A Day in the Life/Wednesday Edition

So, in an effort to avoid the continuing drama out there in the big world, I’m going to share “a week in my life”…an exciting moment by moment chronicle of my simple life.  (The exciting reference was sarcasm by the way).  I’m going to focus on the part of the world where I have a tiny bit of control over what’s happening.  Sometimes the whole world is just to much to deal with for my anxious, perfectionist, all-or-nothing personality.

Wednesday is a paid work day for me…at least the morning portion.  I shop with my sister to purchase food and necessities for a home for the mentally handicapped.  Up at 7:00 a.m. which is early for me, and out the door by 7:30 to go pick up the van and my sister and head out.  We start out at Wal-Mart and then head over to HEB to finish up.  The list is usually about the same each week and we’ve got a good routine going. Just normal stuff; meat/protein, lots and lots of produce and veggies, a few treats and other fixings. Usually two carts at Wal-Mart and four at HEB.  We shop both stores in an effort to get the best deals and keep expenses down.  We fill up the van and after stopping by Sonic for our usual, we head back to drop off the groceries.

While I’ve been out, my youngest daughter is expected to tidy up her room and start on school.  She has a reading list to work on and we use a couple of resources on the computer that she can work on while I’m gone.

When I get home about noon-time, we fix something for lunch and then relax for a bit. Yesterday was my husband’s day off and that can change up the afternoon a bit.

As I was eating lunch and catching up on my email and facebook, I saw a posting from a friend who volunteers at the Regional Animal Shelter.  She posted a picture of a nine year old Basset hound named Speedy.  I know what you might be thinking.  Believe me, I was thinking the same thing…there is no way in hell that I need another dog.  Especially not an old Basset hound.  But…I was also thinking “a nine year old Basset hound sure doesn’t need to be in “doggie jail” because his owner decided that he couldn’t afford him anymore and that he was too much trouble .  I told myself that someone else would surely adopt him.  He would be fine.  And then I told myself that I needed to go get that dog.  My youngest agreed after seeing his picture. My husband looked at me and picked up the car keys…I sure did marry a good man.

Off we went.  We agreed to just meet “Speedy” and see how it went.  Once we got there, it turns out that Speedy has a golf-ball sized tumor just under his tail that needs to be evaluated so we have him on a “medical foster”. That means they cover his medical expenses until the situation is resolved and then we can adopt him if we wish.

He is a sweetheart.  Totally Basset.  The world is his to explore and he will walk all day long on a leash.  He has instantly bonded and adopted  my youngest daughter.  He walked into her room, jumped up on her bed and settled in for a nap. Well, first thing he did was find the food dish, of course.  Youngest really wants a cat, but has decided that he’s a pretty good substitute since a cat can’t happen.  Second daughter’s fiance is deathly allergic to cats.

Unfortunately, Barret the dog, or B-dog as we’ve started calling him, is not taking too well to to the new addition yet.  Last night was spent taking the dog’s for a walk together in a non-threatening environment and periodically bringing Speedy out of the bedroom to see Barret in the living room.  Barret had to stay on the leash during these visits and pretty much acted as if Speedy was unwelcome (in a violently aggressive, teeth-gnashing, lunging, and terrifyingly vocal sort of way).  It wasn’t looking good.  Speedy spent the night in his room.  Barret spent the night in ours.  No blood was shed.

The day’s “plan” got derailed by my impulsive decision.  The laundry load-of-the-day didn’t get done.  The dishes didn’t get caught up.  I un-decluttered the one item out of the box – a worn-out sheet that is now being used as bedding for the new dog.

Nothing further got done on the yard.  The homeowner’s association is okay with the progress that we have made, but I have lots of ideas for projects that I want to work on now.  The work that we’ve gotten done has inspired me to keep on going.

Very little actual “school” got done unless you count visiting the animal shelter and seeing what that is like.  Youngest daughter had never been and now has a better idea about what happens to unwanted animals and pets and the very real struggle to deal with an impossible situation.  We talked about responsibility, ethics, solutions, and the possibility of volunteering.  We also discussed self-care, being responsible for ourselves and working out how to build strong boundaries to protect ourselves when dealing with the world.

There is so much that needs to be done to make the world a better place.  I often get overwhelmed and wonder if anything that I do is enough.

Looking back on Wednesday, I am okay with the day.

I lived into the needs of the day.

I didn’t save the world.

My house isn’t spotless.  Everything on the school to-do list didn’t get checked off.  I didn’t declutter anything.  I didn’t make progress on the extensive home improvement projects.   The laundry isn’t done.  We had cereal for dinner.  All potentially failures if I choose to look at it that way…

However, the residents at Hope House had what they needed to be cared for properly. A dog had a warm bed and a lot of attention instead of a concrete floor for the night.  I walked over ten thousand steps for the third day in row.  Everybody in the house had clean clothes to put on this morning and there was still cereal for breakfast.

