Let the Scene Write Itself

I’m sitting in my back yard, my zen space, on a comfortable glider. To my right is a forsythia garden, the ground covered with small river rocks, larger river rocks lining the fence, and a bird bath. I enjoy placing beautifully colored rocks, all so different, in the center of the basin, thinking the bees and hummingbirds will use it to drink from. Instead the birds are re-discovering the joy of bathing and drinking from it! Perhaps the bees and hummingbirds use it when I’m not around?

In front of me, there’s a small pond with a burbling waterfall. It’s home to three substantial, colorful and active goldfish, and water lettuce. The pond has a glut of day lilies to the left, even after thinning out half in the early spring. These are beginning to bloom, joining the two large spiderwort plants covered in blossoms, which are to the right of the pond. There are more river rocks of varying sizes, two pieces of drift wood, as well as a crane statue. The metal crane is there to scare away real cranes, who have eaten fish from the pond in the past–it works because they’re so territorial. The remaining pond edge has a rock paver walkway, leading just past the pond. On the other side of that path is an abundantly laden Concord Grape vine, climbing a black metal gazebo, with vines and tendrils that need tucking back into itself. Lush sedum plants fill much of the space below. Soon the sedum will be covered in domes consisting of tiny pink flowers, which will turn a deep rust color by late autumn. Hooking into the arched top of the gazebo is a wind chime with long metal tubes, creating deep melodious sounds when it’s moved by a breeze. Walking away from the pond and grape arbor, to the left of the path, there’s a two-sided shepherd’s hook holding a bird feeder and a red flowered hanging plant the hummingbirds enjoy. The bird feeder hasn’t been filled for several weeks because different types of birds, like grackles, downy woodpeckers, cowbirds and sparrows, throw seeds until they find the ones they like. The seeds not eaten germinate and fill the river rocks below with plants needing to be pulled. After removing rocks for easier access, birds have been eating many of the tossed seeds. It’s almost time to resurface that area with multiple layers of landscaping cloth and refill the feeder. I’m looking forward to seeing the bird parties at the feeder again!

To watch a bumble bee, heavily laden with pollen, bumbling her way on the spiderwort blossoms, I move closer. She’s so precise, so methodical, not missing any flowers. She lingers longer at some, so I imagine that flower has nectar for her. This amuses me, because watching her, I feel like she’s happy, content, doing her job. Suddenly, I hear a quick squawk and thump of a bird as it hits the sliding glass door on the nearby sunporch. I turn so quickly I see her falling. Her partner makes several frantic peeps as he flies into the Rose of Sharon bush next to the door. Then he flies away. I run over, hoping she’s only stunned herself, as it happens sometimes. There are small snowflake stickers on the glass to deter the birds from doing this, but sometimes they just don’t notice. Her eyes are closed, and she opens her mouth silently several times before relaxing into a crack on the walkway. I grab garden gloves to pick her up, thinking maybe she’s just in shock, but there isn’t a heart beat. My tears start to fall because she’s one of the Carolina Wrens that serenade me when I sit outside. Sometimes they sit on the posts of the deck, singing into the house windows. Or they perch on the branches of the Rose of Sharon and look in the kitchen window above the sink as they sing. To me. I tell them how beautiful their songs are, and they look straight at me, while singing so beautifully.

I’m feeling bereft. For her partner, for her family, for me.

#everydayinspiration

A Story in a Single Image

#everydayinspiration Day Four: A story in a single image, but I used my own image, rather than choosing from one of the four offered. Being someone who takes pride in my photos, I wanted to use my own and it’s now the title picture.

So, the story behind this photo is going camping for the first time this year, 2021, at a new location for us, which is only a little over an hour away, and lovely. We’re going there again soon for a two night get-away.

The image is the sun setting at Beaver Dam State Park, in Illinois. I was in a grumpy mood because we’d had rain most of the time we were there. I wasn’t feeling well due to fragrance exposure from neighbors and the shower house, so that added to my grumpiness. My husband said we should just go for a drive through the park because the rain had stopped for a while. He really had to work on me to convince me to go. We headed toward the lake, and this was the sight we got to see. So glorious! It turned my entire trip around, because I’d gotten out of our 22′ camper, saw different sights, heard different sounds, smelled different smells. My soul was so happy with this view, as I stood by my husband on the dock. This reminded me that I need to change my situation if I’m not feeling it–even when I’m not feeling well. And I’m so grateful to my spouse for reminding me of this life truth.

With warm wishes for your journey,
Nance

One Word — Hope

Day 3 of #everydayinspiration is to write about one word. The word I chose is Hope.

Hope, for me, is filled with positivity, a bit of trepidation, expectations, trust, and anticipation. It’s what we’re wishing will happen to fulfill a desire, a longing, a craving. I guess it could be filled with negativity, like if you hope something bad happens, in revenge. But I choose to look at the positive side of Hope.

I hope people start being kinder to one another.

