Category Archives: new beginnings

Feels Like Home

I finally get that Bonnie Raitt song. Because this morning I woke up feeling changed.

Last night, I attended an evening of faith discussion (the topic was actually faith and wellness), and the keynote was Krista Tippett, host and producer/creator of the program On Being. I had listened to her from time to time, but was never a regular. I think that has now changed. She gave me a lot to think about.

In this world which feels so troubled, and which has made me feel so troubled, she provides an anchor to keep my boat from drifting. An island in a sea of troubles, as it were. It’s hard to explain how her words touched me, but I was scribbling things down like mad.

When she talks about faith, it’s not like some talk about faith. It’s not trying to force things down your throat for you own good (or someone else’s). It’s not in-your-face faith. It’s quiet and earnest and kind. It’s opening your hand and seeing a lovely flower blossom inside. It’s opening a box to find the swirling universe of stars. It’s beauty. It’s hospitality. It’s peace.

It’s home.

Over the years, I church shopped. I was never sure what I was looking for, exactly. I only know I hadn’t found it. I’d been to Trinity Cathedral a few times here and there, but it was never quite the place. Until now. When Ed got recruited for the choir, I became a Sunday regular. I’d always hesitated and held back from weekly church. I felt like I didn’t really need another commitment, another pull on my time. Yet despite church now filling in a spot of my weekend, it feels more like nestling into a place that’s been kept for me. It feels like home.

I am enjoying the people, the sermons, the rite and ritual, but most of all the sense of feeling like I belong. Even as I write this, I feel like weeping at how much I finally feel like I belong somewhere, because, for whatever reason, I don’t know that I have ever felt this so strongly, at least not that I can truly remember. I’ve been at my “job” (I enjoy what I do, so I never really think of it as a job, it’s just “school”) for over 24 years, yet I’ve never truly felt that I belonged there. Yes, I have friends from school, some very close friends, but having friends and feeling a sense of belonging are different things, at least to me.

After listening to Krista’s talk, which was a revelation on many levels, I feel lighter, somehow, even as I also want to plumb more deeply into what faith means for me. I feel like I’ve gotten over a speed bump that has been preventing me from moving forward. I’ve been given something to cut away the ropes that have bound me in a place I really don’t want to be. But it’s also that I have been given the awareness that I had that something to cut those ties for a long time, but never recognized that I had the power to make those cuts.

I know this all may sound a little odd to anyone reading this, but that’s okay. Because I confess this really isn’t for you so much as it is for me. My catharsis. My rebirth. My renaissance.

Even though others, like my dear husband, may not believe in this, I believe I was brought to this moment. Krista mentioned an Irish priest and philosopher John O’Donohue. I jotted his name down because I want to listen to one of her podcasts with him. And this morning, as I work my way through a book loaned to me by a church friend, whose name do I see? John O’Donohue. And now I have something I simply must listen to and someone I must read. He died in 2008, but the website is there and in reading just a little, I am pulled away from my writing to read his.

So, I must leave you now. I’m not sure I said all that I wanted or meant to, but I think this is  a start of more thoughts to come, on faith, on myself, on my life’s journey, on healing myself, which, again, makes me feel those pinpricks behind my eyes as I think about the whole idea of becoming whole, of finally being able to find who I am, which is what I’ve been trying to do all along.

Feels like home to me.

Cheers.

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Getting Organized

Again.

So, what’s the deal with making great strides towards being organized, thinking I have it nailed, and then circling the drain, organizationally (as well as all other areas of my life, I might add)?

Had a chat with my therapist yesterday about my wondering why I can get on a good path toward self improvement, realize I’m doing well, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, I wake up one morning with no desire to do anything positive or no apparent will to stick to a plan that has been working for a month or more. Huh.

Of course, we start digging around in my head, trying to figure out why things went well and then explore those cobwebby corners of my psyche to see what we can find in there. Naturally, we have to go back in the mental time machine of my life to figure out where this all started.  Still working on that one.  Came up with a few possibilities, and hope that maybe I can ruminate on some of those.

