Chasing Inspiration

Monday, April 11, 2016

Awesome Books Hangover

 Gratitudes:
  1. Writer friends. Cuz you all rock.
  2. Tea. Hot, smooth, amazing tea. 
  3. Velcro Dog, for getting my ass moving in the mornings, even when I don't want to.
Reading

If you know me, you know I'm a voracious reader. And that my tastes are as varied and eclectic as there are stars in the sky. If asked what my favorite book of all time is, I'll usually stutter something inane because choosing a favorite book is like being asked whether I like my left eye more than my right. (Left is the correct answer). 

In the last month there have been some amazing books released. And since I'm not working and needed something that allowed me to procrastinate from prepping our tax returns, I was able to read in the joy and comfort of my own home. But now that the books have been read, I find myself in that interesting place where nothing appeals to me and all I want is more of the hair of the dog that bit me.

Just a snippet of some of the best books I've read in the last four weeks
So what's a girl to do? She rereads. It's the only option endorsed by Bookaholic's Anonymous, I swear. 

Over the last two weeks I have reread the entire cannon on Mercy Thompson universe books by Patricia Briggs,  Jill Shalvis's Cedar Ridge trilogy, and have made it halfway through J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. All because the latest installment in theses series were published in March and the first week of April. And because they are all made of awesome! 

Oh, let's face it, it's really because I wanted to climb up inside these books, wrap them around me, and become one with the worlds therein. I wanted to hang out with Jacob in the fictional mountain tourist town of Cedar Ridge, CO. I wanted to listen to him talk about his loss and his hopes for the future. I wanted to see him get it right with his family. 

I wanted to head to the Tri-Cities, WA and spend time with Mercy and Adam and hopefully run into Charles and Anna if they chose to visit from Montana. I wanted to go to Fairyland and see the Fae (but only if Zee or Tad were going with me). I wanted to tell Stephan that for a vampire he's the shit and he's not as broken as he thinks he is. And yes, I wanted to see Coyote. 

I wanted to go to Caldwell and hang with the Brothers and their shellans. I wanted to hear Zsadist sing, and watch him with his baby girl. And hug him, if he would let me. I wanted to spend time with Rhage and Mary and the Beast, just be with them. I wanted to fire potato launchers with Butch and Vishous. I wanted to spend time just being with Phury. I wanted to see how everything was doing and never, ever leave. 

Why? Because books transport us. It can be to somewhere lofty, full of ideas and ideals. Or somewhere practical. They can also transport us to somewhere with heart and soul. And THAT is what I want every time I open a work of fiction. And something the three series above has been able to deliver, no matter how many times I've reread them. (Fair disclosure, I've lost count of the number of times I've reread the Mercy Thompson universe books, and have reread some of the BDB books an equally infinite number of times.)

And why I reread after I've finished a book made of awesome and have no idea how any other book in the known universe will ever compare. Rereading, it's a cure for Awesome Book Hangovers. And the common cold. But mostly Awesome Book Hangovers.

Photo by Moyan Brenn

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Birthday Postmortem

 Gratitudes:

  1. The intrepid Mercy Thompson and her fictional world. She along with all her fictional compatriots have saved my sanity more times than I care to count. 
  2. Instacart. Thanks for saving my bacon over and over again!
  3. CPAs who know far more about the tax codes than I. 
While my birthday was a wonderful day, during the evening it was clear Hubs was not feeling well. And when he doesn't feel well, which is never, it means he's going to be down for some serious get well time. The remainder of the week was very low key. Hubs was sleeping and being generally sick grumpy. And I was doing fine. Until I got sick.

It was two and a half weeks of sick adults in our house. I'm sure at one point Velcro Dog packed his bags and wished for opposable thumbs so he could open the door and hitch a ride to somewhere not here.

Then there was tax crap. We sold some investments last year but the broker didn't include purchase dates or prices on the 1099-INV so I had to dig through 13 years or statements to try to find the info and put it in a format the accountant could use. Good. Lord.

Still, I had a good birthday. We saw the movie of my choice once both of us were feeling better (13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi). We went out for the dinner of my choosing the following weekend (Pizza Lucé for salmon instead of pizza). I spent birthday money on some books so I could have the series in epub format, even though I already own most of it in paper. Yes, I'm that girl. And proud of it.

