Be yourself

Hi Everyone!

How is February treating you? We are half way through what I consider the worst month of the year. Honestly it feels like this month is 60 days long. Looking at our projected two week forecast here, I truly believe we are looking at a high likelihood of mildew. Two straight weeks of mildish temperatures and more RAIN. We already have endless mud. Our horses and donkey keep coming in lame where they are slipping and sliding in the mucky pasture. The chickens need boots to keep from miring up to their feathers and I don’t dare let my car run off the edge of our driveway or it will be June before we can retrieve it from the bottomless mud pit. Yeah, fun stuff. 

So to survive February I decided that I absolutely positively have to give myself some daily art time to avoid a major outbreak of cabin fever. At the moment it seems to be working. There is still half of February to go unfortunately. 

I have been giving myself one hour most mornings (life still throws a curve ball at least once a week) and I’m pleased with the progress. The one hour doesn’t cause me guilt for what I’m not getting done around the house and keeps resentment at bay for not getting time for myself. Any evening art time is gravy! 

There has been one breakthrough. Ok, maybe more of just acceptance. Do you have curly hair that you have tried to straighten all your life? Or straight hair you have spent hours curling? Maybe you are a great runner but always wanted to play baseball instead.  I accepted my stick straight, baby fine hair that can’t hold a style longer than my ears, a long time ago. What I have fought against for five ridiculous decades is that I’m not good with paint. Passable maybe, but painting is stressful not relaxing. What I am good at, even as far back as my first crayons, is dry mediums. Give me a pencil and I’m in my element. Colored pencils even better because I have color to play with. Some of us are too hard headed to see what is in front of us (finger pointing directly at my hard head). Finally I am embracing it. I’m not throwing out my acrylics, water colors or gouche paints (though I have considered it many, many times). They will instead, be under paintings. Supporting actors now. 

For Christmas I got a small set of pastel pencils and have excavated my box of unused soft pastels, conte crayons and charcoal. I am pushing myself to learn new things though. Pencil drawings come so easily most of the time that I often get bored so I need some challenges. Soft pastels definitely have a big learning curve. Right now I’m mixing several things together. In about a minute I’m into the flow because I have to concentrate so hard. Finally a form of mediation that works for me. Sitting still, trying to ignore my thoughts only adds anxiety to my life! Here is what I have done or am working on (the building) in the past week. The door is an 8×10 inch piece, but the little girl and building are 5×7 inches. I’m trying to save supplies when I know the experimental stage results in trashed pieces. 


My advice, for what’s it worth, is quit trying to be something you are not. I have recently heard it called “your fantasy self” and that rings true. Don’t waste decades like yours truly struggling to do something that doesn’t suit you. Go with what you are good at naturally. Life is wayyyy too short!! Love your curls. Run your race not someone else’s. 

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February?

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? My week has been as erratic as the weather here in North Carolina. It has been a week filled with ups and downs, surprises (not necessarily of the good kind), laughter, tears, stress, sadness, dread, hopefulness. You name it, I’ve had it this week. It has matched the February weather here spot on. Yesterday was 77 degrees, a week ago we were busting ice so the animals had water. Today it was 63 at 6 am and will be falling into the 20’s tonight. I’m hoping the weather levels out as well as life. I’m not sure I can get through another week like this one.

In case you are dealing with life in all its crazy forms as well, I just want to remind you to find some time each day to give yourself a physical and mental break. My tag line on this blog is “adventures in creative living.” Sometimes you have to get creative to just hold on to the roller coaster. You probably don’t have hours, but even 15 minutes can do a world of good.

I recently started giving myself 1 hour a day, morning or evening, to do regular artwork. There is so much on my plate right now that I found there was some resentment starting to bubble up. That is not good for me or those who have to live with me. I managed four of the five days this work week. I finished my commission and delivered it yesterday! This is a birthday present to the Mother of these three gentlemen. She had a similar portrait done of them when they were young and they are giving her this one of them as grown men. 


I have started a new drawing and as usual keep my knitting with me when I’m in a waiting situation. Several of my evenings this week have found me mentally, physically and emotionally drained. Too tired to read, knit or draw, I escaped to YouTube and watched art tutorials or American Pickers. Whatever it takes to give yourself a break. Well, there are some things it’s better to avoid when you are stressed so choose wisely. 