But now it’s Tuesday, the weather outside is still relatively cold and crappy for nearly the middle of April, and I can’t help but wonder how much of this is SAD. I do have a light for just such an occasion, but I haven’t been using it. Maybe that’s part of the problem. But another part is the fact that even though the sun may be out after school, and it stays light so much longer, it doesn’t get warmer than 30-some degrees, so it doesn’t seem to help much. I’d rather bundle up and crawl into bed, which seems like all I’ve been doing lately.

However, on a more positive note, tonight is body pump class, which I love. And it feels like my tendon is recovering pretty well, so I’d like to start ramping up my steps and maybe start a little (teeny bit) of, dare I even dream it, jogging. I’d rather say running, because jogging sounds so 1970s and wimpy, but that’s how I’d better approach it in the beginning, especially until about 10 pounds come off. I don’t want to screw up any recovery I’ve had, tendon-wise. It will be much better to try this outside, but today is not the day for that. Maybe tomorrow? But tomorrow is….(drumroll, please)….

…New Couch Day! Ed and our friend Randy are going to travel to beautiful downtown Clinton to pick up our new sofa and loveseat. And I will finally have some nice, matching furniture that I didn’t have to buy at Habitat Restore. Imagine! Furniture I like that didn’t previously belong to someone else.

Oh Happy Day! Plus, it’s supposed to get into the 50s tomorrow! And Thursday! And Friday! Maybe we’re turning a corner here? Oh, wait. It’s supposed to be in the 40s on Sunday with maybe a little rain/snow combo. Well, I guess you can’t have the whole world on a platter. But I’d at least like a little sample of spring, which I guess I’m getting tomorrow.

So, I’ll take what I can get. And I’ll reflect on my last therapy session and sit down and work, once again, on getting organized and creating a plan for self-improvement. Keep your fingers crossed. I know I will.

Cheers.

Welcome back!

Hello, there! After a long hiatus that began with a week (an entire week!) of Influenza B and two looooong weeks of recovery (I heard stories but never really believed it until it happened to me – doesn’t that sound like a subtitle to a tabloid story about seeing aliens?), I’m back to the blog. Even now it’s a struggle to sit here and try to write, so I am hoping that by making myself just sit down, I can break the logjam and get started again. I was doing so well, hitting once or twice a week, there, at the start of the year, and then …. thump. That stupid wall. So, here is the news that’s fit to print.

First of all, the flu makes you really tired! After my first day back (after an initial attempt the previous Friday – it was a two-hour late start, so I figured I could swing that — I was wrong), I went to bed at 6:30 and slept the next ten hours straight. Whew! Made the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at church, but couldn’t make the Ash Wednesday service. But sleep, sleep, sleep was all I wanted for two weeks. I was so tired for those two weeks that even the time change looked easy in comparison.

Anyhow, it is now Spring Break (said with a fanfare of trumpets). And as Ed was at the Augie men’s basketball tournament on Friday, I started my break with one of my two ritutals: mopping and cleaning (the other ritual is a stop at the library to load up on books). Followed, of course, by early to bed. But that was fine because Day Two was….Canoecopia!

What is Canoecopia?, I hear you ask (yes, I do hear you, so be careful!). It is an amazing canoe and kayak expo in beautiful, wonderful Madison, Wisconsin. My best friend, Brent, went with me (which was fortuitous, as on the way home I got pretty sleepy and it helped to have someone to talk to so I would stay awake, even at 4 in the afternoon). On the way up, had to have a coffee stop in my adopted hometown of Mt. Horeb. I love Sjolind’s Chocolate House! And not just for chocolate. They have wonderful baked good and excellent coffee (and hot chocolate). Brent had a blueberry scone the size of a baby’s head, I swear! I had a melt-in-your-mouth snickerdoodle that was just the right size and oh so fluffy!  When they brought out the quiche, I figured it was good I had a co-pilot, or I would have just stayed there all day.

On to Madison! It really is helpful to have a good co-pilot! Brent is an excellent map reader and direction-giver, so no worries getting there. And once we got there, holy cow! Canoe and kayak sensory overload!

