Why Do I Write?

I’m not sure I have a good answer. What I do know is that I like putting words to paper. Telling a story or sharing an idea makes sense to me. Using other forms of creativity, like drawing, painting, acting, pottery don’t do it so much for me.

Writing helps me sort things out. Sometimes it’s to share a story, sometimes it’s to share a process, mostly it helps figure out what’s happening.

When I restarted this blog last fall, I was hoping to improve my life by following a plan of  working on one area each month that I wanted to change. But I also wanted to build an audience that wanted to follow this process. I thought it would help me move forward and possibly bring some attention to what I was sharing. I was going to commit to getting up a few minutes earlier and give myself time in the morning to write or to read or to do something just for me.

But that’s not what happened. The monthly projects have been sidetracked by my regular life. I hit snooze most mornings and stay in bed. There aren’t a lot of people following the blog, although there are some.

My typical reaction to this is, “What am I doing wrong?” Truth is I’m not doing anything wrong. Writing is a part of me, and writing this blog is sharing a part of me and it’s also a discovery for me. I will take some time to see what I can do to increase readership because I believe there are other people who are trying to figure out where they fit into their world. I’m going to find that original list and revisit it. I may rename the blog to better reflect whatever this process turns out to be.

I hope you’ll stick around for the journey.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I read them and appreciate the time you take to share.

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Clarity, Schlarity

Do you ever have a moment of clarity where something you’ve worried about, concerned you, bothered you, suddenly becomes clear? I had one of those moments last week when reading a passage in a book. The sad part of this is that I didn’t write it down and now I can only remember that I had a moment of clarity.

I can’t remember what I read. I’ve tried that trick of putting myself in places where that insight might have come to me. I’ve picked up the book I’m reading that was the source (Martha Beck’s Finding Your Way in this Wild New World ) and thumbed through it looking for something that will jerk me back to that moment to no avail.

I know that it was about my quest for finding romantic love. I think it had something to do with looking for answers outside of me and that the solution was to see that it was about me. Then it’s about figuring out how to make me whole … I think.

It made so much sense in that moment, and I wish that I could have held on to it. I hope I can find it again.

Last week was the annual trek to Stitches West. Stitches is an event for knitters, crocheters and other fiber enthusiasts. There are 4 days of classes, plus dinners, fashion shows and the most amazing marketplace I’ve seen. (Caveat: this is the only knitting event like this that I’ve ever been to, so I have nothing to compare it to) Stitches events are held across the country, but apparently this one is the biggest. For yarn lovers, it’s a combination of heaven and h*ll. Why is that? It’s heaven because you get to see and touch and buy hand-dyed yarns in exqusite fibers, colors and weights (quiviut, yak, alpaca and so much more), from small one-man/woman operations to manufacturers of many lines of yarns. But it’s also h*ll unless you have an unlimited budget and are the world’s fastest knitter because there’s not enough time to be able to knit or crochet everything you can imagine making from all this wonderful fiber!

Studying the list of vendors on the market floor is half the fun. You chart out which booths to visit, are you looking for patterns, a specific yarn, or do you return to your favorites year and year? What is the new “it” booth? I think I was reasonably successful with my purchases, but in full disclosure I did spend over budget.  But hey, it’s once a year, and this is my hobby and brings me joy.

Well, I guess that’s about it for now. It’s back to work and a different kind of reality. I hope you have a good day until we connect again.

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The Week That Was

Last week is one I hope to never go through again.

Sunday, February 11. After the liturgy Sunday morning, we always have fellowship hour (it used to be called coffee hour but our new priest wants to emphasize the fellowship part and not the coffee part). Anyways, there was going to be a meeting to talk about our annual festival so although I didn’t go to church, I came for the meeting. Before the meeting started, I enjoyed fellowship (and coffee 🙂 ) with Alex M., a young man (26) who I’ve known forever. He married his high school sweetheart a couple of years ago. They’re a very nice young couple.

