Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why There Are No Pictures Of India Yet

While we were in India–on the day we were leaving Pune for Mumbai for the last stage of our travels, I awoke from a dream centered on Humphrey (our dog) and our dog-sitter. I lay in bed, drowsing, when my partner’s phone rang. It was our dog trainer. The sitter had called her. There had been a dog fight between two of our dogs and our dog-sitter had been injured, as well–trying to break it up.
After about fourteen phone calls, and professionals, family, and friends pitching in and helping out, our dogs (and the sitter) got the care they needed.
1461295_10152678707608382_8233987831098694858_nWe’ve been home for a week now and the dogs had their check-up today. Poor Humphrey got the worst of it then, and still now. He’s got a raging ear infection in the the ear that was damaged in the fight. The wound isn’t infected, though it’s so severely red that the vet gave him prednisone–as well as his antibiotics, ear canal flushing stuff, and some salve. The ear infection is like the kind your babies and toddlers get. Only goopier. (Grimace.)
I’m lying on the couch with him right now, snuggling, in an attempt to prevent the scraping, licking, and “cleaning” he’s trying to do to his face and ear. He had a cone of shame on so he wouldn’t get at his wounds, but probably that contributed to his ear infection, so the vet is encouraging it to be off–as long as he doesn’t scratch it.
When I leave the house, I put the cone on him. I haven’t decided whether to put it back on while he sleeps.
Family and friends are super interested in our India pictures and stories, but the immediate stress of holidays and caring for our pets has slowed me down a bit. Posts and pictures of India will be here starting next week!
Stay tuned for What Women Tourists Need to Bring to India.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Not Quite Winter Gardening

I wouldn’t say I’m all moved in to my house, but I’ve got the boxes mostly in control, and that means that I’m stupidly looking for other projects instead of unpacking the remainder of the boxes and organizing the contents into a more workable system.
No. Instead in the last two days I’ve agreed to work on a bake sale at my son’s school, planted a bunch of strawberry plants, cleaned my carport, helped my loverloverman get his ManTower room more set up with furniture in the right places, refrigerator stocked with adult beverages, stereo hooked up and record player in use. (We listened to Herbie Mann while Ali organized his records according to genre and artist.) We applied for our travel visas, and I hosted a brunch yesterday. Also, I did laundry and errands and yoga and completed some interview questions for an author series I’m being promoted on.(I know I ended that with a preposition, but I’m okay with that.)
I just finished reading a book called Tales from the Home Farm by Michael Kelly that inspired me to, once again, eat a more local diet and grow my own food. I mean, I never stopped aspiring to do that, but I sanely opted to not plant a garden this year because we were moving households. Despite my decision, I took a whole course of urban homesteading courses, read Tales from the Home Farm, started reading Animal, Mineral, Vegetable by Barbara Kingsolver, and attended a winter gardening class. I’m itching to put something in the ground. I have so many plans for my front yard food garden that I’m likely going to explode before I can plant the seeds next Spring.
I don’t have any beds made yet, so planting in the ground wasn’t an option. But thankfully planning is. For those of you fortunate enough to already have a start on your garden, you have so much opportunity for “backyard” food throughout the winter.
First, you can store the food you harvest this coming month. Find a big bin and fill it with pine shavings (one book said to use sand) purchased at a pet/farm store. You can store potatoes, beets, carrots, and apples in this. Putting the apples in with the potatoes will actually help the potatoes to not sprout. Even just a couple of apples in the potato bins will do the job.
You can even still plant this late in the year. Garlic planted now can be harvested in June. Leeks and onions grow well in the Fall and can be harvested all winter. Brassicas, like kale and broccoli, over-winter well and can be harvested in the spring. Lettuce, too. Even potatoes grown now will be ready in spring. If I had a bed ready, I’d plant: garlic, leeks, radishes, kale, broccoli, and onions. Also potatoes.
In fact, the “itching” is so bad, I think I shove a couple of garlic cloves into a ceramic pot and see what happens. Ali and I went to FOUR stores in Eugene to find an inexpensive EarthMachine-type composter for the garden and didn’t find any this late in the season. We’ll need to purchase online. So much for staying in the local community.
I can also plant some fruit bushes (there are a mass of blueberry bushes for sale at Down to Earth right now!) though my idea of where to put them (along the Eastern border of our lot) might not be the best spot for them if they will shade the rest of the growing garden come Spring time.
I really need to just reign it in and concentrate on making the garden plan (including layout and bed placement) for the coming growing season, and not worry about anything else but tidying up the garden space and weeding the flower beds. How boring.
So much for winter gardening this year. Here’s looking forward to graphing out the front yard for food production with colored pencils and sticky notes! I’m going to start a garden binder, too. Hooray for office supply stores!
What are your winter garden plans?    

