Lost in Anxiety

Greetings fellow travelers,

Welcome to all the new followers.  I’m always a bit surprised (but grateful) when someone new chooses to “follow” me.  Be forewarned, I tend to wander and often get lost.  I guess that’s part of the adventure.

I did get lost this weekend metaphorically speaking.  It was a payday weekend and after I paid the bills there was so little left.  I know that’s a thing for a lot of folks and we are lucky that I made at least the minimum on everything.  My husband has a good job and I have a side gig that brings in a bit.

Still, as a I stood in line at the grocery store and watched the organic and healthy stuff ring up, I was consumed with doubt.  I could have spent significantly less by buying conventional produce and meat, and skipped the non-gmo goods and whole wheat stuff.  I stood there thinking that maybe it wasn’t worth it and I was just adding more stress to an already stressed budget.

As I talked it over with my husband later, he reminded me of the reasons we were making these changes and, ever the optimist, he reminded me that it always works out somehow.

That’s true.  We’ve never gone hungry and we’re not homeless.

The changes we are making aren’t easy, but with effort, some mistakes, and course corrections, we will figure it out.

The anxiety persisted through the weekend.  Once it starts, it’s hard to turn off.  It’s like some perpetual motion wheel powered by an anxiety hamster.  And, like a hamster, it runs loudest and fastest at night.

As I’ve tried to go to sleep each night, I start thinking of all the unfinished (and urgent) projects around here:  the failing floor in the hallway and laundry room, the collapsing deck, the not quite ready garden, the too-small chicken coop…all waiting for funding and time…

The lack of sleep only intensifies the issue.

Today, I have made a list of the projects and brainstormed plans and cheap solutions.  Some of the brainstorming is less practical than others.  I did find a you-tube video that shows how to make a perfect chicken tractor!  And it’s doable with some junk (resources) we have laying around here.

Detailing the problems on paper and finding solutions is much more helpful than worrying about them when I should be sleeping.

I refuse to let anxiety get the upper hand.  I may have to live with it, but I won’t let it win.

There will never be “enough” money for all the hopes and dreams that we have.  But there is enough for what we need.  The trick is discerning the needs vs. the wants and balancing it all out.

Accomplished today:

Most importantly, I’ve fed (homemade baby food), loved, rocked, talked to, and gotten to sleep for two naps the cutest grand-baby ever.

Got red beans and the Christmas ham-bone in the crock pot simmering for dinner.

Planted my echinacea seeds and have them out in the sun in the plastic storage box “greenhouse” while I dream of a real greenhouse someday.

Watered all the tomato, pepper, tomatillo, and herb seedlings I’ve managed to keep alive thus far.

Washed and dried two loads of laundry and decided that a clothes-line is definitely on the to-do list.

Turned my compost pile and shredded all of my newspaper and brown paper to mix into it.  I’m mowing the knee high grass in the dog yard and need to balance out all the grass clippings.  The compost pile is almost ready to tuck-in for “cooking”.  There’s another thing on the to-do list…another compost pile.

Small steps with optimism and a clear goal…anxiety be gone.  I’ve got a plan and I don’t have time for you.

 

 

Anxiety Doodle

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Yesterday’s journal page – an anxiety doodle done throughout a very stressful day.  As everything worked out well by the end of the day, I cut up the “anxiety” and glued it to a page.

The day started out rough.

First off, I noticed all the little things that were undone around the house and began by wondering if taking the time for art was worthwhile.  The dishes undone, the laundry undone, the trash the dogs got into strewn around the living room, and the half-finished decluttering and organizational projects all about.

Next, we had to deal with the car issue.  Our credit isn’t great,  we had a limited amount of money to work with, and we really don’t want monthly payments.  Also, sharing my daughter’s car with all of our schedules is impossible.

I like shopping for cars almost as much as I like hanging out in the DMV or the phone store.

In other words, not at all.

My family pulled together, started the search and headed out to solve the problem while leaving me at home to make peace with our home.

(and find peace for myself)

They can be simply amazing!

By the end of the day they had purchased a good, solid used car well within our budgeted car repair fund – newly established by our recent windfall.

