AM I HAVING FUN YET

January 18. The Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Another day enclosed in the grey. I tried dipping my toes into my fun list this afternoon. I didn’t have any nail polish on hand. Otherwise, I might have had some fun. I used to have a couple of bottles laying around forever and a day. I could have used them today. So I had throwaway regrets. Next, I tried origami. I have a kit I bought when I was in Japan a million years ago. The instructions were diagrams without words. It was a bit complicated. Maybe I should have started on page 4 instead of 22. As a result, my tulip is a little too top heavy.

Next, I played a little piano. I was not engaging so I gave up after 20 minutes. It’s really no fun when I’m feeling so blasè. I had been reading Babel and it was interesting but in my mood, a dark fantasy about colonalism would make my mood darker. I thought about resorting to John Grisham’s The Client, but I got onto YouTube and found this. I was engaged, caught up in the music and movement of this couple ice skating.

It wasn’t really what you would call fun but I was at least distracted from my grey feelings for a few minutes. Perhaps I should not try so hard running away from these feelings/days. Just accept and ride/ease them through without a fight/struggle. Perhaps there’s a purpose for them.

TAMING MY BEAST

December 27. I’m having one of those early morning awakenings when I can’t fall back to sleep. It was better for me to get up rather than lay in the dark with dark and unpleasant thought and feelings. It is 7:00 am an -12℃ outside. I’m on my second cup of tea, have scrolled through social media and played today’s Wordle. It would be better if I could skip the scrolling but it’s become part of my morning routine for waking up. 

Surprisingly, my bad thoughts and feelings dissipated with my rising, turning on the lights, brushing my teeth and having my cups of tea. I am surprised only because I have been/am paying attention to when these moods come and go. They had been more frequent in the past. I like to think that I now have a better handle on them. Even though I know better and that I am not alone, I feel alone. I know I am not a failure but feel so in these times.

So this is the nature of my beast. I have accepted and befriended it. I am becoming a scientist in its investigation. I wonder how I can use it for my betterment instead of detriment. For one thing, it has made me realize that I can control it. I am not at its mercy. It has driven me to seek not only the why of its existence but also ways to work with it so that life can be as easeful, pleasant and meaningful as possible. I’m seeking ways of being kinder to myself with less self blame.

It is not the best time to be a think tank when I am being squeezed by my beast. My brain is in a thick fog. It would’t be able to figure out how to get out of a wet paper bag. The best activities for me would be to clean anything – like wash the dishes, floors, windows. I can still draw pretty good in these moods. Tapping out the words and moods is soothing and comforting. Cross country skiing is my newest, most fun and effective tool. My mind and senses are fully occupied. There’s no room for dark and ugly thoughts.

This is it, all that I’m able to write today. I had fallen off my writing wagon for a week. A week ago, I was bright eye and bushy tailed. A week ago it was sunny and bitterly cold, in the -30s ℃. But I felt oh so well. I feel better now just remembering how good I felt. I will hang on to the memory. My spirit dipped on December 24 when it got cloudy and up to -16℃ overnight from -34℃. We’re in for a stretch of clouds and snow ahead. I’m geared to make my own sunshine.

NOVEMBER – A New Month of Challenges

November 1, end of October and a new beginning. Though the October Ultimate Blog Challenge is over, challenges are not over for me. I’m the type of person who finds everything hard. At one point in my life I vowed not to let that word enter my vocabulary. It’s hard, too hard. I know I’m weak with vows. Now I am using the word with abandon. Life is just too flipping hard and if using the word makes me feel better, why not, eh?

I’m not like most women. I hate shopping. I have to gear up to go to Costco. Thinking about it fills me with yuck but it’s time and it’s hard. I need stuff and they have it all there and at a good price. I know having intentions doesn’t mean anything unless I follow through. So I made my list, got into the car and drove. Funny it wasn’t hard after that. I went up and down the aisles with my cart and list. An hour later I was through the checkout with $500 less in my bank account. The next challenge was to load everything in the car and get home.