Find something you enjoy and preferably something that gets you into a creative flow and takes your mind off life for awhile. Music, games, sewing, gardening, playing with your goofy dog. Something to make time stand still and let your heart and mind rest and recover. 

I have about six boxes of stuff to clean out today. I was about 108 items short of my January goal. No lack of stuff just a lack of time. This week as I jump into another round of the minimalist challenge I need to clean out 46 items so far for February. Right now (before breaking into three unopened boxes) I have exactly 100 items either being donated or trashed. I found an entire box of socks that belonged to my son and D. had a big box in our closet. I estimate that neither of them will need new socks for the next 10 years! Sock hoarders!

Wishing you a peaceful week.

Konmari and a big shovel 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are off to a great start this week. Once again I apologize for going MIA last week. It turned out much more hectic and stressful than planned. Every day except one was spent running to appointments. Some days had several. I also visited a dear friend who is in the hospital and she is in pretty bad shape right now. That alone took a toll on me. It’s so hard to see someone you love suffering and not be able to do anything to help. 

So this week I’m trying to catch up on the pile of stuff that should have been done last week. I somehow got a good start on the commissioned drawing. Well, actually that happened in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t a good sleep week either so I have decided that on those nights I’m going to quit laying there trying to solve the world’s problems and quietly do something productive. Luckily drawing is a pretty quiet activity! Here is a sneak peek. 


If you have been reading this crazy blog, you know that I am in a major clean out phase. Unless you have had your head in the sand or like us, don’t watch TV, you have heard about Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. I know about her because I read her first book several years ago, am reading her second book currently, and it seems like everything I read or watch on YouTube is talking about her right now. Don’t quote me, but I think I saw last week where donations to charities is up by something insane like 336% thank to Ms. Kondo. Last week I helped contribute to that by hauling a stuffed carload of clothes, household items, baby clothes (My babies are 23 and almost 26 years old. It’s past time, don’t ‘cha think! ), books, etc. to a local charity shop.  The hubby has gotten on board and started cleaning out the old tobacco barn which had become the storage unit for broken and unneeded stuff. He took a trailer load of old equipment and I’m afraid to guess what else to the landfill. The two barns are his domain. I have a hands off policy on those. 

I have been doing the 30 day minimalism challenge this month (google it for details, I’m on a time crunch today) so here are my numbers for last week. Decluttered and donated 74 items and trashed 60 items for a total of 133 items. That’s 73 items short of what I needed to do but I still have time this week to meet my 498 items for the month goal. Total items for the month so far is 376!  

If you are a new reader here is the backstory: 1) D. and I got married in 2016 combining 30+ years each of “stuff” that will not fit into his 1300 square foot home thus adding a storage unit to our monthly bills  2) In 2017 his younger sister passed away and her young daughter came to live with us and our already stuffed house became even more crowded. His sister was also the keeper of four generations worth of family stuff and after other family members got what they wanted we were still left with TWO more storage units of stuff to sort through while PAYING FOR. 3) Now we have decided to sell our farm, move back to our hometown and build a slightly larger house. 4) We are NOT GOING TO MOVE ALL THIS STUFF! 

I am doing the challenge to jump start the process as quickly as possible. We will be putting the farm on the market soon and if you have sold a house you know that whole staging and storage thing is a big deal. I am a deadline person also and need the deadline to keep me on track. I appreciate the Konmari method of asking if something “sparks joy”, but frankly I just don’t have the time to be pondering the whole joy thing. I need a timer and a big shovel to get this done! Three weeks in and I still don’t yet see a difference in the house or the storage unit I am currently working on, sooooooo February will be another 30 day challenge. In all likelihood it will continue until the unit is cleared or I have reached burnout and need a new method. 

Are you Konmari-ing your house? Are you watching the show? I would love to have some compadres in this quest for breathing room. Let me know your thoughts and progress. Its lonely out here. Have an awesome week!

Everyday creative

Hi Everyone!

I hope life is treating you well. My apologies for missing last week. My husband had a close friend pass last week so my schedule had to be rearranged so I could go with him to the funeral. I also helped host a baby shower for my daughter over the weekend and every minute was full of preparations. It was a hectic week. After everyone was safely home on Saturday, I didn’t mind having an ice storm too much. It was a good excuse to stay home and recover. Event planning seriously stresses me out. 

