Three “R”s and the Friday Effect

06-02 Relaxing
Relaxation… taking in the moment is good

I haven’t always been grateful for my life and I still struggle with being thankful for a life that isn’t what I wanted, or imagined it would be.  The good news is, I’m finding when I stop “doing” and focus on “being”, I can catch some much-needed moments of peace.

It’s easy for me to get caught up in my “to do” list and finding worth in the number of items I cross off it.  After going to the grocery store and putting the groceries away (crossed that off my list!) I decided to take a few minutes and rest on my front porch.  The sun had already set, but darkness hadn’t taken over yet.  The wind chimes hanging over the edge of the deck made beautiful music, which helped me relax in the moment.

My gaze went past my feet propped on the railing and through the thick tree branches.  Instead of dwelling on the things that bring me down, my thoughts went to what is good.  In those minutes alone- taking in the breeze, listening to wind chimes, as the light gave way to darkness, I became conscious of the thought that I was thankful to have a house with a deck, with beautiful trees in front of me.  I looked to my left and saw my continuing project.

06-02 Rocks
Rocks… this pile will line drainage paths – before monsoon rains come, I hope!

And then I thought how thankful I was to have the money to pay for the rocks.  I don’t have the money to pay someone to move it for me, but that’s okay.  At least I am able to do it myself.  Look at that, another item for my mental after-sunset “thankful” list!

It was after 8pm when I went inside.  I debated about whether to fix something for dinner.  Since it’s just me and I didn’t have the kids, I decided to be cat-like in my choices…

06-02 Roxy
Roxy… snoozing on the counter (like she’s not supposed to) because no one was looking

… since no one was looking, I had an ice cream sandwich for dinner.  I don’t eat those often, so it sure was yummy (and I can be thankful that I can work it off tomorrow!)  Not even the prospect of getting outside by 6am to make the rock pile smaller dampened my mood.

Maybe it’s the Friday Effect (no work for 2 days) or maybe I’m finally seeing a shaft of  light at the end of my long, dark tunnel. Either way,  I’ll take it 🙂

Have a beautiful weekend!

Merry Mischief, I Mean, Christmas

I love Christmas.  The strings of colorful lights… the tree decked out with 20 years of keepsake ornaments… the food (especially chocolate!)  What I don’t love is the commercialized nature of Christmas.  I don’t “buy” into the need for the latest expensive gadget or the need to rack up a credit card balance that I will be paying on through Independence Day (oh, the irony!)

I decided to have some fun (my 14-year-old said that couldn’t be done!) and share my cats-view of Christmas through more photos of some of my kitties.  So, if you don’t like cats… or Christmas… or humor, then this isn’t the post for you 🙂

This time of year, just a few shopping days til Christmas, stores perpetuate the need to shop by opening their doors 24-hours a day.  I imagine at this point, if you’re still convinced that the joy of Christmas can be put on a credit card, things might get a little “strained.” <groan>

12-22-lily
Lesson learned… don’t wash strainer and leave on counter to dry… Lily thought it was the perfect lounge spot

Sometimes we’re too focused on the next “to-do” that we don’t realize the “purr-fect” gift is right under our noses… perhaps our time is more valuable than anything we can buy?

12-22-lucy
Lucy thinks, “If I don’t see you… you don’t see me!”

I’m guilty of looking for some sense of control in a world that feels so out of control, but it gets to the point I give up, and accept that all the pieces may  not come together as I planned.

12-22-lucy_lily
I had “help” assembling a dual monitor stand for my work space

Now, by give up, I don’t mean that I cease to care about anything.  It’s more about weighing the best use of my time.  So, instead of joining the masses spending money, I stay in and organize something, write something,  or go for a hike.  I could also choose to enjoy the kitties,  or load the dishwasher… or in this case, both!

12-22-lucy-dishwasher
What is the proper way to load a cat?! I have to be sneaky when I load dishes because Lucy is fascinated by the dishwasher. If only I could say the same for my kids….

Whatever your views of the holiday season, I think we can all agree that when it gets too much, it’s nice to take a break… to stay in bed late and seek out our inner cat.

12-22-lizzy
I like the way Lizzy thinks… sleep, eat, sleep some more and repeat!

Women’s Work

Early Saturday morning, I arrived to pick up my sons from an overnight scout “lock in”.  The assistant scout master exited the doors as I started up the steps.

“They’ll be a bit longer.  They’re doing women’s work,” he said.

