New Year Affirmation

It’s been a nice few weeks off though I can’t say I’ve done a whole lot with what seemed, at the start, like oceans of time in which to accomplish a lot.

I’ve accomplished very little. But that’s what vacations are for, right? Relaxing and doing nothing? The older I get, the harder that is. I constantly feel this urge to BE DOING. To MAKE. To PRODUCE. To leave a mark, make my life seem worthwhile. I had a list. Actually, a lot of them. The practical stuff, the fixing-things list, the baking-things list, the cleaning-things list….most of that got done.

I saw family just enough. Friends, not enough. I took some drives, bought a few things, ditched traditions that had no meaning and spent very little time in social media spaces. By Christmas Eve, I’d had too much time alone which….is a new feeling. I’ve discovered that four or five days is about as long as I can stand being in my house without the kids. After that, I get antsy. I think if the weather had been less wet (it was gloriously warm until yesterday), I would have taken a few long walks.

I’m reading my very wise and thorough horoscope and it’s telling me that it’s time to organize my life so that I’m prepared for what’s next, for what I want. Which could mean all kinds of things but for me, I’ve taken that literally and every other way. I did spend some time today tidying and organizing stuff on my desk, going through all the papers I’ve collected over the past few months, all the gardening-related stuff I thought was crucial last year, gathering together and adding to my calendar (the one I carry with me) all the books I want to read, the movies and tv shows I want to see, all the products I might need to buy (new edger, new vacuum cleaner) next year, the things I want to do.

I’m trying to write my way to a more organized thought process. What do I want to accomplish next year and how will I do it? How do I want my personal life, my brain space life, my work life, my raising children life, my writing life to be? Do I even want a writing life right now? If I do, why? What exactly do I want and who do I want to be? Who do I want to be with?

In the piles of crap I sorted through today, I found a New Moon Affirmation that I’d printed out (courtesy of Chani Nicholas horoscopes). I read it (when it finds its way to the top of the pile) every so often and think about how far I’ve come and how far I have to go. I’m not even sure what the ultimate goal is, exactly, but I’m not there yet. A lot of this rang true again as I had a discouraging family encounter over the holidays (who hasn’t, right?) that picked a scab raw that I thought was pretty healed over.

Not all of this applies all the time but even if you get something, one line, one phrase that pricks at you, that pokes and makes you go “ah!”, that makes you see something in a new way, or gain comfort in knowing you are moving in the right direction, or forces you to rethink something, then I’ve accomplished at least that much during my Weeks of Sloth.

New Moon Affirmation

May I be open to new ways of looking at old wounds. Especially as they relate to my childhood, my home, my family and my efforts to recreate a loving space that holds me, nourishes me and where I feel I belong. I am allowed to feel like I belong. I am allowed to have a place to call home. I feel at home here. I am my home now.

May I be willing to approach my familiar fretting ways with a curiosity that helps me to consider why I might be in a particular pickle.

May I be conscious enough to realize that when I am trapped in an old fear, wrapped in its panic and at its whim that I am powerless over it. I have been besieged and I have forgotten to ask for help.

May I remember that I can ask for help.

I can ask for help from a power greater than myself. Nature can heal me. Meditating can heal me. Lighting a candle and saying “thank you” can heal me and so can saying “Please help me with this, I am not sure how to do it on my own. I need help carrying this. I cannot do it alone.”

I have a choice to react as I always have or I have the choice to get curious. Why this feeling? Why this reaction? Why this thought? What have I metaphorically stepped on and is there another way to dance with this demon? I know there is another way. A way that is kinder, gentler and simpler.

May I remember it now.

Namaste and Happy New Year to you.

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The Hospice for Appliances

When things go, break, die, it’s never just one thing. It’s like all the necessary inanimate things in the house receive a memo from the Universe that says, “You can let go now.” Like I’ve been running a hospice for household appliances. People tend to let go during the holidays, people near the end of their lives. The obituary section of the paper is at its normal two page length right now but just wait. In the next couple of weeks, it’ll explode.

That’s what seems to be happening in my house. First my 21 year old vacuum cleaner (a wedding gift) began to give off a very bad metal-on-rubber smell. It’s not the best looking Hoover in the world but damn it keeps on working! Until…well, I let it sit a couple of days to allow it to think about all we’ve been through in the last 21 years. What we’ve meant to each other. All the rooms we’ve spent time in over three houses and an apartment. Hoover got its shit together, thankfully, for now, because even at Costco, replacing it won’t be cheap.

Then the heat pump decided to wrap itself, inside and out, in a thick layer of ice. During one of the warmest Decembers I can remember. The hell, heat pump? For serious? So I got that fixed. It was thirsty for freon. Paid the guy. Momma ain’t getting a new coat this year.

Then the bread maker decided to bury one of its paddles inside the bread loaf because the sticky-up prong thing it’s usually attached to decided to just say “fuck it” and not stay erect. Can you fix a bread maker with Viagra? Doubtful. It was a freebie, this wonderful bread maker that I’ve used dozens and dozens of times over the past couple years. And even though it’s always been tempermental and has to be monitored closely (the pan disengages from the flange that holds it in place), I’ve loved having it. But now it apparently wants to go to appliance heaven.

I won’t even discuss the blender that blew up on me the first time I used it. That almost doesn’t count. It wasn’t old enough to join the hospice and most of the other appliances hadn’t decided whether it deserved a bed. Clearly it was sick before it arrived. I’ll live without a blender for a bit longer.

Now the roof is leaking. The same spot next to the chimney where the addition was built around it. I’ve had it fixed before but it didn’t last long (well, almost 2 years so I guess that’s not too terrible). So, if it ever stops raining, I’m hoping that fix won’t cost too much.

So, I’m not feeling particularly merry right now as I bake and clean. I’m almost afraid to touch anything, especially the things I have left – my mixer, my food processor, my washer and dryer. I’m being extra nice to them, including them in all my cooking and cleaning this week, to show them as much love as possible without wearing them out. Because I can’t take another appliance funeral right now. I just can’t.

Grinder

A few posts ago, I mentioned my grandfather and the coffee grinder that sat in the corner of the side table that sat between the rocking chair and the breakfast table on the enclosed porch of his house where I spent most of my time as a child when I visited him.

Turns out my aunt was in possession of it and recently sent it to me. Here it is on top of my living room cabinet:

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I knew I had a picture of it from Days Gone By. And today, my first day of holiday vacation, I found it:

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Can you see it in the upper right hand corner of the photo? It’s blurry, I know. The subject of the photo – as always – was me. I’m wearing the knitted coat and hat my grandparents brought back from their trip to Germany. The photo is stamped April ’71 so this would have been an Easter visit.  I knew I remembered it. It’s nice to have proof.

It’s been an up and down kind of week. One in which I have constantly questioned pretty much everything. Whereas recently I thought I was the kind of person someone would want to date (which does wonders for the self-esteem), I turn out not to be at all. And this fact is not mitigated by knowing that I wasn’t in a situation that would really lead to anything. I just had that gut feeling. And it turned out I was right. Which doesn’t actually make me feel any better. Being human is a very contrary thing. None of it makes sense. Like, why am I holding those balloons? Why did this photo scan black and white when it was shot in color? I cannot tell you.

Clearly, I made a mistake. I seem to make a lot of them. But, I’m not letting the small annoying things ruin my weekend. I plan to head back out on Route One tomorrow and find more old motels. I hope you’re following my roadsidevirginiana.wordpress.com blog. I haven’t been over there in awhile because I haven’t had a chance to travel since October. But the crazy kid/school/work schedule has a holiday reprieve and I’ll have lots of time on my hands. I’m itching to get back on the road.

I’m itching for love and companionship too but those seem harder to find than the instant gratification of discovering another abandoned treasure on the roadside. So one does what one must.

A Walk in the Woods

My therapist recently cut me loose. Apparently, I’m cured of all that ailed me. Plus, she’s taken a new job in a new town and won’t be around to listen to me complain about what has become simply the minutia of everyday crap that bothers me and frankly, I often bore myself. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to listen to it. My big issues are mainly resolved and yes, I feel good. Life is a million times better than it was three years ago. But, I liked having that every-four-or-eight-weeks appointment. And now my little boat will have to float untethered to the main ship. It will have to find a new island at which to dock.

One of the things I’ve been learning to do lately is, following in KonMari philosophy, to let go of things that bring no joy. And one of those things is a blog that, in theory, should generate income but which brings zero joy (and zero money) and feels like homework I put off until 8pm on a Sunday night. Cramming for an exam I made for myself. So, I think I might let that one loose. I still worry about money but I don’t have whatever it takes to make it this way.

I’ve been saying ‘no’ to things I don’t need to do and ‘yes’ to things that sound fun. I’m making art which has been incredibly fun. Especially since I can listen to podcasts of This American Life while I make my little suncatcher/ornament things. I’m trying not to worry much about the novel that sits and sulks in a corner, rolling its eyes at me like a kid denied a donut because he didn’t finish his vegetables.

I plan to get back to the story next week – the students will be gone and I’ll have the library to myself again – but this week I’ve been taking advantage of the amazing weather by walking in the woods. I’ve been taking walks in various parks nearby and yesterday I walked two miles down leaf-strewn paths and discovered a stream. I took the mountain bike path that runs alongside it and heard nothing but birds and squirrels. Woodpeckers. The very faraway drone of vehicles. Leaves falling off tree limbs and spiraling down to create more ground cover. My feet kicking up those leaves.

I think the walks have helped my physical and mental health this week more than the therapist appointment. It’s been a busy week but I haven’t felt the stress I usually do. Eating at the dining hall this week with the kids has eliminated the stress of feeding them before getting Dusty to her evening concerts. I really don’t know why I never thought of it before. I guess when you don’t know what your options are, you can’t consider them. The dining hall has been an unexpected blessing. And Red loves it. So many dessert choices! All of them good!

Tomorrow we’ll get a tree and decorate the house and it’ll begin to feel a lot like Christmas. We’ve got one more week to go before our two-week break from the grind of life. I’ll have that first week to myself and maybe if the weather continues to be warm, I’ll go for a few more walks before winter finally arrives and forces me to wrap myself in a blanket by the fire with a book and a glass of wine. Which is always something I’ll say ‘yes’ to.