Live Today

So.

I’ve been depressed.  If you understand depression – that’s enough information.

If you don’t – a thousand words couldn’t explain it to you.

I’ve been getting up in the morning and doing the stuff that needed to be done.  I’ve had good days and not so good days.

Unless you know me well, you might not have even noticed that something was wrong.

I’m doing better.

I think I’m feeling free of the “blues”.

Life has more color.

So we shall start the blog with today.

Some of the yesterdays may find there way here in stories.  Maybe.

I’m just planning on living today.

A month or so ago, I bought a paper-making kit for my art classes.  It turns out that it was more for me than for them.  The paper-making classes turned out great, but the last few days have been even better.

I have become obsessed with making paper!

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I’ve cleaned off my desk and shredded junk mail.

I cleaned out my studio and shredded scrap-booking paper and old artwork and leftovers from previous projects.

I’ve shredded all the scrap and left-behind artwork from school.

I’ve shredded old magazines and journals.

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And I’ve been making paper.  Lots and lots of paper.

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And I’m starting to have some ideas for how to incorporate it into an art project.

I’d tired of using other people’s artwork for my mixed media and collage projects and this is the next step.

I’m getting braver and am using confetti and glitter and grass and whatever else I can find.  Some of it works…some of it doesn’t.

I watched the starter video on how to make basic paper (so my class would think I knew what I was doing), but I haven’t done any other research.  I’m enjoying the process as much as the product.

It’s great fun to see how it turns out!

I hope that you are doing some living today and not worrying about yesterday and tomorrow too much.

And I hope that, today,  you make the time to spend at least a moment doing something that helps you smile.  The joy is there.  We just have to take the time to embrace it.

Peace…

 

 

Back Roads

Hello.

Once again, so much time has passed.  The thought of trying to chronicle the events of the past days is overwhelming and so, I don’t believe I’ll try.

I shall start writing and we will let the important stuff reveal itself…in it’s own time.

I do know for certain that the past days have been shadowed by a rather high level of continuous anxiety.  That is most certainly not helpful.  I have been consciously trying to deal with it by travelling along back roads and unbeaten paths metaphorically speaking. I’ve avoided social media, the news and anything else that could be potentially unsettling as much as possible.

I’ve tried to shed unneeded baggage for this portion of my travels…a full car load of superfluous belongings to the thrift store and another box almost full in the hallway. We’ve streamlined our school plans and made them more efficient and applicable to our lifestyle and my daughter’s learning style.  The housekeeping chores are limited to what has to be done and not what “should” be done.

Basically,  I’m trying to live more realistically and become comfortable with what works for us rather than what I believe the world expects.

This is a work in progress.  Trying to figure out what our new normal will be.  All of this is good stuff.  Steps towards the life I’ve claimed to want for so long…accelerated with a sense of urgency due to circumstances beyond my control.

It seems that losing control…or the illusion of control can have it’s good points.  The silver lining, so to speak.

And what has brought all of this anxiety and goal evaluation on?

Some of it you know about…

The incurable, progressive “whatever” that I have.  Not multiple sclerosis, which is good news, but something.  My doctor’s appointment is on the 18th.  I wait until then and try not to worry or anticipate, but to be patient.

Until then, I’m working my extra job at Sherwood Forest Faire and enjoying the company of some really fantastic individuals who bring me joy and lots of “food for thought”. Definitely good traveling companions for this life’s journey.  Still, it’s fairly obvious that this very physical job is more difficult for me this year than last.  That makes me sad and worry about what the future holds.

The bills for the medical procedures and appointments are coming in.  Our insurance is good, but doesn’t cover everything.  As I enter the amounts into “undebt it”, the program I’m using to track our progress in getting out of debt, I’m watching months added onto the timeline.  Still, we are doing okay financially.  The monthly bills are being paid.

There is something else going on that I can’t share as it is not really my story to tell.  In time, that will be written about.  Until then, I carry a lot of pride and fear for the individual concerned.  Even good decisions can cause stress.

I’m trying to concentrate on the journey and the beauty and joy that are certainly a part of it. Trying to travel at a slower pace so as enjoy the trip more and not miss anything. There are more frequent pauses along the way.  A fancy way of saying that I’m taking lots of naps.

I’m trying to be better about taking care of myself so that I can better care for those that I love.

I’m trying to travel slower and lighter and more intentional.  The same as in days past, but with a greater sense of need and urgency.  This is a conundrum of sorts. Urgency and need do not translate well into less stress and simplicity.

Life.

I’m trying to figure it all out.

Aren’t we all?

Journey well, my friends.

