Cozy Sunday

Bill is away on an Irish music adventure somewhere out in the Caribbean even though he’s somewhat lame and has a wheel chair to help him get around the ship he’s on. I admire and encourage his hutzpah at age 78. He just keeps going like the Ever Ready bunny despite his aching knee. I do miss him and worry about him a bit, but we, like most couples, need some time to ourselves once in a while. And he’s having a wonderful time learning new tunes on his tin whistle.

I, on the otherhand, am here at home, enjoying some solitude. This is my first stay in our new home by myself with companions, Max, and Lilliput. I know Bill wants a turn at being here by himself so I’m going to have to hunt up an adventure for myself for sometime in the near future. But my first goal is to simply slow down and take life a bit easier than I have been.

Sunday was an especially cozy day for me. It started to snow at around 8 AM, then turned to sleet and freezing rain, then to plain old rain. What snow coated the ground melted away quickly and it seemed the daylong precipitation may have put a dent into our moderate drought situation.

Inside all day, except for a quick walk to the mailbox to get yesterday’s mail, it was warm and dry. I managed to relax for the first time in weeks … no place to go, nothing to do, even though I had a healthy to-do list. I wanted to simply be. I did manage to make a pot of bone broth in my Insta Pot, emptied the trash, did my physical therapy exercises, and a bit of yoga. I spent the rest of the time sipping hot tea, reading, journaling, watching the ice building up on the trees, and the goldfinches at the birdfeeder being chased away every now and then by one of the big fat squirrels that think they own the place. I guess they do. They were here before I came. I don’t mind an occassional visit and I do like to share what I have with whoever needs to fill their stomaches as I sit, warm and dry, on the other side of the glass.

Though we haven’t had a snowday so far this winter, maybe one will come along before spring makes its appearance. But with a bouquet of daffodils in the kitchen, it’s easy to imagine a freshening of green as warmer temperatures arrive. I don’t care what that old groundhog has to say, I’ve noticed the dried out grass is showing a hint of green this week.

Books, Books, And More Books

This past September and October I had to come face to face with my addiction to books. There would be little space for book shelves in our new home. What to do?

I was getting good at clearing out the kitchen of uneccessary gadgets. Did I need four or five table cloths, Bill’s mother’s fancy china and gorgeous chrystal glasses that we never used because they were so fragile? I cut my wardrobe back radically. All the gardening tools except for a trowel and pruning shears had to find homes along with all the flower pots, bags of potting soil, and fertilizer. I had no problem selling, donating, and gifting those things away. The purging was going well and everytime I decided to discard something, I felt lighter.

But I still had the books to do. I started with the large collection of poetry books that took up at least 7 of a 10 shelf bookcase which I would also have to find a new home for. There sat Robert Frost, Mary Oliver, Jane Kenyon, Gregory Orr and a host of other well known and not so well known poets.

Nonfiction books, covering a vast range of subjects from nature, memoir, self-help, Buddhism, along with favorites like Terry Tempest Williams and Annie Dillard, took up more space than anything else in additional bookcases. Since I did’t read much fiction, there weren’t many novels.

Being an artist I had a healthy collection of art books that had served as inspiration for most of my life. Included were instruction books on beading, especially French Beaded Flowers, and books filled with gorgeous photos of real flowers that I thought I would one day figure out how to mimic with beads.

Were there cookbooks, you ask? How could I live without the seventy-five or so texts that had fed us since we got married back in 1965. Get rid of Julia Child? And what about all the new Paleo cookbooks that I’ve been using for the last couple of years?

Somehow I did find a way to part with many of them. I gave them to family, friends, and donated the rest to the local library for their annual spring book sale. I learned a lot about my reading habits and found loads of books I had bought and never read. There were books that I hadn’t liked but kept anyway. I started by getting rid of those and continued to purge until the last minute. Those that were left are in the built-in book cases in the living room, bookcases in my studio and bedrooms.

Keeping a library on my kindle doesn’t help. I’ve never liked reading books on a “device.” I love to hold real books in my hands, turn real paper pages, and feel the weight of the writings I hold in my hand.

I’ve made a few rules for myself to help me through my recovery: I give myself time most day to rest and read after lunch for an hour or so. I’ll not push through a book that isn’t my cup of tea. If it’s boring or too painful to read, I won’t bother. When I buy a new book, I ask myself if it’s one I’ll need to keep. It’s okay if I need to own a book so I can mark it up, make notes in the margins, or underline passages that speak to me. I won’t buy new books unless I get rid of one for each one I bring home. Once I finish reading the books I haven’t read yet, I’ll hopefully start going to the library. Will I ever  completely recover from this addiction of mine?  I don’t know.  But I figure this one is better than addictions to booze and drugs.

