Chasing Inspiration

Friday, October 28, 2016

Of Archbishops and Dalai Lamas


I am slowly making my way through The Book Of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams.

These three men are from very different worlds. And these three men from different socio-economic, faith, and racial backgrounds joined together to write a book about joy. I was intrigued from the moment I first learned of this book. While I believe in God, I do not believe that my faith background holds all the truth there is to be learned about life and compassion, about God. The world is too big, God is too large for that to be so. And it warmed me that a Buddhist, a Christian, and a Jew could forge such bonds of friendship with each other. Could delight in each other.

Which is part of why I'm slowly reading this book. Normally, I would devour it quickly and move on to the next book. I love knowledge and learning. Sometimes I love it more than the application of knowledge. Knowing this about myself, and knowing that joy is something that has been on my mind for the last three years, I made the decision to enter into this book with intentionality. This might be my only opportunity to learn at the feet of two men I admire greatly and a man they admire. I was going to make the most of it.

The forward sets the tone for the book, and within the forward are these paragraphs:
No dark fate determines the future. We do. Each day and each moment, we are able to create and re-create our lives and the very quality of human life on our planet. This is the power we wield. 
Lasting happiness cannot be found in pursuit of any goal or achievement. It does not reside in fortune or fame. It resides only in the human mind and heart, and it is here that we hope you will find it.
Lama, Dalai; Tutu, Desmond; Abrams, Douglas Carlton (2016-09-20). The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (p. ix). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 
I read these words and had to put the book down and let the words wash over me, through me. In these words is permission. Permission to choose. Permission to create and dream. To wrest back our ability to act from the hands of everything around us that wants to lay siege upon our will. We are put back into the driver's seat.

But how? How do we find joy? Especially if it is not happiness. And is not found in accomplishments? If joy is an internal state, what must be done to find it? And live in joy in a world filled with suffering? Some of this comes down to choice:
They offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, of joy that we can aspire to in our own lives. Their desire for this book is not just to convey their wisdom but their humanity as well. Suffering is inevitable, they said, but how we respond to that suffering is our choice. Not even oppression or occupation can take away this freedom to choose our response. (p. 7) 
And resilience, I think, though so far this term has not been used in the book (I'm still mulling over the introduction and first chapter), but resilience applies to how Archbishop Tutu describes life with joy in the face of suffering:
Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken. (p. 12)
Joy seems to spill over from empathy and compassion. From feeling deeply. Which sometimes scares me. If I don't feel too deeply, then I'm not going to expose myself to too much pain. Isn't this what we learn? That feeling deeply leads to deep pain? But what if it doesn't? What if feeling deeply, or empathy and compassion, actually leads to resilience? It's something I am questioning for myself.

The Dalai Lama builds on this, and stresses the inner life. That the core of our joy, of our strength, is within. And that this is the same for all people, regardless of race, religion or creed:
It does not matter whether one is a Buddhist like me, or a Christian like the Archbishop, or any other religion, or no religion at all. From the moment of birth, every human being wants to discover happiness and avoid suffering. No differences in our culture or our education or our religion affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire joy and contentment. But so often these feelings are fleeting and hard to find, like a butterfly that lands on us and then flutters away. 
The ultimate source of happiness is within us. Not money, not power, not status. Some of my friends are billionaires, but they are very unhappy people. Power and money fail to bring inner peace. Outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness. We must look inside.  (p. 14)
I'm chafing a little at the thought that the ultimate source of joy is within. I was taught we are created in God's image and all good things come from God. Joy comes from God. At the same time, this makes sense. Joy is intensely personal. It may spill over from within onto the people around us, but it starts with us. With me. And if the source of joy is within me, that doesn't detract from God. Or from human evolution. Or social science. It shows just how amazing humanity can be.

The Book of Joy is going to be a very interesting journey. It's already doing it's best to stretch my understanding, which is a very good thing.

  1. Chocolate coconut water. 
  2. The loamy scent of autumn.
  3. Silence.

Velcro Dog, Fur, and Me


I've been battling what is likely a mix of allergies and a sinus cold. For almost two weeks. I'm just sick enough to run out of energy quickly, but not sick enough to snuggle on the couch and watch movies all day. It's a balancing act, this thing called life.