Prayers and blessings…

Happenstance

I wrote some days ago about realizing that the journey I was on was not progressing as well as I would like

…about coming across some journals from years ago in which I expressed frustration with circumstances that are relatively unchanged today

…that the methods I was using didn’t appear to be very effective

…I’m still decluttering, and trying to find time for things I want to do, and attempting to maintain a simpler and cleaner home

…change has happened, but not as much as I would like

I wrote that there needed to be a new plan, but I had no idea what it might be.

I was frustrated.

I was hopeful.

I was anxious.

 

Then, by happenstance. I downloaded the game, gin rummy, onto my phone.

I’ve never been good at gin.  I just thought it might be a good distraction, and hey…it was free.

Do you play gin?  It’s pretty simple in theory.  You have a limited number of cards and need to form melds (sets) before your opponent goes out or you get stuck with points. I’m not going to try to explain the whole game…the important part to understand as far as this post goes, is to know that getting rid of “deadwood” is the key to winning.

The game I downloaded has a range of opponents for you to challenge.  They are ranked in skill from not very good to pretty much unbeatable.

When I started I couldn’t beat any of them.

I played anyway.

Then, I actually went and read all of the instructions just to make sure I understood what I was supposed to be doing.

I still lost a lot, but not quite as much.  I started beating the worst player every once in a while.

I started watching what the best players were doing.

I realized that I was playing the same way I had always played…trying to put together the same type of hand over and over again.

I kept losing.

Sound familiar?

Sound like the way I’ve been working on my house?

That’s what I started thinking.

I started discarding cards…ruthlessly.

I stopped saving cards that would make melds that I wanted to make

…and started saving cards that could and would actually win the hand.

I discarded long-shots.

I stopped holding onto cards that were no longer useful.

I didn’t keep a card just because I liked it (I’m partial to hearts).

If it wasn’t going to contribute to a winning hand, I discarded it.

I quit picking up cards that “might” be useful.

A hand plays out quickly.

There is no time for a lot of “maybe” and “someday”.

Holding onto deadwood is no way to win.

I can now beat any of the opponents except for “Jane”.  I’m pretty sure that she cheats. She wins a lot.  She seems to be very lucky.  Yep,  I think she’s cheating.  I may quit playing against her.

In any case, by happenstance, this game taught me a lot.

Help can come from the most unlikely places.

Who knew?

Life is short.

A day is even shorter.

I’ve got to play the hand that I’ve been dealt.

I can’t hold onto cards (stuff and emotions) that aren’t helping me to build the hand that I need to win the game.  The game being the life that I’m hoping to live.

The wrong cards or too many cards won’t ever come together to help me achieve my goal of a simpler, tidier, more comfortable home.

I need to ruthlessly discard cards that are keeping me from assembling a winning hand.

If I have something that I used to like but don’t any longer, it should go.

If something was expensive, but I don’t love it, keeping it just takes up space that could be filled with a more important card.

Just because something once held deep meaning, doesn’t mean that it gets to stick around forever. I change and the things that are meaningful can change also.

There are only so many cards allowed in a hand.

Holding onto the wrong card means that there is no room for the right card.

I have to make sure that I have the right cards.

Oh, and it helps to make sure that I fully understand the rules of the game – the direction I am headed and my ultimate goal.

Clothes that don’t fit right or don’t fit at all.  Gone. Even (or especially) if I am holding onto them because I like the idea of wearing them rather than the reality of wearing them.  You know, all those clothes you keep taking out of the closet and dropping onto the floor – never really wearing anywhere.

Beautiful things that fit the image of who I would like to be, but don’t fit into the reality of who I am – a woman who hates to dust and despises clutter.  I’m talking about those beautiful home magazine pages of meticulously displayed collectibles and art.  I love the way that looks.  It just doesn’t translate into my real life.  I need to be realistic about the life I live and the way I live it.

Things that I used to use all the time, but don’t use any longer.  Interests and needs change, but I don’t always adapt the stuff I have to reflect where I am right now.  I don’t have four kiddos at home all the time now.  I don’t cook the same.  Life has changed.  Stuff needs to be reassessed.  Holding onto stuff from when all the kiddos were home and little doesn’t stop the progress of time.  Those days are gone.  It’s time to let go of the “cards” that are no longer serving a purpose in my hand and start building a new hand.

There are no excuses in gin.  There is no justification.  Deadwood goes or you lose.

There comes a time when you have to quit talking about what you want.

A time when you have to quit explaining why you can’t have or do what you want.

You have to do what is necessary to make space or time for what you want.

And you have to do it.

 

 

Stopping the Waves

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”  -unknown

So…I’ve been having a rough time of it lately.  Too much time has been spent trying to keep my head above water and battling the waves of life.