I’ve read the following books in the last month or so.  They are all good reads and are now on their way to the library book sale:  Finding Magic, A Spiritual Memoir, by Sally Quinn, The Winter People, a ghost story, by Jennifer McMahon, Pachinko, a novel by National Book Award Finalist, Min Jin Lee, and The Keeper of Lost Things, a whimsical novel by Ruth Hogan.

I’m currently working my way through Sister Joan Chittister’s, The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully. I can’t get enough of this marvelous book that is guiding me each day through the hard work of aging. This one will stay on the shelf next to my bed forever.

Are you addicted to books?

Mindlessness versus Mindfulness

On my windowsill! Did you know that spring is only 37 days away?

Last week my acupuncturist, Jill, prescribed an interesting regimen for me. I’ve been seeing her for just about 20 years and she knows me well. I first went to her when I was suffering from hot flashes and other nasty things associated with menopause. I found that being stuck with needles to be extremely helpful. Bill, my husband, even noticed the difference.

Since then I’ve been seeing her every six weeks or so for maintenance and I can always tell the difference in how I feel walking into her office and then walking out. But when we began moving in earnest, I cancelled my October appointment and haven’t been back to see her until last week. Again the magic of the needles made a difference in how I was feeling and we set another date for two weeks from now. Until I’m sailing smoothly through my days once again, I’ll be seeing her every other week.

As most of you who have moved about a lot know, selling an old residence and buying a new one, along with the purging and packing, is not for the faint of heart. And though we’re doing well with our settling in, there is still stuff I need to do, like going through all my old files and redoing the whole system to make it simpler and easier. I will be hiring an expert organizer to help me get it moving but all of this is a slow process and it can be very frustrating especially when I can’t find what I want in the file cabinets. Or when I’m anxious to start a new project but am afraid to add complications to an already overloaded plate.

I’ve struggled with that since we moved in November and now it seems I can’t wait any longer to jump head-first into something new. Jill, noticing my exhaustion and my struggle with increasing pain in my shoulders, neck, and wrist, sometimes knows better than I do what I need. She suggested that I take time to rest and recover from pulling up stakes before I charge back into action. Others have been telling me the same thing, saying that they breathlessly watched me organize, and get the move under way in such a short period of time.

Do I listen? Some accuse me of selective hearing.

It wasn’t until the past week or two that I’ve noticed just how tired I am. But there are all those wonderful, creative ideas that are beginning to stream through my head. Though I’ve promised myself to take one-step-at-a-time, there is no stopping a passionate, overwhelmed artist who’s been seperated from her muse for far too long. So I stumble about not knowing where to begin. Do I get the files organized first and get the bills paid on time or take some time to rest before I just plow ahead into my next creative exploration?

Jill’s words are often as magical as the needles she sticks me with. She suggested that having a mind full of “want tos and have tos” is not serving me well at the moment.  She said, “You need to to take naps and stop thinking so hard. Throw mindfulness out the window for a while and be a bit mindless. Rest. Take time to just be.”

As I sit here writing this blog post, I realize what good advice that is. In all my doing, I’ve forgotten how to simply be in the world. I don’t need to be take part in the rat race. Hopefully I won’t be so tired tomorrow and my racing mind will slow its pace and relax.

Have you ever thought of allowing yourself to be mindless?

Reclaiming My Creativity

 

Sunflower

Wow! This is my third post here in three weeks. It’s been a long time since I’ve written regularly and I hope it continues. I’m still not completely settled in, but I’m taking time to indulge myself by writing here, so perhaps I’m getting close.

I’m one of those people who needs a daily dose of creative time. That hasn’t been happening since July or possibly even before that. In the midst of the crush of moving in just over three months, I’ve been strung out, grumpy beyond words, and unable to just take time to call my own and do something that nourishes my soul. Getting back into a creative routine has been a slow process. As of yesterday I’ve been here for two months and now I’m ready to roll.

I started with getting back to cooking, which I’ve always loved doing. It’s a way of creating goodness for those who live in my home and is always appreciated. Add that to being somewhat of a health nut, I’ve found that creating delicious food that won’t kill my brain and body, part of my creative routine. But in the last few years and especially during the moving process I didn’t enjoy the time I needed in the kitchen to do that. One of the things about aging is that time doesn’t work the way it used to. It takes longer to do many of my daily tasks, and I’m often very hungry before I’m ready to cook.

