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.

 

 

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…

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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!

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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.

The Research

After I got out of the hospital this last time (a second round of multiple hernias and intestinal obstructions plus diverticulitis), I took quite a while to recover enough for everything to return to normal. I quit eating meat because that seemed to be stressful for my digestive system and I was struggling with a loss of appetite.  I wanted to (and needed to) lose weight, but I knew that not eating wasn’t a good option.

I found that I didn’t miss meat all that much…except for maybe bacon.

I didn’t set out to become a vegetarian.  I definitely didn’t plan on becoming a vegan.  I didn’t even know what the term “whole food, plant based diet” meant.

It just sort of started and didn’t stop.

Then one night when hubby was working late and I couldn’t find anything good to watch on Netflix, I happened upon the documentary section and started browsing…

I don’t remember which one I watched first, but here’s a list of what I’ve watched so far:

  • Forks over Knives
  • What the Health
  • Sustainable
  • In Defense of Food
  • Plant Pure Nation
  • Food Choices
  • Food, Inc.
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 1 & 2
  • Fed Up
  • Super Size Me
  • Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue

Most of these were watched while walking on the treadmill.  I found them to be very motivational!

Some of them seemed a wee bit crazy at first.  A very radical step away from cultural norms.  A lot of that seems more normal now that I’ve embraced this journey.  Some of them are still too crazy for me.

I’m also currently reading (and using recipes from):

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I’ve noticed some benefits other than health related ones so far…

Dishes are much easier when you aren’t cooking with animal based products and extra oils!  They pretty much just rinse clean.

The chickens and rabbit are very happy and well fed and the compost pile is filling up nicely.

And the amount of trash we are producing is significantly less.  We are recycling more efficiently and there is little that actually goes to waste.

Grocery shopping was harder the first couple of times we went after starting this.  Label reading took on a whole new meaning and many previously favorite items were reluctantly placed back on the shelf.  Then it became a sort of treasure hunt as we would read labels in the store and joyfully shout out, “We can eat this!” or “I found something!”.

Even though we thought we were pretty savvy shoppers, I was totally caught off guard at the amount of sugar (in various forms) that can be found in almost everything!  And how many ingredients does it really take to make bread, cereal or salad dressing?

Now the majority of our shopping is done in the produce section.  We shop for a rainbow of colors and I know words like phytochemicals and lycopene.

Our spice collection is growing beyond salt, pepper and garlic.  We still don’t like curry, but we’ll try it again at some point because our taste buds are slowly reawakening to natural flavors.  Smoothies with just fruit now taste too sweet to me and are reserved for dessert status.  Our added salt intake is greatly reduced.

I miss butter…on toast and potatoes and well, everything.  But, I don’t miss it as much as I did three weeks ago.  I’m sure my arteries don’t miss it at all.

This is challenging.

And interesting.

I think my mind is starting to wake up a bit as I pursue more knowledge about my food, my body and my health.

Good food for the body and the mind.

Steps in the right direction on this journey…

Surf’s Up

Today is a good day.

I voted.

And that’s pretty much all I’m going to say on the subject.  Except maybe, that I’m glad this election season is over.  I’ve grown weary of the anger, rhetoric and fear.  Of the voices growing louder and louder as they attempt to convince themselves and others that their choice is the correct one.  Of friends that I know to be kind and good people posting things on social media that they (in normal times) would never dream of saying face to face with a real human being.

I will not be spending the day anxiously watching the news to see what’s happening.  I will not join in the media circus that has fueled so much hate, divisiveness, and frenzy.  The votes will be counted, the decisions made, and pretty much no one will be happy with the outcome.

Life will go on.

Life today will consist of a visit to the local library and we might even get a few book that are “educational”.  We will certainly get a huge stack of lovely picture books far below our actual “reading level”.  Youngest daughter and I will snuggle on the couch and pretend it’s a blustery fall day and share some stories.  We have at least turned off the air-conditioner for the first time this season.  It is November, right?