It’s not even ugly! It’s a sharp-looking Volvo station wagon type vehicle.  Lots of room for our lifestyle, but not too big to drive comfortably.

And although the house doesn’t look significantly better than it did this morning:

  • we have enough clean clothes to make do
  • there are some clean dishes to eat off of
  • the trash is gathered and to the curb for pickup tomorrow
  • and, most importantly, it looks like home through my eyes

Anxiety dealt with and disasters averted.

Life is good!

Peace

Be Kind

 

 

Still feeling under the weather, but plodding along anyway.

Journal page done and posted.  Yea me!

A check we have been waiting on finally came in a few days ago.  I’d done lots of math in anticipation of its arrival in order to make the best use of it.

A few things were paid off and an emergency fund established.

And yesterday, our car (which had been struggling) let it be known that it was done for.  A check-up at the mechanic’s verified what we had feared – the transmission is shot.

Sigh.

One step forward…

and two steps back.

It’s an old car and really not worth the money we would need to put into it to fix the transmission.  It also needs some work on something that makes the front wheels and the back wheels go round and round together.

I know that was a pretty technical description of the problem, but let me put it in simpler terms…probably well over $500 for that fix.

And the air conditioner doesn’t work.

So, it looks like we will go car shopping.

Yea.

Sigh (again).

On the bright side.

We have an emergency fund.  We only had it for a couple of days, but it still counts, right?

It’s not enough for a car, but it’s something, right?

It’s all going to be okay.

I think.

Maybe.

Nope, it’s definitely going to be okay.

Peace.

A Journey Shared

I think I’ll just start typing and see where the words take me today.  I have a story to tell, but there are many dimensions to it and I’m not sure what is the most significant element.

I’ll start at the beginning and we shall see where we end up…

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store with my sister to pick up a few things that the family needed.  I say needed because we’ve been in a sort of financial dilemma for the last couple of months.

By dilemma, I mean that a combination of miscalculations on my part and factors outside of my control have combined to mean that there is just not enough money.

We’ve eaten down the pantry and freezer and are being creative about meal making.  No worries, we are pretty creative types.  Still, honestly, there has been some stress around our household about the situation.

Anyway, I arrive at the grocery store with my sister and as we are parking we notice a young family with four small children standing around a car with the hood up.  Various car parts that appear to be from the engine are leaning up against the car.

It is obviously a bad situation, but since I know nothing about engine repair and don’t know what I might offer to do to help in this situation, I continue into the store with my sister to purchase what I need to feed the family through the weekend.

I complete my purchases, excited that by combining markdowns, sales and coupons, I am able to buy quite a bit for a relatively small amount of money.  To be completely honest, I didn’t spend more than we had available so I won’t overdraw the account.  Life is good.

On our way out of the store, that same family is at the service desk.  The four children are sitting quietly nearby,  Mom and Dad are doing something with some Western Union paperwork.  My sister walks over to talk with them and upon completing the conversation discretely hands the dad all of the cash that she has.  My sister does stuff like this all the time.  She’s a giver.

I help my sister out to the car and while unloading our groceries, I ask her what their story is.

The mom had landed a job cleaning at a hotel just up the street from the grocery store.  The hotel was letting the family stay in a room while she worked there.  She got laid off because they were overstaffed.  The family had resorted to living in their car which had now broken down.  They had found someone to fix the car, but were attempting to make arrangement to get everything done.

Four kids, no job, no home…

I don’t know what choices or decisions guided them to that grocery store and that parking lot and that situation.

I’m not even sure that I completely understand the choices and decisions that have landed me where I am today.

The journey is complicated and we make a thousand choices and decisions along the way.  Sometimes, we take the right turn.  Sometimes, not.  Anyone of us could end up homeless with a broken down car in a parking lot.  Of that, I am sure.  For millions around the world, that would be a step up.  Life is crazy that way.

What I do know is that in that moment I was hit full force with the realization that “need” is relative.  I had just purchased groceries that I was certain that I was in “need” of.

Now, in comparison with the “needs” of this family they seemed like luxuries.

