Not So Happy New Year – Healing the Body and Mind

January has been a real trial. I got sick the first week of January. I never tested positive for Covid, but ended up with bronchitis and sinusitis. It took some real Prednisone and Doxycycline to get me better. I was able to go back to work for one week when our family came down with Covid. Needless to say, I’m sick of this winter and I’m sick of illness.

Beautiful winter sky!
Vaxed and boosted and still got me!

For Christmas, my husband bought me a FitBit. It’s interesting to see how I slept each day, and before I got sick, I enjoyed watching my step count. This morning, I had a congratulations from my FitBit for my sleep score last night. It was the highest score I had gotten. Although I didn’t do anything special or make any effort to receive this score, somehow, seeing Congratulations! first thing in the morning, brightened my day. I felt like I did something right! It really made me think how much praise does for a person’s spirits. How much criticism do we get throughout our days or how much do we give?

It has been a very stressful time in our lives with this pandemic. So much controversy and so much uncertainty. There have been many dividing points amongst it. I’ve decided to make it a point to give more praise to others, but also to commend myself for my achievements – no matter how small. That negative voice inside can be a bit hard on me. Spreading kindness is my theme. First kindness toward myself. Because after all, that’s where it all begins. It’s hard to give kindness to others without first giving it to one’s self.

My Daisy bloomed in my cold front porch! What a gift!

I’ve been reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown. I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist and definitely a pleaser. Since both perfection and pleasing are impossible, failing is hard to avoid, leading to shame and guilt. I’m working on retraining my brain to embrace my imperfections and realize that pleasing relies on perspective. Therefore I invite kindness towards myself, compassion, connection and courage.

In reading and rereading this book, every day reminding myself to go easy on myself, I hope to live a more love filled and supportive life. You can get this book here: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are http://The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are https://www.amazon.com/dp/159285849X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_NX5YAG322Y42QWC38J0V

Time For Tea

I pulled the tea bag from the snowman cup, letting as much drip from the bag as would before tossing it in the trash. I read once that you aren’t supposed to squeeze the bag, as that releases the bitter part of the tea.

I’m having tea, I thought to myself, as if I were telling someone what I was doing.  Sitting alone in my office, day after day, I’ve resorted to conversations in my head. 

I chuckled that the someone I was talking to was meant to be impressed.  Every time I read about someone having tea, I am impressed.  So elegant.  Such a nurturing thing to do, right? 

I stared at the snowman cup, not a pretty cup, not one I purchased. Thinking back, I think it was “won” in one of those White Elephant games we used to play at the family Christmas, along with some off brand hot chocolate mix – you know, the kits you see in the aisles of the department stores at Christmastime. I brought it to work, because it’s winter. And I like snow and snowmen. And I didn’t have a pretty winter mug. And I needed a cup to make my tea in!

Numi green tea – Gunpowder Green, to be specific. I’d rather be drinking some English tea, or Earl Grey, because that seems a bit more romantic, like I’m in a novel set in England, but I found out several years ago that I have a sensitivity to black tea. Granted, after finding that out, I just stopped drinking it, and I haven’t had any since. I was fine not having black tea. I just drank water or better yet, coffee! Recently, though, I’ve been drinking more tea. Less caffeine. I think I’ll put that on my to-do list. Try black tea. After all, it’s been almost ten years – gosh time flies. Maybe my body decided it doesn’t mind black tea after all!

I’d rather be sharing a cup of tea or an Starbucks Americano with cream with a good friend.  Someone like my daughter.  Before she moved hours away (first she moved hours away by plane.  Now she lives hours away by car), we used to sit on the front porch of her cute little rented bungalow and drink our coffee and talk.  I miss those days. 

We’re in the midst of a pandemic now.  It’s been two years now.  Again, gosh time does fly.  Whenever I think about how long we’ve been in a pandemic, I always think about my daughter-in-law (actually she and my son just live together) saying, “Do you think it will be over by August?  Surely it will be!”  She was pregnant with their second child and due the end of July in 2020. What a scary time!

Didn’t we wish it was only going to last through August of 2020!!  It’s a good thing we didn’t KNOW how long it was going to last!  Sometimes the unknown is better!  It’s easier to hold onto hope.

I’m not the most social person, so I have adapted rather well to all the social distancing and quarantine and isolation.  I miss my adult children that live an hour and a half away and three and a half hours away.  Thank God for technology, though.  We Google Duo and FaceTime, and we talk on the phone quite often.  The truth is that they both had gotten very busy in their lives, so in person visits were tough anyway.  I always tell them, “As long as you are happy and fulfilled by your life, then I am happy!” 

I miss my mom.  She lives next door, but I don’t go over a lot, because there’s always the risk of giving her Covid. I have chronic sinus issues, and always have Covid symptoms! Luckily, my mom may be in her mid-eighties, but she is very sharp.  She emails, texts, does internet, etc.  We text all day long.  When the weather is nice, we visit on her wrap around porch. In the winter, we mask up and stay far apart. When we are both feeling healthy, we might indulge in a hug with our faces turned away from each other.

