WHAT CAN I DO?

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.

WHEN I FEEL LEAST LIKE IT

Warmer temperatures does not always guarantee well being and energy for me. After a day’s rest I wasn’t that keen to hit the ski trail again. I did anyways. It’s my exercise regime this winter. I have given up my aerobics class and swimming due to Covid. There’s no Sheba to walk any more. Now it’s 10-15 minutes of walking to and from the park and 20-30 minutes of skiing. It’s hard work moving my arms and legs as fast as I can on sticks. To motivate myself, I time each lap. Though I am no Speedy Gonzales, I am not slipping. My time gets better or stays the same. It’s usually better on the 2nd lap after I’ve warmed up. I’m also a little faster in the opposite direction when it’s a downward slope. Figures, eh? To compare, I did the first lap up slope for a time of 10:36:14 minutes. The second down slope was 9:45.38 minutes. I skipped the third lap. Tomorrow is another day.

My worse/groaner time is after I come back from skiing. I’m tired, hot and sweaty. Then there’s all those lunch dishes staring at me. I hate it when there’s pots included. Making soup is wonderfully easy with an Instant Pot. I threw everything in – the chicken broth I made yesterday, a leftover potato, some mashed potato, a couple sticks of chopped celery, part of a rutabago, and the last of the carrots from the garden. Put the lid on and press soup. Cleaning up was not so easy – all those containers that held the leftovers, the pot, bowls, plates and utensils. Then there’s the fridge. I could close my eyes but I’ve done that for a few days already. It was mostly empty, a good time to wipe off. Now all that is finally done. I’m sitting, sipping my last cup of tea for the day. It’s good to groan and sigh it out. To be repeated tomorrow.

Sometimes I feel that life is dang hard. But really, my life is a piece of cake. Feel good doctors say, Don’t watch the news at bedtime. I say the news last night -the storm in Texas, the Covid outbreak in Newfoundland, the vulnerable people during this pandemic, the crack down of protestors in Myanmar – made me feel so grateful. This morning I listened to Melissa Fung talk about the young girls that were abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. I have nothing to complain about, not even the bitter cold and Covid. I have food, warm shelter and safety. When I feel that life is hard, it would be good to remember last night’s news and be grateful for what I have. Even when I feel least like it, I just do it.

ONE SQUARE A DAY

It’s so difficult to come to the keyboard these days. It’s difficult to start a conversation. It’s equally hard to start the day. I’m trying hard not to let time slip away. The time on this earth is valuable. It is limited and it will never come again. I’m resolving not to let my thoughts and emotions get the best of me and render me useless. The show must go on. I start my day with those daily routines. Breakfast, taking my vitamins, getting out of my pjs, straightening a thing or two and feeding Oscar, my sourdough starter.

I wandered downstairs to look at my fabric stash. I’m thinking of joining the100dayproject. It starts on January 31st. I thought I would sew a square a day for a 100 days. I have already sewn a few squares together a couple of years ago, thinking I would make a colourful summery quilt. Here’s my chance to finish another abandoned project. It would give me a purpose, add to my daily routine. A square a day could keep the pyschiatrist away. It would also help to clear out my fabric stash.

It’s not that I lack things to do. I have a million and one interests/things to do. I lack emotional stamina to keep going. I fall into ruts and off the wagon often. I do need motivations, many cups of tea and those strong rah! rah! rah! from the sidelines to cheer me on to the finish line. My first 100dayproject in July/2016 helped me to realize doing art instead of just talking about it. Here’s the first and the 100th of that project.

I’m feeling super pumped now. It helps that I’ve just been out on the ski trails and breathing all that fresh air. I tried the ski trail at the Wildwood Golf Course the first time today. I did the 2.5 km perimeter loop. It’s just what I need to develop technique and confidence. It took some time to get back to the parking lot. I had no concept of how much being out there under grey skies. I quite enjoy the spaces when I was alone. I could practice without worrying about how ridiculous and clumsy I look or if I fall. I would have to had an audience when I couldn’t make it up a hill and slid backwards, eventually falling. But no despair but laughter on my part for now I am able glide downhill comfortably without much fear. I’ve left those weak knees and jelly legs behind.

I am so glad to have had this time together. It’s good to have this conversation. It makes me feel not so blue, that life has meaning and purpose. So I will let Carol Burnett take me out with her sign off song. And I will tug my earlobe for luck.

