Day 30 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The end is here and I am happy to write the finishing post to this enjoyable and productive challenge in November. I was able to retain my purpose of a personal breathing space and yet let in new people and ideas. I was somewhat successful in changing my voice and maybe a story or two. I can’t turn over a new page over night. A little change is better than no change.
I enjoyed the camaraderie, the sharing of stories, coffees, tips, photos, cheering each other on. There’s a diverse amount of knowledge among us. I’ve learned a thing or two. As I had mentioned yesterday I’m more motivated towards decluttering. I’m remembering to restart even if I’ve had stopped. And Florence’s writes on dyslexia helps my wandering mind and concentration. I have to bring it back again and again. Then there’s Tamara’s enthusiasm. She brings light and joy from Switzerland. It rubs off on me. There’s multitudes of gifts from all of you. It would take too long to name everyone. Maybe there was a hassle or two. Those were easily side stepped and forgotten. After all, I choose to show up or not.
Yes, I would do the challenge again in January. But I wonder if our digital maestro have forgotten that he changed it to February last year. Happy birthday, Paul Taubman. Don’t eat too much cake. Thanks for the month.
Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Tomorrow is the last day. I’ve had a full day baking bread and doing laundry. Baking bread always seems like a simple thing when I start out in the morning. You add, mix, let it sit, knead, yada yada. The steps and stages add up before you can get the loaves in the oven. By the time I’m finished everything, I felt like I’ve washed everything twice over. The loaves are chilling on the rack. I have yet to bag them and take them down to the freezer. I am feeling a little fatigued. Do I have it in me to talk about what where I’m heading after this challenge?
Since I don’t have a business to promote, I will take a rest from my daily tapping. I’ve had a good run this November. I’ve missed 2 or 3 days. It’s good to be flexible and not to be obsessive. When the going gets tough, it is ok to step off. There is no point in forcing. This is not a race. I am learning a bunch of stuff this month and that is one of them. We have a wealth of knowledge among the group. Mary Elizabeth O’Tool’s posts on minimalism gave me a push to get started. Florence Callender’s posts on dyslexia are a great help and encouragement. I’m working better at slowing down and concentrating. So I will probably be back on my keyboard in January.
December is a good month to slow the pace and hunker down. I am looking forward to joining in Susannah Conways’s December Reflection on Instagram. It’s right up my alley, posting a photo/day to a word prompt. It’s how a see things – words and pictures. It’s a wonderful way of easing into the holidays. It’s probably not a popular thing to say but I don’t do Christmas. It doesn’t work for me anymore. Not that it did before but now I’ve dropped the facade. I don’t miss the rushing around looking for perfect gifts Christmas Eve. And I am not so sure about the meaning and spirit of Christmas. Shouldn’t it be like that all year long – the kindness, generosity, celebrations, family time, friendships, goodwill to all men..?
In January I’m taking an in person watercolour art class. That will give me something to write about. I hope I won’t get too frustrated listening to directions and taking steps on how to’s. Mostly I’ve been winging it. Sometimes I don’t even use a palette. I took a quilt class a long time ago. The instructor was very fussy. You had to cut, sew and iron precisely. I found it quite stressful and had to do some yoga before I went. But I did end up with a beautiful sampler quilt. I’m hoping I’ll paint some beautiful watercolours. I think the class goes into February. By then the days will be getting longer. The greenhouse will be warming up. I’ll be starting seedlings and maybe planting. I won’t be lacking for things to do. I’m also hoping for lots of snow so we can cross country ski all winter long into March.
Day 28 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The end is near and what is it that I’ve learned from this challenge?
that I still love words and pictures and the things they tell me
that I still tell some stories over and over and that I need to tell myself new ones
that I am fulfilling my goal of having this writing space – tracing and understanding the archeology of my time on earth.
I don’t know why that it is that I hold on to the negative narratives more than the positives. Why it is that I admire others so much and think so little of myself? Does not having a physical father present in my early years make a difference? And how about being a minority from age 6 to adulthood? I have had a double sense of being invisible and very visible at the same time. I have had the sense of being very small and standing out like a huge sore thumb. I’m using the past tense – havehad – because I don’t feel like that anymore. But I am sure that child/young adult still resides in me.
