Balancing Act

Journal page #20…

0708181922Not a lot of journaling happening lately…

Last week ended with a two-day trip to San Antonio to visit my future grandson and his Mom and Dad.  I forgot my journal although I remembered to bring my supplies.  (Sigh)

Then I got busy working on a larger project (which I finished late last night).  It was inspired by one of my journal pages.

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Houses without Windows

I have an idea for another project that relates to it.  Hopefully, I can start on it this afternoon.

But first, I need to get some other things done.

You know, mundane things like laundry and dog hair patrol.  Necessary tasks but not nearly as interesting as paint and glue and paper…

I could have become overwhelmed by the to-do list buzzing in my head, but I stopped before that happened.

I took a deep breath.

And made a list of all the things that I thought needed to be done by me today.

And then I edited it.

I left the things that had to be done today and started a list for tomorrow (or the next day).

I drew a line through “save the world” and settled on “write a note to a friend having a difficult time”.

I added “journal page or two”.

I wrote “studio time” with the knowledge that I may get started on my new idea or I may spend some time sorting and tidying.

Dishes, laundry and dinner are still on the list.

At the bottom of the list I wrote “balance”.

Then I wrote it at the top also.

I can’t do it all, but I’ve got a degree in English so I can write and edit and make a list that helps me define what is possible and necessary and helpful.

And not overwhelming.

It’s been a long time since I dedicated myself to making time for art-making in my life.  To really commit to the process as a priority.  I’ve sporadically done a bit here and there, but not made it a daily thing.

It’s going to require a great deal of effort to balance consistent art making with the rest of my life.   To effectively integrate it with my other responsibilities and not overwhelm myself.

Making art is an important part of who I am.  It makes me happy (not all the time happy because art is a sometimes frustrating, time consuming and always messy undertaking).  I have some talent, but a definite calling.  At the risk of sounding cliche – art completes me.

I can’t journey towards an intentional life if I don’t include art-making in it.

But, I have other responsibilities also:  Wife, Mom, Sister, Homemaker,  Teacher and on and on…

Adding artist to the mix on a daily basis is doable (I hope).

A balancing act…but a worthwhile one…

Peace.

 

 

 

 

The Broken Bowls

 

0608180035I bought a set of bowls…

They weren’t expensive and I didn’t really need them, but they were pretty – painted in bright colors and I felt happy when I looked at them.

So, I bought them and brought them home with me.

I used them that first night.

The dog smashed the biggest one the second day I had it.  Broken into a lot of pieces. I said it was okay, but I felt a little less happy as I put the pieces in the trash.

The next day, as I was washing the middle sized bowl, I noticed that it had a big chip on the rim.  Okay.  I finished washing it and planted a geranium in it. And turned it around so I couldn’t see the damage.

As I was putting up the washed dishes later that day, I picked up the smallest bowl and saw the crack.  A crack that ran from top to bottom.  I tried to put a plant in it so that I didn’t have to throw it away, but it leaked water everywhere.

I thought about trying to fix it and it sat on the counter for a long time.

Today, I looked at that bowl.

It no longer brought me happiness.

In fact, when I looked at it, I felt regret that I had purchased it at all.

I thought about the fact that everything is not valuable and worth salvaging.

I can’t have it all.

I don’t want it all.

Real happiness is not found in things.

Some things can’t be fixed.

Some things shouldn’t be fixed.

It’s important to practice discerning the difference between what is truly valuable and worth our time and energy and what is not worthy.

Sometimes a broken bowl is just a broken bowl.

And I need to let it go.

Peace.

 

A Funny Thing Happened…

A funny thing happened yesterday during the enactment of my plan.  Not funny as in “Ha Ha”, but funny in the curious “who knew” kind of way.

I started in the dining room which is the first room that you see as you step into our house.  It is also the most used and the most difficult to keep tidy.  We eat at the table and play games there (when it’s not too cluttered with stuff).  Things tend to get dumped there when folks come in.  Groceries land there along with keys, lunch bags, and clean laundry to be folded.

Anyway, I started there.  Armed with three plastic storage boxes leftover from a previous de-clutter, I jumped in.

I packed away almost all of the blankets from the cabinet we keep them in for the winter months into a large trunk that serves as a table in the living room. I left out enough for my sister who is always cold and the occasional sleep-over guest, but I moved them to the cabinet in the dining room.

I sorted through the games that had been in that cabinet (now housing the blankets) and moved the games to the cabinet that had been home to the blankets.  I’m sure there is a better way to explain that, but let’s continue on and not worry about perfection.

