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

 

Perspective

This morning after my shower, I spent 20 minutes trying to find a pair of clean underwear.  Most of the laundry is washed…just not folded or put up.  In frustration, I yelled out into the empty house, “I’ve got to get my act together”.

Well, not a completely empty house.  The dogs are all here.  What they heard me yell was, “Let’s go for a walk”.  Chaos ensued.

But, back to paragraph one.  “I’ve got to get my act together” is, in fact, a true statement.

It is not, however, a particularly helpful one.  It is negative, rather vague, and distinctly lacking in helpful details about how to accomplish such a task.

Sometimes I feel like I’m stumbling around in a fog trying to live life like a grown-up.

Anyway, I did manage to find clean underwear, pants and a shirt.  No clean bra, but I am sufficiently covered to start the day.  After starting the washer, I started back down the hall to start “the list” that would help me get my life in order.

I saw this sitting on the studio table…

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…the same encaustic piece that I posted here on Monday, but viewed from a different angle…a different perspective.  The same, but different.

And, I remembered that this week was going to be about creativity and not stress.

And, that led me to think about the fact that I may not have my “life together” with regards to housekeeping, but I I’m pretty good at making a home…

I’m okay with being a homemaker and not a housekeeper.

I’m also good at making some pretty cool stuff sometimes.

It all depends on how I choose to look at it.

Perspective.

So, no giant list detailing the steps I need to take to “fix” my life will be written today.

I will attempt to get the clean laundry put up.

And, I’m not going to clean the whole house in order to satisfy that part of me that thinks I need to do so.

I’m going to stick to my plan to be creative and make something today.

But first, the doctor appointment on Tuesday…

Helpful and not at all helpful.

I like the doctor.  I feel that he is an intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced physician.  He reiterated that I do not have Multiple Sclerosis.

I pointed out that I was relieved to hear that, but that there is still something wrong with my vision.  He repeated that my vision problem was not caused by Multiple Sclerosis.

This pattern repeated itself a few times.

So, it would seem that from a neurologist’s point of view, all is well.  It’s not M.S.

From my perspective, the journey continues.  We have good insurance.  We pay a lot of money for it.  It doesn’t cover everything.  Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to cover much of anything at all.  I can’t just randomly keep seeing doctors and rely on them to solve the problem.

I’m going to continue my research.  It’s good to know what I don’t have.  I’m grateful for that information.  If my eyesight stays the way it is, all is well.  I can still do everything that I need to do.  In the big scheme of things, it’s a mild inconvenience.

Maybe it is stress.

Maybe it’s age.

Maybe it’s related to my hypertension.

Maybe it will get worse.

Maybe it will get better.

The plan is to clean up my diet (again) and lose some weight.  I’ll walk my 10,000 steps a day.  I’ll keep working on reducing stress and trying to get my life together.  I will not stress about getting my life together.

I will be kind to myself during this journey.

I will view things from different angles and keep things in perspective.

Above all, I’m going to spend more time doing that which I am good at…

and spend less time worrying about what I’m not good at.

Journey well today, my friends…

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Some Days

Some days, I’m ready to take on the world.  I work the budget, earn a bit of money, do a few dishes, get a meal on the table, run the laundry, teach my kid(s) a thing or two, and watch a show with the hubby on T.V.

Some days, the world takes me on.  I manage to get out of bed….that’s about it.  There isn’t any more happening.

What’s the difference in those two types of days you may be wondering.  Hmmmm…me too.  I have no clue.  It doesn’t seem to be the amount of sleep I get or the events of the day.  The stress level doesn’t appear to change significantly.

Some days, I get it done.

Other days, I don’t.

Sometimes, I even manage to make it through the list of to-do’s that I’ve planned for myself.  It seems to take all of my energy and concentration to accomplish that though.  I’m more easily distracted and less inclined to do anything extra – like decluttering or being creative.