I have to file the memory that it wasn’t hard after I get into the car. The trick was not to pay attention to my feelings but the need to do. That was my focus, too, on getting everything into the house. I was grateful for my workouts at the gym, that I have the strength and the know how. I thought on posture – hip hinge and squat, no bending over. I did pretty well though I worked up a sweat. Most things are put away though a few are still looking for a home. They might as well hang out until I reorganize and clean out some cupboard space. No point in stuffing them in wherever and then having to pull everything out again.

I am pretty pleased with myself for accomplishing this shopping trip today. I did not skip out on my afternoon walk even though the weather was grey and breezy. I brought out my toque and away I went. The fresh air and steps will help me get a good night’s sleep. Now it is almost 6 pm and it is quite dark already and raining a little. I have long complained about the darkness beginning at this time of the year. But I am noticing that it no longer bothers me as much or in the same way. I am learning to embrace, celebrate and use this time to rest and rejuvenate so that I am ready for the spring and the growing season.

UNEASY THURSDAY

It’s not my write day today but I feel like talking. When that comes, it’s good to listen. It’s another overcast and cloudy day. It had rained some overnight. I think it is going to be this kind of summer – cool and unpredictable. The forecast for Saturday is sunny and 34℃. Can you believe it? That’s 2 days away. By then things could change and anything is possible. Maybe not snow though.

I feel uneasy. It is a frequent visitor. Coming home from exercise yesterday, I had a sense that we’re living in a Stephen King novel. Something is terribly wrong with our world and we’re just watching and waiting and not doing. I’m feeling this discomfort of avoidance and helplessness. It’s a good reason to come to my keyboard and tap. It stops my mind from pacing uselessly back and forth. I’m focused on the words and sentences. With luck I can tap out some comfort and a course of action.

Right now there are things I need to and can do. They are the small acts of daily living. No matter what, we need to get up, dress up and show up for what is here. The yogurt needs to be made. The milk is close to its expiration date. It is an easy process. Steam the milk for 1 minute in the Instant Pot. Then cool for 20 minutes till it’s 120℉ or less. Put in a scoop of plain yogurt and ¼ cup of powder milk. Stir well. Pour into yogurt jars and place in yogurt maker. Cover and plug in. Leave for 4 hours till yogurt forms to desired consistency. Easy peasy. Not so if I don’t have a plan of action for uneasy days.

I can override my natural tendency for these feelings of unease. These are good times to pay attention to areas of need – like cupboards and closets. Sorting and cleaning my outer space gives me a sense of sorting and cleaning my inner space/thoughts and feelings. It can give me a sense of control and empowerment. Sometimes those areas are not the right thing to tackle. Then I’m ok to use escapism, like diving into a book that takes me completely away. The Chamber by John Grisham is such a book. It’s about death row, the death penalty, the KKK and racism – not exactly light hearted and a feel good kind of book. It was very impactful, making me rethink almost everything about life, how we are/were and how to go forward.

Now the morning is almost gone. I’ve got the yogurt yogurting. I’ve cleaned up the equipment I used in the process. Now to harvest some lettuce and radishes for a salad for lunch. The phone rang just now. A recording said it was Amazon and that they will be billing $35.00 to my account. Who are these people who are so technically capable of cheating us? Why don’t they use their abilities to help people instead? Such is the world we live in.

WILD GEESE

February 13. 6:11pm. It is -8℃ outside, 3.3℃ in the greenhouse. Today’s high in the greenhouse was 14.4℃ at 12:30 pm. The low -3.5℃ at 6:09 am. I think it’s helpful to track the highs and lows now since it is getting close to ?seeding time. I can’t depend on my memory alone any more.

It is almost closing time to the day and I haven’t made any progress in clearing my trouble spots in the house. I had intentions for the last week. When I start, I don’t know where to start. Damn! I look at an area and I’m stuck, struck motionless with a sinking defeated feeling. I’m wondering how the hell I can break loose.

