Books that Survived

books show us

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

Unless I was drawing.

But mostly I read.

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

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

And then I had kids of my own.

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

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

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

And then there were these books:

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

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

They cover topics like art and fear and creativity

and life and peace and spirituality

and so much more.

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

Some I started and never finished.

Some have never been opened.

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

I will see them when I go to sit down.

And I will no longer ignore them.

I am going to read them.

Because…

kid president

Peace.

 

Live. Create. Tell the Story

 

live create tell th story

I’ve been asked how hard it is to write and share personal details of my life on this blog…

(and the tears start now)

To be sure, some of what I have written has been difficult to share. Some of what gets typed never gets published. Sometimes the mouse hovers over the publish “button” and time passes…and more time passes…and I take a deep breath…and “send” what I have written out into the world. And I worry that it sounds stupid or that I shared too much or that nobody will read it or care.

One of the things that I know to be absolute truth (and there isn’t much that fits into that category) is that, as human beings, we are called to share our stories. It’s why I once believed that I was called to the pulpit as an ordained minister. Now, I tell my stories here to a different audience.

I don’t know who needs to hear what I have to say…that I struggle daily with the uncertainty of whether I have value and purpose and am deserving of continued existence.

Writing a blog is an interesting thing.  To sit down in front of a screen and keyboard and “talk” to an audience that you can’t see.  There are no reactions, no head nods, no eye contact that allows you to gauge how receptive your audience is.

You just have to believe that your stories…

and by extension, all of our stories  – of our experiences, successes and failures, the documentation of the steps we take are what matter.

The relationships, the sharing, the moment when our being on this planet for just another day makes sense…that’s why I write…

– for myself and for someone out there who might be needing to hear what I have to say

– someone I will probably never meet

– someone who is wondering if their story matters

We are all important and we are all part of the story that is being written every moment of every day…

sometimes by what we do (or don’t do), by our words, our brush strokes, our act of kindness, our prayers, our presence.

Some of us accomplish big things that attract attention and praise…

most of us will never be noticed or acknowledged or even know that what we did today mattered…

So, let’s try this –

Tell your story today.  Share.

Let someone know that the “words” they wrote (or are writing) in your life matter.

And  (most importantly)  if someone who was a part of your story has somehow disappeared in the midst of all the busyness of life, find a way to let them know that their words are important..

That they matter.

They made need to hear it.

Live.

Create.

Tell the story.

Repeat.

P.S.  This is not at all what I sat down to write today.  The words just took on a life of their own and this is what happened.  Life and stories are funny that way…

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Schwellenangst

0129171753I found a new to me book at the thrift store the other day. ( I was hunting for wedding decorations, not stuff for me!)  I was hesitant to purchase the book seeing as how I’m working at curtailing the amount of stuff entering and taking up residence in my home.

I decided that this book was a worthwhile purchase though.  It is full of wonderful words, most of which were unknown to me before.

I believe my life will be all the better for having found and read this book.

For example, I now have a word to describe my current journey to redefine, rethink, re-imagine and reflect during 2017…

   Schwellenangst (noun, German) Lit. “threshold anxiety”‘ fear of embarking on      something new or entering a place.

This word is perfect for summing up how I feel about embarking on this new phase of my journey…more ruthless de-cluttering,  contemplating the changes that may be necessary and anticipating what will be happening.   Challenges are good, but change is hard for me.

Nevertheless, I will be dealing with my schwellenangst and moving forward into my next reality.  All shall be well.

A word for my decision to leave Facebook for a bit…Aeolist (noun, English) a blustering windbag of a person who only pretends to have inspiration or wisdom.  These are the type of people I am choosing to avoid for a while.  Those folks who believe that if they cite enough sources, “facts” and isolated examples in loud enough voices with a sufficient amount of foul language and name calling, they will change someone’s mind and all shall be well.  Their opinion is, of course, the only correct one and everyone else is an ignorant, uneducated, trailer-dwelling moron who has no feelings or concern for anyone else.

I just don’t have enough sizfleisch (noun, German and English), literally “sitting flesh” or posterior; the ability to sit through, tolerate, or persist in something difficult or severely boring.  I’d like everyone to take a deep breath and reread the story of Chicken Little or maybe Aesop’s fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

At this point in my life, I am more interested in developing querencia (noun, Spanish), a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self.