I hope the world can heal from the damage we humans have created, through mismanagement of nature, and our wastefulness from disregarding that less is more, and remembering to reduce, reuse, recycle.

I hope my chemical sensitivities lessen so that I can start living a more normal life, rather than one that’s limited due to avoidance of the chemicals (especially fragrance, formaldehyde, nickel,) to avoid being sickened and losing yet another period of my life as I recuperate. I frequently need to explain this to new people, or remind those who have forgotten, but I welcome the opportunity to educate others that we’re poisoning ourselves and the Earth with all the manmade chemicals we use. I hope I make a difference with this.

I hope more people start to welcome the natural life, using fewer chemicals, doing things in more old fashioned ways that may take longer but are better in the long run for them And the world. Example — drying your clothes on clothes racks or clotheslines (if your neighborhood and/or allergies allow clotheslines!) rather than completely drying them in the clothes dryer. I run a medium temperature dryer cycle for 2-5 minutes, to get rid of the wrinkles caused by the spin cycle, shake and hang up. It also helps soften the clothes a bit. “True” clothes hanger-uppers don’t even do that, but I find the clothes too crunchy. In the winter, it helps to humidify the air. The clothing genuinely lasts longer! You don’t use the energy, (natural gas or electricity,) needed to run the dryer. And then if you forget, running it a little longer to get rid of the set in wrinkles. There are many, many things that we can do and use to be more “natural” and healthy.

I hope I make a difference in our world, making it a better place. My dad always told my siblings and I to leave something, someplace better than you found it. It can also be someone, by being helpful, being a trustworthy person, being kind. There’s a saying that kindness costs nothing, and I don’t fully agree with this because it can cause challenges that you don’t expect, use some of your time that you hadn’t planned on sharing, or you may have to pull back your thinking process to allow the other person to just be in their moment. But being kind is a wonderful, altruistic way to exist. The Oxford Dictionary defines altruism as “the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” Some of the synonyms shared are, “unselfishness, selflessness, self-sacrifice, consideration, compassion, goodwill, decency, generosity, magnanimity, big-heartedness, benevolence, philanthropy, and humanitarianism.” Those are some incredible words to live by.

I hope people can come out of the Covid-19 pandemic stronger, more patient, finding joy in the small stuff that happens all around us.

I hope people appreciate each other and what they still have more than they did before our world shut down and changed.

I hope our world can find more peace and love, rather than anger, hostility, and contempt. In so many ways, it feels like humanity has slid backwards in its development, but I’m hopeful that enough of us are moving forward to change the progress.

And, I hope that anyone reading this is inspired to feel hope in their own lives.

With warm wishes for your journey,
Nance


Things I Like

Day 2 of #everydayinspiration — writing a list. In Day 1, I wrote that I like writing lists! Today I’m making a list about things I like:

