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Until It Is Carved In Stone [an Excerpt from Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach]

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.
~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Visiting old cemeteries can be very illuminating. They are so still and silent. So quiet. Old cemeteries remind us that until it is carved in stone, realizing our heart’s desire is possible every day if we recognize what it is that makes us happy.

In Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town a deeply poignant scene takes place in a graveyard. Ghosts comfort the young heroine, who has recently died in childbirth. Emily, still longing for the life she has just left, wishes to revisit it one ordinary, “unimportant” day in her life. When she gets her wish, she realizes how much the living take for granted.

Eventually her visit is too much for her to bear. “I didn’t realize,” she confesses mournfully, “all that was going on and we never noticed … Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners … Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking … and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths … and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”

This is the season of Epiphany, when the renewal of light and revelation are celebrated in the liturgy of the Catholic, Episcopal, and Eastern Orthodox churches. On our new path we seek everyday epiphanies — occasions on which we can experience the Sacred in the ordinary — and come to the awakening, as Emily finally does, that we cannot longer afford to throw away even one “unimportant” day by not noticing the wonder of it all. We have to be willing to discover and then appreciate the authentic moments of happiness available to all of us every day.

[excerpted from the book Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach]

2013 – A New Beginning

It’s been quite a while since I blogged regularly. I have been feeling the urge to share my thoughts again in a venue where I can get feedback from others; and just really feeling the need to express myself in writing, the way I used to.

I have a lot of things to update regarding this blog, but the past week, I have been considering “New Year’s Resolutions”.  I’m not really very good at keeping resolutions, but I want to live this next 12 months with some sort of intention and plan. I haven’t really ever done that before. But I really want 2013 to be SPECIAL. Noteworthy. A time of transformation and a new direction.
So instead of making resolutions, I would like to state intentions. Specifically, I am going to state intentions – ranging from intensely personal, to family-related, to finance, to just-for-fun.

So, here goes:

  1. I fully intend on cultivating more patience and kindness with my husband and children. Lately, I have let my irritability and impatience color my dealings with them, and my tongue has become quite sharp. I really want to try to be more present in mind when they need something from me or want to ask/tell me something.
  2. I fully intend on cultivating more patience and kindness with MYSELF.  I have become such a cruel critic of myself that I often find myself in the throes of terrible anxiety/panic attacks when I am indulging in leisure activities, or trying to take much-needed naps. There is nothing like having a guilt-induced panic attack just because you’re trying to catch an afternoon nap when your kids are not at home.
  3. I fully intend to allow myself downtime every day without guilt or “woulda”, “shoulda” or “coulda” statements. If my fibromyalgia, SAD, or anxiety is causing me to need to take it easy for the entire day, I need to allow myself to do this without recrimination.
  4. I fully intend to continue to work on cultivating multiple streams of income. I have two very good part-time work-from-home gigs going on, and I’m going to encourage those employers to send more work my way, and increase my monetary contribution to the household. I will try to be open to new avenues of income as well.
  5. I fully intend on continuing to work from home, but not more than 35-40 hours a week.  For once in my life, I’m going to do my best to avoid getting burned out, as I have so often done with employment in the past.
  6. I fully intend to continue the progress I’ve made with my dietary choices. I all but eliminated caffeine from my diet this fall. My hope for this year is to seriously cut down on soda drinks, and to drink more water. I also would like to approach eating healthier by picking one unhealthy food choice at a time and replace it with something healthier. When I feel I have overcome that unhealthy food habit, I will tackle another one. Again, trying hard not to get burned out.
  7. Become more disciplined and organized with regard to time management.  I have always tried to come up with these all-encompassing schedules, to-do lists, calendars, systems, etc., and they never seem to last very long. My goal is to really cut out all the things I have always told myself I HAD to include in a schedule/system, and simplify my schedule, so that I don’t feel so overwhelmed with housework, paying bills, etc.  I am going to have a far less stringent approach to expectations with regard to keeping house, and decide what the truly important tasks are each week and do my best to get those few things done. I don’t need to worry about dusting every week, or mopping every other day, etc. It’s just silly. I can go a couple of weeks without doing those things and you can’t even tell, so obviously these are just expectations put in my head by my OCD mother’s upbringing! I hate to have chaos in my home, but picking up clutter is one thing – getting down and hand washing the floors is excessive and I need to stop putting that on myself.
  8. I fully intend on making more time to spend with my husband. We’ve never had the chance to be “just us two”, as he already had a daughter when we got together. We have never had a good support system of people to watch our kids for us so we can go out and be together. That hasn’t changed really, but I am willing to hire some of the college kids that I know well to babysit now that they are grown. I don’t have to just depend on my oldest daughter’s availability to make this happen. My relationship with my husband needs nurturing, and not just once every couple of months. I want to put this to the forefront of my efforts this year.
  9. I fully intend on taking care of ME: taking more of an interest and pride in my appearance, investing in myself with exercise, spiritual/mental care, and fun and hobbies. I really want to be happy where I am at now, instead of focusing on some far-off time when all will be aligned. I find the most happiness from the simplest pleasures, ones that I have always enjoyed – reading, music, movies, games, etc., and I need to allow myself those things without guilt. Life’s too short not to be happy. And red lipstick and garish eye makeup make me happy too, so I’m going to take more time for myself to vamp it up, even if I’m just gonna be home that day.
  10. Work on the worrying – I really need to get a handle on my self-talk. My inner dialogue is my own worst enemy. If nothing else happens this year, I have to beat this inner demon that judges me more harshly than all the bully cheerleaders at my high school ever did.

