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?

October

I realized with a start that I haven’t written a post in awhile. I have been too busy living my life! Does this mean my blogging days are done? Probably not but I wouldn’t be surprised to find my blog changing again.

No flash fiction because Carrot Ranch is running contests this month. I have entered two of them so far and they don’t want us to publish our entries until late November after the winners are announced. My goal is to finish in the top ten so I can get a critique from Charli who will be practicing on the top ten for her writing class.

This month I have made it a goal to clean or de-clutter one area in my home six days a week. I am picking areas that don’t get cleaned on a regular basis so I am doing odd drawers and nooks and crannies. I have done both refrigerators and I have to say every time I look in the kitchen fridge now I feel nothing but joy. I can’t believe how many expired and almost empty condiments I had!

I am also practicing some self-care and doing a 21 day on-line retreat called “Magical Mindfulness” created by Jools Sinclair. There have been some interesting bits and I am curating a few practices that will hopefully turn long term.

Finally there was the big autumn camping trip. I did a photo Friday of it but sadly it wasn’t that great of a trip because I was sick. 😞 I had been looking forward to this trip for months and the weather was beautiful but all I wanted to do was nap! I had been sick for two weeks and thought for sure I was going to get better.

After we got back I went to the doctor and found out that I have a virus, most likely two different one’s back-to-back considering how long I have been sick. For seven days I have to eat a bland, light diet to give my gut a chance to heal and drink emergence-C everyday to help the virus go on it’s way. Hopefully all will be well by Halloween.

Time for some cleaning…or maybe a nap 🙂 .

Catch Up

I feel like I have left some parts of my life un-updated of late. So, just in case you were wondering:

I had my last post-surgery check-up seven weeks after my hysterectomy. The doctor had predicted four to six weeks for the internal healing to complete. So she was a little surprised (but not alarmed) that my internal stitches had not dissolved yet. No big deal, everything looked fine, I just needed to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for two more weeks. To be honest I felt perfectly well and wasn’t sure I had still been avoiding heavy lifting! But, everything is good.

I have opted to hold off on hormone replacement therapy for now. While I am 100% positive the hysterectomy was the right choice, now I am not sure I need HRT. No hot flashes, sleeping well and the hormonal roller coaster has been reduced to the kiddie version. Not sure if that is the St. John’s Wort or just my body changing on it’s own. So for now I just wait and see what happens.

I am making progress with weight loss, yeah! I am down to 140 pounds. The intermittent fasting works. I don’t have a hard and fast routine but take it day by day. Most days I only eat one or two meals. I wait until I am really hungry and don’t worry about what time it is. I have found that ignoring the first hunger pangs and drinking some water or tea is pretty easy and effective.

I think the other key to success is I try and eat what I really want. The cravings have ended. And surprisingly I don’t want junk food so much. I often eat salads or omelettes or a simple meal (say grilled pork chop, baked yam and veg). I don’t worry about carbs or sugar but I do try and eat whole, real food. And when I do want something sweet I keep homemade brownies and cookies in the freezer. I am hoping to lose about two more pounds but I am not stressing over it, I trust it will happen in time.

I mentioned I was working for the Census Bureau here. And I mentioned how hot it was. And then it got humid. And I found myself walking 15k steps one morning in triple digit heat. And the next day? Not so much. So I had to quit. I felt bad but I was not the first to quit that week because of the weather. They were sorry to lose me and said I was one of their better workers.

What I did learn was that I rather enjoyed working part-time and I am currently pursuing some other options.

I think that covers all the big stuff! Have a great week!

Creating Autumn

It’s finally, officially, autumn. My season. Ahhh. In September I typically feel a sense of relief of having survived another desert summer. But let me start this by saying we are still having days in the high 90’s here. So I am not sure I can say with certainty that I have survived it yet!

I changed up the kitchen sink window this year, bought new “curtains” (two napkins and towel), used a different garland and added a little bird. Makes me very happy.

I am doing my best to be excited about creating my own version of fall. I hung nine, yes nine, leaf garlands around the house. It looked like autumn outside (even if it was 92° during the day) as beautiful blue-gray clouds built to the south and moved north to the mountains. We had a marvelous storm while I decided where to put a few strings of orange lights. Thunder, heavy rain, wind and small hail. A dark and stormy afternoon, perfect for autumn decorating!

I have switched over to my “autumn” wardrobe: summer weight but in fall colors. As I write I am wearing oatmeal colored linen capris with a heather pine green (or is it forest green?) 3/4 sleeve shirt. I wear lots of orange and burgundy and browns. I bought two new “Life is Good” t-shirts with autumn themes. They are both short sleeve and oddly, dark blue. I also bought two long-sleeve shirts (one beige and one purple), of which I wore the beige “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice) to the movies on Friday. (I figured correctly it would be cold enough inside the mall for long sleeves.)

Something else I have been doing is searching for books set in autumn. I found this website and requested a few books from the library. Mentally I will be amidst colorful leaves, brisk breezes and sweaters.

