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.

 

Short and Sweet

This post shall be short and the day was sweet.

For the first time in a long time we took it easy.

My sister is hanging out at our house for a bit as she recovers from surgery.  In honor of her convalescence we decided to rest with her. We woke up when we woke up.  We didn’t worry about breakfast and therefore, we didn’t have to worry about the undone dishes. Hubby brought donuts home when he came home from the nightshift.  We all ate the donuts and didn’t worry about calories or nutrition or balancing the diet.

We made a Sonic run for lunch because my sister’s appetite is returning and she wanted chili-cheese fries.  We couldn’t let her eat Sonic alone now, could we?

We grabbed a couple of Sunday papers and actually read a real newspaper.  Got black ink all over our fingers and everything!

No computer for me today.  I didn’t check email or facebook or my bank balance…  It will all still be there tomorrow and I will deal with it then.

We watched episodes of Columbo, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and Rosemary and Thyme on Netflix.

We still had to go clean the offices we do on Sunday night, but even that didn’t seem as much of a chore as it sometimes does.  The work went faster and it was easier than usual.

Back home, we binged more T.V. and I even did a journal page!

As folks got tired, they wandered off to bed.  I am ready to follow.

Bring it on Monday.  I think I’m ready.

Nothing.

I talk a lot here about goals and dreams and plans.  Things I want to get done.  Things I need to get done.

I realize that I have a definite inner voice (or critic) that I am constantly trying to please.  Where that voice comes from doesn’t really matter anymore.  Maybe some of us are born with it attached to our perfectionist gene.  Maybe it is recorded in childhood from the voices around us – intentional, careless, or misunderstood language that we recorded as children and carry around with us.

Does it matter?  What’s done is done.  The past is the past and no amount of striving, obsessing, or analysis can change it.

All I know is that I have a choice.  I can choose to continue behavior that doesn’t bring me peace and joy once I have identified it, or…

I can change.

What am I striving for?

For everyone who comes into or might come into my home to think I’m doing a good job as a homemaker, wife and mom?  My family already loves me – just as I am with all my flaws and faults and potential. The love me even when there isn’t a clean towel or two vegetables at the meal (maybe especially then).

For the world to see me as a “real” artist?  I like to make stuff.  That should be enough – to create for the sheer pleasure of it.

For the world to acknowledge that I do enough, I am enough, I have enough…

Unrealistic expectations.  Stupid even.  This is not the first time that I’ve had this realization and I’m sure that it won’t be the last.

Affirmation from the people around you and the world at large is meaningless if you don’t believe in yourself.

What brought all of this on?  Yesterday, I started feeling ill – reminiscent of my emergency surgery almost two years ago.  I was scared enough that I went to the doctor voluntarily today.  It turned out to be nothing significant.

I now think it was stress.  I’m not good at relaxing.  I suck at it.  I always feel the need to be doing something productive.

I have a choice.  I’m going to make the choice to start practicing doing nothing sometimes – Scribbling, coloring, staring, thinking, telling the voices to be quiet,  just being.  Decluttering my possessions is not enough.  I need to declutter negative behavior and unnecessary stress also.

I imagine that this will take some practice.

I have enough, I am enough, I do enough.

 

 

The New Room

wow.  I’m so tired that I can’t even “exclaim” in capital letters, but I’m excited nevertheless.  Lots has been happening around here including a renovated room last weekend while I was away working at Faire.  My family worked soooo hard on this to surprise me when I returned home!

 

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Some family members worked harder than others.

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Furniture and accessories were edited and deleted.  I love it!  Simple, colorful, easy to clean and so livable for our family.

Next up – the kitchen and dining area.   But this week has been a rest and restore break.  The extra hours of work, piles of stuff to sort and construction paraphernalia and debris is taking it’s toll on all of us.  We’re tired and worn out.

But we are also encouraged and inspired. Our plan is taking shape and becoming reality.

Now I’m off to clear out, box-up, and make room in the kitchen for phase two – coming soon!

 

 

The Importance of Being Intentional

I am weary today.  My head feels full and my heart, not so much.  I have accomplished what needs to be done today and a little bit more.