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Emergency Room

I’ve just moved into my new home. We’ve been here a week. We’ve got the basics running fairly well: the bathroom and kitchen are mostly put away. The living room, though bare of art, is pleasing to sit in, and the internet was installed yesterday. Yes, our clothes are still in cardboard boxes, but my bed is set up and such a comfort at the end of the day. And yes, I still don’t have a shower curtain rod in the main bathroom, but we can take a shower in the second bathroom that I am so grateful to have with two teenagers and two adults who all seem to need to poop or brush their teeth or bathe at the same time.
There. That was me reminding myself of all the things that work.
The other things that have come up in the ONE WEEK we’ve been here are: the kitchen sink is backed up so that I can’t use the sink, garbage disposal, or dishwasher (We now have a mountain of dirty dishes); there is a water leak under the house from the same kitchen area apparently; the fence guy installing our backyard fence so the dogs can go out unsupervised was injured on the job (we paid the medical bills), which means the fence still isn’t up; the dryer cord outlet was installed without enough clearance for an actual dryer cord to be plugged in; the cold water washing machine faucet leaked so much when the water was turned on, we couldn’t use it; and I’ve spent over six hours this week in emergency rooms.
I am, however, happy to say I’ve successfully washed two loads of laundry as of this morning.
It’s the little things.
As to one of the emergency room visits, grab a cup of tea, get comfortable, and I’ll tell you the story. (The other ER visit will have to wait for another essay.)
On Saturday I spent the morning and early afternoon finishing up the move-out, cleaning, and walk-through on the rental house I just moved out of. At the new house, my teens were playing a video game on the new-to-us Wii, our kitchen plumbing issue was being looked at, and my dogs were locked up in the bedroom. I waited around, half-heartedly looking at a Take Root magazine, until the MacGuyver Guy left and I let the dogs out, relaxed with some food, and put my feet up for a bit. Then I took my kids to their dad’s. It was Transition Day.
My honey was camping at a festival with friends and I had great plans for hanging up all my clothes so we didn’t have to navigate around the boxes in the bedroom anymore, to clean up the pile of potting soil in the carport caused from a ceramic pot that fell and broke from a loose shelf I’d forgotten about when I set the pot there, and to maybe even stack the dirty dishes in a more pleasing arrangement—thereby concealing their existence. I was hoping to get this all done before he arrived Sunday.
I started with my clothes.
I didn’t get through half a box.
The last thing I hung was my leather coat. I remember thinking that eventually it would be hung in the front entry closet, but right now I just wanted it out of the box. As soon as I hung it on the rod, the attached shelf above it—along with the rod of clothes—fell out of the wall (screws and all) and onto my right hand.
“Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow,” I said, loudly enough to scare Banjo, my twelve-year-old Shepherd/Husky mix. We call him Banjo Boyscout, he’s that sensitive and straight-laced. The only booming thought I had was ICE. I made a beeline for the freezer without even looking at my hand. I grabbed a handkerchief to cut the cold because none of my dish towels were clean, and then I looked down.
“Fuckin’ A. Is that bone?” I actually said it aloud, though no one but me was home, except the dogs, though there is still debate as to whether they can understand human speech.
I went back to the scene of the crime, bypassing the evil closet (which still gives me butterflies when I look at it today), climbed onto my bed and started icing.
I’ve never done anything down to the bone on my body before. Does one need stitches for that? It wasn’t really bleeding, so probably not. It didn’t even hurt that much, but curiously I felt nauseous. I wasn’t shaky though, and I knew my name and where I was, so I wasn’t in shock. In retrospect, I think I was mildly shocked—haha—because despite having already done the correct first aid on myself, there was a certain amount of confusion. What do I do? I don’t know what to do was a constant, ongoing, ticker tape in my head. Let’s call it microshock.
Ali was camping at the Black Sheep Family Reunion music festival. I didn’t want to worry him. (Turns out he didn’t have cell phone range where he was anyway.) My best friend, Tamara, was camping, too, at a different festival. My friend and neighbor, Jimmy, was also at the same Faerieworlds festival. My friend, Deanna, was on a date. My doctor friend didn’t answer the text I sent—she was at a memorial service—and due to some misunderstood correspondence, I thought my friend Sarah was hanging up an art show. I didn’t know who to call to ask if I needed to go to Urgent Care.
It’s not really bleeding. And it doesn’t even hurt really. The ice is working just fine. What do I do? I don’t know what to do.
I considered going next door to my new neighbor, whom it turns out I know from a class I took, like, nine years ago. I went through my contact list on my phone to look for someone to call. But then they’d have to come over, and I didn’t want to deal with crating my dog again. And I felt silly—even as my eyes teared up and I felt a little frightened of my perceived isolation.
What do I do?
I turned to Facebook as a resource. Someone will respond and tell me what to do.
Of the three people that did respond, they all said, “Go to the hospital. You need stitches. You’re in shock.” But they didn’t know me very well. Maybe they were over-reacting. I needed a close friend to tell me that. I wasn’t in shock. I didn’t really think I needed the hospital. What would they put stitches in? There wasn’t any bleeding. Why did I feel nauseous? How come it didn’t hurt anymore? The ice must’ve helped. What do I do?
