Tag: good things

Flowers and Coffee are Good Things

partial focus

It’s so easy at times like this to feel like everything in my life is shit, that the universe hates me, that I’m doomed and that diseases are settling into my body and will kill me soon but only if I don’t get murdered first.

It’s time to count the good things in my life:

The mourning doves in my neighborhood. Especially the one that just sat on the wire I can see from my office window who kept looking at me and I really think he was conveying a message of peace because I felt calmer looking at him and talking to him. I love the sound of doves cooing.

The butterflies and humming birds that have visited the garden this week. This year’s garden is the best year yet for attracting beneficials and growing beautiful flowers of all kinds. The health of a garden can be measured by how much life is thriving in it.

My immediate family. They’re my favorite people even when they drive me nuts.

Max (SO FAR) seems to be navigating teen-hood at an even steady healthy pace. His teen years up to this point have been much easier and mellower than his toddler and kid years. By a lot. I’m so thankful how well he’s taking it that we don’t go out much and can’t buy much extra stuff. And he’s finally getting out of the house to hang out with friends in real life after school and on some weekends. While it feels scary to me, it’s incredibly healthy.

Coffee. Fair trade coffee.

Kittens. Thank god for kittens. I mean, such cuteness is healing.

I’d list some more good things but it’s getting hot already and I need some food. Anyway, what good things are in your life right now?


The Final Accounting for 2013

winter trees

This must be done.  Every year.

What I’m letting go of:

  • People who I have given the benefit of the doubt to repeatedly against all evidence that suggested I shouldn’t.  People who have consistently behaved like selfish assholes to those they should care for or at the very least show some respect to but never do.
  • My mom almost dying twice.  Her whole hospitalization.  All the fears that this experience brought up for me.
  • The last 7 years of trauma and misfortune and mistakes and pain and shame and fear and trying to fly while simultaneously cutting my own wings off.
  • The plants I left behind and wish were in my garden here because they are part of people I miss and love and left behind in Oregon and other places.
  • Things I can’t force or fit in the spaces I have allotted them.
  • The rotten self loathing I have been swimming in since I broke my hip.  That I have allowed to grow into a dangerous gangrenous shadow.
  • The network of routines and habits that are holding me hostage to that same spirit-swallowing rotting shadow.
  • The Shoulds, the would’ves, and the can’ts.

What I’m celebrating:

  • All the incredible people who, beyond any reasonable expectation that they should, have stood up with me and my loved ones to help us through the toughest times.  All my friends and family who have held my hand and loved me even when I hated myself.  All the people in my life who shine their light for me in the dark when my own light has run out of batteries.  I’m celebrating this great network of people who have made me laugh and hope and joined me in so many adventures.  More than that – I am recharging my batteries so that when it’s dark for you I can be your light the way you’ve done for me.
  • I’m celebrating that my mom is not just alive but continuing to regain her strength and her confidence and her sense of fun.  No amount of pain or fear I can feel around her trauma can equal what she has felt going through it.  I am also celebrating that this awful even came with unforeseen blessings in the shape of my sister who had to abandon her summer plans to be with us and who did it with such love and support and without hesitation.  I think my mom could not have come through this ordeal as well without Tara.  It gave me a chance to spend a lot of intense time with my sister and as a consequence I have never felt so close to her.  That is a true gift that I treasure.
  • So many wonderful and important things have happened in the past 7 years that outweigh the narrative of our misfortune.  It doesn’t matter, really, how we get to where we are right this minute, it’s a gift to have this minute at all and all the things we have experienced have led us here.  I have often said that I was living the perfect life for me right before it went completely off the rails but the truth is that one of the things I’ve always known I was supposed to be doing (writing novels) was something I wasn’t doing in that “perfect” life.  I hadn’t broken through the fiction barrier yet and what it took was to have my perfect life shaken up and turned upside down.  Eight years later and once again I’m starting to live the life I want to be living and there’s nothing perfect about it.  So the narrative of our misfortune also happens to be the narrative of our success.