It’s really too late to change my history, my paths through time. But it is not too late to accept and take comfort in that I did the best I could. I can accept that maybe it is the rites of passage. I don’t have to cast blame in any direction, inward or outward. If I could go back in time, I would tell my 16 year old self that being imperfect is part of the human journey. We can’t grow from a perfect end place. Don’t worry too much about making a wrong decision. Life is not black and white. It’s not about right and wrong. Some things/decisions are better than others. Wisdom is learning to make detours and corrections as we go along. Most of all, I would tell my 16 year old self to love herself unconditionally, to think more of herself and less of others. Let go of things that doesn’t serve her. Time and energy are finite.
Day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’ve missed a day or two but I’ll just start where I am. Our digital maestro suggested that we write about where we would like to travel. To tell you the truth, right now I have no desire to go anywhere. I’m a bit of a stick-in the-mud. It all stems from how I grew up – an immigrant child in a small town. We were just struggling to earn a living. We had a roof over our head. We never went hungry. We never did anything or went anywhere unless it was to the dentist or optometrist. Then we had to travel to the next big city which is North Battleford. It was where my paternal grandfather and his brother had a laundry business.
Thinking back now, it’s not true that I never went anywhere. And I’m far from a stick-in-the-mud. I’ve had an extraordinary life as I’m sure we all have. I’ve been globe trotting since I was six years old. From my little village to Canton and onward to Hong Kong. I lived there for 2 years, had grade 2 in Chinese. I lost all the Chinese characters living Maidstone, Saskatchewan, Canada for 11-12 years. After I finished high school, my father sold his half of the cafe to his cousin. Our family, except me, moved to New York to be with my mother’s side of the family.
I returned to Saskatoon after a summer in New York to attend university. My uncles could not convince to stay. In hind sight, I wished they had tried harder. Isn’t that how it always is, wishing for what isn’t? But that is water under the bridge. In the end we all ended back here in Canada. We’ve gone back to visit a few times. I liked New York better each time. I wished, too, that we could have taken mom back more often to see her siblings. But it is what it is. We did the best we could.
So this is just a bit of my journeys. I’m kind of stuck on China, Canada and New York. These are my important life travels. Maybe I will touch on my vacation trips in future posts. I’ve made my momentous first trip to A&W for breakfast this morning since Covid. Go ahead, you can laugh out loud. It is my favourite place for breakfast and easy conversation Saturday mornings after my swim at the YWCA. I didn’t swim this morning. I had given up my Y membership. I used the membership fee for new skis instead. I didn’t ski today either but made 3 loops around the park yesterday. I was thinking ahead and working off this morning’s calories. But I did dress up and made up for the occasion. Look – curls and earrings!
Day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m always happy to share another cup of coffee with the community. There’s something so warm and soothing sharing coffee and conversation with someone who’s truly with you in the moment. It’s like being wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years before retiring. I’ve had more than a few cups of coffee, too many for my health. My mug was never empty. It was good while it was good. Now the coffee I do drink is decaf and I always love a cuppa. If you were here with me, what could we talk about today?
I could probably wear your ear off with my chatter. I can get excited about the most mundane things, those very, very ordinary moments of daily life. I am captivated by thoughts and dust mote in sunlight. And if we were sitting at my dining room table, I would tell you about tablecloth that was years in the making. It started out as block building out of my extensive stash of material collecting. I had no destination, no end product in mind. Everything just evolved. I found the material was excellent to paint and embroider on. The blocks were perfect for story telling. Some are sewn together for a rich tapestry. Others are stand alones, each with their own story.
Life is like that, one block building onto another. And then you have history and stories to tell. Coffee and conversation are wonderful, isn’t that so?
Day 23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge and day 3 of my daily ski and day 2 of my daily cleaning and decluttering. Am I having fun yet? Yes and no. When words come easily off the tips of my fingers, it is fun. Not so much when I have to struggle for every thought and sentence. I don’t care much for proofreading and editing. I force myself because sometimes I can think faster than I can tap. Yesterday I caught a few omissions and errors. Good thing my patience and discipline are improving. Sometimes good enough is not good enough.