“Oh, so they’re inside fixing stuff?” I responded.

“No, they’re cleaning.”

I bit my tongue and continued walking, but his comment irked me.   Mostly because I don’t believe he was joking.  When we first moved to town and joined the group three years ago, he dropped an armful of towels and washcloths in front of me and made a comment about me doing women’s work while I waited.

The thing is, even when I was married, I either took care of things myself or paid someone to do it.  My ex wasn’t at all interested in that kind of thing, and I can’t see paying someone to do something I can do myself.  I know my limitations, though.  I hired a professional to trim a 30-foot tall tree with limbs hanging over my roof.  I paid someone to clean out all of the gutters.  I have a plumber in my address book; I don’t do plumbing!

Here are some of my more recent projects:

12-20-deck-re-stain
I paid a handyman to replace a rotted board, then I scrubbed and re-painted the deck on the house sold last December
12-20-cabinet-removal
When my fridge died after 4th of July, I had to remove a cabinet because the new fridge was several inches taller
12-20-ceiling-texture-paint
I didn’t do the wiring, but I did sand, re-texture and paint where the old rectangular fluorescent lights had left marks on the ceiling
12-20-coach-lights
I removed all the brass outside light fixtures and replaced them with with black ones. I also repainted the house numbers and changed out the doorbell to match
12-20-heavy-duty-shelves
Over the weekend, I put together a heavy duty shelving unit for my son to store his rocks
12-20-wall-art
I had canvas prints of some of my photos made and added some branches from my parents’ tree to make an empty wall more interesting
12-20-pillows
My best friend wanted a pillow made out of fabric she had on hand. We had extra poly fill, so we made her hubby a football pillow… just because we could!

If the assistant scout master possessed a kernel of intelligence, I would’ve explained that women are capable of much more than folding towels and sweeping floors. To me, “women’s work” is whatever needs to be done, whether it requires a screwdriver, drill, sewing machine or paint.

And I’m willing to bet my “skills” are much more varied than Mr. Macho Man 🙂

Happiness Is…

Being on the bottom of a purring cat pile…

12-15-cat-pile
Pinned down by 4 cats…. everything else can wait!

But the thing about happiness is it’s easily marred by external factors, as illustrated by this text exchange with my friend.

Me: <sending above picture> Check this out, all 4 cats on me

Friend:  I’m jealous

Me: Don’t be… I have to pee and my back hurts 🙂

And just like that, a cozy situation becomes uncomfortable (literally!)

This is why I prefer to seek joy.  Joy exists deep inside and can’t be stolen through discomfort or struggle.

Now, for a bit of Lucy.

Lucy is my more adventurous kitten (sometimes she’s lovingly referred to as “trouble”).  When I introduced an activity cat feeder designed to slow their feeding down, my two older cats gave me a you-can’t-be-serious look and sauntered (waddled) away.  Lucy, on the other hand, jumped right in.  When sticking her head in the tunnels didn’t work, she finally figured out to use her paw and was rewarded with first dibs on the kibble.

12-15lucy2
Lucy cleaning up… sort of

One thing I love about Lucy is she plays hard and takes investigation to an all new (sometimes frustrating) level, but when it’s time to rest, she knows how to do it right.  And for me, that is pure joy 🙂

12-15-lucy1
This makes working difficult, but perhaps I could take a short break…

 

 

Lights… Cats… Bags – My Joy This Week

My follow up therapy appointment is tomorrow.  I think I have done a decent job of staying focused on finding myself through things that bring me joy.  This blog is about me finding myself every day and although I do contemplate this daily, writing every day just isn’t going to happen.

Of course not writing might be a good thing.  I’ve been quite amused at the number of “follows” I’ve gotten on my old blog since I stopped writing and then posted I wasn’t writing there anymore.  The message seems to be “if I don’t talk, they will listen.

But I’m not one to please others.

This makes me think of something the pastor said on Sunday that has stuck in my mind.  The message pertained to divorce and also remarriage after divorce, but at one point he said we can justify our actions all we want to, but the question we should ask ourselves is if what we are doing pleases us, or pleases God.  I need to ask myself that more often.  (Although I’m fairly certain my consumption of dark chocolate is pleasing to God, so I should definitely continue that 🙂 )

I think I’ve used enough words today, so I’m going to wrap this up with photos of things that brought me joy this week.

