Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Could

What to do with an unexpected extra afternoon of time?

Any number of things.

I could be productive in so many ways.

I could procrastinate by making another list under the guise of "time management."

I could call Writer's Digest and ask them to tear up the check I accidentally sent them for almost three times more than the monthly subscription was for. (I sent them my car and rental insurance money instead. Online banking can be treacherous--what with the payees being alphabetized and the teeny payment boxes so close to each other.)

I could do some required reading that I've put off for months and months and months.

I could figure out a way to buy Turbo Tax to do my taxes (but I don't have the $79.99 to buy it), or I could send my info to my accountant (but I don't have the $120 to pay him.)

I could keep eating chocolate.

I could email my ex-husband about the visitation changes I need to make for the summer.

I could mow my lawn.

I could clean my son's bedroom.

I could make a behavior chart for my son so he knows what needs to be done before he can play video games.

I could read my book.

I could journal some of my angst away.

I could make myself lunch.

I could write a real blog post.

I could update my LibraryThing and GoodReads wishlists with the new book titles I want.

I could put the last edits into the e-booklet I wrote about grieving.

I could do some playing on Pinterest  social marketing.

I could write my talk on art and processing negative emotions that I'm giving next month.

I could call a winery and chocolatier about sponsoring an event I'm hosting.

I could email my graphic designer and ask her WHY I still don't have the event poster I ordered at the end of March.

But I'm frightened that I won't actually do any of them, and then tomorrow I'll be complaining that I just don't have enough time in the week to get my things done!

How's that for irony?


Friday, March 14, 2014

S.A.D. Tales and Renewal's Redemption

I'm struggling struggling struggling. Sometimes S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) gets the better of me and I just have to cry and stare into my Mini Plus HappyLite. I don't know if this actually helps, but it's something I can proactively do, making me feel a little less helpless. (Side thought: maybe listening to Gillian Welch isn't very helpful right now.)

Yesterday and the day before were lovely lovely lovely sunny days. I sat on the back step in full sun and soaked soaked soaked it up. And journaled. I haven't been journaling enough lately, and really feel the effects.

Journaling, for me, is code for "Checking In." If I don't check in with myself, I don't know why I'm making any decisions, why I'm facing a certain direction, or why I feel strangled/restless/unsatisfied. Checking in with myself makes a big difference in my centering and grounding.

Petting warm doggies on squishy green couches lifts my spirits, too.

Spring is around the corner and the evidence is everywhere. I'm really looking forward to feeling healthy and energetic again. This past Winter was more difficult for me than ever before--and I'm not sure why. I speculated that SAD was accumulative not only during the season, but each and every year. But probably that's not true at all. Probably it's that it was colder than usual with two ice and snow storms. Eugene usually gets one snow day a year; this time it was two weeks of snow days.

The Spring Equinox (happening next week) brings me a day of planning. Planning and goal setting for the year. Personal goals, business goals, family goals. Ginger Carlson, author of Child of Wonder, got me into doing this. One year my kids did it with me, and this year I'd love to have Ali do it with me. 

With the budding of newness in the very soil around me, I can't help but think of my own renewal. In the past three weeks I've made plans for my massage business, tried on new ways of thinking about myself as a writer, and created a new financial plan--including a new budget.

In these ways I'm moving out of my winterized shell and into the light. Quite literally. It's coaxing me out of my funk.

What I still need to worry about are my internal expectations. They say we are our own worst critics, and never is that more accurate for me than during the winter, or just coming out winter. Or just going into winter. (Ha ha.) I slow way down, I'm overwhelmed by tasks that don't normally confound me, and I fall off my exercise routine. Lots of things just don't get done--and one of those things is usually self-care.

Despite today being a low-energy day, and one where I spent a good hour in front of the HappyLite, and my continued efforts at not succumbing to a nap for the past three hours, I am feeling grateful for the future and the things I'm about to embark on that will change how I think about myself and how I represent myself to others. I'm grateful for my continued passion and love for my partner and for my continued bond with my two teenaged children. And while I'm currently stressed out about taxes, money, and having to move (or not--I'll know in a couple months), I will get passed all that. I know it.

May Spring bring you renewed energy, excitement, and health.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February Stinks.

Unfortunately, it is February again.

That means:

I'm cold.
I can't get warm no matter what I do.
I'm old-man-cranky.
I'm exhausted.
All I want to do is either sleep, nap, read, sleep, drink hot beverages, or maybe watch a movie.
(But even that sounds like too much effort.)

I sat down to Be Creative (I set aside time every day for that), and poked around on Facebook for twenty minutes instead. Not feeling creative right now either.

I received a Reiki session today. That helped a lot. I was warm, relaxed, released some cleansing tears, and just felt nurtured. With that needed energy, I was able to go grocery shopping and stalked up on feel-good food, healthy food, and comfort food that's not so good for me. I brought in fire wood and chopped kindling for the cold front that's due to come in.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

World Hijab Day 2014

Recently I decided to participate in World Hijab Day. On February 1st, people around the world (non-Muslim, and Muslim alike) wear hijab as a statement against religious discrimination. At least that's how I see it.