  • Listening to the birds sing when I’m in my yard, on hikes, or camping. Different places have different bird songs, which is always exciting. Also recognizing ones I’m familiar with is wonderfully humbling.
  • I’m in my happy place when I’m in my back garden, even when weeding and trimming. The birds, windchime and small waterfall make it my sanctuary.
  • Reading a reeeally good book, the kind when you’re sad it comes to an end.
  • Eating hummus and pita at Esther’s Persian Café–best in the world. (To my knowledge.)
  • Volunteering at the Humane Society large animal rescue ranch. I care for and talk mostly with horses, but also miniature donkeys, miniature horses, pot bellied pigs, goats (mean!!!), chickens and roosters, ducks, one turkey hen. I speak to them like they’re people and they respond, to the surprise of many people around. The turkey hen likes to check on me when I’m mucking horse stalls. She gobbles to me, and when I gobble back, she answers like she’s saying, “Ok! Just checking! See you in a bit!” She withdraws and then checks on me at the next stall. Co-workers say she doesn’t do that with other people. I’m glad my dad taught me how to “talk turkey!” My sister jokes that she tried to talk me out of taking that turkey language class, but is now glad I took it because it’s really coming in handy. Lol!
  • Horses. I really actually love horses. My favorite at the ranch is a flaxen chestnut mare–reddish brown with blond mane and tail. She is gentle, playful, sweet and incredibly loving, and the first horse I put a halter on. Goodness, she was/is patient with me. My next favorite is a dark chestnut gelding who knocks at his stable door three times if I start to walk away after petting him. The next favorite is a Roan gelding with pale blue eyes. His hooves were so damaged where he lived previously that he wears special shoes while they heal. He looks at me with such love and warmth, ever since I led him out to the pasture area, apologizing for the gravel hurting his hooves. We walked slowly, weaving and winding to find the less gravelly path. (I also let him steal a mouthful of the grass along the path.)
  • Miniature donkeys, specifically Harold, at the rescue ranch. I never even knew I liked them until Harold came into my life. He was my first successful haltering experience, after I failed with a miniature horse. Harold came running as fast as his little legs would carry him across the field, eyes locked on mine, telling me with his eyes he’d help me, not to worry, I’d get it, he’s here for me. And I did succeed. As I walked him to his stall, he walked right next to me, so we were actually touching. The full time staffer said, “awwww” and that she hadn’t seen Harold take to anyone like that. I said I’d just been adopted by him, and she agreed. (If only I Could bring him home!!)
  • Really silky cheesecake with not too much crust. And raspberries lightly swirled in.
  • Raspberries–oh, the flavor, and then the perfume in your nose after you eat them is the best! When we moved into our house it had a rose bush whose flowers smelled like raspberries! It was an heirloom Irish rose. I’m not a good rose keeper and sadly it didn’t do well. The roses kept getting fewer and smaller. When we re-landscaped, one of the guys took it, so I’m hoping he revived it!
  • Going on nature hikes, seeing unexpected and/or unfamiliar things, on trails that are a bit challenging, but not too challenging.
  • Snuggles with my 10-year-old puppy. The best is when she stretches her back legs as far as they’ll go and smiles.
  • Food that makes my taste buds sing. Old favorites, new favorites, homemade, eating out, eating at a friend’s place. Sweet, savory, hot, cold, crunchy, soft, chewy, tender. Food.
  • Rhubarb custard pie with streusel topping. YUM.
  • Seeing the first apple and pear blossoms on our trees unfurl. Then the teeny tiny fruit forming, and as they grow. Unless the squirrels bite them off the branch first. Then I’m greatly saddened.
  • Watching spring come out after winter is done–the beautiful flowers, the new green growth, the warming earth.
  • Rocks. We have them in our landscaping, I have a bowl of favorite smaller stones on my desk, they make the firepit area, and surround the cobblestone path in the back yard. I also have a candle holder made of glass, sitting on a wrought iron frame, and the candle rests among beautiful polished rocks. It represents the Earth (rocks and metal holder), the air, the fire (candle), the water (glass bowl).
  • Serendipitous moments, where the right thing happens at the right, unexpected time. (Meaning the Universe is connecting.)
  • The perfect ribeye steak: salt, pepper, and garlic only, grilled over an open fire, medium to medium rare.
  • Certain shades of purple, blue, red and green–they make my mouth water and my heart sing.
  • Taking a great picture. Well, taking pictures in general. Mostly of nature.
  • Seeing a red tailed hawk or bald eagle bob it’s tail while flying overhead, as if to say, “I see you!” And when the hawk’s call while overhead, they’re Definitely saying, “Hiiii!” or “Hey–look up!”
  • Writing. Putting my thoughts down.
  • Making and checking off lists, then transferring the leftovers to the next list — groceries; to-do’s, which could be daily chores, big tasks, crafty ideas; dreams; goals/objectives; life list, (aka bucket list.)
  • Ireland! Would actually like to move there and have a small farm with cottages and a fruit, vegetable, and herb garden, miniature goats (for cheeses and because they’re adorable,) horses to live happily to the end of their days, miniature donkeys, alpacas for their fur to make into yarn.
  • Europe! I’ve seen some of Austria, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, and France. And want to see more!!!!!!!!
  • Watching an idea come to fruition.
  • My husband.
  • My young man son.
  • Laughing and making others laugh.
  • Gooood hugs, where each of you feel like you were filled with love and goodness.
  • My home.
  • Baskets. Especially when they are beautifully crafted AND fulfill a specific need.
  • Old, antique cars that are maintained or fixed up. (Thanks, Dad.)
  • Rusty things that are ok to be rusty. (Thanks, Dad.)
  • Old oil cans (also thanks, Dad.)
  • Swirls from the center of seashells–most of the shell has been broken away, and just the swirl from the middle is left.
  • Rainy days, without wind or fierceness, with a straight down, gentle rain, cleaning and watering the world.
  • Baby birds in a nest–seeing them start from eggs first is a mega bonus.
  • Any baby animal or bird or fish.
  • Lizards sunning on a rock.
  • Making this list.

With warm wishes for your journey,
Nance

Why Do I Write?

I write because it helps clear my mind, settle my thoughts, find inspiration, to let things surface that I either didn’t even know were there or couldn’t quite clarify. I write about joyous things and events, sad things and occurrences, puzzling things, funny things, calming things. I write to remember what JUST happened in the world, or in my life. I write to purge. I write to forgive. I write lists to get the joy of checking things off, or carry over to the next list, such as grocery lists, to-do lists, wish lists. I write about things that touch my heart and soul. I write memories that I don’t want to forget or that make me feel something. I write in a nature journal, to remind myself about connections I’ve had. I write about important things, trivial things, or something that confuses me and I’m trying to understand better, whether it’s my feelings about it, or the matter itself. I write about things I’ve learned. I write about things I’ve taught. There’s so much to write about. It brings me joy to reread Some of my ramblings, my imaginations, my experiences, my dreams and aspirations, seeing how my goals change as life progresses. I write because it’s wonderful to look back at it, after some moments have passed, (because the moments matter…), to see what was important at that time, how I’ve changed since then or what needed to come out of the clamoring of my thoughts.

