Flash Fiction: Storm Windows

It’s been awhile since I have done a flash fiction post from Carrot Ranch. In October they ran some judged challenges and I did enter a few but they don’t want us to post our entries until after the winners are announced the end of November. So I will have extra flash fiction entries in December to post!

I think Charli was looking for something a little more original than what I came up with but I am pleased that at least it is all fiction. Seems like most of my flash fiction ideas start with at least a kernel of truth. So, without further ado…

“Storm Windows”

Gray clouds scurried across the sky as the wind knocked the last of the red maple leaves off the tree. I stepped back and looked up at the house.  “Only two storm windows left, I’ll go get them,” I said.  

“Nope.  That was the last one,” Grandma replied. 

 “What about the window on the landing and your south bedroom window?” I asked.

“I don’t like to shut up the house completely.  A body needs to be able to breath fresh air year round.  The house likes a little air too.

I grinned, “hot cocoa and cookies it is then.”

Modern Love

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?”

I have been watching and enjoying the Amazon Prime series called “Modern Love” though I am a bit disappointed that some of it is fictionalized. I feel bad for the people whose stories were changed. I always wonder what exact part of their story wasn’t good enough or interesting enough or didn’t translate to thirty minutes of television.

I suppose I am living my own version of “Modern Love”. I may have mentioned a time or two how much I dislike where I am living. Have you ever wondered why I don’t move? Well, let me tell you…

The father (K) of my son (E) and I are married and we live in the same house, but we are not a couple anymore. We function as a family but we have separate bedrooms and do not do any couple activities. If not for our son there is no doubt we would have divorced long ago. But I want to do what is in my son’s best interest and I won’t lie, it is really hard to know what that is.

I feel like I should write a little bit of background but I don’t want to turn this into a rant about all the things wrong with K. First, K is not abusive or an alcoholic or hiding a gambling problem. He has a good job. He doesn’t like drama, to the extent that he acts like nothing is ever wrong. He simply ignores anything he doesn’t want to deal with. Nothing is his fault or his responsibility. He has never apologized for anything in the 14 years I have known him.

On the parenting side he has two grown children he hasn’t seen in more than ten years. One avoids him and the other is an alcoholic with mental health issues that he avoids. He also has three grandchildren he has never met. (Neither of his kids have ever married.) Enough said.

And yet I still feel like my son deserves to have both his parents in his life full time. In theory we could do that several different ways but I think this is the best situation, at least for now. (I won’t go into specifics but lets just say K is a very lazy, or maybe indifferent is more accurate, parent and I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving E with him for more than a day or two.) I know the situation isn’t ideal and worry about the messages E is getting about marriage. But we don’t fight and seldom even argue. At worst sometimes days go by without much interaction between us.

So yes, I worry all the time that I am making the right decision. If we split up would there be a big custody battle? Maybe. Maybe not, as my husband avoids confrontation at all costs. Arizona is big on paternal rights though and would I be able to take E out of state? How would my son feel if his father couldn’t be bothered to fight for him? It is a lose-lose situation for sure.

So I have decided the best option is for me to come out the loser, at least until E graduates from high school. We have had a few conversations about our somewhat unconventional family situation and as E gets older we will talk more. I don’t want him thinking this is what marriage is supposed to be like and while I wish I could be living a good example for him that just can’t happen right now.

I love my son more than anything and at the end of the day his father being around on a full-time basis seems to be the most important thing. So that is what I am going with. Modern Love.

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?” *

This is the thought I live with.

* I heard this line on the Australian television show “Heart Guy” and thought, yup, this is what I keep thinking.

Here and Now: The Holidays

One of the drawbacks of living in the moment is I am not doing my holiday planning like normal. Typically I start making lots of list about mid-October: Thanksgiving menu, selecting cookies recipes to bake, Christmas shopping lists and planning out the calendar. When will we do “Christmas Story” night or look at Christmas lights? It feels weird to not be planning all this out but I am wondering if maybe this can be a good thing? Maybe this Christmas will be much simpler?