I’m very careful.  I don’t go to the store.  I only do grocery pick up – and Amazon, of course.  (Can you imagine just how rich the owner of Amazon is getting from this pandemic?).  And I go to work, where I keep my distance and mask up when I leave my desk. (I’m probably the only one in the building who still bothers)

My husband and son are not very careful.  They work in the service industry, so they are always going into peoples’ homes, and they aren’t good about masking up.  It’s been a point of contention with me, but I’ve given up.  It’s a losing battle.  I can only do what I can do.  My husband is very social and will not give up his visits with his boyfriends/rumor mill. 

Creativity – quilting and making things, baking and cooking and reading – have been my saving grace. That and my two toddler granddaughters, ages 1 1/2 and 3, that come over almost every day. They live just around the corner, and their daddy, my son, works with my husband, so their mom and they come for dinner five nights a week.

In the winter of 2020, I created a book club.  I knew my mom would be struggling – living alone during a pandemic, isolating and not being able to get out or go anywhere, not going to church or having company as frequently.  She had already given up driving after a couple close calls.  And I have to say that I am so proud of her for voluntarily doing that.  So many people I know, their parents won’t give up their driving rights, and they force their children to play the parent. 

Anyway, back to the book club. Mom always loves hearing about what’s happening in my most recent read, and she loves to talk about her books. So the book club seemed like a great idea. I invited a few siblings and nieces, my daughter and my daughter-in-law that enjoys reading. It ended up, after a few books in which my niece joined us, to be just my mom, my daughter and myself. We would take turns suggesting a book, and then we’d meet via FaceTime every week to discuss the portion we had assigned ourselves to read. It was fun to have an “assignment,” and made reading a book that much better, because you could live it with other people.

You can check out my latest reads on Goodreads.

We ended up setting it aside for the summer in 2021, and then my daughter got really busy with her crazy work schedule, so we ended up saying – just read whatever you want.  It was just more stress to try to fit “Book Club” into my daughter’s schedule, and my mom could get a lot more reading done, since she is retired, so by the time we met, she had forgotten a lot.  It has dwindled to a text thread called, Current Book Club, in which we randomly throw tidbits of what we’re enjoying or not enjoying about our current read.  We also share pictures of our plants in this thread, because we all love plants. 

It’s definitely been a trying time. I’ve found new resources, changed the routines of my life, learned to do without, and found a new appreciation for things and people in my life, as well. I’ve learned to accept disappointment – how many visits and activities have been cancelled due to someone having a cold (possibly Covid)?

It’s clear that we will all never be the same. But I hope that possibly, we might have learned to be better through all of this. We’ve had to learn to think of others instead of just ourselves. And hopefully, this will be a lasting trend. Keeping it real, I’ve watched people – some whom I am quite close to – acting in irresponsible and selfish ways. I’ve become disillusioned, disappointed, angry – well, I could go on, but in the end, I’ve had to dig deep and realize that everyone has been handling living in a pandemic, in their own ways, and those ways were/are not always in agreement with the way I would do it. But it doesn’t make those people BAD or STUPID! I realize that some people, rather than face what’s confronting them and alter their behavior to fit the situation and benefit all affected, rather tuck their tales and run or bury their heads in the sand.

Being an ultra-responsible (sometimes excessively so) person who feels that I have to “save the world,” I had a hard time with these other types. Okay, I’ll admit it, I still have a hard time with them!!! Like how hard is it to wear a mask???? Anyway, since I can’t control this situation, and I’ve clearly said my piece about it to MANY, I’m just leading by example now. I’m tired. And I can’t carry this burden anymore. SOOOOO I’m just praying for these terrified people and asking to be more compassionate.

Personal growth ain’t for the faint of heart. Sometimes I just want to mix myself a drink and forget it! But I’ve already lived that life. So, moving forward, I’ll keep writing, praying, quilting and trying. It’s all I can do. But I think it’s a lot. And every day, I ask to “deserve kindness.” I’m not beating myself or others up. We’re all just doing the best we can do, right?

Off the subject – kind of – I’m reading a book by Brene’ Brown. It’s called, The Gifts of Imperfection. I don’t think she could write a BAD book, so any book by her will be a win, but I’m enjoying this book. Reading one chapter a day, so that I can swish it around in my brain till it sticks, then moving on to the next chapter.

As far as quilting goes, I’m starting a Grainline Tamarack Jacket that I’ve wanted to make for months or more. Also, I’m almost done quilting the navy and cream solids quilt that I started in the summer. (Shown above)

Be kind to yourself! And feel free to share your struggles and victories, projects, plants, books……I’d love to hear from you!

Time is on Your Side!

Two of my mom’s sisters came to visit her this past Sunday. They are so appreciative of crafts, paintings, art, quilts – well, anything creative! My mom lives next door, and she happens to be one of the biggest fans of my quilts. She had asked me to bring over my latest finishes to show my aunts, but I didn’t. It just felt a little show off-y.

Charming Stars machine quilted

As it turned out, my Aunt Barb decided we should just walk over to my house for a tour and to see the quilts. I was happy to oblige. These are my favorite aunts and have been since childhood. They are where I get my Bohemian roots.

Log Cabin started in January and hand quilted

My house is a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs, rummage sale finds, trash to treasure, my daughter’s photography and my mother’s paintings and as of late – grandchildren’s toys. I have quilts stacked in a corner, thrown over the backs of chairs, and on beds.