Why do I write? To find me. To share myself. Even if it’s just with myself.

With warm wishes for your journey,
Nance

(I’ve rejoined the WordPress.com Blogging University, getting inspiration to blog again, feeling grateful for this guidance!)

#everydayinspiration

Shock

We’ve all had shocks in our lives.  Good ones, bad ones.  It’s part of the life journey, sometimes.  My favorite shock was when I found out I was pregnant at the age of 39, after being told by two specialists that I couldn’t get pregnant without medical intervention.  But that was with my EX-husband.  Four days before our first anniversary, my second husband and I confirmed that I was “with child.” WHAT???  At that age??  And I’d just started back to school to get my masters degree in education??  And we lived in an old 580 square foot house, along with two dogs (one large and one medium sized), a cat and a 55 gallon fish tank??  This was way before tiny houses were a “thing.”  There wasn’t a garage, or even a driveway for that matter.  We did have a driveway on each side of the house; literally right NEXT to the house, for the neighbors on each side.  We had to park on the street right in front of the house, unless a neighbor’s guest decided to park there.  There was no room for a crib or bassinet, a changing table, nor the gizmos, gadgets, and toys that one gets for babies.  Or baby clothes!  Punkin/car seat!  Stroller! No dishwasher, but we did have a washer and dryer in the scary old basement.  This wasn’t even remotely feasible in my mind.

I arrived home on St. Patrick’s Day, from visiting my oldest friend, Jo, in San Fransisco, during the week of spring break. Before I left on break I was exhausted all the time, and figured it was just because I worked 30 hours per week, was taking 14 credit hours at the university, and was very focused on receiving high grades, because, well, that’s how I roll.  My dear friend, who knows me so well, kept telling me I was pregnant, even though she knew I supposedly couldn’t conceive without “help.”  While visiting her, I took at least one very long nap every single day.  I almost got carsick riding the curvy roads on the Pacific Coast Highway.  I love that road and I never almost get carsick. Never.  Until then.  She kept telling me, with a chuckle, that I was pregnant.  My response — No way! And smells got to me. We were at her favorite Indian restaurant, and I couldn’t stay because the smells in there were getting to me.  Especially the chicken in my dish. (Turned out that the smell of chicken and bleach were the only things that would make me lose my last meal during my pregnancy! And it took well over a year before I could eat chicken again.)

When we were saying goodbye at the airport, dearest Jo said I needed to take a pregnancy test as soon as I got home.  Ya ya, whatever.  I still didn’t think there was any chance I was in the family way.  I mean, two very well known specialists told me it couldn’t happen.  And then we had turbulence on the flight.  oy.  I didn’t hurl, but wished I could as I was so incredibly nauseated.  But I didn’t want to subject my fellow passengers because I’m not very quiet about it.  Nor quick.  Right before we landed, my stewardess told me I’d been an ugly shade of green ever since the first sign of turbulance, and she lost a bet about when I would lose my cookies!!  She’d been plying me with gingerale and saltines, bless her heart, and asked if I was expecting.  I told her my story, and I remember her smiling at me, with that look that said, “Well, you are!”

I got home before my husband, and picked up a pregnancy test from the pharmacy on the way.  Took it and bam–an instant “yes, preggers.”  I drove back to the pharmacy and purchased a double pack pregnancy test.  I asked the pharmacist which was the best brand, the most accurate.  I honestly don’t even remember driving there the second time. I did both tests.  Instant yes both times.  And then I nervously waited for my unknowing husband to get home from work.  I’d pace, sit for a moment, get up and pace some more. It was horrible. Waiting. Wondering. Worrying.

At first, I was actually almost devestated that this was happening, while simultaneously excited out of my mind.  And scared.  My initial thought was that I’d FINALLY gone back to get my master’s and teaching certificate.  Thought about it and talked about it for years before finally biting the bullet and stepping away from my department manager position, pay and hours at the gourmet grocery store to become a checker again.  I immensely enjoyed being back full time in the academia scene, juggling that with work and still being a newlywed. What a shock!  I couldn’t wrap my brain around this turn of events.

I had the last pregnancy test sitting on top of a paper towel on top of the mail where we always put it on the kitchen table.  FINALLY, he got home, with a wonderful welcome home.  I remember feeling kind of weird and distant.  When he went through the kitchen, he glanced at the pile of mail on the table, and walked past it.  I said, “Well????” “Well what?”  “Aren’t you going to say something?” “About what?”  “THAT!!!” I pointed to the test, and he didn’t even know what it was!!!  When I told him, in tears, that I was going to have a baby, he was ecstatic!   Beyond ecstatic!  I literally told him, with a wail, “I can’t be pregnant NOW!!!!!  I finally have my life planned out! For the first time ever!!” He hugged me and said, “You can always get your master’s. But, honey, you can’t always have a baby.” 100% Logic.  Can’t fight that.  I was still stressing out, but we cautiously celebrated.  I was so scared.  And still didn’t believe it was really true.