Constant. Ongoing. Ticker Tape.
Finally, after enough Facebook chatter, I decided to go. No, thank you, I can drive myself. And then began the process of making it to my car.
I was wearing wrap-around pants that tied in both the front and back. What if I have to pee at the hospital? There was no way I could handle those pants with one hand. I changed into a skirt. What if it’s air-conditioned and I get cold? I slipped a long-sleeved linen shirt over my good arm and let the rest hang. What if I get thirsty? I filled my water bottle. I found a book to read in the waiting room. I found my keys.
My heart was starting to race and pound, but I still wasn’t shaking. Maybe I should get someone to drive me to the hospital. I could call Daryll Lynne, but she’d just cleaned her garage all day. She might be too tired. What about Tamathy, or Cherie, or Doug? No. If I waited for them to get here, I’d just talk myself out of going, and it took me a long time to talk myself into going.
Into the car I went. Pioneer Parkway would take me there. (I’m in a new town, remember?) I was fairly certain. I head that way, pass all the correct landmarks, go through the roundabout, and….end up in downtown Springfield. ??? I guess I turned the wrong way down Pioneer Parkway. I turned around and drove the opposite way. But then I started seeing the same landmarks I’d seen before on the same side of the street.
Wouldn’t Bank of America be on the left side of the street now?
When I got to the roundabout, I knew what I’d done. I laughed out loud in the car. Idid know the right way. I just malfunctioned when it came to the roundabout.
I pulled up to the Urgent Care clinic, grateful for the up close and personal parking space. But it’s closed.
Great. The ER will be more expensive.
My fingers were starting to tingle and go numb.
When I walked in the ER, a man at the check-in desk in a neon yellow vest and bluetooth walkie hopped up.
“What can I do for you?”
“I hurt my hand.”
“What’s your name?”
“Okay Valerie.” He wrote it down. “Sit right there in those triage chairs and as soon as a room is cleaned, we’ll get you right in. You’re next!”
I guess my face was white, or I seemed confused, because I received super speedy service. Certainly faster than the waitstaff at the restaurant last night. I cried a little when I sat down. I think I was relieved to have someone else making decisions and taking care of me.
I got my vitals checked—my pulse and heart rate had shot up enough that the techs asked me to just sit and calm down—and I did my computer “registration.” My hands had started shaking by now, Sarah texted of her imminent arrival to keep me company, and I got three x-rays taken. Once Sarah got there and started me laughing, the time passed even more quickly.
The ER doc was in and out within five minutes. He had me hook my fingers, one at a time, around his bent finger and pull to test that all my tendons worked, and he squeezed around the injury site to see if anything felt broken. He checked the xrays to make sure and then sent a nurse in to give me a tetanus shot. I didn’t need any stitches—which was actually what I was most afraid of.
I declined the tetanus shot. Mostly because I knew it would be over a $100, nothing rusty touched me, and I wasn’t at risk of diphtheria or whooping cough (both of which are now mixed with the tetanus shots these days.) I have mixed feelings about vaccines, I didn’t have time to research this one, and the side effects of these were sufficiently terrible enough to compel me to refuse. I could always go in and get it another time if I changed my mind.
The nurse washed my injury, smeared on antibiotic ointment, and bandaged up my hand.
And that was it.
I shouldn’t have gone in.
Yeah, I probably was in microshock, but I didn’t need anything but ice and a big Band-Aid. I’m not looking forward to receiving the bill.
Two things about this event particularly stuck with me. One, as Sarah and I were leaving the ER, our nurse said she really liked hearing us laugh so much in the treatment room. The poor stressed-out ER staff probably don’t hear much laughter back there. I’m glad we brought her some joy. I’m certainly glad Sarah was there.
can ask for help and receive care from my friends—even the ones I don’t see often. I am not as isolated as I can sometimes feel.
The second memorable occasion happened the following day. Because of the house disarray, I couldn’t find any Advil to abate a raging headache and my swollen hand. So I had a screwdriver. And then another.
I couldn’t finish the second. By 2:30 p.m. I was smashing drunk. Which I found hilarious because the Comcast Xfinity guy was there installing internet at my house, and my MacGuyver Guy was back working on my washer and dryer. Hopefully they didn’t notice.
Being unfamiliar with mid-day drunkenness, and realizing I’d only eaten toast and chai that morning, I was prompted to consume a delicious salmon burger with lettuce, mustard and jalapeno cheese, and tater tots with local Red Duck spicy ketchup. It was the best food I’d ever eaten.
(Sidenote: With the food in me I sobered up. Though along with the loss of inebriation, my headache returned full force.)
Today my hand-swelling is down enough to bend all my fingers, to write without much aching, and to grip a dog leash. I only hope I’m able to perform the couple of massages on my schedule this week before I head off to the Willamette Writers Conference on Thursday.
This summer got way too much for me all of a sudden.
I’m looking forward to the kids’ school starting in the Fall, when I can get my regular routine back in place. I’m aching for yoga classes, writing every day, marketing my now award-winning book, and living in an Everything Works home.
There just better not be anymore ER visits.

