Hopefully Hidden

 

treats

Today’s post shall be short because I am hungry.

And there are Rice Krispies treats in the house.

My sister bought them for my kids.

I love Rice Krispies treats so much.

They can’t live here with me.

I ate one…maybe two…

I’m lying.

I ate a lot of them.

Then I gave them to my daughter to hide them from me.

Tomorrow I shall talk about my problem(s) with food.

Now I will finish making my salad and my bowl of fruit

because that is a better decision

and will make me feel better in the long term.

1119171710

Hopefully, the Rice Krispies treats are hidden well because night-time sugar cravings are the worst.

 

 

the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad yesterday…

alexander

When I woke up yesterday, I knew it was going to be one of those days.

It wasn’t a bad day because bad stuff happened although I did have to decide what kind of health insurance to sign up for as open enrollment ended today.

It was a “maybe I do belong in a psych ward” kind of day.

It was the kind of day which reminds me that I’ve got a problem.

I can call it depression or anxiety or whatever.

When a day like yesterday happens, it’s quite evident that there is a definite physical component to these terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

There are other reasons for it including a not great childhood and miscellaneous other “traumas”.  There’s been therapy and meds and lengthy “good” stretches and not so great times.  Stress makes it worse and there’s been an abundant supply of that lately.

There are reasons and explanations and theories and things that help and things that don’t.

Basically, these days are a part of who I am…and I don’t say that lightly.

Most days I can do a pretty good impersonation of a normal, functioning adult.  And I can convince myself that it is truly who I am.

Sometimes I actually am a normal, functioning adult.

Some days, it’s just really a struggle.

Time and life experience (a polite way of saying getting older) have shown me that I’m not alone in this.  There’s a lot of crazy out there pretending to be okay.

 

Late last night as I was sitting in the front yard, I looked up and saw the moon nestled among the stars.

And I felt tiny and small compared to what I saw above me.

But suddenly, not alone at all.

I was looking at the stars and the moon

And they were looking at me.

And this is what I finished and hung on the wall the day before.

And I thought about how it wasn’t just me…alone.  I was a part of something larger and more complicated than I could possible understand.

But occasionally there might be serendipitous reminders that I should just hang in there and wait for a better day because there is always a better day….

often a tomorrow that became a today that left me wondering what the hell had happened yesterday!

So, in conclusion I’d like to think that yesterday can serve a purpose and that something good can come of it…

If you’re ever feeling lonely and alone and like nothing really matters,

just look at the moon.

Someone, somewhere is looking right at it too.

It could be me or any of a million other people.

You are not alone in this journey.

There are other people walking the same path facing similar struggles and pretending on most days that everything is just fine.

And some days it is just fine or okay or even fantastic.

Don’t give up on the person you are becoming.

 

Good Night Moons

1112170214aCan’t sleep Saturday night and now it is Sunday morning.

Most of my world is sleeping and will awaken with the sun.

Pulling out a canvas…adding a bit of this and removing a bit of that.

Becoming frustrated and putting it to one side.

Pulling another one off of the top of the stack.

Determined to make something happen.

To actually finish something and not to walk away…giving in and giving up once again.

Then, I am staring at these two works in progress that were once two singular blank canvases…

Two canvases that, in turn, were painted and repainted, laid aside, placed back on the easel, a brush stroke here, a change there…

and now upon study and contemplation in these early morning hours have suddenly and quite obviously become one…

Destined without plan to go together.

A before and after perhaps?

The meaning is still unclear.

The symbolism still to evolve into something real or at least understood.

But it appears that tonight I am staring at two moons that are staring back at me…

waiting…

for the sun and light and enlightenment.

But further discernment will have wait.

Progress.

A small victory.

Light shining from an artwork worked on in the dark.

Perhaps that is enough to allow sleep.

 

 

 

Serendipity

serendipity

Ah, two posts in one day.

Some things are just meant to be…

serendipity definition

I don’t usually give advice (preach) here.

It’s not that I don’t have definite ideas about how the world should work.

I just prefer to share my stories and sow some seeds.

There are plenty of other people out there shouting about what everyone else should be doing, thinking, feeling or believing.

I have trouble enough managing my own life, thank you very much.  I’ll leave the advice giving to others.

Except for the occasional moment of serendipity…like today.

Mondays are hard for me.  The weekend is over.  It’s time for a new week of accomplishment and there is always so much to do.

I’m having a sort of creative revival at the moment so there is really a lot of pressure to accomplish.

I didn’t want to miss blogging for a day because I’ve go a streak going so…

I asked my son what to write today (after sharing my thoughts about what I wanted to say).

