November?

Hi Everyone!

I am getting this week’s post done pretty much on time. Well, it’s 10:30 pm and I can’t get to sleep yet so I might as well be productive.  I also have plans to go hiking tomorrow with my son and need to clear some things off my To Do list so I can hike guilt free. 

Is anyone else wondering where the month of November went? How can next week be Thanksgiving?? I feel like I have been inside a tornado for months and things are whirling past me. I see them go by, but barely. 

This week has been another one of THOSE weeks where every day includes hours of travel and a stack of paperwork. I think we are almost done and then something else needs attention. I cannot begin to tell you how much I hate moving furniture right now, and boxes. I have temporarily cleared our guest room and main living area of boxes so that my son has room to function while he is here, but this weekend includes more furniture moving and even Thanksgiving day is likely to find us traveling Beverly Hillbilly style to and fro. Aaarrggghh! My goal for 2018 is TO NOT MOVE FURNITURE ANYWHERE!

On Monday I decided to at least give myself a short amount of time to enjoy a lovely Fall day and hiked around the farm and the neighbors’ farms. Tomorrow I am going to take time to enjoy some time with my son before he leaves for Hawaii the first of December. It will be almost a year before I get to see him again and dang it, I WILL NOT move anything tomorrow. Yes, I’m sounding a little stressed and frustrated again. This too shall pass.


I did manage to start a drawing and I’m still squeezing in a little knitting and quilt piecing to maintain my sanity. Next week begins the holiday cooking and decorating. I AM NOT READY! Can I just skip Christmas this year? For many reasons I just don’t want to do Christmas in 2017. 

I apologize for being such a downer this week. I got a little taste of normal life and then the abnormal moved back in this week with more furniture, boxes and people who don’t do their jobs. I will be taking a break next week. Both of my kids will be in for Thanksgiving and since they will not be home for Christmas I am going to try to get in as much quality and quantity time with them as I can. I have not seen my daughter since May and am not sure I remember what she looks like.

For those of you in the USA have a lovely Thanksgiving and for all of you everywhere I hope you have MUCH to be thankful for. I will be back in a couple of weeks and hopefully in better spirits. 

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Hello 2017!

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to 2017. Did you send 2016 out with a bang, or like me, with a whimper?  Sorry for the delay getting this posted on time.  I wrote it way back on Tuesday, but things came up…like a big snow storm…that required attention to little details like getting deliveries to customers before the roads were slick, fighting the crowds in the grocery store before we ran out of food at our house. img_3800

I did, however, start out my 2017 pretty darn well. Historically, I spend my New Year’s Day in my pj’s, curled up on my sofa, under a blanket with a good book.  Admittedly, this is not a bad way to start a new year, but this year it is not in line with my pursuit of Hygge. I am trying my darnedest to foster a better relationship with Old Man Winter.  You will find throughout this blog, my whining and complaining about winter, the cold, the grayness of it all.

In the U.S., our state parks have First Day Hikes lead by Forest Service rangers. I now live very near Hanging Rock State Park that includes a couple of nice mountains and good hiking.   Yes indeedy, yours truly, managed to drag herself out of her nice, warm, cozy house and out into the chilly morning air of January 1, 2017 to go hiking 4.7 miles with approximately 20 people she did not know.   Uphill, no less!

It honestly took extreme will power to overcome my aversion to cold AND my introvert personality. Guess what! It was awesome!!   Perfect not-too-cold weather, considering the number of layers of clothes I was wearing.  The views were magnificent even with some cloud cover.  The company was friendly and the rangers had lots of information and a good sense of humor.

Any Andy Griffith Show fans out there?  Notice the mountain in the distance with the big rock formation on the top?  That, my friends, is Pilot Mountain.  Below it is the town of the same name except in the show it is Mt. Pilot.  Yep, there really is a Mt. Pilot and I have known a few folks, who move to North Carolina from other parts of the country/world, call the town by its fictional name.  There is also a thriving little tourist business there thanks to the show.

So, yes, I felt like I rocked January 1st this year and gave myself a big ‘ole pat on the back.  The hike was over by noon and I quickly got home, changed back into my pj’s, settled in on the sofa with the dogs and a good book and all was well with the world.  For the record, D. had to work and probably was not convinced that his winter hating wife would actually go hiking until he saw photographic evidence.  