Monday morning. Our priest sent an email blast to the community to let us know that Alex had taken a friend to the Emeryville Amtrak station Sunday night where he was robbed and shot in the head. He survived but he’s still in critical condition. A random act of violence and this young man’s life and that of his entire family is changed forever. We don’t know the extent of his injuries but they did have to operate to remove bone and bullet fragments. *
Wednesday morning. Another email blast is sent to let us know that a parishioner had died from a massive heart attack on Tuesday afternoon. This man was my age and although I’ve known his family for years, we’d never really talked all that much until recently. He was a painter by trade and Mom hired him to paint her house last fall. Saturday morning he was at her house to prime her new front door and side door to her garage. He was going to return later in the week to paint the doors. Every afternoon when he’d get home from work, he and his wife went for a walk, and apparently it happened on their walk. The paramedics told her that it was so massive that he was probably gone by the time he hit the ground.
Plus there was the horrific shooting in Florida. It’s hard to wrap my head around it all.
Wednesday would have been my dad’s 94th birthday, so my brother, Mom and I went to the cemetery to take flowers to him and Bob. Wednesday night, there was a prayer service at church for Alex. The Greek Orthodox church has a service with prayers to the Virgin Mary for those who are sick or in pain. The church was packed. In fact, I had to sit in the choir loft because all of the pews were full.
Losing someone you love is hard. How do you get past losing someone you love so unexpectedly? A friend who lost her husband last year said she was at least able to say goodbye. The woman who lost her husband on Tuesday didn’t get that chance.
It seems like violence has become an acceptable commodity in the US. The people I know, the people I follow on social media and the internet, they all abhor violence. I’d like to think that most people do too. So if that’s the case, why does it feel impossible to change our laws to keep assault weapons out of the hands of civilians? Why do people choose random acts of violence like the person who robbed and shot Alex for no apparent reason?
Our schools should be a safe place for our children. I don’t have children of my own, but the thought of my nieces and friends’ children being put in harm’s way simply because they are going to school is ridiculous. What can we do to bring back a sense of normalcy to our lives?
I read Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper. Her essay this week was a powerful reminder to me that I can only change myself. Here’s just one paragraph:
“Today, there is no doubt in my heart and mind that I am never going to vote for a human being who doesn’t oppose assault weapons. I’m never going to vote for an elected official who doesn’t speak out against domestic violence. I’m never going to vote for someone who doesn’t believe that climate change is real. I’m never going to vote for someone who won’t fund NIH research into crippling diseases. I’m never going to vote for a person who runs the White House with people who can’t get security clearances and who can’t admit when they’ve made a mistake. I’m never going to vote for someone who uses their voice to sow doubt in facts and confuse the American people.”
But I also know that anyone who reads this blog probably feels similarly to me, so I’m not changing anyone’s mind.
On the home front, I’m on vacation this week. Wednesday I leave for my annual trek to Santa Clara for Stitches West, a knitting and crochet wonderland of classes, knitting, an amazing marketplace and a great time to spend with many, many knitters. Oh, and did I mention knitting? The lobby of the hotel that’s attached to the convention center is packed with people knitting, talking, sharing their purchases, and having a cocktail or two. Plus it’s great people or should I say, what people are wearing, watching?
I’m a little worried that my knee pain is going to keep me from enjoying myself, but am staying positive that the exercises, topical cream and especially the lacrosse ball will help keep me moving this week. After all, there’s a lot of yarn to checkout and decisions to be made about what to bring home.  What’s this about a lacrosse ball, you ask? The physical therapist recommended it, and it makes a difference! I hold it against the side of my knee and find the pain point, then just apply as much pressure as I can. It also feels good when I find the tension in the tops of my thighs.
Well, that’s enough for now. I hope you are able to find some sunshine in your lives, whether it’s the one in the sky or the one in your hearts.
* It’s now been a week and Alex is still sedated and in critical condition.
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It’s almost February

and that means it’s time for a new focus. This one is easy. It’s my weight. I could also say it’s my health. Both are appropriate.