I finally made a few lists last week and started buying the non-perishable items for Thanksgiving. My heart wasn’t in it though. I wrote out the Thanksgiving menu and then a list of ten, TEN, different items I should prep ahead of time. This for a dinner for three people and when I am trying not to have many leftovers. Maybe next year I will be ready to change up the menu but for this year I am sticking with our traditional feast, just in smaller quantities. I did ask the family what they would change and the answer was “nothing”. So no help there.

Love autumn leaves!

And then I realized, yes I have ten different items to prep but smaller quantities will make a difference with quite a few of the items. And my son will make the pie. And honestly, I don’t have any overly complicated recipes so while the list seems long the time involved isn’t so bad. And by Thanksgiving week I will be excited to do the food prep. So I am giving myself permission to do the grocery shopping and then forget about Thanksgiving until I am ready for it.

I also made a Christmas shopping list and when I got to seven different stores I said “enough”. Even now I feel a little sick looking at shopping lists and menus and ideas for potlucks. Right now I am not the least bit interested in Christmas. I suspect (and hope) this changes with the arrival of December.

The big events that need to be planned ahead are done. We have our Polar Express tickets and reservations for Flagstaff, “Nutcracker” tickets as well as tickets for the New Year’s Eve Road Runner hockey game. But everything else is up in the air. Scarily I am okay with this. More than okay actually, I am excited to see how the holidays unfold with fewer expectations. And, dare I say, less work?

Kind of surprised at how happy I am with Jimmy Butler.

For now I am going back to my drawing and reading and watching Miami Heat basketball. No need to get caught up in holiday hoopla too soon.

Here and Now: November

My goals for this month are to do a series of short yoga stretches every morning, write down at least three things that brought me joy or that I was grateful for every night and meditate every day.

For the meditation I am going to be trying different ways to meditate like using a mantra or walking meditation as well as practicing at different times of day. I am hoping it will be easier to stick with a daily practice if I mix it up a little. I will be starting with six minutes a day and adding one minute each week until I get to twenty minutes. (I have been meditating for five minutes most days for awhile now.) I feel like twenty minutes is a good goal.

At least three times a week I want to spend time doing something creative. I am keeping it rather open-ended, not sure if that is the best idea but we’ll see. I feel like telling myself I have to do it for a certain length of time would be too restrictive. I have a list of ideas of things to do, some writing, some drawing or painting. A few on-line classes bookmarked. I like the idea of giving myself permission to sit down and create something.

I dithered a bit over whether to count coloring as creative time but in the end decided it counts.

In October I did a pretty good job of cleaning and purging long ignored areas. Much to my surprise I am continuing this process with no goal in mind. On the first of November I had my husband move the fridge out and cleaned the floor behind and around it. And then on Monday I found myself doing yet another clothes purge. I donated eleven items and five pairs of shoes. Since then the cleaning has continued, mostly moving furniture and cleaning underneath. Sometimes I do surprise myself!

Look what I found, fall and Thanksgiving socks as well as pumpkin boxers to use as pajamas!

Here and Now

A few months ago I read something to the effect that looking back makes you depressed and looking forward makes you anxious. To be content you have to be in the here and now. This concept really hit home for me. I have put my focus on staying in the present and I have to say I feel so much happier! Now some of this may be due to the settling of the ol’ hormones but really I feel like keeping my attention on today, right now, has been a big difference maker.

I am finding contentment in getting up and seeing what I need and want to do. And then I do it. I don’t worry about tomorrow’s grocery shopping or the school event at the end of the week. Sometimes I make a list for the next day or two to get things out of my head (so I don’t forget about them but it doesn’t mean I have to do them), but overall I have become pretty good at happily being mindfully in the moment.

Gratitude heart I drew. Making the orange part I went into a kind of meditative state and then for each purple heart I thought of someone or something to be grateful for.

I would say the most important thing I learned from my “Magical Mindfulness” 21 day on-line retreat (from Kim Strobel) was that we have control of 40% of our happiness. Fifty percent is genetic and only ten percent is external/environment. I can do a few simple things and be forty percent happier! I say that is worth staying in the moment for.

While Kim gave us six things to think about doing I am sticking with three daily items: gratitude, meditation and exercise. And I’ll do a fourth, random acts of kindness, as often as possible.

My ombre gratitude leaf.

I have to confess that I was really surprised to learn that I have complete control over forty percent of my happiness. Am I the only one who had no idea about this?