There was so much so look at and play with and people to talk to. We fit a lot into three hours of wandering. I had set a budget (yes, this is me talking) for a new pair of water shoes and a PFD (don’t say “life jacket” – that’s so yesterday). Even with the post-event stop at the liquor store and for cheese (Wisconsin = beer and cheese, duh), I still came in under budget. But that’s because Brent bought lunch. I highly recommend The Great Dane Pub & Brewing at any of it’s four Madison locations.

If you want to kayak Iowa, there were folks there to help you. Wisconsin? Of course. Illinois? Minnesota? Oregon? Yup. But Dubrovnik, Croatia? Well, yes, there, too. That was a bit of a surprise, but it did look like a lovely trip (guide, and I’ll assume interpreter, included in the package price).

I saw some beautiful paddles, colorful and lovely. However, quite out of my budget range. Honestly, I’m not sure I could justify spending over $200 on a kayak paddle, no matter how pretty it is. But I did finally settle on a pretty purple PFD. And it’s designed for women, and for the kayak, with a higher back so I don’t get pushed forward out of my seat. Safety first, girls!

My new water shoes look like real shoes and have support and laces and little suction-y cups on the bottom for grip. I could actually wear them when I leave home, that’s how good they look. And no one would know they are water shoes. Cool.

The most beautiful boats there were actually kits! In 80 hours of your spare time in your garage, you can glue together and poly your own beautiful wooden canoe or kayak. I’m including a link to the company’s website (Chesapeake Light Craft), and you can see some pictures, but it really is more beautiful in person. And hard to believe it’s a kit. If I get really super into kayaking, this is something I’d consider, just because, for how beautiful they are, it’s hard to believe I could afford it (the kit I would need is about $600, at least at the show). But I’m also afraid it would have to be the kind of thing I’d have to live on a lake to own. I’d be afraid of trying to transport it. Unless, of course, I had the new Yakima “Show Down” system!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Yakima makes the most amazing method of getting the kayak onto the car means not having to wrestle it over your head. Really. However, I will have to make sure I spend a lot more time on the water to justify spending the money for that baby, though it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be (of course, there are big discounts on things at the show – so I’d have to plan a much bigger budget for next year). But if I continue to kayak, as I get older (Golden Years? Who came up with that phrase?), it would really be a good idea because you load the boat by only having to lift it about chest high onto some cradles and then, once it’s strapped in, you lift up and push it onto a track and, voila! it’s on top of your car. Magic!

On the way home, the final Wisconsin stop: Mineral Point (my first adopted home town). We stopped at the grocery on the east side for cheese, but, alas, no Hook’s. Hook’s is my favorite cheese, and it’s made in Mineral Point. So imagine my surprise when I asked the stock boy at the grocery if they had any and he hadn’t heard of it. Really? What a bizarre turn of events. So we left and hit the “convenience store with character”- and about every kind of booze you might need, along with cheese – that sits right across the street from Hook’s. There we snagged the last two bags of cheese curds and I stocked up on several cheeses, knowing it would be a while before I got to come back.

And then, straight on to home. I think I was in  bed an hour after I got home I was so tired. Tired, but happy. And cheese rich. I drifted off to sleep, thinking of my new PFD and water shoes, and dreamed of beautiful wooden kayaks, paddling the islands off the coast of Croatia.

Cheers!

Get Happy!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to use the library more and spend less (I have a hard time saying “spend less on books” because that seems like blasphemy to me, but I do need to remember that while my husband built me a beautiful wall bookcase, it does have only so much room).  This resolution is always harder for me when my Bas Bleu catalog comes in the mail. It is full of wonderful new books, coffee mugs, cat items – in short, it’s as though someone had me in mind when they created it. It’s also like they truly understand my weaknesses and are ready to capitalize on them. Those curs!

Anyhow, I circled the books I would love to buy. Then, I wrote down the titles and looked for them at the library. While not all were there, many were, including my current favorite, The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People.

Image result for The LIttle Book of Lykke

After learning I’m about 1/5 Scandinavian, a book on happiness written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark should not be a big stretch. But that aside, it’s a really interesting and fun book to read.