My weight has definitely gone up. I don’t weigh myself regularly (although that may change) but it’s clear from the way my clothes fit that I have gained weight. It starts off with the waistband of the pants or skirt not feeling right or the top that always slides on easily feeling off kilter. At first I think it’s because it’s just been washed or dry cleaned and that’s why it feels funny. One day you realize it’s happening with pretty much everything including your underwear and then it’s time to admit it’s not the laundering, it’s my body.

Even though I had bariatric surgery and have a small pouch instead of a football-sized stomach, it’s possible for it to stretch. Not all the way back to the original size but enough so that I can eat more than I could the first year after surgery. There’s a 5 day reset diet that I can follow that helps get things back to my new normal, and I need to find the paperwork and make that happen.

One of the most important steps I can take is to be present when I’m eating because it’s way too easy to eat beyond my pouch’s capacity. It’s physically uncomfortable when my pouch is full, but my head hunger doesn’t stop to think about that. It likes the taste of the food and the feeling of satisfying my emotional hunger. It takes such a small portion of food to satisfy my physical hunger, and I’ve gotten out of the habit of paying attention to it.

My physical body is in distress. The arthritis in my knees doesn’t like the extra weight and they hurt a lot more making walking and standing that much more uncomfortable.

I have two goals for this week: find the 5 day reset diet and make a plan to do it and get myself to the YMCA a block away from my office, rejoin and schedule an appointment with a personal trainer to work on a program. That should probably be the pool initially. In the water I can do a lot more than I can on dry land.

More to come …

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Which way do I go?

So many directions I can go. I read recently that whatever is on my plate is there because I said yes to it. That’s true, but my problem is that I don’t always say yes for the right reasons. It might be because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Or I think it’s just a little thing, a small favor, and it won’t take that much time and then it does take time or energy and keeps me from using that time and energy on doing something that’s more meaningful or important to me.

So I have to get better at saying no. I have to learn to pause before automatically agreeing to the request. How to do that? The first thought that sprang up is the old-fashioned rubber band. The one that people who were trying to quit a bad habit (like smoking) would wear around their wrist and snap when they wanted to stop the negative behavior.

I can’t actually see myself wearing a rubber band around my wrist but there should be something that would help. Simply telling myself to say no is not going to be enough. This habit is so ingrained that I often don’t realize what I’ve committed myself to until after the fact.

My needs and desires have been pushed down for so long that I often have trouble voicing what they are. My habit is to do for others so that they will like me and want to be with me. Writing that makes it easy to see the silliness in that sentence. People probably know me better than I know myself and from what I can tell, they still like me. (Yes, I can empathize with Sally Field from the Oscars!)

So that must mean that I don’t like myself as much as others do. I know I can be cranky and moody and I don’t always remember the stories people tell me. I let things roll off of me rather than admit that something makes me unhappy or sad or angers me. It’s especially hard for me to be angry with someone I love or care about deeply. That’s when my fear of abandonment becomes stronger.

I am going to keep moving forward as best I can. I’m committed to improving my health by eating better and being more physical. I want to continue to improve my mental and emotional health by seeking out and spending time with people who are uplifting, positive and who want to have a real conversation. Plus there’s having time to read more and knit more. Knitting is very calming and keeps me in the present because it’s important to stay focused on the yarn in my hands and not wandering off into the land of what if’s.

I have an idea for a story that I want to pursue. My house is finally coming together and feeling like my home again. It’s comforting to come home to a place that feels like me.

I can do this.

 

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So little time

I can hardly believe it’s been a month since my last blog post and yet in my brain, it’s totally easy to understand. I hosted Christmas this year and that meant the house had to be ready for guests. And oh boy, my house was so not ready!

Once I decided to do Christmas, then it made sense (at the time) to also have a party which led to an open house on New Year’s Day.

I should have taken before and after pictures so you could see the change, but a part of me would be too embarrassed to post the before pictures. The truth is that some of my family and most of the friends at the open house had not seen the hardwood floors (installed almost two years ago) and the downstairs paint job from over a year ago. Add in the new furniture and people were surprised at the new look! Those people who had been in my house had definitely not seen it without all the clutter.

