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* Blizzards and book sketches have had me in mole mode as of late. Ergo, there's been many cups of this tea.
* I'm completely obsessed with Natural Companions, by Ken Druse. I've been using it for reference material -- it's a goldmine of botanical images.
* Anyone else watching the absolutely delightful Grantchester?
* And I'm planning a craft night, tentatively for March, at my studio. Local (i.e, Seacoast New Hampshire/Southern Maine) and interested? Drop me a line at email@example.com and I'll keep you in the loop!
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This is the 8th New Year's post I've written since starting my blog to chronicle my publishing journey. Coincidently five years ago I also skipped posting in the month of January and wrote my traditional New Year post on February 2nd, 2010. Know why I was late that year? I'd spent the previous twelve months being a mom to TWO kids, a situation previously undeveloped in my first two years on the blog. Somehow January just slipped through my fingers.
Also coincidently I'm late this year for practically the same reason. While the two children in question are of the paper, watercolor, and imagination variety they demand almost as much time, although they don't argue in the back of the car as much. And when I say two children, that's almost a misnomer for The Little Kid's Table which encompasses a whopping 13 characters. I like to think of The Little Kid's Table as being the Type A overachiever child - so many things to say, so many things to do, so many things to be right about. Kooky Crumbs, whose detailed sketches were just approved last week, is the quieter, artsier child. Right now it stands in the shadow of The Little Kid's Table on the drawing board, but as that one's deadline draws near Kooky Crumbs will get its time to shine.
Here are a few random pics that I snapped during the first year of raising The Little Kid's Table:
Character sketches and initial thumbnail layouts
close up of my initial thumbnail layout. Some of these stayed the same, some changed
My stack of discarded sketches
One of my favorite spreads
The line up. I kept several illos taped over my drawing table for character reference.
This one and the one above were some of the first illos I did. I was trying to get the kids characters developed.
Finally let's have a look at my resolutions for 2015. I really struggled with these for the first year ever. Usually my resolutions revolve around professional goals but 2014 saw many years of professional resolutions bear fruit. After several weeks of letting resolution ideas soak in my brain I realized I kept coming back to work/life balance. I need to remember that just because I'm not dragging a pencil or paintbrush across the paper doesn't mean I'm not developing as an artist. So here's what I resolve for 2015:
1) stop thinking of chatting with friends on social media as "wasting time." Many of those same friends are illustrators or writers just like me, blessed with an abundance of ideas and projects, cursed with a lack of time and working in solitude constantly. Chatting helps.
2) In that same vein, stop thinking of sitting in my idea chair with a cup of coffee and a good book as wasting time. Reading good books is what gives me good ideas. Ditto on reading good books to my kids.
3) Make time to have coffee with friends that I haven't in a while, even if I'm on a deadline. A couple of times recently I've seen the theme of having an interesting life outside of the studio as being essential to being a great artist. All work and no play dulls the pencil. Seems like the universe is trying to tell me that I can't always rest on the excuse of "I'm on a deadline, I don't have time."
4) this one is the real kicker - don't feel guilty about keeping these resolutions.
I love, love, LOVE this video. I’ve always had a problem with sanctimonious mothers who think THEIR way is the BEST way to raise a child.
I couldn’t disagree more.
I bottle fed my children and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I used to be ashamed to admit it because whenever I would mention it on this blog, or anywhere else, quite frankly, I would get the disapproving stink eye or a snarky comment. And then I would inevitably feel inadequate and guilty.
Not anymore, dude. I’m not even going to justify my decision – I did what I thought was best for my children and my sanity.
It always annoys me whenever people feel the need to justify their decisions. I’m sure you did what you thought best. End of discussion.
And that’s where I stand on motherhood issues.
Whether you bottle fed, breast fed, stayed at home, worked out of the home, used cloth diapers or disposable diapers – in the end, it’s really none of my business. As long as you’re doing what’s best for the child and your family, it really doesn’t matter. The ultimate goal is to raise our children to be responsible, educated, compassionate human beings; how you reach that goal is up to you. There is no “one size fits all” answer, no matter what you hear politicians, the media, or even other mothers try to convince us otherwise.
You do what’s best for you and your family and don’t you dare feel guilty about your decisions or feel like you have to justify your decisions.
Ultimately – it’s none of our business how you live your life.
I used to make elaborate New Year's Resolutions with 20, 30, even 40 things I was going to change, do, fix. I would be thinner and a better friend, run faster and pray more.
Often, the only thing that changed on that list was the year at the top.
This year, my resolution was a single word: risk. I'm increasingly aware of my own mortality. Time is flying by and I don't want to say "If only I had."
I got a chance to act on my resolution only a few days into the new year. A man I don't know well but respect often uses a series of funny accents as he makes his points: New York. Russian. Etc.
And one is a big campy gay voice.
That day, I looked around the room, trying to see if it made anyone else as uncomfortable as me. But I felt like I was alone. Still, I waited until everyone else had gone and told him how I felt.
The conversation took some interesting turns I hadn't expected. I think it was eye-opening for both of us.
And afterward I was glad I had taken that risk.
In a few months I'm going to be taking a class called Urban Escape and Evasion (I snagged the photo from their web site). You spend two days learning how to survive in a dangerous chanotic urban environment (say after a terrorist attack or being kidnapped in a foreign country), then on the third day you are “kidnapped: hooded, cuffed and taken somewhere dark and uncomfortable to start your day. You will be expected to escape, find your own transportation legally using your social engineering skills, and make your way to the first cache location, where directions for a series of tasks using all your new skills await.Meanwhile, expert trackers will be hunting you down, and if they catch you, you will have to start again from a more distant location."
I know this is going to stressful. As a writer, I'll be an outlier, surrounded by preppers and ex-military. My guess is I'll be older and one of very few women.
But for the risk, I'll have the reward of having so much amazing writing material. So it will be worth it.
The house needed a good cleaning though. It’s been vacant for a little over a year and with all the construction that we’ve had done and Kevin’s projects that he’s been working on, it was a giant dust storm. (In fact, when I got done cleaning the wood floors – which nearly the entire house is wood floors, I was actually wheezing).
