Nightmare

This post is partly a progress report and mostly a “Yea Me!” moment.

Yesterday morning I awoke from one of the worst nightmares I have ever had.  In short, it included just about everyone I have ever known involved in a series of “out of control” dramas.  I woke up disoriented and in an extremely agitated mood.

In the past any sort of bad dream has been a warning sign of  depression and anxiety moving in to stay a while.   I’m sorta proud of myself for recognizing the problem and using the skills I’ve been actively working on to take control of the situation before it was too late.

What did I do?  Two things:  I accepted the fact that I couldn’t fix everything that was a problem in my life and world right now, and I tried to focus on what was getting done (not what wasn’t and couldn’t be done).

It worked.  I made it through the day without any major meltdown and it turned out to be a pretty great day!

We still have a lot of yard that isn’t as cleaned up and beautiful as I would like, but this is the first year in awhile that we have kept a garden going this long before neglecting to water and care for it.

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And the watermelon bed got weeded and mulched.

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My herb bed is also partly weeded and mulched.

IMAG0429and remember this?

Thanks to help from my family, it now looks like this!

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In all honesty, I still feel like my yard is a mess, my house is a disaster, we haven’t done as much school as we should have, the financial problems are worse and not improving much at all…I could go on and on, but

I believe that my outlook is slowly changing.  I realize that there is work to be done, but I am no longer constantly overwhelmed by it.  I can stop, breathe, take a moment and look at the positive.  I can take a break from continually running around and trying to catch up until I burn out.  I am taking more time for what brings me joy and for what is truly important.

Today’s plan –

  • some classroom time
  • a lot of dishwashing
  • even more laundry
  • a bit of decluttering
  • some hugs
  • a bit of art making
  • a walk
  • tidy up a bit
  • go to the last baseball game of the season
  • and calmly deal with whatever unplanned disaster that occurs because something will certainly happen because that’s just how life is

It’s a good thing to realize that my efforts to live with intention and to journey towards a better life are resulting in a positive change AND to be able to recognize that those changes are happening.

I love being able to see the sunshine, even on a cloudy day!

Day 13

Post surgery…day 13.  I can’t believe it’s coming up on the middle of October.  It still seems like September to me.  Oh, the things I had planned to do this month.

But instead, I’m focusing on a part of my personal journey that I had chosen to ignore for far too long…my health.  I’ve known my weight and inactivity have been something that I needed to take on as a challenge, but ….

I’ve worked hard to appreciate that  I’m “me” no matter what I look like.  I would have chosen Cindy Crawford if I’d been given the option, but I missed that boat.  Learning to love me is about more than being okay with what I look like.  This is no longer about appearance, but about my health and my life.

Now, I’ve got no choice.  Sixty pounds is my goal, but this is not going to turn into a weight loss blog.  The weight is important, as is the exercise.  But, more importantly it’s part of taking care of myself and having an intentional life…a life that I make the choices in.

Today I’ve realized what a long-term challenge this is going to be. Yesterday, I took my first walk, piddled around the house and sat up working on an art project most of the day.  Today, I found out that I took on to much and really wore myself out.  It’s hard to realized how little control we have over our bodies and to confront the limitations we must face.   It’s easy to downplay the medical crisis and to “bravely” keep on going…”I’m fine.  I’m feeling much better.  I can do this.”  The brain says yes in it’s denial.  The body makes itself clearly heard.

Healthy food (who brought that donut into this house!), rest, short walks…small changes for a lifetime.  Throw in a little art, a lot of family and some spiritual growth.

It’s time to re-evaluate and re-balance again…and probably not for the last time.

Day 13 – healing.

 

To change or not to change.

It’s been an interesting week.  I started off in a bit of a blue funk.  I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.  I didn’t have a car so I couldn’t distract myself with shopping or the like.  I was stuck here with myself.  It could have turned into a really ugly situation.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like being moody.  But, something amazing ended up happening.

Three things really, but three things wound together into one life-changing realization.  Not a big “we’ve sold everything and are joining a cult and moving to a small island off the coast of Africa after having a sex-change” kind of life-changing moment…this was a small, significant change in a way of thinking that makes good change possible.

First, I realized that I was really, really tired of the themed journal-a-day challenge I set up for myself.  Not so much the journaling part, but the “bird” over and over and over again.  I stopped doing them and then have been trying to catch up.  Ugh!

Next, the Get Messy Journaling challenge for the week dealt with the topic of “what would you do if you had the courage to live your dream”…I’ve paraphrased a bit.  We were also supposed to challenge ourselves to a new art technique.  As I wrote yesterday, my first two pages were – not something I liked.  I tried to create without paint and layers.  I went for a plain background.  I handwrote with pen and ink in a free word-association style reacting to the photos.  The photos were of myself at two points in my childhood.  One was a photo of myself as a young child before I have any real memories of life and the other at the beginning of junior high during a particularly unpleasant time.  I know that nobody enjoyed junior high really, but this year of my life was particularly horrible.