12-8-lights
I put up Christmas lights after Thanksgiving… the joyful part is talking to the neighbors who smile and comment on the lights
12-8-cats
I smiled at my ten-year-old’s excitement over having both kittens curled up on his lap. His laughter gets me every time.
12-8-bags
For a couple years, my ten-year-old has wanted to do something for the homeless. We’re finally doing it! I bought some new fleecy throws and supplies and, together, we packed bags.  They are in my trunk ready for God to lead me. (I’m shy so I’m a bit nervous about it). Oh, and all cats/kittens are accounted for… I checked!

 

Lucy, Lucy, Lucy

I started this blog to document my journey and to keep the search for who I am from slipping onto the proverbial back burner.  Honestly though, it’s not always about me.  Some days (weeks) it’s about what others need from me.  One son needs me to get him from band practice or take him to the store.  My other son needs me to listen to him talk about cars, watch a TV show with him, and watch his archery tournament.  My job needs me to get stuff done in a timely manner, with few errors and to meet deadlines.  Sometimes, “me” just has to wait.

When I can’t focus on rediscovering my passions (my reasons to wake up each day), it’s nice to have a diversion in the form of cats.  The two older cats of the house are well-behaved (notice I didn’t say “well-trained” because I’m not convinced a cat can be trained, and if they can, I doubt I have the skills to pull it off.)

Of the two kittens I brought home a month ago, I’ve seen that one is by far more curious; she is the one leading her sibling into mischief.  Lucy is the adventurous kitty’s name, as given by the Humane Society.  I’m not inclined to change it, because it makes me smile.  She makes me think of Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy, how she always seemed to get herself into trouble of some kind, in such funny ways.

My kitten, Lucy, makes me wish I could say “Lucy, you have some ‘splainin to do” in a thick Cuban accent.  Here is some of what Lucy has been up to over the last two days.  (Oh, she is a busy, busy kitty!)

12-2-lucy-as-a-bow
Lucy as Christmas package decoration
12-2-lucy-as-dinner
Lucy as… dinner??
12-2-lucy-vs-humidifier
Lucy vs. The Humidifier

In the days that follow, I would like to be a little more like Lucy.  I want to find a new place to relax and enjoy the view.  I want to be curious about the world around me and see everyday things with new eyes.

And I want to do it all anyway- even if someone tells me “no!” in a loud voice and sprays me with water.

Progress Isn’t Perfection

On Halloween, I adopted 2 kittens from the Humane Society. It wasn’t an impulsive action; I’ve half-joked about becoming a crazy cat lady since my divorce.  I already have a pretty good handle on the crazy part, so I just needed a few more cats.

11-27-kittens
2 adorable litter mates in their new home

Well, I thought the kittens were adorable, but my sons’ seven-year-old cats were not so impressed.  Though technically not my cats, these litter mates sleep in my bed (most of the time) and have trained me fairly well.

11-27-cats
These “old” girls rule the house

My therapy assignment to find things that make me happy is never far from my mind.  I have a problem with the word “happy” though.  Happy is like a mirage; you think you have it only to find out you don’t.  Happy results from circumstances, which are ever-changing.  Over the last week, several occurrences have affirmed what brings me lasting joy.  The fact I can recall them easily is a sign I’m on the right track.

  1. I got to surprise someone I hardly knew with an anonymous gift and I still smile when I think of her reaction.
  2. I had Thanksgiving dinner at my house… my ex, his girlfriend, her son and my 2 sons were the guests.  Calling a truce on the past animosity concerning his mother made extending this olive branch easier.  Of course I still don’t trust him, but at least this opens the door to forgiveness so I can finally be free.
  3. I encountered a woman seated behind me crying in church.  In the past, I would’ve pretended not to notice because it’s awkward, but I surprised myself and asked if she was okay.  The woman said no.  I moved to a seat beside her and asked if she wanted to talk but she didn’t.  I’ve prayed about her often today, and I hope maybe by acknowledging her she didn’t feel so alone.

I notice the things that stay with me most are instances where I can make a difference for others.  I have always wanted to be a positive person and lift others up, but honestly, I’ve been stuck in my own pain for so long, I forgot how to do that.  I think that’s why my last blog died:  I couldn’t say anything nice (positive) so I said nothing at all.  I think to help me, I need to help others.

11-27-progress
“Old” kitty snoozing with kitten nearby… they aren’t best friends yet, but it’s progress

Like the evolution of the relationship between the 4 cats in my house, I am a work in progress.  Progress isn’t perfection… however, it’s a move in the right direction and I’ll take it 🙂