We all made it through the day healthily and happily.  Our needs were met.  We hung out together and had some fun.  We cleaned up some dog poop.  We watched some T.V.  We cleaned up a little more dog poop.  We met a new neighbor on one of our walks.  The dog pooped outside.

We did no harm and did a little bit of good.

I’m learning to be okay with that.

I want to fix the world.  I want to stop injustice, and right wrongs, and heal the world.  I want everything and everyone to be happy and have what they need.  I want people to stop being mean to each other.  That’s all part of my anxious, perfectionist, all-or-nothing personality.

It’s a little unrealistic.

I am learning to find balance and live with imperfection.

…start with me and work out from there…doing no harm and being kind

 

 

Journey

Where have I been the last couple of days?  Basically, having a really hard week on the decluttering front that has resulted in a big breakthrough!  I’ve felt like I hit a wall on making progress in my home.  I’ve had doubts that the stuff was the real problem – is stuff causing the stress or is stress causing the stuff?  Am I making any progress or is dealing with the stuff a diversion to avoid real problems.  Just a lot of doubt.

On the advice of a friend, I’ve been kinder to myself and just boxed up some stuff that I can’t deal with right now.  I didn’t want to use that route for everything though.  I’ve been dealing with ten items at a time – pick it up and make a decision – it either goes or if it stays it finds a permanent home.  Then I’ve taken breaks.  Lots of breaks and lots of decisions!

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All this went to the thrift store today.  Storage “solutions” that didn’t work or weren’t needed anymore and lots of random stuff that just isn’t needed.

Usually, when the stuff has hit the box, I’ve wondered why I even kept it at all.  This time, I realized that if I saw some of this stuff at the thrift store, I might  consider purchasing it.  I’m letting go of stuff that I actually like and that I still see potential in.  I’m letting it go anyway.  I feel like that is a big step.

Yesterday, while “supervising” me (keeping me on task), my oldest daughter asked a question out of the blue…

“Mom, did you ever feel like you had a home growing up?”

I didn’t answer.

She continued on…

“Is that why you work so hard to make a home and worry so much about it?”

Talk about a real therapy moment – if you’ve ever spent any time with a therapist you know what I’m talking about.  You spend 45 minutes talking about a subject aimlessly and the therapist sums it up for you in one sentence.

The answer would be that no, I don’t suppose that I ever really felt comfortable, secure and safe in any of the places that I lived growing up.  I knew that none of it was permanent – we moved every year.  My parents had a challenging relationship.  I didn’t have close friends and we weren’t close to any family.

The point of the journey that I’ve been partially documenting and sharing here, is to find some simplicity, peace, and intentionality in my life.

I’d have to say that I’ve logged a lot of steps in my journey this week.  I’ve gained understanding, been reminded to be kinder to myself, and shed a lot of guilt and possessions.

Just as in life, the hardest parts of the journey result in the best views.

Peace.

If you can’t say something nice…

Maybe I’m just listening for it, but lately there seems to be an overabundance of “not nice” out there in the world.

I was at Sonic (a drive-in/carhop style restaurant for those unfortunates who don’t have access to the best crushed ice ever!) last night and a guy was shouting into the intercom the most complicated burger order ever heard.  It’s a burger!  How complicated does it need to be?  If you need five hamburgers and every single one of them is weird and specialized maybe you should just eat at home?

What you shouldn’t do is yell at the person who is trying to take your order over an intercom at a restaurant that is on a busy highway during rush hour.  Maybe a little patience is in order for your order.

Yea, there are some people that are truly not doing a competent job and I understand the frustration when you are having to deal with them, but is it that hard to be kind?  Maybe they are having a horrible day…maybe they are just idiots…I don’t know, but neither does the jerk ordering the burgers.

In any case, getting angry and sharing the anger with everyone within earshot didn’t help the situation at all.

What is our obsession with being right?  With carrying on a discussion/arguement until we win?  Some things are worth standing your ground for.  Most things aren’t.

I’m not talking about being a doormat and letting people walk all over you, but about just being nice…kind…thoughtful.  Realizing that you aren’t the only person on the planet – that the world doesn’t revolve around you.

I was goofing around in a store a while back – bantering with my sister.  We weren’t holding up the line or bothering anyone.  A guy shouted across the parking lot to me as we were loading up our groceries…”Why don’t you try acting your age instead of your I.Q.?”  Really?

I carried around that hurt for quite a while.  I know I should have just shrugged it off and called the guy a jerk – or explained that my I.Q. has been tested quite high, for all the good it’s done me.   Instead I suppressed tears and questioned my behavior.  That’s my reaction to hurtful and unthoughtfull words and I know that it’s my problem to deal with.  But, perhaps, I’m not unique in that thought process.