POETRY IN MOTION

Once again poetry is helping me move through my words and day. Thank you to Laurie Powers for her 27 Wild Days. Today she reads Jane Hirshfield’s poem, Today When I Could Do Nothing. I’ve had too many of those days when I could not galvanize myself out of my lethargy.

Her words motivated me to try to do at least one small thing. I pushed myself out of my comfortable chair and into the dining room. I had to start somewhere. The table with many things on it was too big a challenge. My eyes glazed over and my head hurt at the sight. Somehow dusting the top of the china cabinet was ok.  I had to clear and dust the objects on top of it first. Funny how my mind and brain work. I will not try to figure it out. It is not essential. Go with the flow.

Even though I felt like mush today, I dusted the top of my china cabinet. With the excitement that I could move, I pushed a damp mop over the floor while the guy cooked breakfast. I was surprised that I finished doing all the floor after breakfast. Having warmed up, I did 5 rounds of hula hooping. My best round was almost 80 revolutions nonstop. I’m quite proud I was able to do all that and a little more. Now I’m telling you about it even though I felt like a wet noodle today.

I can’t wait to hear a new poem tomorrow.

Today, when I could do nothing,
I saved an ant.

It must have come in with the morning paper,
still being delivered
to those who shelter in place.

A morning paper is still an essential service.

I am not an essential service.

I have coffee and books,
time,
a garden,
silence enough to fill cisterns.

It must have first walked
the morning paper, as if loosened ink
taking the shape of an ant.

Then across the laptop computer—warm—
then onto the back of a cushion.

Small black ant, alone,
crossing a navy cushion,
moving steadily because that is what it could do.

Set outside in the sun,
it could not have found again its nest.
What then did I save?

It did not move as if it was frightened,
even while walking my hand,
which moved it through swiftness and air.

Ant, alone, without companions,
whose ant-heart I could not fathom—
how is your life, I wanted to ask.

I lifted it, took it outside.

This first day when I could do nothing,
contribute nothing
beyond staying distant from my own kind,
I did this.  – Jane Hirshfield

 

CHANGING STATIONS

It’s not a good idea to come to the keyboard at the end of the day. Nevertheless it is what it is. I’m here at the end of the day, tired and a little bluesy. I’m hoping for inspiration and a few worthwhile words. I’m thinking of skipping my Saturday morning swim. But I’ve packed my gear to be ready. There’s really no good reason for me not to go except that I’m feeling a bit maudlin. I get like that from time to time.

I have no good reason for it except that I’m a bit tired. AND I’ve absorbed some bad energy from my Sourdough Bread Baking Group on Facebook. I’m sure you’re scratching your head. How could that be  – from bread? Me, too, I’m scratching, but one comment led to another. You know how those online things could get. Out of control! So I turned off the notifications till the sourness is neutralized somehow. It seems I don’t have much protection against such energy. I have to build stronger walls.

Our exercise class this morning was a stations circuit workout. Our instructor set up different exercise ‘stations’ in the gym. We spend one minute doing an exercise. At the end of the minute, the instructor calls out ‘Change station!’ We move on to the next station and a different workout, and so on and on till the end. It’s a good system to ensure a well rounded workout. I think I could use this model of changing stations in my every day life.

I need to hear that signal that it is time to change my train of thought or emotions. Stop dwelling on things that doesn’t work. I could do anything that can interrupt or derail the train of thought or emotion. Whatever works – hula hoop, play with Sheba, plant some seeds, watch a video. Last January I made this video using CLIPS on my iphone. Watching it again now lifted my maudlin self. I want to go swimming in the morning. So ends day 17 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

LOSING WEIGHT, MAINTAINING RESOLVE

It’s the Fourth of July. Happy Indepence Day to my American friends and relatives! It’s also the 4th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge where I have commited to show up every day to write a post. It’s too early for me to crow about my success but so far, so good. It was a challenge yesterday to have the inspiration, the content and the fluidity to satisfy myself. I was left feeling dissatisfied and a bit down in the mouth. Then I received a very nice and kind comment from Bing, a content writer and blogger. I am buoyed again.

Breakfast is ate, the kitchen and dining room floors are vacummed. I am here to start my words. It is good to have a routine, a few rituals before I sit myself before the keyboard. A few ideas are percolating in my head while little bits of housework are done. A win win activity. Life works best for me in little bites and blocks. I cannot handle the whole enchilada. I am envious of those who can. I am a small splash in my little pond.

