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.


Progress, not Perfection

Third post I’ve started for today.

Reality and perfectionism at odds in a big way.

This has kept me from writing for so long already.

I kept it simple yesterday.

A part of me needs the connections that I find here.

I’d like to think that it matters in some small way.

I have big thoughts and dreams and ideas.

But I am a small person.

Fragile right now.

I’m trying not to confuse that with weakness.

For I am strong.

I’ve made it this far.

Full of emotions and fear and hopes

and plans

Committed to taking small steps

Progress not perfection

and art…

lots more art



Day’s End

This Sunday is coming to a close.

We had breakfast:  bacon, sausage, biscuits (from scratch, not that I’m bragging), eggs, and grits.  I didn’t do the dishes or clear the table for that matter because…

daughter is home from college and had art homework to do so…

being the supportive mother that I am, I made art with her.

There is; therefore, no amazing “after” photo of the cleaned studio.  No apologies.  I stand by my decision.  Art first.  Dishes later.

I did manage to declutter my five for today:

IMAG1065A storage tote that used to hold something that I don’t have anymore.  I’ve been saving it and moving it from pile to stack just in case I could use it to organize something that I probably don’t need to keep.  Donate.

A pair of scissors that used to belong to a math teacher friend.  She gave them to me at least 13 years ago.  I’ve used them for art classes since then.  They are bent and cut on a curve.  I don’t need a pair of scissors that cut a curve.  Any art students I have don’t need them either.  Why did I keep them?  Just in case I didn’t have enough scissors one day?  Trash.

An almost empty and almost dried up can of paint in a shade of yellow that nobody could love.  Even me, and I love yellow.  Why was I keeping it?  I guess just in case I wanted to do a partial, bad paint job in a color that I don’t like so that I could make something I would end up hating and have to throw away.  Or not throw away because I might be able to fix it.  On the deck to finish drying out and then into the trash.

And a bowl that my oldest daughter found and bought last weekend.  It was beautiful and she was going to use it in her trailer/home as a wash basin. It came home from the thrift store and was carefully placed on the kitchen counter – with a package of hot dog buns in it.  CRASH!  Our master thief and acrobatic basset hound who loves bread in any shape or form knocked it off the counter and made off with the buns.   I saved the pieces in hopes that I could put it back together in some creative way and fix the damage.  In reality, all we would end up with is a patched together broken bowl and a memory of what could have been.  Letting it go.

IMAG1058And number 5:  a door that used to separate what is now the studio/classroom from the rest of the house.  We installed it when the oldest girls used it as a bedroom when they first started school and were living at home.  That was at least three years ago.  We cut it in half because I thought that it might be neat to make a…I don’t know…a cut-in-half-door that didn’t actually close off a room that we didn’t need to close off anyway.  That was almost nine months ago.  Out of here and on the burn pile.


Muddying Up the Water

When I started documenting my personal journey towards a more intentional, simple and peaceful life on this blog, I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go.

I honestly had no idea what this blog might have to do with the journey.  I felt a need to reach out in community and to find some like-minded individuals who might journey with me.  I didn’t really have any expectations that anyone would “like” what I had to share or that anyone would “follow” me.

In fact, I thought quite the opposite – I couldn’t fathom that anyone would be interested in what I had to say.  But I was afraid to start a blog, and facing fear was my challenge at the time…so I wrote.  Some folks like what I have to say.  Some have even chosen to  hit “follow”.  And I am grateful for the affirmation.  I’ve gone to every blog and “met” the writer.  I’m struck by the fact, that on the surface, many of us don’t seem to have much in common at all…not age, occupation, country, gender…nothing that commonly brings folks together.

But, we do have something important in common.  We are all searchers and seekers with a belief that things can be better – and a desire to make it so.  We are different and the same.

I had believed, in the beginning, that this blog would find a focus and generally tend towards one topic more than any others. That has not been the case.  It reflects all the interests (and distractions) that make up my life.

I am deliberately not traveling down a straight highway for this journey.  I want to walk off the beaten path and follow rabbit trails along the way.  I want to believe that I am not too old to give up on dreams and aspirations.  I want to continue to learn new things and make choices that bring me happiness and peace.  I anticipate that I will make mistakes and more than a few choices that are not the right fit.  I will become discouraged and disheartened.