Then Blake helped me move his tubs of clothes over to the house and Kevin went over to his parent’s house with Roy to get the rest of his stuff.
Two truck loads later (no seriously – TWO truck loads), we finally have all of his stuff moved in.
And the place is JUNKED up.
Let me explain.
I know people do what’s necessary to cope with stressful situations. I get that. However, it annoys me to no end that Roy’s caregivers didn’t see, or plan, for the bigger picture. Instead of allowing him to spend money on superficial, spur-of-the-moment and rash desires (I think he has five remote cars, one violin, a drum set and countless video game systems) in order to entertain and appease him into submission, why didn’t Roy’s caregivers start a hope chest for him. Like a bedroom set. Living room furniture. Kitchen gadgets and appliances. Items he could store away in his “hope chest” so that WHEN he moved out (because come on – it HAD to happen one day, one way or another), he would be better equipped to start his new life.
Instead, when we moved him into his house, he had nothing. Nothing. Not even his own bed. And being the middle of the month, and several hundred dollars poorer (not sure where that money went, quite frankly), he’s starting out with the barest of bare essentials.
We ended up buying him a $100 bed frame. It’s rickety and sheer plywood, but it’s a bed. He didn’t have enough money to buy a mattress, so we ended up buying him an air mattress. And he’ll likely have to sleep on it for several months because we’ve already budgeted his money out a few months and he has upcoming expenses that he won’t be able to get out of, unfortunately.
He doesn’t have anyplace to put his clothes, so he’s quite literally living out of plastic tubs, for now. He does have his own TV and plenty of entertainment, OF COURSE, and his own recliner that actually belonged to his mom (Kevin’s grandmother). He also got her dishes and towels, so there’s that.
We bought him super cheap (like you can actually bend it with your hands) cookie sheets, silverware, kitchen gadgets, toaster and pots and pans. (The pots and pans are so small, like almost look like they belong to a doll, but they will work for now since it’s only him). He already had a George Foreman grill and a toaster oven, which he’s okay using. We’re not sure he can handle a full-blown oven yet. And I’m not sure we feel comfortable with him trying. So, he’s not to use the oven, for now.
Of course, the house has a microwave and a fridge, so there’s that.
And that’s pretty much it.
I can assure you, Kevin now has full control of his money and will make every dollar count because Roy is going to need every dime in order to make a life for himself. No more brainless purchases. We counselled Roy and told him when it comes to money, bills first, needs second, wants third. Period. That’s how life works.
So what the heck was the two truck loads of stuff, you ask? Good question. We haven’t had time to go through it yet. But just Kevin’s initial survey? It looks like we will be donating a bunch of stuff to the Goodwill and/or filling a dumpster.
Roy has his dog. Who is 11 years old and not getting around very well. She belonged to his mom (Kevin’s grandmother) and she has several teeth that are rotting away. They made an appointment for her to see a vet the beginning of next month (government payday) and Kevin found out how much that is going to cost: $320 – they will have to put her to sleep and pull several teeth. And they also cautioned that since she’s so old, she may not even survive the procedure. So … Roy has the emotional stress of not knowing if his dog will survive another month or not.
This poor kid (I call him a kid, but he’s 44 [?] – a kid in a man’s body) has been through so much in his lifetime. I found out some pretty shocking news about his birth mom – Roy told me himself. I never knew his family history and I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say, NO ONE should have to go through life with the crap that Roy has had to go through. I think that’s another reason Kevin and I are so determined to help him – we just feel sorry for the guy.
I’m a little annoyed with Kevin’s family, to be frank. I feel like everyone is just waiting to write Roy off. No one offered to help move him into his own house, no offers to periodically bring him food – complete silence. (What the hell??) Granted, we have no idea if Roy will be able to handle living on his own, but at least this way, we can say that we tried it. This is a trial run for Roy. We’re hoping he’s able to handle it, and himself, and if/when the time comes that his parents want to move into the house, Roy will be used to living on his own and will prove that he CAN live on his own, so we can move him into a nearby duplex or apartment. If Roy can not live on his own, then we will have to look at a housing program for him. Which, in some ways, may be better for him because at least this way he will have people around him and can make friends.
Roy has lots of acquaintances. He is the most sociable, and likable quite frankly, person that I know. He has no qualms walking up to people and striking up a conversation. (Which is both a good and bad thing). But friends/friends? I’m not sure. He goes to church every Sunday (Kevin has been taking him) and he has friends there. We sort of have a standing joke that people are always saying “Hi Roy!” to him wherever we go. He seems to know EVERYONE. But I don’t know how “close” these “friendships” are, you know? I think people are just being nice to him because of his mental condition. I don’t know that Roy has ever been close to anyone outside of Kevin’s grandmother.
So maybe a home would be good for him in that aspect.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re in trial mode now. We’ll just have to see how he does and hope he doesn’t hurt himself or burn the house down.
Kevin has a special-needs uncle – let’s call him Roy. His grandmother adopted him out of foster care when he was a toddler.
I guess, technically, he’s not really special needs. He’s not retarded but rather, just slow. His birth mother drank and probably did drugs when she was pregnant with him which caused brain damage. He’s only a few years younger than myself.
Kevin’s grandmother passed away and he’s been living with Kevin’s parents all of these years.
However – Kevin’s parents are getting older and it’s harder for them to get around and quite honestly, they just want to live their remaining years peacefully. The situation has become tense and Kevin became his co-guardian – he’s now fully (or will be when his mother passes away) responsible for him.
We knew, at some point, he would need to get out on his own, learn to be independent. The challenge? He can’t really be by himself. He has no concept of money. He will never drive. And he doesn’t always have common sense when it comes to some things. So he will need frequent supervision. Our plan was to get him moved into an apartment and the family would take turns dropping by to check on him – take him meals once in a while, etc.
I came up with the plan of moving him into our rental house across the street. He would pay us rent and we could keep a close eye on him. (He gets money from the government every month due to his disability and might I just add – THIS IS WHAT GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS WERE MEANT TO DO: to help those that can’t fully help themselves. NOT SUPPORT PEOPLE WHO ARE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF WORKING. *ahem* Focus Karen, focus). No one is currently living in the house now and we need to get someone in there so we can start paying down our loan.
Kevin originally bought the house with his parents in mind and they are still welcome to move in, as soon as they sell their house. The problem? Who knows when that will be. It could be months. It could be years. In the meantime, Roy can live there and we’ll come up with another solution if/when his parents sell their house and/if they still want to move in when that happens. We talked about this plan and he was going to present this plan to his parents after bowling with Roy.
Things sort of reached a breaking point on Sunday night. Kevin left to go bowling with Roy and was gone for several hours. He was gone so long, I started to become worried about him. When he finally came home, he had Roy with him. He felt like the situation was getting worse and why wait?
Our plan is happening now.
The problem is – Kevin didn’t do this gradually so Roy doesn’t have any of his stuff moved into the house yet. So, he’s living with us until we can move him into the house. I’m sure we’re still going to have to “introduce” him slowly to being in the house and living on his own. I’m going to try and talk the boys into spending a few nights with him at the rental house so he doesn’t get scared being on his own. Plus – it’s always a little spooky spending the night in a new place.
But it’s time. Kevin’s parents won’t live forever and no one in the family really wants him to live with them. And to be perfectly honest, Roy is mentally capable of living on his own, he just hasn’t up to this point. There has always been someone to baby him and look after him.
And he won’t be “alone” per se, the family will still be available and did I mention we’ll be across the street if he needs anything?
I think it’s a win-win for everyone, quite frankly.
This is going to be quite an adjustment on everyone’s parts. I think this will actually be good for Blake. He has always had a special connection to Roy – Kevin’s grandma watched Blake when he was a baby so I could continue to work and Blake and Roy have sort of grown up together. They are pretty close. For example, right now, Blake is watching TV with Roy and I can’t tell you the last time Blake came out of his room to watch TV. I think he feels like he needs to take care of Roy and that might be a good thing in the long run for Blake. Roy gives him purpose. He feels comfortable around him and he’s the most animated whenever he’s around him.
Again, a win-win situation. Stay tuned … we’re turning the page to another chapter in our lives.
This is my great grandmother Martha L. Bond Henry. Family lore has it that before she married my great grandfather she was married to a man named Carroll. There was a daughter named Sarah, a baby who died. Mr. Carroll died. Marha married my great grandfather. Sarah shows up in one census and is gone by the next. That same family lore has it that she went back to her father's people.
After my mom died in the fall of 2013, I found this tintype of Martha in the photos my parents had kept. My dad had written a little bit about his family, but Martha died before he was born and he knew nothing about her past. He quoted part of an old note of my grandmother's saying "She was a beautiful woman, but she had no liberty to express her personality. She could not read. She was gentle and sweet in her disposition and did as she was told."
(i'm pretty sure Grandma Effie would never have called herself a feminist, but she was one all the same. My dad used to talk about a job his dad had in the 1920s. When he felt called to preach, my grandmother took over the job. For half the salary. Because she was a woman. Even though my grandfather wasn't making any money.)
After I found the tintype, cue months of obsessive Ancestry.com searches. I spent months chasing a Martha Jane Bond born in the same year, but it turned out she wasn't my grandmother. On the other side of the country, a woman was researching her husband's relatives from the mid-1800s - including a family named Bond. Thanks to Ancestry's DNA tests and a lot of joint sleuthing of places and names, DNA and records, it seems very likely we share great-great grandparents.
I'm not sure why, but it's very satisfying to have solved this 15-month puzzle.
Last Tuesday, January 6, as I walked out of the hospital in New Mexico where my mother is staying due to a series of medical events — a planned hip replacement, followed by an unplanned stroke and then a very unplanned leg fracture — I saw two huge Christmas trees in the hospital lobby — the long-life kind, not living trees cut from the ground — shorn of their ornaments, which lay in bags on the floor.
At the wrong moment, or listening to the wrong music, the trees would have seemed forlorn, but to me they were expectant. For many reasons, good and not so good, this holiday season was very muted.
A year ago I remember remarking to an esteemed colleague in my doctoral program that I would stay on track with my doctoral work as long as I didn’t have anything major like a job change or a family medical crisis, a statement intentionally hyperbolic. By this past November, as my mother was on the cusp of her own medical journey, I had accepted a position, effective this morning, as Dean of the Library at Sonoma State University — an opportunity that came with very complex emotions about leaving Holy Names, but perhaps because of those feelings was absolutely the right opportunity at the right time.
I had been on a wonderful odyssey at Holy Names, one in which I felt that our initiatives and efforts, large and small, were deeply appreciated, and where I had the unique chance to build a library and a team from near-scratch while I learned the runic ways of higher education. I remarked to a dear friend last summer that I didn’t feel “done,” and he paused thoughtfully and commented that no one is every really done. That wasn’t the only epiphany, but it factored into many other conclusions I had about how much more I could do where I was at this point in time, as well as what I wanted to accomplish in the last decade-and-plus of my career as a full-time library leader, and also our strong desire to remain in our beloved NorCal.
By December I was also immersed in my mother’s medical crisis. My sister and I have become entwined with one another in ways that are surprising and salutary, speaking, texting, and emailing daily, pacing our way around our mother’s situation. To add to it all, Sandy and I were also tangled in a massive head cold that for her developed into bronchitis and for me colored all the rituals and gestures of my departure from Holy Names, and our farewell to San Francisco as residents of five years, with a thin grey coating of exhaustion.
Thanksgiving was about apartment-hunting, wrapping things up at Holy Names, beating back the cold from hell, and packing. Christmas was something other people were doing. Sandy and I gave away tickets for events (not wanting to be those people coughing nonstop in a theater), had a nice meal and cocktail here and there, slept a lot, and called it a season. My sister and I tag-teamed calls, emails, and travel to and from New Mexico. Sandy and I coughed and packed and coughed some more. My final commute from Holy Names was during a wind storm so powerful that the radio kept reporting traffic jams caused by trees falling on cars; I gripped the wheel of Misty, my Prius, and we soldiered on to Santa Rosa. By New Year’s we were in our new home, coughing a little less. This past Sunday I set down my Ikea allen wrench to go visit my mother again, leaving Sandy amidst the boxes in a house without Internet or television.