Today I am going to tackle the floors. There is enough dog hair on the floor to gather and spin into yarn. Which I'm not going to do. I'm a wee bit allergic to my dog and if we are going to enjoy living together, the floors need to swept up at least every other day and someone (usually me) needs to groom Velcro Dog to release the fur that continues to shed. When we were told he is half Vizsla I almost wept for joy because most Vizslas I have met don't shed a lot. Velcro Dog is also half Labrador Retriever. He sheds like a Lab. I love him anyway.

Due to the lack of real energy, and the fact that Mountain Man has been out of town this week for work, the floors haven't been dry mopped. Hence the carpet of fur.

Every day I have to choose what to tackle. Every day I have to remind myself that it's okay for there to be tasks still on my task list. Every day I remind myself what I have actually accomplished so I can look back and recognize that I was productive. Productive just has to mean something different right now than it did a few years ago.

Today, it's the floors. Hopefully the kitchen counters. And if I'm lucky, the cheque book. And that's just fine.

  1. Whoever invented fleece should be honored and revered. Without fleece, I would be freezing my ass off on my daily Velcro Dog walks. 
  2. Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is so full of positive. I love him. But not as much as his wife does. Honest. 
  3. Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama because no matter what they have been through in this world they have been able to seek living a life of joy.

Monday, October 17, 2016

When Grief is Messy

Nude Woman and Grief

Warning: if you are family, you may want to stop reading. I love you all, but I needed a place to process, and maybe my process will help others. 

In July we visited family in Victoria, British Columbia. Which is one of the most gorgeous spots in all of Canada. I admit I'm biased because I am Canadian, even if I'm living in the USA. The trip was not for pleasure, though there was much to enjoy. No, this trip was because of the death of my last living grandparent. My grandmother. My mother's mother. A woman who is part of my earliest memories. Memories that I now know were the foundation for some of my neuroses.

I want to say I had a good relationship with her, but honestly, we never connected. She was critical and wanted different things from me than I wanted from myself. She was verbally abusive. She had done a number on my mother. How do I know this? My mom would become this pale shadow of herself whenever Grandma was around. I think I hated the woman because of all the times she reduced my mother to tears. I think the child in me lost some respect for my mother for all the times she wasn't strong.

The adult me knows that trauma untreated will not heal true.  When a broken bone isn't set, it doesn't heal properly. Even if set properly, the healed bone will always be different than if it had never been through the trauma of a break. We are like that. If we are emotionally battered down until we stop seeing ourselves and see only the thing our abuser wants us to see, we are like that broken bone. Even if we get out from under the situation, unless we go through the work to release ourselves from the trauma, we will never be reset. We will live as though the trauma is happening to us right now.

I'm writing this at 3:30 in the morning, otherwise I would take the time to find references for the above paragraph. Please let it be enough to know that I was a therapist for a time, and continue to keep updated with the latest in psychology. And trauma is an area I am very familiar with.

My grandmother had good points. She had a dry sense of humor. She took family seriously. She took on the task of taking care of my grandfather, who she loved fiercely. I don't have a memory where Grandpa wasn't in need of some form of care or pain management. She did that because she loved him. She was the primary caregiver for her mother when Alzheimers stole her independence along with her mind. She worked hard.

But that wasn't enough to erase her cruel side. The side that told a four year old me that I was never going to be good enough. The side that made sure that when my brother and I spoke of our dreams for a future, she would shoot them down, telling us we had champagne taste on a beer budget. Translation: we were over reaching our status. We were from working class people and we would always be working class people. Which is partially true. Dad was a blue collar worker. But who tells children to dream small because life is small?

When I was fifteen or sixteen, I spent two weeks with Grandma and Grandpa. I took the bus to Victoria, rode the ferry from Vancouver on my own. It was a fabulous trip! I loved the adventure. And I tried to be a good guest. I kept my room clean. I helped with meals and dishes. I tried to be small enough that Grandma's cruel side wouldn't notice me. It worked until the day I wore shorts. Then I got the lecture on how by the act of wearing shorts I was sending a message to all males that I want to be raped. I shook my head, it was just Grandma, after all. But something in me started to feel ashamed of my body. Scared that maybe I was responsible for what others think and feel about my presence. Add this to the script of "You're not good enough" and we have a recipe for confusion and years of not believing I was worth anything good that came into my life. All good things were suspect.

It was after this that there was an outward change. In all the pictures taken after that visit I am not smiling, knowing the world is one huge adventure waiting to explore. Instead, I'm withdrawn, even frowning. I didn't want to be near Grandma. Deep down I knew she was toxic for me. But I didn't have the vocabulary to explain this to any one. And therapy wasn't on my radar until college.