I did some calculations in my head and went back in and purchased a gift card for the family.  The groceries I had purchased for the next few days will need to stretch further than I had planned.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll be eating them in my house at my dining room table.  My family will have a car to drive to work in.  There is a paycheck coming in the future.  It won’t be enough, but we will make it work.

I wanted to do more, but at least I know that they won’t be hungry for a day or two.  And I hope and pray that they hold hope in their hearts and that there journey will become easier.

I have continued to think about that trip to the store.

Did I do enough?

What else could I have done?

What was my responsibility?

If “need” is relative, what standard do I use to determine our needs vs wants?

Many questions.

Many choices and decisions.

Lots more to think about.

Need vs Want.

Sharing.

Kindness.

The journey continues.

kindness

Possibilities

edward-albee-optimism-quote

Yea!  I’m writing three days in a row.

Things must be going better.

That’s not the only sign.  Optimism is definitely the word of the day.

My laundry room has been tidy and clean for over a week…

and I’m able to see and appreciate the tidiness and organization instead of the unfinished plywood covering the floor that needs replacing. Well, I see the plywood but have hope that someday it will be fixed along with all the other stuff…that’s progress enough for now.

I went out with my sister and we visited the thrift store…something that I’ve been avoiding lately because I don’t want to undo the de-cluttering progress that I’ve made.

And (holy crap, batman) they were having a half-price clearance event to get ready for all the Christmas stuff.

(Insert a brief moment of panic when I saw that sign)

But, I did okay.  I held some things and made good decisions. Only a few things came home and most were on my mental list of things I need (or really want) but can’t afford.

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  1. A can for storing pet food.
  2. A whole foods cookbook that has been on my Amazon list for a while.
  3. A trashcan for next to my chair in the living room where I do a lot of cutting while watching t.v.
  4. A new wallet because my old one is almost worn out.
  5. Fiesta saucers to go under the herbs I’m going to start growing to save money because they are called for in every recipe I’m cooking lately. These were cheaper than actual thingies to go under plant pots and are colorful.  Win, win!
  6. A curtain tie-back because two went into the storage closet and only one came out and there are two windows in the bedroom.  They even match!
  7. A good book for homeschooling that I’ve looked at several times but couldn’t afford
  8. Pencils, because who doesn’t always need pencils?

I’m happy because I don’t see any regrets there and I actually saved a significant amount of money.

It’s been a good day.

Dinner is in a crock pot on the counter.

Today is payday and we made it through the last pay period without going in the red.  We barely (and I mean barely) maintained a positive balance, but that’s enough for now.  The important stuff got paid and by that I mean we still have electricity and water and food.

I read an article today that indicates we aren’t middle class. That was kind of a bummer…

But, today I am able to focus on the good.

We have a floor and a roof and walls all around.

Many don’t.

We have food in our pantry and refrigerator and a means to prepare it.

Many don’t.

And today, I can see my blessings.

With depression, that is not always possible.

With depression, optimism is not always a choice.

Without hope, the world is dark and lonely and impossible.

Today, things seem possible.

May your day be filled with light and possibilities…

 

All Shall Be Well

All in all, this has been a successful week.  It’s necessary to look back on it as a whole though.  Picking it apart makes it possible to focus on what didn’t work…and more things worked out than not.

I have followed through with my plan to eat a more healthy diet overall this week.  Lots of veggies and fruits and whole grains.  More plant based protein and less meat.  Cutting out sugar and anything overly processed.  My neighbor did make us a deliciously awesome, totally homemade, absolutely decadent cake this week.  I may have had more than one piece.  She is the best cook ever and does everything from scratch.  And the cake had fruit in it and maybe some carrots, and nuts…so it wasn’t a total oops.

This is lunch.

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Ummm.  I have to say the picture on the box looks better than the food in the bowl and it smells a little funky, but it tastes ok.  It’s not a Sonic cheeseburger or a chopped bbq baked potato from Smokey-Mo’s, but I am learning to like it.  There are some good flavors in there.  Old habits are hard to break.  And I was drinking a big glass of ice water with it, but I set it down somewhere and now I can’t find it.  Sigh.

The decluttering effort is back underway.  This all went to the thrift store yesterday.

