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.

 

All Shouting at Once

This journal page was done yesterday.

IMG_0720

And then today, I witnessed yet another disturbing incident on facebook.

A friend posted an opinion on another friend’s post.

A differing opinion.

And she was attacked.

Hateful vitriol.

There is no other word for it.

And she wasn’t wrong.  Her comment had merit.

It just wasn’t the “popular” thing to say.

It brought light to the fact that the issue is not black and white.

There is no easy answer.

And I have to wonder…

Where is conversation?

Where is discussion?

Where is respect?

And in this instance, where is the Christianity?

Have your opinion.  Have a strong opinion.  Believe you are right…

March, gather, protest, follow your heart and work for change.

But never forget that the person you are sharing words with

OR

throwing words at…

Has an opinion.

And is a living, breathing, feeling human being…

With their own story and beliefs.

What about being quiet for a moment and listening…

Where is the love that you profess to have for humanity when you can’t treat a differing opinion with respect and dignity?

And all that I can think and believe is that when hate is the response to a differing opinion there is no winner.

We all lose.

Love loses.

Peace.

 

Books that Survived

books show us

When I was a kid, I read all the time.

Unless I was drawing.

But mostly I read.

In college I stopped reading so much because there just wasn’t time.

After college I started reading a little bit more, but never as much as when I was a child.

And then I had kids of my own.

I continued to read, but not for myself…for them.

During the great declutter of last month we placed all our books on the  table.1004171728a

We got rid of anything that we weren’t going to read again, were never going to read or that was readily available with our new library card.

And then there were these books:

1105170941.jpgThese I pulled out as books I had acquired because…

well, because they “spoke” to me.  They had content that I thought could help me become more of the me that I want to be.

They cover topics like art and fear and creativity

and life and peace and spirituality

and so much more.

And they have been sitting on the shelf…some for a long, long time.

Some I started and never finished.

Some have never been opened.

Now they are all in one place – by my chair in the living room where I often end up sitting and watching television because it’s easy.

I will see them when I go to sit down.

And I will no longer ignore them.

I am going to read them.

Because…

kid president

Peace.

 

New Habits

I guess I was overly optimistic about keeping up with writing here.  It seems that so much is going on that I’m having trouble keeping up with everything.

The moderate depression is continuing with some good days and some not-so-good.  I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and continuing with the new plan or rather the new lifestyle…

Oh wait – I never got around to actually writing about that…

In short, I have committed to eating a whole food, plant based diet.  That’s basically a vegan diet with another restriction – very limited added oil of any kind.

If you want to know more, I was first introduced to the idea by watching “Forks over Knives” which is currently on Netflix.  It explains it much better than I ever could.

Why am I giving this a try you might ask?

Well, let me tell you…

When I first realized that I was having trouble with my vision and thousands of dollars later became aware that medical doctors were not going to be much help, I started by reading and researching and removed chemicals from my home…cleaning products, air fresheners, etc.

Then I started looking at the ingredients in our kitchen.  We’d been eating pretty healthy off and on depending on our income and my mood.  I am definitely a stress eater.

I was focused on subtracting items from our home that might be adversely affecting our health.

And that was all good stuff…as far as it went.

I never really stopped to think about what I needed to add.  I’m fairly knowledgeable about nutrition.  But now, I’m learning a lot more.  A lot more.

I believe in the ability of our bodies to heal themselves…if given the opportunity and resources.

I have hypertension, high cholesterol and triglycerides, am obese, suffer with anxiety and depression, have vision difficulties, and have had bad blood sugar readings in the past.  I take 3 medications and my blood pressure reading are rarely in the normal range…they are still high.  I am tired all the time.  I am not very happy.

I was not a winner in the “genetic lottery” of life.  The women in my family start having strokes early and often.  Hypertension starts for everyone on both sides at 30.  I made it to my mid-thirties.  I’ve been told that this is my lot in life.  Even by a doctor once.  I’m going to die from a heart attack or stroke.  That’s just the way it is.

What if that’s not true?

What if this is one area of my life where I can exert some control?