And I will find joy and discover that I am capable of accomplishing things beyond what I expected.

That being said, many of the things I need to accomplish along the way are mundane, difficult and challenging.  Not fun at all.

Sometimes solving one problem worsens another.  It muddies the water.  It makes it difficult to see that any progress is being made at all.  It’s hard to remember to take a step back and regain perspective.  To remember to focus on the whole journey and not just one portion of it.  Sometimes I get lost or hit an unmovable obstacle and have to turn around and retrace my steps to find a new way – a way that takes me towards the goal.  Sometimes it feels like I’m going the wrong direction entirely.

I’ve decided to create a plan – a sort of map that will help guide my journey.   Sort of like a business plan, but not so boring.  It will have to include pictures and colors and lists.   Maybe a journal or a big canvas to hang on the wall.  Just something to help when I can’t see clearly.  A plan. In writing.  That’s the next step.  It probably should have been the first step, but….

I’ve brainstormed of list of things that need to be accomplished and/or that I want to explore during the next days, weeks, months, years…  Remember, I’m brainstorming here!  And, not in any particular order:

  • Get out of debt and get our financial status on solid footing
  • Continue de-cluttering until our home “feels right” and then maintain
  • Continually evaluate our living space and whether it’s meeting our needs (size, location, etc.)
  • Homeschooling my last kiddo and preparing her for life
  • Explore gardening and self-sufficient living
  • Art, art and more art – creating, sharing, exhibiting and selling????
  • Improving and maintaining my health
  • Contributing to making the world a better place
  • Staying connected with family and friends
  • Having more fun
  • Work at being at peace with who I am and who I can become
  • Forgiveness
  • Gratitude
  • Letting go of fear

Not a complete list – I’m sure I’ll think of more.

A pause in the journey to let the muddied water settle.  Then to continue on – one step at a time.


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.


And the watermelon bed got weeded and mulched.


My herb bed is also partly weeded and mulched.

IMAG0429and remember this?

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

IMAG0426 (1)

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!

Trash or Treasure?

Before we began pulling up the carpet in the classroom/studio, I did some decluttering.  Moving around too much stuff during home improvement projects is no fun at all!


Some items are harder to make decisions about than others…like old art journals.  These are a few of the first pages I made when I started making art again about a decade or so ago.  Probably longer ago than that.

IMAG0198 IMAG0199 IMAG0202 IMAG0207 IMAG0208 (1) IMAG0205 IMAG0210IMAG0203

Honestly, more scrapbooking or therapy than actual art, but they were a way to start playing with the idea of fitting art into my life again.  I drew and made stuff all the time as a kid.  I majored in art and creative writing in college.  When I graduated I packed away or got rid of my art stuff.  Art was not really valued in my family and I suppose I felt like it was time to become a “grown-up” and put away “childish” things.

I buried the need to create by doing tons of “art” with my kids once I had them and taking on whatever creative projects that presented themselves:  newsletters, Vacation Bible School, fliers, bulletin boards, etc.

Then came these first art journal pages.

So, that brings me back to the original question:  Trash or treasure?  These decisions are difficult and exhausting mentally for me. I love these pages because they remind me how far I’ve come.  I started creating art and have definitely come a long way from these humble pieces.  Not as far as I’d like, but making progress nonetheless.  Do I keep them as reminders, or ditch them and move on.  If they are out on a shelf, it’s unlikely that I’ll look at them again for another 10 years, if ever.  Oh, and I’ll have to dust them.  We’ve already established that I don’t like cleaning house!  If I pack them away, I’ll have to make room to store them somewhere and will eventually end up moving the box  from here to there several times.  If I throw them away, will I regret it or feel “lighter” from no longer having to care for them.

Thus far, I haven’t regretted getting rid of anything.  I just feel relief that it’s going away.

And, the decision is (drum roll please) – no decision at all right now.  They are stacked in the hallway.  There are about 30 total and I just can’t make a decision.  I’m leaning towards going through them and keeping the best pages and pitching the rest.

I did pitch a full trash bag of other stuff, donated a box of stuff, and sold 8 bags of books.

Muddling my way through one thing at a time.