And So it Goes

We are at the end of our second full week of being home. If I had to pick one word I would pick miserable. How can staying home make one so unhappy? Part of the problem is the time of the month, or more accurately the phase of the moon. In another week the moon will be on the wane and my coping skills returning. But in the meantime…

Home schooling is a nightmare. Screen time has been a battle for years and now to have to deal with my son being on the computer ALL DAY? Just shoot me now. The first day I set him up at the dining room table. He strategically chose a seat where I couldn’t easily see the screen. He put his headphones on. I assumed he was goofing off some but at the end of the week when I checked google classroom he had done nothing except History. And you know why he did History? Because one day I sat at the table with him to finish our taxes so he knew he needed to do real work. Apparently he spent most of the week researching a new gaming mouse and mousepad and watching youtube videos (and not the one’s from his math teacher).

So for week two I had him sitting in a different chair, banished the headphones and we went over google classroom before and after school each day. I sat at the table with him for at least part of each day and made sure I frequently checked his screen. I hated it. He hated it. I just want him to be responsible, show some integrity and give a shit about his own future. He’s only 12 so I am not sure if I am allowed to just let him fail or do I have to wait until he is older and has a better grasp of the consequences?

I am taking an on-line class on the science of well-being taught at Yale. (Auditing so it is free.) My son and I both took a test showing us our 24 strengths, from greatest to weakest. My number one: honesty. His number twenty-four: honesty. I think I see the problem. What I don’t see is how week three is going to unfold. Moving on…

I watched Collection 6 of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Not my favorite, too many weird challenges and way too much crying. And what was up with all the handshakes? Once Dave and Jon left I found myself wondering why I was still watching.

Frustrated with my lack of Census work. I was supposed to be done mid-April. I am afraid that by the time we resume it will be screaming hot. Please, just go on-line and do the darn thing!

Why am I the only person in the house who can refill the water pitcher?

Every day I get up around the same time, do my yoga, shower and get dressed. I have a small whiteboard where I list my tasks for the day. On Friday (today) I walked down to the ATM to get money and then ducked in the grocery store for some fresh produce. A little over two miles roundtrip. I came home and paid bills and mopped the kitchen floor. At 3:00p I found myself wondering if I could go back to bed. Well of course I could, but should I? It was tempting. But I have decided to try and hold out until dark (say 7:00p). I’ll finish this post, work on a needlepoint project or color. Watch something maybe.

I miss baseball.

Take care and stay safe!

Common Sense in Uncommon Times

I know I have said this before and used the same picture* but I really feel it can’t be said enough these days, COMMON SENSE people! It is taking me a few days to wrap my head around this new “normal”. I find myself feeling rather anxious which is atypical for me. I am trying to puzzle out why.

Maybe because I have the responsibility for a child? Part of me is happy he is home safe with me and part of me worries that we will be screaming at each other before the week is out. Putting a woman at the tail end of menopause with a boy on the cusp of puberty seems like way too many hormones in a confined space.

Since we are both on a bowling hiatus I figured we could do some Wii bowling. He kicked my butt all three games!

I think the more likely cause of my anxiety is simply the unknown. How long will this last? Will we get locked-down? How many people will actually get sick? Will anyone I know get sick? Will I be able to buy toilet paper (or whatever it is I run out of first) when the time comes? How long will the repercussions last?

Ah, how long will all this last? Will school resume? When will shelves get re-stocked? Stores re-open?

Will this end up changing our lives permanently in any way? Think about how things have changed since 9/11. All the changes to security. Will the impacts from COVID-19 eventually lead to major changes concerning health issues?

As you can see I don’t have any answers, only questions. In time all these questions will be answered. And in the meantime the answer to dealing with my anxiety was staring me right in the face:

My word for the year is “EMBRACE TODAY”. Duh, I need to stop worrying about a tomorrow I can’t control and enjoy what I have today:

  • no sick family members
  • sloppy joes, french fries and peas planned for dinner
  • books to read (I just started “Olive Kitteridge”!)
  • internet access to all my blog and Facebook friends
  • lovely weather
  • a freshly washed dog
  • Netflix, TCM and “Poirot” to watch
  • a clean, comfortable bed to sleep in

My list could go on and on but you get the idea. Stay safe and encourage:

Common Sense in Uncommon Times

*Picture is from an e-mail from the Vermont Country Store

Flash Fiction: Open Road

I loved this week’s prompt of the open road from Carrot Ranch. I have to confess this is a bit of a real life fantasy, though I know I would never abandon my son. But I have thought about writing a story about a mother who simply disappears one morning. I always imagine more sinister reasons than simply taking off though!