Well, that’s all I’ve got right now. Basically it boils down to: BE NICER TO MYSELF. BE NICER TO MY FAMILY. KEEP IT SIMPLE, SILLY. IF IT FEELS GOOD, LET YOURSELF DO IT.  STOP TREATING MY BODY LIKE A TRASH COMPACTOR AND MORE LIKE A TEMPLE.

Have a great week!!

I have to center myself.

I feel the inactivity of this blog really reflects the inactivity in my life. I have been at a basic standstill since Lola was born. I have gotten out of the writing habit, my home has descended into chaos, and I am at a low point health-wise. Emotionally, I am dealing with feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and am overwhelmed by all I feel I should be doing. Overwhelmed by the thought of digging myself and my home out of this mountain of, well, shit that is burying me. Financially, I have not been doing what I know I should be doing, I have not been a good manager of our household funds and my fear and anxiety related to money have caused me to often procrastinate on paying our bills in a timely manner. I hate to sit down and face it. In fact, that’s what I should be doing right now, but instead I am writing in this blog that I haven’t touched in a year.

I guess this is just my soul’s way of telling me that I want things to be better now. I want it to be more purposeful and I want to do the work necessary to eliminate these feelings of panic, anxiety, overwhelmed-ness, and the only way I can do that is to just GET STARTED. I guess I can come back to this blog as part of the life raft I will need to make the changes I desperately need to make.

I’m scared though. I’m scared I won’t be able to stick with it. Not sure how I should approach the changes. There are so many that ultimately need to be made. I’m screwed up in almost every facet of my life. I guess I just need to start working on what’s bothering me the most.

So, off I go. I will also cling to the life raft of FlyLady to help me not give up. I will go fetch my timer now, and face my fate. Wish me luck. Hopefully I will make some progress and then I can come back and write about all the good things I do have in my life. Until I dig myself out of all this, I can’t really enjoy those things.

Ch-ch-changes…

Yes, I changed my blog layout.  I am feeling like taking risks.  LOL

I am still sticking to my so-called vow of silence, which isn’t truly a vow of complete silence.  I am just zipping my lips and only talking when I absolutely need to, in order to hear what people are saying.  I fell off the wagon a bit earlier today when I was talking to Hubby about some of the different options we currently have for our future.  We discussed the option of staying in Michigan for the time being and trying to build our snow plowing business up further by adding another snow plow, thereby making us an official “fleet”.  If we have any more winter seasons like this one has been, we could afford to travel to warmer climes a few times in the winter and, to be honest, Michigan is quite nice in the summer and fall so I don’t mind being here.

To be even more honest, I don’t mind being here in the winter, not anymore.  I’m used to it.  Since I don’t have to go out in the crap every day other than to transport Lola to and from school, it’s not so bad.  But even driving in the snow is no biggie anymore, I’m used to that too.  I could easily see myself just putting the moving away idea on the shelf, and concentrating on building our business some more and continuing to do the transcription work, and continuing to slowly make improvements to this house and pay down the balance on the mortgage.

I don’t know.  I know Hubby really wants to go somewhere warmer, but I am getting to a more accepting attitude about the whole thing.  If we had a bit better economic situation here, we wouldn’t mind just making the trip to Tennessee or Cincinnati to visit family every other month or so like we used to be able to do. 

What got me thinking about the snow plow business is that we had some snow last night and so our contractor was out running our plow last night.  It was a shorter shift because it wasn’t much snow.  Hubby and I slept in our bed last night and we made about $350.00 after paying our driver contractor.  That is some easy money.  I started thinking if we had two trucks and two drivers, we could be making double that and using that to get ahead. 

