A Journey Shared

I think I’ll just start typing and see where the words take me today.  I have a story to tell, but there are many dimensions to it and I’m not sure what is the most significant element.

I’ll start at the beginning and we shall see where we end up…

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store with my sister to pick up a few things that the family needed.  I say needed because we’ve been in a sort of financial dilemma for the last couple of months.

By dilemma, I mean that a combination of miscalculations on my part and factors outside of my control have combined to mean that there is just not enough money.

We’ve eaten down the pantry and freezer and are being creative about meal making.  No worries, we are pretty creative types.  Still, honestly, there has been some stress around our household about the situation.

Anyway, I arrive at the grocery store with my sister and as we are parking we notice a young family with four small children standing around a car with the hood up.  Various car parts that appear to be from the engine are leaning up against the car.

It is obviously a bad situation, but since I know nothing about engine repair and don’t know what I might offer to do to help in this situation, I continue into the store with my sister to purchase what I need to feed the family through the weekend.

I complete my purchases, excited that by combining markdowns, sales and coupons, I am able to buy quite a bit for a relatively small amount of money.  To be completely honest, I didn’t spend more than we had available so I won’t overdraw the account.  Life is good.

On our way out of the store, that same family is at the service desk.  The four children are sitting quietly nearby,  Mom and Dad are doing something with some Western Union paperwork.  My sister walks over to talk with them and upon completing the conversation discretely hands the dad all of the cash that she has.  My sister does stuff like this all the time.  She’s a giver.

I help my sister out to the car and while unloading our groceries, I ask her what their story is.

The mom had landed a job cleaning at a hotel just up the street from the grocery store.  The hotel was letting the family stay in a room while she worked there.  She got laid off because they were overstaffed.  The family had resorted to living in their car which had now broken down.  They had found someone to fix the car, but were attempting to make arrangement to get everything done.

Four kids, no job, no home…

I don’t know what choices or decisions guided them to that grocery store and that parking lot and that situation.

I’m not even sure that I completely understand the choices and decisions that have landed me where I am today.

The journey is complicated and we make a thousand choices and decisions along the way.  Sometimes, we take the right turn.  Sometimes, not.  Anyone of us could end up homeless with a broken down car in a parking lot.  Of that, I am sure.  For millions around the world, that would be a step up.  Life is crazy that way.

What I do know is that in that moment I was hit full force with the realization that “need” is relative.  I had just purchased groceries that I was certain that I was in “need” of.

Now, in comparison with the “needs” of this family they seemed like luxuries.

I did some calculations in my head and went back in and purchased a gift card for the family.  The groceries I had purchased for the next few days will need to stretch further than I had planned.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll be eating them in my house at my dining room table.  My family will have a car to drive to work in.  There is a paycheck coming in the future.  It won’t be enough, but we will make it work.

I wanted to do more, but at least I know that they won’t be hungry for a day or two.  And I hope and pray that they hold hope in their hearts and that there journey will become easier.

I have continued to think about that trip to the store.

Did I do enough?

What else could I have done?

What was my responsibility?

If “need” is relative, what standard do I use to determine our needs vs wants?

Many questions.

Many choices and decisions.

Lots more to think about.

Need vs Want.

Sharing.

Kindness.

The journey continues.

kindness

Just Be Me

today was the day

where i found myself comparing

everything I have done,

am doing

and will ever do with everyone else

and finding myself lacking

not thin enough

pretty enough

talented enough

organized enough

successful enough

just not enough…

but i stopped and reminded myself that

i am

the only me

there is

in this entire world

not just now

but ever

i

was created

to be me

and that is enough

i will probably always need to remind myself

of this fact

that is a part of

who i am

kind of old

and wrinkly

and messy

and forgetful

and quirky

i like quirky

that is enough for now

 

NO. Just no.

Today I woke up ready to do it all.

I wanted to de-clutter the house and move all this sh!t outta here.

Then I wanted to catch up the laundry, finish packing up the winter clothes, do all the dishes, mop the floors, clean the windows…

and mow the yard and hack out the weeds and finish the flower beds and…

Photo by Gemma Evans on UnsplashNO.  Just no.

