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The last day of April. The last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I have to show up to wrap up though I don’t know where or how to begin. I am feeling the overwhelm of too many loose threads. My mind is far from being a clean slate, a blank canvas upon which I can paint/write the life I want. Instead it is a muddy eddy of scattered thoughts and memories. What are/were my goals, my wants and loves? They are not necessaily the same things.

I’m always eager and engaged at the beginning of any new endeavor. I feel focused and pumped. However, it doesn’t take long before my burst of enthusiasm develops a slow leak. I lose sight of the whole enchilada. I tread water, don’t show up, and/or write the same damn thing day in and day out. Sometimes I pride myself in just showing up/trying. I guess you can say I am beating myself up. That’s not it though. I’m giving myself a pep talk.

April and any given month is a hard month. And so are any given day. If I am being repetitive, so is life. There is a tediousness to almost everything. I/everyone have to work through that part. No one is exempt. How do you work through that? I heave and sigh alot. I make a cup of tea. Lately I had to change up on my cup size and kind of tea. I was getting too much caffeine. My heart was skipping a little too much and my lymph nodes swelling up. The change has been good but I still get cravings of my endless cup of Orange Pekoe tea. Listening to Caroline Myss on the Addict Archtype and Tara Brach on Letting Go helped alot. Writing about the tedium opens up the way out of it, too.

I’m not as morose as I sound. Really, I am not. It’s my way of working through hard spots and hard times. I’m not protesting too much. A friend reading my posts once offered me help and sanctuary because she thought I needed help. It was such a lovely and generous gesture. It’s a beautiful memory I have of her. Both she and her father were such a help to us when we first came to Canada. She walked me to school every morning and took me to Sunday school till I outgrew the need. I hope she still keeps an eye on me from Heaven.


These days I feel as unsettled as the weather. Maybe it is the stage in my life. Everything feels uncertain. The ground is ever shifting. No firm foundation underfoot. But at least I am feeling some peace in the quiet of the night. I’m tapping out a few words before I head off to bed. They will escape me if I don’t. It is soothing and comforting to tidy up a few things at the end of the day. Somehow that brings order and peace in my mind.

The humidifier has been soaking for a day or two, waiting for me to clean and put away till next winter. There’s never a better time than the present. It’s cleaned and to be put away tomorrow. Now I’m ready to get ready for bed. If I do too much, I will get too alert for sleep. Till the morning, then.

That was a few nights ago. The weather is still unsettled. What started out as a sunny warm day didn’t stay. It became cool and cloudy. No weather for a picnic. However, it didn’t prevent me from planting 3 more Roma tomatoes under Kozy Coats in the raised bed. I still 3 more to do but that will have to wait until I get more Kozy Coats. Things being what there are, it could still snow. But here’s hoping it will only rain from now on.

I am a little more settled, feeling safe in my sking. But it’s still touch and go. It’s a job keeping my mind and head clear. Debris have a habit of creeping in. Today I got distracted by a new toy – an iPad and games you can play. I’ve only uploaded solitaire but it’s bad enough. I spent too much time on a hard hand. It grabbed me and wouldn’t easily let go. I haven’t solved it yet but I did finally unhook myself to come to this space to finish what I had started.

Life is like that, you know. I have to say I’ve been doing pretty well. Not perfect but I am getting things done and all that. I’m not a machine. Being human, I can be led down a few stray paths. I have to cut myself some slack and just enjoy what comes along, even the weeds along the way. I have not a show every day for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. And I am not participating in the usual sense. This month of writing is mostly for myself – a workbook of a sort.


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I’m not so successful clearing my mind this morning so I did a little clearing of my table. What is without is within. I’m heading out to my exercise class in a few minutes. I’m making a few marks here to get the words and thoughts flowing for later. Mark making is an important step in getting started. Later, baby, as they say.

This is the later I spoke of this morning. I’m afraid this is one of those time that the words will not flow. I will have to work for them. Talking about making marks, I don’t think I’ve made even a dent, never mind a mark in the world. I feel a bit sad and inadequate. I don’t really want to be a big splash but I like to think that I’ve made a difference, that I matter. It’s what we all want. I hate being human and vulnerable, don’t you?

The day has sped by. It is not a warm one. I’m warming up with a cuppa Ovaltine. I’m learning to change up my drinks as not to get addicted to any one. Ovaltine was a favourite when I was a child in Hong Kong. My mother and I had moved there from mainland China when I was 6. That was also when we were introduced to Red Rose Orange Pekoe Tea and toast. It was all so new and tasted so good. That’s what I have to remember – to change up often. Not only with drinks and food but with everything in life. I remember the delight of discovering and learning new things and tastes. Too much of one thing deadens and dulls the senses. It’s my lightbulb moment from my thoughts for the 24th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.


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I’m feeling a little stuck this morning. Can’t decide what to draw for #the100day project. I’m itching for some colour after a stretch of graphite and charcoal. I don’t want to stay in frustration and in indecision. I moved onto a bit of dusting our bedroom. How fast dust accumulates. It didn’t take long to take care of it. It is surprising sometimes how I can get so stuck in the feelings of not wanting to do it. The action of dusting is not hard. Overcoming the feeling of not wanting to do is. Human beings are so complex and hard to figure out. It’s not worth the time to ponder on it but knowing what is what is good enough. It’s confusing. I know it.