I don’t know.  It’s just where my thoughts have been lately and I’m just tired of being on tenterhooks not knowing if we are coming or going.  I just like the steady calm of knowing where you are and what you are working towards.  I like to have a one-year, five-year and ten-year plan in place.  I don’t like having three of each depending on what option we end up taking.  And I don’t like putting all my eggs in one basket on a path we aren’t sure we’re going to get to take.  It’s driving me crazy.

As far as other things, I am still processing the things my therapist said yesterday.  Part of me is mad because it was kind of harsh.  But part of me knows it is the truth and I really just don’t know how to address it and make the changes I need to make.  I felt chastened and basically called on the carpet and everyone knows I can’t stand that feeling.  However, I know I focus too much on what I perceive to be Lola’s problems when they are really my own.  My therapist pointed that out to me quite clearly enough yesterday.  The parallels were stunningly obvious if I had just taken the time to look at it reasonably.  But as my therapist points out, I *think* I am using reason, and I’m totally not.  So I feel even worse about me, although my therapist tells me my biggest challenge is working on my self-esteem.  But she just gave me a big knock down on that.  Kind of one step forward, two steps back.

On the positive side, she countered the “five challenging” things about myself with “five positives” and apparently, I have an amazing sense of humor and a strong drive to improve myself.  Plus, I’m very bright.  When she said that, I wanted to snap, “No, lady, I’m a fucking genius.”  I felt indignant about just being considered bright.  But then, I thought of all the stupid things I’ve done over the years, despite my high I.Q., and I remained silent and did not interrupt her.  Which I am sure she appreciated.  Because apparently, someone like me is “exhausting.”

Is it considered progress when you’re mad at your therapist?

Right now, I feel mad at a lot of people and honestly, I’m sure the feelings are misplaced.  In some cases, I feel let down because individuals have turned out to be not as perfect as I imagined they were.  Others, because I feel they may never change for the better.  Others, because they judge.  I just decided I will take a break from everyone as far as verbal communication goes, and give myself time to get over my feelings of jadedness, and then I can enjoy contact with all those beloved people again.  I just wish everyone could remember we are family and nothing can change that.  I just wish everyone could find happiness in their situation. 

What else is going on?  Hm…let’s see.  Princess is doing great.  I am in the process of hiring a geometry tutor for her, but other than that her studies are going pretty well.  Her personal life is good.  She is not dating anybody yet which is good, and her conversations with “that boy” she was talking to at school have waned, because I think she sees that he may be a bit of a player.  A nice enough acquaintance, but not boyfriend material (at least, I hope that’s what she’s concluded).  She and I are starting a 6-month fitness plan.  By July we hope to meet our goals (just healthy weight, not anything horrible or out of control), and we are going to treat ourselves in grand fashion when we do.  Princess mainly entertains herself by voracious reading, listening to her iPod, or messing around on the computer, or hanging with me.  I am glad I seem to be in the top 4 these days.  I would say she has become one of my best friends because she is just an amazing person and one of the funniest girls I know. 

Lola is an enigma.  She is certainly “bright” as they come.  It becomes more obvious every day that she has been blessed with a surplus of brains.  However, she also has more than her fair share of temper, stubbornness, and O.C.D.  She gets so obsessive-compulsive about some things that literally all hell breaks loose if something happens out of sequence (at least HER sequence).  We are struggling with some of those things but generally she is getting easier and easier to reason with, and I gotta say, she is precious and funny and has such a soft heart underneath all that MOUTH!  Which, I have to admit, is all from her mommy.  That’s my opinion anyway.  I love that kid so much!  I am so proud of her beauty, her brains, her spark.  I just cringe when she spouts off to people in a rude manner.  We are working on it, though.  And we are working on chores, and listening skills (how coincidental?), and eating all foods she is asked to eat.  Last night, for instance, without some small sacrifice of time and standing in the corner for her, she did eat cubed steak, corn, and mashed potatoes for dinner.  The night before she finally succumbed and ate her spaghetti.  Eventually she will realize we intend to call her bluff on this dinner thing.  She needs to eat more than hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches.

Hubby and I are doing well.  We need to spend more one-on-one time together, as usual, but otherwise we are very much partners and I just love him so much it hurts.  April will mark 10 years we have been “together”.  We have known each other almost 20 years.  Can you believe that?  He bought me an iPod for Christmas, which I am loving so much!  8 gigs and I am using most of them! 🙂

Well, I guess I will go and play Guitar Hero until Princess gets home.  Then, I’ll quickly turn it off and get up and pretend I’ve been working on grown-up, responsible things all day. 😉 ha ha!