Am I having fun yet? I had a wee rest after lunch. I worked steady and early this morning, wasting no time. I stirred my scrap apple vinegar fermenting on the dining room table. It’s my second batch. I quite like it as a substitute for regular vinegar. Mostly I use it for cleaning. I put a bit in a spray bottle with water. I spritz it on my mop to damp mop my hardwood floors. I also use it on my dust cloth for dusting furniture, etc. It leaves everything shiny and with a pleasant scent. Then I fed Oscar, my sourdough starter. I like to get the daily things done and out of the way. When I procrastinate, sometimes they don’t get done at all. It’s no fun falling behind and having catching up.
After breakfast I did a quick dusting in our bedroom followed by damp mopping of the floors. Then we hit the ski trail at the park. I did 3 laps around the park, working up a sweat. Was I having fun yet? Not quite but almost. Not sure if I got my ski legs back yet. I am slow as a tortoise. No kick and glide yet. Have to review techniques on YouTube again. At least I haven’t regressed. I could do double poling. No falling down today. My boots got on and off the skis like a damn. No struggle like last year. I won’t win any races soon but I’m burning calories.
The sun has disappeared. I will have to set out to put the greenhouse to bed soon. Without the heater, the low in there today was -1.8℃ this morning at 8:30. The high 8.6℃ at 3pm. All the greens are doing well. I cover them with row covers for the night and uncover in the morning when sun comes up and temp. above freezing. We’ll see what happens when the temps dip toward 20 and below at night. This is our first winter. I don’t think it will be fun covering and uncovering in the depth of December and January. I might take a break from it till February or March.
Day 22 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. 8 more days. I can do it. It has become a habit again. These days my mood can turn on a dime. It’s better to pound on the keyboard than on someone. Not that anyone has given me any reason, but you know how it is. It is the question of which comes first – the chicken or the egg. In the case of moods, is it the mood or is it the stimulus. You are on the edge. Then along comes the straw that broke the camel’s back. Kapow!**
I’ve been wary and vigilant though. In these moments I try to keep calm and not behave like my usual old self. I try to use the not-so-good vibes toward decluttering and cleaning. It’s a good tool and choice of activity for me. It’s what our mothers used to do to de-stress. It’s what I used to do, too, but somehow have lost the habit. Cleanliness no longer was next to godliness. They both got tossed aside for sometimes meaningless scrolling through social media and the Internet. Regardless of how I got here, I’m turning back to more hands-on living.
It’s not easy to change back, let me tell you. In the middle of my cleaning this morning, I got more depressed and wasted. There’s so much clutter and so much dust. I felt pale and drained just thinking about it and seeing what laid before me. I had to console myself. I tell myself that if I just sort out one small box, it will be enough. That did the trick. I dug in, cleared some dust and a box. What I learn today is:
baskets and boxes are hazards for hanging onto things forever.
I have trouble throwing out pens.
I can clean and declutter faster than I think I can.
cleaning and decluttering can be enjoyable.
I can control which way I swing.
I can be a clear bug as well as a cluttered one.
I shall dedicate the rest of the month to doing more cleaning and clearing daily. 8 days are do-able. Then I shall set a new schedule. Baby steps doesn’t work for me. And I hate that phrase. Not enough time left for baby steps. I have to take giant leaps forward. Onward ho!
November 21, day 21 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m writing for day 20 as well. I’ve missed a day. Instead of struggling to make up, I am doing two in one. It is good enough. It’s my version of the Persian flaw. A Persian flaw is an expression to mean ‘a deliberate mistake’. Apparently originating from this ancient tale that Persian rug makers used to intentionally weave a flaw into each of their carpets because only a god’s creation is supposed to be perfect. I do struggle with a bit of perfectionism. Don’t we all?
There are no greater challenges facing us today than the pandemic and climate change. Yes, we’ve heard all this kind of stuff before. We seem to be slow learners. We can’t seem to take it in or seriously until we are hit over the head with it. Do we take it seriously now? Apparently not for some. There’s still the pandemic deniers and conspiracy theorists. For some, our ‘freedom’ is much more important than our lives. I live close to that someone. He has been hospitalized with Covid and is one of those transported to a hospital down east. There is no news of his outcome. We walk by his house regularly enroute to the park. The blinds are always drawn. The house looks lifeless and forlorn.
Still, his followers and supporters are not voicing any change of hearts or minds. It is very puzzling for me to understand. Why would governments, scientists and the medical community world wide make up all this. What would they gain? Why do people believe Facebook posts, etc. more than legitimate sources? And are there any real information or is everything fake news? It is too much for me to grapple with so I try not to spend too much energy trying to understand or sway anyone. It is not that I am indifferent. It is that I know I am helpless and ineffectual in this arena.