What goes into my mouth is my decision.  That’s been an empowering experience for me.  I’m juicing spinach, kale, carrots, tomatoes, and whatever other vegetable I have on hand for breakfast along with a bowl of oatmeal or whole grain cereal.  I’m eating vegetables, fruits, whole grain rice and other grains.  I’m not counting calories.  I’ve lost about 20 pounds.

I’m hitting at least 10,000 steps on my fitbit almost every day.  At least 30 minutes is continual walking on my treadmill.

I asked my husband to watch “Forks over Knives” with me so that he would have a clue about what I was doing.

To my surprise, he volunteered to join in.  He’s not “all” in.  He indulges some when he’s not at home, but he’s eaten every recipe that I’ve tried out (including some stunning failures).

There’s more and I will be back tomorrow…even if it’s just to say hello.

I’ve finished my bedtime fruit and veggie smoothie and it’s off to bed – hopefully to sleep. Sleep has been somewhat elusive as of late.

Pleasant dreams dear readers…

Ugh.

Or maybe Yuck.

One word to describe the way I feel physically and emotionally.

I’m still tired and coughing.  It doesn’t help that the weather is changing every hour.

Hot enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts going barefoot one day.

Then a t-shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, jeans and socks the next.

Can’t the temperature be relatively the same for at least two days in a row.

Cedar and mold and dust…all at the same time!

We’re all carrying rolls of toilet paper around.  I’m too cheap to buy Kleenex.  I’m very into multi-purpose home supplies right now.

The studio has stayed clean.  I know it’s been less than twenty-four hours, but I’m going to cheer myself on with a win anyway.  I was able to find everything I needed for my art class today without rummaging through piles of stuff.  That felt good.

This second class that I’m teaching is older kiddos…junior high and high school.  I’m really enjoying it, but they are all super-talented.  A couple are more naturally talented than I am.  At least I have more experience than they do.  It’s going to be challenging to keep up with them!

Today on the home-front we sorted through wedding stuff and got a lot of it boxed up into some sort of order.  New lists and more lists – things we forgot and things we didn’t think of.  I think it’s going okay (except when I start panicking and lose it!).

The bridal shower is tomorrow and guess who forgot to get a gift.

Then we just have two more weeks until the big day!

I’ve made a decision to leave Facebook for a while.  I just can’t deal with the drama, the arguments, the name-calling and the total suspension of respect for differing opinions.

If you read my posts as they are shared on Facebook, you can continue to do so.  I will not be getting notifications of comments or “likes” however.  To stay in communication, you will need to log on to faithacrestudio.com and “follow” me here.

This was not an easy decision.   I’ve “unfriended” a lot of folks that just couldn’t let up with the continually negative posting. I kept thinking people could or would calm down and relax a little.  That maybe we could start sharing our daily lives again and keep in touch about the little stuff – the little stuff matters too.

We can’t live in a constant state of fear, panic and readiness to battle every anticipated tragedy.  I know this because I’ve been doing it since childhood and my body is worn out.  I’ve shared this before.  For my health and sanity, I just refuse to do it anymore.  I’m bowing out of the front lines.

When you wake up every morning looking for the next horrible thing that has happened, or more likely the next horrible tragedy that hasn’t happened yet, you miss out on the simple beauty of the everyday.  We see what we are looking for.  I am choosing to look for hope and joy.

I’ll still be here…sharing my stories and my moments.

Our stories and sharing are what is most important right now.

The goodness is still present.

There is still hope.

The steps we take in our daily lives will always have more of an impact on the world than any march.

Little things matter.

Our love matters.

Never stop believing that.

What Now?

No writing the last few days…just a lot of thinking and a bit of keeping my mouth shut and some reevaluating my life.

This flu bug just keeps hanging on.  No fever, not really sick, but not feeling well either.  Lots and lots of coughing that’s threatening to become bronchitis.  I’m sure some allergens are responsible also.  I’ve been trying to take it easy and just do the really important stuff, but mainly thinking….

Thinking about the other night when I went into my studio and realized that my work table was once again so cluttered that I couldn’t actually use it.