The words “bipolar” may never have been officially written down in any medical records, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t live here – in a relatively mild form, but still something that needs to be acknowledged.  The doctors have known it and I have known it.  I just spent so many years without insurance that we’ve skirted around the issue.

As past history has shown this is all probably a reaction to dealing with some hard stuff last night and being really down.

And if I give in to the mood and don’t deal with it intentionally, it could start cycling and that’s just not fun for anybody.

So instead of trying to do it all and failing miserably and being miserable and making everyone around me miserable…

This is today’s list:

  • Sort the mountain of laundry in the hall and work on it – taking care to fold or hang up everything as it finishes in the dryer.  No more piles everywhere.
  • Pick up obvious trash laying around and remove it from the house.
  • Gather all of my art card supplies that are scattered about the house and organize them in order to work on them.  This will clear numerous surfaces and help the overall appearance of the house.
  • Make some handmade paper from the plants I started drying last fall.  They are officially dry and shedding all over the studio. If it works, store the dried plants neatly away.  If not, compost them and try again another time.  I need to stop pushing art making to the bottom of the list – only to be done when everything else is finished.
  • Tidy up the paper-making station when done so as not to add more mess.
  • If I come across anything to de-clutter, add it to the box (after I put away the clean laundry that got dumped there when trying to clear the table for a family meal).
  • Remember that tomorrow is another day and don’t stress about what isn’t on this list or what is on the list and doesn’t get done.

And lastly, before I move on to other things…I found this quote while doing my morning reading and thought it quite appropriate following yesterday’s post…

Just knowing you don’t have the answers is a recipe for humility, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an eagerness to learn – and those are all good things. Dick Van Dyke

Peace.

Voila!

It turns out that I’ve been doing life all wrong…and now I’ve got it all figured out (not really, and I would never tempt fate or the universe by saying something that outlandish.)

 

All this time I’ve been making a list of everything that needed to be done and then failing to complete the list.  Therefore, at the end of the day, I felt like a failure.

On Monday, I just put three things on the list that had to be done and completed all of them:  I took a shower, successfully taught my art class and washed my bedding and remade the bed.

Win!

I also accomplished some other stuff that was on the “would like to get done” portion of the list.  I don’t remember what those things were since it was days ago, but I know that I felt good about it nonetheless.

So, the choice is make a short list and get it done and be happy…

OR

Make a long list and don’t get it done and be unhappy.

I’m going to choose the short list and be happy.

Voila!

Lesson learned.

Who knew that I couldn’t do it all?

Well, I knew it of course, but I kept trying to do it anyway.

Maybe this time I’ll remember to be more realistic (and kinder to myself).

Or, more likely, I’ll be writing a post similar to this in a couple of months.

Still, I’m going to count it as a positive step forward on my journey and it’s even in the “right” direction!

P.S. Of course, I forgot to put “feed and water the baby chicks” on the list and that’s a pretty important thing to do.  BUT, I remembered to do it and they lived another day so we’re not going to let that detract from my success.

Taking a Deep Breath

Mondays.

I don’t know why we make such a big deal of them.  Especially in my case where the majority of my family works in retail so Mondays aren’t the first day after two days off.

Almost every day is a work day for someone in my family.  It is a rarity for us all to have the same day off.

Still, I wake up on Monday with a vague sense of anxiety about all that I need to accomplish, and that needs to be dealt with before it blows up into a disaster…mood wise.

I have a friend who is dealing with Stage 4 colon cancer and is participating in trial treatment at MD Anderson.  She writes every day on her Caring Bridge site.

I take great inspiration from it.  She regularly talks about managing time and energy and the challenges of that for her.  In her previous life she was a very active pastor, activist, writer and just general accomplisher of everything.  She had a journal calendar that was bursting with notes and memos and appointments.  She was a marvel.

She still is.  Just in a different way.

Her musings on making time for what’s important…including rest and walking have made a difference for me this Monday.

I am taking a deep breath to calm the anxiety.