This year my goal is to add meat to the pitiful bones of have existed on this blog for a while now as I got through some big life changes. More creating, more thinking, more exploring.  MORE than what I have been giving you.  Thank you for hanging in here with me if you have been here a while.  Welcome if you are just landing here and wondering what goes on.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about a book I found and promised to write about it. I’m going to try and not make this too long or you will never come back.  So here is my book story…

From the time I read my first Dick and Jane book (for younger readers, these were our first grade reading books) I have been a voracious reader.   For years and years I normally had three to five books going at once and would panic if I started getting low.   Up until my mid-twenties I generally read novels and then somewhere after that started reading primarily non-fiction.  I noticed a phenomenon happening.  It seemed like I often had just the book I needed to work through a work or life problem virtually fall into my hands.  It could be fiction or non-fiction.

Now I know that I am not the only one to have this experience. Yours may be a podcast, radio show or a person who shows up. God, the universe, spirit, whatever your word for the mysteries of life, shows up just when you need it.  If this has not happened to you, then you need to slow down a little and pay attention.  You are not being ignored.  You are doing the ignoring of what is around you.

This happened so often to me that I got in the habit of wandering around the library saying a little prayer of “God, which one do I need to read today.” Not every trip to the library was life changing, but it made the search much more interesting.

I had strangely gotten away from reading books all the time for some reason (uh, ipad maybe), but I stopped into the local library to find reading material while I am stuck at our shop without wifi. Now, I’m not going to tell you the name of the book that I picked up.  In all likelihood it wouldn’t do a thing for you because you aren’t dealing with the same stuff I am.  But, I picked up a book by an author I had read before.  I thought it was about organizing and downsizing into a smaller home.  Yeah, we still have lots to minimize yet at our house.

What I discovered it was about was clearing out your mental and emotional stuff! Nah, I wouldn’t need that.  Cue the belly laughs from off stage here.

For a couple of months I had been getting crankier and shorter tempered by the day and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why.   Life is good!  What the heck?  As I started reading the book it started talking about how to change old patterns.  Old emotional patterns set up when life held different circumstances and people.  Old coping skills that are no longer working.  Well smack me in the head!  It began to dawn on me that I was trying to use old coping skills for entirely new situations.  I no longer needed the defenses and walls that served me well a decade ago.  I no longer had to pretend to be tough and completely in control like I did when I was a single parent with teenagers.  Thank you Lord!

We get so stuck in our thinking and reactions. The brain gray matter makes these patterned grooves that seem permanent, but they aren’t.  We just have to pay attention to what we are thinking and doing and dissect it down to the roots.  It’s not necessarily easy, but it makes all the difference.  I’m pretty sure D. would tell you that I have been much easier to live with the past couple of weeks.  I haven’t completely broken old habits and patterns, but when I feel a strong reaction coming on I take the time to figure out why instead of just blowing a gasket.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.

So now you have my book story. I would love to hear yours.  Seriously, I think they are some of the coolest human stories when solutions present themselves in mysterious ways.

Have an awesome week!!

Photo credits…all taken by yours truly.

Happy New Year!

I am writing this in the wee hours of December 30 and hope to finish it before the end of the day.  My whole week has been this way. Yesterday almost the entire day was spent on the road making deliveries to clients and running errands though I did get lunch in with my son before he left town to finish his Senior year and some visiting with long time friends who are going through a rough patch.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and holiday season. Ours was good. Lots of cooking, visiting and dogs. Lots of dogs.

This is the week I usually do my new year planning. Luckily, I started early this year because there has not been much time this week for reflection and planning. Here is the list I’m starting out with as 2017 rolls in.

1) Review business expenses. The past two years my business expenses have increased rather drastically and I now need to see where changes need to be made. There is going to have to be a price increase for my clients unfortunately, but to limit that, I think some expenses can be cut or reduced. Not a fun project but necessary if I am going to stay in business.

2) Regular exercise. Ha, this one is on my list every year. I stop and start all year long.

3) Way(s) to improve income. Somewhat related to #1. As D. is about to retire we are looking at EVERYTHING and know that 2017 is going to be an adjustment, but until the the first retirement check comes in we won’t know exactly how much of one. We need flexibility at this point in life. I’m working on some ideas that I will share as they take shape.

