Keep Life Simple

What the hell does that even mean?

I wish I had an answer or some profound advice to share with you.

I don’t.

What I do have is my stories and maybe that can help…

I’ve been writing for quite some time about my desire for a simpler, more intentional life.

I think I may have even written that exact sentence before.

Today, I am frustrated…

that the house is still a mess

that we are still in debt and struggling

that I always seem to have something to worry about

and that I seem to be making no progress towards my goal.

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And yet, as I look back over this year’s posts at this (almost) mid-point of the year, I realize that I have done a pretty good job of sticking with my “motto” –  being grateful and letting go.

I have become better about experiencing gratitude in the midst of life…even when it wasn’t easy.   I am more grateful for what I have and more patient with dealing with the challenges than I used to be.

(most of the time)

I’m still not grateful for dog hair…lots and lots of dog hair.

I am grateful for my dogs (again, most of the time)

I am grateful that my dogs are not bald…that they have hair, but once it comes off of them…

Not grateful (at all).

I suppose if I took up spinning yarn I could use the damn stuff, but I suspect the fibers are too short and then what the hell would I do with the stupid dog hair yarn?  I don’t knit or crochet and I sure don’t need any more projects…

Nope, not grateful for dog hair.

Maybe that gratitude will come with more practice.

I sincerely doubt it though.

And, as far as the house goes, I am still decluttering.

Sometimes, despite my best intentions, too much comes in.

But, I haven’t give up (totally).

Some days (weeks) I don’t even try.

But, some days I do a lot.

If I wasn’t decluttering at all, what a mess it would be!

Again, the journey continues.

I’m not standing still.

Although I’m doing a better job of resting when I need to.

So, it turns out that I needn’t be so frustrated today.

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I’m doing an okay job of moving forward on this journey and letting go of that which is heavy and for that…

I am grateful.

Peace

 

 

 

 

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.

All Shall Be Well

All in all, this has been a successful week.  It’s necessary to look back on it as a whole though.  Picking it apart makes it possible to focus on what didn’t work…and more things worked out than not.

I have followed through with my plan to eat a more healthy diet overall this week.  Lots of veggies and fruits and whole grains.  More plant based protein and less meat.  Cutting out sugar and anything overly processed.  My neighbor did make us a deliciously awesome, totally homemade, absolutely decadent cake this week.  I may have had more than one piece.  She is the best cook ever and does everything from scratch.  And the cake had fruit in it and maybe some carrots, and nuts…so it wasn’t a total oops.

This is lunch.

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Ummm.  I have to say the picture on the box looks better than the food in the bowl and it smells a little funky, but it tastes ok.  It’s not a Sonic cheeseburger or a chopped bbq baked potato from Smokey-Mo’s, but I am learning to like it.  There are some good flavors in there.  Old habits are hard to break.  And I was drinking a big glass of ice water with it, but I set it down somewhere and now I can’t find it.  Sigh.

The decluttering effort is back underway.  This all went to the thrift store yesterday.

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Most of it is from my youngest daughter’s room.  She is growing up and parted with quite a few of the formerly cherished toys from the back of her closet.  I had more problems with it than she did.  When I asked her if she was sure about such a drastic purge she replied, “Mom, some little girl is going to have so much fun when she finds this stuff at the thrift store.”  True words and ones that I will replay in my head as I tackle my stuff.

Speedy, the dog is recovering from his back injury.  It only cost $200 (sarcasm intended here) and he is almost back to his old (slightly annoying) self.  He is not yet following my every footstep, but he does manage to whine when I move out of his line of vision.  He has a lesion on his spine and is basically “a ticking time bomb” according to the vet.  Bassets are prone to back problems so we will just make sure his remaining time is good and take each day as it comes.

The rental car is being returned today although we haven’t actually gotten a check from the insurance company.  I’m not sure what they think we are supposed to drive while we wait for dispensation, but I guess it’s not their problem…in their opinion.  We do have my sister’s car to use, but one car for 3 drivers who all have different schedules is not fun.  We can make it work, but it’s still extremely frustrating.