My reading over breakfast this morning talked about a movement in Japan called shinrin-yoku, which translates as “forest bathing.” The idea is not just to hike around and get in the exercise, but to pay closer attention to the world that is the forest. Check out the leaves, the trees, the birds, the critters; the sights and sounds of the world around you. This concept has been studied and Japanese researchers have concluded that it boosts immunity. Researchers in the UK finds it also helps boost one’s mental immunity,  raising mood and self esteem. I could have told them that! But hooray for woodsy hikes, right?

While my friend Deb and I were going to hike over Christmas break, the sub-zero temps put an end to that idea. But, I am still going to hold her to that hike. And maybe we can practice a little shinrin-yoku! I want to generate those positive feelings, or, as the author of the book, Meik Wiking, calls them “outdoorphins” (this is my new favorite term!), and a hike with a dear friend would be just the ticket.

So, pull on your hiking boots and wrap yourself in your favorite scarf and get out into the woods, even in January. It can only do you good! Outdoorphins, people!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a full moon and owl spotting hike to sign up for with the Quad Cities Women’s Outdoor Club!

Cheers.

Happy New Year (ish – that’s the best I can give when it’s -20 outside; we won’t discuss wind chill)

Okay, boys and girls, the word of the day for January 1, 2018 is: flexibility!

Image result for gumby                                 (Anybody remember this guy? I was so flexible today, I was him!)

Yes, flexibility. Not in the yoga sense, though that is a valid guess. No, in the “it’s too cold for me to start my year outdoors with a hike so instead I will clean house like a maniac” sense

The old me would have felt guilty for skipping the hike I signed up for with the Quad Cities Women’s Outdoors Club (QCWOC). I really wanted to start the year off right with a bracing hike in the park. But looking at the thermometer on the front porch and listening to the windchill report from the National Weather Service, I knew it made more sense for me to stay indoors.

Besides, I went back to my first body pump class in about three months yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon I tried hot yoga. That means as the day went on, I made a lot of funny noises whenever I had to bend, stoop, or squat down to dust under the bed. “Oow! Ouch! Argh!” and that sort of thing. But in a good way.

So rather than mope around about how I missed the hike, I decided it was time to check some January cleaning chores off the list. Part of my organization for the year involved creating a system to make sure I clean everything more regularly. To that end, I’ve got a recipe box my mom gave me and have labelled the dividers with each month with that month’s tasks written on recipe cards. When each month rolls around and I complete the tasks on that month’s card, I am writing the date on the back. So today my ceiling fans are dusted and the dust bunnies under the beds cowered in fear until I wiped them out. A little too OCD? Not so much. I feel better having a system. I am a list-maker, and this is the ultimate list for cleaning.

And then there was the bread making. When it’s cold outside, nothing makes the kitchen feel warmer, or smell better, than baking bread. Plus I got to do that kneading, which I actually enjoy. And it helps me think (and did not involve having to bend or stretch muscles that were sore). Even though the loaves did not turn out all that well, they were still fine because, as we have already learned, I am Gumby. Flexibility, ladies and gents. That is part of what this new year is about.

Cheers!

Image result for baked bread Wish my bread had turned out like this. Instead, it looked a little wonky and not photo-worthy. Maybe next time.

Starting Over; Time for “All In”

Image result for cartoon edge of diving board

After how many months of not writing (at least not here; occasionally elsewhere), with the new year approaching (thankfully – 2017 has been a lousy year; lots of loss, lots of heartbreak), I want to start with a clean slate and a renewed spirit to make sure that I post on a regular basis. Not just to make sure I write something, although that is certainly one aspect, but to help myself stick to a plan and commitment to follow through.

I started a week or two ago with a new therapist. I’ve been struggling for a long time with lots of issues (not sure now is the time or here is the place to open up those cans of worms, so just trust me on this one), and finding the right therapist is a lot like dating: it takes a few times together to determine if there is the right chemistry and fit. So, in the interest of better mental health, leading, hopefully, to a better me, I have taken the plunge again.

We are taking a different approach this time, which I am optimistic about. Plus I have been reading a couple of books that seem to mesh well with how we are talking about things, so, again, feeling some hope.