I’d gone through a horribly intense mourning process while with my ex, because I didn’t believe I should have a baby with anyone else involved, besides my husband and I.  It was part of the reason that the marriage didn’t last.  He’d wanted six kids.  I’d always wanted three or four, maybe six.  That was part of my life plan.  He refused to adopt, and I wasn’t keen on having a surrogate. We couldn’t get past it.  That and other things. I think my body wouldn’t let me have a baby with the first guy because of how wrong that marriage was.  But now I was with the right guy.  And he knew that I believed I couldn’t have children from early in our relationship.  We planned on adopting, because we wanted a family with children.  But AFTER I was done with school, had a secure job somewhere, and we moved into a larger house.  Yeah, we had our plans all figured out.

I was aware of the health risks for a new mom at my age, which really is nothing compared to back in the day when you were a grandma by 39, not a new mom.  I was aware of the chance that there might be health issues with our baby, because, you know, my eggs weren’t so fresh anymore.   And how on earth was I going to go to school, work, and be a mommy?

When I went to my “new” obstetrics doctor the following day, she did an ultrasound and we saw and heard the teeny tiny blipping heartbeat.  I was already six weeks along!  All I could say was Ohmygoodness.  Ohmygoodness.  Ohmygoodness.  She assured me I was extremely healthy.  When I lamented the fact that I’d taken ibuprofen for headaches and cramps at the beginning of the pregnancy, cold medicine about two weeks into the pregnancy, and drank a lot of wine while in California, because we spent a few days in wine country, she said what was done was done, and I just needed to be a good pregnant mom from that point on.  ohmygoodness.  o h m y g o o d n e s s. ohmyGOODness!!!

My favorite “shock” is now 17 years old.  A gloriously healthy, incredibly smart, very handsome, hilariously funny, wonderful, loving young man with so much ahead of him. I am so incredibly lucky.  And my journey continues, with more shocks, I’m sure…

Warm wishes on Your journey!
Nance

via Daily Prompt: Shock

Shock

100 Things For Which I’m Grateful

gratitudequote1

I read the post at http://mostlytruestoriesofkrenaep.com/ ages ago.  I’ve tried doing something like this before, without success, because it had to be done daily.  Then I thought, why not just let my mind think of them one at a time, as I open my heart?