I’ve decided that those days are okay.  And I’m learning to accept myself as I am and acknowledge that it’s alright that I’m not able to do it all.  I am my own worst critic and project those expectations onto those around.  When I’m frustrated with myself for not being “good” enough, I start to believe that everyone around me is expecting better of me as well.  I feel guilty and get defensive.  Then I get stressed and angry.  Then I yell.

One of the things that I’m working on is not trying to figure our what everyone around me is thinking and feeling all the time.   That’s not my job.  I know that behavior is rooted in a childhood of angry parents and constant discord.

I need to feel my own emotions and let others work out their own feelings.  If I have a problem with me than I need to work on that.  If someone else has a problem with me, they need to express it and we need to work on it.

Some days I just feel overwhelmed by the stress I’m dealing with.  I’m coming to believe that a lot of that stress is self-initiated.  I’m creating it by having unrealistic expectations of my own making.

It all boils down to being kinder…to myself and those around me.

I am a work in progress.

Decluttered the last couple of days:  nothing.

Created the last few days:  nothing.

That’s okay.  I’ve spent time with family, shown up for jury duty, cooked three full meals, cleaned the toilet, done 5 loads of laundry, said yes to my son adopting a dog, let said dog in and out 3,000 times, fed said dog 300 times, mopped up said dog’s sloppy water drinking puddles too many times to count, worked on math with youngest daughter, and written one blog post.

Good enough.

I hope that you gift yourself some peace today.  We are enough, we have enough, we do enough.

 

 

 

When Laundry is Fun

0603161257The new washer is here!  Researched and pondered upon and paid for with cash.  My original intent was to purchase the cheapest washer available, but then wiser heads provided counsel.  Thank you family.  We purchased a more expensive washer, but one that will last considerably longer and is very energy efficient.  If you do an average of 6 loads of laundry a week on the cold setting, the washer has an estimated energy cost of $11 annually.  Of course, I did 6 loads of laundry the first day!  Still, it should save us money in the long run.  Purchased on Memorial Day weekend, there were all kinds of sales, specials and rebates applied, so I am happy with the expense.

Our special needs budget is depleted and we go back to saving for the next item on the list.  It’s a rather long list, but the “joy” factor in saving, waiting and anticipating is well worth it.  It’s also new to me.  I grew up in an environment where if you needed (wanted) it you went and got it.  I am proud of the intentionality of this purchase.

The washer has been named “Tony” by my youngest daughter because it sounds like Iron Man when it fires up.  She has spent considerable time watching the clothes spin and slosh around.  “It’s like a fish bowl, but you don’t have to worry about the fish dying.”  The first load found us all huddled around the washer watching for longer than I care to admit.

Today, I am reminded of the simple joy to be found in doing laundry.  Taking a pile of dirty, smelly wrinkled clothing and transforming it.  Being mindful in the transformative process.  Sorting and filling the washer, measuring out the soap, watching it tumble…transferring the wet load to the dryer.  Pulling out the warm, fresh items and carefully folding them into a neat stack.  Quietly doing a task that I’ve done a thousand times before, but taking the time (and effort) to realize that even such a menial and mundane task is a blessing to others and a luxury that most of the world will never know.

Remembering that I am privileged to have as much as I have – electricity, a washer and dryer, a home to shelter it in, clothing and linens in an abundance, family to make things dirty, and the burgeoning ability to manage it financially with more wisdom.

Over time, it’s possible that washing will become a mindless task again…one in a list of many that I struggle through, but maybe not.

Perhaps, this very intentional purchase signals a significant change around here.  That would be a blessing indeed.

Hamster Wheel of Life

How has it been almost two days since I last posted?  It seems like time flies by so fast and yet nothing of significance has happened to write about.

…so busy running around the wheel of life like a hamster and never really getting anywhere.

But that’s not really true is it?

In terms of “significant” life-changing events, nothing has happened.

No cure for cancer found here.

No Mona Lisa painted.

Haven’t discovered the secret to world peace.

But the busyness of my life is the stuff of real life.  Things have to be done (sometimes over and over again) and although some of it doesn’t seem to be  all that important, life quickly becomes chaos if it is left undone.

