Boxes and Crinkly Bags

 

The table we set at our house is undergoing a gradual change.

For one thing, this little guy is joining us now.

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Because of him, some health issues, and a myriad of other reasons, we are changing up our diet.

Small changes, gradual changes, with some compromises here and there, but with a clear goal in mind.

No more processed (factory food) and more real food with real ingredients that we can pronounce.

We’ve made the switch to organic produce and are working towards meat raised humanely on small farms and ranches.

As we eat down our pantry and freezer we aren’t replacing the boxes and crinkly bags that live there now.

There have been some challenges along the way – mainly folks wandering into the kitchen looking for something to eat and finding more ingredients than food.  We’re all on different schedules around here and dinner is the only meal we share.

We’ve been working towards keeping the fridge and freezer stocked with prepared foods that just need to be heated up.  It just tends to get eaten up before we get enough stored back!

I’ve become a master of the frittata which uses up leftover veggies and the abundance of eggs we’ve been getting as the weather warms up and the chickens start laying.

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We’re experimenting with recipes we find on the internet that replicate favorite snacks.  Some are wins, some are not…still looking for a Little Debbie Nutty Buddy substitute.

The pantry and freezer are getting low and that is causing me some anxiety.  Some of these choices aren’t cheap and money is always an issue.  I’m taking some deep breaths and reminding myself that any change in the right direction is better than not trying at all.

Don’t let perfection get in the way of better, right?

And reminding myself of the wins…last night’s dinner –  soup made from leftover chicken (free-range, organic chicken that spent its days roosting in a barn and and exploring the great outdoors)  home-made egg noodles  and lots of organic veggies…

There are no pictures of the soup because it was all eaten.  And every meal won’t be scratch-made like this because I’m just not that together.  But this one was and that’s a step in the right direction.

They are probably going to want to eat again tonight.  I probably should have thawed something.

 

 

Complicated Contradictions

Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash
Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

“Every mind is a clutter of memories, images, inventions and age-old repetitions. It can be a ghetto, too, if a ghetto is a sealed-off, confined place. Or a sanctuary, where one is free to dream and think whatever one wants. For most of us it’s both – and a lot more complicated.” Margo Jefferson

 

I came upon this quote a few days ago while browsing for quotes to use on my art cards and such.

It has stuck in my head and bounced around in there and provided me with much fodder for thought as I pondered why I found it so intriguing.

Several blog posts about it have been started and abandoned since.

Obviously, more thinking was required…

Today, I realized, is Friday and I had promised my daughter that I would do a journal page.  We actually mutually committed and challenged ourselves to create one page each week.

As I was working on this page (using stuff found on the floor of my studio)

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all the thoughts about the quote came together and the meaning (for me) became clear.

You know, one of those “aha” moments when something perfectly obvious actually becomes obvious…

I’m complicated and a mass of contradictions…which does not make me unique because the same can be said of everybody…

But, I am a uniquely complicated mass of contradictions unlike everyone else in the way that I am a complicated mass of contradictions.

Yes, I know…complicated.

I continually struggle with reconciling the conflicting aspects of my personality.

Am I a minimalist or a bohemian when it comes to decorating? I seem to de-clutter and then re-clutter in an endless cycle.

Can you be a vegan who longs for bacon?  I mean, can you really love Esther the Wonder Pig (www.estherthewonderpig.com) and buy an Easter ham for your family?

and so on and so forth…

And what happens when reality collides with the ideals?

When neither the minimalist room or the cluttered room provide a home…

when perceived open-mindedness is revealed to be less than true…

when dreams wither and are lost because perfection inhibits their development

Then form has become more important than function and appearance becomes more significant than the goal.

I am a work in progress.

I am a story still being written and a canvas still being created.

I am my past, my present and my future.

Sometimes I huddle in the dark, afraid and sometimes I embrace the light and move forwards and often take a wrong turn and get lost.

Who I am right now will not be who I am when this post is finished.

The journey I am on requires patience and grace and acceptance.

Patience with my inconsistencies and missteps,

 grace for the fear and failures,

and

acceptance of my limitations.

We are all glorious creations who should find joy in this messy, complicated journey that we travel.