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's a Jane Austen Day

The other day I was having a conversation with a new friend. We were talking movies and she said that she liked period pieces, but that she just didn’t think about them while selecting a film to watch.
I, on the other hand, crave these slower types of movies. I go through phases where I’ll watch every single period movie I can find, sometimes going as far as watching different versions of the same movie–one time even on the same day.
I’ve discovered that Jane Austen movies are the ones I most often turn to when times are hectic, upsetting, or overwhelming. Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudiceare the ones that affect me the most. They are the most calming–Elinor’s reserve; Elizabeth’s letters.
I believe that I have this quasi-obsessive appreciation for these period pieces because, in a way, I am celebrating a time period where–despite its entailment laws, injustice for women, and cruel societal expectations–women only had to write letters, read, walk or ride in the fresh air, and learn French and embroidery.
I could totally rock that lifestyle.
Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century.
That’s all I ever want my vacations to be like. Writing, reading, exploring, and learning something knew.
C’est la perfection!

Today, for example: My car broke down, I had to walk in the rain to go and pick it up from the repair shop (my clothes are still wet an hour later), my dog has pink eye and I can only get him in to the vet tomorrow morning. I haven’t written anything in my novel for at least three weeks, I need to clear out blackberry brambles and weeds in order to put up a new fence in our backyard, and I need to keep on packing for a move in five weeks. I need to paint my kids’ bedrooms before we move in, my head hurts, my shins hurt, and I’m exhausted. I need to pick up my lawn mower at the saw shop and mow my lawns. I need to call to set up garbage service at the new house, and pay the new electric bill. I missed my Weight Watchers meeting this morning because of the car, and I’m ditching my writing critique group this afternoon because of…all of the above.
All this…and all I want to do is write a letter in a pretty blue dress.
So instead, I will change into dry clothes, make myself some hot chocolate, and watch Sense and Sensibility.
It’s the only way I know how to slow down my brain.

What do you do when life gets out of hand?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Why Adrenal Fatigue Makes For Good Blogging

A while ago I addressed how Facebook had become a mini-blog for me, and so I've recently put more energy and thought into blogging. I like blogging. I like connecting with the world outside and starting conversations with my readers, even if it's only in their heads and not exchanged with me. I think this is why Facebook is so alluring for me. I get instant feedback on what I've written.

Part of the reason for the blog distance in the past year or so, is I get mixed instructions on how to utilize my blogs, which is confusing. On the one hand, I see the value and organizational conciseness of segregating my blogs into: Personal, Permaculture/Costa Rica, and Professional.

