Vision Board

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No secrets here.

Long have I resisted creating a vision board. I dislike visual clutter and I quickly get bored with images in my living space. But this past month, the idea of using one to promote healing has come up in several divergent places: conversation, a magazine article, a demonstration project I was walking by. Okay, okay. I get the hint.

I gathered images and words from several different publications over several weeks. I just cut out stuff that I liked, without giving too much thought to the meaning behind the images. But when I was putting the board together, I noticed some interesting things. I had cut out a couple of photos of butterflies (just because they are pretty, I thought) but they have long been a symbol of transformation. Hmmm.

In a month devoted to pink and red hearts, I cut out a page of pure white ones. Hmmm.

There is a lot of nature in those pictures, and I love being outside, but I spend a lot of time indoors. Hmmm.

I propped the thing up in the closet on top of the dresser, so it is not cluttering up my space.

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Travel and Healing

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I put this bad boy together while my granddaughter was at daycare.

This past week has involved a lot of travel. I went to Ohio to help take care of my granddaughter for a couple days, while her parents were busy with work commitments. What fun we had! And I assembled the dresser for her brother who is due in May. It is an IKEA product, and I have to say, they do an excellent job with the instructions.

I arrived home Thursday evening. Early Friday morning I drove up to Springfield for some routine medical appointments and to visit with friends. What is healing about all that you ask?

The conversations.

I have alluded to a generalized fatigue that was troubling me before I retired, that has improved, but persisted until now. Once I retired, it was no longer a physical problem, but years of not enough rest had contributed to the malaise I felt. Now, it was unprocessed grief. My own and decades of other people’s grief that I encountered in my hospice work.

Here is how the healing occurred: The first healing conversation occurred with my son. I was explaining to him my experience of processing these old emotions and he listened deeply and gave thoughtful feedback. There is no better medicine than being understood and loved.

On my way to Springfield, I could access the joy that has been hovering in the background for decades. I shared this with a dear friend who witnessed the glow of the emotion.

Then I had lunch with another dear friend, who has been witness to the struggles of my marriages and child rearing. We discussed the process of embracing our wounds in the pursuit of wholeness.

And then before I left town, I had appetizers with two friends that I had worked with for decades in hospice. They reminded me of the excellent care we gave for so many years, and the people who were helped, and the honor of work we shared.

On the drive back, I reflected on the strength and purpose of my life so far, the quality of the love I have been privileged to know and I kinda glowed all the way home.

I think you could have picked me up on satellite.

Whereby I Discover Craigslist: Free

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Ruby Allen Carter was my grandmother.

As our home gets lighter and lighter, mom is willing to part with more stuff. Although, truth be told, the spiders had a lot to do with her being willing to let go.

As a life-long environmentalist, I really want to re-home and repurpose anything that can be used and keep it out of the landfill. The difficulty has been in finding the right person for the trash (er, treasure.) Then I discovered Craigslist: Free. I had used a website called Freecycle when I lived in Springfield with good results. What follows are some photos of some of the stuff I have gotten rid of via Craigslist: Free.

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pile of wood scraps

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second pile of wood scraps

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a couple of 2″ x 12″ boards

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pile of bricks (there were two of them this size)

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2 sets of wooden shutters

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stack of 30 1″ x 12″ pine boards

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four wooden columns

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2 copper pots

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three ceramic pots

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a basketball hoop

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2 hollow core doors. I saved one, because I am going to make a table out of it.

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Dentil molding

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And this bag of colored pencils, leftover from my children’s elementary school days. I bought new, fancy ones for my drawing class.

 

Finding My New Posse

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It is a crooked path.

Moving to a new state at the same time that I retired and took on cleaning out mom’s extra stuff has had one main downside: I left all my friends in another state and did not have the usual introduction services (family, work, school) that we use to settle in.

I have been fairly proactive to find my new peeps since getting here. But it is a weird and winding path. I signed up for community education classes, to meet folks with similar interests. I got scolded by the yoga teacher for talking before class. I signed up for a couple dating services, as years ago, I had met several excellent men that became friends instead of boyfriends through a dating site. [Hey! And bonus if the dating site leads to an actual boyfriend!]