100 Things I’m grateful for (not in any particular order):

  1. the snow flurries falling outside my window, glinting in the morning sun as they flitter about
  2. my warm house
  3. my husband
  4. our son
  5. our nephews, who’ve survived the military
  6. family
  7. friends who make this crazy world seem ok
  8. our two dogs, who greet me with such intense love first thing in the morning and whenever I return home
  9. food, to fill my stomach and make my nose and eyes happy
  10. my future that, although really and truly unknown, is there waiting for me, when I get there
  11. the memory of how my newborn babe smelled
  12. laughter
  13. hugs, warm and filled with love
  14. love!
  15. taking pictures to remember special moments and people and things
  16. the camera that I use to take those pictures
  17. clean drinking and bathing water
  18. newly married and newly engaged friends and family–their joy brings me joy
  19. my ability to search for the good in situations
  20. books that make me think, laugh, relax
  21. cookbooks!
  22. the master bath (feels like a spa and took 1 yr., 10 1/2 months, but yay!)
  23. my oh-so-comfortable bed
  24. the herbs drying in my kitchen
  25. music — classical, classic rock, new age, (?? should it be called old age?), some rap, (rap that is poetry, not put-downs) pop, alternative rock, golden oldies, big band, instrumental, …
  26. essential oils, as they’ve reintroduced lovely scents for my nose since I cannot tolerate most synthetic scents
  27. a perfect cuppa joe
  28. a lovely glass of wine
  29. a beer that’s so good it makes me smile after the first sip
  30. flowers in the springtime and their scent in the air
  31. leaves changing in the fall, catching the sunshine and exploding with color
  32. snowball fights with my son and dogs
  33. watching my son sleep
  34. my hair
  35. my mama and daddy’s love
  36. the trip we took to Ireland
  37. the many different birds hanging out, chirping, eating the seeds from the feeder and off the ground under it, and taking baths in the tiny fish pond
  38. the new living room furniture that took forever to find because of my severe allergy to formaldehyde and other chemicals used in furniture construction
  39. looking through the gazillions of photos I’ve taken, going down memory lane
  40. realizing I can go back to sleep after using the loo in the middle of the night.  Better yet–waking up semi-rested in the morning after thinking I couldn’t get back to sleep
  41. taking a pie out of the oven that smells heavenly and looks even better than imagined
  42. eating that pie, with people who are so happy to also be eating that pie
  43. slowly cooking onions in butter and olive oil until fabulously golden brown
  44. hearing two owls hooting at each other late at night, while I’m in my study
  45. seeing a V-formation of Canadian geese fly over my house, through one of the skylights
  46. seeing the full moon through that skylight
  47. watching birds of prey, like red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, Cooper hawks, glide calmly through the air, just scoping things out
  48. when my car’s wipers automatically (!) swipe because there are finally enough drops on the windshield
  49. new plants coming up in the spring
  50. the first apple and pear buds opening in the morning light
  51. the smell of the woods when hiking
  52. helping a stranger smile just by being nice
  53. the feeling after doing something unexpected for someone, as in random acts of kindness
  54. being joyfully recognized by former students
  55. getting cards in the mail from family and friends
  56. sharing my gratitude with someone who has done their job, but it was for me
  57. cleaning something that got surprisingly grungy, and it looks like new
  58. looking at certain shades of red, blue, green and purple
  59. laughing until my stomach hurts
  60. finishing a reeeeeally good book, and liking the ending
  61. going on vacation and learning new things
  62. learning new things while at home too!
  63. wrapping presents for loved ones, hoping it’s something they’ll enjoy as much as I think they will
  64. tasting something that reminds me of my mom or dad
  65. hearing a song that reminds me of my mom and/or dad
  66. reconnecting with someone I haven’t see in a while, and still being connected
  67. having my son sometimes recognize that I’m really not that stupid or boring
  68. when my dog, Gracie Jane, talks to me
  69.  when my other dog, Spencer, softly snores while laying on my foot
  70. driving my pretty “Universe Blue” car
  71. being welcomed into our favorite restaurants and the local produce market
  72. watching videos of puppies, kittens, and other animals
  73. seeing the inside of a gladiola bloom, or a rose or a peony
  74. being able to smell the white allysum and raspberry scented red roses through the front screen door
  75. holding my honey’s hand while we walk through a store or park or anywhere
  76. freshly washed bedding
  77. the sound of a gentle, steady rain without blustery winds, thunder or lightening
  78. the smell of that rain (petrichor)
  79. looking at the river rocks in our yard, marveling at the differences and their history
  80. my butter yellow laundry room with photos I’ve taken on the walls
  81. the crystals that you can look down into in our granite kitchen counter-tops
  82. my collection of old oil cans (based on Wizard of Oz and my dad using that kind of oil can)
  83. my mom’s collection of 4 leaf clovers inside the cover of her first cookbook
  84. the sound of hummingbird wings as they hover nearby
  85. hearing children laugh, especially babies
  86. the feeling of a little baby tightly wrapping its fingers around your finger
  87. taking someone to a place they haven’t gone to before, and sharing their delight
  88. making adventure plans
  89. making vacation plans
  90. going on a docent tour at the fabulous St. Louis Art Museum
  91. decorating for different holidays, like Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas
  92. hearing “Susie Snowflake” play on the stereo as the very first Christmas song while decorating (family tradition)
  93. tasting the first bite of something that stops the world for a moment because it’s so delicious
  94. learning a new skill or improving on one I already knew
  95. realizing I’m gently smiling because I’m content and at peace (for the moment!)
  96. giving unexpected genuine compliments
  97. the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil
  98. enjoying a meal or dish that someone made for me
  99. hearing my husband or son call my name (when not urgent or panicked!)
  100. the occasional realization (ah-ha moments) of how incredibly fortunate I truly am

This was really amazingly fun, rewarding, and enlightening for me!  I’ve been working on improving my attitude of gratitude, and this was honestly an powerful step.  I don’t recognize how wonderful my world is as often as I probably should, but it’s something I’m striving for.  As the old year leaves us and the new one approaches, my gratitude, things I love, things that bring joy list will be added to in order to develop my positive thinking.

You might want to give it a try sometime, just to see!

Sending warm wishes for your journey,

Nance

Simplify. Seems simple. It isn’t really…

What’s the big deal about simplifying your life and home?  Why is there an increasing interest in this?  Why is it so doggone hard?  Well, it’s not thaaaat bad.  Unless you live with other folks that aren’t on the same page as you, the same thought process, the same goals.

I’m at that stage in life where I want to start downsizing.  Have you seen all the shows and articles and web sites related to tiny housing?  When my hubby and I (we just had our 16th anniversary, by the way–woohoo!!!) first got married, I moved into his 680 square foot house.  Tiny.  We were there before tiny was cool!  I wasn’t sure how to combine our two households effectively and beautifully, but persevered.  By the time we hit our first anniversary, I loved our little house.  It was cozy. It was complete.  It was welcoming.  It was adorable.  But then we found out a wee one was on his way!  No place to put a crib, another dresser/changing table, toys, etc.  So we thought.  We moved into a house nearly twice the size–1200 square feet.  Whew.  Room to breathe.  We were no longer always together no matter what room we were in, including when one was in the bathroom.  (We had plenty of conversations through the door.)  But I found that it wasn’t as convenient when I had a question or needed something.  And there was always something that needed cleaning.  And we bought a lot more stuff, which required maintenance.  Or additional stuff.  But then we wanted to move to a better school district.