March 3. 10:21 am. It is -18℃ outside and -3.5℃ in the greenhouse. It seems like we are going backwards, getting colder instead of warmer. I’ve been missing in action for almost 3 weeks. How time flies even when you’re not having fun. Life doesn’t have to be perfect. Most of the time it isn’t so what am I talking about? I’m thinking of Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese this morning.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Her words give me comfort. I’m reminded of Sheba and her soft animal body close to mine. Everything is as it should be. The sun still rises and will set and rise again the next morning. We are all in this together. I shall feel what I feel and not fret about it. I do not have to try so hard – not to feel sad, not to feel tired, not to…. I shall let the feelings come and splash them onto my watercolour paper, however they land. They are all lessons in this art we call life.

FIRE AND RAIN

February 10. 9:19 am. It’s 5℃ outside and 1.2℃ in the greenhouse. It is grey, wet and slippery as hell on the sidewalks. We watch people walking cautiously, some on the street and some in the snow of lawns. Then there are the brave teenagers marching and sliding along. I have decided that I will not be stepping outside today. I am going to hunker down and mind my own business. I have many things to do – at my speed which is not fast.

It’s ill winds that are blowing. We’ve had rain, we’ve had snow….I feel like breaking into James Taylor’s Fire and Rain. When I listen to the lyrics, it’s exactly how I feel. We have rain and snow. I could use a little fire in me.

February 11. 9:47 am. It is -19℃ outside, -6℃ in the greenhouse. Tepid sunshine. What a difference a day makes. Yesterday afternoon it was 5℃ outside and 15.9℃ in the greenhouse. You think that was something to cheer about. It was not. Yesterday was very hard, hard for me. I felt like soggy spaghetti noodles with brain fog. Moving and getting things done were very difficult. I started out making curried beef in the Instant Pot about 11 am. It was soon clear I couldn’t quite get it together. Good thing for frozen pizzas on hand. I did get everything into the Instant Pot for the curry beef by 3 pm. It felt like a huge accomplishment by the time I got the cleaning done.

I’m feeling a little more together today. Lunch is ready. I just have to take the pot of beef and stick it into the Instant part and plug it in. My plans for the day? None except to mope along as best I can. No skiing in the park today either. It’s probably icy and treacherous as hell. Navigating the streets and sidewalks are hard enough. We might go out to the nearby golf course tomorrow afternoon. They, hopefully, will have groomed trails.

Beef and butternut curry

The curry was quite delicious. I followed this recipe for the spices and used what ingredients I had on hand – ground beef, onions, garlic, butternut squash, Swedish brown beans, frozen tomatoes and frozen greens. I browned the hamburger, then threw in the rest with a jar of pork broth into the Instant Pot. Used stew and meat button for one hour.

February 12. 9:32 am. -14℃ outside. -5.5℃ in the greenhouse. Sunny. I have to say that I’ve been more affected by the freedom convoy affair than the pandemic. I’m wondering what ‘freedom’ they’re fighting for. I’m a Chinese immigrant whose grandfather escaped death by a hair and whose grandmother was jailed in his place in the Mao regime. I remember hearing gunfire of firing squads killing dissidents who dared saying anything remotely against the government. So I am wondering what is the freedom that these freedom fighters are fighting for? Freedom here is just another word for chaos – to do as we please, irregardless of others. We might as well do away with need for driver’s license, a business license, a professional (doctor, engineer, pilot, nurse, teacher…..) license, visas, passports of any kind, rules of the road, airway….Let’s get foolish. Let’s go backwards….

Ok, I’ve had my rant to clear all my chakras for the day. Meanwhile…my seeds of early Red Alert tomatoes, eggplants and peppers have germinated. I haven’t done by daily draw yet but I am quite pleased with the ones I have done. Yesterday I started to add watercolour to my duck drawing. Though not perfect, I am quite happy with it. Colours clear, no mud created. No mud, no lotus. In this case, it is what I want.

CHINESE NEW YEAR/CONVERSATIONS/FEELINGS

Happy Chinese New Year to all my Chinese family and friends wherever you are. The morning is awashed with bright sunshine. It is only -24 degrees Celsius, quite a bit warmer than yesterday’s -40 C. My world looks so white, clean and peaceful. And yet it is not. The Coronavirus is still a threat amongst us. life and death goes on.