My experience has taught me that I am not good at looking at things from all sides. I see mostly from my own eyes and my own thinking. That has been my big challenge. But I am slowly beginning to change, how to see and think outside my head – to be that fly on the wall. It is difficult to be objective and not take things personally. There’s too much of everything – social media, misinformation, choices and STUFF. My challenge is to quiet down, do less and accomplish more, less criticism and judgement, etc. etc. etc.
My most immediate challenges are getting my plants in from the greenhouse. And then there’s finding places for them all. Much as I like gardening and playing with dirt, I can’t say it was fun. BUT the 3 bougainvilleas are pruned and squished into 1 pot. ‘Cause honestly, where would I find room for 3 big pots? They don’t have to thrive, just stay alive till spring. They and the pots of rosemary, lavender and geraniums are huddled besides me along with my other junk. The ‘junk’ is another challenge for me. Life is just full of them.
It’s day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am not sure I’m up to it. Life is heavy. So many weighty things. On the Covid front, the death of a 36 year old woman from Yorkton at home. The whole family tested positive – 41 year old husband and 6 kids. How could that be that they didn’t know they could go to the hospital? A strange and troubling story. The state of emergency caused by flooding in British Columbia. No climate change, eh? Then to top it off, I read the story of Kyle Rittenhouse’s not guilty verdict. This is the world we’re living in today. Is there hope? What can I do?
I can not give in to despair. I can not add to the negativity. What I did was taking time out. I did not finish this post yesterday. I left and emptied my head and mind of more news and thoughts. Sometimes I have to do that for self preservation. The movie Downton Abbey, while it wasn’t as good as the series, was a good distraction. I had thoughts of returning to this space after the movie but decided it was not a good idea. Sometimes space is the best remedy.
Now, I’m back to pick up the words. I have no favourite blogs that I follow except Suddenly Mad . It’s Minna Packer’s journey through early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She’s an artist and had taught art in a New York university. We haven’t met but communicated through her blog. I stumbled upon her blog in her later stages of the disease. We both wished we had known each other sooner. Her posts became fewer and further apart. Her last one being on May 22, 2021. I still check her site regularly to see if… I do not know what to hope for her. I’m selfish. I do want to read another post. I’ve learned much from her writing.
What I follow more are YouTube Channels for sustainability living, gardening, permaculture – everything that can improve and help us live better lives. My favourite channel has to be Kirsten Dirksen. Her videos have shown me that there are so many gifted people out there doing amazing things. We have the talent and the know how. Now if we can get a collective desire. One of my favourite is about a homeless man by choice. But perhaps this one I watched this morning is more applicable in showing how we can change our thinking.
Day 18 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am suffering a little winter and what-have-you fatigue. The only music in my head today is “the day the music died“. It’s a line from Don McLean’s song Miss American Pie. The song is about the day Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J. P. Richardson died in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959. It’s an interesting story and a fascinating song. I still have the LP American Pie. On this November day, it reminded me of the day JFK was assassinated. We will never know the truths of the assassination or the song.
I’m not exactly a cheerful bunny today, am I? It’s probably a hangover from yesterdays’s grumpiness not helped with the bad world news creeping in. Today I recognized it as a seasonal-affective-disorder sign and that I should take it easy. Every little thing could be that straw that broke the camel’s back and blast me into outer space. It’s taken me this long to wisen up. When the guy said he was going skiing this morning, I said I’m not. Even though I got all new ski equipment and snow pants, my mind and body wasn’t all that excited. It’s good to have some slow and alone time.
Days like this are so taxing. I’m very very slow today. I must need it and so I listened to my body and mind. I read a romance novel this morning and heated a frozen pizza for lunch. Makes doing dishes easy – 2 plates, 2 forks and knives into the dishwasher. Just a pizza pan to wash by hand. Easy is good once in awhile. I don’t have to be Wonder Woman every day. Not to lose the whole day to idleness, I coaxed myself downstairs to finish shortening my snow pants. It was agonizing at first but once started, I had to finish, right? It is finished and now I can say, it wasn’t so hard after all. And my butt will be warm once I do get out skiing.