The first couple of coffee dates were just weirdness personified. A third led to some cool conversation/walks and an invitation to Kirtan, where his band has played for years. Kirtan is not for me, it is a call and response Hindu event, where some attendees are inspired to ecstatic dance. The last time I was able to muster ecstatic dance in my body, I was about five years old. The Kirtan was held at a Yoga center, where I felt very much at home. And then on the same side of the street, next to the yoga center is an arts collective….of mostly women…who mostly do fabric arts! SCORE! And there is the poster, I saw in the window of a local shop about a Mindful Book Club. Signed up for that…

And the last time I took stuff to the food pantry, I checked out their volunteer requirements. And then I went home and spent 4 hours cleaning out the garage.

I haven’t found my posse yet…but I won’t stop searching until I do.

Winter Session Classes

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This is a pose I can only aspire to.

Last fall, I took a weekly yoga class and I loved it. But it was only once a week. So I signed up for an online class that I could access daily. I loved that too. Then, I found a real life yoga studio where I can take daily classes. Currently, I do an online class and a real life class most days which is about 1.5 to 2 hours of yoga per day.

I’m taking a six session botanical colored pencil drawing class and a one session kitchen composting class, which promises that at the end of the class, I will have a working, indoors, compost bin. The compost class excites me, as my garbage has been going in the landfill since I sold my house and moved away from my compost bin and I want to turn that around.

My final class is a seminar in California (I’ll be using those free miles my brother gave me) on incorporating the shadow self into the personality. I booked an extra day at my lodgings so I can have a day-long hike in a redwood forest.

What are you all learning these days?

Sewing Projects

I have been hinting that I have completed a few sewing projects and here is the evidence. I took a class in the Alabama Chanin style of embroidery and fell in love. Here is what I fell in love with:

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Alabama Chanin Style embroidery. This is what the real couture stuff looks like

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This is what I now aspire to.

And this is what I completed at the end of my first class.

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My only defense is that I was told to bring 2 T-shirts. I did not know what I was going to do with them.

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Detail.

Next project:

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Tunic dress. Ignore the white lines, which are sunlight through the shutters.

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I cut off the too-high neckline and did a blanket stitch at the new selvage. This material was a nightmarish man-made polyester-nylon-spandex thing and did not respond well to hand-sewing. I will not work with this fabric again. (She pounds her fist on the top of the fabric bin.)

And the final project for this post is:

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Basic man’s grey sweatshirt. Neck scooped out and sleeves shortened.

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Then lots of stars and suns of various sizes are embroidered on the sweatshirt.

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This is just a start. I plan to add many more of the tiny 5 point stars to the collar, and maybe the sleeves.

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And here we can see the loose drape of the garment, skimming the love-handles of the model.

Because what is the point of sewing your own clothes, if you can’t hide your figure flaws?

No News Is Good News

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Me and son Mike out for a walk.

It has been happily uneventful here at mom’s homestead the past two weeks. No new spider/mice/snake infestations. No new trips to the emergency department. I have been driving mom to doctors appointments and bridge games. I have been faithfully putting out the trash and recycle bins, filled as full as the waste-haulers will allow. AND I convinced mom to pay for yard-waste pick up, so now I fill a bin each week with branches or leaves or other compostable yard matter in addition to the recycle and trash. Each week, there is a bit more space and beauty and I may get busy and photograph it for you all.

Son Mike is here on winter break from school and yesterday we got a break in the temperature and went for a walk in a local state park.

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At the head of the trail.

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There wasn’t a lot of green, but this hill of moss was eye-catching.

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I love how the light hits those trees in the distance.

And apropos of nothing– I went to a small gathering of friends on New Years Eve, and was asked by a woman who I had just met, “Where did you go to high school?” This question is a local custom, deemed acceptable, and the answer is used to slot you into the categories of social situation (climber/old money/poor/blue-collar, etc.)/ethnicity/wealth. The question annoyed me for the following reasons: 1) this is the best way you have of relating to humans? 2) um, that was 40 years ago. Ask me what I have been doing since then. 3) I did not have any choice about where I went to high school. If I had, I would have gone to a different school. 4) Really?

Taking A Break

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Miami University baseball field

Shortly before Christmas, I took a break from working on the house and travelled to Oxford, Ohio where my granddaughter (and her parents) live. We had a great visit. My son, who is the new recruiting and hitting coach for Miami University gave me a personal tour of the facilities, which are impressive.