One of the things on it was an old visual journal from 7 or so years ago.  It’s part of a box that I packed away about a year ago because I couldn’t make a decision about what to do with them.  And then I brought the box back out because there was an empty shelf in my new studio. Sigh.

I started paging through it.  There wasn’t actually much in it as far as original art went. There were a lot of articles about creativity and quotes.  There were some collaged pages using images and words from magazines.

I decided it wasn’t great stuff.  I reread the creativity articles and decided that they weren’t all that important.  You can find millions of articles in that vein on the internet.  I started copying some of the better quotes into a new journal and then realized that these can also be accessed anywhere anytime I might suddenly need a quote.

Then I came across a page that featured the words, “I need a pause button”.  I wrote about that just the other day right here in this blog.

The next page dealt with the issue of clutter…

And the next, dealt with finding time for creativity in the midst of life.

I burst into tears.

This journal is over 7 years old.

I’m still stuck in the same spot.

Sure, I’ll grant that I’ve made some progress.  There have been steps forward and steps backwards.  That’s how life works.

But…I have not changed my life significantly.  I am essentially still working on the same issues.

Insanity, right?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I took the journal and went to the center of my labyrinth that I am constructing in my yard (it’s technically just a couple of circular rock piles, but let’s not judge…work in progress) and set the damn thing on fire.

We could be generous and say it was a ceremonial gesture ritually symbolizing significant change and hope for the future.

Let me be brutally honest.  That’s not what happened.  I was just a pissed off and enormously frustrated woman destroying something that I had previously found significant.

In reality, that journal was just another one of the hundreds of things that are in the way of what I claim to want.

So, it turns out that this year’s motto…Re-thing, Re-imagine, and Reflect…are the correct words for change.

I haven’t come up with any grand solution or any new plan.

It’s just very clear that the old ways aren’t working well enough.  I don’t have time to piddle around with these changes.  I’m not going to live forever!

For now, I’m sticking with sorting through things.  Hopefully, more ruthlessly and with a clearer understanding of what needs to go.

This thinking can’t just apply to belongings.  In fact, “things” are the least of my worries. Old habits, relationships, emotional baggage, and choices all need to be brought under the microscope.

What is beneficial?

What brings joy?

What is worthy?

What brings me closer to the life I envision?

Ugh.

Reality checks can be brutal…

and painful…

and enormously helpful.

Last Night

Last night I started to think that survival might be a possibility.  My fever broke…and returned…repeatedly.  I lost count.  The congestion started to clear.  I was coughing.  A lot. I decided to try  spending the night in the recliner so that hubby might sleep.  Someone needed to.

As always the ever faithful Matilda, the basset was by my side.  Sleeping is her best thing. She only does three things well:  sleeping, running away during walks to make new best friends and eating.

She does other things.

No.  She doesn’t really do anything else.  Just the three things.

That’s really all she does unless you count whining and baying at 4:30 every afternoon because she’s ready to go on a walk.  I don’t really count it as a separate activity because she only does it so she can go on a walk and run away.  It’s an essential component of activity number two.  Not a separate activity at all.

Anyway, last night I carried (lugged) her to the recliner and we both kind of fell into place. She’s a pretty hefty chunk of dog.  That’s a result of activity number three which includes the sub-component of stealing every possible bit of human food that she can gain access to and she has miraculous skills for a dog of her height and breadth.

Where was I?

Oh yea, she landed in place right beside me.  I must have dozed off for a bit because when I woke up I was perched on my side on the arm of the recliner.  One leg was thrown over onto the sofa next to the recliner.  Matilda the basset was snoring loudly and contentedly on the other 98% of the chair.  She also had all of my Very Hungry Caterpillar comforter.  Life can be unfair at times.  Unless you are Matilda.  She seems to have very few problems at all as far as I can tell.

There wasn’t really a reasonable way to get out of the position I was in.  If I rolled forward I would end up on the floor.  Well, the top half of me would have hit the floor.  The brain part, mainly.  That seemed a bad idea. I couldn’t get up because I couldn’t get a foot on the floor.  I tried rolling back into the chair, but Matilda didn’t wake up enough to move.  Or maybe she woke up enough and it just didn’t seem to be her problem.