You know that face your kid makes when he’s little and you explain to him what needs to be done?  The one that, without a word, makes it clear that you are a clueless idiot that is totally out of touch with reality?

Well, yea, they never stop making that face.

He told me to just say “hello” instead.

So I did.

Then, just a few minutes later as I was clearing space in my studio to work, I came across a note that was in pile of things to deal with later…from many years ago.

A handwritten note that was left for me to find at an art retreat I went to years ago.  It was from a guy I met and shared studio time with.

1106171055 (1)This is a gift.

A gift then and a gift now as I reread it.

Someone took the time to connect with me and say hello…that I mattered.

Serendipity.

I write a post that says “hello” and I find a handwritten note from years ago that reminds me of a time that I “connected” with someone.

Serendipity.

So, I know you are busy today with a lot of things that need to be done.

But, despite our constant “connectedness” we, as human beings, are more isolated and lonely than ever before.

Surely something on your “to do” list can wait.

Take a moment and write someone a note.

It doesn’t have to be on a beautiful hand-made card or an expensive Hallmark purchase.  You don’t have to make a special trip to the store to do this.

Grab a scrap piece of paper and tell someone hello.  Send it in the mail.

Or send an email.

Jot a note on the back of a store receipt to tell a cashier that you appreciate their effort.

Hit the like button on a blog post and write a comment.

Use your imagination and listen to your heart.

Enough people are writing words about what’s wrong with the world and what needs to be done to fix it.

Let’s write some words that are real and personal and directed to a real  human being that has somehow touched our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live. Create. Tell the Story

 

live create tell th story

I’ve been asked how hard it is to write and share personal details of my life on this blog…

(and the tears start now)

To be sure, some of what I have written has been difficult to share. Some of what gets typed never gets published. Sometimes the mouse hovers over the publish “button” and time passes…and more time passes…and I take a deep breath…and “send” what I have written out into the world. And I worry that it sounds stupid or that I shared too much or that nobody will read it or care.

One of the things that I know to be absolute truth (and there isn’t much that fits into that category) is that, as human beings, we are called to share our stories. It’s why I once believed that I was called to the pulpit as an ordained minister. Now, I tell my stories here to a different audience.

I don’t know who needs to hear what I have to say…that I struggle daily with the uncertainty of whether I have value and purpose and am deserving of continued existence.

Writing a blog is an interesting thing.  To sit down in front of a screen and keyboard and “talk” to an audience that you can’t see.  There are no reactions, no head nods, no eye contact that allows you to gauge how receptive your audience is.

You just have to believe that your stories…

and by extension, all of our stories  – of our experiences, successes and failures, the documentation of the steps we take are what matter.

The relationships, the sharing, the moment when our being on this planet for just another day makes sense…that’s why I write…

– for myself and for someone out there who might be needing to hear what I have to say

– someone I will probably never meet

– someone who is wondering if their story matters

We are all important and we are all part of the story that is being written every moment of every day…

sometimes by what we do (or don’t do), by our words, our brush strokes, our act of kindness, our prayers, our presence.

Some of us accomplish big things that attract attention and praise…

most of us will never be noticed or acknowledged or even know that what we did today mattered…

So, let’s try this –

Tell your story today.  Share.

Let someone know that the “words” they wrote (or are writing) in your life matter.

And  (most importantly)  if someone who was a part of your story has somehow disappeared in the midst of all the busyness of life, find a way to let them know that their words are important..

That they matter.

They made need to hear it.

Live.

Create.

Tell the story.

Repeat.

P.S.  This is not at all what I sat down to write today.  The words just took on a life of their own and this is what happened.  Life and stories are funny that way…

 

 

 

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…

0419171850

…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…

 

 

 

 

Be Still

IMG_0094
Encaustic on wood with handmade paper

Today is the long-awaited appointment with the neurologist.  I’m a bit anxious and a bit relieved.  I’m ready to listen, ask some questions and get some answers.  And then I will work on sorting out the details.

Last night was art studio time with my oldest daughter.  We played with wax and paint and the magic of encaustic.  I have decided that art will definitely be the theme of the week…not the creation of any great works, but time to play and imagine and create for the sake of doing…not accomplishing.

My accomplishment this week will be to practice intentional life and to find peace amidst the struggles.

I can’t control life’s happenings, but I can be better about my reaction to all that happens.

I can practice being still when my mind and body are telling me to run.

I can practice being creative when my urge is to be busy.

I can practice being quiet when I feel the need solve problems that have no solutions.

Be still.

Be creative.

Be quiet.

Seek peace.

All shall be well.

 

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.

 

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.