We will continue to shred cardboard and paper for use in our chicken yard.  We have quite a pile to work through. Our chickens do such a lovely job of composting it for us.  We are still far from a zero-waste home, but we are trying.  Recycling is a challenge because we don’t have curb-side service.  We have to haul it quite a distance away.  Mainly, we’re trying to focus on not bringing in things that we can’t reuse or recycle easily.

We will be especially aware of Barret the dog’s behavior today.  He just completed his third round of steroids for his meningitis.  The last two times he completed his medication, he fell ill almost immediately.  We’re experimenting with immuno-suppressants now to try and care for him.  He is the biggest, goofiest, clumsiest mess ever.  He has grown huge.  The shelter definitely missed the call when they claimed he was two years old.  They missed a lot of things – including that he was seriously ill.  Now we are “emotionally invested” in the big mutt.

The move into my new studio is almost complete.  I’ll spend some time moving things and finding the right place for everything today.

I guess I haven’t actually shared that news with you.  With only one kiddo left at home full-time, we’ve found that we have more than enough space and have spent some time envisioning what we might do with it all.  We have a huge room at one end that is going to become a small “apartment”.  We’re moving the classroom and studio space out of it and into the two extra bedrooms.  We lucked into a great deal on appliances from an apartment complex that was upgrading – a Whirlpool stove, fridge, dishwasher and microwave in excellent condition for $100 total.  The space will have a small kitchen, bathroom, living area and it’s own outside access.  When it’s complete we will have a space for family members in transition and friends in need.  It’s one of those ideas that just came together as if it was meant to be…I’m very excited about it!

The annual pre-holiday decluttering activities look a little different this year.  So much has been decluttered in years past, that it’s challenging to find much to box-up. Nevertheless, a box is ready in the hallway as we work on tidying up and preparing for the holidays.  This season we are focusing more on better organizing our belongings and finding suitable storage for what we have.  It doesn’t matter how much stuff you have if you don’t ever put anything back where it belongs!  I am so guilty of that.  Piles of stuff everywhere!

Today is a good day.

A day in a free country with the right to cast my vote.

A day in a home that I can organize, tidy-up and share.

A day with family that I love and that love me.

A day to jump in the water and enjoy the waves…

Not Looking Hard Enough

Some days it’s easier to live in gratitude than others. As someone who can all too easily free-fall into anxiety and depression, I’m concentrating more and more on living in gratitude.  It’s one of my most intentional of intentional living goals.

Today would be an easy day to just give into the sadness, gloom, depression, anxiety, worry, and every other conceivable dark and sorrowful emotion that exists.  I’m not going to do that.

I’m not denying the negative things that have happened and are happening today.  I can grieve and feel sad.  It’s just not going to be my whole focus.

Amongst all the stuff that’s happening in the world, life goes on.  Good stuff happens.  Bad stuff happens.  We laugh.  We cry.  We play.  We work.  We rest.

My small, little life continues…sometimes parallel to the lives of others and sometimes complexly intertwined.

Some days it’s really difficult to find something to be grateful for.  In some ways it feels callous to seek out joy when others are suffering so greatly.  The truth is that suffering is with us always whether it makes the news or not.

Seeking joy is an act of faith…a defiant action in the face of violence and hatred.

I believe in mankind.  I believe in peace.  I believe in goodness.  I believe that good people are behaving in kind ways as we speak.  I believe that good wins.

And so, I am grateful for little things.

I am thankful that, although we only have air-conditioning in two rooms of our house and it’s really hot today, someone has offered us a free window unit to help out.  And grateful for a relatively small electric bill that is helping balance the budget this month (as a result of not having central air).

I’m grateful for two paid-for cars that started today when we needed them too.  And hopeful that tomorrow they will do the same.

I’m grateful that my family is healthy and that we are not dealing with serious illness as so many I know are.

I am thankful for a full refrigerator, a new washing machine, a bed to sleep in, and a roof over my head.

I am grateful that I have not seen a snake today.

I am thankful for the chickens that are running around my yard eating insects and providing us with fresh eggs.

Right at this moment, I am grateful for a husband who graciously volunteered to clean up the mess from a beer that exploded in our kitchen because it is so hot in here.  That way, I can continue to write this post.