I found myself asking a series of questions that might trigger a sudden road trip and then wondered if I could write a whole 99 word flash fiction in questions. And then I did it, except for the very deliberate last line. No answers here though.

Monday Morning

As I pulled out of the school parking lot I wondered what would happen if I turned left at the light instead of right?  If I hopped on the interstate and just kept going north?  How far away would I be before anyone realized I was gone?  Would my family really miss me? Where would I go? Who would I be if I started my life over?  What could I do if I lived my life only for myself? As I approached the light I dithered, right lane…or left lane?  I smiled to myself as I made the turn.

2020 Possibilities

This year I am going to work hard on reconciling my planning, list making, scheduling self with my living in the here and now self. I actually think this is quite doable, I just need to strengthen some mental muscles.

So, typical planning me starts jotting down what I would like to accomplish in 2020. Then I think I should come up with twelve items and schedule one for each month. But here and now me said, whoa. What if I don’t want to work on something a whole month or I need more time or I want to start and stop and resume a project later?

New combined me stepped in with the compromise. I narrowed my list down to six items I really want to do. No assigned schedule, a few of my projects will be worked on all year. One of my items has a deadline so I’ll adhere to that. But I will let here and now me decide when to do the rest.

Here are my six goals for 2020:

  • Catch up on organizing my photos. I started 2019 already so I really don’t have that much to do.
  • I am going to make a scrapbook for my son this year. One page for each month and use the extra pages for birthday and vacations.
  • Put together my own book of meditations/words of wisdom. I recently got a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” and was surprised to learn it was something he wrote simply for himself. I am always collecting quotes or thinking odd little things I want to remember and have them scattered in different places. I’ll put them in one book and practice my hand lettering at the same time!
  • I am going to do the A to Z blogging challenge in April. I have my topic/theme and I am already drafting blog posts.
  • Take Carla Sondheim’s collage class. It is supposed to take a full year but I probably won’t start until maybe the beginning of summer. We’ll just see how it goes.
  • I love the idea of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November each year but November doesn’t work for me. I just have too much going on then. So I am going to make my own short term novel writing time frame. Probably a bit more than a month but my goal will be to have a first draft of the novel that I have been trying to write for the last few years done. No matter how badly it turns out!

For daily items I will continue with my yoga, meditating twice a day and keeping writing my joy/gratitude lists.

Gotta run, this day is full of possibilities to embrace. 🙂

My Word for 2020

It took me quite awhile to figure out my word for this year.

Embrace Now?

Here and Now?

Live Now?

Use the word today instead of now?

I don’t remembering having these issues in past years. Seems my word found me easily. Maybe I tried too hard this year. I know how I want to live this year. I want to spend more time in the moment. I want to find a way to embrace my time here in the desert. I don’t have to love it here but I can certainly find a way to live happily these next few years. To use my time wisely and thoughtfully.

Julia Child once said, “You don’t need to have the life you want to enjoy the life you have.”

This sums up my thoughts perfectly for this year. All I needed to do was break it down into one or two words.

I finally decided to go with:

Embrace Today

My favorite Christmas present this year!

Sometimes it feels perfect, sometimes not quite right. I figure I can always change it later in the year if I want to. The words really aren’t that important as long as I live the intent.

2019: Creative Courage

My word for 2019 was Creative Courage and I have to say I think I did pretty well. I stepped out of my comfort zone numerous times and in various areas. Some of the things I did include:

  1. Taking a photography class and sharing photos and making Photo Friday posts.
  2. Participated in Anne Butera’s Handmade Joy Exchange.
  3. Contributed regularly to Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction prompts.
  4. Entered three of Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction contests.
  5. Created a sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project which will go on tour and be available for viewing on-line.
  6. Shared art work on-line via Facebook with “Magical Mindfulness” and “Sketchbook Revival”.

And now it is time to think about new goals and challenges. I am having a tough time figuring out my word for 2020. Once I figure it out I’ll let you know!

Flash Fiction: By Design

The prompt this week from Carrot Ranch is “By Design”. My goal was to paint as vivid a picture as I could of “real” winter. Not the sort of chilly, once in awhile gray winter weather we get here in the desert southwest. So how did I do?

“Painting a Picture”

 The landscape was encased in ice, trees frozen in mid-motion. Snow gleamed pure white, too cold even for the stars to twinkle.  The cold poked and prodded, looking for a way into the snug cottage.  All was still.

Inside the fire crackled and popped from the newly added pine log before settling down to give a steady heat.  The flames danced to a happy song only they could hear.