I am still making paper and having a lot of fun doing it.  It’s become my “go to” thing when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life.  This is just part of what I’ve created so far.

 

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Some ideas for using it in projects are percolating, but real life is taking a lot of time and there hasn’t been much left over for artistic pursuits.

I haven’t heard from my son in over two weeks.  Last time I talked to him he was still in the hospital.  He said the medical discharge from basic training could take up to a month. I’m assuming that he is doing okay.  It’s hard not to know what’s going on.

I keep telling myself to be patient.

Things will work out.

The healthier diet and regular exercise will improve my health and the way I feel in noticeable ways.

The house will become even less cluttered and easier to manage (and maybe I’ll find my missing glass of water).

The vehicle situation will work out even though it seems hopeless right now.

There will once again be time for art and creativity.

And all the other realities that are crowding in and making things challenging will be dealt with and resolved…

some to my satisfaction and some in ways that I will learn to deal with.

Patience brings peace

and peace births happiness

and happiness brings joy…

and none of it comes easy, but it is doable.

Life is good and all shall be well.

 

 

But wait, there’s more…

When I wrote last Monday, I was coming to terms with life.  I was looking on the bright side.  I was maintaining a positive attitude.

Everything is going to be fine.  Tough times come and they go.  Life is still good.

By Tuesday, I was even making a gratitude list.  I managed about 20 things on that list without getting too trite.  Good health for my family and reliable(ish) transportation that didn’t require a monthly car payment in our extended budget were on that list.

Have I give away too much information?

Can you guess what the rest of the story might be about?

Tuesday night my husband jumped in his truck and my youngest and I jumped in our car (that really belongs to my sister, but she lets us use) and headed off to clean the offices that provide a bit of extra income.

We got the job done and bid adieu to my husband as he set off for work.  Youngest daughter and I headed home.  Five minutes later, I got a phone call as I was sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to change.

It was my husband.  Turns out that as he was sitting at the intersection of Hero’s Way and Highway 183A waiting for his light to turn from red to green there was a horrible accident.  And he was part of it.

A car coming up to the light on the opposite side of the intersection failed to stop at the red light.  She was going pretty fast.  The truck moving through the intersection at 65 plus mph swerved to miss her.  Hit her anyway, went airborne taking out all the signs at the intersection and bouncing off of the hood of my husband’s truck slamming it against the curb and traveling on.

My husband said all he saw when he looked out the window was a truck flying through the air and then his head hitting the inside frame of the window.

Did I mention that my husband has had a previous broken neck and that his neck is fused solid?

He’s okay except for some neck pain.  We’ve visited the doctor and physical therapy is in the works.

Four or five feet further back and the impact of that truck would have been fully on the passenger cab of our truck.

My husband was lucky and blessed and so are we.  That’s the bright side.

The down side.  There is no doubt that our truck is totaled.   The front passenger side tire is somewhere in the middle of where the engine used to be.  It’s a really big paper weight.

The driver that caused the accident had the least amount of insurance to meet the requirements of Texas law.  Her car is probably totaled from what I saw.  The other (much newer) truck is totaled also.  The truck’s passengers were transported by ambulance.  I doubt that there will be any payouts by the time it comes to our turn.

Luckily, we have underinsured driver insurance.  That will help.  The blue book on our truck isn’t much, but it meant the world to us in terms of financial life.

What next?  It’s up to the lawyers at this point.

And the doctors if my husband’s neck injury turns out to be something more serious.

Time will tell.

Nothing serious went wrong on Wednesday and Thursday.

Let’s all breath a sigh of relief.

Oh, wait…the week isn’t over.

Remember Speedy the basset hound?  The nine year old that (for some crazy reason) I adopted because he was surrendered to the pound because his family didn’t want him anymore?  The one that had surgery for the anal tumor.  The one that is incontinent because of said surgery. The really annoying one that follows me everywhere (and I mean everywhere).  The one that needs so much attention that if I won’t pet him, he will simply stand by my chair and rub his own head against my foot.  Yes, that dog.

This morning he woke up and is having trouble walking and whimpering.  It’s probably a spinal problem.  That’s common among older bassets.  He’s on pain meds for now and will go in to the vet on Monday for x-rays.  Then I get to make that decision.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The how much can we afford to spend decision.  The one where you get to place a value on a life…

Other things are sorting themselves out well enough.  Not ideally, but they involve the situations that caused me to invoke the Serenity prayer on Monday.  All I can do is aim for peace and make the best of whatever happens.

…because it is my circus and they are my monkeys.

And all shall be well.

 

 

Another Monday

Monday.  The first day of another working week.  A fresh start.  A new day.

Today, I am battling the effects of a couple of new medications.  All I want to do is sleep.

This could be a side effect that will eventually go away or it could be a sign that the new anti-anxiety med is working and I just need to adjust to not being in a perpetual state of anxiety.  This feeling could actually be “normal”.   Maybe I’m just relaxed.  It feels like I’m moving in slow motion.  When you’re not “normal”, it’s hard to know.  I guess time will tell.

I do know that the words are not flowing well today.  That could be the meds or it could mean that there just nothing much interesting to write about.  I am working on developing better habits though, so I think I shall write anyway. If I miss one day, it tends to lead to missing two…and then weeks have gone by.

I’m starting to realize that developing those habits and creating a routine is an important part of living an intentional life.  It’s hard to be intentional when there is no plan.  This is an obvious realization, I know…a true slap the forehead, duh moment.  Better late than never, right?  At least I finally figured it out and now I can start applying it to my life.

I’ve “played” with the idea of planning out things before.  I’ve set up cleaning schedules and errand days, and written out menus.  I’ve spent hours on developing the routines and then dedicated about the same amount of hours executing them.  They never became habits.  Just dreams that never became reality.

So, I’m rethinking habits.  And writing down some plans.  And not trying to implement them all at once.

So, today…

There is a plan for maintaining the house so it is more of a home.  Today is “living room day”.  I’m not going to try and clean the whole house and recover from the weekend.  I’m just going to clean the living room.  Then I’ll try to pick up as we go through the week.  And clean it again next Monday.

I’ve spent some time figuring out the mess that is our budget and am almost ready to start paying down the debt again.  Life got so crazy that all I could do was try and keep up with the monthly bills.  Time once again to work on being debt-free.

A huge load of donations is waiting by the door to be delivered to the thrift store tomorrow.  Much of the pile is wedding stuff.  There is a bit of household clutter mixed in. The hallway is passable again!   0227171315

Speedy the dog is not being donated!  Of the four canines, he is the good dog right now.  He just walks around wagging his tail and waiting for someone to pay attention to him.  The only time he barks is when another dog has taken the bed he believes to be his or when he has to wait in line for dinner.

Two projects are active in the studio and two more canvasses have prep coats on them waiting for inspiration.  Making a habit of spending time in the studio is a priority.

 

Just works in progress.  Not very interesting so far.  The textile project gets worked on while watching t.v. My sister comes over several evenings a week and we watch British mysteries.  The canvas is slowly coming to life.  I believe a bird is going into the little box in the lower right corner.  Maybe a window or a door.  Not sure yet.

This week.  A new week.  I’m hoping it will be slow and slightly boring…just building routines and habits.

This month has been full of “firsts”:

  • my first child getting married (which caused all of the following)
  • my first manicure
  • my first time getting my hair “done” (something more than a haircut)
  • my first time having my make-up done (I don’t even own any, not even mascara)
  • my first bra-fitting (that’s actually a funny story for another time)
  • seven trips to the mall (not my first trip, but last time I remember going was almost 9 years ago)

Yep, I think it’s a good week to have a quiet week.  Here’s hoping.

May your week also be filled with only good things!

 

 

 

Advice for What It’s Worth…

There is no such thing as a simple wedding…

Which makes sense because there is no such thing as a simple life (which doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to work towards simplicity…I believe it’s called living in hopefulness)

Simple and small weddings turn into large and complicated weddings because life tends to do the same as we go about living it.

Who to invite, location, decorations, registries, Pinterest don’t get me started on this topic), food, drinks, showers, transportation, and the list goes on and on.

Oh, did I mention the lists?  List after list of things to do and buy and organize and plan for…lots and lots of lists.

And all of this is mixed into a daily life that doesn’t always get the memo that something new is happening.

For what it’s worth, here is some advice based on what I’ve learned from our wedding.

Do not, under any circumstances, spend three weeks out of the month before the wedding with the flu, allergies, another virus and a relapse of the flu.  You will try to soldier on, but end up spending hours in a fog losing every list and forgetting everything that everyone else thinks you are doing.

Being ill will result in you forgetting important things like the fact that people will be staying in your home and will need to eat meals.  The house will not be cleaned and food will not be planned.  Realizing that you forgot this fact just hours before the guests arrive will be a humbling experience to say the least.

Next, do not head out to the non-rehearsal dinner on a limited amount of sleep and leave the wedding cakes securely wrapped in saran-wrap in the center of the very tall kitchen island.

When you return home after a few glasses of wine, you will hear your oldest daughter asking from the kitchen, “Where are the cakes?”

You will answer, “On the kitchen counter wrapped in saran wrap where you left them.”

The cakes will not be there…or anywhere else that you search in your sleep-deprived state.  You will search the oven, the microwave, the top of the closet, the laundry room, the bathroom and other ridiculous places before your husband thinks to go look under the ramp in the back yard.

Sure enough, there you will find the cardboard circles and the saran wrap, but no cakes. Even under intense interrogation, none of the dogs in the house will confess, or even explain, how they gained access to the cakes.

At midnight the night before the wedding, your husband will travel the 45 minutes to and from the grocery store to get more cake mix.

I would like to tell you that it is possible to handle this situation with grace and patience, or even with humor.  I don’t know if it is possible.  I do know that we did not.

And do not waste time lamenting the projects you did not get done.  The signs that were unpainted and the decorations forgotten at the house.  And by the way, no matter how much you plan, your errand runners will make the trip back to the house many, many times.

If you forget the marriage license, for example, someone can always kindly volunteer to run it to the pastor’s house the next week.  Not that I would ever do something like that.

And most importantly, on the day of the wedding, when your daughter walks down the pathway with her beloved, just be in the moment.

Realize how beautiful she is and how happy she looks.

Know that it was all worth it.

And don’t worry about the fact that the Kleenex you are opening and using still has the clearance tag attached to the back of it.

The little stuff doesn’t matter.

It never does.

 

 

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

 

The New Beginning

Well, here is yesterday’s journal page where I began to work out the details of my New Year slogan that  I wrote about yesterday:

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Yep, that didn’t go so well.

Here’s what happened…

In celebration of the success that was our Christmas Day, I decided to take a short nap.

I define success by reaching the conclusion of a big holiday event without verbal disagreements evolving into a physical altercation.

If there is more than one person present in the house during a major holiday, I feel this is a somewhat hopeful goal, but probably doable.

I don’t like to set the bar too high.

I avoid all possible Christmas advertisements featuring magical Christmas festivities or any sappy Christmas movies that feature perfection as their story-line.  I have found that these are not representative of real life.  I personally like Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation.  I believe it to be a realistic goal to strive for.

Anyway, I decided to reward myself with a nap.  That fit within the parameters of my New Year Plan, right?

Taking a nap in this house yesterday was akin to meditating on the Titanic.  It wasn’t a complete waste of time, but it wasn’t very successful either.  Between the telephone calls, the knock on the door, the barking dogs, the dog fight over the plastic container of leftovers stolen from the counter, and the set of cabinet doors that got knocked down during said fight…it took almost 3 hours to get  30 minutes of sleep.

The journal page did not get done.

I did think about it though.