I was having cravings for my bottomless cup of tea this morning. I woke up thinking about it. I didn’t cave in though. I just had one literal cup and I was good. That is till we had our Sunday morning breakfast of sourdough pancakes, bacon and eggs with maple syrup. The sweet maple syrup set up a want of a cuppa. Being in a bit of a dither on what to draw also stirred an urge of having a cuppa. So I made a cuppa – chocolate mint tea with no sweetener. It quelched my yen for more of. But I think I will grab another cuppa. It is refreshing with little calories and no caffeine. Incidentally, my heart still skips now and then. It’s quiet when I’m relaxed and engaged. I have strong thoughts and feelings. I have to let go of everything more and say, It’s good enough.

The day is almost over. It is supper time. I’ve done the dreaded Tax Return but I’m not ready to push the SUBMIT button yet. The hard part is done. It was a good exercise for my brain. I have a few more days to fret over having to pay. I guess I should be thankful because it means I have money. The bonus to the day was finding something colourful to draw – my high school grad. It turned out more colourful than I intended. It was more than good enough.


April 20th. Another new dawn. Another new day. The sun is gracing us with its presence. We are joyous. I’ve been in the greenhouse, raised the shade and removed the cardboards from the windows. The nights are still cool, dipping into the minus. Every little bit of heat I can help retain is worth the effort. I harvested some brokali greens for a stir fry for lunch and did a little weeding. They don’t need much sun or heat to thrive. If I don’t take care, they will take over. That’s what happened with my garden within. I haven’t paid attention and the weeds have invaded my head space. Now comes the painful but needed task of weeding within.

The important thing is to create a clean canvass each morning. Put up boundaries so overwhelm cannot come in. In this case, I’m fencing out intrusive and negative thoughts, trashy tidbits from the world wide web and any distractions clamoring for my attention. It is important that I think of only the thing I’m doing/working on at the moment. When I’m writing, I should be thinking only of what I am writing. It is a hard task since I’ve set my brain on autopilot for so long. Now I have to work to take back control. It can be done. First, I need to have a plan. I need to know where the trouble plots are in the garden of my mind. I need to know what weeds are growing in each plot and then to find the right solution.

It’s late afternoon. I’ve come back to this plot to work on the weeds. I have just a little more to do and then I will call it quits for today. I must not bite off too much all at once. Working in small squares add up. I’m staying on track with set goals and intentions. I have not over indulged on my cuppas, having one Orange Pekoe in the morning and a decaf in the afternoon. I noticed that I really would like another after the decaf. I think it’s the sugar and cream calling me. The pumpkin chocolate chip muffin added its voice. I resisted their calls. A good ending for this 22nd day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am pleased.


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Here’s that time again to write something for the Ultimate Blog Challenge and myself. It’s not so easy this time around. I struggle with it every day. Yesterday I started to down size my cup of tea, making it a literal cup – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. So far so good but I am feeling some difficulties. Before when I feel stuck about anything, I would make myself a cup of tea. I guess it’s really a procrastinating tactic. I’m putting off, buying some time. Now I can’t do that. I have to stay stuck with those feelings. It doesn’t feel great.

Since it is only day 2, I can’t give up yet. I have to stay with these stuck feelings. Besides, my heart still skips, though less. It’s worth it. I tell myself to stay. The treat will be a healthy steady heart. I tell myself to breathe, sit tall and breathe out slowly. Stay the course. I am realizing how little tolerance I have with feelings of discomfort, be it uncertainty, boredom, anxiety…. I want distraction, cover ups, any escape route that is possible. Of course, I know in my heart there is no escape. We have to face/deal with whatever it is eventually.

So here I am at the end of the day. I have survived. I have had just one cup of Orange Pekoe tea and one cup of decaf. Not really truly missing or suffering the decrease. What is bothersome is that now there is not the ritual of making a cuppa to delay whatever I’m dreading or reluctant to do. Now I have to do something else in its place. Today I got the bathroom and kitchen floors washed. I walked to the bank and fixed a problem. They are not hard things to do but these days, they are in with many other things I don’t like to do. I think technology and all our gadgets have made me lazy and changed my brain somehow. I’m much more comfortable just living in my thoughts. And I know that’s not really living and it is not healthy. I have to move and do.

Well, this is the end. Not a great post. It’s really me problem solving by putting out/down my thoughts. It’s hard to hold them inside. They go round and round in my head with no resolution. They had to come out.


It’s a hard task to keep my mind weeded and clear of debris. Thoughts and information, useful and useless crowded in as soon as I wake and open my eyes. I have to admit I got distracted more than usual this morning. I’m having a time to clear my head/mind to that blank canvass. Until then it is hard to focus and work. I do have an intention formed from yesterday. And that is I want to down size everything, starting with my mug. I do love my tea but more isn’t always better. The sizes of things, including cups/mugs seems to have increased expotentially without my conscious awareness.