I thought I would show you the arrangement on Fred’s casket because not only was it unusual it was beautifully done. Fred worked with D., but was also an excellent horseman and taught D. a great deal about horses and training them. Fred had been sick for several years and unable to ride anymore so he had been selling most of his equipment including all his saddles. The family asked D. if they could borrow one of his saddles for the funeral. The photo isn’t great and doesn’t do it justice, but kudos to the florist, the arrangement was stunning. 


Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. I had no time last week to draw or paint, but I can tell you that my Mom, my sister and myself put some creativity into the shower prep! We each made at least one party dish that we had never tried before and just prayed they were good. My daughter wanted a woodland theme. Well she probably wanted a jungle theme, but I changed it to a woodland theme because jungle decor is far and few between in our part of the world and our time of year. I also wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on a one time use of decorations. My very patient husband did some creative wood cutting of a downed tree on our farm for me and I went out and cut pine and cedar branches for the greenery. Many of the serving dishes and other decor were pottery pieces my sister or I made and we used some carved wood birds that my Dad made years ago. There was my daughter’s old teddy bear standing watch at the gift table. The wood pieces and greenery were such a hit that they actually went home with one my daughter’s friends to use at her little boy’s first birthday party! They would have been firewood if they came home with me.

Miss L. and I barely got on the road home from the shower when the freezing rain began. We were lucky and did not lose power but enjoyed a cozy, lazy, Sunday. I got started on knitting a sweater with my new funky interchangeable circular knitting needles. I need a minimum of an hour to work on artwork, but knitting I can do for just a few minutes at a time or a marathon session when I’m waiting for someone at an appointment. Knitting is my therapy. I’m not good enough at it to consider it creative because I just follow someone else’s creative pattern, but it keeps my hands busy and burns off stress or the fidgets. 


This week I’m working on house selling and building paperwork, appointments for Miss L. (More knitting) and more decluttering. Week one I needed to clear out 21 items, but managed 50. Last week I needed to clear out 70 items but only got 38. This week I need to declutter 119! So the fact I’m only in a deficit of -3 so far isn’t too bad. Tomorrow I will go get another car load of boxes out of the storage unit and see if I can stay on track. 

Have a great week and work some creativity into every day!

Needing sunshine and less stuff

Hi Everyone,

Happy 2019! 

Hopefully this won’t read as delirious as I feel right now. My day started at 2:30 am today. Why? Because my son had to be at the airport (two hours away) by 5:30 am. Once again he is off to places tropical to spend the winter. At least this year he will only be one time zone difference instead of four!


Did you have exciting New Year celebrations or like us, stayed home? D. brought in the new year with a nasty cold and we have had, what feels like, endless cold rain. New Year’s Day was a rare, dry, warm day that allowed us to get outside and get some cleaning up of muddy horses, stinky chicken coop and the leftover ruins of the garden. The next day…the rain came back and is still going. Yuck. The mud.

So how are those goals and resolutions going three days into 2019? If you need some motivation, I’m going to put in a shameless plug for my daughter’s podcast, Find Reality. I just finished listening to her New Year’s Day episode and she has some good realistic tips for sticking to your goals. Tell her that her Momma sent you. 

Normally I am a resolution setter every year and I often don’t follow through on my goals either because they are just too much. This year I have one big one that I REALLY need/ have to achieve and one that isn’t too crazy. The easy one is to join one or two artist groups. Ideally one regional one and one national one. I have a national one in mind, but am open to suggestions if any of you know of some good ones. I want to up my game and start entering competitions/shows. 


I finished this drawing over the holidays and am finally pleased with the outcome of some experimentation that was depressing me for awhile. Also this week I took on another commission. I had planned to NOT do any commissions at all this year, but this one will be a good challenge. Since I have to get it finished by the end of February due to the impending arrival of my first grandbaby in March, I can’t let myself get bogged down in the overthinking that plagues me sometimes. 

The biggie goal is to clean out one of the THREE (long story and most of the stuff came to us when D.’s sister died) storage units. If you have been keeping up on here you know we are planning a new house and a move in the near future. Six years ago I sold the four bedroom house that I raised my kids in. The buyers only gave me a month to move and at that time rentals were scarce and I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything yet. Things got down to the wire and I wound up stuffing the majority of the “stuff” in storage. I AM NOT moving all that “stuff” again! 