Both of my granddaughter’s parents were busy with work and moving into their new house, so I offered to put together the doll house she was to receive for Christmas.

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It took three hours, but I only stripped one screw!

After four fun-filled days I returned home, planning a quiet week leading to a sedate Christmas celebration. The week ended with far more excitement than planned.

Mom had a big stroke, which would have been life-threatening without the miracle of modern medicine. I was home when it started, made my second 911 call of the year (the first was when I cut the gas line on my trailer,) and mom got swift treatment after arriving to the medical center. She spent three days in the ICU, but recovered so fast and so well that she was discharged the next day and was able to go to my brother’s home for Christmas celebrations! She continues to recover at home, doing her exercises and getting stronger each day. She plans on passing the driving evaluation in about three weeks.

Her continued recovery is the best Christmas present, ever!

Giving Thanks and Review of the Situation

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When I moved to mom’s in August, I knew I was exhausted. I had been working long hours for decades and raising four kids mostly by myself. I had been using coffee and wine to ignore my body’s fatigue. I needed a rest and planned to get it. I figured about a week of sleeping in and I would be ready to go.

I turned off my alarm and let the sunshine wake me naturally before I drank any coffee. I greatly reduced the amount of wine I was drinking. I took naps in the afternoon, if I was tired. I didn’t make a lot of plans, I mostly let the work of the day present itself. Except when I was refinishing the floor of my room, I haven’t worked more than six hours on any given day. Ten to fourteen hour days were the norm before. It has been four months and I’m still not completely rested. But I’m a lot better.

This Thanksgiving, mom and I hosted the gathering with lots of help from other family members. We had seven extra overnight guests for two nights, the big meal on Thursday and an even larger brunch for extended family on Friday. This included my two living aunts, ages 85 and 89.

Yesterday I spent 5.5 hours raking leaves in the front yard, which gave me lots of time to reflect on what I am grateful for. Here’s a few of the things I thought of:

~ yesterday was a beautiful fall day, perfect for raking leaves.

~ I’m glad I got to see my aunts, one of whom I have not seen for 20 years.

~ I am extremely fortunate to have this time with my mother. She and I are having a blast together, and I know that I will treasure these moments when she is gone.

~ it was so good to have my kids here, even briefly.

~I am fortunate to have this time where I do not have to work for money and can allow my body to rest.

As I get more rested, and the house is getting put in order, I am thinking about what I wish to do with my time moving forward. My classes give me hints and clues. My weekly yoga class has stirred the desire and commitment for a daily yoga practice. This is a great feedback loop for someone who is just learning to listen to her body. My sewing classes have rekindled a desire to make a clothing. I love the idea of reusing fabric. I plan on starting with the fabric I have found in the house. I will post some of my projects here as I go.

I can feel a great shifting in myself. I was a nurse and single mother for over thirty years. I am moving from those roles into a way of being that feels lighter and more fluid. I’m not exactly sure what the next period will be, but I will continue to make space for the silence and rest to speak to me until it is clearer.

Thanks for listening.

Hard Drive Crash

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Just part of our extensive collection of empty boxes being stored….for when we might need them.

Last Sunday, I had the electronic equivalent of a house fire. My hard drive crashed and I was unable to retrieve any data before smashing the hard drive and taking the mess to the hazardous waste center.

I had saved my novel on an external hard drive and also the cloud. Many of my photos were also saved to the cloud. So the crash mostly meant that I no longer have on my “to do” list the tedious chore of deleting unwanted files. Poof. They are gone. It did mean that I had to spend a couple of hours uploading software to the new laptop. Probably a net gain in time, though.

The exterminator has returned and our spider body count is low enough that I may safely return to decluttering the basement.

Because mom and I have the luxury of time and are being as frugal about the decluttering as possible, the limit of what can be disposed of in a single week is filling the recycle bin and the trash bin to capacity. I’m not sure the gallon/liter capacity, but each bin is chest high and we are not allowed to put in more than 50# per week. Sometimes the volume is the limit, sometimes the weight is the limit. But each week those puppies go to the curb, they are full.

Due to insects and spiders liking the glue in cardboard boxes, mom has allowed me to breakdown and recycle all boxes not currently in use, including those in the photo above.