I know that I’ve been working hard at being kinder to people all around me:  checkers at the grocery store, waitresses, even smiles at people I walk by.   If constructive criticism is necessary, I’ve been working on throwing in a positive comment as well. What might the world be like if we all just stopped and realized that we are all just people trying to live our lives –  dealing with problems and fighting battles that nobody else knows about.

What if we just all started saying “Hi”, “Good Job!”, “Thank You” and “Can I help you with that?”…

That’s it…sermon over for the day.

And I really do hope that today, someone says something nice to you – or doesn’t say anything at all.

Packaging

  • I’ve struggled with whether to write this post or not.  With how to word it so as not to offend anyone.  Considering all the possibilities of what might go wrong, whether it needs to be said or not, does it matter…

But, the thoughts just keep swirling in my head, refusing to be quieted.  It’s my blog, my little space in the world, and nobody has to read it or like it, but maybe I’m not the only one feeling this way.

Here goes…

What I’d like to say is please don’t package me.  Don’t look at me and make assumptions about who I am and stick me in a box and put a label on me.

I’m a complex person – because I’m a human being.  It just goes with the territory.  I make decisions, I change my mind, I make mistakes, I try to learn from them and I dream of a better world, but live in this one.

I am not a Democrat or a Republican or any other “party” for that matter.  I make my own decisions and prefer not to follow the crowd.  I don’t even know for sure what those party labels mean anymore.  So many issues and so many decisions – how can it all fit under one umbrella.

I guess I’m not a liberal or a conservative either.  I’m uncomfortable choosing one or the other.  Once again, it depends on the issue, the facts, my belief system and how it all fits into the very real world we live in.

I am a follower of Christ although I am not actively involved in a worship community.  I’ve become uncomfortable with the “Christian” label for much the same reason as any other.  So many extremes within the “Christian” community and a lot of directions and movements that don’t appeal to me.  I’ve chosen to go back to the Bible and my understanding of Jesus’ teachings and make my own way from there.

Here’s the tricky one – skin color.  White, black, brown, yellow, red, or whatever.  I’m an artist.  Two of those aren’t even a color and they are all wildly inaccurate depictions anyway.  Millions of people in each group and one label to identify them all?  What the hell?  That’s a pretty simplistic view of the world isn’t it?  White culture.  What does that even mean?  Black culture?  Same issue.  Who made up those categories and made it the standard by which we identify each other?

I suppose that it would make life easier if we could categorize everyone so easily and know what someone believes, thinks and how they will act based on appearance.  I’ve never found it to be true though.

I live in a manufactured home community out in the country in Texas…the South.  I’m a stay-at-home Mom and homeschool.  What assumptions are often made about me?  I’m an uneducated redneck because I live in a “trailer”.  I’m a religious, right-wing zealot because I homeschool.  I’m a back-to-earth, hippy, granola mom because I stay at home with my kids.  Or, my personal favorite, a gun-toting, survivalist, racist because I live in the country, in Texas.  These have all happened, for real.

Maybe it would make more sense to get to know me rather than stick a label on me and call it done.  Let me help you out…

  • I live where I live because it worked out economically and fits in with the lifestyle choices we make.  In short, we’ve got a big-ass house that we can make the payments on.
  • I stay at home because I love my kids, and my husband and I felt that it was the right choice for our family.  No judgment from me if you work outside the home.  Your life, your choices…we all need to make decisions that work for us.
  •  I homeschool for a number or personal reasons…it works for my kids’ learning styles, our family, and fits in with the lifestyle choices we’ve made.
  • I’ve got two Bachelor’s degrees and started on my Master’s.  I’d probably still be in college if I could.
  • I’ve got a garden and we eat a reasonably healthy diet. Nothing extreme though.  I’m not a good enough gardener that we could ever live off the land.  And I’m not sure that I could ever give up Cheetos or Oreos forever.

I could go on, but maybe I’ve made my point.  Let me sum it up for you…

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, please stop by for dinner.  I don’t care what “color” you are, where or who you worship (or if you worship at all), where you come from, what you wear (I prefer some garb of some kind please) your occupation, your life-style choices, your economic level, your political affiliations, your mental health diagnosis, your heritage, your decorating scheme, your gun-carrying status (or lack thereof), or your dietary restrictions (just let me know ahead of time).  If I’ve left anything out, let me know.

I do expect two things:  Respect and kindness for me and everyone else around the table, and lively discussion that does not degenerate into labeling, name-calling, belittling or generalizations.

I don’t hate anybody.  I also don’t love everybody (I know I’m supposed to, but I haven’t gotten there yet).  And honestly, there’s some people I don’t like very much.  I don’t feel the need to apologize for anything someone else has done, but I will empathize with your hurt.  I will try to apologize when I screw up if I realize I did so.  If not, please tell me what’s wrong so we can work it out.