4) Focus. This year has been all about adjusting to my new life. Included in that adjustment has been lots of artistic experimenting. Things are finally beginning to gel (I hope) and a path is appearing.  Keep checking in this coming year to see if I’m making progress.

I left you hanging on my last post about a book I was reading. Sorry, but I am going to leave you hanging for one or possibly two more weeks. It is going to take more time and thought than I have right now and I am considering an out of the box New Year’s day event for me and will want to let you know about it if I pull it off.

We are winding down at D.’s shop as deer season comes to an end. We are both very tired from all the extra hours of work and the brain just isn’t firing as well as I would like. A few much needed naps are required I think to get more quality thoughts out of my head.

new-year-ian-schneider

I wish you a wonderful New Year. Thank you for visiting and reading the wanderings in my head. This year has been a bad case of “winging it” and now I hope to improve what I put here for you in 2017.  I would love to hear your plans and goals for this new year.  Let’s see how we do and what fun we have for the next 365 days!

Photo credit

Shifting

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well in your world. We are only 8 days from Christmas and my week is centered on wrapping, cleaning, cooking, etc. while juggling the normal chores.

D. and I celebrated six months of married life this week. Six months ago I made huge life changes when I married him. The married part is great. Adjusting to the changes in everything else is beginning to be a struggle I think. Maybe it’s just winter. If you have read any of my previous posts you know I suffer through winter. I’m beginning to suspect there is more to it than just winter aversion though.

I have moved many times now and generally look at a move as a new adventure. I did the same this time. I jumped into country living with both feet. What I am discovering now is a need to adjust to a completely different stage of life not just a change in location. Quite frankly, I’m finding it difficult.

“What the heck is she talking about?” you ask. Well, first, my entire career and most of my life has been time oriented. Deadlines are the second most important part of my work, creativity being first.  Then I spent years and years hauling kids to sports practice, youth church meetings, chorus and choir practice, tournaments near and far. In between all that I squeezed in the practical chores of laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, ect. always with a eye on the clock to get everything done on time. In the middle of all this I was usually also working a second job.  Downtime was a rare, rare thing and when I got it, sleep was involved.

Suddenly I find myself living in an area where I’m not sure they use clocks! There are no deadlines. Estimated time at best. A fifteen to thirty minute visit seems to be the norm before getting down to business.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it has caused me some very frustrating moments in my time oriented brain. Time is so ingrained in my system that I physically cannot sit still when my internal alarm starts blaring.

Have you ever thought about your conditioned responses? Time is just one of my issues. Having been on my own as a single parent for thirteen years, I evidently developed some coping mechanisms that are no longer serving me very well. I’m used to making decisions without having to consult anyone else. I’m used to doing things my way and my way only. I’m used to things getting done on my schedule. All these I’m having to change if I want to stay married!  Massive, sudden changes are tough!

If all this wouldn’t push a girl over the edge, we have a LONG list of remodeling and farm projects in various stages going on at once.  My strong preference is to take on one project and complete it then start the next one.  D. is more flexible than I am in that regard, and due to time and/or money constraints and season/weather our projects switch back and forth. So virtually nothing has been finished in the six months I have been here except the floors getting tiled. If I can hold it together until mid-February we will have a dishwasher again! I AM finishing the baseboards in the guest room and the painting of the bathroom in January!

Internal, long held habits and responses are extremely difficult to work through and change. I happened upon a book (will discuss next week) that actually made me realize what was going on.  I was clueless about why I suddenly turned very cranky and I’m sure, difficult to live with. Now I am trying my best to be aware of what is going on, my response to it and why. Hopefully I can start chipping away at these habits and replace them with more appropriate ones for my new life.  I could hardly stand myself so I’m sure D. will be happy for me to have an attitude adjustment.

I am planning on getting in a post next week, but kids start coming home this weekend, deer season is still going strong around here and there is still a list of things to do before Christmas.

Just in case a post doesn’t happen.  Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it and Happy Holidays to all.

 

Photo credit

Holiday Haze

Hi Everyone,

There are no deep and thoughtful thoughts today.  I am surrounded by Christmas chaos and a to do list depressingly long.   Winter has set in and my normally cheerful disposition sinks along with the temperatures.

Cold and gloomy, but trying to put on a festive face.

D. and I have been working long hours at his business.  I will have to admit to looking forward to the end of deer season in another month.  Next year he will be retired and hopefully the late night hours will not be so often.