On the eating front we are not ready for soups, stews and chili but I am making pumpkin-cheesecake muffins for bowling tomorrow. And we are starting to eat more pork and turkey (cutlets and tenderloins, not roasting whole turkeys, that would be crazy in this heat!) and the first batch of homemade applesauce from the freezer. I have found adding a few dried cranberries to salad, granola, a baked yam or pretty much anything “autumns it up”. 🙂

We have our trip to the corn maze/pumpkin patch and more apple picking scheduled. My son has the last Monday in September off from school so my husband took it off from work too. We like to go when it is less crowded and in the past we have found weekends in October to be rather nuts.

We also have our camping trip planned for mid-October, I can’t wait. We will definitely be taking chili and soup on the trip. Even if the days are warm the nights should still be cool up at 7000′.

I am still walking on the treadmill most days (like right now while I type) but more often I watch Youtube videos of autumn walks. I turn my high velocity fan on creating an autumnal breeze and keep myself cool at the same time.

I have been enjoying making this banner for fall:

Sorry it didn’t photograph so great.

And taking my list from this post and making it into a pretty bucket list:

One last project. I decided to participate in the Brooklyn Art Library Pen Pal Painting Exchange. I love it because really no talent is required 🙂 . Here is my 4 x 4 painting:

I wish now I had only done one leaf outline. Live and learn.

So there you have it, how to create autumn in the desert 101. I think I’ll go have some cranberry juice in my new mug.

HAPPY FALL Y’ALL!

My Birthday

Today is my Birthday! Yes, Happy Birthday to me!

It is no secret that autumn, by far, is my favorite season. I love everything about it! Just recently I realized that I am in the “autumn” of my life:

  • still colorful, if a bit muted
  • happy to take things a little slower, but not interested in a full stop
  • content to go to bed with my book at night
  • small, quiet moments fill my heart with joy
  • I love savoring life with all five senses
  • learning (finally) that it is not hard to be happy
  • the satisfaction of my life is secure in my heart

To celebrate, today I am treating myself to a trip to the movie theater to see “Downton Abbey”. I have opted to go alone (and skip the pain of spouse and child complaining) and during the day. This leaves the evening free for said spouse and child to plan dinner and cake.

The movie theater is in the mall, I bought a ticket on-line and have my reserved seat. I may stop at the candy store in the mall and pick out a few sweet nibbles. I am a planner, no leaving ticket availability to chance! So I am all set to enjoy my day.

(In case you were wondering I believe the “winter” of my life will start somewhere between 70 and 75 years of age.) I hope you are enjoying whatever season of life you are in!

Good Things Thursday: Autumn

If one can be homesick for a season then I am homesick for autumn. I know it isn’t “officially” here yet but I even miss the anticipation of fall. There is little for me to love about living here in the desert southwest but this is by far the worst time of the year for me. In the next week or so I’ll break out my leaf garlands and pumpkin decorations and do my best to create autumn inside my home.

But I can’t change the triple digit heat outside. I can’t make it really feel like autumn. I can’t create that crisp, fragrant air or conjure up a maple tree with flaming red leaves outside my window. I can’t wear long sleeves. And that makes me sad.

So today I am going to create autumn in my head and heart. This is a spontaneously generated list of all the things I love about autumn:

  1. chilly air
  2. the low angle of the sun
  3. watching football
  4. pumpkin chili
  5. chocolate chip pumpkin muffins
  6. colorful leaves
  7. the sound of the breeze in the trees
  8. hot tea on a cold morning
  9. the smell of apples and cinnamon
  10. picking apples
  11. meandering in a corn maze
  12. making pies and applesauce
  13. candles flickering in drafts
  14. apple cider
  15. wearing long sleeves
  16. cardigan sweaters
  17. cold, gray, rainy days
  18. tomato soup and grilled cheese
  19. that special shade of blue the sky is in October
  20. reading a good book under an afghan
  21. Movies set in autumn (like “Step-Mom” and “You’ve Got Mail” and “Hocus Pocus”)
  22. Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday!)

Looking at the list I realize I can actually experience most of these. And I bought two new short sleeve autumn themed shirts from Life is Good so I can wear “autumn” shirts. I have a camping trip planned in October which should give me a taste of cool air, colorful leaves and the joy of evening campfires and hot tea in the morning. Not a perfect solution but better than nothing.

Did I need this mug? No. But I bought it anyway. For now I am drinking iced tea out of it.

Just like that I feel better. 😊

Photo Friday: Rose Canyon Lake

The heat here has been sickening, we are still hitting triple digits and it’s been rather humid with rain many afternoons. I promised myself I would find a day to take a picnic up the mountain and spend some time in a cooler climate. (I am increasingly homesick for autumn, seems to get worse every year.)

So yesterday I headed up to Rose Canyon Lake. It took until 5000′ to get below 90°. The lake is around 7000′ and the temperature was a pleasant 77°. It was a little warm in the sun but the area is well treed so there was plenty of shade.

I wanted to take some different photos. I need to learn how to be more unique with my compositions. I fear I have a long way to go. I really want a macro lens and try some abstract stuff.

From the South end of the lake looking North.
The South end.
A dam on the South end, I walked across it and am happy I didn’t fall off!
Saw this interesting bit on the dry end of the North side.
Pinecones mean autumn!
I took more pictures of rocks on the drive home. This looks medieval to me!

Keep Your Focus!