A NEW YEAR AND CHALLENGE

January 1, 2023. A brand spanking new year, a new day and a blank page. I’m hoping to fill the page with ease and interest. This month I am writing a post a day for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’ve been doing it for quite a few years now. It’s useful to keep me on track and accountable. It always help to have the comradeship and encouragement of other bloggers and participants. Then we have our digital maestro, Paul Taubman to lead us. It’s as close to being in a children’s camp as I can get. Growing up, I’ve always envied the kids that had the opportunity of going to summer camp. I never did. Now I have a whole 31 days of it with no mosquitoes or poison ivy. Yippee!

My goals for this round of the challenge are the same as other times. And that is to show up every day with a post and to have fun. I don’t have a business to promote. I write for the pure pleasure of using words and photos. I see pictures in words and photos tell me a story. Recently I’ve upgraded my WordPress account in order to have a larger media library. This gives me occasion to play around with that and other new features that comes with my new plan. I hope this month will enhance my expressiveness with words and photos.

It is now getting into the late afternoon. My flair and enthusiasm for words are waning. We had dim sum with family followed by an afternoon ski, followed by a game of Chinese chess. They all eat up energy. I’m a bit tired but it was wonderful to be out and about. It’s wonderful to be able to bring my parents out for a meal. It was too bad that there was none of their friends at that restaurant. But we enjoyed what we can and had. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was beautifully sunny and warm.

Photo by Yeung Gento Tochtli on Pexels.com

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER POST

It’s that time again wherein I sit down, get down to business and write. What should I write about? Should I tell you about my day, my humdrum every day? I’m a morning person now. Been so for quite a few years. I look forward to getting up between 6 and 7. Seems like there’s a lot to look forward to – even in these times. Though I’m feeling a little stressed, cranky and a bit down in the dumps, I haven’t lost that looking forward feeling. Thank God. I do have a bit of attitude but I don’t want to have nothing to look forward to one. I have standards.

I am trying to break loose of ‘stuck’ with nowhere to go and no stars to reach for. It’s not a good feeling and I don’t want to stay in it. Exercise has always worked great for me. I was looking forward to heading back to the YWCA pool and swimming. The universe has other plans for me. The pool needs ‘fixing’. It’s been out of service for a couple of months already. So, it’s back to the AM ENERGIZER. It really is one. I’m feeling so much better already after one session. I’m sure I will feel it tomorrow, not having used those muscles for quite awhile.

I decided it might be a good exercise to visit the library again. It was one of my favourite places before Covid. Why can’t it be again? I am disappointed that it is not the same. It does not have the same scope of material it once did. Seems like the city politicians are slashing the wrong budgets, not seeing the importance and scope of the public service the library provides. It’s good for education, socializing and mental health just to name some. Should we just throw up our hands, accept and say. Oh well? Or are there things we can do? It is something to think about while we are stuck here in this Covid time.

Having come back to my keyboard and tapping my heart away, I am not feeling as overwhelmed. I think I have all my tax receipts gathered. This month’s bills are paid. I am doing my daily drawing and watercolour. My desk and dining room table are littered with papers, pens, paint and whatnot. They are a disaster but there is no emergency. I’ve set a goal that I would date and label my creations each day. I would find something/somewhere to hold them in one place. Baby steps as one might say. I really hate that term because I am no longer a baby.

Well, there you have it. Another day, another post. No Pulitzer Prize here. Just some words. They still count.

WORDS AND PAINT ON THE PAGE

It’s a cool -11℃ but sunny March morning. It’s a good thing we have a small heater in the greenhouse for periods like this. It’s keeping the temperature above 0. Right now it is 5.2℃. The tomatoes and cucumbers are appreciating it. I’m trying to move along, staying focused but already I’ve been sidetracked by a post on FB about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I have no will power at all against the attraction of mindless scrolling. I’ve disentangle myself now that I’ve read the whole article. I have to get serious and write this post.

I am feeling so much better for having returned to my keyboard. Letting my thoughts run helter skelter is not helpful in these times or any time. They’ve made me feel more unsettled and helpless and hard to live with. I am one who needs to talk/write things out in hard copy, on the page. I prefer solo written conversation with just myself. Oh, I know, communication and talk it out, get it out in the open. I’ve seldom found that helpful but I’ve learned a few things from that process.

  • Most people, myself included, do not listen or hear well. We can’t wait for the person to stop talking so we can tell our story.
  • We all see and hear differently. Quite often I feel doubly wounded after telling my story. It is strange but the listener always seem to defend and take the other side. I am left feeling unheard and unseen.

I see those 2 things in myself, too. Now I try harder to just listen carefully first before talking. I try not to offer solutions because I don’t think that’s what is wanted or needed. A person wants and needs to be heard. When the person I’m talking to takes or tries to present the other side, I feel not only unheard but judged also. That is the why of my writing space here. It’s my sounding board of working things out. I hear me. I see me. I try not to judge me.