I am grateful that our family has a plan for a better future as a result of a budget that gives us hope to be out of debt (except for the mortgage)in about two years.  I can’t plan an awesome vacation right now.  We don’t have a pool.  I’m hot. But, I have hope that things will get better.  So many folks don’t have hope.

I’m finding that if compare my life to others and find my life lacking, I’m not looking in the right place.  That’s a choice I’m making.  I can look around me and see what I don’t have or look somewhere else and see that I am lucky and blessed.

I am lucky and blessed.  I have choices and options and hope.

My hope for you today is that you can find something to be grateful for and find peace.

0612161940aDecluttered today:

  1. the equipment for Direct TV – we are finally out from under our contract.  YEA!
  2. a box of old records
  3. 5 empty bottles of shampoo and soap from the shower – how did I not see these before?
  4. an old camera and case
  5. another stack of cut-up magazines

 

Alliteration is Good…unless it’s Saturday’s Snake

We’ve had a very wet spring season following an unusually warm winter.  As a result, the news has been full of dire snake warnings and reports of snakes in homes.  Ugh.

Kind of everyone’s worst nightmare unless you are one of those weird people who like snakes.  Some reptiles are okay – even interesting – from a distance.  One or two are even okay up close.  Snakes are horrible.  I’m not going to apologize or try to understand snake lovers, at all.  I understand, intellectually, the necessity of snakes in the whole ecosystem thing.  I don’t want to exist peaceably with them.  I want them to live somewhere else.  If they venture into my world…they will die.  They have their space – somewhere else.  I have mine.  I really, really, really don’t like snakes.

Last night, when my youngest went out to lock the chicken house, she heard a rustling in the leaves and saw a snake.  With relative calm, she came to let me know.  I encouraged her (shrieking) to go tell her Dad.  There are, after all, women’s jobs and men’s jobs.  Snakes – definitely man work.

Husband deftly shot the head right off of that 5+ foot rat snake.  End of story, right?

Tonight, youngest daughter quietly suggested that it might be my turn to shut up the chickens.  Sure, no problem.  Son bravely volunteered to accompany me armed with his sword:  A Dunedain chieftain’s longsword that was used by Aragon.  Not the actual sword, but a replica.  Inwardly I was laughing at him.  As I was locking up the chickens, he asked why we had left the snake in the netting surrounding the chicken yard.

I replied that the snake had been thrown way across the yard to be part of the ecosystem – to be eaten by some kind of predator farther up the food chain.

He replied that this had obviously not happened as the snake was right there in front of him.

Sure enough, there was another snake.

Oldest daughter comes to the rescue with the shotgun.  Son and oldest daughter argue over who will shoot the snake.  I will spare you the ensuing lengthy discussion (argument) between siblings.  Oldest daughter shoots snake with the double barrel shotgun.  Son claims she missed and she claims she winged him.  To be fair, the snake had a very small head.  It was dark.  It is unclear whether she mortally wounded the snake.  Son hacked at the snake’s head with his sword.  Son’s friend removed the snake’s head with a bowie knife.  I’m pretty sure the snake was dead at that point.

During this process, I have called husband at work.  He is listening to the play-by-play commentary by youngest daughter as she sits in the house watching through the window.

He repeatedly asks what kind of snake it is.  It was hard to tell at this point.  Remember, it was dark outside and the snake was not in one piece anymore.  Closer examination of the corpse revealed it to be another rat snake.

A cleansing ceremony with fire has completed the evenings’ events.  The snake has been doused with lighter fluid, cremated and finished off with a fire extinguisher.

Oldest daughter is online looking for ways to discourage snakes from taking up residence around here.  A brainstorming session came up with numerous possible solutions including ordering mongoose urine online.  I’m encouraging further research.

Decluttered today:

  1. a snake
  2. more construction left-overs
  3. a shirt
  4. a pile of cardboard boxes saved for some unknown future use
  5. a bowl

When Goodbye isn’t Simple (and probably should be)

I said goodbye to my little earthworm friends today.  For those of you who are new to my blog you can read about them here:

https://faithacrestudio.com/2015/05/21/lets-do-this/

or for the short version – I had an earthworm farm.