(I was purposely matching up the things I’m letting go of with the things I’m celebrating as a reflection of how everything I’m letting go of is also something I’m celebrating, but I’m going off point for a second.  It bothers my OCD to have my points out of synch but this is me embracing how things don’t synch up comfortably that often in real life…)

  1. I fucking published my own novel and people are reading it and enjoying it!!!  I’m just going to sit here for a moment and enjoy this wild point I’ve been reaching for since I was a kid.  So far I think only 20 people have read it but it’s a beautiful 20.  It’s just the starting point and I’m allowed to be excited about it.
  • I have a new small garden to start over with and I wasn’t sure I would for half of this year.  Now I can gather seeds and cuttings from my friends all over again and start fresh.
  • I’m celebrating that those things that don’t fit in the spaces I have allotted them in my life don’t belong in it and letting them go makes room for the things that naturally fit into it.  Life is constantly shape-shifting and what fits into it changes too.  It never works to force things.  Let it all come together organically and it won’t break so easily.
  • The hip-breaking was a real watershed but self loathing isn’t all I grew from it.  I also became a lot more raw and connected to myself in a physical way – I have done a lot to destroy my body but I also have spent a lot more time IN IT, truly feeling it in a way I never did before.  There is room now for a deeper level of self respect than I was capable of before.  It’s going to be a long road back out from under that gangrenous shadow of self loathing – but I recognize in this the same opportunity for rebirth that I seized just before I turned 18 and told my self-harming spirit to choose either life or death, that I couldn’t live forever in the purgatory of neither being alive nor being dead.  I chose life.  For the second time in my life I recognize this same opportunity to choose to live or to die.  I’m choosing to live again.
  • I’m celebrating that the same aspect of my personality that allows routines to become dangerous and self-harming also allows me to change them into habits of health and greater mental stability.  Making the changes is hard but they are also self-perpetuating.  I CAN do this because I’m good at latching onto routines.  I did it 26 years ago.  And then refined my routine changes 24 years ago the first time I quit smoking and quit hanging out with toxic people and lived completely on my own and recreated my whole narrative and learned to laugh by myself and nurture myself as I had not previously known how to do.  I CAN do this.
  • I never dwell in the shoulds which are about other people forming expectations of you or making you believe that their yardstick for success is better than your own.  I let this go as a daily practice.  The minute I feel a should coming on I shatter it.

So many people I love are consumed by the sense of what they should want, what they should strive for, how they should behave, who they should love, what they should be doing, what they should be capable of, how they should look, what they’re lives should be like, and who they should be.  It’s all crap.  I’m asking all of you to shove the shoulds in the trash where they belong.  You’re the only one who gets to measure your own success and happiness and if it looks totally different from everyone else – it’s okay.  Let go of how other people are seeing you or how they might be judging you.  Live the life YOU want to live.

It is not my practice to hang onto regrets but I have to admit that I have spent too much time in the last 7 years dwelling on the woulds and would’ves.  I have a lot of friends who spend way too much time dwelling on them too.  It doesn’t get us even a milimeter closer to our goals and dreams or happiness.  Regret is not a good tool for growth.  Everyone feels it, but we have to let it go quickly or it takes root and drives us into walls.  It doesn’t matter what would’ve happened if only we’d made a different choices than the ones we made.  Don’t dwell in that space.  It’s not important how things would’ve been different if…  The only thing that’s important when we make mistakes is to ask ourselves what we WILL do the next time we’re faced with a similar situation.  So let’s crush those would’ves in our bare hands and refuse to let them become the anthem of our lives.

The can’ts are something I work hard at not indulging in.  I have a habit of dreaming big.  The blessing in this is that there isn’t much I tell myself I can’t do.  I CAN become a career novelist.  I CAN become a better mother.  I CAN become a better friend.  I CAN listen to people.  I CAN move beyond my pain.  I CAN make most things I set my mind to.  But sometimes I come across a barrier so big I feel defeated before I have even raised a hammer to try to break it down.  I have learned to ask for help.  I have learned to chip away at barriers even when it seems to make no dent or change.  I fall down, I get up, I fall down, I get up again.  Sometimes my friends help me get back up again because they believe I CAN even when I don’t.  So, my friends who are staring down the great wall of can’ts – listen to those people around you who are telling you that you CAN.  They aren’t lying to you.  They aren’t making empty promises.  They aren’t blowing wind out their asses for a lark.  They see things in you that you don’t always see in yourself.  Let’s celebrate all that we CAN do together.

Dammit.  I totally ruined the whole perfectly sequential points that I thought I cleverly fixed with the addition of the one numbered point by separating the last item into three.  Errrrrrgh!  I’m not changing it.  It will just have to be jacked up because I can’t take any of it back just to keep order.  You probably don’t even know what I’m talking about since my order is generally off-kilter anyway.