I cut the ties after my high school graduation. I wore this beautiful dress that my mom's friend made for me. It was strapless and amazing. I felt like a heroine from a novel when I put it on. I never wanted to take it off. When I stepped into our living room to show my grandparents my dress, she sneered and told me I looked like a slut. What should have been an amazing day became one of the most horrible days in my life. And I told Grandma that other than visits with mom and dad I was done. I was eighteen.

These examples aren't meant to vilify. They are only to illustrate my relationship with Grandma. I eventually started therapy. Got my MS in Psychology. Worked with trauma survivors. Had more therapy. I needed to take out the thorns that were festering in my soul and my psyche, then I had to do the hard work of healing. I'm not all the way there yet. Trauma changes a person. Abuse leaves it's mark. Our experiences become a part of our DNA. They leave us changed from who we might have been.

I left Victoria and my family with mixed feelings. Relief. Sadness. Anger. I was relieved that her suffering was over and her spirit had moved on to somewhere that could heal the trauma and pain she could not, or would not, heal in life. Relieved because maybe in death the stranglehold she had on her daughters would end, so they could breathe and live and heal. Sad because all around my family were the fingerprints of her - the good and the bad. Angry because she never extended to me the type of relationship she extended to younger cousins. She never showed that side of herself to me. Even two years ago when I saw her last, she didn't talk to me without the side of her personality that was critical and cruel.

Maybe some of that is on me. I cut her out of my life because I couldn't grow as a person with her still in it. I hated the pieces of her that were sharp and quick to cut. I loved the parts of her that were wry and loyal. I was sad for the parts of her that were damaged and bleeding.

Maybe it hurt so much when her china went to a younger cousin because I was the oldest and she had told me she would pass it down to the oldest. But I had walked away and my cousin had not.

Maybe it hurt so much when at her funeral I was introduced to this caring, tender woman, a woman I didn't recognize because whatever tenderness she may have shown me was buried under the tsunami of judgement.

Maybe being the oldest grandchild is a lot like being the oldest child, and Grandma made her mistakes with me so she could be a better grandmother to others.

Maybe I reminded her too much of the self she lost along the way. Or maybe not.

It's messy, saying goodbye to someone who has hurt you. It's tricky walking the line between utter relief and compassion for those who are grieving more deeply than myself. My grief is less the loss of a person who's love and light embraced me, and more an ability to finally take a breath. How do you explain that to family? I don't know. If you have the answer, please let me know.

  1. The wisdom living brings. 
  2. My husband, who walks with me, even when I drag him through the messiness of life.
  3. The stillness of night. 

Photo by x1klima

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In Being Flawed

kintsugi closeup

Do you know what I love about movies like Bad Moms? It's about flawed people trying to do the best they can. Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they get it very wrong. Sometimes they do everything right but still get kicked in gut for trying. And somehow they find the way to get up every morning and try to do their best again.

I'm not a mom, but I know a lot of moms who work hard raising children, hoping they become strong, healthy adults. I'm a woman so I know what it's like to be a woman in today's world. How sometimes as a woman it doesn't matter what you say or what you do, you're either too much or too little. How the rules seem to be different between men and women. Against one group of women to another. I know what it's like to be called overly emotional for being passionate about something. Or overly sexual for wearing something that makes me feel fabulously alive but shows too much skin. Being called a bitch because I call someone on their behavior. Or have a strong opinion. Or just because I breath.

And sometimes I feel like no matter what I do I'm still going to be too little or too much. I'm never going to be just right.

We are all flawed people. In someone's eyes we are going to be too little or too much. Everyone has an opinion and judgements and insecurities. Everyone is trying to find a way to keep getting up every morning. For some, this may be easy. For the person secure in who she is and who has her back, it may be easy to shrug off the naysayers and push forward. For others, it might be very, very difficult.

Sometimes we are our own enemies. Raise your hand if you have ever told yourself you were stupid, inept, or a failure. If you have looked at yourself in the mirror and berated yourself for being in Vogue shape. If you have made a mistake and have not forgiven yourself. If you hate something about yourself. If you do something for yourself and feel guilty after. If you look at the people around you and judge yourself for not being just like them. If you have looked at the lives of other people and hate them just a little for being better than your life.