I hope I am not sounding morbid and pessimistic. I am not. I am feeling a bit strange and in limbo. It is not something new. I do go through such now and again. It’s a discomfort, like something is hanging over me that I’m avoiding. It’s because I’m such a procrastinator, always putting off little things until they get big. It’s true that you can put things under the carpet, but not out of your mind. They will nag and nibble at you. That’s what I’m feeling. Every time I resolve things, I vow not to let it happen again. I might as well save my breath. It does happen again because I am only too human.

It doesn’t mean that I should give up altogether. I am here at the keyboard earlier in the day. I am trying to have a conversation again. It’s good for our mental health to talk, to voice and share our ideas. But I’m not really in love with the way we communicate nowadays. For some people keeping in touch means ‘copy and paste’, sending stickers/videos/clips/attachments on Messenger, Instagram, text messages. Most of the time, there are no explanation or personal message. It doesn’t tell me anything about the sender or why I’m getting it.

We should not assume what we find interesting and useful would be the same for another. Think again before you hit that SEND button. Am I doing a service or disservice? Am I really being thoughtful or am I really thinking of myself? Different strokes for different folks. I think it would be good to remember etiquette is the same on all communication tools. I hope that I am also respectful in what and how I am communicating, but maybe I’m not. Perhaps those ‘unfriending’ on FB was a message. We all live with the consequences of our actions.

I have done well today. I hope I can keep it up and build on it. It is after lunch. I have done Chinese takeout for my parents and ourselves. It’s a chance for me to check on them without appearing so when I drop off the food. It was my mother who used to drop off stuff for me New Year and other occasions. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Children become the parents and vice versa. My brother will be dropping supper for them tonight. We celebrate together somehow.

I have skied 3 laps around the park this afternoon. An extra lap for prosperity. I’m trying to build stamina and speed. I did not gain any speed but am keeping my time under 11 minutes/lap. You would think I was training for the Olympics. LQOL (laughing quite out loud). It was quite lovely today being at least 10 degrees warmer and less wind. It was easier breathing and I didn’t get quite as frosty as yesterday. Scroll on the arrow to see.

HEALING MY ADDICTIONS

It’s another Covid-19 morning, cool but sunny. I’ve gotten my addiction, my cuppa Orange Pekoe out of the way. It is definitely a trigger for my bladder. I’m not quite as in love with it this morning. I drank it out of a Corelle mug instead of my usual one of china. It does make a difference. Tomorrow I shall try one of my fine china teacups. I have quite a few sitting in the cabinet, just for show. If I’m going to suffer, I might as well do it in style. And they are quite a bit smaller than a mug – 1/3 smaller.

My mood is an improvement over yesterday’s. There’s no need to trash myself about it. I am susceptible to anxiety and depression. There’s no shame about it. These are difficult and weird times. Everyone is feeling it. A dog walking friend admitted that he was feeling anxious and needing some help. I talked to a neighbour at a distance yesterday. She looked tired and a little worn. Worse than me, I thought.

So here I am, tapping out a bit of conversation. I’ve pushed my damp mop around already. I took my dust cloth along, giving a wipe here and there. The mop is much lighter and easier to push than a vacuum. It’s faster and saves on the power bill. I’m learning new and better ways of doing. Hard to give up those ‘healthy’ and yet not good snacks. I’ve just had a few pistachios. They’re on the ‘bad’ list for me. I shall counter act with a couple of dates. I’m off to indulge in my crime novel before tackling lunch.

Now I’m in the evening of the day. Sheba and I had our afternoon walk in the sunshine. I never got my intended work on the other raised garden beds. It can wait till tomorrow. I did indulge in my crime reading. It is a good addiction sometimes. It dispels those creepy feelings of anxiety. My attention is focused on the crime and the chase. It’s a good escape hatchet. Just what I need sometimes. But I did not spend the whole afternoon in escapism. I did a little chopping up cabbage and this and that. Now I have two jars of kimchi fermenting in the basement.

So ends another day. I’m glad I’m showing up here for myself. Self talk is comforting and can be enlightening. Keep well and safe.

