I woke up this morning wishing, once again, that I could hit the pause button.  I started off the week with what I thought was a reasonable list of things to do.  I have been accused of being unrealistic in my expectations in the past…with good reason.  I’ll freely admit that I’m a perfectionist although I’ve been working on being a kinder and gentler me.

This was just one of those weeks where the interruptions became the real work to be done.

What I failed to do was realize the amount of unplanned stuff happening and adjusting my expectations.

This morning I was thinking about what I hadn’t gotten done and not what did get done.

Not helpful.

This intentional living stuff can be hard.  It requires diligence, optimism, and a lot of thought.

Mostly it requires a lot of change…a change in attitude, as well as behavior.

Perhaps it can be summed up as learning to be flexible as I change my expectations in alignment with what’s going on around me.

This week four people had to go to work at different places and different times.  We had one car since the truck was still in the shop.  I did quite a bit of driving to and fro.  We made it work, but it took a lot of time.  With patience and planning this is a workable situation.

On Wednesday, I was awakened early by my son with the news that he had “rolled” his ankle and it was very, very swollen.  I told him to prop it up for a bit and we’d see if the swelling would go down.  Then I fell back asleep and failed to wake up in time to go help my sister shop.  Next up, a doctor’s appointment and x-rays.  The ankle is not broken.  This is not actually good news.  Breaks heal more easily than whatever is wrong.  Monday is an orthopedic appointment and probably and MRI.    Not a good day.

On Thursday morning we were able to pick up our truck.  Yea!

On Thursday night the key to our other car broke.  Our only key.  Not good….at all.  One place wanted almost $200 to make a new key.  Another would make it cheaper but required a copy of the title (which I can’t find because the house is a bit untidy and disorganized).

On Friday, the truck would not go into gear properly. Now we have no transportation.And everybody needs to go to work…

Husband manages to get the truck to the repair shop.  It turns out that the cardboard seal on the bottle of transmission fluid ended up in “the thingie that holds the stuff that feeds the something that makes the transmission work”.  I am not mechanically inclined.  That’s the best I’ve got as far as what was wrong.  An easy fix.  Anyway, the truck is running beautifully.

Oldest daughter found a place to make a key for the other car for only $5.  Now both cars are running.  This is very helpful!

This was a challenging week.  The Christmas tree is still not up.  I’ve not shopped much for Christmas.  A LOT of things that I wanted to get done are undone.

There have been a lot of times when I’ve felt frustrated and angry…with myself.  How can a reasonably competent grown-up find it so difficult to keep up with a house and family? This thinking is not helpful.  It just piles on more stress and makes it even more difficult to cope.

I did accomplish a lot this week…just not the things I had planned on.  The emergencies got handled.  Three big bags of stuff left the house.  The studio is unpacked and organized(ish).  The hallway/classroom is set up and workable.  Progress has been made in laying the new floor in the apartment. (I didn’t actually do any of the work on the floor other than moving stuff out of the way.)  We did a lot of school work.  Everyone got fed and has some clean clothes.

I’m starting up the decluttering project in earnest again.  There is just too much stuff around here.

The laundry piles up at an alarming rate.  We have too many clothes.

I’ve once again slowly accumulated to many art project “possibilities”.  More material doesn’t translate into more art.

The same goes for school stuff.  It’s so easy to gather too many potential things to study and learn.

This is all part of my unrealistic expectations.  There are only so many hours in the day and they cannot all be spent in action.  I need to quit trying to “get it all done”.  This attitude is not helpful.

There will always be something that needs to be done.

I can’t do it all.

The important work to be done is to more intentionally seek out simplicity, peace and joy.

That must be number one on the list…

I’m Still Here

Hello world.

I’m still here…at home ignoring the piles of clutter, cobwebs and unwashed dishes.

The laundry is caught up.  That’s me – always looking on the bright side.

My sister’s recovery continues.  We’ve been watching lots and lots of British murder mystery shows on Netflix and a smattering of classics like Columbo and Rockford Files.  Variety is the spice of life as they say.

Youngest daughter just completed week three of school.  All in all, we’re doing okay. We’ve fallen a bit behind on our Tuesday and Thursday work, but I’ve stayed in touch with her teachers and we’ll catch it back up.  Certainly a lesson in prioritizing and learning that you can’t do it all.  First things first.