I’m halfway through the last day of the year, my favorite day of the year, and I feel peaceful, hopeful, and happy.  I want the same for all of you too!  I wish this feeling was a communicable disease.  I’d infect you all mercilessly!  I’d love to know what you’re letting go of and what you’re celebrating from 2013 before we say goodbye.  But only if you feel like sharing.


It’s Getting Scary Again

beer menu

Right now, this minute, I’m beginning to freak out.  I have a fire lit under my ass because rent is due, water bill is due, and I still have no job.  I also haven’t got my Etsy shop up yet.  Oh my god.  I finally got my new pants made so if I happen to get an interview I can look decent.  I also finally got the pyjama pants sewn and later this week I will process the pictures and finish writing the tutorial.  Then yesterday I cut out 8 linings for market bags and have them sewn up and I have 4 market bag shells sewn up too.  I need to get 4 more shells done so that by the end of this day I can have 8 bags to list in my shop.  My greeting cards should arrive this week too so I’ll have those to list as well.  I’m feeling pretty damn frantic and scared.

This past year of being mostly comfortable financially (being able to pay our bills) has been such a relief.  To find ourselves back in the unsteady position of not knowing how we will pay our bills is distressing.  In spite of my feelings of trepidation I also still feel some hope – that my online stores will bring us what we need – that if they don’t bring us what we need a part time job that pays enough to be worthwhile will materialize.  Truth be told – I’m going to apply for one today.  Chances of getting it are slim but I said I will do what I have to to get us through this and I will.

My scooter died on Sunday night.  It’s still dead.  I can’t afford to fix it.  I don’t really know what’s wrong but I know we can’t afford to pay any money towards it.  Philip is trying to sort it out by doing research and fiddling with it.  And cursing at it.

My father in law is in a temporary nursing home and doing much much better.

My mom is pretty much independent at this point and doesn’t go back to her surgeon for a check up for 6 months.  So she’s doing really well.

My cats have both been caught up on their shots and check-ups and are in excellent health.

My child is an old man.  He keeps complaining of ankle and knee and back problems.  It’s so ridiculous I find I want to yell at him to stop acting like he’s older than me.

On the plus side – Max boldly decided to go with Philip down to Santa Cruz for a friend’s birthday and take part in the big party.  I myself didn’t go because I don’t do big parties.  He went and then had a miserable time ending up crying alone on their porch for 15 minutes before Philip found him and they decided to drive all the way home.  In my bones I knew I’d be seeing them home that night.  Philip and Max ended up having a great time driving back home.  They stopped at the lookout point on the Golden Gate bridge and watched ships passing by and then they got gelato at a cafe in Sausalito.  That he went out of his known comfort zone to be social and go far away to do it was great.

While they were gone I went and got an eye exam.  I’ve been having trouble reading at night and have also noticed my vision become blurrier at distances.  I was certain it was time to get reading glasses.  It turns out that my vision is still so good that though I have a very slight near and far sightedness which is completely expected at this age my prescription is so slight that it’s classified as “optional”.  So I can get glasses if I want, but I don’t really need them as much as I need to read in better light.  I was a little disappointed.  I’ve been looking forward to the right of middle age passage where I get to choose my first pair of glasses.

On the other hand, we can’t really afford for me to wear glasses so it’s just as well.

In spite of the looming financial challenges that face us now, there are lots of things I can be thankful for:

1.  I can still afford plenty of food

2.  I can still, this week, afford my favorite coffee

3.  We have health insurance

4.  I just realized that Max has a dental appointment today and I don’t think we can afford that

5.  Shit.  Wait, but this is the blessings list, not the panic list

6.  There are Sungold tomatoes to pick in the garden today

7.  I have tons of dried navy beans to cook

8.  Philip still has a job

That’s all for now.  It’s straining me to think of good stuff when I have fresh things to panic over.