Maybe if we are trying to live an ethical life, if we try to be kind to people, to be compassionate, to strive to become better versions of ourselves just a little every day (or week, or month. I'm not judging), then maybe we can let up on ourselves. Maybe when we make mistakes, we own them and try to learn from them, then we can stop berating ourselves. Maybe if we allow ourselves to believe we are worthy of kindness and compassion we can stop feeling guilty. Maybe if we acknowledge that there are bad days where our shit falls apart, we can start being kind to ourselves.

Maybe if we stop looking at the lives of other people as the bar we hold ourselves to, we can be kind and compassionate and generous to others. If we want to love our neighbour, maybe we need to learn to love ourselves.

It is Yom Kippur, and though I am not Jewish, I find something compelling with this Jewish high holiday. One of the passages read on Yom Kippur is from Deuteronomy and is about choice. Choose a path of forward momentum and growth and light, or choose to stay mired in mindsets and choices that are slowly destroying us.
Move forward into a space of opportunity and growth or remain trapped within perils of the past and fears of the future? The choice seems obvious enough, but the path to renewal is far from easy. Choosing “life and prosperity” requires us to recognize our previous misgivings, but it also challenges us to accept whatever consequences lie ahead. (Reform Judaism
While this isn't all that is encompassed within Yom Kippur, and I apologize right now to my Jewish friends and family for distilling what is a day of huge import down to a question of choice, I find it important to ask myself, am I willing to choose the more difficult path? The high road is lonely. Change is hard. Being honest with myself means being honest with others. Even if that honesty requires me to go low and apologize and offer reparations for something I have done that has had negative effects on someone.

Yes, we are all flawed people. And we will make mistakes and our shit will come undone. Despite it all are we willing to make a choice toward becoming our better selves?


  1. Movies and books about flawed people. 
  2. Velcro Dog urging me to leave the house every morning. Not for my benefit, for his, but it's all good. 
  3. The gentle love of my friends, even when I don't always love myself. 
Photo by Pomax

Friday, October 07, 2016

Feeling Disconnected

The Lonely Road

One of the most difficult things for me right now is this feeling of disconnection. 

In my post-work life, I spend a lot of time alone. I'm usually great with being alone. I read. I write. I walk the dog. I knit. I watch television or movies. I like me some alone time. The problem is that the majority of my time is alone time right now. 

Chronic health issues can make a person's world shrink. I don't know when I'll have the energy to go out and spend time with people. When I make plans, I'm not able to look into the future to see if I'll actually be able to follow through. It makes me hesitate to step outside myself. 

I'm not worried about people judging me for having to cancel at the last minute. All. The. Time. I do worry about inconveniencing people. In the past I would force my body into compliance and would do everything in my power to keep those plans. Today, it's easier to not make plans to begin with. 

By not making plans, I lose touch with people. And losing touch with people means there are fewer people in my life. And fewer people in my life means my world is shrinking. 

But what about the internet, you ask? Yes, what about the internet. Social media is supposed to expand our world, isn't it? There are more people out there to connect with, albeit virtually. 

Intimacy can be found online, but one has to work at it. And having hundreds of friends on Facebook does not mean a person has people solidly in her corner. Sure, there are billions of people online and sure I can find like minded individuals with whom I can build relationships. But just as in the physical world, this takes time and effort. And there are days that can go by, weeks even, where I don't log into Facebook or Twitter. There are days I don't even check email.

This feeling of disconnection, it's on me. The state of my relationships, that's on all parties involved. But no matter how many people I have in my life supporting me, only I can do something about feeling alone. Disconnected. Lonely. I can reach out when the days feel too long and too disconnected. I can get my ass out of my house and go somewhere with live people and strike up a conversation. I can text someone to see if they want to get together for a last minute coffee date. Or lunch. Or a walk. Or to see a movie together.

I can't expect people to magically know just how alone I feel at times. I need to actually tell people. I need to actually *gasp* ask for help. 

I am thankful for every person in my life who has been willing to live with my current inconsistent brand of friendship.

  1. Brand new days, because they are kind of like do-overs.
  2. Holy basil and rose petal tea. 
  3. The internet.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Melancholia and Me

  1. Looking at the rain from our newish porch. It's fantastic!
  2. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu - they are amazing men with a shared message of joy and compassion.
  3. Rawhides. They are for dogs what the TV is for small children. Don't judge!
autumn leaves

I'm not going to lie, it's been a rough week. As I have stated before on this blog, I have situational depression, which means I have short term depressive episodes that are triggered by circumstance or situation. While this is not clinical depression, it does share symptomology: depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, crying, changes in sleep, changes in appetite, etc. It can lead to major depression if the situational depression isn't addressed.