I am pretty sure Amazon loves me this year and the UPS guy hates me.  There have been deliveries every day this week because I have neither the time or inclination to fight my way through stores for Christmas presents.  So far I have not had to step foot inside a single store and only plan for one quick stop to get gift cards this weekend.  That should be the end of the shopping!

I did get this guy finished this week. He doesn’t look terribly festive either.

Decorations have been pretty minimal too.  I got greenery up outside Thanksgiving weekend as well as the Christmas tree.  We have an artificial tree and over the years my son, along with my daughter, were chief tree builders.  I had to do it this year and realized just what a frustrating job it is.

Biggest accomplishment so far has been getting the Christmas tree up and sort of decorated.

Cooking is not happening at the moment either.  No time with all the hours at the shop.  Meals are generally soup and crackers.  Christmas goodies probably are not going to happen at all.  I hope to get our weekly pizza made tonight.  That may be this week’s highlight for food.

Next year I think I will put a note in my calendar to get the Christmas shopping done in July and cook plenty of meals to freeze well before the beginning of deer season.  Right now I feel like a squirrel who can’t find her nuts the day before a blizzard!

I have included a few of this week’s photos to break up this downer of a post.  Hopefully by next week’s post I will have wrangled in the chaos and will be in more cheerful spirits.

We are very thankful for finally get rain after two long months of drought. This was the sky after the rain left. Beautiful rain and beautiful sky.

We did wake up this morning, look out the kitchen window and find Bob the Houdini Horse staring in at us, wanting his breakfast.  Wish I had managed a photo of that!  Leave it to the crazy horse to give us a much needed laugh for the day.

Wishing you a calm, peaceful, organized week!

Hygge

I hope all of you had a wonderful week!  We had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend with most of our families. A few missing kids & grandkids that had other obligations that we should be seeing for Christmas though. I got some quality time with my son while he was home. There are plans in the works for after his graduation that could take him far, far away for a couple of years so I am trying to squeeze in as much time as possible with him.

The impending graduation and possible time abroad for my son set off a new wave of empty nest issues for me last week. Coupled with the onset of winter, the past week or so has been an emotional roller coaster.  I suffer each winter from a medium to serious degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  In other words, I endure winter and not happily. Those who live with me, endure me and probably not happily.

During my recent wanderings on Pinterest I ran across this… hygge

It seems that this is how the Danish people get through their long winters without succumbing to cabin fever. You can do your own research on the subject (and there are a few naysayers online), but I like the idea of sanctuary, community, coziness, WARMTH, celebrating and well-being (without resorting to pills).

Since I very recently had a weeping spell over my lost honeybees, I also need to work on letting go of the whole mothering thing now.  Not that I will stop being Mom to my kids, but let go of the need to mother everybody and everything that breathes.  The bees are capable of working out their survival with minimal help from me the same way my kids are now too.  It’s time I look after myself for a change and of course my husband (who does a good job of looking after me when I don’t look after myself very well).

So, I am lighting candles, putting warm, fluffy blankets everywhere, trying to get back to a regular yoga practice, dragging out the long thermal underwear to use for walks in the woods and stocking up on good novels for the winter.  About February, when the worst of the SAD sets in, I will try to remember to give you an update.

**As I am writing this, I just had a text conversation with my son, who suffers from insomnia like I have all my life.  Of course I am giving him suggestions and trying to fix it for him.  Twenty-two years of mothering is a hard habit to break.  Are there 12 step programs for empty nesters???

 

Photo credits:  Hygge photo credit unknown.  Pug photo by Matthew Henry.

 

 

Deer skulls and chicken stews

Yesterday I realized we are only a week and a half from our annual family chicken stew.  Until recently I thought everyone, at least everyone in the South, had chicken stews.  After a recent news article, I discovered that chicken stews are very regional events.  Without involving recipes (a point of contention at times), a chicken stew is held in the Fall.  Chicken is usually cooked in a large cast iron pot (another point of contention at times) into a stew, obviously.  It requires a large gathering of people bringing large quantities of food to accompany the chicken stew.  Weather permitting, it is best held outside and involves a bonfire or fire in a fire pit. Alcohol is often involved, though we tend to skip that part here.

So, I am now in panic mode to get all the cleaning, organizing and yard work done before next weekend.  I am a firm believer that a party should be held at your home at least once a year.  Not that I am big entertaining sort of person, but for the top to bottom cleaning that gets done. After this coming week my Fall cleaning will be done and I can go into Winter content until Spring. I will be exhausted, but content.