Here’s my plan, and you get to help keep me on track…the 30 day minimalist challenge. Whatever the date is, I have to part with that many things. For example, today is January 3 so I have to find three things to donate, trash or sell. They have to leave my life! Now I know that there are days that I am not going to have time to clean out stuff. Mine is going to be more of a weekly plan. This week I am supposed to declutter 21 items. On New Year’s Eve I went to the storage unit and filled up my car with boxes. Ok, I cheated a little because I already had one box labeled Yard Sale that contained 12 items. Now I gave up yard sales when my friend Wendy moved away. A yard sale just wouldn’t be any fun without her or her husband’s boat she sold at one of our yard sales…without completely clearing it with him!

As of today, January 3, I have a box of 34 items ready to donate, three items to sell and a box of trash cleaned out. Some of the “trash” is actually a large bag of my son’s artwork from preschool to high school. No I’m not heartless. I have hung on to it for 20 YEARS. But now he was here with me and we sat down and looked through it together. We laughed about his abstract phase and I kept his little hand prints as well as took a few pictures of some pieces. The rest just had to go. 


So, what is overage from this week (37-21=16) will carry over to next week for the days I might not get anything cleaned out. By January 31 I should have cleaned out 496 items! Sounds like a lot, but trust me, there is a long, long way to go. You can get an amazing amount of stuff in a 10 x 16 storage unit. Since I write this blog each week I will report my progress here and possibly on Instagram. Before December 31, 2019 I WILL HAVE one, if not a second, storage unit cleaned out. We will be keeping one of the three to store boxes that we plan to move. In this process I am already boxing items we don’t HAVE to have right now such as decorative items, canning jars or art supplies I can’t use until I have a studio. 

Friends, this girl is pooped and it’s not even noon yet. I need to accomplish a few more things before I work in a nap. Have a great first week of 2019!

Sick and soggy

Hi Everyone,

Happy Holidays! I hope your holidays have been lovely this year. Mine was vastly better than 2017. Last year was enormously stressful and unorganized. I was probably dealing with some depression as well with neither of my kids being home for Christmas. This year I was organized, had more energy, both kids and my son-in-law were here, decorating happened, goodies got made, all without any major stress or anxiety. So, so much better! I was able to enjoy Christmas instead of dread and endure it. I did boatloads of cooking and was exhausted after it was all over, but it was the good exhaustion.

I had not planned to do a blog post this week, but I am stuck inside today on a dreary, super rainy day with a sick husband and no motivation for much more than staying warm and dry next to the wood stove. Miss L. is bored because she has zoomed through at least 5, yes FIVE, books since her Christmas vacation started and is now out of books to read. Maybe we will try to row the ark to the library tomorrow so she can survive a few more days until school starts back. 

Many times on this blog I have written about how hard winter is for me. Grey days and long, cold nights put me in a serious funk. Each year I try different ways to cheer myself up. I’m doing better so far this year. I still have the worst months of January, February and March to go though and this never ending cold rain is a definite challenge. In case you are like me, here are some things that seem to be helping: 1) candles – following the Danish hygge, I have been lighting candles in the living room and kitchen when the gloom starts getting to me. 2) hot chocolate and tea with a good book, movie or podcast to take my mind off the cold. 3) hobbies – lots of knitting and DRAWING (here is a detail of my almost finished most recent art) in my downtime. 4) fruit – citrus especially seems to help. 5) exercise – I’m trying for at least three times a week of 20-30 minutes but am not beating myself up if I don’t get all of it in. I am also not over doing. My joints now tell me when to stop. 


Basically I am trying to enjoy this season of downtime instead of wishing for the busy warm months. Oh, color. I did something that I have said for years that I was going to do. I added some purple streaks in my hair. There is added color in my wardrobe as well. Some bright shirts and my new Christmas boots that replaced my holey, boring brown ones. They look so cheerful in the muddy mess that is our yard right now. 


I do have a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce on the stove right now that uses our tomatoes from the summer’s garden. We have had too many Christmas goodies and need to get back to our healthy food. I’m convinced that is why D. is sick and my fingers hurt. If you have arthritis, give up or cut WAY back on the sugar. You will be amazed how much better you feel. I think the remaining candy is going in the freezer for later winter treats. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

That about wraps up this weird between time before a fresh new year begins. Rest up and enjoy the remainder of 2018 and I will see you in 2019!

Snow = mud

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well and for those that had the snow bomb dropped on them, I hope you have shoveled your way out. In a few hours I am going to attempt freedom with my little car.