When I have a cup of tea, I’m actually having 2 cups of tea. So in a day, I drink 4 literal cups of Orange Pekoe tea and 4 literal cups of decaffineinated coffee. All in all, I’m not sure how much caffeine I’m consuming. My heart seems to be protesting lately by skipping a beat. I’ve had these episodes before so am not too worried. I will cut back caffeine by using a smaller cup. It’s come to my attention that the more I have of something, the more I want it. Even though I don’t enjoy the taste any more, I still crave it. That’s the case with my Orange Pekoe tea. I wonder if it’s the repetitive habit of having a cup of tea when I’m not sure of anything, in doubt or un-ease, created the addiction. While routines and habits can be helpful, I have to be watchful and change them up so they do not get addictive and cause harm.

Mug on left holds 2 cups. Mug on right holds 1 cup.

It’s afternoon. We’ve just come back from lunch. The sun is trying to shine. It’s starting to snow again. We do need the moisture. I’m all out of words. It’s a good time to start sorting my papers for my Tax Return. So ends this post for the 20th day of the Ultimate Challenge.


It’s snowing again. An expected 2-4cm today. Winter is never far away. It’s a challenge to start the day with a blank canvass and no overwhelm. I have to grab another cup of tea to warm and fortify me. I’m staying with it all, no distractions, no running away. I never believed that there’s an escape route anyways. We take our loads with us, wherever we go. It’s a good day to stay home by the hearth, huddle and sort a few things out.

I have my cup of tea. I wonder what it is about tea that’s so comforting. Is it the warmth and wetness of it, the sweetness of the honey, the cream or is it the act of getting up and tending to myself? It is probably any one and every one of them. I’m cupping the warmth in my hands, savouring the sweet wetness of the Orange Pekoe. I’m thinking to myself, when drinking tea, think only tea. Let the rest of the world fade away. Rest my mind, rest my heart.

I think that’s the ticket to clearing my poor tired clutter mind. When I am doing one thing, think only of that thing. Whenever it wanders, bring it back to it again and again. It’s call mindfulness, what I practice when I meditate. Now I have to practice it in action and not just in thoughts. How slow I am in learning practical applications. Still it is better to be late to the game than never getting to it.

I’ve cleared my mind for the day. Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.


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It’s a brand new morning, a brand new day. Rain is in the forecast. I hope the rain will fall. I can’t remember when we’ve had a full day of rain like in the good old days. Where have all the rain gone, long time gone? I’m feeling nostalgic and melancholic for the seemingly good and steadifastness of the past. I wonder if I am deluded. I wonder if it’s my advancing age. Nothing seems safe, steady or predictable any more. I’m feeling a bit weird, unhinged and anxious about our present world. Life has a strange overcast. I feel the disconnect, that sound of one hand clapping.

Instead of just talking about it and drowning myself in a sea of useless words and thoughts, I could sit down and do some real work. I’m going to find some antidotes for those thoughts and feelings. I think our mothers and grandmothers were smarter than us. They believe in the house beautiful and cleanliness is next to holiness. At least my mother did and I’m sure she learned it from her mother. I believe that, too, but somehow I hadn’t acquired their ability and skill. I’m up for the challenge of learning though. It would give me a sense of purpose. It would engage my mind and brain so that they will have less time to wander willy nilly.

There’s no time like the present time to start. I see the way forward each day is to clear my mind, empty it of overwhelm, be a blank canvass. It’s difficult to make a start when it is jam full of stuff. I will have to do it any way that I can – meditating, solving a wordle puzzle, do my daily drawing…and work from there. This morning I’m working on putting things away after I’ve used them. Having done my drawing, I’ve put my pencils and erasers back in their case instead of leaving them lying around on the table. If I do this habit enough times, it will become automatic in time.


April 17th. The month is more than half over. I have yet to think of tackling my tax return. I’m a procrastinator but I will tend to it when I hit the deadline. It is the best motivator so I shall not waste time feeling bad/guilty/whatever about how I am. Life feels so busy and I have no plans at all, let alone best laid ones. I think it could be one reason why I feels so lost and in a puddle. I really should get my shit together, pull up my socks, get organized and make a plan. Who am I kidding though? How long have I talked about this? And has it happened yet?

I could get depressed about this. I think I am a little. I am thinking, instead of feeling down in my boots, I should make a list of things to tend to in these funky blue moods. I could just choose one little item, do it and cross it off. I’m sure it would give my morale/mood a boost. I don’t have a list yet, but I do push myself to do something – even when I feel least like it. For instance, I did finish transplanting my leggy snapdragons this morning. This afternoon, I put in 20 minutes transplanting the purple petunias. Little bits here and there add up. Even if I wasn’t feeling better, I felt no worse.

I went for a walk after lunch. It’s been a long while since my daily walks with Sheba. It’ll be 3 years middle of May. Funny how hard it is to walk without a dog. Sometimes I feel a little lost without Sheba. I need a reason and a destination. Exercise is a very good reason. I walked to the Dollar Store for oven mitts and pot holders. Then it was to the quilt shop to buy some bobbins for my Bernina sewing machine. I’m sure Sheba was tagging along. I could feel her at my heels.