Doing dishes, washing laundry, balancing the checkbook, paying bills, schoolwork, actually paying attention to loved ones, late night phone calls answering life questions (or pretending like you actually know the answers), running errands and dropping everything to fix a problem…

It all adds up to something important – this thing we call life.  One person doing what needs to be done in their life and touching another life in the process.  All connecting and getting things done and adding it all together to create something bigger and better.

I try to remember this.  I often fail.  Today I felt the tiny doubts and darkness start to creep in.  What’s the point?  I can’t “balance” anything when there is more need than supply.  I can’t keep up with all that needs to be done.  I’m losing ground and really tired.  I haven’t finished what needs to be done today and now it’s already tomorrow.

It is tomorrow.  Everything didn’t get done and yet the world hasn’t ended.  In the morning I can jump back on my wheel and start running.

Or maybe not.  Maybe I will choose to do each task as if it is taking me somewhere and not a pointless turn around the wheel.  I can choose to believe that my efforts are important and real and significant.

It is a choice isn’t it.

Not exciting.

Not glamorous.

Lots of dried on food, stains that won’t come out, missing socks, explaining a math concept again, chicken poop, dog hair, and someone asking, “where is my…”.

Or I can choose to see the home-cooked meal, running water, warm clothing, time spent with my child, fresh eggs, dogs that are excited when I come home and family that think I know more than I really do.

What’s happened since I last wrote?  Nothing much and everything!

I hope your journey around the sun tomorrow is more than just running on a hamster wheel.  I think we can change the world!

Decluttered on Thursday:

  1. plastic bowls
  2. a too-big sweater that I love, but someone else needs more than me
  3. 3 earrings – a pair that I never wear and one that has been waiting for a lost mate way too long
  4. a reusable grocery bag – got way too many
  5. a pen that only writes some of the time.  It seems to be the one that I always grab when I really need a pen

And today:

  1. underwear bought in the wrong size and never returned to the store
  2. an empty photo storage box
  3. a scarf – pretty, but I never wear it
  4. a pillowcase
  5. a shirt that I really, really want to fit, but no matter how many times I put it on is still too small

 

What makes a good story?

What makes a good story?  Interesting questions isn’t it?  In my opinion it ranks right up there with what is good art or what is a beautiful home.  Questions without answers – or rather questions with way too many answers.  None of the answers wrong and none of them necessarily right.

Just questions to think about (or not) depending on your philosophical bent or lack thereof.

I think a good story is one that someone can relate to.  It doesn’t have to find a huge following.  A one person audience can be enough.  I think I’ll go so far as to say that a good story doesn’t necessarily need to find an audience at all.  It may just be a story that needs to be told.

I’m often at a loss to explain why I am writing here on this blog.  To an audience of people I know and even more that I will never actually meet.  Some good people and probably more than a few not so nice people.  Why write at all?  Why risk?  What’s the point?

I have a story.  We all do.  I’m sure that there are people out there with far more writing skill and most definitely more interesting stories to tell.  I’ve never really travelled extensively.  I don’t have a glamorous job.  I’m not rich or beautiful or profoundly intelligent.  I’d say that I’m solidly average.  But, most of us are.

In my quest to live a more intentional life – a life of thoughtful choices – I’ve learned (am learning) to question the wisdom of following the stories of those who appear to be “better” than me.  Those whose life appears to be “more”.  Celebrities who are famous for absolutely nothing that has made the world a better place.  People who talk a lot and really have nothing significant to say.  Damaging stories that make us want more and better – homes, clothes, cars, detergent, hair, personalities, relationships….

I tell my story.

A story of a 54 year old woman who struggles with her weight.  Who can’t eat one Little Debbie snack cake and leave the rest in the box.  Who has been known to eat frosting from a can.  Who buys healthy food, but doesn’t always make good choices.  Who lost a lot of weight, but only because I had a major health crisis to motivate me.

I’m a wife who loves her husband and a mom who loves her children – but I have been known to yell way more than I should have over things that weren’t worth yelling about.  I worry about the things I’ve done wrong and sometimes wonder if I’ve done anything right.

