Once Upon a Time

Journal page number…

Just my opinion…

So much noise

So much activism

So much pointing of fingers

So little love

At the end of this chapter

How will the story read

I believe that nobody will win

And there will be no happy ending

0625181714

If an act is done out of love, but requires an act of hate or violence to accomplish it, how does that work out?

I believe we call it war.

And we are fighting ourselves.

The Broken Bowls

 

0608180035I bought a set of bowls…

They weren’t expensive and I didn’t really need them, but they were pretty – painted in bright colors and I felt happy when I looked at them.

So, I bought them and brought them home with me.

I used them that first night.

The dog smashed the biggest one the second day I had it.  Broken into a lot of pieces. I said it was okay, but I felt a little less happy as I put the pieces in the trash.

The next day, as I was washing the middle sized bowl, I noticed that it had a big chip on the rim.  Okay.  I finished washing it and planted a geranium in it. And turned it around so I couldn’t see the damage.

As I was putting up the washed dishes later that day, I picked up the smallest bowl and saw the crack.  A crack that ran from top to bottom.  I tried to put a plant in it so that I didn’t have to throw it away, but it leaked water everywhere.

I thought about trying to fix it and it sat on the counter for a long time.

Today, I looked at that bowl.

It no longer brought me happiness.

In fact, when I looked at it, I felt regret that I had purchased it at all.

I thought about the fact that everything is not valuable and worth salvaging.

I can’t have it all.

I don’t want it all.

Real happiness is not found in things.

Some things can’t be fixed.

Some things shouldn’t be fixed.

It’s important to practice discerning the difference between what is truly valuable and worth our time and energy and what is not worthy.

Sometimes a broken bowl is just a broken bowl.

And I need to let it go.

Peace.

 

Just Be Me

today was the day

where i found myself comparing

everything I have done,

am doing

and will ever do with everyone else

and finding myself lacking

not thin enough

pretty enough

talented enough

organized enough

successful enough

just not enough…

but i stopped and reminded myself that

i am

the only me

there is

in this entire world

not just now

but ever

i

was created

to be me

and that is enough

i will probably always need to remind myself

of this fact

that is a part of

who i am

kind of old

and wrinkly

and messy

and forgetful

and quirky

i like quirky

that is enough for now

 

The Work of My Hands

“The real enemies of our life are the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs’. They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future.  But real life takes place in the here and now”  – Henri Nouwen

 

I wanted to put in a garden this year.  I had hoped for a greenhouse.  I’d planned on building numerous raised beds and filling them with the compost I was making and then planting seeds.  I’d intended to have all my existing beds weeded and dug and ready for spring.

There is no greenhouse.  Two raised beds are built but not filled with soil.  They lean against the side of the house. There are weeds in my garden beds.

I ought to have gotten more done.  If I’d gotten these things accomplished, I would be ready for the garden that I had hoped for and envisioned…

But now, today, I have a choice.  I can work with what I have here and now and choose to place my seeds into soil…

or leave the seeds

in their packages

in the shoe box

on the shelf

in the cabinet

in the dining room

in the dark

where they will surely not sprout and grow.

How many other aspects of my life does this same thought process apply to?

Brushes not dipped into paint create nothing.

Blog posts not written can’t be read.

Cards not created and mailed can’t be received.

Art cards not imagined, created and shared can’t be found.

How often does my fear of imperfection or failure or rejection keep me from trying?

I have all the “seeds” I need both literally and figuratively…

seeds and soil and canvases and paint and ideas…

I also have fear and anxiety and doubts…

It is my choice to make…

Dwell on the mistakes and rejections of the past?

Anticipate with fear and anxiety the future?

Or do the work of my hands in the here and now with the potential to bring a little hope and beauty and light into the world?

Today I choose to believe in the potential of the seed to sprout and take root and grow and bless the world.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

here i am

try

That quiet voice has been an important part of my life lately.

It has been a constant when other, louder voices in my head have kept up a continual chant of negativity.

Every day, I have thought about sitting down and writing here.

I had planned to.

I just didn’t.

And then it got harder and harder.

The voices told me that I was a failure as a blogger because I wasn’t writing regularly.  That maybe what I had to say wasn’t worth writing about.  That it was ridiculous to share these thoughts and vulnerabilities with complete strangers and the world.

And so I didn’t write…

day after day…

the words circled in my head…

both things I thought about sharing and doubt about the worthiness of those things.

here I am

I’ve been working on art cards a lot lately.  If you don’t know about them, you can find information here:

unearthedart.wordpress.com

One of the quotes I’ve been using says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.”  -Brene Brown

vulnerability

truth

courage

Today, the quiet voice is the one I choose to listen to.