From mid-September until early December, we ate our dinners out or brought in take out. Fortunately, here in C’ville we have a number of good restaurants and one in particular with a generous menu of gluten-free and Paleo meals. But there are a couple of problems with that including the cost. Secondly, most restaurants have great dessert menus. Since we rarely have sweets in our house, especially icecream which is my biggest addiction, we’ve naturally been enjoying what the menus have to offer us, like flourless chocolate torte and the like. Addiction is addiction, and trying to slap my hand as I’m enjoying such treats only makes my cravings worse. The result? You guessed it. Clothes don’t quite fit they way they used to. But now that’s beginning to change.

Thirdly, I’m completely tired of eating out. No longer do my favorite restaurants pull me in so I can take a night off from hovering over the stove. But that’s okay, I’ve been enjoying planning and cooking up some fabulous meals and enjoying the process. This past week I put together a wonderful Broccoli Cheese soup, Shrimp Scampi, and a to die for casserole of chicken, cheese, and locally made organic corn tortillas and all the flavors needed to make tasty enchiladas. Of course lovely salads of fresh greens, avacado, orange or grapefruit segments, and sliced almonds top off these meals. And the only dessert in our house is a piece of fruit or an occassional piece of dark chocolate. Yum!

And now the writing is coming. Next I hope I will be getting back to work on my visual journals and maybe even a bit of beading. I just discovered an old beading buddy is one of my neighbors. We’re both into creating gorgeous French Beaded Flowers and I’m looking forward to spending time with her.

What do you do when your creative routine has been interupted for a lengthy period of time? Do you get right back into it or does it take time to stop pissing and moaning about it and get back to work?

Making Way For Change

Lilli is famous for going out and then coming right back in.

It’s been said that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. I’ll not deal with the death and taxes part here, though there are many CPAs out there trying to figure out the new tax laws. Taxes may not go away, but they do change!

Change is always happening and I’m especially feeling it as I continue on my path to where ever I’m going. I can’t say where that is but for the first time ever and without regret, I’m just letting it happen.

I’ve done enough worrying, whining, and it adds to that pile of anxiety that seems to follow me around.

If I just go with the flow sometimes astonishing things happen that take me in new directions that fill me with happiness.  I’ve alway been good at ”what might happen?” and have spent too much time stressed and working out plans, B, C, and D, while the world keeps spinning and I miss out on exciting opportunities.  So when I begin imaging the worst possible scenarios I tell myself to just focus on now, and deal with what’s on my plate right this minute. If it’s a piece of dark chocolate, I simply hold it on my tongue and let it melt slowly, enjoying the rush of sweet and bitter flavor that most often tells me to have another piece. If it’s a bowl of something I’m not fond of, like lima beans, I simply chew, have a sip of water to help wash them down and think about the vitamins they are providing for me.

We just discovered that Bill’s diagnosed bursitis is not bursitis at all. His “good” knee started bothering him a week or so before Christmas and when he woke up one morning and discovered he couldn’t put any weight on it, we went to the ER, where the knee was xrayed. After reading the image the ER doctor came back in and said,  “it’s good news. It’s only bursitis and nothing to worry about once you rest it for a while.”

But once home, it continued to be painful and got worse. Last week he saw an orthopedist who xrayed it again, taking pictures from several different angles. What he found was arthritis and though it is not as bad as it was in his other knee that resulted in a knee replacement several years ago, it could get worse over time. For now, Bill had a cortisone shot, will be getting a knee brace ordered especially for him, and will start doing some physical therapy next week.

Yesterday I went to the same orthopedist about my very painful shoulders and a wrist problem that is also making me extremely uncomfortable. I’ve alway had shoulder problems but usually a visit to the chiropractor or a good massage helped it go away.  But now those things don’t help any more. It turns out I have bursitis and tendonitis in both shoulders and carpal tunnel and tendonitis in my wrist.  Whoa!  Is this what is called aging?

Hellebores, a sure sign that spring is on its way.

We don’t know what will happen in the days to come. Will Bill need another knee replacement which can make for a long recovery or will he be fine? Will he be able to travel during this new year without pain?

Will my problems go away after going to physical therapy twice a week for eight weeks?  Will I be able to continue to make art and write?

We’ve decided not to worry about it. We plan on relishing the good days, the return of the light, and the approaching spring. And we are gratefull for our new cozy home with its sturdy roof over our heads, good books to read, and nourishing food to fill our bellies. I hear about those folks in Southern California now experiencing mud slides after those terrible fires………………………………..

And I think it could always be much worse!