about what others think and more about being true to what I believe

Plus, a road trip!

But no junk food.

That’ll be a challenge.

Challenge is good…

Peace.

Big Can, Little Can

One of the things that happened during my time away from writing here was a step towards being a zero-waste home.

I’d always said that it wasn’t possible for us and then postponed working towards the goal because of that “perfection” thing again.  We’d recycle on and off, but never really committed to the ideal.

I guess you could say that my mantra for this year is:

Don’t let perfect get in the way of better, or good, or good enough.

Almost two months ago we got busy.  I researched recycling in our area and gathered information.  We don’t have curbside recycling, but do have a recycling center relatively close.  I typed up a detailed list of what can and can’t be recycled in our area. It’s attached to the top of our recycling can.

And speaking of our recycling can…

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The big can used to be our trash can and the little one our recycling.  They have now switched service.

Our big blue curbside trash can was always stuffed full on pick-up day with at least two more big black bags stacked alongside.

Since tackling our trash problem, we rarely have more than two small white trash bags of garbage each week.  And that’s for eight people living in the house (one in diapers).  I know, cloth diapers are a thing.  I’ve tried in the past and maybe we’ll try again.  Baby steps…

We’ve become more aware of what we are buying.  There have been times that we looked at a product and decided to find an alternative because there was too much packaging that needed to be dealt with.

Driving to the recycling center is kind of a pain, but we are working it into our schedule.  We store the recycling in big tubs (that we already had because of our decluttering efforts).  They stack in the hallways until they are full to cut down on trips.

Our compost pile is filling up and our chickens eat any food that isn’t suitable for the compost pile.  We have accomplished zero food waste.

We aren’t doing  it all perfectly, but we are doing better!

 

 

 

 

Crazy

I’m struggling today.

I’m depressed.

The things to do seem endless (and maybe a little pointless).

Some days I can just jump in and tackle the day.

Not today.

Depression is crazy.

I know I’m not crazy, but the unpredictability of “depression” is crazy.

 One day maybe scientists or doctors or somebody will figure it out, but for now it is something we live with.

We all live with it.

If you don’t suffer with it, you know someone who does and it affects your life as well.

I don’t want my depression (and coordinating anxiety) to define me.  There is so much more to me than that.

But, I do want to continue to talk about it because we have to.  We have to share our stories and support each other and realize that we are not alone…

even if depression causes you to feel like you are alone and unworthy of being loved.

So today, I have cleaned off my desk because it is a small “win”, and tidiness and order make me feel better…a little bit more in control of my life.0212191554

And I am writing this imperfect post because maybe someone else who is struggling today will happen upon it and be encouraged to seek out a small “win” for themselves.

And I will cook a healthy dinner for my family tonight, because the food we eat does affect our health and we have been working really hard to improve our diet.  It won’t be perfect, but it will be good enough.

And I will offer myself abundant grace today for my depression and mistakes and grouchiness.  I am human and flawed and trying.  I will give myself some credit for hanging in there.

Some days life is hard.

But even in the hard times there can be grace and forgiveness and courage and kindness.

There has to be.

Peace.

 

 

 

On the Road

Just a very quick post as we head out for a road trip to San Antonio

My daughter’s husband is on mandatory overtime at work (Amazon) this week and she is in her last weeks of pregnancy so…

Oldest daughter, youngest daughter and I are going to their place to visit this week (just in case). We’ll try to be helpful, (but not too helpful) and keep her company.  I never made it this far in any of my pregnancies, but I think it will be good to be there.

Work around the house will be on hold until I get back, but I’ll have time to journal and work on school planning.

Such exciting changes going on in our family!

My anxiety level is racing up and I am doing my best to deal with it.  The physical symptoms are rearing their ugly heads which was my first clue.  I’m pretty good at being unaware and denying the existence of flares until it’s too late.  My family is good about gently pointing out that I’m in trouble so that I can start coping.

All shall be well.

Breathe.

Change happens whether we like it or not.

It’s my choice whether to embrace it with joy and grace or be miserable.

I can’t wish my anxiety away but I can make peace with it.

I am choosing grace and peace and joy.

Until my return…

Peace.

 

And so, I said yes

Journal page 21:

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I got a phone call last week asking if I would be interested in teaching two art classes at the private school I taught at last year.

I was hesitant.

Last year was a real struggle at times for many reasons:  some of them were “me” issues and some were issues with the school situation.

I was distracted by things happening at home and was not always as prepared as I would like to have been.  I was teaching Kinder through 2nd grades in the common lunch room area and there were continual distractions as people wandered through.  I’m not totally displeased with the school year overall, but really feel that I could have done better.