At some point I decided to stop flogging myself for not having the mental bandwidth to work on the data analysis for my qualifying paper. I had a perfect timeline, and then life happened. It wasn’t just chronological time that was scarce; it was the intellectual space to wrap my head around anything other than the next crisis-laden phone call or the next moving-related problem.
A lengthy delay in Internet access to our new home compounded issues; I spent a couple of weeks highly underconnected, which refreshed my empathy for students who lack reliable Internet and high-end equipment. Out of desperation, because my home computer was a 17″ laptop with a dying screen (which was adequate when the laptop just sat there on my desk at home, less so when I contemplated dragging its fragile self to coffeeshops), the afternoon before my next trip to New Mexico I bought a laptop at CostCo which turned out to have a corrupt wireless driver that three CostCo support concierges helped me reinstall as I crossed the country. I could feel my ribcage loosen when I finally got fully online. I am still in awe of how expertly these support techs managed my case from airport lobbies and hotel rooms.
One morning, juggling too many things, I realized I was afraid I’d never get back on the doctoral homework horse again. As soon as I thought that, a business card with esteemed colleague’s name on it fell out of a drawer, and a minute later I received a chipper email from him, thanking me for suggesting the qualitative analysis product he was productively using for coding interviews, and asking how I was doing. This is the sort of colleague who also juggles too many things and then sits in a chair, scoots up to his desk, and stolidly soldiers through homework, reminding us all that It Can Be Done.
So: Santa is real, and he didn’t skip our house this year, after all.
Two providers, four modems, and nearly three hours of telephone holds later, we have Internet and (because we are old-fashioned boomers) television. We have found stores and restaurants and a lovely walking/bicycling path just blocks from our home; our neighbors have been neighborly, the area food-friendly and beautiful. The coughing is almost gone. The medical crisis proceeds as these do. Sandy has found Meetup groups to do interesting walks around our new city. Samson, bribed with copious quantities of bonita flakes and other cat treats, has adjusted. The mountain of boxes has dwindled, and we have found electric toothbrushes and tailor’s chalk and many other things we were looking for.
In less than an hour I drive to my new job. My next-to-last doctoral class will begin in March. The liturgical calendar will tick through the Feast of the Ascension, then Easter, and before I know it, I’ll drag Piney III from the garage (we have a garage..!) and we’ll bedeck him and hang stockings. And yesterday, early in the morning, I refocused on the data analysis for my qualifying paper, making excellent progress; in future Sundays I’ll resume worshipping at Church of the Tam–barring any other crises, which in most cases, as I was reminded this Christmas season, are not mine to bar.
Have you noticed, when you lay down for a nap, or settle into a comfortable position as you’re willing yourself to fall asleep – that moment when your body begins to quiet and your breathing evens out, grows shallow, gets comfortable, when your heart slows and beats a comfortable staccato against your breastbone, how many nerve endings quiver and jump?
I’ve been noticing it more and more. It seems my body is beginning to protest more and more the older I get. Luckily, the various body parts that occasionally give me problems tend to play nicely with one another – one part will flare up while the others grow quiet and wait their turn. My aches and pains rarely flare up all at once – my pain is considerate of my tolerance level.
I have a high pain threshold. I can take a lot before I reach the point of going crazy or crying uncle and see a doctor. I do not have a primary care physician because I’m rarely sick. If I ever reach the level of going to see an urgent care doctor, it’s serious. I try very hard to control my body, not the other way around.
I realize that I’m blessed with good health. This fact has never been more apparent than it has been since I started working in healthcare. My problems are minuscule, almost non-existent, compared to others whose bodies have completely betrayed them.
Nothing warms my heart more than helping a patient be able to walk relatively pain free, to come in for their post-op appointment looking 110% better than they did before surgery. It’s satisfying and it makes me very proud and honored to work for miracle workers.
I have predictable aches and pains – my biggest issues are:
Sinuses/Headaches – but I have that under control with Sudafed products and migraine medication. I can tell what sort of issue I’m having based on where my headache originates. If it’s in the temples, it’s caffeine withdrawal. If my nose feels like someone has a pair of vice grips on it and is squeezing, it’s sinuses (and this usually corresponds with the barometric pressure).
Low back – I started having low back problems shortly after falling off a 6 ft ladder when I worked for Wendys and tried to stand on the very top to change the marquee. I landed on my low back, knocking the wind out of me and bruising my kidneys. I have a permanent bump around my coccyx (tailbone) area. Kevin calls it my “tail.” I suspect, though this has never been confirmed with testing, that the tissues did not heal correctly in that area and whenever I get really stressed or really lazy, the muscles around my coccyx will swell and tighten thereby decreasing my blood flow in that area. It hurts to straighten up and walk. I have found that Ibuprofen and heat works really well at massaging those knots out. (Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and works to reduce swelling). I now know to do stretches, squats and to walk whenever my low back starts to feel tight.
My vagina feels like it’s falling out – I know. I’m sorry. But I’m just keepin’ it real. At first, I thought maybe my pelvic muscles were getting weak. Which, they might be because your muscles do get weaker as you get older. And I did have a large bowel resection (my large intestine had a few twists in it that required three feet of it to be surgically removed). As a result, I’ve been doing squats and reverse sit-ups to counteract that possibility. I don’t really know how to describe this feeling. Whatever is happening, it puts pressure on my bladder and I have to pee a million times. It’s not a UTI, it’s just an overwhelming urge to pee. I’ve really been paying attention to what I’ve been eating and when it happens. I think I’m eating too much fiber. I make two scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice and one fiber bar for my breakfast in the morning. Sometimes, instead of eggs, I eat a bowl of oatmeal. I force myself to eat a heavy breakfast in case I don’t get to eat lunch and I’m not dying of hunger later. I then eat another fiber bar mid-morning to take the edge off my hunger. You can imagine what happens when I get home from work. Since I’ve been trying to cut back on the amount of food I’m eating, I’m wondering if all the fibrous foods I’m eating is putting pressure on my intestines and since I’m not eating that much food, there’s nothing to “squeeze” out? And the pressure on my intestines is putting pressure on my bladder? I have no idea if this is what’s going on, but I’m going to experiment in the next few days and test my theory.