We survived the storm pretty well. I suspect we ended with 16-18 inches of snow, but we had so much wind that it was hard to tell. Some flat areas had 11 inches but we also had drifts that were 24+ inches. Higher than the tops of my tall rubber boots. Great fun when walking the dogs. Not!  The power stayed on and we were cozy and well fed. Maybe too well fed with all the snowmaggedon goodies I had made. 


The animals were some comic relief. D. left the horses and donkey in the barn Saturday night so they would be out of the worst of the storm. Midday on Sunday he let them out so he could clean and restock their food and hay. I was watching as they came from behind the barn, trotting through the snow, tossing their manes. Then they stopped, looked around, looked at each other, then turned in unison and trotted back to the barn. 

The chickens were just as bad or worse. D. opened their house door when he let the horses out. Five hens poked their heads out the door and refused to come out…FOR THREE DAYS! They would make a quick run for water and the bread crumbs that I tried to bribe them out with, then hightail it right back in the house. The only creature around here that doesn’t seem to have an issue with snow is fat Sweetie Pie. She put on her winter blubber last month and has been happily playing in the snow. Sweetie Pie loves her life in every season. 

Sunday was the perfect snow day. With careful planning we only had to take care of the animals, then we were free to read, sleep, watch TV, eat, while staying cozy next to the wood stove. It was wonderful! Monday we knew school would be out but there were daily chores to do and D. got the truck out and went to work. I had time to start a new drawing. Tuesday, no school, chores, food is getting low. Wednesday, no school, Danny’s day off but Miss L. and I were getting cabin fever so we required a trip to the Dollar General to see other human beings. Today, Thursday, NO SCHOOL. Miss L. is running out of reading material and I’m running out of ways to keep her busy. We are getting my car out today if I have to hitch it to a horse! 


Oh yeah, all that lovely snow is slowly turning to MUD. Lots and lots of mud. Muddy horses and donkey. Muddy dog prints and boot prints on the floor. Constant mopping. Soon there will be muddy chickens. Sweetie Pie is the only one who manages to stay pristine. Rain starts tomorrow. The mud will last until about July. 


So next week begins the influx of family for Christmas. If you don’t hear from me it’s because I’m cooking and cleaning like a wild woman so I can have some quality time with my kids while they are here. Let’s just say there is a good chance I won’t be back until the first week of January 2019! 

Stay safe, warm and have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!

Fixed. Ready. Waiting.

Hi Everyone!

Hope you are well. I’m moving slow today. Last night was another one of THOSE nights where I slept fine at the beginning, was awake in the middle, fell asleep again just in time to have to get up and start my day. Ugh. I’m beginning to think my sleep may be affected by incoming weather fronts just like my sinuses. A dull sinus headache started during the sleepless hours and I know there is a big winter weather front heading our way. I should come up with some sort of weather and moon chart to track this stuff. I will add that to my next lifetime To Do list. It’s not very likely to make it on this one.

This week has been focused on that big weather event heading our way. Lots of wood gathering and splitting (D. and Miss L. handle most of that) for heat and possible power outage.  We all have been taking steps to make sure the animals have warm places and unfrozen water. I have been making sure to keep plenty of sugar water out for the bees so they can get through what’s coming. I have the hives insulated for the storm and the 11 degree night on Monday. They won’t be showing up in Better Homes & Gardens but it’s done. The chickens will either be getting a complete coop clean out or a new layer of bedding depending on my time and energy. They have finally begun to pull out of molting season and need some extra nutrition. If you have never seen chickens during molting, just imagine semi naked hens and feathers everywhere. Not a chicken’s most handsome time of the year. 


I have also been planning winter condition meals. Food that can be heated on our wood stove should the power go out. There will be a big pot of veggie soup ready and I thought some oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies would be in order as well. Personally I LOVE a good snow day (no more than two though) where, after the animals are taken care of, there isn’t much to be done except settle in with a good book, hot chocolate (I made some of that too) and cookies. Fabulous! 


Most of the Christmas shopping is done and I plan to wrap gifts this weekend. I’m starting on a certain baby shower plan as well and that is on the weekend To Do list. I have not been showing any artwork lately, but I am getting some done. There is some experimenting going on and that is an awkward stage sort of like adolescence so I’m kind of embarrassed to throw it out in the world yet. Hopefully something more refined will begin to show up soon and then I will add them back into these posts.