Next house–1,964 square feet, plus footage that’s not included.  We’re always hollering from one end of the house to the other, for stoopid things, like where is…, do you want…, when is…, are you ready?  Bothers me.  I don’t like that we yell, but what’s worse is not understanding what the other person said.  Then you have to get clarification, either by moving to where they are, or yelling, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?”  “I DIDN’T HEAR YOU–WHAT??”  “SAY AGAIN??”  We usually don’t hang out in the same room either, which saddens me immensely.  This is something we’re working on as we slowly simplify and get back to what is important. We’ve got a finished basement, which isn’t part of that square footage because there isn’t an egress window (a window big enough to get out through if there’s an emergency.)  Enormous family room (which is hubby’s favorite room,) a guest bedroom, and a half bath with sink and toilet.  There are also two BIG spaces that are storage space.  You know what that means?  We’ve gotten more STUFF; it all needs weeding out.  Last week I went through a container looking for our wedding books and pictures.  Found a bunch of newspapers in there that had no purpose that I could see. Recycle!!  Felt so good!  Made me want to discard more.  But I didn’t as I had other things to clean, maintain, buy, plan for, plan around…

When I talk with hubby and son about moving, there’s always a disconnect.  They sure don’t want smaller.  But they don’t get frustrated when looking for something.  They just ask me.  I’ll find it if I don’t already know where the item is.  And they don’t clean, much.  Or do the little maintenance, much.  Staying home with my synthetic fragrance sensitivity, I have become the cleaning lady.  And fixer.  In fact, just this morning, my dearest hubby asked why the living room touch up paint was on the counter with spackle and a brush.  Well, hmmm.  There are touch-ups to do.  Ah.

Yes.  I want to down size.  I love cozy.  Hubby loves space.  Lots and lots of space.  My favorite room in the house is the smallest at 10′ by 10′.  He gets claustrophobic in there.  It’s wonderfully cozy with a comfy couch (guest bed,) open bookshelf, small desk, small printer cabinet, a skinny wire and basket chest, and a tiny wrought iron garden table by the couch to set your beverage on. Very cozy, but not crowded.

Here’s a funny–hubby wants a smaller yard, as he dislikes yard work.  And I want more garden space to grow our own food.  I’d love to have chickens and goats too.  (Not possible in our current neighborhood.  We can’t even put up a clothesline or basketball hoop!)  We’ve currently got two pear trees, two apple trees, and a concord grape arbor that the previous owners put in.  We’ve added two blueberry bushes and a good sized raised bed for vegetables.  All of this on 1/3 of an acre!  I see room for more raised beds, but my guys want to be able to throw the football or baseball around a few times a year. We have a HUGE park a few miles from here. Their very valid point is when the urge strikes, they don’t want to have to drive.  Ok.

My biggest challenge with simplification is the part about getting rid of the stuff.  It amazes me how things become valuable when I’m purging.  We’re gathering garage sale goodies together, and have a good amount.  But there could be more!!!  And the whole recycling thing is hard–do we REALLY need this?  Can’t I just take a picture?  Can’t we make a copy and put it in our cloud?  One friend tells me I should just do it.  But that’s a violation of their opinion, isn’t it?  Guilt prevails.  But so shall I.  I WILL prevail at simplifying our lives and home.  I do want to say that all three of us are getting better at making do with what we’ve got.  Reduce, reuse, recycle.   And upcycling by reusing something in a different way than what it was originally intended for.  Yep–getting there.  It certainly is a process, and we Know that happiness is the journey, not the destination.  So, as I go down memory lane with the items that have accumulated over the years, I send you

Warm wishes on Your journey!
Nance

The Latest Moments as Time Flies By

Goodness, I’ve let the trials and tribulations of life get in my way.  It’s been ages since I’ve written about anything.  It’s cold, still some snow on the ground, we had carpeting issues in the house, and there are changes at my church that are weakening my connection and therefore the support I’ve relied upon while I go through my life change due to my severe sensitivity to synthetic fragrance chemicals.  Oh, and I tried going dairy free, and cut back on gluten as well, thinking it might help with my fragrance sensitivity, but this just made me feel deprived.   But hey–only two more weeks till spring! Even though this seems like it’s been a long winter, it also feels like “wow! it’s almost over already!!”  I recently read an explanation of why time flies by as you get older.  Wish I could give credit for this, but I read so many things (love that internet!) that I can’t remember what site I saw it on.  If you know, would you let me know?

The article, that I’m soooo ad libbing, talked about being a little kid, and how when you’re 5 or 10 years old, a month is a long time.  Remember how summer break seemed to last forever and you were actually glad to be going back to school because you were so bored?  If not, you had a lot of planned events in your life!  I didn’t.  My summers consisted of pretty much just gardening and housework, riding my bike and playing with the neighbor kids, running through the sprinklers and reading books.  Oh, and the 2 week vacation that I could hardly wait to get home from because we drove everywhere for a gazillion hours, and I couldn’t read or I’d get carsick.  No portable DVD players back then.  And very little TV time either, when we were home, because there wasn’t much to watch.  No world wide web either.  Ok,  I’m talking about back in the dark ages.

