real

I’m going to get real here for just a moment.

I’m doing a lot of things to change my behavior, my attitude, my perceptions and just generally remake my life since my old one seemed to literally break apart.

I’m trying to learn to meditate: to become more mindful. I’m using the Mindspace app. It might actually have started to make sense today. Sort of. In a vague and hazy way. I think it might be helping.

I don’t really know if it is or not. I tend to be a “little” critical of myself. (In real terms, I think I’m an idiot most of the time). That’s not an affirming statement, I know. I’m a work in progress.

I wrote this kind of poetic and insightful set of words yesterday about mindfulness.

I’m finding that practice is neither poetic or insightful.

I’m supposed to be “noting” and identifying thoughts and feelings and gently move them – as with a feather on the rim of a crystal glass – clearing my head to refocus on my breathing.

Hmmm.

My head is so busy this seems to be an extremely impractical way to go about things. I keep getting an image of myself chucking an angry chicken in the midst of all those thoughts. At the very least, a feather duster to clear things out.

I’ve made enough progress to know that this would be a bad idea

I’ll keep trying the feather.

try again

Sigh…

So today I choose to begin again.

I was not “all healed” yesterday.

I didn’t get everything “right”.

I messed up – a lot.

This mindfulness stuff is hard.

Feeling the emotions without reacting to them doesn’t even really make sense – yet.

I will try again today.

And maybe I will do just a little bit better.

Maybe it will make a little more sense today.

I’m searching for that “aha” moment.

There’s so many feelings going on right now.

It’s a lot “out of control”

One day at a time unless that seems like too long…

I’ve typed up a “recovery daily checklist”.

Meditations, reading assignments, journaling, exercise, art time…

and (sigh) therapy today…

jon tyson – unsplash

the end

This post has been weeks in the writing – written, deleted, pondered, re-written, stared at, ignored and left to sit in forlorn solitude.

Why?

What is the importance of a single blog post written by an obscure blogger sitting in a manufactured home in the middle of nowhere?

I have no answer to those questions or many other questions that I find myself asking lately.

I did find this quote by Flannery O’Connor:

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Maybe that’s the answer.

Or maybe not…

Maybe the answer doesn’t matter.

I’m kind of liking this quote by Joan Didion:

“We tell stories in order to live.”

Maybe I should just quit worrying about the why.

My life feels hard right now.

It would be more truthful to say that my life has always been hard and I have decided to admit it and do something about it.

A little over a month ago I hit the end.

I no longer had the ability to go on.

I was done.

And somehow the end turned into a beginning.

I asked for help.

It has not been fun.

Quite frankly, it has been a shit show.

I have failed spectacularly over and over again.

I’m still not sure that there is any importance in a single blog post written by an obscure blogger sitting in a manufactured home in the middle of nowhere but I’m trying to figure that out.

And I’m told that the journey over the past month has been the easy part. Now the real work begins.

That is terrifying.

I’m going to keep going anyway.

“Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” -Brene Brown

A little over a month ago, I hit what I’m choosing to call the end.

what happened?

what happened?

where have I been?

Those are good questions.

And I have some answers, but not nearly all the answers.

Let’s keep it simple…

Life happened.

Messy, glorious, heart-breaking life in all it’s wonder.

Right now, I am sitting here attempting to write, but mostly watching my flock of chickens scratch in the falling leaves outside my window.

It occurs to me that it might be easier to be a chicken. Their lives are definitely less complicated than human ones.

The complications can be challenging and sometimes even soul-crushing. Life can beat you down until you just don’t think you can handle one more thing.

Your brain is filled to bursting with things to do and things to solve and things to figure out and your heart is empty because you are all used up.

That, my friends is anxiety and depression in a nutshell.

There is too much and not enough at the same time.

So you just quit living everyday life and start reacting to this thing and the next thing.

And living the life of a chicken starts looking pretty good.

But, deep down I know that I don’t want to be a chicken.

I want to tough it out and live my life.