Oldest daughter and son are moved into their new digs.  I keep finding things left behind and have a box for each one that I’m dropping things in.  I’m going to count that as a bit of decluttering if that works for all of you.

My life seems crazy hectic and absurdly slow at the same time.

Some days are filled with a doctor visit, and lengthy outing to the grocery store or a 911 call and subsequent visit to the emergency room following a slip and fall (my sister, not me) in the bathroom.  Luckily no major damage done although a hip fracture was briefly a possibility.

Other days are quiet and restful with binge T.V. watching.  I’ve almost finished a rag rug that I started ages ago, but never took the time to finish.

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This month has been one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make it through.  So much has gone wrong – much that I’ve not even written about for lack of time and the fact that I feel that I should only whine so much in public…

Let’s just say that our dependable old and paid for truck may be ready for hospice.  The floor is definitely done for as the result of the air conditioner leak.  There still isn’t enough money.  You get the idea.  All just normal life stuff, but added together just a lot.

As difficult as everything has been, I’m beginning to view August of 2016 as a blessing of sorts.

I’ve been dreaming of and longing for simplicity in my life.  That’s hard to find in the midst of living.  At least I was struggling to discover it.

This month I’ve learned that simplicity is always there.  It’s discerning the simple that’s the challenge.  There are always choices to be made.  When life becomes too busy and complicated, I don’t believe that it’s because we’ve totally made the wrong choices.  It’s that we’ve failed to make any choices at all.  We’re allowing everything to rank as number one on the “got to do list”.  That’s impossible and a miserable way to live.

Simplicity may just be realizing that some things must be done and some things can’t be done and being comfortable and at peace with what is.  Constantly reviewing a list of things that are waiting to be done is exhausting.  Trying to get it all done is even more exhausting.

Seems like such an obvious thought.  Sometimes I can be hardheaded and slow.  Maybe even stubborn.  It takes me a while to catch on to the obvious.  Maybe this is a lesson learned…

Sitting with someone who has no choice but to sit is important.

Finishing a rag rug is important.

Washing dishes is important.

Doing a math test is important.

Talking on the phone to someone who needs to be heard is important.

Some things rarely or never make it to the top of the list.

Figuring out which is which is simplicity in action.

 

A Different Picture

When I think of simple, intentional living that includes avoiding debt, reducing purchases and living a more self-sufficient life, I get a picture in my head.  Green gardens with chickens roaming free, uncluttered living spaces, and a general air of peace and calm.  You’ve all seen those photos in magazines and all over the internet – living “green”, paying off debt, seeking the good life.  And it’s a great dream!  I’m working on it myself, but sometimes I’m disappointed in how this whole concept plays out in the real world.

The reality is a different picture entirely.0506161701a (3).jpg

So, this is my laundry room (sort of).  I did move the dirty laundry out of the way to make myself appear tidier that I am.  I also picked up the wads of lint that were hiding under the dirty laundry.

The plywood is temporarily covering the ginormous hole from the water leak that remained hidden until the floor caved in.  We’re replacing flooring paycheck by paycheck (no more debt here).

A loooooong time ago, the washer started making a noise.  Not just any noise.  Imagine the most ear-splitting, hair-raising, metal grating on metal sound you can possibly imagine and multiply it by 100.  That’s the kind of noise I’m talking about.  I even blogged about it here and posted pictures of our do-it-yourself washer repair.

In general, the washer has continued to work okay.  It tends to forget what it’s doing and shut itself down mid-cycle.  That’s alright.  I sometimes forget what I’m doing mid-project also.  Did I mention that it’s paid for?

The problem is this:  you can’t balance it and it’s making the noise again.  The dryer (by the door) is level.  The washer thinks it’s level in the position that its in now.  So, I’ve rigged this simple machine lever to hold the washer in the position that makes it happy.  If the washer is happy (and quiet) then I’m happier.

Sometimes the simple life I’m seeking looks pretty crappy.  A worn-out (but paid for) washer rigged in a uneven position using a broken broom handle and a vacuum cleaner. You can’t get to the dryer holding an armful of clothes without stepping over the stick.  My shins are covered in bruises.  If the movement of the washer knock the stick out of place, you have to run down the hall with your hands over your ears and try to get the washer back into it’s “happy place”.

But, today was payday and another $15 went into the new washer fund.  I figured out a solution to the problem.  We had a homeschool lesson about simple machines.  It’s not a pretty picture, but it works.