The good news is that much of the most obvious clutter has been donated and may go to people with real need. I think I took close to 20 trash bags and boxes to the drop-off place. Add in the unknown number of bags that went directly to trash and the cardboard boxes, catalogs and newspapers that finally made it out to the recycle bin, and my home is finally feeling lighter. By no means is it done. As Christmas got closer, some things did get shoved back into the downstairs closet so that needs to be gone through again. Plus all the Christmas boxes are behind the newly stashed “stuff”.

What I’ve realized is that because I have limited space (like everyone else), I have to be more aware of what to keep and what is no longer useful, loved or necessary. I don’t want to have items sitting on counters or on the floor because they don’t have a permanent home. It eventually turns into clutter and its value, monetary or emotional, goes downhill.

I also need to find ways to make the storage I do have work better for me. For example, I have three lower kitchen cabinets, and they’re basically holes. Open the door and toss something in. Open the door and struggle to find what I need while everything else comes tumbling out. What I need are these rolling drawers in one cabinet and something like this in the two corner cabinets. (I’m not promoting those items, simply using them as examples.)

Christmas went very well. The house looked great, the food was hot and tasty, and everyone had a fun time. That’s all that really counts.

The New Year’s Day party was relatively relaxed. Most people came later than I planned, but that was to be expected. Even though none of us are major party players, it was nice for them to be able to sleep in and have a relaxing morning. I, on the other hand, was busy as a bee starting early that morning. The menu of appetizers, assorted breads and three different soups (kept warm in crockpots) was a success, and so many people brought sweets that my coworkers have been happily enjoying the leftovers all week.

In case you’re asking yourself, is she going to keep up with the idea of this blog to work on one project every month, the answer is maybe. I haven’t been as successful as I’d hoped, but I don’t want to stop working on these projects. What I do want is to write more often. If it’s about what I’m working on around my house or in my life, that’s great, but if I want to write about something else, I will do that as well.

I am looking forward to more to come in 2018 – more energy, more decluttering, more writing and more weight loss. I hope whatever more you want for yourself in 2018 comes to you.

See you back here soon!

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What’s happening this month?

It’s December, so it’s time to “announce” my project for the month. This one’s pretty easy. I’m going back to the beginning and I am going to work on my house. I’ve decided to host Christmas, so that’s an obvious reason to return to the decluttering project. I’ve also made progress on this and it would be really wonderful to get to a place where it feels complete.

I want to put up my little fake tree and hang ornaments and decorate the sushi bar (that’s what I call the kitchen counter that’s too high to sit at and ends up being the place where anything without a home ends up getting stashed!).

Sunday night I opened the door to “the closet” with no clue what I was going to find in there.  It goes back underneath the stairs, so it ends up being where the holiday boxes, the extra table leaves, the carpet cleaner and more stuff than I want to admit is kept.

I immediately found a box containing 6 bottles of very nice wine from the one wine club I used to belong to … unopened for who knows how long? The wine is now on the kitchen counter, and the box can go out to be recycled. Then there was a plastic bin filled with canned goods. Why did I put them there? Are they expired? Was I planning to give them to the food bank? Who knows, but I’m sure they’re expired now so it’s out to the trash with them. And that carpet cleaner? I’ve had hardwood floors downstairs for almost two years now, so the behemoth should either go upstairs where there’s still carpeting or be donated or sold to someone who will actually use it.

That sounds like a pretty good metaphor for my life. Those parts of me I don’t love or use or that don’t serve me anymore should also be recycled or trashed just like unused cans of food or cleaning items … procrastination, eating when I’m numb, going numb rather than identifying what’s bothering me, figuring out how to be more attentive to my needs rather than everyone else’s, figuring out my needs …

Luckily, the timer just went off meaning it’s time to leave for work, so I can procrastinate for a little bit longer with what that last paragraph brought up.

 

 

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