I’m betting on the latter. That’s probably why I like her so much.  She’s very confident about her own self-worth.  She just assumes that she’s worthy of love.  She doesn’t try to be anything other than what she is.  She’s a Basset hound.  She doesn’t try to be a normal dog and bother with silly things like fetching a stick or paying any attention at all to you when you call her.  She doesn’t try to be a watchdog and guard and protect our home.  She does no tricks to try and please you.  She is who she is.  She sleeps with me every night. She is loyal – as long as no one within her hearing range opens a Cheetos bag.  This would include most of the subdivision.  Distinguishing the sound of a Cheetos bag must be something only a Basset can do.  All chip bags sound pretty much the same to me.  Other than Cheetos, I’m pretty much her favorite thing.  That’s okay.  We all have our price.

We are friends.

We accept each other’s faults.

We like each most of the time.

Sometimes we disagree.

We aren’t mean to each other (on purpose).

Sometimes we screw up (she steals my food and I get mad at her).

We work it out.

I finally wiggled back into my 30% of the chair.  She protested…a lot.  We worked it out. She kept the blanket.

I couldn’t get to sleep for a while.  I started thinking about friendship.

I thought a lot about friendship.  The friendships I’ve had.  And the ones I haven’t.  There were a lot of revelations, realizations, aha moments…  It turned out to be a pretty good therapy session.  I cried.  A lot.

I think I’ll share…

in a couple of days.

For now, let’s start with…

Friends are important.

I’m not really very good at friendship sometimes.

And sometimes I don’t believe that I am deserving of friendship…of love.

This all probably causes a goodly amount of stress.

But, things can change.

I can change.

Life can be better.

Peace

 

Reality Check

So….what’s been happening since my last post?  Too much it seems.  And that’s not a new situation.  It seems that my body is sending me a reality check…via my eyesight.

And that has certainly caught my attention.

Here’s what’s been happening.

It all started mid-summer.  Remember mid-summer around here?  It’s okay if you don’t.  I can barely remember most of it and I was the one living it…a short re-cap:

Two of my oldest kids moved out on their own.  We were preparing to enroll our youngest in private school (after homeschooling all of our kids for the last 20 something years).  My sister had surgery that turned into a medical disaster of long-term duration.  We were in the middle of numerous renovation and just plain fix-it projects around the house.  We were caring for a seriously ill dog.

Am I forgetting anything?

Probably.

Let’s just say that I was feeling pretty stressed.

I noticed that I wasn’t seeing very well.  I figured that my eyeglass prescription had changed.  I was really busy.  I put off going into the optometrist.  Things didn’t get better.  I started moving my glasses to the top of my head and doing everything up close.  I started watching television without my glasses.  With my eyesight, that means I was listening to the t.v. and not actually watching it.  I started having headaches.  Driving at night was almost impossible.  I started avoiding the computer…important stuff like email and the budget.

I lived with it.  I pretended that everything was fine.  I didn’t really tell anyone. That’s what a “good” mom, wife, person does.  We soldier on.  That’s what I was raised to do.

At the end of December, my husband and kids dragged me to the eye doctor to get my new glasses.

During the exam (which I failed miserably) the doctor commented that my script hadn’t changed all that much.

Hmmm.

Interesting – since I can’t see much of anything…everything’s blurry.

We ran through the test again.

And that’s when I noticed it.

I was trying to read the whole line of letters.  And I couldn’t.  When I tried to focus on one letter at a time, they were going in and out of focus…rapidly.

When I mentioned it, the doctor said “hmmm”.  It’s one thing for me to say “hmmm”.  It’s another thing altogether for the doctor to say it.

Long story short (too late, I know!) it’s not my eyes at all.  It’s my brain.  I’m now seeing a neuro-developmental optometrist.  And having Neuro-Visual therapy.

I’m a reasonably smart person.

I don’t know crap about any of this.

Yet.

I’m learning.

There’s a lot of big words.