I alwaysalways--no matter what category in life--overdo it and make things more difficult for myself than they need to be. I have no idea why I do this. But if I want or need to attend to something, I'll make charts and lists and volunteer for an organization that's kind of related and start a blog about it. Even if all I needed to do was buy groceries. It's who I am.

But I don't like that. It's exhausting.

So the adrenal-fatigued part of me wants to consolidate all of them. For instance, the reason I started Eco-Expat was so I could write about my experience of moving to Costa Rica and all that it entailed. I wanted to take all that info and consolidate it into a non-fiction book to sell to other ex-pat wannabes or retirees. But I could just label that shit and put it in my personal blog. That's what the categories on the right side bar are for--searching for posts on specific topics. And the personal stuff that I think shouldn't be on my author blog for fans to read isn't really secret anyway. Duh. It's on the interwebs. And I even have a link to my personal blog on my author blog--and if that isn't an invitation to come read it, I don't know what is.

I think, perhaps, that--despite the professionally excellent advice to only Publish Polished Posts of a Not-Too-Personal Nature--just blogging on my website instead of Blogger (which I totally love, by the way, because it's the easier of the two interfaces to blog on), I will be daring and bold and publish it all on my website. I believe the professional down-sides of baring too much on my website--while off-putting to some--will out-weigh the professional down-side of spreading myself too thinly over the internet. If I can only average one post a week, and I'm writing on three blogs, that means that I'm only posting new content once a month. This will not attract readership.

What do you do to attract readership to your blog?
What do you consider too personal to put on your website?
What information--personal or otherwise--do you like to know about the authors you read?

Please view my author blog here, and sign up for my newsletter.
Mini-blog, or no, you can always find me on Facebook.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why I'm Not a Realtor

Not a house we looked at. This was in Seattle.

Looking at houses for sale on the internet is addictive. So is driving by them, and going to open houses, and pestering your mortgage broker dude and realtor.

I don't want to do anything else. It's weird. Like I'd imagine a junkie would act--only looking for fixes, not caring about, say: writing, learning more about Scrivener, paying bills, eating healthy, or going to yoga class. But maybe junkies don't do any of those things anyway.

Saturday Ali and I went to two open houses, and yesterday three. But then we drove around for hours looking at more that weren't open and peering in windows, striking addresses from lists because a house was in that neighborhood, or it didn't have a big enough back yard, or it looked too small for our needs.

After we got home, I went through another six pages of listings in the online version of the Eugene Register Guard. I've started a new list of drive by addresses, and one list for the realtor of houses I definitely want to see the inside of. Seriously, it's as time consuming as first setting up your profile and browsing the singles on OK Cupid. Or Facebook.

Of course, this is all very pre-mature, as are lots of things I tend to do. We haven't even met with the mortgage broker to see if we can, together, get pre-approved for a home loan. That's tomorrow morning.

Moving in together will mean big changes for all of us, but mostly not-so-big changes. While Ali likes and genuinely cares for and worries about my teenage children, he's never lived with kids before. I'm worried that occasionally he'll need a quiet place to time-out in (not so much different from traditional parents, actually), away from the noise, chaos, or drama teenagers sometimes bring--depending on the kid. I'm sure Ali worries a little about this, too.

That--plus our three large dogs, and my desire to garden and raise chickens--creates some unique (but not strange) housing needs. We're quite obviously looking for a large fenced lot. And we'll need a certain amount of separation of space in the actual living quarters, not to mention the general square footage required for four people, three dogs, lots of art, and myriads of books.

In our preliminary searching, we've found one in particular that we keep using as a reference. Do we like this house as much as the other one? No? Then, strike it from the list.

As with every home, even "dream ones" you construct yourself, there are things about it that are not quite perfect. You'd change them if you could. But, generally, the positives far out-weigh the bad, and that is the case of this "reference" house we've found.

The back yard isn't as flat as I'd like it, the location of the home isn't in my favorite neighborhood, and one of the bathrooms would rarely be used--given its location in the house. Which just seems wasteful. Other than that, though, it's pretty near perfect to suiting our needs. The property taxes are lower than in some places, the dogs wouldn't bottle-neck in the hallways, there's a great place for Ali to escape to, AND it boosts an artists' studio. With at least three artists in the family, this would be great fun to have.