One of my birthday gifts was the gift of a clean house. My friend came over and assisted me as I got down and dirty with the home office. While there is still work to be done, surfaces are clean and a metric ton of paper was escorted off the premises. Then she paid for the crew who cleans her home to come and clean mine. I had to do some heavy lifting with removing the clutter, and getting over the fact that someone who didn't know me would be in my home cleaning. Something I SHOULD be able to do, but don't have the energy or sometimes the pain tolerance to do.

Cleaning

So this week I cleared surfaces of paper and books and stuff. And this morning Hector and his crew of wonder workers came and cleaned the loft and main floor of my house. I wanted to kiss them all and cry tears of relieved joy. My house. She is clean! Sure, I need to clean a few things they missed because, honestly, who cleans the underside of chairs, or pulls off books to dust shelves, or pulls out someone else's drawers to eliminate the dog fur resting beneath? No one. But these small things are doable.

Excuse me while I go roll around on the floor for a little while. It's clean right now, so I'm going to enjoy it while I can. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Birthdays, Goals, and Pie!

 Gratitudes:

  1. The weather has been warmer than usual, which means we may have lilac blooms in March. March, people!
  2. It is National Pi Day, which anyone knows is an excuse to eat lots of delicious pie.
  3. Pedicures. They cure what ails you.
Today is Pi Day. It is also National Nap Day. Which is a good thing since it's the day after the Daylight Savings switch. Sleeping in is now like getting up on time. Where's the fun in that? 

It also happens to be my birthday. I am now closer to 50 than I was to 40. I feel okay about this. I figure 45 is the new 30. I don't feel like I'll be able to join AARP in five years. I don't feel like I'm middle aged. I don't feel like I'm 45. My feet especially don't feel like 45. 

Pretty Feet
My feet are ready for spring!

What is 45 supposed to feel like? I have no idea. I know people who have had trouble getting older. Each birthday is a trial and they stop celebrating their true age. They live in the past instead if the now. I have always wondered if I would be that person. Would I finally have a birthday where I mourn all the things I wanted to have accomplished by the time I turned X, but haven't? Would I start to feel the weight of my age? Would I want to quietly sweep my birthday under the rug and pretend it never happened?

This may occur some day in the future, but not today. I'm 45! Sure, I'm not where I pictured myself when I was making grand life plans years ago. That simply means life has changed, or those things I wanted to do and accomplish are still there, waiting to be plucked down and experienced. There is always time to accomplish dreams. And dreams continue to evolve and change. What I wanted when I was in my twenties is definitely different from what I want in my forties. This is a good thing. 

I used to make birthday year goals. I would write a book (check). I would excel in my job (check). I would explore life coaching (check). I would open a life coaching practice (still on the books). I would publish several books (still in the works). I would travel to somewhere exciting (check, and more to come). I would work for myself (quit the day job, but due to health, so still need to find something I can do from home). I would be financially set enough to retire (uh, no). 

I have learned that there are some goals I can complete in my timeline and others that I can't. I still make goals. Like right now I have a goal of working through three courses I purchased years ago but didn't have the time and/or energy to complete. I have weekly goals with these courses, and I don't set a goal out further than a week. It's less daunting that way. 

I'm kinder to myself when I don't meet a goal. Instead of beating myself up, too much, I try to figure out what caused the setback and learn from it. Apply that learning to my next goal. Move forward. It's more productive. 

Having grand dreams and goals is good. It pushes us toward something. But it's the day to day pursuit of those dreams and goals where we see success. Without that pursuit, dreams are just...dreams. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Office Downsize Project Take Twenty

 Gratitudes:
  1. Tea. It is magical, mystical, and lifts my spirits. 
  2. Ella Henderson. I could put Ghost on repeat. Seriously. 
  3. Friends who offer to help you clean and organize your home office, aka the abyss, and do not judge any of the things you have chosen to hold on to over the years. 
I used to be organized. When we lived in a smaller domicile, organization and cleaning was a cinch. We didn't have much space and we didn't have much stuff. Everything had a place. Even if that place was a box under the bed. 