Nelson Mandela said that “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

I don’t feel brave…I am afraid all the time.

But today I am writing…

I share my vulnerability because it is my truth and there are many who are struggling in the same way I am and maybe my voice can make a difference.

When you are depressed, sometimes all you can accomplish is one little thing.

It may not be big or even that important.

You just have to do one thing.

And then take that “win” and try one more thing.

And nuture the quiet voice that is named “hope”.

The quiet voice is the voice of truth.

All the other is just noise.

Today I have written here.

And I shall make more art cards trusting that quiet messages of hope will find their way into the hands of those who need to hear…

 

 

Letting Go

It’s been so long since I wrote that I had to log back into WordPress

which means I had to find my login information

which meant rummaging through my desk

which is a huge, neglected mess.

I’ve spent the better part of late November and December sitting in my chair and ignoring most of my life.

I did the essential stuff (some of it).

Thanks to my family we decorated for and celebrated the holidays with success.  I’ve just felt rather distant and disconnected.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my life, but as my wise husband pointed out, “You can’t spend so much time thinking about life that you forget to live it.”

Truth.

It has become evident during the last few months that this depression and accompanying anger is bigger than I am.  I’ve made the decision to start up therapy again and attempt to deal with the emotions that I work so hard to ignore and deny.  They are a part of who I am and many of the manifestations that  I have been working so hard to deal with and overcome are residuals of my childhood.  I can’t continue to just deal with the physical clutter without dealing with the emotional clutter also.  And I can’t do it alone.

I’ve visited a church a couple of times in the past weeks.  During the first visit the message could have been written directly for me.  I both hate and love when that happens.  Entitled the “Unexpected Christmas” it dealt with letting go of things and allowing time for grief and coping with the unexpected.

I guess that’s what I’ve been doing these past weeks…grieving the losses and the unexpected and the memories of the past.

It’s both the forgiveness  and the letting go that I’m struggling with…both for others and myself.

A continual theme of any decluttering show or feature is that the hoarding and clutter started with a loss and the person got stuck.  I now see that this is true for me also.

I’m a pretty insightful and resourceful person, and I’ve made progress.

And I hate to admit that I’m not strong enough or just plain “enough” to get through this.

But I’m going to ask for help and start seeking answers to the “real” problems and not just the side effects.

Every year I develop a saying that I use during the New Year to focus on my journey.  This year will be the year of “Being Grateful and Letting Go”.

I plan on writing more about that tomorrow.

I plan on writing tomorrow.

 

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.

 

Travel well

Monday mornings present an interesting juxtaposition of thought for me.

On on hand they are an opportunity…a new beginning and fresh start.  A chance to write down that to-do list and accomplish…whatever it is that needs doing.

On the other hand, Mondays can just be frustrating.  So much to do and so much undone from the week before.  The feeling that this week might be just as difficult, or more so, than the week before.

The latter thought process is not helpful.  It is self-defeating and starts the week off with negativity.  Nevertheless, the thoughts are a reality and cannot be ignored.  Sometimes life can seem to be an endless loop of beginnings and endings and not much in the middle.

So, today I shall acknowledge that sometimes life is frustrating.  And that sometimes the end of my week does not meet the expectations of the beginning.

And I shall continue to try and live in grace and hope…and be grateful for the opportunity a new week provides.  I’ll make a new list and continue to be optimistic about the possibilities that this week of my life might offer.

I will attempt to live through the ups and downs that these days of my life will certainly serve up.  I know in advance that there will be failure and tears and happiness and beauty.  I will travel through the challenges and dwell in the good.  That is my plan for this week.

And now is the time to share the news that I have been alluding to over the past several weeks.  I can share the part of the story that is mine.

Our son, Jacob, has joined the Army.  He completed the last of the process and was sworn in last Wednesday.  He reports for training the middle of this month.  There is much I could write about this journey.  I shall keep it simple.

I am his Mom.

I love him.

I am proud of him.

I am afraid for him.

This decision has been a long time coming for him.  I have watched him carefully consider it.  Research it.  Carry it in his heart and revisit it from time to time.  This is what he feels called to do.

I believe in him and am in awe of his ability to listen to that “voice” that is guiding him.  I have struggled my whole life with finding my way.

I read a quote the other day.  I can’t remember where.  “To find your purpose, follow your passion.”

He is doing that.

Travel well, my son.

May we all find our passion and our purpose and travel well.