So here’s the thought process:  Around age 35, time starts getting away from you.  When you’re 55, that month zooms by quickly.  When you’re 75, I hear it zooms past seemingly in the blink of an eye.  Here’s the rationale–it’s all in regards to ratios.  When you’re 5, a month is 1/60 of your entire existence outside your mother’s womb.  When you’re 35, that month is 1/420 of your life, 55 = 1/660 of you being here, and so on.  As you get older, that month is just a drop in a really big measuring cup, if you’re lucky enough to live a long time.  We’re also busier living our lives, as we get older.  Have you noticed?  There are more and more things that you need to do, want to do, get asked to do, asked to participate in, expected to participate in…  When I read this article (source?????) it all seemed so logical.  Clarity hit.  And that helped me not stress as much about how time flies by.  Suddenly, that flitting time thing is just part of life, something to keep in mind and work around, but not worry about.  I’ve been semi-housebound for over a year, and was beating myself up about how I haven’t “accomplished” much of anything.  Other than reconnecting with my creative side as well as nature, making a stronger home base, finding out who my true friends are, discovering healthier alternatives in our synthetic (fake) world, working on getting healthier and fit, and getting caught up on my sleep.  Well, that’s a lot when you break it down!

I’ve officially begun disability retirement.  That’s what they call it when you can’t teach anymore due to health issue.  So odd, to have only taught for 10 years, but be retired.  For over a year, I was without my income in our two income household.  Thank goodness we had decent savings and retirement accounts to draw from.  It was scary for a while, watching new withdrawals occurring from those accounts for every day living.  We cut back where we were willing, always thinking this was going to miraculously improve and I could go back to work.  It really rearranged my thought process about what we really needed to buy.  I discovered how wasteful I/we had been living, even though I thought we were frugal.  I’m thinking maybe I was supposed to learn that lesson, that my comfort isn’t so dependent upon the newest, best, tastiest.  I’m discovering less costly ways to do stuff–mercy, we frittered away a lot over the years!!  And now that I’m “retired,” we can breathe a bit easier, be a bit less stressed about money, yet utilize the skills of living more simply.

My liaison at the school system retirement program said the supervisor didn’t hesitate signing my request, as I had many doctors confirming my status and my “story” was so sad.  Wow–my story is sad according to a supervisor with authority who’s seen it all.  This actually helped me a lot, because I recognized that the sadness of this saga wasn’t just in my head, like a pity party.  It’s for real.   You know, it’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact that the sophomore girls who intentionally sprayed my classroom to make me have a allergic reactions so they wouldn’t have to do homework (!) or take tests (!) or take finals (!) were never brought to the light, and will always know that they caused a life altering health issue in my life.  Do you think they’ll remember with the glee that I saw other students boast about “breaking” a teacher??  Bet they will.  Maybe not all of them, but most of them.  Here’s something–there’s another plan for me that I don’t know about yet.  Still opening up to find out what that is…

All those moments really do matter as they’re pieces of the whole.  And Happiness IS the Journey, not the Destination, after all.  (One of my mantras that I keep forgetting about, ironically!!  So my framed version is now sitting next to my desk, eye level.)  Remember this as you wonder where your time goes.  And remember to do the important stuff in life, not just the time wasters.

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With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance

 

Fall, From My Viewpoint

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Fall.  What a glorious season.  Friends tell me this season makes them melancholy because it’s the “death” season.  ohmygoodness–what a beautiful way to go!  Stunning colors everywhere.  I sincerely think this was one of the most gorgeous falls I’ve witnessed.  I mean STUNNING.

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This lone leaf caught my eye and touched my soul.  It’s not very large, compared to most of the leaves, but my eye was caught by the intensity of the vivid coloring as it hid amongst the other leaves that hadn’t found their final burst of color before falling to carpet the ground.

Not only did they carpet the ground, but there was also a warm orange glow coming through the windows in the room next to this Sugar Maple.  Yes, a glorious fall…

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This angel is wonderfully precious, as it strokes a tiny bird with love and kindness, and is also incredibly special.  It was my mother’s day present from my preschool son, who recently turned 14.  He and I wandered through garden centers, looking for just the right little statue.  And here it is, ten years later, surrounded by the splendor of fall, still emanating the gentle spirit I see in my son.

Rather than feeling melancholy, I’m inspired to enjoy the season.  Time for sweaters, and stews and soups and snuggles in front of the fireplace… And don’t forget the baking!  Even though many of the trees are now bare, some trees are continuing to be colorful, and some, like my pear tree, still have green leaves.  This reminds me that things happen when they’re supposed to, not when we expect it.  I’ve still got the hyper-sensitivity to fragrance, still learning how to cope in this artificially scented world, and still don’t know what my “purpose” is now that I can’t teach high school.  Someday I’ll be privy to this information.  In the meantime, my job is to be open to the journey, enjoying the stunning beauty in this world.  And to remember that the moments matter.

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With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance