Taking a Deep Breath

Mondays.

I don’t know why we make such a big deal of them.  Especially in my case where the majority of my family works in retail so Mondays aren’t the first day after two days off.

Almost every day is a work day for someone in my family.  It is a rarity for us all to have the same day off.

Still, I wake up on Monday with a vague sense of anxiety about all that I need to accomplish, and that needs to be dealt with before it blows up into a disaster…mood wise.

I have a friend who is dealing with Stage 4 colon cancer and is participating in trial treatment at MD Anderson.  She writes every day on her Caring Bridge site.

I take great inspiration from it.  She regularly talks about managing time and energy and the challenges of that for her.  In her previous life she was a very active pastor, activist, writer and just general accomplisher of everything.  She had a journal calendar that was bursting with notes and memos and appointments.  She was a marvel.

She still is.  Just in a different way.

Her musings on making time for what’s important…including rest and walking have made a difference for me this Monday.

I am taking a deep breath to calm the anxiety.

I am making a list of the things that have to be done to stop the swirling thoughts in my head.

I am reminding myself that it doesn’t all have to happen today.

Tomorrow is a viable possibility for some of the to-do list.

Today I need to take a shower.

I need to make a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow or the next day before I run out of meds.

I need to gather all of my supplies and teach my art class this afternoon.

I would like to wash my sheets and bedding.  That has been pushed to tomorrow too many times.

Cooking dinner would be a plus, but realistically there is food and everyone is capable of fending for themselves.

They will probably still love me if I don’t get that done.

The house has moved past the lived-in stage and is teetering on the edge of possible crime scene.

I am reminding myself that the state of my house does not necessarily make me a bad person.

As I make my list, I am realizing that today is doable.

I’ve got this.

Anxiety, go somewhere else.

This Monday is not yours.

It is mine and I may not do it perfectly, but I will do it with a smile.

Peace.

 

 

Getting There

I’ve worked on the canvases.

They aren’t done yet, but I have gone and gotten a new phone, cooked part of Easter dinner, thought about cleaning house and bathed a dog.

I also played games with the family, took a nap, cleaned two offices and am writing this blog post.

So, this weekend was not a total loss.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about working on the canvases while doing other things I didn’t actually want to be doing.

But, to be honest, when I was doing the fun stuff, I didn’t think about them much at all.

They aren’t going in the in the declutter box as I’d previously threatened if I didn’t finish them this weekend.  I will get them done.

empty-boxBut, I also going to start filling up a box with stuff I don’t need anymore.  Not the above pictured box (that’s just a picture of one off of the internet).  I have an actual box that I’m going to fill up.  That just makes more sense to me…filling up a real box.

It appears that I’m really getting my life together. I have a plan and everything.

Life is good.

 

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…

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.

 

 

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…

Solid Ground

Hello.

I’m still here.  And, believe it or not, I’ve been thinking about y’all a lot although I haven’t written.

I haven’t written here that is.  I’ve composed many a blog in my head, but honestly haven’t been able to summon the energy to reach out into the world and share – thoughts, feelings or stories.

I’ve identified a new truth about myself and have been spending some time in reflection as a result. After a period of challenges and stress, I have a need to pull in my borders and become a bit of a recluse.  In the past, I believe that I’ve resisted the tendency to do so because it was a sign of weakness.  I don’t believe that to be the case anymore.

August and September were really hard.  I’ve probably mentioned that more than once…

My sister was seriously ill…it is only just the last week or so that the full effects of her illness are being identified.   A lot of the issues are resolving. Some will not.  We are finding a new normal.

My daughter started private school which was a big transition from a relatively unschooling lifestyle.  Time was in short supply and she didn’t get all the attention and support she deserved.  She coped beautifully.  I am so impressed with her.  We struggled to cope with assignments and deadlines and hoped it would all become a comfortable routine – in other words, normal.

Our precarious financial situation deteriorated under the demands of everything that was going on.  Tempers grew short as we all became overwhelmed.  We were all stretched to the limit. We all longed for our old problems, our old life…what had been normal.

It is all too evident that once life has stretched beyond tolerable limits, it doesn’t rebound back into it’s normal proportions.

Things have changed and we can’t go back.

We can; however, seek solid ground and get our feet back underneath us.  And that is what we have done.

I’ve allowed myself to pull back from outside commitments and concentrated on family and myself.  The news has been switched off and I trust that the world will keep on spinning.  There is only so much that I can do and to attempt to do more only results in anxiety, anger, frustration and hopelessness.

Our daughter is back home and we are instigating  a learning plan that fits our needs.  We learned a lot about what works for us, and what doesn’t as far as education goes.  This week has been very good indeed.

The budget is back on the drawing board as we  reassess our goals and the reality of what we can and can’t do to improve our financial situation.

The dreams and plans that we were so excited about at the beginning of the new year last January have been brought back out into the forefront.  We’re evaluating and making adjustments in light of all that has transpired.

And, most importantly, we are resting and actively seeking joy.  There was very little fun and laughter in the last two months.  That must change.

I am exited about having identified my need to stop and rest and recover from hard times…to heal from the damaging results of stress.  Forcing myself to continue on when I’m exhausted and anxious isn’t being brave and strong.  It’s a huge mistake.  It makes me miserable and when I’m miserable…the whole family is miserable.

It’s important to learn from the past, let go of regrets and move on into the future.

So, for now it’s rest and laughter and family as we become comfortable in our new normal.

 

Happy!

Yesterday was a happy day for me.  Everything just seemed to come together beautifully.

My husband has been working extremely long hours and the overtime will definitely come in handy.  I am grateful for the added income.

He got off on time yesterday.  My oldest daughter didn’t have to work.  My son was home.  We all just hung out together.  My daughter who is at school even called to say she would be coming home on Sunday.

Everyone was outside working on a project that I’ll show you in just a bit, but first…

My son asked me to come out an join them outside.  I hesitated and he said “I understand you have a lot to do – don’t worry about it”.

Whoa!  How caught up do I get in accomplishing tasks that I miss opportunities like this.  I dropped what I was doing and headed outside.  The dishes still aren’t done and I’m okay with that.

Here is what happened:

A coop is being built for our new chicks.  These three are some that my sister’s hen hatched.  We aren’t sure what kind they are.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough.IMAG0667IMAG0630A baseball was tossed about.IMAG0640 (1)IMAG0646

The garden is growing like crazy because of all the rain.  We’ve barely kept ahead of the weeds, but we haven’t given up like we did in the past.  I’m slowly letting go of my “perfect or not at all” mentality.

Our first harvest of the season – purple and green beans, purple basil, peppers and an onion!IMAG0621 (2)

What a happy day – I’m still smiling.