It’s Day 7 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I find every day a challenge as soon as I get out of bed. Some challenges are better than others. I do love the writing, drawing and painting of life. They can set my heart a-beating and a-blaze. I am sure I have put in the 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours in both of them now. I’ve created this writing space in May, 2012. That makes it 10 years of writing. My first #100dayproject was in April, 2016 – the start of 6 years of my art journey.
Right now the writing poses more of a challenge for me. The Ultimate Blog Challenge has rules, not manybut some. It doesn’t pose any problem for me. I’m a Miss Goody Two Shoes. I like rules and I like abiding by them. But that’s not the case for everyone, it seems. For as long as I have been in this challenge, there’s been rule breakers. And don’t tell me that they don’t understand. Everyone participating is a writer. We know how to write, some better than others. Therefore it is reasonable to assume we can read, too. Most of the time rule breakers don’t bother me that much. But lately, I’ve been quite annoyed. Now, I have to get it out of my system and say the famous words: Let it go!
There, it is gone. It is a small irritant, magnified by my stupid thoughts of the moment. Generally the UBC group is a bunch of good eggs, supportive of each other. I am happy I am in the mix. Meanwhile, I babble on. It’s been mostly a beautiful sunny day. It got up to 12℃. The greenhouse got up to 33℃. I hope the cool loving stuff won’t bolt. I seeded a couple more things – petunias, basil and microgreens. I’m pretty happy with how things are growing. Another week and maybe I can seed some lettuce, spinach and other greens in our raised beds outside. Life is good.
I do have another challenge – the patience to proof read and edit. But, I bit the bullet and edited. Hopefully I’ve caught all errors and words that didn’t belong.
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 is a new day, a new month and a new beginning. Beginnings hold many promises and challenges. I am joining the Ultimate Blog Challenge again. It’s a good opportunity to reconnect with old members of the community and to meet new ones. It’s a good opportunity to learn from each other. November is national novel writing month. I’ve always wanted to write a novel, a memoir. Who hasn’t? Though I’ve tried NaNoWriMo a few times, I’ve failed miserably. It’s hard to come up with 50,000 words in 30 days. It would mean writing 1,666.6 words daily. When I set up this blog, I had intended writing 1000 words daily. Hence, the name onethousandandtwo.
I had high hopes and reaching high in my first days. I have learned that I have troubled getting 500 words at a time. I am a Hallmark type of a gal in writing. Too bad they are not hiring. I could write smart and snapping postcard greetings. Not to be discouraged and fail totally, I have always pushed forward with my keyboard and be satisfied with what my tapping brings forth. I have no business to promote. It is difficult to come up with a theme or a goal. Mostly it is mutterings of my daily grind. It’s no wonder I don’t have a huge following. That has never been my purpose so I am not hugely disappointed.
What I hope for this month of November is to show up every day. This could be my 2021 NaNoWriMo effort. I could strive to live up to the name of onethousandandtwo. I wonder how do-able that is. Would I have enough content? Could I be that long winded and keep the readers’ interest once they get here? Good questions for me to consider. It would be worthwhile for me to pursue these lines. It would push me out of my comfort zone. I would have to plan a little. I’ve been living too long on auto pilot. I’ve talked/tapped alot about challenges and making changes. I haven’t accomplished much because aside from talking about it, I haven’t wroked on reaching those goals.
I won’t have an easy time of it. Already I am stuck and I haven’t reached even 400 words. It is a good place to stop. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I have to build my way to 1000 words. I am starting November off on a good foot. It’s a beautiful sunny day. I had another early morning walk and the first UBC post.
I have become sodden with the summer heat. I can’t remember when I have shown up here. I no longer feel familiar with the word. The only thing I can do these days is water the greenhouse and gardens and watch Poirot on YouTube. I believe I am addicted to the peculiar little detective. I had to force myself away to come to the keyboard. Thinking and creating is so hard to do. I gave up on the index-card-a-day challenge after 40 days. It’s over tomorrow. I’m short 21 days. That doesn’t mean I have to give up. I can still finish it on my own time schedule. Do I have it in me?
It’s been a tough summer. It’s been a tough year. It’s a tough time all around. Nothing is like it used to be. Hasn’t it always been that way? We’re more aware now because Covid-19 changed everything. We have to change our ways of living on this planet. Yes, change is exhausting and I am exhausted but grateful at the same time. No, I can’t cry, Woe is me! because we are all in this together. I’m learning to suck it up, bolster myself and move forward as best as I can.
I have signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge of writing a post a day for the month of August. A commitment is a good prod in the right direction. I do take these challenges seriously. Here’s hoping I have enough stick-with-it to show up here every day this month. If I don’t have the words, I can do show and tell on what and how things are showing up in the greenhouse and garden. My goal for this challenge is showing up each day. It is a given that content and presentation are still very important to me. I will strive to do my best but it is not a do or die.