I can be a slow learning or put another way…I can be incredibly stubborn and become so intent upon reaching a goal that I hurt myself, and anyone on the journey with me while plowing forward.

Hurricane force winds…no problem.  I’ve got this.  Crashing waves…I’ve got a floatie from the Dollar Store.  Caught in an undertow…I can still see the shore so all is well.

And then comes another wave.  Small or large – it doesn’t matter.  I’m going under and everything is topsy-turvy and I don’t know which way is up and I can’t breathe and all is hopeless.

Learning to surf is a good idea.  Coping strategies are great.  They can be useful, or even essential, for dealing with the waves.

But, I think I’ve finally learned, once and for all, that sometimes I’ve just got to get out of the water and rest.

Simplifying is a great concept.  Hard to implement, but I still believe in it.  But, sometimes I’ve got to go one step further and just put a stop to everything that I can.  I still have to go to work.  Some school still has to be done.  Minimum housework is a necessity, but…

I don’t have to take on new projects or actively work on anything that isn’t urgent

Reading is a perfectly acceptable way for my daughter to “do school”

Home improvement chores can wait for a bit

Facebook will keep on chronicling

The election will still happen

I can remember that the world will keep on spinning without me and my furious bustle of activity.

Why is it so hard for me to accept that anxiety and depression are real?  Why do I feel the constant need to prove that I am worthy?  Why do I consider it “lazy” to rest when I am tired and need to recover from stress overload?

Last week, I practiced being kind to myself.  I rested.  I watched Netflix.  I colored.  I paged through magazines.  I read a book.

I didn’t make lists of things that needed to be done.

Today, I’m ready to dip my toes back in the water.  I’m just going to hang out there for a bit and see how it feels.  I’m giving myself permission to step back out and go back onto solid ground if I need to.  I don’t think that I’m ready to surf, but we shall see.

Anxiety is a real thing.  It causes real physical changes in our bodies.  It can make us more than tired. It can make us sick.  It can keep us on the shore and out of life entirely.   It is not something to ignore or make light of.

We don’t have to let it win.

I’m not going to let it win.

I’m going to learn how to spend some of my time surfing, some of my time wading in the shallows looking for shells and some time sitting in the sand and watching the waves come in…

Balance.

Solid Ground

Hello.

I’m still here.  And, believe it or not, I’ve been thinking about y’all a lot although I haven’t written.

I haven’t written here that is.  I’ve composed many a blog in my head, but honestly haven’t been able to summon the energy to reach out into the world and share – thoughts, feelings or stories.

I’ve identified a new truth about myself and have been spending some time in reflection as a result. After a period of challenges and stress, I have a need to pull in my borders and become a bit of a recluse.  In the past, I believe that I’ve resisted the tendency to do so because it was a sign of weakness.  I don’t believe that to be the case anymore.

August and September were really hard.  I’ve probably mentioned that more than once…

My sister was seriously ill…it is only just the last week or so that the full effects of her illness are being identified.   A lot of the issues are resolving. Some will not.  We are finding a new normal.

My daughter started private school which was a big transition from a relatively unschooling lifestyle.  Time was in short supply and she didn’t get all the attention and support she deserved.  She coped beautifully.  I am so impressed with her.  We struggled to cope with assignments and deadlines and hoped it would all become a comfortable routine – in other words, normal.

Our precarious financial situation deteriorated under the demands of everything that was going on.  Tempers grew short as we all became overwhelmed.  We were all stretched to the limit. We all longed for our old problems, our old life…what had been normal.

It is all too evident that once life has stretched beyond tolerable limits, it doesn’t rebound back into it’s normal proportions.

Things have changed and we can’t go back.

We can; however, seek solid ground and get our feet back underneath us.  And that is what we have done.

I’ve allowed myself to pull back from outside commitments and concentrated on family and myself.  The news has been switched off and I trust that the world will keep on spinning.  There is only so much that I can do and to attempt to do more only results in anxiety, anger, frustration and hopelessness.

Our daughter is back home and we are instigating  a learning plan that fits our needs.  We learned a lot about what works for us, and what doesn’t as far as education goes.  This week has been very good indeed.

The budget is back on the drawing board as we  reassess our goals and the reality of what we can and can’t do to improve our financial situation.

The dreams and plans that we were so excited about at the beginning of the new year last January have been brought back out into the forefront.  We’re evaluating and making adjustments in light of all that has transpired.

And, most importantly, we are resting and actively seeking joy.  There was very little fun and laughter in the last two months.  That must change.

I am exited about having identified my need to stop and rest and recover from hard times…to heal from the damaging results of stress.  Forcing myself to continue on when I’m exhausted and anxious isn’t being brave and strong.  It’s a huge mistake.  It makes me miserable and when I’m miserable…the whole family is miserable.