My left (dominant) arm is weak and hurts – This pain started a few weeks after my flu shot. (*SIGH*) I have VERY STRONG FEELINGS AGAINST THE FLU SHOT but if I want to keep my job, I’m required to get the damn thing every year. I think the girl who gave me my flu shot this year did it wrong. I think she gave it to me too far up my upper arm. I never felt a thing. I didn’t feel the prick when she stuck me or any burning after the poison was injected. I did a little research and that’s actually not a good thing – to not feel anything. I’ve had forearm and elbow achy pain ever since. I almost went to the doctor the pain was so bad – it was keeping me up at night. However, after doing a little research, I began to ice it (which really helps), put a heating pad on it, (which hurts like hell the next day but then evens out and doesn’t hurt at all for several days after that), and took Ibuprofen, which really, really helps (which leads me to believe that I have some inflammation going on in there) but Ibuprofen is not good for your liver, so I only take it when the pain gets unbearable. I also have pain in the palm of my left hand, too. This pain is aggravated by typing so I wonder about carpal tunnel, though I don’t have numbness in my fingers. The pain does seem to be getting better, so maybe it’s just muscle strain. I haven’t given up trying to control it on my own yet and have no plans on going to the doctor for it at this time.
And that’s about it. That’s the extent of my aches and pains. This may sound like a lot to some but it’s really nothing compared to many people. I rarely come down with colds and I honestly can’t remember the last time I came down with a cold. (And no, it’s not because I take the damn flu shot – I wasn’t sick for years before the stupid thing). Whenever I start to feel icky, I suck on a Zicam, use nose spray and burn the back of my throat (which burns off any lingering bacteria – and yes, I know it sounds crazy but I SWEAR it really helps).
All of this to document how little discomfort I have now. I’m curious to see if and/or when this changes as I get older. I think the key to staying on top of aches and pain is to keep moving and that’s exactly what I plan on doing – staying busy and physically moving.
I’m not a social person. Not really. Though I bet if you ask the people I work with, or even my family, they would say that I am.
Yes. I CAN get along with people. Yes. I DO appear like I enjoy interacting with people.
But here’s a secret – I don’t.
I interact with people because I have to. Given the choice of being isolated or around people, I will choose isolation every single time.
Generally speaking, I don’t like people.
I would describe myself as being a chameleon. I tend to be whatever the situation requires me to be.
At work, I’m a confident, no-nonsense, efficient, humorous, compassionate co-worker with one goal – do my job to the best of my ability.
At home, I’m a wife, mother, daughter (in-law), and aunt. I play these roles when the situation warrants. I tend to laugh too loudly, contribute to conversations when appropriate, (or not), and play my familial role when necessary.
In public, I’m polite, considerate, and unassuming when around strangers.
I don’t have any close friends so I’m spared of having to assume yet another exhausting personality.
Whenever I’m alone, or I’m in public but by myself yet surrounded by people, my personal mantra is: please don’t talk to me. Ignore me. I’m invisible.
And yet. People still approach me. I get asked questions a lot when I’m in public. People take one look at me and assume I want to know their life stories. I assure you, I do not. Apparently, I have a trust-worthy face.
I was talking to my old boss the other day – I was toying with the idea of transferring within the company to a different position. I was a shoe-in for this position but it would be quite different than what I’m doing now – it would be in a quiet office, dealing with insurance companies all day long. I would have very little interaction with ACTUAL people. When I was weighing the pros and cons with my old boss, she said, “But Karen. You would miss the patient interaction. You’re so good with patients.” And I nearly laughed – she really didn’t know me at all. The LACK of interaction was one of the biggest PROS to the job, in my opinion.
It sort of made me sad that my work persona is so convincing that even people I’ve worked with for years don’t really SEE the real me.
I’m never outright rude to people. I always smile and pretend I give a rat’s ass, but inside, I’m desperately looking for ways to end the interaction. And I thank God every day people can not read my thoughts.
I would likely be burned at the stake if they could.
I don’t really dislike people, per se, I just don’t have any desire to be around people. I would much rather blend into the background and simply watch. I ADORE people watching. People are fascinating to me. I love watching the play of emotions cross their faces, their body language and mannerisms that give away what they’re thinking and feeling. These tell-tales may not be obvious to the casual observer, but to a people watcher such as myself (that sounds creepy), I see them.
I have a knack (gift?) for reading people. I can tell, within a few moments, what sort of personality someone has and then I adjust my personality accordingly. Queen bees, loud/obnoxious, vain, quiet, no-nonsense, shy, uncertain, braggart, brash, bold, vulgar … there is usually a reason for all of these types of personalities – some insecurity they are covering up, or exposing. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious. Sometimes it takes a while to get to know the person, but eventually, I start to get a picture of what type of person I’m interacting with and become the person they can get along with.
Sometimes I wonder who the TRUE me really is? I’ve been someone else to either survive a situation or to assimilate into a sub-culture so many times and for so long I don’t even know anymore.
I’m not sure I really want to know anymore.
People, generally speaking, annoy me. I find fault with everybody. She’s too loud. He’s too obnoxious. She’s too vain. He’s too confident. She’s insecure. He doesn’t possess a funny bone in his body.
I don’t know why I’m so critical of people. Lord knows I’M not perfect. I guess I do not want to spend the time, nor the energy, trying to compensate for these perceived flaws. Life is too short for the nonsense that comes with drama.
I realize I’m not painting a very attractive picture of myself, but I’m just keeping it real. I’m a realist, if nothing else. And that’s not always a glamorous personality trait, I guess.