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Most of it is from my youngest daughter’s room.  She is growing up and parted with quite a few of the formerly cherished toys from the back of her closet.  I had more problems with it than she did.  When I asked her if she was sure about such a drastic purge she replied, “Mom, some little girl is going to have so much fun when she finds this stuff at the thrift store.”  True words and ones that I will replay in my head as I tackle my stuff.

Speedy, the dog is recovering from his back injury.  It only cost $200 (sarcasm intended here) and he is almost back to his old (slightly annoying) self.  He is not yet following my every footstep, but he does manage to whine when I move out of his line of vision.  He has a lesion on his spine and is basically “a ticking time bomb” according to the vet.  Bassets are prone to back problems so we will just make sure his remaining time is good and take each day as it comes.

The rental car is being returned today although we haven’t actually gotten a check from the insurance company.  I’m not sure what they think we are supposed to drive while we wait for dispensation, but I guess it’s not their problem…in their opinion.  We do have my sister’s car to use, but one car for 3 drivers who all have different schedules is not fun.  We can make it work, but it’s still extremely frustrating.

I am still making paper and having a lot of fun doing it.  It’s become my “go to” thing when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life.  This is just part of what I’ve created so far.

 

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Some ideas for using it in projects are percolating, but real life is taking a lot of time and there hasn’t been much left over for artistic pursuits.

I haven’t heard from my son in over two weeks.  Last time I talked to him he was still in the hospital.  He said the medical discharge from basic training could take up to a month. I’m assuming that he is doing okay.  It’s hard not to know what’s going on.

I keep telling myself to be patient.

Things will work out.

The healthier diet and regular exercise will improve my health and the way I feel in noticeable ways.

The house will become even less cluttered and easier to manage (and maybe I’ll find my missing glass of water).

The vehicle situation will work out even though it seems hopeless right now.

There will once again be time for art and creativity.

And all the other realities that are crowding in and making things challenging will be dealt with and resolved…

some to my satisfaction and some in ways that I will learn to deal with.

Patience brings peace

and peace births happiness

and happiness brings joy…

and none of it comes easy, but it is doable.

Life is good and all shall be well.

 

 

Going Back to Move Forward

I read somewhere that if you get stuck in a problem, physical activity can affect your brain and make physiological changes that result in new perspectives.

So, since I feel somewhat mired in multiple challenges (my positive word for problems), I’m going to travel back to the beginning and try a fresh start.

I had figured out our budget so that it was working somewhat.  The bills were getting paid even if we weren’t making much progress in getting out of debt.  It was working.

“Was” is the operative word.  The insurance company’s quote for our truck is a tiny bit more than the “blue book” quote.  The appraiser did deduct $50 from it’s value because of the flat tire.  Hmmm. The tire that is flat because their client caused an accident that totaled our truck.  I don’t think so.  And he deducted $60 because the seat had a rip in the upholstery.  Right.  Because it was our idea to sell you the truck in the first place.  The wear on that truck didn’t affect it’s ability to transport us anywhere we needed to go.

So, the person who caused the wreck gets a nice, new car and we don’t even have enough to even make a down payment on something that we can afford to pay out.  All because my husband actually stopped at red light while she chose to run one.  We lose the rental car on Friday and have no way to replace the truck we lost. In case you can’t tell, I’m a tiny bit pissed off.

Most of the time I can deal with the fact that the world isn’t fair.  Today is not one of those days.

But where was I before I started ranting.  Oh yea, the budget.  Today, I am starting a new budget.  Working with where we are and playing with numbers to see what I can make work.  It’s the grown-up thing to do.  It’s moving in a positive direction.  And we all know how much I like working with numbers.  It’s okay.  Doing something is better than sitting around being pissed off.

And, I have realized during this bout of depression that the house has remained relatively together.  Not ready for a magazine photo shoot, but just slightly worse than “lived in”.  That’s got to be the result of the decluttering efforts of the past.

So, we’re going back to the beginning and doing another round of clean-out.  Life is changing again.

Youngest daughter is growing up.  She’ll be 14 in the fall.  Her interests are evolving and she is working on decluttering and organizing.

Oldest daughter has moved back home to do some evaluating of her life goals.

Son is coming home from basic training at some point.  He is receiving a medical discharge and will be back here to figure out his next step.