So, here is tomorrow’s project – The Dining Room.  Keep in mind before viewing these photos that there is a wedding happening in two weeks and there is tons of stuff everywhere as a result.  There is also laundry and who knows what else!  I’m dealing with it tomorrow.

Deep breath and sigh.

All shall be well.

It’s going to be okay.

One thing at a time.

One day at a time.

Querencia.

What Now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next page dealt with the issue of clutter…

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

I burst into tears.

This journal is over 7 years old.

I’m still stuck in the same spot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is beneficial?

What brings joy?

What is worthy?

What brings me closer to the life I envision?

Ugh.

Reality checks can be brutal…

and painful…

and enormously helpful.

Last Night

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

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

She does other things.

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

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

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

Where was I?

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

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

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

We are friends.

We accept each other’s faults.

We like each most of the time.

Sometimes we disagree.

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

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

We work it out.

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

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

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

I think I’ll share…

in a couple of days.

For now, let’s start with…

Friends are important.

I’m not really very good at friendship sometimes.

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

This all probably causes a goodly amount of stress.

But, things can change.

I can change.

Life can be better.

Peace

 

I woke up this morning wishing, once again, that I could hit the pause button.  I started off the week with what I thought was a reasonable list of things to do.  I have been accused of being unrealistic in my expectations in the past…with good reason.  I’ll freely admit that I’m a perfectionist although I’ve been working on being a kinder and gentler me.

This was just one of those weeks where the interruptions became the real work to be done.

What I failed to do was realize the amount of unplanned stuff happening and adjusting my expectations.

This morning I was thinking about what I hadn’t gotten done and not what did get done.

Not helpful.

This intentional living stuff can be hard.  It requires diligence, optimism, and a lot of thought.

Mostly it requires a lot of change…a change in attitude, as well as behavior.

Perhaps it can be summed up as learning to be flexible as I change my expectations in alignment with what’s going on around me.

This week four people had to go to work at different places and different times.  We had one car since the truck was still in the shop.  I did quite a bit of driving to and fro.  We made it work, but it took a lot of time.  With patience and planning this is a workable situation.

On Wednesday, I was awakened early by my son with the news that he had “rolled” his ankle and it was very, very swollen.  I told him to prop it up for a bit and we’d see if the swelling would go down.  Then I fell back asleep and failed to wake up in time to go help my sister shop.  Next up, a doctor’s appointment and x-rays.  The ankle is not broken.  This is not actually good news.  Breaks heal more easily than whatever is wrong.  Monday is an orthopedic appointment and probably and MRI.    Not a good day.

On Thursday morning we were able to pick up our truck.  Yea!

On Thursday night the key to our other car broke.  Our only key.  Not good….at all.  One place wanted almost $200 to make a new key.  Another would make it cheaper but required a copy of the title (which I can’t find because the house is a bit untidy and disorganized).

On Friday, the truck would not go into gear properly. Now we have no transportation.And everybody needs to go to work…

Husband manages to get the truck to the repair shop.  It turns out that the cardboard seal on the bottle of transmission fluid ended up in “the thingie that holds the stuff that feeds the something that makes the transmission work”.  I am not mechanically inclined.  That’s the best I’ve got as far as what was wrong.  An easy fix.  Anyway, the truck is running beautifully.

Oldest daughter found a place to make a key for the other car for only $5.  Now both cars are running.  This is very helpful!

This was a challenging week.  The Christmas tree is still not up.  I’ve not shopped much for Christmas.  A LOT of things that I wanted to get done are undone.

There have been a lot of times when I’ve felt frustrated and angry…with myself.  How can a reasonably competent grown-up find it so difficult to keep up with a house and family? This thinking is not helpful.  It just piles on more stress and makes it even more difficult to cope.

I did accomplish a lot this week…just not the things I had planned on.  The emergencies got handled.  Three big bags of stuff left the house.  The studio is unpacked and organized(ish).  The hallway/classroom is set up and workable.  Progress has been made in laying the new floor in the apartment. (I didn’t actually do any of the work on the floor other than moving stuff out of the way.)  We did a lot of school work.  Everyone got fed and has some clean clothes.

I’m starting up the decluttering project in earnest again.  There is just too much stuff around here.

The laundry piles up at an alarming rate.  We have too many clothes.

I’ve once again slowly accumulated to many art project “possibilities”.  More material doesn’t translate into more art.

The same goes for school stuff.  It’s so easy to gather too many potential things to study and learn.