And, in lean times, if I couldn't manage my rent downtown, I could use the studio as a place to practice massage out of. It has an outside entrance, and an accessible bathroom--one that wouldn't have clients traipsing through my dog-haired living room, or messy kitchen.

All in all, pretty nearly perfect.

But here I am waxing poetic on a house I don't know for sure if I can get a loan for, a list of eight other homes I want tours of, and twelve more I'm going to drive by. Just to see. They fit under the category of: Eh. It might be cool. But it might be too small. I can't tell by the pictures. And I don't even know where Myoak is.

I swear I could make a full time job out of looking for a house to buy. I certainly spend enough time on it--it's even bleeding over into my writing! Though pretty soon I will be sick of it, and will just take whatever house I'm looking at the time. Which is why I'll never be a realtor.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Procrastination: It Happens To Everyone

If you dispute this title’s accuracy, you’re no human I know.

I’m being hit hard with it today. Case in point: I was supposed to be at my studio office to start writing/marketing at 9:00 a.m. this morning. Instead, I: walked the dog, ran a quick errand, ate some food, tried not to fall asleep, read a couple chapters in Wicked Good Words, wrote a page in my journal, thought about stuff, made some masala chai, wrote a ‘to do’ list (blog post wasn’t on there; neither was anything I just listed), and finally made it to my office–though it still took me 40 minutes to start working on this post.

(Side note: the procrastination  time wasters I did after coming to the office included vacuuming and taking out the trash.)

This is me stubbornly (and creatively) not doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

10 Ways to Procrastinate–and then what to do about it

1.  Dance to music you’ve starred on Spotify.
2.  Read an article from the dozens you’ve got waiting in your email inbox. You know. The ones from the newsletters you sign up for, but forgot you did, and still save  them anyway to read Later.
3.  Do laundry.
4.  Wash your car–even cleaning the dashboard and dusting the vents.
5.  Organize your books alphabetically.
6.  Make a list of other things you need to do.
7.  Go through your email inbox. That’s work, right?
8.  Write a real letter to someone. With a stamp.
9.  Go grocery shopping. Which shows how much you really don’t want to do whatever you had originally set out to do (or actually not do), because grocery shopping is the worst!
10. Go to a meeting. ‘Cuz we all know how time-wasting those are.

So, what to do about procrastinating? I did promise to say something about that.  I personally extend a lot of energy at my procrastinating, so I’ve done the following over and over in my own life. Does that mean it doesn’t actually work?–because I have to keep coming back to it? No. It means I procrastinate. And when it gets out of hand, I do something about it.
1.  Take some of that precious time that your procrastinating away and acknowledge that you’re off track. Some signs of this off-trackness are: restlessness, the feeling that something’s off/unsettled, the sensation that you’re spinning your wheels, feeling like nothing you do is working, or that you can’t seem to find enough time to do anything–your To Do List is miles long.
2.  Identify what the sticking point is. What item, or items, on your To Do List keep getting shuffled to the next day’s list? The ones perpetually un-done. Un-doable.
3.  Why do you suppose they are so hard for you right now? Is something else in the way? Do you have to get other things done first before you can cross the big bad one off? Recognize that there may be a psychological reason that is blocking you from getting it done. Maybe it’s fear of looking dumb if you do it, or fear of failing if you try. Maybe it’s just not your thing. Or maybe you just don’t want to do it. And that’s okay.
4. If you’ve done your personal work to see what is lurking underneath the not-doing-the-wretched-thing-on-your-list, and you’ve discovered it’s not the right time in your life to spend energy on it, or you can delegate it away, or it turns out you just don’t care about it like you thought you did, give yourself permission to cross it off the list FOREVER. Just don’t do it. What’s the worst that could happen if you didn’t?
5.  If you’ve done your personal work and you have determined it needs to stay on the list, probably the item is to big to be on the list. An example of this might be: Pack up the house. (For the move you know you’ve got coming up this summer.) In this case, you’ll need to break it down into smaller workable steps. Pack up the house could then become:  Decide what I don’t want to bring with me from the living room. A much more workable step. A general rule of thumb is, if you can’t get a project done in 30-60 minutes, it needs to be broken down.

I hope these tips will help you get moving on your projects and lists, and that procrastination (with a capital P) doesn’t keep you detained for long.

What things do you find yourself procrastinating from? What tips do you have for me?

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.