I think Ed is on board with me a bit more this time, which is very helpful. So now I am using the remainder of my break as planning time and thinking time and reading time. Not sure just what I’ll be tackling here, but steady as she goes.

Writing has traditionally been a way for me to help address the things with which I struggle. But in the past year or two I feel I’ve let it slide. Not sure if it’s because I don’t want to tackle things or if things have tackled me to the point that I just didn’t care. But now I know I have to care and I have to write. Writing will be one of the things to save me. I know it is just one of many things, but it is going to be a big piece for me, because, even though I haven’t been doing much of it or enough of it the past two years, I consider myself a writer. Writing is who I am and who I want to be. So don’t you think it’s about time I really went all in? Me, too. So let’s go! Pick up your pens or sit at the keyboard or the typewriter (you weapon, your choice).

I am also excited because there is a new coffeeshop much closer to my neck of the woods (it’s in the Harrison Hilltop area – The Brewed Book). I am planning to check it out in the next couple of days. A bookstore and coffeeshop. Now if they have a little chocolate that would be helpful. And cats. But I won’t get greedy. According to the article I read, it’s not a fancy-ass coffeeshop, which is fine by me. Just a plain cup of joe is fine. As long as there is somewhere to sit and read or talk and books to look at, I’m good.

So, now it’s time for me to go all in. Part of my problem is that I go part way and then pull back. Therefore, the theme for 2018 is All In! Wish me luck, because I am at the top of the ladder and am now approaching the edge of the diving board.

Image result for cartoon edge of diving board

Oh, and did I mention that going to auction school is on the agenda?

 

A Walk in the Woods

Yesterday I took a hike in my favorite park, Wildcat Den near Muscatine. I cut my hiking boots on that park. I grew up with it and love it, from Fat Man’s Squeeze to the Grist Mill. Despite being a particularly beautiful day, I didn’t run into many hikers But that’s okay. I was on a thinking mission, and think I did.

Every September, there is a 5K through the park. The year of my divorce, I won first place in my age group, much to my shock and surprise. Since then, I have dreamt of doing that again. But the year of the big D I lost 20 pounds or so (starting from a lower number than where I am now, sad to say), so I think all the working out I was doing at that point had a lot to do with my win.

So, now that I have been thinking a lot about re-making myself, I am setting a goal for that race again. Not necessarily to win my age group, though that would be awesome. Rather, to at least place (which means in the top three). So, to that end, my new goals are to hike the park twice a week, following the race route. After I lose ten pounds, which I know is possible, then I will start running the route twice a week. I must set my goal and work to achieve it.

And there is the problem for me lately. I really wish, wish being the operative word, I could lose the weight I need to lose with no work. That’s the difference between a wish and reality. In reality, it’s actually hard work to lose weight. At least it is for me, and probably for anybody else who has more than five pounds to lose. So I have to stop being lazy and start making short term goals to hit the long term.

The long term? I’m not sure I want to actually write it down in public like this, but I suppose I ought to in order to make myself more accountable. My overall goal would be to lose between 40 and 50 pounds. I don’t usually tell that to people out loud, because then I hear all kinds of prattle like, “Oh, you don’t need to lose that much,” or “You don’t have that to lose,” Indeed, kind reader, I do. I know where I used to be and haven’t seen that number for a long, long time. And now, if I want to get close to that number again, I have to be strong. I have to be steady. I have to work hard every single day, with as few slips as possible. There will be slips. I know this. I would be naive to think otherwise.

But I know that I have to not just work on my body, but my brain, too. I find it hard to look in the mirror sometimes. But I especially find it hard to look at myself in photos. That is why I never take “selfies” aside from the fact that I find selfies annoying and childish. But I imagine if I got closer to “the number” I might consider it. But I have to work on being kinder to myself and liking myself, or all of this will be for naught. I can’t keep hating on myself and be able to reach my goal.

So, I will physically work hard. I will plan and organize my food. I will continue to practice meditation and yoga to help keep me mindful. And I will continue to work with my therapist so I can redirect my anger and frustrations into more productive channels.

I will re-make myself into the person I really want to become!

Huh! All of that revelation from a 50 minute walk in the woods. Thanks, Mother Nature!