Modern Churndash with Negative Space – Machine quilted and gifted to a niece

Aunt Barb and Aunt Winnie were so appreciative of everything, going so far as to say, “Your house is like a museum!” I decided to take this as a compliment to my mother’s and daughter’s art and the “antiques” that I decorate with.

While in my sewing room, my Aunt Winnie asked me, “When do you find time to quilt?  You work full-time, right?” 

I laughed and told her that yes, I do work from 8am to 4pm Monday through Friday.

She added, “I’m assuming you come home and fix dinner….” 

I confirmed that yes, I come home and make dinner most nights, and my grandbabies are there to play with almost every evening till 7pm. And then it’s time to get things around for the next day of work, do laundry, and shower – then collapse!

Three year old granddaughter

The truth is that I do my quilting in segments. Rarely do I go to my sewing room and spend hours. It’s usually like this – Oh, it’s 7:30 and I don’t have to leave for work till 7:50, so I better run back and cut some pieces or quilt a few lines or press some binding strips or chain piece for fifteen minutes.
The same goes in the evenings. And on the nights that the grandkids are not there, my husband and I eat leftovers or a salad, and then I head back to spend a half hour or hour trying to make hay while the sun shines.

Me with my youngest granddaughter

I also like to sit down and do hand quilting or sew the binding on by hand while my husband watches his Cubbies or the Tour De France.  Usually this is at about 8pm.  And I go to bed at 9. 

I also try to ride my stationary bike a few nights a week for twenty minutes, and get in at LEAST 5000 steps a day (more than that is hard on my arthritic degenerative joints.)
I do not have a housekeeper, but I do keep my house clean enough.  I used to be a clean freak, but decided that was a great way to keep myself frustrated and defeated.  I’d rather do something fun and fulfilling. 

I’m an avid reader. I read on my iPad, here and there. It’s lighter to carry. Mainly, I read for 30 minutes before going to sleep each night. It helps me relax. (I’ve read 22 books this year!) When my children were small, my maternal grandmother asked me if I liked to read. I said I did, but I didn’t have time. She said, “Everyone has time to read.” Coming from her, a woman who lived on a farm and raised her kids during the Depression and had to pump her water and wash her clothes on a crank washer, and fix every meal from scratch, well, I had to believe it! I started making time for books after that! You can see my latest reads on the sidebar or check me out on http://www.goodreads.com!

Anyway, the real purpose of this post is that so many people tell me they don’t have time to make a quilt. I don’t think my life could get any busier than it is – (yikes! Am I tempting fate or jinxing myself?) The truth is – if something is important to you, you will make it happen. It’s the old “ant that moved the rubber tree plant” adage. If you just give it 15 minutes a day, the end will eventually appear. And in that 15 minutes, you will put some creative energy into the Universe – somewhat like a prayer! And you will feel more fulfilled in your life. I know I do!

PS. If you want to see more details of the quilts you can find me on Instagram, too!

The Circle of Life

This morning as I sat working on my latest quilting project, my oldest son sent me a picture of his latest purchase – a Ruger rifle. We have a history in guns. My dad and mom owned a sporting goods store for 30 years. I worked there for eleven, selling guns, which was never something I aspired to do when I grew up, but it gave me a place to work and still be a mom to my young children. They accompanied me to work or got off the bus there after school. They closed the business in 1998, but I had grown to love guns, and my oldest son is still a gun lover.

My father passed away in 2012, but my mother, his partner in business and the love of guns, is still alive. I told my son he should share his purchase with his grandma. Although she doesn’t shoot anymore, due to failing eyesight and an aging body, the memories made through the business and her love of a good competition live on.

As I fed another strip of fabric through the sewing machine, I thought about how much a part of my children growing up, my mother was. She was there whenever I couldn’t be. She fixed them meals, taught my daughter all about plants, picked them up from school and did many motherly things for them. We lived next door, so she was their second mom.

When I was growing up, we lived next door to my father’s parents. We ran through the field to her house many days of the week to be fed popcorn and root beer and chocolates. Grandma played Tijuana Brass, as we ran around in circles to the music in her living room. She mended holes in our jeans and showed us how to milk a cow.

I thought about how when I got old enough to drive, I didn’t go see Grandma like I used to. I was too busy. And I realized the same thing happened with my kids – they grew up and didn’t need their grandmas like they did when they were little. Yet, they still keep their connection to me – their primary and birth mother, calling at least once a week, and (before the pandemic) visiting whenever possible.

I’m a grandma now. I was blessed with instant grandmotherhood when my oldest son married Bethany, who had two children, ages three and seven, from her previous marriage.

My oldest son, his wife and kids, 10 years ago.
My oldest grandchildren with the quilts I made them for Christmas when they were little

They live an hour and a half away, and spent every other weekend with their other dad, so their visits were not as frequent as I would have loved. They came up and spent the weekend as much as possible, rode ATVs, shot their bows, walked through the woods, gathered rocks, got shooting lessons from my son, and helped bake cookies.

Me with three of my grandchildren

I feel we have a special bond, and they know I am here if they need me. They’re 15 and 20 now.