That’s the best place to start…me and you.  One on one.  One discussion and one friendship at a time.  I can’t fix the whole world.  Nobody can.  But we can each work together.  Just don’t stick me in a box and put a label on me…and I’ll try to treat you with the same courtesy.

I Am Enough

“I am enough!. I am full of sparkle and compassion. I genuinely want to make the world a better place. I love hard. I practice kindness. I’m not afraid of the truth. I am loyal, adventurous, supportive and surprising. I am a woman. I am enough. I make mistakes, but I own them and learn from them. Sometimes I make lots of mistakes”   – Molly Mahar

I found this today while I was searching for a new quote for my next guerilla art card.  Haven’t heard about those?  Check out my other blog:  unearthedart.wordpress.com

I don’t know who Molly Mahar is, but someday I’ll look her up.  Right now, all I know is this quote was something I needed to hear.

Who is that voice inside my head that tells me I haven’t done enough?  That I can’t sit down to rest at the end of the day because I haven’t accomplished enough.

The voice that tells me my house should look better.  My car should be nicer and cleaned out.  My art doesn’t look right.  I should look younger or wear makeup.  That jeans aren’t okay everyday. And so on…

I think that the voice is a composite.  I hear my Mom in some of it (and I hear myself repeating some of it to my kids).  Some comes from media – advertisements, television, and movies.

The rest of the voice – I’m not so sure.

It sounds like me.

Should I tell myself to shut up?  I’m “crazy” enough without walking around talking to myself all the time!

Telling myself to shut up doesn’t seem very kind.  I think I need to be kinder to myself.  Maybe I just need to change the message.

“I am good enough”

The internet is fixed (obviously).  Here is the ugly painting from last night – it did reflect how I felt.IMAG0576

And now – a work in progress – just like me.  Perfectly imperfect.

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P.S.  The fridge and pantry are still clean and tidy!

Because it does matter, DAMN IT!

Excuse the capitalization, I’m not really yelling at you.  I’m making a point to myself – or trying to.

As far as I can remember, my first serious bout with depression occurred my junior year of high school.  I remember walking down the hall with my arms wrapped around my books and my hair covering my face – feeling totally and utterly alone.  I recall going to my mom and telling her that I needed help, that something was wrong.  She told me that things would look better tomorrow.  A good night’s sleep would help.

I don’t blame her for that response.  I now recognize that she suffered seriously from depression herself.  And times have changed for the better as far as “mental illness” goes.  It’s at least recognizable as a treatable illness and not just a character flaw.

I wasn’t officially diagnosed until after the birth of my second child.  Meds were prescribed and when I couldn’t be sure as to whether I was “happy” enough or not, electroshock therapy was mentioned.  Believe me, I decided I was happy enough then.

What is happy?  What is normal?  Who the hell knows.  Certainly not someone who has been struggling for almost 20 years.

I’ve had therapy, I’ve tried drugs, I’ve tried no drugs, I’ve tried believing enough in God…what’s really helped?  I don’t know for sure.  Right now, I’m on a low dose anti-anxiety to help counteract the damaging effects of years of adrenalin overloads.  The current thinking is that I function in a constant state of fight or flight mode.

Whatever…

The fact remains that I am who I am and that I have a life to live and what I battle the most is “it doesn’t matter”.

  • Why do the dishes…they’ll just get dirty again.
  • Why pull the weeds…they are just going to grow back and bring their friends.
  • Why make art that’s not that great and isn’t ever going to get sold, or hang in a museum, or be important in any way
  • Why do random acts of kindness that aren’t enough to really make things better
  • Why write a blog…what do I have to say that’s important

It seems that I battle this question all the time…perhaps all with depression deal with this.  What difference does my life make? Does it matter that I’m even here?  Who cares?

I have to care.

I can’t compare my life to others and determine my value based on their actions and achievements.

I have to know.

  • know that I matter to my family even when they don’t thank me for doing the dishes
  • know that 50 people have chose to follow my blog to hear what I have to say and every single one of them matters
  • know that my art is important to me and that’s enough because I matter
  • know that random acts of kindness do make a difference even if I don’t see the outcome

Some days the “knowing” is hard…difficult…impossible even.

Those are the bad days and they happen…to all of us.  Especially those with depression.  Those are the days when we look in the mirror and think “what if?”.  What if I wasn’t here any more? Who would care?  What difference would it make?  I’m so tired.

Magic answers?  I don’t have any.  I have words like belief and hope.  I have a “voice” inside of me that says “do the dishes, make art, write a blog, be kind”.  And I choose to listen to that voice.

And I keep trying to live my life as best I can and not compare myself to others.  The others that have better houses, or art in galleries, or are skinny, young and gorgeous beyond words, or give millions away to charities that save lives.

I choose to live my little life and trust that I make a difference…somehow.

I know that I matter because I believe that you matter.

And that’s enough.