I’m almost at the end of this post. Feeling pride of accomplishment and of setting goals. When I break things down into do-ables, I do not feel so overwhelmed. The lunch is souping in the Instant Pot. My drawing/watercolour for #the100daychallenge is almost done. Doing one thing a day whether it be a drawing/painting, a blog post, a quilt square…works well for me. I feel soothed and smoothed typing on the keyboard, holding my pencil and paint brush. Working on a post or a painting is working on my life. Work brings everything to life.

WRAPPING IT UP

January 31, day 31 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I don’t know what the fig happened. I was awol (absent without official leave) for a few days – January 28, 29 and 30. I didn’t mean to. Really, I didn’t but my days got shorter. I ran out of time. I ran out of energy and I never had a plan for those kinds of days. But I am showing up to wrap up the month and the challenge. I will have a beginning, a middle and an ending to the month and challenge.

Did I fulfill my goals for this month and the challenge? The answer is yes and no. I did not show up every single day. I did not worked through the whole Unravel Your Year workbook. I looked back on most of 2021 but not ahead to 2022. I am not much of a planner. It shows up in different areas of my life. Maybe it’s something I should work on, eh? If I had a plan B, maybe I could have shown up here every single day. No use crying over spilt milk. I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

I’ve come back over and over. I have done the best I could. Life is about flexibility. It’s a little of this and a bit of that. It’s a potpourri of successes, failures, boredom, elation, stumbles, falls and everything that is possible and imaginable. I am very happy that we have the UBC platform wherein I can do my mumbling, stuttering and sharing. It’s a great place to meet others from different parts of the world and in different walks and stages of life.

I’ve taken on more than I can bite for this January. Besides the UBC, I have a weekly online adult learning course from our university. The subject is on the goddesses of India. There are no examines but the subject is very new to me. I have also signed up for an in-person watercolour class. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It still is but it’s 2½ hours every Saturday for 8 weeks. Learning something new is very exhausting – for me. After the class, I’m no good for anything cerebral. I ski to unwind. Then I am done for the rest of the day. I have 3 classes under my belt now. I’m starting to have a feel for that sweet spot. It is also very easy to fall down and into making mud again. I try not to feel too elated or too downcast. This life is a journey of ups, downs and monotony. They all contribute to the texture of my days.

Today I say farewell to January and the UBC. Much thanks to Paul Taubman our maestro and to all the members of this community. I appreciate all the visits, reads and thoughtful comments. It’s been a fun and rewarding month.

A MONTH OF DAILY WRITES

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.

FIRST DAYS

A beautiful morning for the first of May and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’ve been writing for it for quite a few years now but the first day is always an exciting time. It’s a chance to begin anew and to do better. Though my goal is to post every day, there might be days when it won’t happen. I will give it my best. I’ve set other goals for the month also. They have to do with giving myself more time to savour and enjoy. I’ve been running on empty on that account. There’s goal setting and setting goals. I’ve been on the to ‘accomplish’ these days. I seldom just do nothing. There’s that gadget I’m attached to. It’s like an appendage – the smartphone.

It does not allow me much rest time. They, whoever they are, are very smart at getting me and otheres addicted. I want to get free of this. I am sure that it adds to my forgetfulness and inattentiveness. I no longer feel like I need to remember anything. I can google for anything, right? Yes, I do google alot, but I’m finding that my memory muscle as well as my attention muscle are shot. It’s hard for me to retain anything. I do worry about Alzheimer’s. It’s a reason for me to be proactive now to detach myself a little from the phone and Iternet. Moderation in everything is the best advice.

I’m hoping that my writing every day here will help. I shall have to set aside this time to sit, rest and think about my words. They can open doors to many new and adventurous things. When I am busy doing, doing and doing, I have no opportunity to stand back and assesse. Am I enjoying what I am doing? Does it add to my life? What purpose does it serve? If I stop, what would happen? Enough questions to think about. It is early evening by now. I have been busy doing and doing all afternoon. It was enjoyable and needed doing. That I can tell you.

DAY 31 – THE FINISH LINE

The Finish Line

At long last the end of the road. This is it for the Ultimate Blog Challenge in October. I’ve done a good job. I did what I said I was going to do – my best. I had a beginning, middle and an end. I had goals. They gave me directions each day. They led me to the finish line.

There were days when I faltered, when I didn’t feel like it, when I was tired, when I was…blah, blah, blah. Sometimes I am just full of excuses, but I pushed through them this month. I have many unfinished projects. I have this bad habit of incompleteness, unable to follow through even on simple things. That’s why I am such a clutter bug. I don’t put things away. I don’t throw things away. I don’t…You get the drift. This writing challenge has helped me to see this part of myself. I can now move on to do some corrections.

A fellow challenger had a post on the benefits of making lists. It resonated with me. I kept the post up on my tab for many a days. I would read it again and again. It appealed to me. I saw the value of what was said. Though I never did make lists literally, I made them in my head. I would decide a few things that I would do for that particular day. I was not religious about it. I didn’t do it every day but I did it enough that it came back again and again.