After making it known to a few people that I was going to do this, one close friend AND my loverloverman both expressed concern that wearing hijab could be taken as supporting a religion that, in fact, hurts women and forces the veil on them (in some cases.) My friend said the choice to wear hijab, or not, was largely based on geography. This is most likely true, actually. Which is shitty.

But I digress.

These responses (even before putting on a scarf) got me wondering actually why I'm really doing this. After some thoughtful moments in the car on the way home from dropping my daughter off at high school, and several more in my kitchen in my journal, I came up with this:

I would like to support women's rights to wear hijab, if they choose, without religious discrimination and fear for their safety, in the United States, because that is where I live.

Maybe I'm doing it because I can't support the women's right to not wear the veil in places like Saudi Arabia or Sudan, because I'm not there, and I don't know how to support that--except to not wear hijab. But it would look like I wasn't making any statement at all, in that case, because I don't normally wear hijab. Most notably because I'm not Muslim or an Orthodox Jewish woman--nor do I belong to any other religion or culture that covers their hair.

I had a negative experience with organized religion growing up. So much so, that for years and years (a decade) I abhorred organized religion of any kind, and looked upon anyone who would belong to one with disdain, seeing them as mindless zombie sheep with no intelligence or backbone. I lived the quote, "Religion is the crutch of society." I even wrote it on my bedroom ceiling with a black Sharpee so that I saw it every day upon waking and going to sleep each night. That's how disillusioned I was.

But now--despite still not wanting to sign up for the next rule-based club for God, I admire how some religions can do good for some people and communities. Can bring some people comfort.

And since I'm for peace of all kinds, I want my human brothers and sisters to be able to openly experience life however they choose--whether they are transgendered, grow their own food in the back yard, wear full body tattoos, or practice a faith that means something to them.

I certainly don't live the life of an activist. Frankly, it would be too hard for me (or on me.) And I'm not a political person. I don't know what role Congress or the Senate play; I don't know how laws are made, or why states can vote for a president but still not be counted towards an election process.


I can buy organic or local food, avoiding Monsanto at all costs.

I can donate money to organizations that build personal shelters for the homeless population in Eugene (the city I live in.)

And I can wear hijab for a day, or two, in order to say something about religious discrimination in the United States.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


After our Solstice hike.
Ali and I have decided that a kick-start in our creativity is in order. We both love learning new things, stretching ourselves creatively, and doing things together, so we are at the same time going to be learning Spanish together (starting in a couple of weeks at the Winter term), and working on Julia Cameron's Walking in This World program.

Many of you are, no doubt, aware of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. I've done the program myself about five times. But I've only attempted Walking in This World: The Practical Art of Creativity, the sequel, once before.

I just read through the first week's reading and tasks, and done most of them. Since Ali and I will be sharing the book, it might be a bit of a challenge, but we'll do whatever works. Our current idea is for me to do it first, and to give Ali the Cliff Notes version without him reading it (or looking through the book), and then he'll do the tasks he wants, as well as the core work that happens every week. I'm a little skeptical about this tactic, only because I find inspiration in reading Julia Cameron. I don't believe I'll be able to convey that same inspiration to Ali when I give him the Cliff Notes version, and then he might not get as much out of the program as I will. (But that's projecting, and telling myself a story, so I won't do it anymore.)

For those of you considering the self-led course, here is a snippet of an outline:

Week 1: Discovering a Sense of Origin
Week 2: Discovering a Sense of Proportion
Week 3: Discovering a Sense of Perspective
Week 4: Discovering a Sense of Adventure
Week 5: Discovering a Sense of Personal Territory
Week 6: Discovering a Sense of Boundaries
Week 7: Discovering a Sense of Momentum
Week 8: Discovering a Sense of Discernment
Week 9: Discovering a Sense of Resiliency
Week 10: Discovering a Sense of Camaraderie
Week 11: Discovering a Sense of Authenticity
Week 12: Discovering a Sense of Dignity

The Basic Tools are mostly the same as in The Artist's Way. The only addition is a Weekly Walk for twenty minutes. Continue doing the journaling of three long-hand Morning Pages, and a solo Artist's Date once a week.

Who's with me?!

I'll keep you updated as I go through the process. I'd love for you to do the same in the comments section. It'll be fun!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Disappointment Feels Heavy in my Chest

Warning: There is nothing profound in this post. In fact, it's probably better if you don't bother reading it.

I get stuck on what to write a lot these days. It's easier to watch someone else's stories on the screen, or to read someone else's words in a book. It's easier to market my book, instead of writing a new one.

It snowed today. And instead of being cozy and knitting or reading or blogging, or glorying in the unexpected day off to play (or even to be accomplished), I felt bad. I cried while watching Little Women. I felt orphaned. Abandoned by family. Some not in a malicious way (perhaps none of them in a malicious way), but I felt lonely all the same.