 

 

WEREN’T WE BEAUTIFUL

I am having a bit of a struggle this morning just with the thought of being in ‘locked down’. My daily life activities have not really changed all that much. I do miss not being able to go to the library, swimming Saturday mornings and our Monday, Wednesday and Friday exercise class at the YWCA. The thought of not being able to get closer than 6 feet of another living human being (other than the ones you’re living with) makes me feel claustrophobic and breathless. It’s much like the time I accidentally locked myself in the car. I was in a  panic then. Even Sheba was taking up too much of my air. I had to roll the window down and stick my head out.

I had a talk with myself just a little while ago, put a load in the laundry, made myself a cup of tea and here I am with the poem of the day. The words are beautiful,  bringing to mind of different days and different times. I know the wisdom of being in the NOW. But it is also in our nature to look back as well as ahead. We are a sum of our total experiences. Our body registers pleasure moments as well as those frightful ones that come back to haunt us long after they are gone. It’s healing to recall those golden times evoked by photographs and poetry. I can close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, feel the breeze in my hair. I feel the vitality of my youth and the presence of my cousin next to me.

Now I’m soothed and smoothed, sipping another cup of tea. I’m no longer breathless and panicky. I can still feel the warmth of those sunny golden days and the presence of my cousin on this earth, knowing she is an angel in heaven.

Were’t We Beautiful

growing into ourselves
earnest and funny we were
angels of some kind, smiling visitors
the light we lived in was gorgeous
we looked up and into the camera
the ordinary things we did with our hands
or how we turned and walked
or looked back we lifted the child
spooned food into his mouth
the camera held it, stayed it
there we are in our lives as if
we had all time
as if we would stand in that room
and wear that shirt those glasses
as if that light
without end
would shine on us
and from us.

– Marjorie Saiser

 

 

WORDS, THOUGHTS, FEELINGS

I’m on a 7 hour countdown with WordPress. I’ve decided to end my personal plan and go back to the free one. Nothing much changes except I’m not paying now. My handle is still athousandandtwo with a .wordpress added after and before the .com. Of course my media storage space is cut back to 3GB from 6. I wasn’t using much of the extra space these 2 years that I’ve had the plan. So what’s the point?

I know, a picture is worth a thousand words and they do speak to me. There’s whole conversations in a photo. Not everyone can hear them though. Words can speak just as well if not louder. I’m making a choice now. I’m choosing the written word. It’s not as if I’m giving up the whole picture. I still have 3 GBs of them at my disposal. But perhaps now that I have chosen the word, I can work on getting one thousand of them. It’s a worthy goal.

I can see the benefits of reaching beyond myself. It will boost my self esteem to prove that I’m not just a one or two liner girl. I can write more than just Hallmark greeting cards. That’s nothing to sneeze at either, if I can sell them. Secondly, working on more words could help slow down and organize my attention deficit brain. Having the goal would give me purpose in coming to this space. I’ve been mostly sighing and whining about this and that. Who wants to listen to that? I tire and bore myself.

So now I’m down to 5 hours before I’m booted back to the not so professional version of WordPress. My words will stay the same. I still give them equal and careful thought before hitting the PUBLISH button. My proof reading is not superb. Having an attention deficit brain, my eyes run ahead before the words can register. My thoughts skip all over the place, too. I work on pulling eyes and attention back to this page, to this moment, to this purpose.

I’ve been sitting every morning in meditation with Mark Williams on Youtube. I’ve been doing it since July. Sometimes I hear myself thinking with his British accent ..”and if you should find yourself…” It works. When I do find myself wondering off, I bring myself back to the breath, to the moment. Deliberate practice does make for better. It’s enough to encourage me to continue my practice. My moods and thoughts are getting healthier. Whenever I find my thoughts veering off in the wrong direction, I try to picture them as clouds passing in the sky. I let go of the emotions they stir in me though I do feel the resistence. I tell myself it is the right thing to do.  I send them back into the clouds passing in the sky. I feel the turnaround, the resistence melting away, the letting go of bad thoughts and feelings.

Now, WordPress tells me I have 4 hours left. I can still renew by paying. No, I’m keeping it simple and free. Hopefully I will still be here, in this my special tapping space.