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.

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…

 

But wait, there’s more…

When I wrote last Monday, I was coming to terms with life.  I was looking on the bright side.  I was maintaining a positive attitude.

Everything is going to be fine.  Tough times come and they go.  Life is still good.

By Tuesday, I was even making a gratitude list.  I managed about 20 things on that list without getting too trite.  Good health for my family and reliable(ish) transportation that didn’t require a monthly car payment in our extended budget were on that list.

Have I give away too much information?

Can you guess what the rest of the story might be about?

Tuesday night my husband jumped in his truck and my youngest and I jumped in our car (that really belongs to my sister, but she lets us use) and headed off to clean the offices that provide a bit of extra income.

We got the job done and bid adieu to my husband as he set off for work.  Youngest daughter and I headed home.  Five minutes later, I got a phone call as I was sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to change.

It was my husband.  Turns out that as he was sitting at the intersection of Hero’s Way and Highway 183A waiting for his light to turn from red to green there was a horrible accident.  And he was part of it.

A car coming up to the light on the opposite side of the intersection failed to stop at the red light.  She was going pretty fast.  The truck moving through the intersection at 65 plus mph swerved to miss her.  Hit her anyway, went airborne taking out all the signs at the intersection and bouncing off of the hood of my husband’s truck slamming it against the curb and traveling on.

My husband said all he saw when he looked out the window was a truck flying through the air and then his head hitting the inside frame of the window.

Did I mention that my husband has had a previous broken neck and that his neck is fused solid?

He’s okay except for some neck pain.  We’ve visited the doctor and physical therapy is in the works.

Four or five feet further back and the impact of that truck would have been fully on the passenger cab of our truck.

My husband was lucky and blessed and so are we.  That’s the bright side.

The down side.  There is no doubt that our truck is totaled.   The front passenger side tire is somewhere in the middle of where the engine used to be.  It’s a really big paper weight.

The driver that caused the accident had the least amount of insurance to meet the requirements of Texas law.  Her car is probably totaled from what I saw.  The other (much newer) truck is totaled also.  The truck’s passengers were transported by ambulance.  I doubt that there will be any payouts by the time it comes to our turn.

Luckily, we have underinsured driver insurance.  That will help.  The blue book on our truck isn’t much, but it meant the world to us in terms of financial life.

What next?  It’s up to the lawyers at this point.

And the doctors if my husband’s neck injury turns out to be something more serious.

Time will tell.

Nothing serious went wrong on Wednesday and Thursday.

Let’s all breath a sigh of relief.

Oh, wait…the week isn’t over.

Remember Speedy the basset hound?  The nine year old that (for some crazy reason) I adopted because he was surrendered to the pound because his family didn’t want him anymore?  The one that had surgery for the anal tumor.  The one that is incontinent because of said surgery. The really annoying one that follows me everywhere (and I mean everywhere).  The one that needs so much attention that if I won’t pet him, he will simply stand by my chair and rub his own head against my foot.  Yes, that dog.

This morning he woke up and is having trouble walking and whimpering.  It’s probably a spinal problem.  That’s common among older bassets.  He’s on pain meds for now and will go in to the vet on Monday for x-rays.  Then I get to make that decision.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The how much can we afford to spend decision.  The one where you get to place a value on a life…

Other things are sorting themselves out well enough.  Not ideally, but they involve the situations that caused me to invoke the Serenity prayer on Monday.  All I can do is aim for peace and make the best of whatever happens.

…because it is my circus and they are my monkeys.

And all shall be well.

 

 

Radljost

Radljost (noun, Icelandic) enough light to find your way by

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It would seem that I am raising a pretty smart kiddo.

Last night she was my “radljost”.

She often is.

This was her response when I commented that I was old…when I felt old and tired and depressed.  She said it out loud in the car and I made her write it down so I could keep it always and remember it.

I have made it this far.  Some days that wouldn’t seem like much of an accomplishment. Last night it was a struggle.

And then simple words said in love…radljost.

I want to remember what she said because it is so true.  It was the perfect thing to say and exactly what I needed to hear.

She didn’t try to tell me that I wasn’t old.  She’s 13.  I’m 55.  In her eyes, I am old.  And based on my family history, I am well past middle age.  I am unlikely to live to be 110.

She was honestly optimistic…Here are the facts.  Be grateful for what you’ve got.  Move on.

Today is a better day.

I slept well.

It is payday.

I get to teach art.

The problems of yesterday are still with me, but I’ve made it this far and have hope to keep on going.

I am not going to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

The journey is worthwhile and all the better for the loved ones that I get to travel with.