And third, I read someone’s post about “having a habit or being in a rut”.  I’m sorry but I can’t remember where I read it and I can’t seem to find it again.  If and when I do, I will give proper credit due.  It talked about the difference between doing something intentionally out of habit and repeating something without intention (being in a rut).

This is what I came up with after a day or two of thought:

  • The journal pages had become a “rut” and thus, were boring.  They all look somewhat the same.  I wasn’t risking anything new or using it as an opportunity to learn.  Of course, they were boring.  I had simply turned it into a chore or task to be done…a check on a checklist.  They were never supposed to be completed works of art, but experiments and practice.  Lesson 1.
  • The challenge was supposed to be exactly that – a challenge.  What I had viewed as a disaster was actually a stunning success.  It’s called art journaling for a reason.  Art is only part of the picture.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and pushed myself artistically and personally.  Equally important:  I participated in community by sharing of myself even though it was uncomfortable and difficult.  Being a part of a community is not always comfortable (the rut).  I needed to make an intentional decision to be part of the community.  In the process I dealt with some personal stuff and took another step in my personal journey.  Lesson 2 – the difficult personal one.
  • Habits are good; especially if you deal with mood issues.  Habits ground us and help us grow artistically.  “Practice makes perfect”.    But I need to avoid falling into a rut in my art making.  I need to challenge myself and grow.   This will mean taking risks and investing myself emotionally in my work.  Lesson 3.

I’ve long hoped to grow in my art and infuse it with more passion and emotion…more of me.  Now I know that, at times, that may be painful or difficult.  I can do that and survive…grow.  Living with intention is never “done”.  It is a process, not a product.

Life and art -a process, not a product.

Discoveries during the journey.

Journey Shrine: cardboard, wood, clay, acrylics, paper
Journey Shrine: cardboard, wood, clay, acrylics, paper

As far as living an intentional life goes, I have decided that living intentionally is not simple.  When I started the journey I am now documenting, I had decided that a simple life would be a better life.  Less stuff, fewer commitments, and just generally reducing stress was sure to be the path to happiness.

Well, part of a growth journey must include the ability to look back and realize how little you knew to begin with.

For example, I’m not, nor will I ever be, a minimalist.  I have cleared a lot of clutter out of our home to be sure.  Last week proved that it is becoming more difficult to find things laying around that serve no purpose.  The decluttering job is never done.  Interests change, kids grow, stuff gets lost, replaced and duplicates need to go.  As an artist who works with mixed media there is an inevitable collection of junk (until it’s exactly what you need and then it’s a treasure).  And cleaning out closets, cabinets and drawers doesn’t solve the problem of clutter if you don’t pick up after yourself and work at maintaining the clean.

And living intentionally is definitely not simple if you are doing it because you have to.  It would be much more pleasant to stop spending on unnecessary stuff if it was a choice.  Today is payday and payday is no longer simple at all.  I’m not trying to overshare here, but there just ain’t enough.  I’m a pretty frugal homemaker, but I’m discovering new heights of creativity!

I guess that last statement is at the heart of this post.  I’m discovering new heights of creativity! 

Less stuff is good.  Buying and consuming less is good…for our family, the environment, the world.  Literally, analyzing every penny is, in the long run, good…but neither simple, nor easy.

No new school supplies this year?  How can we make do creatively with what we have already?

Fewer groceries this month?  Let’s get creative with what we’ve got.

Can’t run out and get more art supplies?  Better get more creative!

I believe that I’ve benefitted greatly from this journey that I’m on.  I’ve learned a lot.  The concept of “a simple life” is a vague and undefined idea.  It’s easy to throw out there…”I want to live more simply”.  But now, I don’t even know what the hell I was trying to say.  I wanted life to be simple so I could be happier.

That isn’t going to happen.

Choosing to be happy despite the circumstances is one of the things I’ve learned thus far.

And the journey can be hard – so hard that sometimes you don’t think you can take another step. Choosing to be happy doesn’t mean you won’t have to stop, cry, and rest along the way.

…a new day

The perfectionist in me was inclined to give up on this blog.  A quick glance will show that my blogging career consists of one initial post and then…nothing.  It would seem that I birthed a bevy of optimists who have encouraged (badgered) me into giving this another try.

It has been a challenging and bewildering year.  We have experienced financial upheaval and have had to re-evaluate our idea of security.  For several years, I was striving to “live more simply” without a clear idea of what that meant.  This year, I have redefined my goal and am attempting to “live with more intention”.  When there isn’t enough of what you need, it is essential to only purchase, consume, and experience what is absolutely necessary.  You have to think carefully about what is needed.  Overall, this transition is not a bad thing…but certainly not easy.

I’m still not sure that I have anything to say that anyone needs or wants to hear, but I do know that community is important…….especially when all you want to do is climb into bed and pull the covers over your head!