I want to live through the pain and know that the joy is coming.

I want to find gratitude in the midst of things its hard to be grateful for. I know it’s there…somewhere.

I want to figure things out and find the solution and not let the problem defeat me.

This has been a really, really hard year in a lot of ways (and I’m not even factoring all the stuff going on out there in the world)

It’s tempting to focus on the hard stuff and conclude that this is a “bad” year.

This has been a really, really good year in a lot of way…

Today, I wrote a list of all the good stuff that has happened this year and I realized that this is just a year…like all years are.

Years can’t be bad or good. They just are. A chronological succession of day that come and go…

The list included the “good” and the “bad”.

I found that most of the good was a direct result of the bad.

The “bad” stuff prompted me (and my family) to:

focus on simplifying our life by decluttering

spend less money and redefine our spending habits…our needs versus our wants

grow closer to extended family that we didn’t make time for before

build a closer immediate family unit

get better about asking for help for problem solving rather than going it alone

spend less time with outside distractions by limiting our information inflow (news, etc.)

spend way more time outside gardening and walking or just sitting and talking

It’s taken a lot of work to find gratitude in the midst of some pretty serious crap going on in my life and I’m sure that the work is not nearly done. I’m sure there will be a significant number of reactionary days rather the more productive and healthy “action” days.

I’m going to try and remember that I’m better off being me than being a chicken.

The complications are worth the effort.

the view from here

Monday morning.

The start of a new week – ready to go after a restful weekend!

This is what my Monday looks like…

Not pictured are the soon to arrive 2 year old, the home-school planning I forgot to do for this week, the hungry chickens calling to me, or the myriad of unfinished (and not yet started) projects all around me.

It feels like total chaos.

There was a time when I would have been paralyzed with anxiety over the whole situation.

I’m still not happy about it.

But, I have been working on approaching the whole mess without judgement.

This is the reality of what it is.

I am responsible for it, but the mess is not who I am.

I need to get it cleaned up and dealt with it.

I am not a failure or worthless or incompetent or…

Those labels still bounce around in my head, but I am working on quieting them.

And I am making progress.

There is a lot going on in life right now and I’ll never get it all done.

Life is not a list to be completed.

I’ll put a load of laundry in.

I’ll pick up the trash that my Basset Hound dragged out again. I’ll also pause and rub her belly because she is who she is and going through trash is what she does. If the trash had been taken out, she wouldn’t have waited until I went to sleep to climb up on top of the counter to get to it. Mental note: take out the damn trash before I go to bed.

While my daughter puts up the clean dishes, I’ll schedule her school assignments.

Then I’ll load the dishwasher up again while being grateful that we have food and my husband is essential and employed.

Hopefully, before the kiddo gets here.

When he gets here, we’ll do our morning snuggles and breakfast…because the mess will wait.

We’ll go feed the bok-boks together and check out what’s growing in the new garden beds “we” built. We’ll come in and change his clothes because he is two and it rained recently.

We’ll throw his dirty clothes into the next wash load and he’ll “help” fold laundry.

I’ll do the best that I can and work through it…

while remembering that everyone is worthy of grace and love and kindness…myself included.

I don’t yet know what tomorrow will look like.

I am hopeful that the mess will be lessened somewhat, but I’m sure that there will still be something left to do.

little things

My anxiety continues.

My usual coping mechanisms aren’t helping much.

…but over the weekend an email shows up.

A blogger that I follow posted a song.

I don’t know why she posted it. Maybe she just needed to hear it.

I didn’t know that I needed to hear it, but I’ve been listening to it any time I felt that I was “done with it all”.

It’s been like a little “pause” button for me…a little breathing space in the midst of it all…a centering moment reminding me that I’m not doing it all alone.

And it’s helped me to refocus on those around me instead of dwelling on my circumstances.

Maybe I can do a little something for someone around me.

God knows, there is certainly enough stress and anxiety swirling around..

We need to share little reminders that we aren’t alone.

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.