If you have been reading here for awhile you might remember that back in May I made it a goal to start fixing some much loved and often used items. Anyway, to finally update you on my progress, I have fixed the stone necklace in the first post, repaired a necklace that my bonus daughter brought me back from Italy that had a broken clasp, cleaned out a pile of old jewelry and replaced some buttons on several garments. After a few decades of being missing, my charm bracelet from high school reappeared. Since it went missing before I could add many charms to it, I am slowly adding some now as I find bits and pieces that hold memories for me such as one of the earrings I wore when D. and I got married. The other was lost and the survivor was just hanging out in my jewelry box. 


Two major practical fixes happened this week. The binder of Favorite Recipes finally got reorganized! Years ago I got tired of trying to remember what cookbook those favorite recipes resided in and started writing them down or cutting and pasting them into a binder. The binder has been a hot mess for several years and it was beginning to take me almost as long to find them in the binder as it did in the cookbooks. Thanks to winter (I’m trying to be positive about this season) I have a couple of unclaimed hours most evenings right now and made use of one of them to fix the binder. Eventually I plan to make a nice cover for it, but for now it is reorganized and no longer stressing me out. 


My other major fix was my fallen apart and out of control password book. Yes, I write them down. My memory cannot hold them and yes, I realize that if the book falls into the wrong hands our life will be a total mess for a long time. It’s either waste hours of my time trying to figure out passwords or put them in a book. I do not trust online password storage so don’t even mention it. I have a few hiding places that even the most determined robber would have to be very brave to enter. So, I am almost finished with categorizing the current passwords and eliminating the defunct ones. I am feeling very accomplished and organized right now! 


So yours truly has been a busy girl. Next week I will update you on our first winter snow and how we all fared.

Stay safe  and warm out there. Fix a few things then give yourself a big pat on the back!

The “perfect” Christmas 

Hi Everyone! Hope you are warm and safe and dry. If I have any readers in Alaska, I hope you are safe and suffered minimal damage up there.  This was another week where on Monday I thought to myself, ” I will finish my blog post tomorrow”, which somehow turned into Saturday!  

I have finished the Christmas decorating and been subjected to hours of non-stop Christmas music by Miss L.  As always happens right before or just after Thanksgiving, I began to feel my inner Grinch seep out. This time I decided to stop and get to the bottom of this yearly phenomenon and to POSSIBLY exorcise it once and for all. If you are lucky you won’t have to read about it here next year and maybe I can redeem myself to my kids and future grandkids. Put your seat belts on because I’m down to about 10% of my original filter and have reached the Age of Honesty. This may turn into a series before the season is over.

First, I think somewhere in my lineage there is either Scandinavian or Shaker ancestry. Our modern Christmas is overwhelming to me. Too much stuff, too many lights, people, food, traffic, etc.  I’m pretty sure I can trace that back as far as my teenage years and at heart I am a minimalist that can’t seem to shake (but by George I’m trying) literal and figurative baggage. My idea of decorations for Christmas is a green tree with white lights and white ornaments, white candles on the mantle and some greenery. Boom. Done. Simple. Elegant.  When we get the new house finished  I will probably add a Moravian star on the porch. I have been told more than once that I don’t get the Spirit of Christmas. If it involves the above excess, then I don’t want it. The only Spirit of Christmas I have any desire for is the company of friends and family and the candlelight midnight service at church. 


Second, the expectations of what Christmas “should” be have been blown so out of proportion that there is no wonder people are depressed during the holidays. My parents tell of getting AN ORANGE as their treat for Christmas. My guess is that they savored every bite of that orange. What do we really savor during the frenzy of shopping, cooking, parties, ripping open piles of gifts? How the heck are we supposed to Martha Stewart our way through the holidays with a spotless house, hundreds of cards mailed, perfect hair, gourmet home cooked goodies and angelic (though sugared up) children? It’s a myth people. Concocted by marketers who each year are expected to out tear jerk last year’s Christmas advertising. I spent my whole career in advertising, marketing and retail. That is where Grinches are born! 

Gifts. In my perfect Christmas there would be no gift giving. The financial burden and stress that this causes so many people every year is the antithesis of what Christmas should be about. Gifts should be given spontaneously during the year and only to show thoughtfulness and true affection or appreciation. I can tell you that in my years as a young parent and later as a single parent, the cost of trying to gift everyone at one time AND make them HAPPY was nothing short of a horrendous burden. I worked two jobs for years just to pay the bills and tried to squirrel away money all year long just to try to have enough to buy gifts for my kids that would come close to what their friends would get so they would not feel different THEN prayed my car didn’t break down or an appliance quit on me and I would have to spend the Christmas money. 