 

 

 

f life lately…

 

The Sun Came Up

The sun did come up to day.  It’s not shining brightly, but it’s there.  I am grateful.  I can’t say that I spent any amount of time as I went to bed last night worrying about whether the sun would rise or not.   It’s just not helpful for me to worry about stuff that’s out of my control.  There is nothing I can do to assure that the sunrise will occur.  I’m just grateful that is has so far.  And optimistic enough to plan on it happening again tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not doing “enough” to make the world a better place.  I admire a number of people that I believe are doing a great job of it.  I try to emulate some of their behavior.  I’m sure that I fall short.

I think a lot about what I am doing and what I should be doing. I worry about being “enough” and doing “enough”.

Is it selfish of me to buy a new art journal or should I donate the funds to the local food bank?

Do I need a new pair of shoes when there are people in the world doing without?

Is it right to complain when my air-conditioning goes out when much of the world will never even have that luxury?

Am I a horrible person to be resentful at times when I feel that I have less than someone else…or turn a blind eye to the fact that I have so much more than many?

There is much wrong in this world.  That has always been the case.  It would be easy to fall into the pattern of just not caring at all.  To turn a blind eye to all of it. To give up, or not to try at all because it seems hopeless.

To be sure, there are many problems to be solved.  I think that it is unlikely that we, as members of the human race, can easily even identify what all of the problems are, much less prioritize and figure out how to solve them.  It’s just not that simple.

I’m a reasonably intelligent and fairly well educated individual.  This all makes my head and heart ache.

There is so much anger and hurt in this country right now. So much name-calling and hurtful rhetoric.  So much reactionary thinking and actions.

We are all affected.

“Win” and “Lose” are inadequate words to use in this situation.  They don’t appropriately describe anything about this situation at all.  Nothing is finished.  The work is not beginning or ending…it is continuing.  It’s not a race in a straight line and not really a race at all.  I don’t expect a finish line to be crossed in my lifetime or that of my children.

The race we should be concerning ourselves with is the human race.  The people that we know, those we have yet to meet and those that will remain strangers to us.

To acknowledge that one groups’ fears, anxieties and needs cannot take priority over another..  That we all have value and are important.

We must all dream of and work towards a better world…a world where me must do the work we are called to do.

We must all live in this world…the world that the sun rose upon today.

We must do this together in our own small or large way.

We must be thoughtful and kind.

There is not just an “us” and a “them”.  That is divisive thinking.

There is me and you.

With a big job to do.

I don’t have any glib answer.

If only it were that easy.

I do know that my thoughts and study in the upcoming days will be about the definition and meaning of words like “rights” and “needs”.

What are my rights?  What are our rights?

What do I need?

What happens when my perceived rights infringe upon the rights of others?

What is fair in that case?

How often do I take someone else’s word for what is right and fair and just?

 

Am I sensitive to the needs of others and what impact my choices and decisions have upon them?

Am I being selfish or uncaring, or am I standing up for what is good and just and fair – for myself and for others?  Where is that line, and is is static or fluid?

For now, I am going to talk to my daughter about what is going on in this country today for just a little bit and then…

we are going to get back to work doing the things we need to do in anticipation of tomorrow’s sunrise.

 

 

 

And now…today

Two more layers done.  I kind of hate it at this point.  I walked away rather than paint over it.  That’s not an uncommon reaction.  Today was the easiest day to work on it so far.  I really have missed making stuff.  It’s been months and months and months.  I kept saying that I would get back to it when I got this or that done.  As I’ve discussed recently this and that never get done.

I’m not really a flowers in a vase, still life kind of artist.  We’ll let it “simmer” overnight and see what happens tomorrow.

Decluttered today:

  1. some old seeds
  2. 3 shoes (a pair and a shoe and interestingly enough, the random shoe is not a mate for the odd shoe earlier in the week)
  3. a favorite t-shirt that was more holes than shirt
  4. a stack of old artwork that my kids made – I saved my favorites
  5. an old journal that is not filled with happy memories

I’m going to count today a success.  I made a little money and I made a real dinner for the family.  The trash is out before the trash men are pulling into the cul-de-sac tomorrow morning.  I didn’t yell at anyone and used mainly kind words.  I had to drive the dying car without air-conditioning and it made it where it was going and back and I didn’t melt.  I worked on some art and decluttered and cleared off a surface or two.  My youngest and I did a bunch of school.  Oh, and I deposited the money I made in the bank before we were overdrawn.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Most of the day, I didn’t feel like it was a good day.  But I’ve been regularly reading a friend’s CaringBridge entries and she is relentlessly looking for the bright side.  If she can do it, then I certainly should be able to do so.