It’s important to learn from the past, let go of regrets and move on into the future.

So, for now it’s rest and laughter and family as we become comfortable in our new normal.

 

We create.

Some friends had a couple of extra tickets and invited us to a concert Friday night.  It was a lot of fun.  The performers were entertaining, the music loud, and the crowd fascinating to watch.  All in all, a great date night!

During one of the set changes, I started thinking about concerts I’d been to in the past.   I’ve enjoyed them all, but my favorite concert experience of all time didn’t require an expensive ticket and didn’t take place in a huge venue.

Year ago, I started attending a yearly artists’ retreat at a place called Laity Lodge in a little town in Texas.  It is attended by all kinds of creative folk:  visual artists, singers, musicians, writers of poetry, prose, and song, dancers, actors, designers…forgive me if I missed anyone…suffice it to say, there was a whole bunch of creatively awesome people.  Before I started hanging out with this tribe of creative artist, I didn’t have a artistic community to be in.  Even in college, I didn’t hang with the artists. I didn’t feel like I belonged.  I’ve since learned so much from them.

One of the things I’ve learned deals with my concept of art and success.  I’m talking about my idea of what makes an artist successful.  I’d also supposed that an artist became a success when he became known in the world – a visual artist doing gallery shows, an actor on Broadway or on the big screen, a musician or singer on the radio, a writer who is published and on the best-seller list.  I’m sort of embarrassed and ashamed that I even thought that way.  I have a lot of learning to do it seems.

But back to the concert I was talking about.  The best concert I ever experienced was one late night around the fireplace at Laity Lodge.  I was walking through the patio area on my way from the studio to my room.  Around the fireplace was a gathering of people and there was a whole lot of music going on:   guitars, an accordion, singers (including an opera performer), songwriters, and I don’t know what else!  It was a spontaneous celebration.  Some of the participants are well-known in their field of endeavor.  Some are downright “famous”.  Some used to play in the big leagues and have since stepped out of the spotlight by choice.

We all had one thing in common.  We create.  It has nothing to do with the expectation of fame or financial gain (although I don’t know that we would turn down some cash if it were offered).  Some are famous.  Some are making money.  Some are well-known and respected in their field.  Most of us will never be known outside of our respective “tribes”.  We all have one thing in common.  We create.

We want to create.  We have to create.  It’s not even really a choice sometimes.  It’s what makes our lives real.  It has nothing to do with an audience or acknowledgement.  It just is.  It makes us who we are and blesses our community – large or small.

So, here’s to all of the creative people in the world…those I know and those I’ll never meet.  Those whose endeavors I’ll enjoy and those I’ll miss out on.  What you do – what we do matters.

Conundrums and Quandaries?

thCA73529CA few questions as I ponder the possibility about maybe eventually getting ready for the new “school” year. 

  • How do we enjoy the rest of the carefree days of summer if we’re setting up and planning for school?
  • How will we start school if I don’t organize and make a plan?
  • Do you need to schedule a time to start learning?  Shouldn’t it be happening all the time?  “Wait, don’t learn that now…it’s not the right time!”
  • If I do schedule a start time, how do I know when we’re finished?  Can you really finish? “Okay, I’m done.  I’ve learned everything there is to know?”  Who would grade that test?
  • How do you adequately prepare a child for a world that hasn’t happened yet?
  • Who decided that all children should be reading by the age of 6 (or earlier)?
  • Who decided that worksheets are the best way to learn?  Wouldn’t actually using a map be a better way?
  • Why are you supposed to sit down to learn?  Can’t you learn while you are hopping on one foot?
  • Can you learn to cook just by reading a book?
  • What can you learn to do just by reading a book?
  • Do you really need $60 worth of school supplies to learn something?  Free education?
  • Why was the high school graduate who waited on me at Sonic today unable to make change?
  • Why does everyone have to go to college?
  • Why do we gage someone’s success by how much money they make and if they went to college?
  • When in life does someone give you the answers before they ask the question?
  • Why can’t we just accept the fact that not everyone needs to learn calculus or trigonometry? I’m not saying that it’s not important, but I’ve never personally needed it.  Somebody definitely should learn it. (Not sure that everyone needs to read Moby Dick either)
  • Isn’t it possible that everyone doesn’t need to learn everything?  What if we recognized that people had unique talents and abilities?  (Check out a story called The Animal School by George H. Reavis for more on this topic.)

Just a few thoughts from this homeschooling mom as September looms.  Back to school supplies on store shelves tell me I’m already running behind.  It’ll be Christmas before I know it.