 

Happenstance

I wrote some days ago about realizing that the journey I was on was not progressing as well as I would like

…about coming across some journals from years ago in which I expressed frustration with circumstances that are relatively unchanged today

…that the methods I was using didn’t appear to be very effective

…I’m still decluttering, and trying to find time for things I want to do, and attempting to maintain a simpler and cleaner home

…change has happened, but not as much as I would like

I wrote that there needed to be a new plan, but I had no idea what it might be.

I was frustrated.

I was hopeful.

I was anxious.

 

Then, by happenstance. I downloaded the game, gin rummy, onto my phone.

I’ve never been good at gin.  I just thought it might be a good distraction, and hey…it was free.

Do you play gin?  It’s pretty simple in theory.  You have a limited number of cards and need to form melds (sets) before your opponent goes out or you get stuck with points. I’m not going to try to explain the whole game…the important part to understand as far as this post goes, is to know that getting rid of “deadwood” is the key to winning.

The game I downloaded has a range of opponents for you to challenge.  They are ranked in skill from not very good to pretty much unbeatable.

When I started I couldn’t beat any of them.

I played anyway.

Then, I actually went and read all of the instructions just to make sure I understood what I was supposed to be doing.

I still lost a lot, but not quite as much.  I started beating the worst player every once in a while.

I started watching what the best players were doing.

I realized that I was playing the same way I had always played…trying to put together the same type of hand over and over again.

I kept losing.

Sound familiar?

Sound like the way I’ve been working on my house?

That’s what I started thinking.

I started discarding cards…ruthlessly.

I stopped saving cards that would make melds that I wanted to make

…and started saving cards that could and would actually win the hand.

I discarded long-shots.

I stopped holding onto cards that were no longer useful.

I didn’t keep a card just because I liked it (I’m partial to hearts).

If it wasn’t going to contribute to a winning hand, I discarded it.

I quit picking up cards that “might” be useful.

A hand plays out quickly.

There is no time for a lot of “maybe” and “someday”.

Holding onto deadwood is no way to win.

I can now beat any of the opponents except for “Jane”.  I’m pretty sure that she cheats. She wins a lot.  She seems to be very lucky.  Yep,  I think she’s cheating.  I may quit playing against her.

In any case, by happenstance, this game taught me a lot.

Help can come from the most unlikely places.

Who knew?

Life is short.

A day is even shorter.

I’ve got to play the hand that I’ve been dealt.

I can’t hold onto cards (stuff and emotions) that aren’t helping me to build the hand that I need to win the game.  The game being the life that I’m hoping to live.

The wrong cards or too many cards won’t ever come together to help me achieve my goal of a simpler, tidier, more comfortable home.

I need to ruthlessly discard cards that are keeping me from assembling a winning hand.

If I have something that I used to like but don’t any longer, it should go.

If something was expensive, but I don’t love it, keeping it just takes up space that could be filled with a more important card.

Just because something once held deep meaning, doesn’t mean that it gets to stick around forever. I change and the things that are meaningful can change also.

There are only so many cards allowed in a hand.

Holding onto the wrong card means that there is no room for the right card.

I have to make sure that I have the right cards.

Oh, and it helps to make sure that I fully understand the rules of the game – the direction I am headed and my ultimate goal.

Clothes that don’t fit right or don’t fit at all.  Gone. Even (or especially) if I am holding onto them because I like the idea of wearing them rather than the reality of wearing them.  You know, all those clothes you keep taking out of the closet and dropping onto the floor – never really wearing anywhere.

Beautiful things that fit the image of who I would like to be, but don’t fit into the reality of who I am – a woman who hates to dust and despises clutter.  I’m talking about those beautiful home magazine pages of meticulously displayed collectibles and art.  I love the way that looks.  It just doesn’t translate into my real life.  I need to be realistic about the life I live and the way I live it.

Things that I used to use all the time, but don’t use any longer.  Interests and needs change, but I don’t always adapt the stuff I have to reflect where I am right now.  I don’t have four kiddos at home all the time now.  I don’t cook the same.  Life has changed.  Stuff needs to be reassessed.  Holding onto stuff from when all the kiddos were home and little doesn’t stop the progress of time.  Those days are gone.  It’s time to let go of the “cards” that are no longer serving a purpose in my hand and start building a new hand.

There are no excuses in gin.  There is no justification.  Deadwood goes or you lose.

There comes a time when you have to quit talking about what you want.

A time when you have to quit explaining why you can’t have or do what you want.

You have to do what is necessary to make space or time for what you want.

And you have to do it.