So today, I have been trying to live in gratitude – in all things and in all ways…grateful for a car that serves my needs if not my wants, grateful for a small paycheck that was just enough, grateful for excess that allows me to have trash, grateful for people in my life that I love even if they drive me crazy sometimes, grateful for the opportunity to homeschool and spend time with my daughter, grateful for my talents and the desire to use them, grateful to have choices, and opportunity and wise friends.

And that was today.

As promised…

…and I am back today to write another line or two of my story.  We all have one – a story, that is.  While mine currently seems enormously insignificant, I’m going to keep on living it and writing about it anyway.  I know I’m not alone in this struggle called life.  And I am aware that it is not always a struggle.   “This too shall pass” as my Dad used to say.  He stole the quote, but I can still hear him saying it so I’m going to credit him.

Art today…

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I’ve had these little canvases for a while.  I bought them for another project that hasn’t happened yet.  They were just sitting on my shelf and looked lonely.  I’ve started just painting them – and then repainting them – and then layering some more paint.  Now I’ve started sticking on the dried paint scrapings from my desk.  They are becoming quite heavy and textural.

Why?  I don’t know yet.  I suppose they’ll let me know when it is time…

I am not a tidy artist…

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But sometimes, I’m not sure that I’m an artist at all.  But my middle daughter says that I am an artist and she should know.  She will be graduating with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in December.  That makes her for sure a “real artist”.

She tells me to make what I enjoy.  To do what I like to do and not to worry about it all so much.

So I made this recently…

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and yes, those are little plastic chickens on top.  I think it might be a little bit of art therapy.  As I look at it I see little parts of my life reflected.  Some of the “down” moments and quite a few of the hopeful ones.  Art?  I don’t know.

While “doing school” today, my youngest and I stumbled across a poem we both liked.

The Sparrow

 A little bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Ten taps upon my window-pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song;
But I work on, nor heed its lay,
Till, in neglect, it flies away.

So birds of peace and hope and love
Come fluttering earthward from above,
To settle on life’s window-sills,
And ease our load of earthly ills;
But we, in traffic’s rush and din
Too deep engaged to let them in,
With deadened heart and sense plod on,
Nor know our loss till they are gone.

It was written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar.  It was a good message for today.  A good message for tomorrow.  Just a simple, good message….

It all depends on how you look at it…

Here’s some random observations (light bulb moments) from this weekend:

First, I participated in a fun “conversation” on facebook yesterday.  The thread was started by a friend.  She asked a seemingly random question which resulted in some honesty, some creativity, some “rabbit trails”, and some smart-ass banter.

Then she turned serious on us and revealed that what she was really talking about was habits.  The slow building of habits in our life as we seek self-improvement.  It can’t be done all at once (and shouldn’t be because that doesn’t result in true change).

When she first mentioned the word “habit” though, I have to admit that I first thought of “bad habits”.  Once she elaborated on her idea, I realized she was speaking of good habits.

Why did my thought process automatically turn towards the negative?  Am I truly a pessimist?  Do I look tend to look towards the “down” side of things?

I hope not and I will be watching for this trend in my thinking.  I’ve always thought I was a realist with naïve tendencies, but it’s probably an area I need to work on.  I’ll add that to my “bucket” list!

Next, I was taking out the trash this morning and was disturbed to see that the big can was almost full already.  We did have company over this weekend and I am clearing out some stuff, but trash pick-up isn’t until Thursday.

We used to recycle as best we could.  We don’t have curb-side pickup where we live so we have to transport it to another city near us.  I even bought nice bins from IKEA.  Then we couldn’t find a good spot for them in the kitchen.  We dropped down to one car and transportation was an issue.  The recycling started piling up in the kitchen and I just gave up.

I guess I saw it as an all-or-nothing proposition.  Solution:  This old white armoire in the dining room (awaiting a fresh coat of paint) has been repurposed.  The shelf is one my son found in someone’s discard pile.  The boxes are leftover from my business paper purge.  A spot for cardboard, paper, plastic, and metal recycling.  It’s not pretty, but it’s out of sight  and easily accessible.  I’ll recycle what I can and throw away what I can’t if transportation becomes an problem and the stuff outgrows the cabinet.IMAG0781

It doesn’t have to be perfect.  I can choose to look at it as “good enough”.

And finally –  Am I in this life for the journey or the destination?  I keep looking at the work to be done and thinking, “when this is done I’ll ______.”  (Fill in the blank with any number of plans)

When the house is de-cluttered?  When the laundry is done?  When the kitchen is clean?  When the garden is weeded?  When my inbox is empty.  When the canvas is completed. The work in my life doesn’t  get done.  I’m a homemaker (among other things).  When the work is done, it means I’m done (if you know what I mean).

Always looking towards the destination is a wasteful way to live.

I need to enjoy the journey.