As I worked through the room, I dusted and sorted and got rid of…

Here’s the funny part.

As it turns out, once I made the decision to store stuff away, I went ahead and got rid of most of it.  I didn’t feel the need to think about it.

In getting rid of things, I had more than enough room to store stuff that we don’t use very often in the cabinet with the blankets…mostly dishes that have a purpose, but not every day.

I was also able to tuck all the photos that we are working on getting into albums neatly into the cabinet so we can get to them, but they aren’t hanging out everywhere.

A box and a bag are on the way to the thrift store.

A bag ready for the trash man and a bag for recycling.

The table and counter are cleared.

Seven spiders are no longer living with us.  The arachnaphobe living with me is much happier.

And the three plastic storage boxes are still empty.

Today will be the living room and hallway desk area that serves as our office and classroom.

Peace

P.S.  The dining room table has attracted more stuff, but that’s real life.  As soon as I’m done here I’m going to go deal with it.

Progress, not perfection.

 

Just Be Me

today was the day

where i found myself comparing

everything I have done,

am doing

and will ever do with everyone else

and finding myself lacking

not thin enough

pretty enough

talented enough

organized enough

successful enough

just not enough…

but i stopped and reminded myself that

i am

the only me

there is

in this entire world

not just now

but ever

i

was created

to be me

and that is enough

i will probably always need to remind myself

of this fact

that is a part of

who i am

kind of old

and wrinkly

and messy

and forgetful

and quirky

i like quirky

that is enough for now

 

Taking a Deep Breath

Mondays.

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

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

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

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

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

She still is.  Just in a different way.

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

I am taking a deep breath to calm the anxiety.

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

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

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

Today I need to take a shower.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve got this.

Anxiety, go somewhere else.

This Monday is not yours.

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

Peace.

 

 

And now…today

new begin

What’s happening around here today…

Using the above quote as a mantra for today – a new week and a new day.  Trying not to worry so much about what I haven’t gotten done and what I’ve screwed up and all the projects I’ve been avoiding.

Today is a day to start anew and set reasonable goals…and practice grace.

Loving this quote (so much that I put it on a card)

0326181204Still wondering how this happened when I just went in to buy dog food…

0326181219Twelve chicks to add to our menagerie.  We only have one mature chicken left after the last fox attack and she is no longer laying eggs so chicks aren’t an entirely bad idea. Just not planned for right now. They are busily growing and cheeping in the guest bedroom.  The dogs are very intrigued – including our new addition, Skye…

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She belonged to a friend and got in trouble for trying to “play” with their neighbor’s pet rabbit.  We took her in to keep her out of the shelter because what’s one more dog, right?

Getting ready to start preparing these cards for an art mail project that I’ve been wanting to do.  I’ve been putting it off waiting for the “right time” to do it.  That’s code for me worrying about not doing them “well enough” so I just don’t do it at all.  I found this quote and put it on the jar holding the cards to remind myself that I just need to do it…”the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention”

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Anticipating this little guys arrival in August and my new role as Grandma.  The big news I’ve been waiting to share!

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And finally sitting down and actually typing out a blog post which I’ve avoided because I haven’t been doing it…which isn’t really a very good reason not to be writing, but it’s the only one I’ve got.  Technically it’s an excuse, not a reason, BUT…

today is a new day and full of grace…

so there you go.

Hoping that today finds you living in a new day full of grace!

Peace.

The Research

After I got out of the hospital this last time (a second round of multiple hernias and intestinal obstructions plus diverticulitis), I took quite a while to recover enough for everything to return to normal. I quit eating meat because that seemed to be stressful for my digestive system and I was struggling with a loss of appetite.  I wanted to (and needed to) lose weight, but I knew that not eating wasn’t a good option.

I found that I didn’t miss meat all that much…except for maybe bacon.

I didn’t set out to become a vegetarian.  I definitely didn’t plan on becoming a vegan.  I didn’t even know what the term “whole food, plant based diet” meant.

It just sort of started and didn’t stop.

Then one night when hubby was working late and I couldn’t find anything good to watch on Netflix, I happened upon the documentary section and started browsing…

I don’t remember which one I watched first, but here’s a list of what I’ve watched so far:

  • Forks over Knives
  • What the Health
  • Sustainable
  • In Defense of Food
  • Plant Pure Nation
  • Food Choices
  • Food, Inc.
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 1 & 2
  • Fed Up
  • Super Size Me
  • Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue

Most of these were watched while walking on the treadmill.  I found them to be very motivational!