It’s strange. From October to December, there seems to be very little time to do much other than marvel at how fast time flies. I do as much as I can to get done what needs to be done. I love that time of year, even the hustle and bustle of it all. But from…
The last time I wrote/posted anything of substance was back in June.
Six whole months I’ve neglected this blog.
To be fair, there really hasn’t been a whole lot to write about. I get up, go to work, come home, get through dinner (I’m finding that I hate to cook ANYTHING more and more), then collapse into bed, physically and mentally exhausted.
And the things that do happen, I can’t really talk about, or am cautious about writing about, because it’s work related and though no one I work with knows about this blog, I have crossed that fine line and accepted people I work with on Facebook so it might be a matter of time before they find this blog so I have to be careful what I write about because I’ve already offended someone in my family with my hot-headed blabber mouth, and/or fingers in this case and I really don’t want to offend anyone I work with because I see the people I work with more than my own family.
But life. She’s passing me by. She’s not waiting around for me. She’s trudging ahead and I’m left stumbling after her. Events, thoughts, milestones (we’ve had milestones? Yeah, I guess we have) are whizzing past me so that my life is fast becoming a blur of fleeting thoughts and impressions – it’s time I put the brakes on and slow Mother Time waaay down by attempting to capture snippets and pin them on this blog.
Should I start where I left off in June? I haven’t even told you about our Cruise to Alaska ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO.
Though the boys are still living with us, they have also gone through some changes.
And there’s the rental house, which still hasn’t been rented out yet.
Did you even know I’m using a new blog template? I actually bought this one so it will be sticking around for quite some time – though I can switch up the color schemes once in a while so I don’t got completely out of my head with boredom.
Did I mention my dominant arm, (I’m left handed), has been hurting like a Mother Effer ever since I got the damn flu shot in November?? I’m beginning to think I have damaged my ulnar nerve, or maybe carpal tunnel? (*shudder* Say it ain’t so!)
Have I mentioned that I’m nearly a half a century old?! And how that both annoys and terrifies me?
Have I mentioned that I’m finally, FINALLY, comfortable in my own skin and though I’m “technially” overweight and need to lose 30 lbs, I’m sort of okay with that? (Though I AM going to start back on the treadmill soonish – okay – like tomorrow – for reals).
Did you know that our 25th wedding anniversary is THIS MAY (what?? How did that happen??) and we won’t be going on our Hawaiian Cruise because money is tight and we’re being responsible people by putting it off another year, or two? (*sigh*)
I bet you didn’t know that Brandon is 19 and on his THIRD job, did you??
Christmas was one of the low lights of our year this year. Not because it wasn’t great, it was just .. meh. Every day is Christmas in our house. Truly. (Does that sound pretentious?) Since money is a bit on the tight side right now (rental houses don’t improve themselves, don’t cha know), Kevin and I bought each other one gift each (I bought him a fancy-smancy power strip/box thing for his band – did I mention the drummer and bass player quit and they’ve been working on replacing band members) and Kevin bought me a laptop cooling tray … thing … so I don’t scorch my fleshy thighs and … yep, that was our Christmas. We bought the boys all practicable things – such as pots and pans (and may I just say, NICE pots and pans from the Food Network – I got a deal on a set, two saucepans, two skillets, both regular and deep-dish style, a big pot to boil pasta and two cookie sheets), a toaster, a fancy-smancy one cup coffee maker (because Blake drinks more coffee than I drink now), bathroom towels, kitchen gadgets and silverware. And yes, the boys were as excited to receive all of these things like you were excited to read about them.
BUT – they will appreciate said gifts when it’s time to move out BECAUSE that’s our goal, well, that’s me and Kevin’s goal, to move the boys out into their own apartment THIS YEAR.
IF Brandon can keep this job after the holidays. He was hired on as holiday help. (There’s another story for another time).
Now that’s one thing I DID do right this year – I read my butt off. In fact, I have three gift cards to Barnes and Noble that I’m going to use on ebooks. Because I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve read an actual book – my Kindle is becoming a permanent body part. I’m trying to figure out how to convert a Nook ebook to a format that Kindle will recognize and I think I have it figured out. (Pst … I found this website that will convert it to a MOBI, which is what the Kindle recognizes. But don’t quote me on that yet. I’m buying a book tonight to see if I can make this work. If it doesn’t work, shoot the messenger, k?)
And I don’t buy books very often, either. I usually “borrow” them from the library, though I end up downloading them and transferring them to my Kindle because trying to read a library book in the two weeks the library sets up puts too much pressure on me and I don’t need anymore stress in my life, thank you very much.
Kevin is great. He still has his office and he’s still looking for “that perfect client, or five.” He’s been SUPER busy on the rental house and honestly, I couldn’t be more impressed with him. Is there nothing the man can not do?!? The house doesn’t even look the like the same house. (Note to self – brag more about the hubby).
I’m on a mission to give my professional life a kick in the butt. Either sweet talk my boss into allowing me to take the certified medical assistant certification early (will need to jump through some hoops to make that happen) and/or work on an alternative plan that quite honestly, scares the shit out of me but I think I could make it happen providing I can find the courage to actually take that first step.
And my nurse at work just text me (I left early today) to tell me that the CT machine is down and she had to cancel some appointments. AARGH.
It’s always something.
And that brings us up to date, sort of. Those are the highlights; I’ll see if I can’t do a better job of putting flesh on those bare bones.
Oh. I got to see a carpal tunnel suture removal today. I’ve never done the sutures, though I’ve taken quite a few staples out. It was cool. You just snip and then pull the sucker out. I’m rather spoiled on removing staples/sutures. My doctor has it set up where his post-op patients come in for their first visit two weeks after surgery, which is when they need to have their staples/sutures removed and the PA takes care of removing them so I rarely have an opportunity to remove them myself. I think that part of the job scared me the most when I first started doing this job – I would feel sick to my stomach when I had to do it. It still sort of weirds me out whenever it comes up, but I’m feeling more confident about it now.
I can admit, with all honestly, there is NEVER a dull moment in health care. NEVER.