And I hope that we all, with patience, grace and acceptance, find peace along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am writing today because writing is a good thing for me to do…not because I can think of anything that really needs to be said.

That parallels my day today also.  I am doing what needs to be done although none of it seems to be particularly important or relevant.

I washed clothes so that my husband has something to wear to work and as a result I am rewarded with an empty dirty laundry basket.  Looking at that empty basket brought a small smile to my face.  A “win”.

And so life is.

I long for peace and serenity and joy right now.

What I have is chores and responsibilities and a total lack of control over circumstances that I can’t even talk about here.

I feel like I’m trapped in a little bitty life and that none of it is particularly important or relevant.

But our little bitty lives are important, aren’t they?

A load of laundry, a note in the mail, the right word at the right time, a simple meal…

We may never know the significance of what we do…but we do it anyway…

and trust that somehow it all weaves together for good to make a difference in the lives of those we love…

somehow.

And we do it because it’s what we do…

because we aren’t great big people with great big answers.

We are just who we are

and we keep trying even when it doesn’t seem to matter

and it doesn’t seem important

and we keep breathing

and struggling

and looking for that little “win”

Peace

 

Travel well

Monday mornings present an interesting juxtaposition of thought for me.

On on hand they are an opportunity…a new beginning and fresh start.  A chance to write down that to-do list and accomplish…whatever it is that needs doing.

On the other hand, Mondays can just be frustrating.  So much to do and so much undone from the week before.  The feeling that this week might be just as difficult, or more so, than the week before.

The latter thought process is not helpful.  It is self-defeating and starts the week off with negativity.  Nevertheless, the thoughts are a reality and cannot be ignored.  Sometimes life can seem to be an endless loop of beginnings and endings and not much in the middle.

So, today I shall acknowledge that sometimes life is frustrating.  And that sometimes the end of my week does not meet the expectations of the beginning.

And I shall continue to try and live in grace and hope…and be grateful for the opportunity a new week provides.  I’ll make a new list and continue to be optimistic about the possibilities that this week of my life might offer.

I will attempt to live through the ups and downs that these days of my life will certainly serve up.  I know in advance that there will be failure and tears and happiness and beauty.  I will travel through the challenges and dwell in the good.  That is my plan for this week.

And now is the time to share the news that I have been alluding to over the past several weeks.  I can share the part of the story that is mine.

Our son, Jacob, has joined the Army.  He completed the last of the process and was sworn in last Wednesday.  He reports for training the middle of this month.  There is much I could write about this journey.  I shall keep it simple.

I am his Mom.

I love him.

I am proud of him.

I am afraid for him.

This decision has been a long time coming for him.  I have watched him carefully consider it.  Research it.  Carry it in his heart and revisit it from time to time.  This is what he feels called to do.

I believe in him and am in awe of his ability to listen to that “voice” that is guiding him.  I have struggled my whole life with finding my way.

I read a quote the other day.  I can’t remember where.  “To find your purpose, follow your passion.”

He is doing that.

Travel well, my son.

May we all find our passion and our purpose and travel well.

 

Radljost

Radljost (noun, Icelandic) enough light to find your way by

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It would seem that I am raising a pretty smart kiddo.

Last night she was my “radljost”.

She often is.

This was her response when I commented that I was old…when I felt old and tired and depressed.  She said it out loud in the car and I made her write it down so I could keep it always and remember it.

I have made it this far.  Some days that wouldn’t seem like much of an accomplishment. Last night it was a struggle.

And then simple words said in love…radljost.

I want to remember what she said because it is so true.  It was the perfect thing to say and exactly what I needed to hear.

She didn’t try to tell me that I wasn’t old.  She’s 13.  I’m 55.  In her eyes, I am old.  And based on my family history, I am well past middle age.  I am unlikely to live to be 110.

She was honestly optimistic…Here are the facts.  Be grateful for what you’ve got.  Move on.

Today is a better day.

I slept well.

It is payday.

I get to teach art.

The problems of yesterday are still with me, but I’ve made it this far and have hope to keep on going.

I am not going to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

The journey is worthwhile and all the better for the loved ones that I get to travel with.