Berlin Home Office
If only my desk was this clean and streamlined. Sigh.
Now we live in a bigger home. We have more stuff. And over the last few years I put more energy into organizing myself at work than organizing and reorganizing the chaos that occurs during renovations. Our bedroom and the guest room were the only two rooms that were mostly untouched. It's easy to keep the bedroom clean and less cluttered. The guest room has become a place to store those things we don't yet have a home for and should not be stored in the basement. We're slowly working through the stuff.

The one room I have always struggled with is the home office. If you go back on this blog, you will see a few times I have attempted to organize and downsize this space. I feel bad because at work I was uber organized. I didn't have the energy to organize the home office. And in the last few years I have developed a dislike for the space. I have a vision of how this space could be. But it would take money and time and renovations have been the primary goal in the last 10 years. Yes, 10 year. I about died when I realized that. June will make 11. I don't want to talk about it.

Things have gotten worse since I left work. All the personal items I had in my cubicle was dumped in the home office. And I haven't done a thing with it since. 

Initially I really didn't have the energy. Now that I have the energy, I lack the motivation. But I really need to make this space workable. More than workable, I need to make this space mine. Comfortable. Beautiful. Positive. Safe. 

I really want a room in this house that I can lock myself in and be creative, or slightly manic, or melancholy. And be allowed to just be me. We all need a space where we can be ourselves. The self we may not show everyone.  The part of ourselves that is growing and changing and becoming, but hasn't become enough we feel safe showing others. Not yet. 

I don't have that. I haven't had that since I got married. Our first home was so small there was no individual space. This house has the space but...the truth is Hubs has this vision of sharing an office. He doesn't quite understand the need for that singular space we can make our own. He kind of has his workshop. That is his space. It's not a space to work on a computer or a comfortable place to escape to. He escapes to the bedroom when he wants to be in his cave. I let him. I don't intrude. He needs his alone time. He needs his space. So do I. 

This week I'm attacking the office and making it work for me. A friend is coming over to help me. We will purge, rearrange, organize. Well, maybe not completely rearrange because the desk is staying where it is so I can get at the cords behind the computer. Otherwise, it could totally move. But once it's at least purged and organized, I can figure out what I need. What furniture could be made or purchased to make the space more pleasing. What pictures could go up on the walls. Where the water fountain could go. How I can make the space work for all the things I need and the things I want to do in here. 

Sometimes you need help getting a part of your life together. Sometimes it's okay to reach out and ask for it. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Necessary Connections

 Gratitudes:
  1. Velcro Dog's unfailing joy in life. All the mud on my floor is worth the joy in his face after tromping around the thawing backyard.
  2. Pomodoros. They help keep me on track, especially when working on things I would rather send to the pits of doom.
  3. The lovely Coffee Guy at my local café. Thank you for your free refills and your ready smile. It makes my day!
Every Friday I get together with girlfriends for coffee or lunch and chatting. It's so wonderful to be able to get out of the house, away from my inner bitch and be with other people. We talk about everything from the states of our marriages/significant relationships, sex, pop culture, health, religion, and the state of our mental health. No topic is verboten. The only tacit agreement we seem to have is that we are respectful of each other. Which is a good agreement to have, tacit or explicit. 

Coffee Lurve!
Today after slogging through breakfast and physical therapy, I managed to make myself presentable enough to be seen in public. I made my way to our favorite café. It was two of us for coffee today and we discussed the benefit of empire waisted shirts, spring skiing in the Midwest versus Colorado, and the mental health benefits of getting outside in the winter. Nothing earth shattering, but it filled my soul in a way that only being around people who care about you for who you are can give. 

I don't do this often enough. I tend to stick to my cave and snuggle on the bed with the dog until Hubs gets home. He's a homebody so we spend the evening at home. If it weren't for my friends, and the need to give Velcro Dog his daily walk, weeks could go by where I wouldn't leave the house. I don't think this hermit mentality is healthy, so I try to plan things that will get me out and around people. Coffee with a friend. Breakfast with just me and my journal or a book. Window shopping. A museum. A park. 

I spend a lot of time alone. This is both by choice and because health issues have made my world very small. I cancel often. I don't plan too far ahead. I can't guarantee I'll have a good day, or a good hour. I become afraid to reach out to people I haven't seen in awhile because I don't want to appear flaky or non-committal. So I let myself fade into the shadows of relationships. 

Which isn't healthy. It's self-defeating from a mental health standpoint. It makes for a lot of self-doubt, a lot of loneliness. The perfect fodder for dark thoughts and can usher one from melancholy to depression. I'm not depressed, but I'm no stranger to dark thoughts. 