I am inspired and motivated by Karen Sammer, a health coach and fellow blogger on the Challenge to lose 10 pounds. I am sure I would feel better for it. I am not a big person with a lot of weight to lose, but I feel every extra pound because of my height. It has nowhere to go except horizontally. Though I do attend an aerobics class three times a week and walk the dog daily, it is not enough. I need to do more. I need to be mindful of the way I eat. So many things to be mindful of!

It goes to show of how not in the moment I am. It is true that I worry excessively of things not done or mistakes I’ve made. I ponder too much on options and make no decisions at all. I let things decide themselves or others do for me. Today is another wake up moment. I can start with the food I eat. I haven’t done this exercise in mindfulness, thinking it is not a big deal. It is a big deal, to chew and taste the food in my mouth – the flavour and texture before swallowing. After all, I am not Sheba, who wolfs down her kibbles before I had a chance to stand up and turn around.

Just practicing it at breakfast and lunch, I feel more relaxed, losing this sense of rushing. I have time to chew, taste and enjoy. Meals are a time to rejoice and give thanks for the food on our plates. For this month I will give up my toast at breakfast. I will have one fried egg with hemp seeds and a piece of fruit. It’s good so far these 2 days. I’ve experienced no sugar lows before lunch, even on an exercise class morning. For my other meals, I will cut down my portion sizes. I’ve been adding ferments for gut health. I will allow myself a bit of snacking. Being too strict and limiting will cause me to obsesse too much on things I can’t have. I know that about myself.

Now I have a plan. I am pumped again. To tomorrow and the food on our plates!

 

 

SELF ANALYSIS

It’s another Saturday. I’m still on my sabbatical from my Saturday morning swim. I’ve given in to my natural state of inertia. It’s nice to have a rest and enjoy the nothingness of a weekend morning. I was tempted to resist all physical efforts but the stiffness from yesterday’s tabata workout urged me to do my qigong routine. I was happy that I could overcome my resistance. I’m loosened and more relaxed for the rest of the day.

I want to get back into the swim next week or my inertia could go on forever. I am like that. A reminder that I have two big credit card bills coming due motivated me to settle them right after breakfast. It’s a wise move to do the hard things first. It lifts that burden so my mind is not preoccupied with it all day. I have learned some things in April. They’re working for me. I’m gaining small pockets of organization here and there. I am pleased. I have worked hard last month. It’s time to sit back a little and not be so uptight about everything.

But I know myself. I’m a bit anal. I am obsessive by nature. If something grabs my attention, it is difficult for me to do small doses at a time. So now that I’ve identified this trait in me, I’ll probably obsesse about correcting it. I guess it is not a bad thing but I will try to modify myself. I never run out of goals. I’m a self-improvement junkie. I think it is in my genes but at least it is not about drugs.

I’ve really enjoyed the free version of The Brain Change Summit presented by Sounds True. Brain health is another of my obsessions. I didn’t have time and energy to catch them all but was happy to catch the one on the Alzheimer’s Solution by Dr. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai. It was an excellent presentation with no magic cures/pills. The solution is more about prevention. I shall add their book to my list of readings. Enough muttering for now. Time for a little down time with Kinsey Millhone in O is for Outlaw.

 

 

 

 

STAYING ALIVE BLUES

It’s that flipping time in the afternoon where I feel the lowest in energy. I just want to sink into my loveseat and bask in the sunshine. I want to close my eyes and not think about doing. But here I am, sitting in front of my keyboard. I’m trying to tap myself alive. Now I got that song Staying Alive playing in my head. I’m trying to strut in my chair like the Bee Gees. Whatever works! Have to be resourceful on lazy days. Or I could just give in and be lazy. Nothing wrong with that except that it will be harder to climb out of that hole later. So here’s to strutting and staying alive, however I can.

My dishes are stacked in the sink to be dealt with later. I want to sit here in the sun while it’s shining. It’s warmth is making me sleepy. I still got one eye opened. I’ve got my cup of tea. And Sheba’s barking on cue. No danger of falling asleep in front of the keyboard. I bribe her with a rawhide chew. It works like a charm. I have no magic charm on this cold Boxing Day. I just got the good old the day after blues. But not seriously. I feel a little like an over inflated balloon with some air out of it. Slightly deflated if you want to call it that.