For now, we are moving folks and stuff around in the house to re-configure the best use for our family.

So far, lots of things are in the give-away pile.  Pictures to follow…

Life happens…good stuff and bad stuff.  That’s how life is, if you are actually living it.

And I love quite a few things about our life.

Mostly, I love our family.  I love how close we are and how supportive we are of each other.  I didn’t have that growing up.  My siblings were older than me and were grown before I was really aware of what family could be.  My parents struggled with a lot of personal issues.  Emotionally, I was on my own.

If I have done nothing else right, I didn’t suck at building a family.  I wasn’t a perfect mom and we aren’t a perfect family, but we are making it work.  Together.

And we will get through this rough patch.

We will keep moving forward.

Even if we need to take some steps backwards to do so.

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.

 

Knowing vs. Worrying

 

There are many changes happening around here.  Change can be challenging when you are the type of person who likes to believe that you have it all under control.  Change can mean admitting that everyone is not okay and that there might be a better way to do things.

Change can mean that “growth” is taking place and changes are in order to accommodate that growth.

It would appear that the current art project is a reflection of that.  The glass jar is now obscured, although we all know that it’s there…buried under several layers now.  The house has evolved and will continue to do so, I expect.  The roots appear inadequate now as a foundation for the house.  They worked for the jar, but need to grow to support the new structure.  What’s it all mean?  Good question.  I’ll leave that up to you.

The biggest change around here has been our new attitude towards money – specifically the purchase of the new window unit.  We all agreed that change needed to happen.  We would be most uncomfortable living in a home without air-conditioning when the temperature is 95 degrees and it’s June.  It’s only going to get hotter.  We briefly considered attempting to get a loan of some type to solve our problem.  That would be solving one problem and adding to another one.

We are committed to getting out of debt.  We managed to not add to our debt and purchase the air-conditioning we needed.  Less than a year ago, we would not have had the information we needed to work through this issue in a responsible manner.

Because we started a budget (You Need a Budget) and started using Dave Ramsey’s Snowball Debt Reduction Plan, we are better equipped to make responsible decisions.  I recently found another tool, UndebtIt.com, that is also helping.  This site calculates our debt accounts, payment amounts and projected payoff date.  I love having programs that do the math for me.  I do not have a head for numbers.

I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed the brutal process of getting our finances in order.  It was hard to face the amount of debt we had versus the income we have.  It was a shock to see how long it will take to pay off everything.

But now we know.  We know how much money we really have and it’s not the amount on the paycheck.  Now, when I am shopping, it’s easier to make the distinction between want and need.  There is a goal in place to work towards.  Knowing, even when I don’t like the information I have, is better than not knowing and doing nothing to improve the situation.

We have the beginnings of a savings account to handle true emergencies.  I know how much we need to pay on each debt monthly to reach our goal.  Unexpected things can still happen and throw a metaphorical wrench in our plan, but I’ll be on top of the situation and have a better idea of how to deal with it.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about debt.  I’ve read the advice of experts and personal blogs discussing specific stories and solutions.  I don’t normally give advice here – if someone finds something of use or inspiration here that’s great – but I don’t have any great insights or answers (just my stories).

In this case, I’m going to make an exception.  If you are struggling financially, in debt, and spending way too much time worrying about money, it’s better to know the facts.  It’s better to have a budget and a plan.  It’s better to face the facts right now and start the process of fixing the problem.  Denial doesn’t help.  I have shed many a tear over our finances.  I have blamed myself and everyone around me for our problems.  I have ignored the situation and pretended that everything was okay.  We have paid out money in bank charges and late charges and interest.

Not any more.  Now, I know where we stand.  There is a goal, a light at the end of the tunnel and hope.  It’s easier to make financial decisions when I understand the consequences. We no longer are living a life where it seems like the current situation will never end.  Things are going to get better.

Knowing that simple fact makes everything easier to deal with.

Decluttered the last few days:

  1. a ball cap
  2. a small shelf
  3. some old records
  4. a bank for spare change
  5. a cookbook
  6. another ball cap
  7. some more socks with no mates
  8. some textbooks
  9. curtains
  10. expired medication