This year they asked if I could teach Kinder through 2nd and 3rd through 5th.  I’d be in a small classroom and that is a much more pleasant situation.

I was still hesitant.

It is a large time commitment and I am trying to spend more time making art.

I’m getting ready to be a grandmother.

I’m homeschooling a high-schooler this year.

And so on…

I said yes…

for three reasons.

  1. Without a doubt, the money I’ll make would be helpful as I continue to try and pay down our debt (and for art supplies which are expensive).
  2. I feel that it is important to expose children to art and I am distraught that art is considered to be an “elective” instead of a required subject, or not necessary at all!
  3. I love watching children as they create and discover what they are capable of.  In the early years children (for the most part) believe they are artists and that all things are possible.  Their freedom of expression and interest in play are inspiring.

So, I said yes.

Almost immediately, the anxiety set in.

Will I be able to manage everything?  Did I make a mistake?  Will I do a good job?

My anxiety has been very manageable lately.  I am making progress on the house.  My mood has been mostly stable.  I am back in the studio.

I’m worried that this will upset the balance I’ve been working to maintain.

This is definitely a step outside of the comfort zone I’ve been dwelling in.

Early in the summer, I had drafted a rough schedule of lessons I would do if I was asked to teach again.  I hadn’t anticipated two classes and older students.

Now, I need to get to work and finalize the projects and draw up a supply list.  School starts on the tenth of August.  I want to be better prepared this year.  It will definitely lessen the stress.

I also need to consider the loss of a day at home while planning our homeschool year.  Youngest daughter is taking three classes outside the home this coming year:  American Sign Language, Theater Production, and Spanish 2.  I’ll be covering the rest of the subjects here at home.  Her outside classes are on Wednesday and I’ll be teaching on Friday.  That leaves three days at home to do the rest.  It’s not too early to start planning that out.

All shall be well.

Last week’s Kon-Mari de-clutter of clothes resulted in a box ready for the thrift store.

We are getting ready to put new flooring in the third bedroom that has been sitting empty for over a year waiting on the money to repair it.  It was damaged by a water leak under the house.  One wall also has damage from a water leak in the adjoining bathroom.  Once completed, oldest daughter will move in there from the second living area that she has been occupying along with my studio.  That will give us space to spread out a bit more and accommodate the activities of our busy family.

Unfortunately, that empty room is not really empty.  It has become a catch-all for all kinds of junk.  That’s the declutter project for the rest of the week.

Along with the art journal, several art projects are in process:

 

It’s been busy so far this week and now will be even more so.

Lots of planning and de-cluttering and creating…

All good things.

Yes, all shall be well.

Peace.

Balancing Act

Journal page #20…

0708181922Not a lot of journaling happening lately…

Last week ended with a two-day trip to San Antonio to visit my future grandson and his Mom and Dad.  I forgot my journal although I remembered to bring my supplies.  (Sigh)

Then I got busy working on a larger project (which I finished late last night).  It was inspired by one of my journal pages.

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Houses without Windows

I have an idea for another project that relates to it.  Hopefully, I can start on it this afternoon.

But first, I need to get some other things done.

You know, mundane things like laundry and dog hair patrol.  Necessary tasks but not nearly as interesting as paint and glue and paper…

I could have become overwhelmed by the to-do list buzzing in my head, but I stopped before that happened.

I took a deep breath.

And made a list of all the things that I thought needed to be done by me today.

And then I edited it.

I left the things that had to be done today and started a list for tomorrow (or the next day).

I drew a line through “save the world” and settled on “write a note to a friend having a difficult time”.

I added “journal page or two”.

I wrote “studio time” with the knowledge that I may get started on my new idea or I may spend some time sorting and tidying.

Dishes, laundry and dinner are still on the list.

At the bottom of the list I wrote “balance”.

Then I wrote it at the top also.

I can’t do it all, but I’ve got a degree in English so I can write and edit and make a list that helps me define what is possible and necessary and helpful.

And not overwhelming.

It’s been a long time since I dedicated myself to making time for art-making in my life.  To really commit to the process as a priority.  I’ve sporadically done a bit here and there, but not made it a daily thing.

It’s going to require a great deal of effort to balance consistent art making with the rest of my life.   To effectively integrate it with my other responsibilities and not overwhelm myself.

Making art is an important part of who I am.  It makes me happy (not all the time happy because art is a sometimes frustrating, time consuming and always messy undertaking).  I have some talent, but a definite calling.  At the risk of sounding cliche – art completes me.

I can’t journey towards an intentional life if I don’t include art-making in it.

But, I have other responsibilities also:  Wife, Mom, Sister, Homemaker,  Teacher and on and on…

Adding artist to the mix on a daily basis is doable (I hope).

A balancing act…but a worthwhile one…

Peace.