What’s Making Me Happy Right Now (March 2013)

my handy bicycle

What’s Making Me Happy Right Now:

  • My bicycle.  I rode my bicycle to do some errands, to go to the local nursery, and to a friend’s house this week.  I feel ridiculous on it and I’m pretty sure some middle school kids called me “Porker” as I rode by but ignoring all that – I love my bicycle so much and I love riding around town on it.
  • Nurseries.  The nursery down the street from us is outrageously expensive so I can’t do much garden shopping there but all nurseries are happy places for me so visiting the local one even when not buying much is so peaceful and enjoyable.
  • I have a packet of alpine strawberry seeds.  I need to pot them up.  Such a diminutive fruit with so much flavor is a reminder that goodness comes in all sized packages.  Apply that wisdom as you please.
  • Friends.  All of them.  I am so lucky in my friends.  Some fellow escapees from McMinnville were in town yesterday and we got to hang out with them for several hours and it was fantastic.  Hanging out with people who make you feel good, who make you laugh, who enjoy you in all your guises, and who you can be yourself around – this is one of the most fundamental ingredients for a good life.  You don’t even need very many friends – but you need friends like this.
  • I’m ordering a whole roll of dot pattern paper from a friend.  I’m so excited about this!  I can draft anything I want to for years to come without having to worry about running out.  500 feet of it!  It’s a drafting tool I find indispensable.
  • Having a few over-shirts to wear.  I have 4 now.  I don’t know that they’re at all flattering but they are comfortable and utilitarian just as I need them to be.
  • Being able to pay my bills.  Simple pleasures.  Things still get tight some weeks but for the first time in years I know that if I can’t pay the bill today, I’ll be able to pay it in two weeks.  The fear that this comfort will come to an end with either me or Philip losing our jobs never completely goes away – but all I can really do is appreciate this respite from constant financial dread while we have it.  It’s lovely.

What’s making you happy right now?

I Save Money Being My Own Freak Show

Don’t you want to turn that big red wheel and see what happens?  It’s practically screaming to be opened.  I found it very challenging to leave it alone.  Especially because there was one on each landing of this parking garage staircase.  Red is such a challenge: push me!  Pull me!  Touch me!  Gore me!!

I’ve been to Portland twice in seven days.  That’s an unusual treat.  A friend of mine is going to be in Portland next week and I’m trapped here in town.  My mom is not supposed to be driving much and her vertigo has gotten worse so I can’t ask her to take me in.  I hate this feeling.  I may just have to take the damn bus in.  I think it leaves at 6:30am.  And comes back at 6:30pm.  I haven’t checked the bus schedule since I moved here six years ago so maybe it’s improved?

I just spent a half an hour freaking myself out looking stuff up on medical sites about skin diseases.  I already know I have eczema (on my feet too) plus seborrheic dermatitis (diagnosed many years ago) plus the recurring fungal situation that I got at the same time as the impetigo and I can never forget that I easily get athlete’s foot when I don’t change my shoes frequently.  This thing on my face that my doctor said was probably “adult acne” refuses to go away.  I need her to look at it again.  I’ve tried using a blend of natural oils including tea tree oil and aloe and that did nothing.  I put it on several times a day for a few weeks.  I also tried using a comfrey salve for a while.  That definitely didn’t improve things.  I’ve used the fungal cream I have for the corner of my mouth but while the steroid part of that reduces the redness it has not gotten rid of this.

I’m so tired of looking like something big that crawled out from under a rock.

I’m also going to say something shocking: I’m tired of the constant stormy weather.  I need to get out and get some exercise but I it’s been so wet I can’t get outside.  I can’t walk any distance in my wellies (it would destroy my feet) and I hate shoes that are squishy with water.   I love stormy weather and I love rain but usually we get a lot more breaks in the rain so I can sneak out for a bit.  It’s been relentless.  I’m getting stir crazy.

It’s at times like these when I wish I could still afford to belong to the gym.

On the bright side, I’ve been having the best breakfasts ever this week.  I got some olives at Trader Joe’s on Tuesday and so for the last three mornings I’ve been having scrambled eggs with spinach, olives, and topped with some sour cream and Sriracha hot sauce.  So good.  Before the olives I had some mushrooms to eat with the spinach and eggs.  I can’t get enough spinach or mushrooms these days.  Or eggs.

Other good things:

Bright socks covered in flowers that a friend gave me.

The Criminal Minds marathon the movie rental place made possible.

Derek Morgan.  Cause, you know.

Penelope Garcia.  Cause, seriously, great character that I didn’t love at first.

It’s not summer, that’s always a good thing.

Blossoming fruit trees.


Apartment Gardens in Portland  They make me happy every time I see them.