When we started working on the kitchen, the worm bucket moved to the living room.  Today, as I tripped over it (again), it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember feeding them recently.  Please don’t report me to the SPCA…they are fine.  Quite content as far as I can tell – busily breaking down newspaper, eating worm slaw, pooping castings and thinking earthworm thoughts (whatever those might be).

My thought process went something like this:

  • I have earthworms in my living room.
  • I’m okay with that.
  • But, I’m forgetting to feed them regularly.
  • I don’t have a garden.
  • I’d like to have a garden.
  • If I did have a garden, it would be rotting from all the rain.  And the drought will return like normal eventually.
  • This is not the year that I’m going to garden.  It’s too late to plant and the beds aren’t ready.  Realistically, gardening is not a good idea this year.
  • Why do I have earthworms then?
  • They were great to have last year when our home school group planted a butterfly garden at the library.  They enriched the beds and the kids thought they were fun (and educational).  That was good.
  • They are in the living room and I am tripping on them.
  • I really enjoyed them and even wrote a post about them.
  • Hmmm.  “Enjoyed”  I didn’t say I enjoy them.  I used the past tense.  Maybe it’s time to let them go.
  • The chickens would enjoy some for lunch.
  • Ewww.  That would be cruel. Well, not really – the whole cycle of life thing.  I could set them free where the chickens would have to hunt them down.  Give the worms a fighting (or digging) chance.
  • Maybe I should just move them to the corner until I make a decision.
  • Having earthworms was fun.
  • Maybe I should make a decision.
  • I could always get more earthworms if I let them go and realize that I’ve given away an important piece of my life.
  • They aren’t really gone if I set them free.  Earthworms deserve to be free out in the big wide world.
  • Unless they get eaten by chickens.
  • “Normal” people don’t have this much trouble making a freakin’ decision.
  • “Normal” people probably don’t have earthworms in their living room.
  • What is normal anyway?
  • Set the earthworms free, already.
  • Sigh.  Sometimes I can be a real idiot.  All this for a bucket of earthworms.  Why do I make life so hard?

This type of conversation happens more often than I’m comfortable with sharing.  I’m sharing anyway (obviously).  I suspect that I’m not the only one with this problem.

For the record, I feel relieved that the earthworm bucket is no longer in the living room.  I don’t think it was the earthworms that I was having trouble letting go of.  If we want to get all psychological about it, I’m probably having trouble letting go of what the earthworms represented for me…

A bountiful garden that nourished my family.  A beautiful and orderly vegetable patch that was bursting with produce thriving on hand-made trellises.  Not a weed in sight.  Organic of course.

Lush flowering plants growing in abundance in the front yard.  The envy of all the neighbors as they cruise our cul-de-sac and see the “Yard of the Month” sign.

Stop!  That sounds like an issue of Country Living magazine.  Perhaps I’m being unrealistic – say it isn’t so!

That’s a lot to expect from a bucket of earthworms.  They are better off now that I set them free!  How could they live up to those expectations?

Holy crap!  How can I live up to those expectations?

The only place that grass will grow in my yard is in the flower bed.  You can’t argue with Bermuda grass – it grows where it wants and can’t be stopped.  It likes my flower bed.  I quit arguing with it years ago.   I have weeds and fire ants and some junk that I’m working on getting rid of.  With all the rain we’ve had, we’re barely keeping the grass mowed.

Gardens are a dream – a good dream, but a dream nonetheless.  It will happen eventually, but in a more realistic version.  I’m working on it.

But first things first.  I decluttered the earthworms.   I made a decision.

One step at a time….

 

 

 

 

Sherlock vs. Houdini(s)

Around here I like to call our chickens the Houdini’s because they are master escape artists.  They have a lovely (in my opinion) coop and a spacious run under an old oak tree – lots of shade and leaves to scratch through.  They are fed a good quality chicken food, have plenty of water, get scratch grain for fun and all of our kitchen scraps are sent their way.  Pretty nice life if I do say so myself.