I am also naturally more melancholy in mood. Melancholia is not depression, as Eric G. Wilson explores in his book Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy:
There is a fine line between what I’m calling melancholia and what society calls depression. In my mind, what separates the two is degree of activity. Both forms are more or less chronic sadness that leads to ongoing unease with how things are — persistent feelings that the world as it is is not quite right, that it is a place of suffering, stupidity, and evil. Depression (as I see it, at least) causes apathy in the face of this unease, lethargy approaching total paralysis, an inability to feel much of anything one way or another. In contrast, melancholia (in my eyes) generates a deep feeling in regard to this same anxiety, a turbulence of heart that results in an active questioning of the status quo, a perpetual longing to create new ways of being and seeing.
Please know that I'm not attempting to minimize clinical depression. This is a very real dark shadow that sucks a person down into their own quiet hell. It is a straight jacket, the darkest night, a twisted tunnel of reality that is loathe to let a person go. Clinical depression requires therapy and medication and a lot of support.

This week's lows stem both from my melancholia and situational depression. What has happened to trigger this depressive state? I couldn't pinpoint one single event. I haven't changed jobs, ended a relationship. The only changes that have taken place in my life is that summer has moved into autumn and the two year mark of not working due to health issues has come and gone. I haven't worked in two years. I'm no closer to being able to work than I was then. In fact, I think things have worsened over the last few months.

That may be why I have sunk beneath the waters of melancholy and lay in the pool of short term depression.

Knowing what's going on within my body - physical, emotional, spiritual - means I'm more likely to be able to do something to help myself. Sometimes it's watching Doctor Who or Star Trek. Other times it's getting outside and being out in nature. Sometimes it's getting together with a good friend who loves me, quirks and all. Sometimes it's therapy.

Today, it was figuring out why I feel so low and then writing about it. I have named it. I can now regulate it (inside joke with Claire, but true nonetheless).

There are things I can do toward my health issues. I know this. I've been lax in doing many of them. I got tired of the supplements and the diet restrictions. I started to slip while on vacation in July and kept right on slipping once I got home. My sleep hygiene could use some tightening of routines. I could move my body more.

And I can let myself feel low, feel sadness, frustration, hopelessness. I can sit in these feelings and let them wash over me, through me. I can seek to answer what triggered this round of depression and increase my distress tolerance and my skills. I can let the emotions wash away a layer of myself that no longer fits.And  I can come out the other side being a bit better version of myself.

It's okay to feel low. To be melancholy. It's normal to be so thrown by a life event that you temporarily feel suffocated by depression. This doesn't make me a freak of nature, unlike what my brain continues to try to tell me. It makes me normal. It makes 

Photo by: Seth Stoll 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Psych, Fibromyalgia, and Pain Mitigation

  1. Green tea lattes. Nuf said.
  2. Fresh spring flowers in the middle of September. 
  3. Two more days to finish binge watching Psych on US Netflix. 
It's a cool, grey, autumnal day here and Velcro Dog and I enjoyed a brief walk at the dog park. He walked. I read. It's a great system for the two of us. And no, I don't just read. I walk as well. Just not as many laps as Velcro Dog. I can read, and he can't. Don't judge!

What do you mean, Psych is going away? No!!!!!!!!!

We also did some snuggling while watching Psych. The poor dog is distraught at the thought that we won't be able to watch his favorite TV show ever again. He loves Lassiter and secretly has a thing for Shawn's mom. He doesn't think I know this, but it's obvious from the way his eyes get all dewy when he looks at her.  Shhh, don't tell him, but I have plans to purchase said show so we can enjoy it whenever we desire. That's me, a giver. 

Today also marks two weeks into a new medication for my fibromyalgia (FM). It's cutting edge stuff and several people I know who have tried it have great things to say. Some have reported significant results. I was hoping for some of these dramatic results for myself.  Sadly that hasn't been the case. Instead of a near miraculous recovery, little things have been changing. I had to take a breath, reign in my expectations, and instead of looking for the big changes, I needed to look for any changes. 

I am usually tired all the time. While this has not changed, I find the fog that accompanies the fatigue is occasionally better. Especially in the afternoons. While I wish the fatigue would lift, I'll take a positive change in fibro fog. 