Youngest and I went to the grocery store and shopped the special deals, sales, and coupons.  We are having a crowd for Thanksgiving and I am trying to spread out the shopping so it comes from multiple paychecks.  Shopping only for our Thanksgiving meal, we spent $70.35 for 46 items.  We saved $45.80.  I’m going to count that as school for the day.  We’ll call it consumer science or home management, or “how to save a crap-ton of money and host an awesome Thanksgiving celebration without breaking the bank”.

I cleaned out the pantry and ditched the expired items and unhealthy food that creeps in somehow despite my best intentions to be careful about what we eat.

I tried on a bunch of clothes this morning in an effort to get dressed to go out in public.  I definitely have public clothes and home clothes – home involves art, painting, cleaning the chicken coop, and various other aspects of real life.  Home clothes don’t last very long.  I felt fat, nothing seemed to fit right, and I was just generally unhappy.  When I got home, I realized that all of those clothes ended up in a pile that the dogs knocked to the floor and made a comfy bed out of.  More laundry and more clutter. I guess it’s time to once again go through the wardrobe and get rid of the “if” clothes…if I were thinner, if I wasn’t walking around in a 50 year old body that birthed 4 kids, if I actually wore something that needed to be dry-cleaned, ironed or hand-washed…

When I lost a lot of weight, clothes shopping was hard.  I had worn “fat” clothes (oversize T-shirts, sweats, baggy jeans or anything else that helped me hide and ignore my weight) for so long that I didn’t know who I was – what I wanted to look like.  I did almost all my shopping at thrift stores so I could accommodate my changing size and try out different styles.  That means there’s stuff in my closet that just isn’t me.  Time for it to go.

But first, I’m going to pay attention to me.  I’m not going to underestimate or under-value the importance of taking care of myself – of noticing the symptoms that mean I’m overdoing it or pushing myself too hard. I’m going to intentionally rest and recharge.  I’m going to sit, make some art,  and watch a cozy British mystery on the telly.  Youngest is going to snuggle with me and read while wrapped up in a blanket.  We may fall asleep.  It’s that type of day.  My thoughts can settle.  My heart can fill with love.  All shall be well.

Declutter for the day:

  1. A small trash bag from the pantry.  Out-of-date food, junk food, empty containers from opened foods that were combined and miscellaneous trash.  Donated, trashed and recycled.
  2. A vintage dish that could be cool to organize and store something in, but it’s empty and I’m not going to refill it.  Donate.
  3. Coat hangers from past declutters.  All the laundry is caught up and they are still empty.  Donate.
  4. A large wire spool that we have used as a table on the deck – falling apart but still hanging around.  On the burn pile.
  5. And to be done:  clothes from my closet.  I promise I’ll do it today so we’ll count it now.

Rest

Friday night I was tired.  Not really sleepy – just tired – the I don’t want to think, make a decision, or accomplish one more single thing kind of tired.

I ended up sitting on the sofa, re-re-watching a movie, eating popcorn and sharing it with my dog.  A movie where the good guys win and the bad guys lose and there is no doubt which is which.

There were things undone on my list and a million more that could be on the list, BUT…

We have accomplished so much around here lately.  Things are getting done that I had given up on doing.  The time spent together is more intentional.  All in all, life is good and better than it has been for awhile.  Not perfect, not “done”, but moving along towards a goal…a dream.  That’s all good stuff.

BUT…sitting and resting is good stuff too…and I tend to forget that.  I usually keep striving and going, thinking that I will rest when it’s done.  That’s a misstep on my part.   There are limits to my ability to “do”.  It will never all be “done”.  I am somewhat of a perfectionist after all.

If I don’t pause every now and then, there is really no sense to all the doing.  There is no appreciation of the progress and no realization of the accomplishment.  There is no joy.

So, today I will rest some.  There is a part-time job that has to be done.  But if it doesn’t have to be done today, I’m not going to do it.  I’m not going to look for projects.  I’m not going to look for things that need to be done.  I’m not even going to proof this blog.

I’m going to sit and look at what has been done and enjoy.

Rest.

Nap

I’m taking a nap.

Being a positive person determined to have a good day is exhausting.

Good intentions can only carry you so far.

So, I’m taking a nap…guilt-free, I’ve earned it, it’s been a week of lessons learned, and life moments…

Bless yourself and rest some today.

Invites.

“Sabbath observance  invites us to stop.  It invites us to rest.  It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help.  It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.”  Wendell Berry