I breathed in slow and deep, holding for a beat at the top.  By design peace flowed through me.  By Mother Nature’s design sleep settled over the great wintry outdoors.

Here and Now: December

Despite my best intentions the days this month have felt rather hectic. I have decided I am not a fan of the no-plan plan. I am thinking a “soft” plan would suit me better. I will put things on the calendar and when the day comes if I really don’t feel like doing whatever it is then I can re-plan it. Or if the mood strikes I can do it sooner. But especially for the holidays I need to see all I need to do posted on a calendar.

I am continuing with my yoga and meditation. I was worried I would quit the yoga now that I am getting up in the dark but found I love doing the yoga by the light of the 12″ tree in my office. It is peaceful and festive and the stretches feel really good.

Meditation continues. I am hoping my focus improves for the morning session (so much to do these days!) but I am loving the evening session and actually look forward to that period of peace and quiet before bed. Once again I am in the office with the only light coming from my tiny tree.

Something I forgot to mention last month is my gratitude logging. I write down at least three things each night that I am grateful for or brought me joy. I do believe this is having a positive affect on my attitude. Helps me look for the good in the day. (No line at the post office! A good coupon for Petco! Getting my second shingles shot out of the way, even if it did make me feel like crap for two days.)

My absolute favorite thing to do this month? Story time with my son. At bedtime we take turns reading a story to each other. We have a whole shelf of Christmas books, many of which he has technically “outgrown”, except I believe you can never out grow books. So we are visiting our favorites, “Oliver the Other Reindeer”, “Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake”, “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies”, “Mickey and Minnie’s Gift of the Magi”, just to name a few. That reading time together makes my heart happy.

Last year I colored the dogs, this year cats.

All the holiday pieces are coming together. One thing that I am doing differently is saving a few items to do between Christmas and New Years’. Not all the cookies need to be baked ahead of time, not all the movies watched before Christmas Day. For my family Christmas is celebrated through Epiphany, January 6th. I always feel a little sorry for those families that start the day after Thanksgiving and are sick of Christmas by the 26th. Just makes the winter that much longer.

I like taking my time preparing for the whole 12 days of Christmas (which start Christmas day). This year may not be quite as detailed in the planning but there will be activities and fun family time.

I hope you get to enjoy the whole holiday season, both the preparations and the festivities!

November Recap

My focus for November was yoga, meditation, creative time, random acts of kindness and having some computer free time. I am thrilled at how well I did for all these!

Yoga: Every. Single. Day. Whoo-hoo. I even added one new pose to my morning routine.

Meditation: Every day. “Self-five!” I am now up to ten minutes a day. I have been thinking about my twenty minute goal and realized I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Mostly because I would lose some of my flexibility as to when I could meditate if I had to have twenty uninterrupted minutes. Plus I wasn’t sure I could really focus for that long.

So I took a few minutes to really think about what I wanted and I have decided to stop at ten minutes in the morning and add an evening/bedtime meditation session. I will start with five minutes and add one minute a week until I am up to ten minutes. I will experiment with different times and bedroom vs office and see what works best.

It was a bit of an epiphany realizing I can simply do what works best for me and I don’t have to follow someone else’s guidance or rules.

Computer Free Time: I am doing better. I realized trying to do a set 24 hours was really hard but that after a quick use in the morning I could ignore the computer the rest of a designated day. Overall I felt like I was on the computer a lot less and that I am well on the path to less mindless computer use.

Creative Time: I have been working on lots of projects this month and enjoying them all. Now I just need to get some of them finished! Here are some of my accomplishments:

Thanksgiving place cards, even the dog gets one. 🙂
I got a book on lettering out of the library and found I loved it, once I let go of worrying over the end product and just focused on the process. I trust that with practice my spacing will get better, my lines straighter etc.

Still working on my felt winter window, slow going. But I have almost finished eight Christmas mason jar ornaments.

Now I need to figure out what to do with them!
I got some jars from the dollar store, made these labels and I am going to fill them with yogurt raisins. Do I give them to the naughty or the nice list?

Random Acts of Kindness: I accomplished this mostly through my driving. This time of year the snowbirds are starting to arrive so there are a lot of older drivers out there. Going slow. Forgetting where places are. Confused about the left turn arrow which could be at the beginning or end of the green light (and in a few intersections is at both the beginning and end). And it only gets worse through March. This year I am being extra patient and ultra courteous. I especially get to do this in the mornings letting drivers in/out of the school driveway right next to my son’s school. And yes, I do feel like a better person and less frustrated driver for doing this.

My chrysanthemum bloomed just in time for Thanksgiving. I loved looking at the blooms outside the kitchen window while doing dishes!

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.