I am making a list of the things that have to be done to stop the swirling thoughts in my head.

I am reminding myself that it doesn’t all have to happen today.

Tomorrow is a viable possibility for some of the to-do list.

Today I need to take a shower.

I need to make a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow or the next day before I run out of meds.

I need to gather all of my supplies and teach my art class this afternoon.

I would like to wash my sheets and bedding.  That has been pushed to tomorrow too many times.

Cooking dinner would be a plus, but realistically there is food and everyone is capable of fending for themselves.

They will probably still love me if I don’t get that done.

The house has moved past the lived-in stage and is teetering on the edge of possible crime scene.

I am reminding myself that the state of my house does not necessarily make me a bad person.

As I make my list, I am realizing that today is doable.

I’ve got this.

Anxiety, go somewhere else.

This Monday is not yours.

It is mine and I may not do it perfectly, but I will do it with a smile.

Peace.

 

 

Complicated Contradictions

Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash
Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

“Every mind is a clutter of memories, images, inventions and age-old repetitions. It can be a ghetto, too, if a ghetto is a sealed-off, confined place. Or a sanctuary, where one is free to dream and think whatever one wants. For most of us it’s both – and a lot more complicated.” Margo Jefferson

 

I came upon this quote a few days ago while browsing for quotes to use on my art cards and such.

It has stuck in my head and bounced around in there and provided me with much fodder for thought as I pondered why I found it so intriguing.

Several blog posts about it have been started and abandoned since.

Obviously, more thinking was required…

Today, I realized, is Friday and I had promised my daughter that I would do a journal page.  We actually mutually committed and challenged ourselves to create one page each week.

As I was working on this page (using stuff found on the floor of my studio)

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all the thoughts about the quote came together and the meaning (for me) became clear.

You know, one of those “aha” moments when something perfectly obvious actually becomes obvious…

I’m complicated and a mass of contradictions…which does not make me unique because the same can be said of everybody…

But, I am a uniquely complicated mass of contradictions unlike everyone else in the way that I am a complicated mass of contradictions.

Yes, I know…complicated.

I continually struggle with reconciling the conflicting aspects of my personality.

Am I a minimalist or a bohemian when it comes to decorating? I seem to de-clutter and then re-clutter in an endless cycle.

Can you be a vegan who longs for bacon?  I mean, can you really love Esther the Wonder Pig (www.estherthewonderpig.com) and buy an Easter ham for your family?

and so on and so forth…

And what happens when reality collides with the ideals?

When neither the minimalist room or the cluttered room provide a home…

when perceived open-mindedness is revealed to be less than true…

when dreams wither and are lost because perfection inhibits their development

Then form has become more important than function and appearance becomes more significant than the goal.

I am a work in progress.

I am a story still being written and a canvas still being created.

I am my past, my present and my future.

Sometimes I huddle in the dark, afraid and sometimes I embrace the light and move forwards and often take a wrong turn and get lost.

Who I am right now will not be who I am when this post is finished.

The journey I am on requires patience and grace and acceptance.

Patience with my inconsistencies and missteps,

 grace for the fear and failures,

and

acceptance of my limitations.

We are all glorious creations who should find joy in this messy, complicated journey that we travel.

And I hope that we all, with patience, grace and acceptance, find peace along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now…today

new begin

What’s happening around here today…

Using the above quote as a mantra for today – a new week and a new day.  Trying not to worry so much about what I haven’t gotten done and what I’ve screwed up and all the projects I’ve been avoiding.

Today is a day to start anew and set reasonable goals…and practice grace.

Loving this quote (so much that I put it on a card)

0326181204Still wondering how this happened when I just went in to buy dog food…

0326181219Twelve chicks to add to our menagerie.  We only have one mature chicken left after the last fox attack and she is no longer laying eggs so chicks aren’t an entirely bad idea. Just not planned for right now. They are busily growing and cheeping in the guest bedroom.  The dogs are very intrigued – including our new addition, Skye…

61D4FB93-4268-403B-A49D-55042D7909A9

She belonged to a friend and got in trouble for trying to “play” with their neighbor’s pet rabbit.  We took her in to keep her out of the shelter because what’s one more dog, right?