And by the way, when you let your chickens free-range, they poop on your porch.  That’s not so pretty either.

 

Happier Days

Happier days are indeed here!

But…

The challenge is cleaning up the mess that’s left behind from days past.  The actual mess that exists in my home from the days that clear thought and any hope of organization were impossible.  The multitude of things left undone because I simply couldn’t deal with any of it.  And, worst of all, the guilt and self-recrimination.  The constant little (but loud) voice in my head that keeps saying “What’s wrong with you.  You are the worst housekeeper ever. Why can’t you keep up with things?  Everyone else can!”

I’m trying to replace the voice with a more positive message.  It’s hard.  And I wonder where the negative messages originated.  Are they literal messages from my childhood?  Am I repeating something that I’ve heard before?  Are they actually my thoughts?  In any case, why is it so hard to be nice to myself?

But, enough of the negative.

Art work has been made – remember the little canvases?

IMAG1045IMAG1048I placed them in a old drawer that I find at a vintage (junk) store.  I wish I could take a better photo because the canvases are very textural and “damaged”.  I didn’t really plan this one out.  Just stared at it a lot and rearranged them…and painted on them some more.  Then last night I started looking at some paper from my stash and decided on houses again.  Then when I was putting everything up for the night…I saw the drawer and it was a done deal.  I like the simplicity of the design and the calming colors.  I like the neatness in the drawer.  Everything all tidy and peaceful.

Hmmmm.  Art imitating what I’d like for my life.  Peaceful, tidy, calm, simple?  I love the way my art can speak more clearly what’s in my head.  How it can become the truth that I am seeking.  How my art can answer questions and clear away the confusion that I am feeling.  Maybe I need to be making more art.

Is it Me?

…is it my belief?  Have I consciously and intentionally thought it through and adopted an ideal.

Or…am I thoughtlessly perpetuating the belief system that I was raised with or adopted from a group of individuals that I associate with or have associated with in the past?

What do I believe?

These questions could (and do) apply to just about every aspect of my life.

Let’s just pick a simple (and non-controversial) topic.

A controversial topic got me started on this rabbit trail, but I’m not going “there” today.  In brief, I read something on facebook in a group I follow, and was moved to comment and take a stand.  I don’t normally do so, as computer-land can be a dangerous place for serious discussion.  I find that folks will quite often “say” things on the computer that they would never say in a face-to-face discussion.  Quite simply, with the human factor removed, they just get down-right rude and ugly.  That’s not conducive to intelligent discourse.

Anyway, back to simple.

I’ve quit looking at decorating magazines.  You know, those “Better Homes and Gardens” type periodicals.

I love them…at first.  Then, I start looking around at my little environment and dissatisfaction starts to set in.  If I had the sofa that’s in that photo…and that rug…maybe just some fresh paint?

I conveniently forget that it took a team of 15 creative consultants to stage that photo.  And that everything that made it a real life lived-in home is just out of view of the camera.  Nobody lives there.

I don’t live there.

I can’t have all that stuff laying around.  I don’t have a crew of 15 people decorating, organizing and dusting. I don’t have the financial resources to remodel, redecorate and accumulate.

What I do have is a home…an imperfect, sheltering home that I’m grateful for.

I’ve had to figure out what works for me and not try to live in someone’s else’s life.  I must constantly be aware of outside influences and stay true to myself.

I have to choose my own style and live in a way that fits with my belief system.  I have to define a set of “rules” that I live by.

Like I said –  my house is just an example.  Perhaps a metaphor.

This discussion could just as well be about politics, or religion, or life-style choices.

But that’s for you to decide .

Elephants

I lost my cool today.  I lost sight of the progress and got drawn into the big world of what’s left to do.  Sometimes it just seems like there is so much to be done and that I can’t keep up.

“How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

This old saying is true, but it’s hard to be encouraged by it when there is more than one elephant to deal with.

My house seems to be a mess.  My yard is huge and an overgrown mess.  I’ve started some necessary home improvement projects.  I want to reduce the clutter.  The list goes on and on.  When I lose focus on the positive, I start adding to the list until it seems impossible to handle.

One bite at a time.  I must prioritize and be grateful for the small wins.  Find joy in the improvements and remember, most of all, that I am doing it all to live a more intentional, simple, and happy life.

That being said, the studio re-do is done!  This stuff is gone.

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My recipes are all sorted and organized.  From this

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To this

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Small, continual, intentional steps…