My youngest son and his fiancé have blessed us with two beautiful little granddaughters.
Blakely and Ellison
They live less than a mile away, and my son and husband run a business together, so we see them almost daily. They are a huge part of our life, and I think we are a huge part of theirs. We are the balance for them. When their parents are tired and worn down from crying babies, constant needs and the demands that young children put on them, we are there to step in and give the children the patient attention that they need and to give their parents a break. We can do all the things we wished we would have done differently with our children and offer the wisdom that we have gained over the years.

Since writing this first part, I had a phone conversation with my oldest son. I was discussing this and he said he thinks that the grandparents being so involved is more of a “small town” thing. I said maybe it’s a rural thing. What do you think? Proximity is obviously a factor.

I wish I would have had the knowledge and experience I have now, and that I would have made it a point to stop and see my grandma more after I got older. Just because I didn’t really need her anymore, I never thought about that she might need me.

Such is life. The big circle. I’m living in the now, but prepared for what the future will inevitably bring. I’m counting on that my grandchildren will carry a part of what I have given them in their hearts and that they will always know how much I love them and that I am here whenever they need me.

Social Distancing Not Emotional Distancing

Hello Everyone,

Here we are all together, yet apart.  Life sure has taken a crazy turn, hasn’t it?  I live in a small, rural community in Indiana, and today we now have ten confirmed COVID-19 cases, and now one death.  I didn’t know the man – well, I had heard his name before, and I probably knew him at one time, because he was a hunting dog trainer, and I used to sell guns (sounds like I heard a few gasps out there, but yeah, I worked in my parent’s gun shop back in the day.)  Anyway, when you live in a small town, chances are you know everyone one way or another.  Anyway, as my heart goes out to his family and friends.

There’s been lots of changes in our lives due to this pandemic.  I have to admit, this change in lifestyles has given me the opportunity to WAKE up!  I’m now working 5 days split between two weeks. So half time.  In shaking up my routine, I’ve realized what a robot I’d become.  A slave to the clock!  Have you had any epiphanies during this shake up?

My son, his fiance’, and their almost two year old are “quarantined” with us.  My son works with my husband, so he and his fiance’ feel it would be silly for them to stay away from us.  So now my afternoons are filled with being a grandma to Miss Blakely.  Her mama is a stay-at-home mom, and she likes to hang out at our house for a change of scenery (and a break!).

Blakely and I have spent time digging in dirt, repotting a plant, starting some tomatoes, and hauling gravel with tablespoons.  If I try to do some sewing, Blakely spends time rearranging the fabric scraps in my bins.  She’s an outdoor girl for sure, and if she could live in the swing outside, she would!  Why is swinging a child so boring and monotonous?  When she heads to the swingset, all of me cringes.  I’d much rather run circles around her.  But – I’m a gramma, and grammas make it happen.  So I swing her and sing, “You Are My Sunshine,” while she bobs her head back and forth, grinning and lip syncing.  She doesn’t talk much yet, but for some reason, when she wants to sing along, she just opens and shuts her mouth like she’s pretending to sing along.  It is quite adorable.

When I’m not hanging out with Blakely, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing.  Other people I talk to are painting inside their house, cleaning closets and doing spring cleaning.  But nope.  Not me.  Maybe I should be, but I feel like life is so full of duty and obligation.  When I get time for me, I’m going to use it for something I love to do.

I had signed up for a quilt along at the local quilt shop after Christmas.  As it worked out, I have yet to attend a meeting!  In January, I was sick.  In February, I was in Arizona visiting my daughter.  In March, the meeting was cancelled due to the pandemic.  And tonight was to be the next meeting, so due to the social distancing, it is cancelled again.  Luckily, we are still working on the assignments for the class timeline.  Nancy, who owns the local quilt shop, brilliantly created a Facebook page (It’s called, Show & Tell…share your creativity!!!), so we could post pictures of our work.  It’s fun to share our work, see what others have come up with and it holds me accountable!

The quilt pattern is Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell.  The ironic thing is that I don’t really love the pattern.  It’s not one that I would have chosen. The truth, and this is the ironic part, is that I signed up for this quilt along, because I wanted to be part of a quilting collective.  I wanted a reason to leave the house – besides going to work, grocery shopping, church….yeah, that’s about it.  So what did I get?  A social distancing version.

People talk about how awful this social distancing stuff has been, how crazy they are going, and how it has changed their lives, but for me – well, I’m just not going to work as much.  I get my groceries on-line or through grocery curbside pick up – that’s different.  I’m a bit annoyed by the shortage of things that used to make my life easier, but we’re making do and getting by.  I never lived a life of luxury before and have lived in near poverty, so as long as the heat comes on in my house and I have running water, I can get by.  I guess it’s not the “things” or the routine that I miss as much as things like – taking my mom’s arm when we walk.  Now we walk about ten feet apart, wearing masks, and our visits are all outside and never end with a hug or a kiss.

Blakely is expecting a little sister in August.  Her name is Ellison.  I have a bunny quilt started for her.  The bunny part of the quilt is from the Fancy Forest quilt pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  These bunnies are so fun to make.  In fact, I just love making all those little animals.  I made a small version of the assorted animals in that pattern book, and it hangs in my family room.  I was naming the animals for Blakely one day, as she pointed at them on the wall, and of all the animal names, she decided to say, “Hedgehog.”  Not bunny, owl, fox.  Nope, she had to say hedgehog.  And let me tell you, it’s pretty dang cute. Sounds sort of like, “Gog-gog.”

I made four sunflower appliques, because Ellison’s mommy thinks Ellison is going to be a sunflower kinda girl, to put on the corners of the quilt.  They are from the Quilter’s Patch pattern book by Edyta Sitar.  

I plan to finish the top of Ellison’s quilt this week, as the fabric that I ordered to complete it just arrived yesterday!  I’ve been ordering a lot of our day to day necessities from Amazon, so a package of fabric was a nice break in those boring packages.

Although on that note, I will ask the obvious – did you ever imagine in your lifetime and this day and age to have a toilet paper shortage???

So what have you been doing to keep your spirits up?  There’s a fear and uncertainty that is graying the energy of the earth.  It’s a worse pollution than you would ever get from a factory.  You may not be able to see it, but it’s there!  I’m sure you can feel it.

I think it’s up to all of us to keep creating, because creativity sends beautiful light into the world that brightens lives and hearts.  On top of creating, I’ve spent time reading – blogs, fictional books, spiritual books…..I have read this book before, but decided to re-read it, Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron.  It’s a great book based on Tibetan Buddhist teachings.

Well, if you’re still reading, thank you!  Stay well and safe and create away!!!

Inspiration

So last week, my little sister, Amy, shared a podcast with Brene’ Brown on Facebook.  I was alone at the office, essential worker that I am, so I decided to listen to it.  I really enjoyed it, and I decided that podcasts were something I needed to indulge in more often.  I downloaded the app.  Overhauled Podcast App in iOS 11 to Bring Richer User Experience ...

How many times do you say, “I’m bored?”  Although bored is actually five letters, it is a four letter word to me.  I say there is always something to do!!

Today, the day was dragging by.  I was caught up with my work, and I looked at the clock.  Each minute ticking by like tiiiiiiiickkkkkkkk.  I even imagined the clock was yawning.

I got up out of my chair and walked around the back room of the office.  I’ve noticed once I get up and move around, my brain starts to move.  I think of things I had forgotten.  I find inspiration.  Some people find it in the shower, but I find it when I put one foot in front of the other.

Today I was pondering the purpose of this pandemic.  It seems like there has to be a lesson involved.  I don’t know about you, but I have definitely realized so many things I have come to take for granted.  To name a few:  two day delivery of whatever I am looking for from Amazon; disinfectants; hugs from my mom (although I don’t know if I ever took those for granted); toilet paper; bread…..

The pandemic hangs in the background.  Even on a sunny day, it is like a dark cloud, the energy oppressive and ominous.  I find the anxiety is living in my body even when I am not aware.  The other night I fell into watching a movie I’d already seen, but it was on the TV, when I walked in the room, so I finished it out.  It was the new Overboard movie.

 

Photo credit to Google Play

 

If you liked the first one with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, you need to give this one a shot.  Seconds are never, or at least, rarely, as good as firsts, but this one took me away.  When it was over, I got up off the couch with a smile on my face, and I felt how good I felt in my body, and then – then I remembered the pandemic and the change in my body was insane.  I realized I need to spend time every day taking my body into a place of peace, trust and love.

I love to read, so I decided to read a book that might help take me away.  Nature is my medicine, so I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods.  A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) by [Bill Bryson]It’s his account of hiking the Appalachian Trail.  I’m finding it entertaining and educational.  A great combo.  It even inspired me to get off the beaten path at home.  I usually stay on the mowed path around the pasture, avoiding the woods and the trails through them – most covered with fallen timber now.

 

The other day, I went down the hill, by the spring, through the dry creek bed, all the while, doing a Marco Polo recording for my daughter, who lives in the desert and misses her woods so much!  She’s quarantined with her hubby in their tiny apartment in Tempe.  I was doing all I could to share my blessings with her.

 

I hope you’re finding your peace and nurturing during this stressful time.  If you need podcast suggestions, I don’t have much to offer yet.  So far, I’ve listened to two.  Brene’ Brown’s Unlocking Us with Brene’ Brown: Brene’ on Comparative Suffering, the 50/50 Myth, and Settling the Ball; and Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations; Oprah and Alicia Keys: The Interview.

Get out in the sun, move your body, do something creative, call someone who is quarantined alone, read a book – so many available free on-line (and everyone is staring at their phones, why not read something worth reading?)  Listen to a podcast.  Whatever you decide to do, tell me about it!  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

The More Things Change….

My grandmother was an avid reader. I remember when I was a young mother of two small children living in Germany, she had written me a letter – yes, snail mail. She asked if I liked to read. I replied and said I really didn’t have time. After all, I was taking care of two small children!

Bath
No bathtub in our apartment in Germany.  So baths were in the bottom of the shower.  

Her response to me was that everyone has time to read. I admit, I rolled my eyes, feeling a bit like she was lecturing.

She asked if I would like her to send me books, and giving in, I said sure.

She sent me a large box full of books for me to read – old books and new. The Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell. Thinner by Stephen King. The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. Those are just a few I can remember. Books I probably never would have read had they not been placed before me, but I was living in a foreign country in a small village an hour drive from the air base, and I didn’t have a drivers license. Did I mention that this was in 1986 and there was no internet or cell phone and no TV signal- German signal is different than American.?

Grandma also sent several to read to the children. They drank them up. Books were the doorway to their imagination.

I became an avid reader. After all, with modern day conveniences, who wouldn’t have time to read? Right?

From that point on, while I lived in Germany, I usually read one book a week. I read every book Gramma sent. And I read several a day to my two oldest children. (My third was still sitting on a cloud waiting to come into our lives.)

Now today with this coronavirus quarantine and shortage of products, I find myself washing more laundry, having to find things to use for paper towels, and cleaning constantly to hopefully discourage the spread of any virus particles that we bring into the house.

A shortage of bread left us baking bread from scratch. Bread

I hadn’t done that in 10 years. I used to love to bake, but with a full-time job and the convenience of just buying a loaf of bread, there was no need for me to bake bread. Baking was a hobby not a necessity.

This morning as I was sewing a coronavirus mask, MaskI came into a new appreciation for my grandmother finding time to read. She lived in a day when they worked from sun up to sundown. Baking, cooking, cleaning, and without all the modern day conveniences that we all take for granted. My mother tells me that my grandmother had to pump the water and haul it in buckets to the house. They had outhouses and kept cans by their bed in case they needed to potty in the middle of the night. She had the old style washing machine and wringer that kids nowadays probably never even heard of. She made her children’s clothing on a treadle sewing machine.

Grandma lived in the depression era, when things like sugar and other things were or had been rationed. Nothing went to waste. She instilled that in my mother, and she carried that forward in her thinking, as well.  She raised us with a “waste not, want not” mindset, and a “make do” attitude.

As time went on though, after getting married, and starting to work full-time with children, I bought into the convenience way of life that was afforded to us by a different economy and modern technology.

One day my son and his fiancée were talking about not being able to find baby wipes in the stores (Walmart pickup) for their toddler. I said, just use a washcloth. Funny how something that is a convenience becomes a necessity.

The shortage of products is really bringing all that to light. It’s no wonder our landfills are full. We’ve become such a convenience motivated society. We throw away so much that could be reused or repurposed, because we’re too busy – or too lazy.

Today I plan to go through my sewing fabric stash and craft closet, to find more things to use instead of paper towel. I think the Earth will thank me for that..

Stay safe everyone. Social distance, and that doesn’t mean go anywhere you want to go, but just stay away from people. That means only go where you absolutely have to, and then when you do, keep your social distance. If you have to go out, Wear a mask, bandanna or scarf.

It’s not just about you! We’re in this together. After all, we share this earth and the air we breathe!

Wrapping Up

“There’s no growth in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growth zone.”  Not sure where I read that.  Probably a meme on Facebook.
2019 could have been one of the toughest years of my life.  The family room and half bath flooded.  The well went dry.  My beloved dog got killed on the road in a violent and shocking death.  There’s a couple more, a betrayal of trust, financial issues, etc., but really, just what I shared right there is enough to push one to the limit of wanting to say, F U to 2019.  Or as my daughter-in-law said to my son, “2019 can kiss my @$$.”
As I look at each of these stressful occurrences, I have to say that each one ended in a blessing.  
 
We now have a family room with newly painted drywall, new carpet and trim, and the half bath is now a beautiful full bath.  The renovated family room has given my husband a “cave,” so I don’t have to listen to the shows that he watches that annoy me.  It is also so nice to have the extra space for gathering and for overnight company.  I love the new bathroom, and I no longer cringe when someone has to use it due to the main bath being occupied. The old half bath was awful and overdue for renovation.  (Yes, my husband is a contractor, but you know how the shoemaker’s children go barefoot?  Yeah….) Without that flooding, we’d still be putting off this project that became a “must”! 
Although the well went dry, we didn’t have to drill a new one, which would have been SO much more expensive.  My husband’s good friend is a well guy, so he came on the off hours and put in new pipe, just down a little deeper, restoring our water supply, and bless his generous heart, only charged us for parts – no labor.  His fee was a dinner of KFC with us, our adult son and his fiancé and their 17 month old daughter. 
My beloved dog, Siddha, getting killed is a little harder. (Okay, a lot harder!). Her absence is felt daily.  And it was quite a traumatic experience.  As with all deaths of loved ones, I’m left with regrets and questions about the life I afforded her.  But the blessings are that she died instantly – no long, drawn out, painful old age.  She was 10 years old, and she was a big dog.  The future for her wasn’t looking bright.  She hated going to the vet.  
Now there’s the blessings of no dog hair, no worries that she might lose her patience with the grand baby, no one stealing food left too close to the counter’s edge, no toenails to clip (besides my own, of course, but I don’t get angry about it), no urgent wake up calls in the middle of the night when her tummy hurt, no deer poop embedded in her fur to clean up after one of our walks in the pasture (it’s hard to go for walks now, her spirit is there, and it makes my heart ache) – those are all the things I try to console myself with, as tears drip upon my keyboard.  I guess it’s a mixed bag.  This must be where I’m supposed to say, the pain doesn’t go away just because there’s a blessing there.  
Blessings come in unexpected and sometimes unrecognizable ways.  Everything happens for a reason.  And many days, the joys are not even noticed, just taken for granted.  We shower and flush the toilets without ever giving thanks for the water – an older generation might label us as “entitled.”  My mom always tells the story of when she and Dad switched from a wood furnace to oil.  She said just being able to turn up the thermostat, and not having to load wood into the furnace, was like magic!  How many of us even give it a thought? 
So as we come to the end of the lesson filled year, I say, Thank you, 2019.  You were a great teacher.  Even so, I hope 2020’s lessons won’t be as harsh or painful.  I find I’m treading carefully, waiting for the next shoe to drop.  I’ve become keenly aware of my vulnerability.  But I’ve also become aware of my strength.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  And it could always be worse!  I’m just full of over-used sayings. 
Anyway, I wish you Happy Holidays and Joyous Blessings!  May 2020 be gentle on us!  But if it isn’t, may we know our inner strength, call upon innate wisdom and recognize the blessings!

Anticipation

Well, it you read my blog and wonder where I’ve been, I’m sorry for my absence.  Let’s just say – I forgot myself for a while!  Anyway, I’m back, and I hope to stay!
It’s a cool August day.  What?!  Yeah, hard to believe, but I’m loving every minute of it.  And it’s Friday!  Whoop! Whoop!  And to top that sundae with whipped cream and a cherry, the weekend forecast promises temperatures in the 70’s!  My favorite!
I was in the back room at work, pacing back and forth while I ate my chia pudding, and I saw a girl get out of a truck to go into the judicial center next door.  She had on jeans and a sweatshirt.  I had to smile.  It really isn’t THAT cool out.  It took me back to those days of my youth.  School shopping done, I was equipped with new jeans and a cool sweatshirt, but with August normally so hot, they would hang in my closet for another month or so before I actually needed their warmth, forced to wear the summer clothes that I was so tired of.
I don’t know if everyone has had this experience.  Maybe it’s just us fall lovers.  I mean, I know there are the die hard summer lovers – like my husband.  He loves summer and wearing shorts, so he will still be wearing shorts and t-shirts when the rest of us are putting on long pants and sweatshirts – and rolling our eyes at him!  He’s becoming more and more cold blooded though, so we will see if he still plants his feet in summer and refuses to move when the leaves start to blow.
When I worked at a local real estate office, there was a woman that worked there who hated fall!  I know!  Unbelievable!  She said that fall just reminded her that winter was around the corner, and it made her depressed.
I think of fall as a reprieve from the heat.  I’d rather put on more clothes than take them off – for lots of reasons!  Ha!  My husband, Mike, had a point the other night.  We were watching a movie where the snow was coming down in the scene. The actors were bundled up in coats, hats and boots, and the roads were treacherous.  Mike groaned and said, “Yuck!”
I laughed and said, “I thought you were looking forward to ice fishing!”  He had mentioned that earlier in the week when he was watching an episode of Northwoods Law.
“Yeah, I am,” he replied, “but summer is just so much easier.  You can just walk out the door.  No coat, just flip flops or tennis shoes, and just go!”
I had to agree.  That was the best part of summer.
I’m not a summer person.  I hate being hot worse than I hate being cold.  I don’t like to sit in the sun, because I have had to have lots of basal cell carcinoma (non-invasive skin cancer) removed – starting at age 36, and my dermatologist recommends that I limit my sun exposure.  This also means that I am not tan, not pink, not golden – I am lily white and glow in the dark.  And with age, my once firm and muscled legs, are now covered in crepey skin that looks like crumpled paper bags.  Shorts are not my friend.  Another reason to welcome those skin covering jeans.
I’m not a fan of sweating. In fact, getting too hot makes me feel like I’m going to explode or burst or something.  It’s like the heat is closing in, and I can actually feel like I’m going to have a panic attack or a temper tantrum from too much heat.  And living in the Midwest with the humidity???  Forget it!  I cannot even express my disdain for humidity.  People make fun of those of us who don’t mind the Arizona heat as much as the Midwest heat when we say it’s a “dry heat,” but I’m here to tell ya, that makes a world of difference!
Gosh, I was giving myself anxiety just writing about it!  Time to focus on this present gift of unseasonably low temps and moderate humidity!  I’m in the mood for making apple dumplings, wild rice soup, pumpkin bread and decorating the house with black, brown and orange.
As a quilter, it’s great to have this little glimpse of things to come.  It sets the mood for fall sewing.  I’m one of those people that doesn’t do well sewing for Christmas or fall in summer, just as I don’t do well sewing for the 4th of July in winter.  It’s like the season rules my mood and my mood rules my choice of projects.  So maybe this weekend, I’ll pop out a pumpkin mini quilt or a brown and orange log cabin, or…….As always, too many quilts to make and not enough time.
Then there’s the energy boost that I get from this cooler weather.  It makes me want to paint rooms and clean…I can see a weekend battle coming on.  Will I cook?  Will I sew?  Will I jump in and paint that breezeway that has needed painting for over five years?? As my mama always said, “We shall see what we shall see…”
Until then, TGIF!  Enjoy your weekend!!

Glenn Close’s Golden Globe Acceptance Speech

Allie, my niece, came for QC (Quilt Class) last night. allie It’s hardly a class anymore.  As I said in my previous post, my husband says it’s really just Allie and me getting together to eat.  And sometimes, he is right (about this and other things.)
The class started out as my teaching two of my nieces to quilt.  I have so many nieces; I literally probably can’t count them all. But out of all these nieces, Allie and Rachael were close to each other and close to me and had expressed a desire to quilt.  We made a plan one summer to meet one night each week, and together, we would make quilts – just wall hanging size (which you can see in prior posts.)
As life goes, though, after the original project was complete, Rachael went back to school to get her doctorate, so doesn’t have time to join Allie and myself anymore.  Allie has brought a friend or two, here and there, and although it’s not turned into any long term projects or anything consistent, I, at least, hope they have been introduced to something new, and in turn, maybe sparked a creative fire in their souls.
Allie and I have always been kindred spirits.  Quilt Class is just a modality for us to discipline our relationship.  We get together in the name of quilting, but if we end up making Figgy Piggy Flatbread instead, then that’s what we do.  We let the night evolve – sometimes with a plan, sometimes without.
Last night was frozen pizza and conversation with a little fabric cutting for some oven mitts for Allie’s prospective new digs.  (Her dad is remodeling a house he bought, so Allie and her friend, Marley, can rent it from him, but it won’t be ready for a while.) Anyway, while we messed around in the Quilting Studio, we chatted about Allie’s life and the direction she is going – her hopes and dreams, friends and family.  It was a great conversation, and I felt like she needed to talk about it, and I needed to hear it.  She may be my niece, but she’s also my friend, my faux granddaughter and sometimes, my stand in daughter.
As I sewed a few more strips on the Pineapple Blocks img_5325that I’m working on, Allie stopped cutting fabric to show me a video of Glenn Close’s Golden Globe speech.  She said, “I want you to watch this.  There’s one part that really got to me.”
So she pulled up the video
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dofJq1FzT8U, and we both watched and listened.
It was inspiring and moving.  I admit, as I listened, I was listening for Allie.  To see how that speech applied to her life.  But I found myself feeling a little punched in the gut, because it was so poignant.  After all, I am a woman.  And her message was to women.
“You know, it was called The Wife. I think that’s why it took 14 years to get made. To play a character who is so internal, I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life. And in her 80s she said to me, “I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.”And it was so not right. And I feel like what I’ve learned from this whole experience is, women, we’re nurturers, that’s what’s expected of us. We have our children, we have our husbands if we’re lucky enough, and our partners. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, “I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that.””
I pulled three lines from that speech:
“I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life.”
Although I understood what she meant about her mom, I wanted to know the full definition of the word sublimate.  Google, my best friend, told me:  to divert the energy of (a sexual or other biological impulse) from its immediate goal to one of a more acceptable social, moral, or aesthetic nature or use.
After Allie left, I stood at the kitchen sink, rinsing the dinner dishes, as my husband sat in his recliner reading a book, and I had to wonder, have I come much further than my mother?  How much am I still sublimating to my husband? Old patterns are so hard to break.
I go to work and take care of the house, and my husband pitches in most times.  But most times, his needs do come before my own. Maybe this part of my life needs a little work…..
“We have to find personal fulfillment.
I am the one that carries the health insurance for my husband and myself.  He is self-employed.  I don’t love my job and many times, I feel like I was put on this earth just to make it possible for my husband to live his dream.  I envy his freedom and the creativity that his job requires, but I watch him and realize that he has a lot of stress and pressure that I would not want.  I take time each day to spend in my quilting studio.  And I make creativity in my life a requirement and daily engagement – because it is necessary for my sense of fulfillment.
“We have to follow our dreams.”
I’m not sure what my dreams are anymore. (I need to explore this and write about that in another post.)  In the early 2000’s, I started to dream of becoming a successful author.  I was going to be like Martha Beck or Liz Gilbert.  I was going to inspire women through my writing.  As time went on, rejection slip after rejection slip, I lost my zest.
I switched venues and started to quilt again.  More importantly, I realized that inspiring women doesn’t have to come with my name in lights or a book contract.  It can be more of a ripple effect.  If I can touch one life, then maybe that life will touch two, and so on.  You get the point.  Touching lives doesn’t have to be some huge ordeal.  Not to sound cliche’, but you can touch a life just by sharing a smile on the street.  I know a smile on a dreary day has touched MY life before.
More than anything, I think that it’s not WHAT we do, it’s the energy in which we do it.  Nurturing and caring for others is very honorable.  It can also be fulfilling!  As long as you don’t do it from the energy of obligation or the victim.
Life is definitely a balancing act.  The message to take care of yourself can imply that taking care of others is “less.”  The truth is that not all of us are ever going to be in a position to receive an award, to make a speech to millions or have a book published, but that doesn’t minimize our power.
I don’t know how Glenn Close’s mother could say she didn’t feel like she accomplished anything. I think it is sad that she couldn’t look back at her life and see, even just through Glenn, that she accomplished a LOT!  I don’t know her mother, but I do know she raised a beautiful woman with enough heart to believe in herself, become one of the most amazing actresses ever, and who gave this inspiring speech that touched millions of women everywhere, and I’m sure, even some men!  Talk about a ripple effect!!
I guess, in conclusion, QC reminded me of my ripple effect.  I remembered that I am not the victim of my life.  I remembered that I may not be a successful author or even have a thousand followers on my Instagram account (LOL), but even if I touch one life with my art or my words, then I am fulfilled.