It’s almost 4 in the afternoon. I’ve just sat down with my instant coffee. What I would like to do is have a little snack and watch an episode of Miss Marple. The trouble is I’ve signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I have a blog post to write. This is only day 3. Too early to skip out. I can keep it simple though. AND this is the start of the 3rd week of cutting back on food. A little snack here and there adds up. I like to make a serious effort for a month and make an assessment of how to proceed.
I didn’t forget my online class this morning like I did last week. It was the last one on the rise and fall of Mussolini. History is very interesting and Mussolini is a fascinating man. I am sure that there is so much more to learn than what can be covered in 8 2-hour classes. I’m learning about another fascinating though not as widely known man in history. He is Fr. Walter Cisek. He was an American Jesuit priest who spent 23 years in the Soviet Union. 18 of those years were as a prisoner and 15 of those years in the labour camps of Siberia.
I’m not quite halfway through his book, With God in Russia. It was a recommendation from Caroline Myss. She talks about it on many of her lectures. I knew it was a must read for me. I had reserved it from our library. It took almost a year for me to finally get it. And I would say that it came at a most apporpriate time. Talk about faith, challenges and strength. I think it would be a good read for those anti-maskers and covid deniers. I like to hear them talk about how the government is trying to take away their freedom after they have read the book.
Now I have to have a little snack. I feel a sugar low coming. I would not fare well in a labour camp. Who knows though until I find myself in that situation. Fr. Cisek himself admitted that he was a hoodlum and a bully when he was young. Then he got the call and he answered it and never wavered, not even for a second. Not even as a prisoner in Russia. I have heard a similar call a few years back. I answered, too and have kept faith in my own way. But I do have a lot to learn from Fr. Cisek.
It’s day 4 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. 24 more days to go. I’m counting the days already. It shows that I’m not a planner. I haven’t laid out all the steps. I am a wing-it kind of a girl. I feel overwhelmed every day. You think that would prompt me to change. I hate change but it’s not too late to do it. Like the saying goes, it’s never too late until it’s over. I’ve always been a late bloomer.
I was 8 years old when I came to Canada. I had to start school all over from grade 1. I already had my grade 2 in Hong Kong but I didn’t know any English. The teacher had me stay in at recess to get me started. Her name was Miss Woodall. She had chin length reddish hair which she wore in a page boy. I remember she favoured wearing sweater sets and dirdle skirts. I think that was the style of the day. She used a picture book to teach me English words. I had trouble pronoucing words like roof and detour.
I did catch up one grade, taking grade 2 and 3 the next year. They thought I was smart and had a talent for drawing. When I graduated from high school, I was encouraged to go to university instead of secretarial school. I majored in fine arts and literature. I dropped out after 2 years and went to secretarial school. I worked as a steno for a few years, got bored and went into nursing. Through all my working years I talked about my big dream of being an artist. I had some great art teachers. I basked in the light of being in their classes. Meanwhile I did nothing else to realize my dreams.
I can understand the psychology of it now. It is much safer to talk about it. I can’t fail something I didn’t work on. But after many decades, I realized it was ridiculous to keep up that stupid chatter. In 2016 I finally stopped talking about it. I started making a little art each day for the100dayproject. And the rest is history. And I’m learning from my own history that it is never too late to change or to start something. The clock is ticking for all of us. I do not need it to overwhelm me. I will/can continue to block and blog away for another day.
It’s another day of the October Ultimate Blog Challenge. Only 8 more days after today. Who’s counting, eh? I’m running late again. I’m busy. It’s not a bad thing. It means I’m living a full throttle life, despite the Covid. Today I made another run to Costco. This time I had no trouble finding my car on the way out. I parked in my usual area, near the disabled section. It’s stressful and exhausting shopping at big-box retailers. You have to run from one end of the warehouse to the other. It’s like being at the airport, searching for the right terminal. I’m hooked along with the rest of the people but at least I’m not a frequent flyer.
Now I’m sitting here frantically trying to find thoughts and words for this post. It would be easy to just give in and call it a month. But I won’t. I am stubborn. If I give in now, I could give in to so many other things. It could be a domino effect. An avalanche could occur. I have completed challenges before. I can do it again. My first one was called the 100 Day Challenge. It was the one that led me back to my art. Every day I would draw or paint something. I was surprised and elated at the end to find that I do have some talent. One of my favourite challenge is the Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day Challenge. Here are some of them from July 2019.
I’ve never given much thought to the meaning of the dog days of summer. Given to the context of how I hear it used and how it sounded, they meant summer time when you can see the heat sizzling from the pavement. The phrase always summon up images and memories of that summer in New York City. I can still see the steaming sidewalks, hear the rat-tat-tat of jackhammers, sirens, the crowded streets of Canal and Mott Streets. I can still feel the loneliness of summer in the city.
I still struggle with the dog days of summer. I still struggle with life. There’s no easy way about it. Everything takes effort. I like to think that effort makes it worthwhile. But I’m simply justifying, explaining and maybe apologizing for my lack of skills and successess. I do feel like such a failure sometimes. What do I really have to show for these years of hard effort? Ok, I have:
A nursing career. Nothing spectular but 30 years of rotating shift work. No nurse of the year award but have caused no harm.