We are all hoarders, according to a crime scene investigator I know. He says he always laughs when a show like CSI depicts a victim's home with a few garments hanging evenly spaced in a closet. Every house he has ever been in is stuffed to the rafters, making it much more difficult than it is on TV to figure out what is a clue and what is just part of the mountain of stuff.
So I had been hearing about this book:
and decided to give it a try. I have read many books about organizing your stuff or sorting your stuff. I even own some. Many of them say you should ask yourself a series of questions: is something useful or beautiful or some other question designed to help you sort. Or I remember one piece of advice I've tried off and on for years - get rid of five things every day.
Basically what Marie Kondo says is you should get rid of anything that doesn't "spark joy." And not to do it piecemeal. Instead, you should pull out everything you own in a particular category, like clothes or books, spread it on the floor, then pick up each item and see if it sparks joy. If it doesn't, off it goes. She also has some whimsical ideas: clothes should be hung up if they are "happier" that way, socks should never be balled up because they deserve to relax.
For whatever reason, this book really clicked with me. I stopped listening to the voices that always say:
You might use that one day. (But you've had it for years, and haven't.)
That looked really cute in the catalog. (But not so cute on.)
That cost a lot. (But you don't like it.)
If that fit better, it would be amazing. (But it doesn't.)
Clothes that belonged to my mom but that aren't to my taste, a rice cooker I haven't used in ten years, two of three nearly identical sweaters - none of them sparked joy. I put two dozen items up on ebay. I gave two bags of clothes to a friend (with instructions to pass on to GoodWill if they were not to her or her daughter's taste). Today we are bringing well over a dozen bags to ARC (formerly Association for Retarded Citizens - my husband has been a volunteer "buddy" for years).
One thing that made it easier is that I left my day job seven years ago, and I have a pretty good idea of what I have worn/used/acquired since then. It's just freeing to have more space and less stuff. I'm sure there are many more things I can get rid of, and I'm energized by that idea.
By Christelle Du Toit
In all the years that I’ve known Damaria, I know that when
she gets stressed I need to chase her to the garden and/or outside for a walk.
It calms her down and she’ll come back saying damn, why didn’t I think of that?
Me? I’m not so good at relaxing, even when she tries to get
me to. I stress and then stress about stressing. So when I had an opportunity
Imagine that you have a one-time-only chance to become a vampire. With one swift, painless bite, you’ll be permanently transformed into an elegant and fabulous creature of the night. As a member of the Undead, your life will be completely different. You’ll experience a range of intense new sense experiences, you’ll gain immortal strength, speed and power, and you’ll look fantastic in everything you wear. You’ll also need to drink the blood of humanely farmed animals (but not human blood), avoid sunlight, and sleep in a coffin.
Now, suppose that all of your friends, people whose interests, views and lives were similar to yours, have already decided to become vampires. And all of them tell you that they love it. They encourage you to become a vampire too, saying things like: “I’d never go back, even if I could. Life has meaning and a sense of purpose now that it never had when I was human. It’s amazing! But I can’t really explain it to you, a mere human. You’ll have to become a vampire to know what it’s like.”
In this situation, how could you possibly make an informed choice about what to do? For, after all, you cannot know what it is like to become a vampire until you become one. The experience of becoming a vampire is transformative. What I mean by this is that it is an experience that is both radically epistemically new, such that you have to have it in order to know what it will be like for you, and moreover, will change your core personal preferences.
“You’ll have to become a vampire to know what it’s like”
So you can’t rationally choose to become a vampire, but nor can you rationally choose to not become one, if you want to choose based on what you think it would be like to live your life as a vampire. This is because you can’t possibly know what it would be like before you try it. And you can’t possibly know what you’d be missing if you didn’t.
We don’t normally have to consider the choice to become Undead, but the structure of this example generalizes, and this makes trouble for a widely assumed story about how we should make momentous, life-changing choices for ourselves. The story is based on the assumption that, in modern western society, the ideal rational agent is supposed to charge of her own destiny, mapping out the subjective future she hopes to realize by rationally evaluating her options from her authentic, personal point of view. In other words, when we approach major life decisions, we are supposed to introspect on our past experiences and our current desires about what we want our futures to be like in order to guide us in determining our future selves. But if a big life choice is transformative, you can’t know what your future will be like, at least, not in the deeply relevant way that you want to know about it, until you’ve actually undergone the life experience.
Transformative experience cases are special kinds of cases where important ordinary approaches that people try to use to make better decisions, such as making better generalizations based on past experiences, or educating themselves to better evaluate and recognize their true desires or preferences, simply don’t apply. So transformative experience cases are not just cases involving our uncertainty about certain sorts of future experiences. They are special kinds of cases that focus on a distinctive kind of ‘unknowability’—certain important and distinctive values of the lived experiences in our possible futures are fundamentally first-personally unknowable. The problems with knowing what it will be like to undergo life experiences that will transform you can challenge the very coherence of the ordinary way to approach major decisions.
Moreover, the problem with these kinds of choices isn’t just with the unknowability of your future. Transformative experience cases also raise a distinctive kind of decision-theoretic problem for these decisions made for our future selves. Recall the vampire case I started with. The problem here is that, before you change, you are supposed to perform a simulation of how you’d respond to the experience in order to decide whether to change. But the trouble is, who you are changes as you become a vampire.
Think about it: before you become a vampire, you should assess the decision as a human. But you can’t imaginatively put yourself in the shoes of the vampire you will become and imaginatively assess what that future lived experience will be. And, after you have become a vampire, you’ve changed, such that your assessment of your decision now is different from the assessment you made as a human. So the question is, which assessment is the better one? Which view should determine who you become? The view you have when you are human? Or the one you have when you are a vampire.
The questions I’ve been raising here focus on the fictional case of the choice to be come a vampire. But many real-life experiences and the decisions they involve have the very same structure, such as the choice to have one’s first child. In fact, in many ways, the choice to become a parent is just like the choice to become a vampire! (You won’t have to drink any blood, but you will undergo a major transition, and life will never be the same again.)