Points for me!

I woke up this morning in a determined and optimistic mood.  Today was a new day.  The journal page beckoned!

Then there was the bad tire on the truck. Oh yea, and the missing key-lock that allows one to access the spare tire on the truck. No access to the spare. Great for theft protection.  Not so great when husband needs to be at work in an hour…and work is 45 minutes away.

And the missing keys to the other car.  They have since been located…in Houston in my daughter’s car.  Not helpful at all.

Today will be a day to be a taxi service.  Unless I can journal while driving, it is unlikely that the page will get done today either.

It’s a good thing that I started my New Year a week early.

At this rate, I just might get started before 2018 arrives.

 

 

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

What a busy week this has been…a sometimes frantic mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The tree is finally up and almost decorated.  The decorations are decorating.  The Christmas cookies have been made and iced.  Two shopping trips are completed.     Now it feels more like Christmas and my youngest daughter is happy.  All good stuff.

I made a run to the thrift store this week and scored the rest of the stuff needed for the wedding table decorations and a couple more table cloths.  I have a plan to piece together vintage tablecloths in a sort of bohemian patchwork thing.  It looks great in my head!  We’ll see how it works out in the real world.  A good thrifting adventure!

While running errands that day, I was thrilled to realize that my jeans were feeling loose.  I was happy to see that my meager efforts to eat less and better, and to walk more were paying off.  Very good news!

That evening as we were getting ready to go out Christmas shopping as a family, my oldest daughter was searching frantically for her jeans. The ones hanging in the bathroom were too small. It turns out that I had put on her jeans by mistake that morning.  Bad news.  No actual weight loss for me.

Still, we had fun shopping and most of my Christmas list is done.  I feel good about the things that I purchased…gifts that will be enjoyed and are needed or wanted.  Even though it feels like I waited until almost the last minute to shop, I don’t feel like I bought just for the sake of buying or spent money carelessly.  A huge improvement over years past.

Barret the dog has been off his 3rd (or 4th)round of steroids for almost a week and is doing well.  That is good.  The meningitis seems to be in remissions or gone or whatever.  He is happy and reasonably healthy and has only knocked over the Christmas tree twice so far.

Speedy the new, old Basset is recovering nicely from his surgery to remove his “anal tumor”.  The vet’s words, not mine.  I prefer to refer to it as a “posterior growth”.  That has been the ugly part of the week…having to look at a dog’s butt a couple of times a day to make sure it is healing properly. It is.  He has settled very well.  He has decided that the Christmas tree skirt is his new bedding and sleeping spot.  We are in negotiations about that.  I doubt that I will win.

Both vehicles are running and nothing new has fallen off, or broken, or quit doing it’s intended job.  We have all gotten where we needed to go – when we needed to be there.  That’s definitely good.

Son’s ankle is not broken.  The orthopedist believes it to be a sprain that will resolve on it’s own…just needs some T.L.C. and time.  It was originally believed to be a much more serious injury…Yea!  Good news.

My moods have been bouncing around between good and bad and everywhere in between.  There have been more than a few moments of feeling like I couldn’t make any progress in getting things done or in getting ready for Christmas.  Feeling discouraged and negative is definitely in the bad category.  I have been trying to make an extra effort to get enough rest and spend at least a short amount of time in my studio each day.

We have filled four bags and another box with stuff to leave the house…trash and thrift store donations.  Good!

The sub-flooring and tile is almost finished in the apartment.  Move-in starts tomorrow.  Then I’ll consolidate all the wedding stuff into the guest room.  That will help with a lot of the piles of stuff all around the house.  It looks like the house will be tidy and ready for the holiday festivities.  Super good!

I am actually looking forward to this weekend.  I’m okay with what hasn’t gotten done.  Christmas isn’t about doing it all.

The tree is up.

The family will be together.

Folks are working Christmas eve, but not Christmas day.

The bank account isn’t overdrawn.  The mortgage is paid. The lights are on.

Everyone is healthy.

Life is good.