No husband. No children. A companion of 10 years.
No wealth. A good pension. Nice house with garage and yard. No debts.
Not the most popular gal in town. Have a few good friends. I can count them all on one hand. One bad neighbour.
Experienced unconditional love for almost 14 years. I’m talking about my fur baby, Sheba. She’s in heaven now.
Ignited a couple of old passions – my paints and sewing machine.
Perhaps I am not doing as bad as I thought. I have a few good things. When those dog days come, all I can see and feel are my dark side and failures. It helps to make a list of : successes and failures, pros and cons, places I’ve been, things done, etc. Then tally up the score to see the results. I had meant to show up every day for the Ultimate Blog Challenge but the dog days got the better of me. Total counting today, I’ve shown up for 17 days. It’s a little more than 50%. But I did complete the Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day Challenge. I painted 62 index cards for June and July – one extra.
Did I reach the goal I set for this challenge? I think I have. Right in the moment I’m not exactly jumping up and down with glee and excitement. I feel somewhat sedate and at ease. I’m satisfied in the now. I have no wants. I am at peace – even with my badassed neighbour. Perhaps she is getting help with her mental health. Perhaps there is hope. I’m not all about struggles. I’m not all about depression. I have those treasured moments of seeing dust motes in sunbeams. I have the ability to see beauty and feel joy.
So ends another Ultimate Blog Challenge. Hope to show up more next time around.
Here it is, the 8th day of July and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am finding life a bit of a challenge. I am sure we all are with the Covid-19. I’ve lost my fur baby of 14 years in May. I’m still grieving for Sheba. There’s not a day that I don’t think of her. On top of that, the neighbour is still on her harassment path. Summer is here. There’s the garden and yard to tend to. I cannot do anything near our cedars beside her driveway without drawing her attention, followed by her drama. The purpose of this month and challenge is to help me disengaged from her negative energy. I want to live in peace alongside her property.
Most days I feel I’m going nowhere. It has been 12 years now, off and on that she has been harassing me. I am tired and fed up with her in my thoughts constantly. I am sick of working on the problem. I took some time this morning just standing and watching the plants sway in the wind. I felt as if I was swaying with them, letting their rhythm soothe, empty and calm my mind. I’ve given away too much of my time and energy to the woman next door. It’s doing me in. Time to stop.
It’s not as if I’m lacking for things to do. There never seem enough time to do all the things I want to. I could lose myself for hours puttering in the yard and garden. There’s harvesting each day – lettuce, spinach, Chinese mustard greens, strawberries. Today I got a handful of blueberries and haskaps. Then you have to do something with the harvest. Otherwise they would spoil and go to waste. At each day’s end I am tired and wishing for more time.
I really must get myself back from overthinking and stressing about the neighbour next door. I have much better things to think about. I’m over a week behind in the Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day Challenge. I made time today to catch up a little today. It was a much better time spent, making art on a 4 x 6 index card. Sheba came alive again – on paper. Life is too short for someone to rob me of my passions.
End of July. End of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. This is my last post for it. It is after 4:30 in the afternoon. I’m sitting in the kitchen. There’s a nice cool draft from the two opened windows. I was relaxed but not anymore. Intrusive thoughts, phone calls, Sheba panting at my feet and the sound of traffic through the window. I’m feeling annoyed. I do my 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
Not much better. I lose count of my counting. Sheba is whining at me. The traffic is still so loud and distracting. We head outside. I kick Sheba off the deck with a rawhide chew. It is warm but not too bad. I can hear Sheba chewing her rawhide. At least one of us is settled. I do another round of 4-7-8 breathing. I listen to the traffic. I listen to the kids play at the daycare one house over. I don’t wish or fight for quiet. I accept what is.
I’m a slow learner in life but I can still learn. This month has been all about learning the things that will make life easier for myself. I’ve been doing the same things over and over, expecting different results. I hadn’t known before that was what I was doing. I really worked on being mindful and seeing things objectively. It has changed how I see and think. It has removed the personal and emotional from many situations. For the first time, I see many things as they really are.
I was very proud of myself earlier in the day. I felt intrusive thoughts working their way into my mind. I saw what they were. I willingly and easily changed my thoughts. I felt smug about it, thinking I’m some kind of saint. But then, later, they came again. I took them personally and emotionally. I became irritated and annoyed with myself. So here I sit now, telling you about it. I think I must accept all my feelings, the good and bad. Otherwise, the bad will cause self-hatred. And no one is a saint.
Now it is almost 8 in the evening. I’m trying to finish my thoughts. July has been a good month. The weather has been volatile, changing day to day and within the day. Maybe we need that to remind us how precious our earth is. It reminds me how precious life is. It is not to be taken for granted. I have to take care and tend to it like my garden. The month and the challenge is over, but I will still come to this space to sort out the weeds in my thoughts. I will continue to learn and discern what is nurturing from what is noxious.