In many ways, large and small, as we live our lives, we find ourselves confronted with a brute fact about how little we can know about our futures, just when it is most important to us that we do know. If that’s right, then for many big life choices, we only learn what we need to know after we’ve done it, and we change ourselves in the process of doing it. In the end, it may be that the most rational response to this situation is to change the way we frame these big decisions: instead of choosing based on what we think our futures will be like, we should choose based on whether we want to discover who we’ll become.
*I saw Murder on the Homefront the other night and it ain't half bad. Granted the plot's a little thin, but oh goodness, the costumes. Seriously. Hats, wraps, teetering heels, even down to the acid yellow knit vest Lennox Collins sports, it's all a visual treat.
*I'm on pie duty again this year, which begs the very important question: what's your go to Thanksgiving dessert?
I've wanted a treadmill desk since they first started being commercially available. But they were expensive. And it seemed indulgent. So for a couple of hundred dollars I bought a FitDesk, this combo bike-desk, that for me was incredibly uncomfortable. It ended up gathering dust, and this summer I tried to sell it on Craigslist. When that failed, I carted it to GoodWill.
Meanwhile, my German publisher had come to the end of their term for Shock Point (confusingly titlted Break Out - yes in English - over there), and offered again for it.
So I decided to splurge on a treadmill desk. I looked at all kind of models and thought about making my own. Ultimately I decided to go with LifeSpan. I didn't want to buy from Amazon, but with their crossed out retail prices, they always look like they have the best deal. Only it turns out a local company, Northwest Fitness, offered the treadmill desk I wanted for the exact same price. For a few dollars more, I had them deliver it, set it up, and take away the packing material.
And I started walking while I wrote. Before, my Fitbit would show me taking 10,000-15,000 steps a day. Now it's 20,000-25,000. The extra 10,000 steps are all coming from when I'm working. In other words, it's not taking any more time. I use my treadmill desk about three hours a day.
I've wanted to lose weight forever, but every year it's crept up a little, and the creeping got faster after I hurt my knee last March and had to stop running.
I got my treadmill two months ago and since then I have lost 12 pounds! I have not changed my diet (which is generally pretty healthy with healthy portions) at all.
I cannot tell you happy this makes me. I'm at the lowest weight I've been in nearly a decade. Of course, I'm already doing the kind of inaccurate math that quickly gets you into trouble ("If the stock market rose 1% today, then in 100 days, my money will double!") but even if I don't lose another pound I'll still be really happy.
Death. Grief. Sorrow. Those aren’t words that any of us like, especially when they involve those closest to us. I don’t pretend to understand sorrow, though I have experienced it many times. I experienced it when my grandparents died. I experienced it when my own father was in a car accident, and again when my…
More than two weeks after Mma has passed away, I'm slowly pulling the threads of my new life together. Traditionally in Phokeng, we pack up the deceased's stuff (clothing, shoes, linen, personal knicknacks etc) immediately after they pass away, even before the funeral. So all Mma's personal things are in storage to later go to the relevant people and the house, which is very big, feels even
My Dad is a FIFO Dad, an uplifting story that has already touched the hearts of many families, has beautifully encapsulated the highs and lows of the life of a child with a father who ‘flies in and flies out’ for work. (See Review here). But let’s not forget the strength, courage, commitment and perseverance […]
Lindsey Stirling strings, autumn leaves, pattern, floral, clean lines, crisp mornings, Mucha, sunlight, comfy sweaters, and the list can go on and on. Many things inspire me, constantly. It wasn't until this week I stopped to actually LOOK at what inspires me, and WHAT it does to me.
I am changed by it, and I alter myself to fit whatever "it" is. If an artist inspires me, my work takes on some of their style and technique. The same goes for clothes and fashion. Or quite possibly the way I arrange my house. How about changing myself because of how someone lives, and being inspired by their beautiful life? All based on what I see, of course, not knowing the day to day. Which leads to how my life is seen on social media and in crowds of other artists.
I'm impressed by how impressionable I am, and this week it made me wonder - "Am I missing who I am?"
"Believe in Yourself" Original Art Journal
I believe it is healthy to be inspired by others. Jesus asked us to follow Him, do as He did. It isn't mentioned to be inspired, but He inspires me to be loving, caring, and full of grace. Yet on the other hand, there's a line that can be crossed into changing just to be accepted, to feel worthy, or to gain superficially.
I asked a fundamental question in church one Sunday about six months ago...Who Am I? I prayed to be shown who God says I am. It's a very large struggle of mine - for many of us - and it's been present for as long as I can remember.
My Quest? To feel free to be who I was designed to be. The other night I stumbled upon Kelly Rae Robert's website. An artist I have always been drawn to and admire, yet just now actually following her. She openly shares her self discovery, and while reading her website it clicked. Her story, along with her business, creative soul, being a first time mom, and insecurities that are faced made me realize I'm OK.
I felt this release to BE ME. You could actually see the JOY in her. The PEACE within herself. I have been seeking peace my whole life, especially since my daughter was born. It could be the new mommy stress and sleeplessness, but I believe it's old stuff heightened.
I have this tribal, gentle, feisty, fiery self inside waiting to take off and FLY.
Who am I? Who do you say I am? I am free to be who you created me to be. I am free to express my light with no fear of what this world will say. I was given an imagination to share. To lift peoples hearts, to bring them peace and love. To take them into their dreams and fantastical places. I am a person and soul very much loved. I am loved by SO MANY people! I am so filled with love I even have some left over to give. I am more full, more accepted, then I ever realized. I am a child of light, of His light. A light of love. I am His child filled with the grace, mercy, power, love, strength, courage, and forgiving spirit that He has. I am a child of light called to share my light. I am NOT darkness, I am NOT pain, I am NOT disgusting, dirty, unforgivable, or hopeless.
Another thought Kelly brought to my heart through her writing, was her understanding of who she is. A seeker of Joy. She lives for joy through and through. I am meditating on this. If there was one word to describe me - humm...I'm not sure yet. I'm still figuring this out, but it gives me one thing..focus for my spirit, soul, art, and not just for me, but for my daughter Norah (light), and my husband Brian (strength).
My name, Sara, means princess. I want to be a princess of dreams and light.