 

 

 

f life lately…

 

You May Be Wondering…

If you follow this blog and read it…hey, I’m a realist…life gets busy…things get undone…

Anyway, if you follow and read this blog – I am appreciative.  I would love to write each of you a thank you note, but I forgot to mail my bills off last month, so I wouldn’t be waiting anxiously at the mail box.  A simple thank you will have to do.

And, one more time – if you follow and read this blog you may be wondering what happened to Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – the continuing saga of “a day in my life”.

Rest assured, those days did happen and they happened despite my desperate attempt to find life’s pause button and stop for a minute.

Any attempt to chronicle the individual activities for each of those days would likely be a work of at least partial fiction.  That would probably make for more interesting reading, but frankly, would take a bit more effort than I can rally right now.  It is 6:30 on Wednesday evening and I am ready for bed.  I finally just pretended that I had a pause button, and closed my eyes and took a nap today.  I just woke up.  The nap didn’t help with all of the things that needed to get done today, but I feel better able to face the struggle.

I am relatively sane.

The Christmas lights have been plugged in.  We didn’t actually hang them on the house.  We just sort of threw them into the crape myrtles in front of the house.  They look suitably festive.  They are out of the Christmas box and in the yard.  They are twinkling.  We are not the best decorated house in the subdivision (or the worst).  We are neither overachieving, nor underachieving.  We are just achieving.  I’m okay with that.  That fits in with my goal of simplifying, but still celebrating the season.  My youngest daughter will not be growing up with the Griswolds (Christmas vacation) or Scrooge.  Just us. That is as it should be.

 

The days since I last posted have been filled with going to work, handling some pesky medical issues, retrieving stranded family members (car issues), making wedding preparation lists, driving people to and fro, a holiday bowling party, more medical issues, a couple of emotional meltdowns (adolescent, young adult and menopausal), and a host of other life moments.

It has now been hours since I started writing this post.  Dinner has been cooked and eaten.

Issues.  Conversations. Family.  Life.

Now, I shall post this.

Then…

I shall load the dishwasher.

I shall load and unload the washer and dryer.

I shall wander into my studio and look around.

I shall work on explaining the function of the new doggy door to the pack.  That’s a story for another day.  Stay tuned.  Sometime tomorrow or the next day…depending on how it goes.

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.

 

Depends on how you look at it…

I was determined that today was going to be a sunshine kind of day.  I’m not giving up on that.  I trying out the “depends on how you look at it” mindset.  So far, so good…ish.

My sister hasn’t been looking too great since Friday.  Of course, Friday is the day you always start feeling crappy since it’s right before the weekend and you can’t get in to see the doctor.  She’s also a bit stubborn so I pretty much have to let her decide on her own what she’s gonna do.  Over the course of the weekend, I was getting pretty worried, but kept my mouth shut.

This morning she decided that she’d like to go to Wal-Mart and pick up a few things.  And maybe call the doctor.  Instead, I drove her to the doctor’s office.  Just by chance her doctor’s physician’s assistant was available to see her.  By the time we got into the office, my sister was extremely short of breath.  Her oxygen sats were in the mid 70’s to low 80’s.

An ambulance was called and off we went to the hospital again.  This time tests revealed that she had a sizable pulmonary embolism.  The biggest one her doctor had ever seen in someone still moving.

Whew!  I’m choosing not to dwell on the what-ifs.  What if we hadn’t gone into the doctor’s office.  What if they hadn’t transported her to the hospital.   What if….

I going to look at it a different way.  Thankful that it all worked out like it did.  That she is in the hospital where any emergencies can be addressed right away.  That treatment has been started.  Hopefully, we can get everything resolved and she can truly be on the mend. Her surgeries were on the 1st and 3rd.  She’s tired of being tired and sick of being sick.

I’m starting to think that my hope of getting to September and things calming down may not be realistic.  It seems that I still have more lessons to learn about living a simpler, more intentional life.  This month has been the “graduate” school level crash course.

So today, I am learning to seek the positive side of the situation.

To not dwell on the what-ifs.  To be grateful for any little thing that goes right.  To let go of the things that go wrong.

To not spend too much time trying to prepare for the what-ifs and just enjoy the right now.

To look for the sunshine peeking through the clouds and be grateful for the blessing of the rain.  Both are an essential part of life.