Some of them seemed a wee bit crazy at first.  A very radical step away from cultural norms.  A lot of that seems more normal now that I’ve embraced this journey.  Some of them are still too crazy for me.

I’m also currently reading (and using recipes from):

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I’ve noticed some benefits other than health related ones so far…

Dishes are much easier when you aren’t cooking with animal based products and extra oils!  They pretty much just rinse clean.

The chickens and rabbit are very happy and well fed and the compost pile is filling up nicely.

And the amount of trash we are producing is significantly less.  We are recycling more efficiently and there is little that actually goes to waste.

Grocery shopping was harder the first couple of times we went after starting this.  Label reading took on a whole new meaning and many previously favorite items were reluctantly placed back on the shelf.  Then it became a sort of treasure hunt as we would read labels in the store and joyfully shout out, “We can eat this!” or “I found something!”.

Even though we thought we were pretty savvy shoppers, I was totally caught off guard at the amount of sugar (in various forms) that can be found in almost everything!  And how many ingredients does it really take to make bread, cereal or salad dressing?

Now the majority of our shopping is done in the produce section.  We shop for a rainbow of colors and I know words like phytochemicals and lycopene.

Our spice collection is growing beyond salt, pepper and garlic.  We still don’t like curry, but we’ll try it again at some point because our taste buds are slowly reawakening to natural flavors.  Smoothies with just fruit now taste too sweet to me and are reserved for dessert status.  Our added salt intake is greatly reduced.

I miss butter…on toast and potatoes and well, everything.  But, I don’t miss it as much as I did three weeks ago.  I’m sure my arteries don’t miss it at all.

This is challenging.

And interesting.

I think my mind is starting to wake up a bit as I pursue more knowledge about my food, my body and my health.

Good food for the body and the mind.

Steps in the right direction on this journey…

Today

Okay, maybe recovery from a depressive episode isn’t a one and done deal…

And maybe honesty with oneself about how hard life has been is a good idea…

I think I’m really back in the light again this time.

I feel good.

I’m writing.

The past days have been about rest and art and changing bad habits into better ones.

My eyesight isn’t better and I have a stack of medical bills that have increased the debts I’ve worked so hard to reduce.  I calculate that every trip to a new specialist will add thousands of dollars in debt.  We have insurance.   It doesn’t cover everything. Since I’m not dying of a brain tumor and I don’t have multiple sclerosis, I’m taking my health into my own hands for a bit.

So, the plan is to work towards improving my overall health and continue to work towards reducing stress and changing the way that I react to the stress that is inevitable.

Step one…acknowledging that life has been challenging the past year.  Most of those challenges are here to stay.  My sister’s health will continue to be a responsibility.  We haven’t won the lottery.  The house has not improved itself.  My son will be jumping out of an airplane in a few months and then will move on to being shot at.

But, I have the summer off from teaching and that allows for rest.  And I have come to understand that ignoring the reality of the stress or pretending that it is not a big deal is not helpful.

Step two involves removing as many chemicals and additives from my environment and diet as possible.  Label reading has taken on a new priority!  Our grocery bill has increased, but I figure that I’m either going to pay for healthier food or more medical bills.  The junk food is gone and vegetables and fruit are filling the majority of my plate.

The transition has not been as hard as I anticipated.  If I were to be completely honest, it’s possible that in the past I might have considered a box of Little Debbie snack cakes to be an adequate meal.  Let’s just keep that little confession between the two of us…okay?

Step three relates directly to the house and yard.  I am continuing to declutter and assess the amount of stuff in our house.  But, more importantly, I am trying to be more realistic about how the house looks…and worry less about what other people might think.  A lot of living happens here.  It’s not a magazine photo shoot.  And I am not Suzy homemaker.

Honestly, some days I don’t know who I am…or who I want to be when I grow up.

So, I’m going to keep trying to figure that out.  And work towards being the best “me” that I can be.  I’m acknowledging that looking like Cindy Crawford is probably not realistic. I’m working on that expectation.  I working on a lot of things…

including this..

Still a long way to go.  I’ve figured out the meaning (for me).  I don’t normally comment on what a work means to me, but I might make an exception this time…once it’s done.

Today I am doing laundry.  And making more paper.  And sanding and scraping off the paint that I just added to the canvas above.  And (sigh) figuring out our finances and paying bills.

and reminding myself that life is good and that I am an okay person most of the time…

and that I will write again tomorrow even if it’s hard.