I’m a homemaker that doesn’t always do a very good job of keeping house.  I have hoarding tendencies that I deal with all the time.  I “pile” things and worry more about what the inside of the cabinets look like than the whole house.  I bounce between wanting to get rid of everything and thinking I can pull off a “cozy and cluttered” ambiance.   Sometimes the laundry is done and sometimes we are scrambling for clean underwear.

I worry about the environment and try to recycle.  We don’t have curbside so sometimes it just gets thrown away.  I read a blog about a zero-waste home and wonder what I’m doing wrong.  The best I can do Is shred our junk-mail and use it as chicken coop bedding.  Other than that, it’s rather hit-or-miss.

I wonder what I should be doing to make the world a better place.  Most of the time, I don’t even know how to make my own home a better place.

This story could go on and on.

Mostly, I worry about being enough.  About doing enough.  About caring enough.  About whether it will matter if I spent time on this planet or not.

Is it enough to try?  And fail.  To be average.

I’m going to say yes.  It matters.  It has to.  It’s all most of us ordinary folks have.  We try. We fail.  We try again.

We hope.

We tell our stories so we know we aren’t alone.

minutiae part 2 – socks

IMAG0790Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot I can add the already extensive writings about “the missing sock” saga.

All I can share is my personal experience.

Above, you see pictured my sock pile.  It lives in my laundry room in a really cool red basket that sits neatly on my one small shelf.

Every time I do a load of laundry I am convinced that the missing socks that I seek will magically appear and that this pile will shrink.

Ha!

There is a baby sock in here from I don’t know where.  My youngest is eleven and I know I’ve given up on socks from that long ago.  At least, I hope it isn’t hers.

There is a baseball sock in there from two seasons ago.  I know, because the team changed colors.

There are socks in there with holes in them.  Why?

There are socks I don’t even remember buying they are so old.

They are gone today.

Unless I decide that it will wait until I catch up on the laundry.  There’s only a million loads.  It could happen today.  Right?

Nope….I’m going to take a deep breath and pitch ’em.

Maybe.

I Hate My Life

Yesterday, I was within one load of having the laundry caught up.  We aren’t going to count the uncollected laundry still on the floor in certain family members’ bedrooms.

It was a happy moment.

Then Matilda, the basset hound, started calling from the back door to be let in.

I went and let her in.

This is the part of the story where I mention that I’m allergic to mold and we’ve had twenty-something straight days of rain and I’m congested and can’t smell anything.

So, Matilda comes plodding in and wanders off.  I go back to whatever I was doing.

Next thing, I hear my oldest daughter retching and screaming Matilda’s name (and maybe some profanity).  And then retching some more.

I go running to her room and Matilda is skulking out.

It turns out that the dog has gotten under the ramp that leads from our deck to the back yard.  She has evidently rolled in something really gross.  Stagnant water, mud and opossum den gross.  She smells like something from the middle of a garbage dump gross.

This is all second-hand.  Remember, I can’t smell anything.

Into the tub Matilda goes.  She doesn’t care for baths.  Bassets are hard to bath.  They have dense, oily fur with a fine hair undercoat.  Thirty minutes later, my daughter pronounces her odor-free.

All of my daughter’s bedding now needs to be washed.

I hear myself say, “I hate my life”.

I’ve been working on not saying that.  I don’t really hate my life.  I don’t care for parts of it.  Some parts are better than others.  I mentally re-word what I just said.

“I am not happy that I have two more loads of laundry to do.”

“I am not pleased with your behavior, Matilda”.  (She’s asleep on the deck in the sun and doesn’t really care.)

“I am not happy that I have to go change clothes and have even more laundry now.”

The voices in my head are a work in progress.

Oh, and when I went to get in bed last night, I find that the dog has managed to roll her grossness on four pillows, the sheets AND the comforter on my bed before going to my daughters room.

Laundry load four and five.

Sometimes, I hate my life.