This is all part of my unrealistic expectations.  There are only so many hours in the day and they cannot all be spent in action.  I need to quit trying to “get it all done”.  This attitude is not helpful.

There will always be something that needs to be done.

I can’t do it all.

The important work to be done is to more intentionally seek out simplicity, peace and joy.

That must be number one on the list…

Stumbling

While stumbling through life, I occasionally discover treasure.  Such was the case as I wrote my last blog post.  I titled it “Not Helpful”.  While writing the post, those words kept popping up…”Helpful” and “Not Helpful”.

Over the last couple of days I have found myself repeating those words in my head as a reaction to situations.  And those words have been most helpful.

It’s helping to identify actions, behaviors, and worries as beneficial or not.  That goes a long way in eliminating stress and achieving a small measure of peace.

 

 

For example, I was planning on picking back up on my decluttering project.  The house has slowly gotten a bit fuller and I’ve realized that decluttering is going to be an ongoing effort for me.  An untidy house with piles of stuff and lost objects is stressful.  Not helpful.

I got an email about joining a decluttering challenge about two weeks ago.  It sounded like it would be helpful and fun.  Each day there would be an assignment to work on, and there was a facebook page to join and chat on.  That sounds good…right?

Yesterday, I got my morning email from the group and failed to open it.  Why?  Because I had not yet opened email number 1….or two….or… You get the idea.  I had not logged onto the facebook page and introduced myself.   I sighed heavily as  I looked around my house and at the long list of emails. I  started berating myself for yet another thing that I hadn’t kept up with or done.

That kind of thinking is not helpful.

I don’t need more perceived failures and recrimination.

The group was supposed to assist me in achieving my goals.  It was supposed to be helpful.

It was not.

I unsubscribed to the group and started setting up my studio…still undone from the move quite a while back.  But, I’m working on it and have filled a trash bag and a giveaway bag during the process.

You can barely walk in there and there is still a ways to go, but it’s a small win for today.

Letting go of what’s not working, or what’s not helpful is difficult.  Sometimes it just feels like quitting or failing.

I have to keep reminding myself of what the goal is…of the direction I am trying to go…

In this case, the goal was not to successfully complete the decluttering challenge.

My goal was to simplify by decluttering unnecessary items and find peace.

Two very different destinations.

Confusing the two was just a “not helpful” part of the journey.

Now that I have checked my map (clarified my actual goal), I can once again start moving in the right direction.  There will, undoubtedly be more detours.  In fact, this was a challenging day filled with road blocks…

…but I had figured out where I was going and that was helpful.

Thankful 365

I try to be thankful all the time…even when it’s challenging to do so.

Especially when it’s hard to do so. because that’s when I get down to the serious business of gratitude.  Being thankful for health, family, and the other obvious stuff is good.  I’m not knocking any of those things.  There are many other things we can be grateful for that come off the top of our head when it comes time to share at Thanksgiving (or any other time). But when the going is tough, looking for the good stuff reminds me that there is always something to be thankful for.  Always.

When you only have two vehicles being shared between four adults (living at two different addresses) and one breaks down at the beginning of a holiday week with a busy schedule…it sucks.  I’m reminding myself, however, to be thankful that one is still running and we have a small emergency fund that we’ve been building for the last year that will help out with the expense.

When the grocery store is crazy busy and filled with more than a few cranky people, I am grateful to live near a grocery store that stocks an amazing array of food and that I am able to purchase what I need and a few things that I want.  I am grateful for the ability to smile at those who aren’t smiling and share conversation with others who are in a good mood.

When I’m tempted to worry and complain that all of my home repairs and projects didn’t get done, and that the house isn’t perfect for the holiday, I’m grateful that I have a home.  And grateful that I have the resources to offer hospitality to family and friends.

When suffering one of the worst anxiety attacks I’ve ever had last night, I’m grateful for a husband who sat silently with me until I was able to fall asleep.  I’m also grateful for this apparently random attack (I’m not sure what triggered it) because it signals that stress has been building for a while and I need to take care of myself and be aware of what might be contributing to it. It was a reminder that I haven’t been making the best possible choices for my health, and my body and mind are the worse for it.

And there’s more, but the day’s work is calling…

My hope for you this week is that you might find something to be grateful for…even if your life is not all you’d like it to be right now.  I am grateful that you have chosen to read this post and thankful for your presence on this planet.  All of our lives have meaning and purpose…

and that is something for all of us to be grateful for.

Amen.