It’s the accumulation of the year, the ups, downs and the mediocre. I feel much like a kid who is bored saying to his mom, There is nothing to do. Only I have too much to do but I don’t want to do it. I’m feeling kind of rebellious and pouty. It really doesn’t do me any good at this age. Not when I am the adult. So what I do is a little of this and that in between my pouts and struts. The hall and bathroom are vacuumed. Sheba is placated for awhile. I’ve worked a bit on two little art projects.

In an hour is the fur baby’s supper and her walk after. Maybe I can stir myself to deal with the dishes now. Then there’s the dining table to be tidied. I need to read the instructions on how to operate my new million dollar Bernina sewing machine. I’m not ready to lose interest already. I’m better than that. Aren’t I? But dang, it’s hard to stay alive!

 

ROMANCING MYSELF – Day 73 in the year of…

Day 73, October 3, 2016 @7:53 am

img_1592Here I am, showing up for another day.  It’s almost two and a half months into my yearly challenge of doing different.  But who’s counting, eh?  The good thing about me is that I am easily motivated.  Give me a suggestion and I’m off.  You don’t have to fire that gun at the starting line.  The trouble with me is – I’m easily bored.  I don’t have staying power.  I fall off that proverbial wagon constantly. Hence, I have many unfinished projects – sweaters, cross-stitches, petite points, want-to-be books, wanna ambitions….

So how do I stay motivated and get to the Promised Land?  The destination is still far off beyond the horizon.  How not to live half-assed?  How do I romance myself?  It’s  the core of this yearly challenge. I have to leave it here and finish my tea.  How are you romancing yourself?

GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM WITH ALICE

Groundhog_Day_(movie_poster)
Image from wikipedia.org

Some mornings I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, waking up to the same morning day in and day out.  The unchanging greyness frightens me in the first moment of wakefulness.  Have you ever experienced that?

The thing not to do is to dawdle in bed, but I do.  The greyness holds me there.  I am unwilling to touch the cold floor of reality and face the day.  I’ve been here before many times.  I know that the moment my feet hit the ground, the feeling will dissipate.  No, it does not magically evaporate.  I have to assist its departure.  How?

Getting out of bed is the first hurtle.  The rest follows:  I get up, dress up and show up at my desk.  I put one letter, one word….any letter, any word and start.  Things happen when you move.  That is the law of life.  It is not rocket science, as they say.  Don’t you just hate cliches?  I’m past the hurtles and I am sitting here, tap, tapping out the words.  I hope for magic today. I want to feel the words tumbling off my fingertips like water rippling over the rocks in the river.  The sound of the keyboard is music to my ears.  I see the stream of words floating gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily life is but a dream.

IMG_1089I’m rowing my own boat, steering, pushing it towards my  destination.  You have to have a little bit of oomph to get over rough spots. The weather changes and the water can get rough.  A life jacket is a must.  A rope or two can be useful.  You can never tell.  It’s best to have some tools on hand.

The weather has changed.  The sky is steely grey.  I feel the ghost tiptoeing on my grave. It is alright.  I am well acquainted with him. He cannot hurt me.  I breathe and drop the other shoe.  There are no explosions of catastrophe.  The quietness of a Saturday morning presides.

I am safe in my home, in my own skin.  I am the captain of my spirit.  I get to change the direction in which I travel.  The sky is grey.  Autumn leaves of orange and gold are floating past my window.  They are whispering and teasing me with their graceful dancing movements.

“Come with us.  Come with us”.

Image from google.ca
Image from google.ca

Perhaps today would be a good day to explore – to travel down Alice’s rabbit hole.  Would I find her Wonderland?

I stepped inside the book yesterday just for 15 minutes.  I fell down the tunnel with Alice and landed on top of a bundle of twigs and leaves.  We chased after the white rabbit and came to a hall full of locked doors.

We found a magic key that opened a door. We still could not get in, of course.  It’s not that simple.  If it was, that would be the end of the story.  There would be no Alice in Wonderland.  Life is like that too.  It has many corridors with many locked doors, all posessing different codes.  You need the right combination to unlock each.

I had to leave Alice swimming in the puddle of her tears, wondering how she was going to get into that Wonderland.  I will find another 15 minutes to be with her today.  It is an intriguing story.  It has grabbed the child in me.  That’s what good stories do.  I’m learning the process.