Which is why my Friday friend dates are so important. For a period of time I get to step outside my head and into the sunlight of caring. Joy is infectious and I leave feeling better about myself and my life. I may not be living the life I thought I would be at almost 45 years of age, but I'm living the life in front of me. And that's nothing to be ashamed of. 


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When Pain is All There Is

 Gratitudes:
  1. Gluten free gourmet pizza. Yum!
  2. Deadpool the movie. Yes, it's crass and violent and he's an anti-hero. But it's his utter humanity that I find compelling and I loved the movie. 
  3. Medical care and holistic approaches to healing and healthy living.
Spring showers
Grey, it's how I feel today.
There isn't much to report today other than I think the stress of taxes (and my uncharacteristic lack of organization this year) along with poor posture has triggered a migraine. I've done the stretches and trigger points. I've taken the triptans. I've heated and iced. And I am still feeling miserable. And yet, I cannot sink into oblivion because of said taxes, the care and feeding of Velcro Dog, and the fact that I have basic living that requires my attention.

I feel almost as I did back when I was working and my health was shattering around me. Locked into something that has no end, and that I need to fight the pain and health issues so they don't get the best of me.

Fighting is what caused my health issues to finally do just that.

While I can't just give in to the pain, I have to learn to at least make friends with it. To cooperate with it. Some pain is beneficial. It signals that I've spent too much time in one position or doing something that, if continued, will trigger a flare or migraine event. If I listen to the pain in my body, I can do something to ease back, change direction, and circumvent deeper pain.

Sometimes all my coping strategies aren't enough and the pain threatens to overtake me. I want to tense up. I want to wail and curse and sink into the despair that slithers along with the pain. If I do that, I will end up believing there is no hope of respite. That all I will ever know is pain. And longing. And life will pass me by.

So I need to listen to the pain. Acknowledge it. Work through my strategies. Practice self-care.  Call a friend and plan some social time. Go for a slow walk. Remind myself that this too shall pass, even if in the moment it feels like pain is all there is. Because that's a lie. There is more to life, more to me than pain. Even if right now pain seems to rule everything.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

Taxes: If They Don't Bleed You Dry, They May Kill You

 Gratitudes:

  1. Warm, fuzzy robes that I can snuggle in when I'm not feeling my best. 
  2. Instacart. Because sometimes getting groceries myself is too much to handle. 
  3. Professionals who take care of figuring out my taxes.
It's tax season. Every year I proclaim that I will have my shit together by the beginning of February and every year we end up waiting until the end of February to get our information to our accountant because we end up waiting on documentation from third parties. Every. Year. 

This year is no different. Added to my normal tax time anxiety is the fact that last year we cashed in some investments. It was always the plan to cash these in. And it was understood that we may owe taxes due to the cashing in of these investments. That's fine, we have money set aside for just such a situation. 

What is amping up my anxiety is the fact that one one of the 1099s we have from mutual funds we have owned since 2005 is missing vital information. Such as purchase dates and purchase costs. Uh......didn't the brokerage house retain this information? Apparently not. We no longer use this brokerage house, but I have been in regular contact with our previous agent regarding this and some other inconsistencies. I'm not happy. I'm almost sick to my stomach.

So I have to dig through all the year end statements for these investments and attempt to match up the information found there to the information on the 1099. I will be sending ALL this information to our accountant along with my findings. I will also be biting my nails and worrying until she has prepared our information and we submit it to the government. 

I hate taxes. I don't begrudge the government it's fair share of our income. We live here. We enjoy benefits the government pays for or maintains. That comes out of tax money. What I hate are the mysterious tax codes and the changes that occur every year. I hate that if one mistake is made, one honest mistake, our financial history may be called under scrutiny. I have nothing to hide. I just don't like the idea of someone taking that deep a look into my life. 

Taxes. Ugh! 

20160222_104813
It's alright, mom. Come snuggle, you'll feel better. 

Velcro Dog is telling me to stop worrying and give him a bone. All we need is food, shelter, and companionship, right? I hate to break his bubble and let him know that part of the reason he has all these things is the same reason we need to prepare and pay taxes; because we make money. A dog needs to retain some of his fantasies after all.