That’s the thing. If we do healthy actions regularly, they would become habits. When they do, we wouldn’t have to struggle so much in doing the right thing. Life would be easier. We would be healthier and happier. That’s the end products I’m aiming for. These days of writing regularly made me more aware of my thoughts and feelings. I pay more attention to what I say and do. I ask myself more questions. Do I want to say/do this? Do I need to say/do that? What difference would it make? I think questioning has made me wiser and choose better ways of being. It made me see that I had been doing the same thing over and over. Yet I was expecting a different outcome. Dummkopf!

I am in the honeymoon phase of enlightenment. It’s like being in the throes of first love. I hope I won’t crash. I know it is possible. I have had that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even if I do, I know the landing will be softer this time. For now, I will enjoy my euphoria. I saw the big fat moon last night. I saw it again this morning. I even saw the stars. We are stardust. We are golden. Song of Joni Mitchell.

SUCCESSES AND FAILURES

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.

LIFE ANEW

Tomorrow will be 9 weeks since Sheba’s left. Before Covid-19 I remembered Saturday mornings for swimming and breakfast at A & W. Now it is the day Sheba went to heaven. I am a tad sad. How could I not be? But mostly I’m grateful for the wonderful years I’ve had with her. In this moment those years seem so short. They sped by in a blink of an eye.

This month of July is going fast too. August is almost here. 7 more days for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I have mostly shown up for it. It is serving my purpose. I am reaching my goals and beyond. I am recovering the lost bits and pieces of myself that I valued. I am in love again with the beauty and magic of the word. I know and respect its power. I am disengaging from the badassed neighbour’s energy.

I’ve been doing my homework on learning all I can about narcissists by watching Dr. Les Carter’s videos on surviving narcissism. There’s a wealth of helpful information. I’ve been getting alot of aha moments today. Bing! Bing! Bing! Moments of insight I never had before. And I go, wow! That’s why I’ve been having such a difficult time not only with my neighbour but other people as well. I’m seeing that we all have narcissism in ourselves. It’s all a matter of degree and kinds.


It is Saturday today – the day Sheba left 9 weeks ago. I’m adjusting and adapting to my new reality. I’m doing fine but it is a bit of a job. I’ve been learning huge lessons. Feeling so fortunate to have the experience of unconditional love of my fur baby. I wonder if it is possible to have the same with another human being. It gives me a reference guide when I’m having trouble with people.

I have so much I want to share from what my study of narcissists. I’m having difficulty in articulating today. I will have to leave it for another post. What I like about Dr. Les Carter’s videos is that he does not talk about retaliation, getting even. He emphasizes on anchoring down on things that are important to you – simple moments of enjoying music, art, service to people, being a voice of goodness to others. I will heed and experiment with his advice. Let go of ideal plans and think of what am I going to do with my day.

 

TRAINED INCOMPETENCE

I think I have fallen off the Ultimate Blog Challenge wagon for a few days. I’ve lost sight of or have abandoned and failed my goals. And what were those goals again? I feel like I’m still on the gerbil wheel, going round and round with my badassed neighbour. And are you thinking, Oh no, she’s still on the same rant! Well, my goal for this challenge and month is to get her out of my head. It seems like we are both fixated on each other and my yard.

How the hell can I disengage when she notices the littliest thing I do? The other day, while she was away, I measured out her claimed 6 inches from her driveway and made a little mark with a twig. I cannot visualize the distance in my head. I have to see it physically. The next day, I found my tumbled over pot. It cannot be easily knocked over. It’s filled with rocks. My little mark was rubbed out. This already a few days after the police liason officer had talked to her. It clearly shows she’s more disturbed than I realized.

So I’m back to researching how to deal with narcissists. I found Dr. Les Carter’s YouTube videos most helpful, especially the one on trained incompetence. He talks about it being the #1 reason why a narcissist has power over me. He’s right. I don’t know how to deal with her. I guess I’m always trying to get her to change. I should know by now, after 12 years, she is not. And sometimes she has me believing that I’m at fault, the one causing all the problems. From her friend, Al’s attitude, he thinks so, saying: “You’re still at it.”

I can’t believe that I’ve been stuck in this pattern with her for so many years. I certainly didn’t know the extent of her narcissism/disorder at first. It’s my lack of understanding, my incompetence that has resulted in where I am today. I do now and am ready to stop her control of me. I do not care to be so manipulated by a sick person. Sometimes I do feel very sorry for her. I do not understand why she is so fixated on my yard and me. It must be very painful for her to act out so when I do not do anything to her or her property. I do not set one foot on her driveway or yard.

My anger and irritations are gone at this moment. I feel grateful for my life, who I am. I have free will. I can choose to be a good person, be kind, empathic. I am not controlled by a disorder or by her. I have competence. I have inherent worth. I have to keep my goal in sight. I have to have a plan and make lists. It’s 2 months since my Sheba’s left. We’ve had this Covid-19 since March. It’s 12 years since she’s moved next door. It’s time I get myself back.