Pay attention to the people in your circle. Is there someone who gets sick or has a conflict with that party every year where a $25 gift AND food is expected to be brought? Do they “conveniently” miss the meeting where everyone is expected to pitch in for the bosses’ gift? Do they “forget” that they needed to bring items for underprivileged children? Guess what. They are struggling to keep THEIR kids’ names off that Christmas tree! People, give up the gift and money expectations. Do what you can and leave everyone else to do what they can…AND DONT GOSSIP ABOUT THEM. They are losing precious sleep wondering how they are going to DO Christmas AND pay the freakin’ power bill. If you can’t understand why someone isn’t out fighting Black Friday crowds or throwing lots of Christmas Spirit money in every charity  pot that gets passed around, then appreciate how blessed you are not to be counting every quarter and give some grace to those who have to. When I say “grace” I don’t mean a handout. I mean understanding. Understanding that people deal with many different challenges during the Christmas season. Depression and grief don’t leave much room for joyous shopping or giving. Caregiving can suck the lifeblood out of others. Single parents deal with financial burdens, social stigmas and loneliness during the holidays. The Christmas Spirit should be giving understanding, support and non-judgement instead of expecting Starbucks cards, extravagant gifts and constant holiday enthusiasm. 

I practice the Christian faith, the teachings of Jesus Christ, who didn’t do much of anything that was a societal norm. He was born in a dirty barn. The only ones who brought him gifts were three wealthy men. The shepherds and the Angels simply worshipped a miraculous birth and savored the moment. That was the perfect Christmas. 

Wishing you a week of miracles. 

Thankful 

Hi Everyone!

I hope my U.S. readers had a wonderful Thankgiving and that the rest of you had a lovely week. Our Thanksgiving was nice though a few were missing from the table. My uncle who normally joins us, is not in great health and did not come this year. His always funny stories were missed as well as the brother banter between him and my Dad as they compare and argue over childhood misadventures. 

We had much to be thankful for this year. My daughter and son-in-law were with his family for Thanksgiving and though they were missed we are very thankful that the miscombobulated mess with my SIL’s job got sorted out and they were able to finally close on their house right before the holiday and host his family for Thanksgiving in their new home without a cloud of worry hanging over them. 

My son got home for a brief visit and is doing well. I will report later if he will be home for Christmas or off on another travel adventure. 

On Wednesday we welcomed our former trainee, Walker, back to our herd. His owners decided that their daughter had lost interest in riding. When we took him back to them in August after training we told them we would take him back should they decide to get rid of him. Let’s just say that when he came to us last Spring he was not in good condition and we were concerned to be taking him back to them. When he left us he was at full body weight. Though not as bad this time, he will be getting some extra food to cover those ribs and hip bones again.

When Miss L. came to live with us we asked her if she would be interested in riding and eventually having a horse of her own. Of course she said yes, but having a horse comes with much work and responsibility. So she has had daily barn chores for the horses for over a year now. She has learned them and done the work without too much grumbling (I have yet to meet a middle schooler that doesn’t have some complaints) so we have now given her Walker (who has been renamed Cinder) as her own horse. Of course the responsibility level went up as she will now be in charge of cleaning his stall (D. has been taking care of stall cleaning for all the horses) and Cinder comes with a full flowing mane and tail that will require as much upkeep as her own long hair. 

Cinder is a Tennessee Walker (thus the so-lacking-in-creativity former name) with a super gentle and friendly personality. We think he will be a good fit for her and since D. trained him we know the areas where he needs extra work as she becomes more proficient in her riding skills. I’m just happy to know he is going to be taken care of now. I fell hard for his sweet nature and couldn’t stand the thought of him alone in that pasture without his friends or proper food. 


We had to take Sweetie Pie the cat to the vet yesterday. The vet thinks she just has a virus so she is confined to her crate (which seriously cuts into her gypsy lifestyle) with meds for the next week. With it as cold and nasty as it is, she is not complaining too loudly about her time in the barn with a big warm blanket. We are thankful she doesn’t seem to have anything worse than a cold. We have gotten pretty attached to her as well. 

It’s a cold, rainy/icy day here today, but the wood stove is going and there will be Christmas decorating happening to add some cheer to this super gloomy day. I hope you all have a great week. Stay warm and safe.