Basically, I’m stressed. Not “normal person I need a spa day” stressed.  I am apparently in constant “flight” as in the fight or flight thing.  I’ve heard references to this before from a psychiatrist when we were figuring out whether I was depressed or anxious (or both).  That’s why I take an anti-anxiety med.

I’ve lived with this for a while.

I write about it here.  I’m trying to live a more intentional life. I’m looking for joy.  I’m decluttering crap.  I’ve been working on it…I really have.

Apparently, I’m not doing enough.  Or I’m not doing it right.  Or….I don’t know right now.

I do know that this has all gotten my attention.  We talk about stress.  I know stress is bad.  I know it.  But I didn’t really know.

I knew that stress could cause problems physically.

I knew that it could happen…someday.

But this is scary stuff…right here and right now.

My body is tired and running too fast and things aren’t working right.

Right now, we are at a fixable point.

So, it turns out that my new slogans for the new year were spot on.

Rethink…

Reimagine…

Reflect…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sun Came Up

The sun did come up to day.  It’s not shining brightly, but it’s there.  I am grateful.  I can’t say that I spent any amount of time as I went to bed last night worrying about whether the sun would rise or not.   It’s just not helpful for me to worry about stuff that’s out of my control.  There is nothing I can do to assure that the sunrise will occur.  I’m just grateful that is has so far.  And optimistic enough to plan on it happening again tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not doing “enough” to make the world a better place.  I admire a number of people that I believe are doing a great job of it.  I try to emulate some of their behavior.  I’m sure that I fall short.

I think a lot about what I am doing and what I should be doing. I worry about being “enough” and doing “enough”.

Is it selfish of me to buy a new art journal or should I donate the funds to the local food bank?

Do I need a new pair of shoes when there are people in the world doing without?

Is it right to complain when my air-conditioning goes out when much of the world will never even have that luxury?

Am I a horrible person to be resentful at times when I feel that I have less than someone else…or turn a blind eye to the fact that I have so much more than many?

There is much wrong in this world.  That has always been the case.  It would be easy to fall into the pattern of just not caring at all.  To turn a blind eye to all of it. To give up, or not to try at all because it seems hopeless.

To be sure, there are many problems to be solved.  I think that it is unlikely that we, as members of the human race, can easily even identify what all of the problems are, much less prioritize and figure out how to solve them.  It’s just not that simple.

I’m a reasonably intelligent and fairly well educated individual.  This all makes my head and heart ache.

There is so much anger and hurt in this country right now. So much name-calling and hurtful rhetoric.  So much reactionary thinking and actions.

We are all affected.

“Win” and “Lose” are inadequate words to use in this situation.  They don’t appropriately describe anything about this situation at all.  Nothing is finished.  The work is not beginning or ending…it is continuing.  It’s not a race in a straight line and not really a race at all.  I don’t expect a finish line to be crossed in my lifetime or that of my children.

The race we should be concerning ourselves with is the human race.  The people that we know, those we have yet to meet and those that will remain strangers to us.

To acknowledge that one groups’ fears, anxieties and needs cannot take priority over another..  That we all have value and are important.

We must all dream of and work towards a better world…a world where me must do the work we are called to do.

We must all live in this world…the world that the sun rose upon today.

We must do this together in our own small or large way.

We must be thoughtful and kind.

There is not just an “us” and a “them”.  That is divisive thinking.

There is me and you.

With a big job to do.

I don’t have any glib answer.

If only it were that easy.

I do know that my thoughts and study in the upcoming days will be about the definition and meaning of words like “rights” and “needs”.

What are my rights?  What are our rights?

What do I need?

What happens when my perceived rights infringe upon the rights of others?

What is fair in that case?

How often do I take someone else’s word for what is right and fair and just?

 

Am I sensitive to the needs of others and what impact my choices and decisions have upon them?

Am I being selfish or uncaring, or am I standing up for what is good and just and fair – for myself and for others?  Where is that line, and is is static or fluid?

For now, I am going to talk to my daughter about what is going on in this country today for just a little bit and then…

we are going to get back to work doing the things we need to do in anticipation of tomorrow’s sunrise.