Getting ready to start preparing these cards for an art mail project that I’ve been wanting to do.  I’ve been putting it off waiting for the “right time” to do it.  That’s code for me worrying about not doing them “well enough” so I just don’t do it at all.  I found this quote and put it on the jar holding the cards to remind myself that I just need to do it…”the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention”

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Anticipating this little guys arrival in August and my new role as Grandma.  The big news I’ve been waiting to share!

0326181229

And finally sitting down and actually typing out a blog post which I’ve avoided because I haven’t been doing it…which isn’t really a very good reason not to be writing, but it’s the only one I’ve got.  Technically it’s an excuse, not a reason, BUT…

today is a new day and full of grace…

so there you go.

Hoping that today finds you living in a new day full of grace!

Peace.

Then, Now & Maybe

Or yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Different words, but same sentiment.

Almost.

Perhaps a nuance of difference.

As a world, we spend a lot of time arguing about terminology, meaning, and other rhetoric.

And (in my opinion) not enough thought or discussion about intent, but all this is a rabbit trail off topic…

Much like my meandering passage through life lately.

For instance, three trips to the laundry room this morning in search of clean underwear so that I could venture out into the real world.

The first time, I forgot why I went down there, but did start a load of laundry.

The second time, I still forgot to forage for clean underwear, but emptied the trash.

The third time, I remembered the point of my visit, but (alas) there was no clean underwear to be found.

Eureka!  A separate search for something else that was lost yielded a pair in a stack of clean laundry that I forgot to put up and buried under a pile of other stuff that I need to put up.

I don’t remember what I was searching for when I found the needed undies.

Maybe it wasn’t important (she said hopefully).

And then we were late leaving the house.

But managed to get where we needed to go on time.

Life is good.

life is good

Some days clean underwear and a successfully completed journey is good enough.

Which still has nothing to do with the title I initially typed into the heading of this post.

(Sigh)

And I am out of time.

 

On the bright side:

  • I have written here today
  • I have a topic ready for tomorrow
  • If you follow this blog, you can now wait in breathless anticipation for what is to come (or not)

And as a separate set of “little dotty things” that I can’t remember the name of…I have helped you recognize that life is good if any of the following apply to you

  • You didn’t have to search for clean underwear because they are folded neatly in the drawer where they are supposed to be
  • You didn’t have to go out into the real world today (after worrying that you might have to do so without underwear)
  • There isn’t something lost that you need to look for but you can’t because you don’t even remember what it is that you are supposed to be looking for
  • You can remember the name of these “little dotty things” and you aren’t even an English major like I am
  • Oh, and you don’t have a Basset hound that is totally and remarkable NOT housebroken and pees continually and non-stop all day and all night without ceasing (this is, once again, off topic, but I really, really needed to vent my frustration)

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Anyways…

If any of the above makes you appreciate the goodness of life…

you are most welcome.

every day

Peace!

 

The Practice of Gratitude

gratitude

I have a good life.

It’s not perfect (but neither am I).

Sometimes I forget to remember the good things…and I focus on what’s not going the way I want.

I can have unreasonable expectations.

Which is not to say that there are not sometimes reasons to be unhappy and dissatisfied.

But I want to look on the bright side more often and be grateful for all that is good in my little corner of the world.

So, I have made this book out of my handmade paper and I’m going to write down 1,000 things that I am grateful for.

I got the idea from one of the many books that I sorted out to finally read.

IMG_0475

 

 

Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite book ever. I didn’t read it all the way through.  I kind of skipped around and read bits here and there.  It had some really good stuff and some simply good stuff and some stuff that was a little too flowery and preachy for me. For now it will stay on my shelf because it has a bird on the cover and I really like birds.

glen-carrie-513355
Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Still, it was worth browsing through for the idea a making a list of stuff I’m grateful for.

A thousand things is a lot.

We’ll see how it goes…I’ve gotten to 42 without too much effort.

I’ll keep you posted.

Until then, I hope your day finds you with things to be grateful for…

Peace.