They however, suffer from a bit of the wanderlust, and regularly escape from their habitat.  All of the time.  I’ll go out and they’ll obediently follow back home into their yard and then will be out again before I can close the front door.  Wire, netting, you name it – we can’t keep them in.  Hence, the name “Houdini’s”

We have 13 hens that have all reached laying age in the last month or so, but we were only getting a couple of eggs a day.  I refuse to buy eggs that aren’t from free-range chickens so it gets expensive to buy eggs.  Plus, I’m buying chicken feed and it only seems fair that I would get some eggs in return.  Right?

We knew they were laying somewhere, but couldn’t find the missing eggs.  We have almost two acres and a lot of it has been left in it’s wild, uncultivated state (tall grass, cedar trees and loads of spiky, thorny brushy stuff).  Habitat that’s perfect for chickens, but damn near impossible for humans to trek through.

Finally, my husband, who shall now be known as Sherlock, found the eggs!

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We left a few of them there so the hens wouldn’t find a safer nesting spot and marked the ones we left with an “X” so we didn’t accidently crack a rotten one.

Mystery solved.  Now all we have to do is figure out how to keep them safely locked up!

 

Spring?

There are signs all around Faith Acre that indicate spring is imminent…except for today’s weather.  It is rainy and icky and cool.  I’m not complaining.  We need all the rain we can get to make it through our dry, hot summer. Cool weather is definitely better than cold or hot.  It’s just the kind of weather that makes me want to take a nap.  Well, honestly, I can pretty much be in the mood to take a nap no matter what the weather, but you know what I mean.

Nonetheless, I know that spring is here for two reasons. First of all – remember last year when the bird tried to move inside the house? https://wordpress.com/post/faithacrestudio.com/461

Well, he’s back.  Maybe not the same bird.  It’s hard to tell.  They all look alike to me.  Building in the same spots as last year – above the kitchen cabinet and the ceiling fan light fixture in the dining room.  I cleaned the nests out this morning.  They are being rebuilt this afternoon.  I’ve closed the door.  I’m letting the dogs in and out every five seconds.  Maybe every five minutes.  A whole, freaking lot anyway.  Definitely doing a doggy door this year.  Of course, I’m not sure that the bird won’t figure out how to use the doggy door before my dogs do.  They’re not the brightest pups in the pack.  I know the raccoons, possums and field mice will figure it out.  Maybe letting the bird live inside is the best option.

And last night we forgot to lock the chickens up in their coop at dusk.  The ladies go into the coop on their own, but we’ve still got to secure the door to keep them safe from predators.  We got home around nine and there was one of the chickens running around the front yard braving the dark and stormy night.

When we headed towards the chicken yard, she followed close behind vocally letting us know that we had failed at being competent poultry farmers.  As we approached the yard, it became evident that something was amiss.  The other 12 hens were running around flapping their wings and generally raising a ruckus.  When my daughter pointed the flashlight into the coop we saw a pair of glowing eyes.  A very pregnant possum had taken up residence in the dry shelter of the chicken coop.  She was reluctant to leave.  My oldest daughter tried to shoo her out.  She hissed.  I suggested that she push her out.

I received the “glare of death”.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The one that daughters learn about the time they turn 11 or 12.  The one that silently says that you are quite possibly the stupidest thing that manages to survive on the planet.

“You want me to poke the possum?”

“Well, yea.  She doesn’t seem to be listening to you when you tell her to get out.”

“You want me to poke the hissing possum?”

“Yes.”

“You want me to poke the hissing, possibly rabid, sharp-toothed possum?”

“Maybe you could use a stick.  Possums are almost blind.  She can’t see you to bite you.”

This went on for a while as we stood in the pouring rain.  Finally, the possum was removed from the coop.  The chickens were placed in the coop. They weren’t excited about it.  We put one in and two came out.  They didn’t like the smell of the possum.  Forty-five minutes later the job was complete.

I wonder how many babies that possum is going to birth?