This week I sat down and took on a drawing project that I have been wanting to do for a couple of years now.  I have also been procrastinating for a couple of years because I didn’t think I could pull it off.

I found a deer skull in the woods. Not an unusual event here.  We find all kinds of animal skeletons laying around.  Maybe the skull is kind of creepy, but it had so many interesting nooks and cracks and shadows begging to be drawn. Finally I forced myself to focus and see if I could still draw the way I could way back in high school.  Here is the finished piece.

deer-skull-drawing

I have been doing a little happy dance.  This may be my best drawing ever.  It took constant self discipline to slow down and not rush the process. I have had to rush most of the work I have done in the past 25 years.  Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines breathe down my neck constantly.  You expect that with graphic design, but even with commissioned artwork most of the time there is a deadline.  The client has come up with the idea, usually, almost TOO close to the time they need it. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.

It was an absolute pleasure to know I could take as long as I needed to do this drawing.  I did not want to put it away and come back to it though.  That is how things find themselves in the permanent Unfinished Projects file.  I have a draw full of those already.  Estimated time for this was probably around ten hours over three days. While it made me very happy, that much focus has worn me out. There will be at least a week and a half break before I take on another big project. Ha, just in time to do that chicken stew cleaning!

Have a wonderful week.  If by chance, you don’t see a post from me next week, you will know that I am scrubbing, dusting, washing or organizing something.

 

Christmas came early

Window

I’m sitting here watching it rain buckets, but the town’s “Blinkie” lights and the Moravian stars are keeping my mood festive.  I am not a big celebrator of holidays.  That probably comes from the whole commercialization aspect that has taken hold of our celebrations.  I hate shopping and dislike the obligatory gift giving.  I would much rather buy a gift for someone at a random moment that would actually be special than having to figure out what they might want or need at the end of every year.  And who doesn’t like an unexpected gift? That is much more fun for the giver and the getter than the Christmas gift gluttony.

Having been the Grinch/Scrooge many times over the years I finally decided I needed an attitude adjustment.  I quit beating myself up for not having a budget for extravagant gifts.  I discovered Etsy and Amazon (no affiliates here folks) thus ending the need to fight through crowds.  I simplified the decorations to what I really liked and took little time to put up.  I stopped trying to cook ridiculous amounts of goodies that none of us needed.  Instead I perfected my Chex party mix recipe and live off of it for one month, once a year.  I quit trying to win Most Beautiful Package of the Year with my gift wrapping. Now I don’t even put on bows. They just get squished.  Most importantly, I quit looking for Christmas “cheer”.  The expectation that all was wonderful and bright about the season.  Ok that sounds pretty Grinchy but let’s be real.  It’s stressful not cheerful most of the holiday season.

All these changes had the effect I wanted.  I’m rarely stressed now at the holidays. Instead, I get to appreciate what Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year should be about in my opinion.  If you thrive off the hustle and bustle, go for it and celebrate on!  I’m a low-key, introvert, borderline hermit.

Yesterday my Christmas came early. Not the gift giving, but the Christmas spirit.  We celebrated the life of my uncle Chester who passed on Saturday.  I know that sounds strange, but bear with me a few more minutes.  First, Chester was 88 years old.  Most of those 88 years he was the life of every party and a prankster extraordinaire. For about the past year he had been confined to life with a feeding tube. I don’t think any of us wanted him to continue on that way for much longer.

His funeral was more laughter filled than tear filled as just a drop of his many antics were shared. The Christmas spirit part for me was the time I got to spend with family and old friends.  I rarely get to spend more than a couple of hours Christmas day with my aunt, uncles, cousins frantically trying to catch up on each other’s lives.  Many have stopped coming to the family gathering as their own families have grown and new traditions are made.

The funeral was held at my home church in the community where I grew up.  Thanks to Facebook I manage to keep up with some people there but so many others I don’t.  Though very brief, the hugs and conversations were wonderful.  I even discovered a couple of them read this blog.  Thank you, my highly patient and tolerant friends and cousins! I left the funeral with those all too rare warm and fuzzy feelings that come from tears, laughter and love.  I think uncle Chester was enjoying it immensely too.

Have a wonderful hug filled week!