My mom and my sister (and her family) live in Minnesota and I only hear from them sparingly, every few months or so; my dad (and his family) live not more than an hour away, but I only see him once a year on xmas eve, presumably because he can't be bothered any other time. He and his wife have a new roommate that I only found out about today when he confirmed he would *not* be joining us for our traditional xmas eve gathering because it would just be logistically too inconvenient. And then there's my other sister. The one in Wyoming. The one that stopped talking to me six years ago. For religious reasons, she said.

I asked my friend today if it was wrong to wish your family were different than they were. She said, No. When I said that it felt like I was giving up on them, she said, you can't give up on someone who won't engage.

It's not that they won't engage (except for Wyoming Sister), it's that they don't engage in the way that I want them to. Isn't that loving them conditionally then? "I'll only love you if..."? I keep coming up with excuses for them, or repeating to myself what they tell me. And my mom did just call me last month out of the blue and talked to me on the phone for two hours, when I know she hates talking on the phone, and then we followed up via FB chat last week for a couple of minutes. Another friend said that I don't need to make excuses for them, I need to just let the sad and disappointed pieces of me talk.

Maybe there is something to just accepting that they aren't who I want them to be, and not trying to get more out of them. I should just love them the way they are and get my emotional and familial needs met by others. Who'd want to be around or talk to anyone who is disappointed in you anyway? That way just leads to more hurt. Plus, I'm not the greatest at keeping in contact either. And what's with my whining when I miss them? Why don't I contact them when I think of them, instead of bemoan our separation and wonder why they don't contact *me*?

My children are home, but as teenagers they most often prefer the solitude of their bedrooms and YouTube, and my loverloverman is still in India (due home is six days!) Combining that with my geographically and emotionally absent family members, I feel understandably melancholy. Suddenly the dishes and making dinner look way more difficult to approach than normal.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blog Nostalgia

I've had some pretty great days this last month. My book launched; I had a party to celebrate--where much fun was had--and my reading was a hit. I've bonded with my kids (one teenager, and one in the making); I received a holiday invite from my ex (first time EVER); I was sick with a fever and allowed myself almost a week of sitting on my couch, reading, and watching movies. I've slept with doggies; make pots of delicious edible things; and played Scrabble with the mother-in-law I hardly ever get to visit  anymore. I have caught up with old friends, Skyped with my loverloverman while he was on a trip to India without me, and generally just smiled about everything that showed up.

Life is pretty grand these days.

I'm starting to get inspired again, too. Creatively.

The other day my friend was threatening imminent departure from Facebookland, and a comment was made about Facebook being a sort of mini-blog, and I thought--with a start--that this was true. (Thus, the scant posting here and other places.) I've wondered a few times if, and how, Facebooking has affected my writing.

I don't feel like I am addicted to screen time. I'm never turning to the computer because I am bored, or have nothing better to do. I'm never turning to the computer because I am sad. I don't waste my time on the computer. Mostly I use it as a tool. I work from my computer. I read on my computer. And, yes, I stay connected to some people on the computer--lots of times through Facebook. And yes, sometimes Facebook will suck me in and I'll stay on the site much longer than I anticipated (or needed to.) Just like when I go into the grocery store with a list of five items, and come out having spent $124.

Facebook, I'm sorry to say, has indeed become my new blog. I post my pictures on Facebook. I occasionally vent about something that needs attention, I post epiphanies, I write witty asides. I summarize in a sentence or two what I used to write pages on. While this might do wonders for streamlining my writing style, in actuality it has pert-in-near stopped it all together. Which is tragic.

This morning while eating breakfast I looked through some of my old book-marked blogs. Ones that I found inspiring in 2009. Most of them didn't make the cut, but it did remind me of how much I really had enjoyed reading and writing blog posts.

I turned to blog reading, and writing, years ago as a stay-at-home, un-schooling mama. (Please note the now-unfortunate blog url that can't be changed: Insane Parents Unite!) It was a way to seek out my tribe, to remind myself that I wasn't all alone on this planet of craziness, and that maybe--just maybe--I had something to say that would help other insane mamas, too. And let's face it. Despite my mostly regular handwritten journaling habit, I still used my blog as a diary. A cataloging of days. It kept track of how much I accomplished in my urban homesteading efforts, it reminded me that I was making a difference in my children's academic and social lives, and more importantly--that when written out like that--I could actually recognize good parenting skills amidst the chaos.

But now I mostly Facebook all that.
In small snippets.
That you can read on a status line.

This is no good, People!

I must return to writing in full pages. Grease the wheels of ingenuity once more. For I've lost the ease at which I once thought up stories. I used to have characters flitting around in my mind, waking me up in the wee hours of the morning, begging to be put on paper. But now, I struggle to write book reviews. I've had a couple of ideas for novels wade into the edges of my imagination, but not long enough for me to meet them properly. Not long enough to invite them to tell me their stories before they go.

I've become rusty.

And in too much of a hurry. (Maybe another by-product of the quick and easy world of Facebooking?)

Point: I must hurry up and print this for my writing group, walk the dogs before I go to yoga, make a to-go dinner to take to my next two meetings, and somewhere in there take my daughter to the print shop to print out a homework assignment!