Pain has been my constant companion for, oh, around thirty years. Sure, there's and ebb and flow to the pain. Different flavors for different seasons. But it's always been there, watching. Waiting. There was a t-shirt making the rounds on Facebook a few weeks ago. The shirt was black and on the back were these words: This Shirt Turns Black Whenever I Am In Pain. This awesome black t-shirt speaks for me. 

With this new medication, I'm still in a lot of pain, but I'm having moments where the pain doesn't spike as high or stretch out for as long. Moments, mind you. But I'll take them. 

It's only been two weeks and it's only minute changes, but I've lived with this pain for over half my life. And it's gotten worse in the last few years. I'll take minute changes for the better over worse any day. Especially if eventually I can buy a t-shirt like the one above in a color other than black. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cabins, Audio Books, And Revelations

  1. With autumn comes cooler weather and less humidity. For this, I am always grateful.
  2. Velcro Dog has come to terms with the fact that I can't be consistent when I walk him. I have thanked him for his understanding. He has deigned to allow me to snuggle with him.
  3. Psych is leaving US Netflix on October 1st. This is less a gratitude then it is a public service announcement. You're welcome.
Our anniversary was the end of last month. We try to go out of town on or near our anniversary. Usually it's to a cabin here in MN that is owned by Husband's family. And we usually only go up for a long weekend. Two years ago, right after I quit my day job, we started coming up for a week. It's amazing to be away from the city for a week and bask in the silky silence of  nature. This year was almost perfect.

Why wasn't it perfect? Basically because it rained more often then not. It felt rather soggy for the first three days of our vacation. Then the sun did shine. And it was glorious.

Oh glorious, sun filled day!
We spent time just staring at the lake. And listening to the sounds of nature around us. Birds. Breeze. Waves. Wind. Not a jet ski or speed boat in sight! I kinda want to go back  even though the temperatures will require a fire at night. Can anyone say S'Mores!

One of the things I really love to do at the cabin is listen to audio books. Husband knows this and has learned that if he doesn't want me to listen to one of my UF or romance novels, he had best not do anything to piss me off. I always have a romance queued up to one of the hotter sex scenes just so I can play it at a very loud volume just to torture him. I also have audio books that I know he might enjoy. I save these for vacations. Cuz I'm good like that.

For this trip I queued up Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. If you don't know who this amazing woman is, go ahead and take a moment to peruse her website, Twitter, or Facebook page. Go on, I'll wait.

So Jenny Lawson is a journalist who also lives with mental illness. And is brutally honest about what it's like to live her life. I don't have a diagnosed mental illness, though I do have situational depression. I do have chronic health conditions that attempt to turn my brain against me. I can relate to many of Jenny's stories. Sometimes so much I cry because, dammit, someone gets it!

I had read Furiously Happy when it first came out and I loved it. I wanted to fan girl Ms. Lawson and stalk her on Facebook , but I resisted. Instead I threw money at Jenny by purchasing her book for many people and myself. Including the audio book. Jenny has since thanked me in person for buying so many copies of her book and we are now friends. Oh, wait. That was a dream. And it wasn't Jenny Lawson, it was Nora Roberts. I really need to keep my fandoms straight!

Hubs was so thankful he didn't have to listen to sexy time scenes he actually paid attention to Furiously Happy. He thought Jenny lived a very colorful life and thought she and I would be dangerous if we knew each other. Dangerously cool! (Hubs wishes to let you know that no, he didn't think we would be dangerously cool. More like dangerous to his health. I countered that we would be freaky cool. Hubs agrees we would be freaky. He's less sanguine about cool. I love him despite his lack of vision).

We laughed. I cried. Hubs learned.

There were a few times when we were in the car and Jenny was regaling us with her tales of living her life, and I burst into tears. Jenny was talking about spoons and how life often needs to look different because we don't have the unlimited number of spoons able people seem to have. I was crying because every fucking word she said was brilliant. All those words illustrated what I had been attempting to share with my friends and family (and husband) for years. And he got it. Hubs listened with his whole self. And. He. Got. It.

So I cried some more in relief because trying to explain what it is to live in my body has been like attempting to dance the most beautiful and intricate of modern dances and hoping that my non performing arts husband would magically understand what I was saying without the context of meaning and movement. Jenny was able to be herself as she wrote that chapter, and even more herself as she recorded it for the audio book. And Hubs connected.

He's been asking me about my spoons ever since. Sometimes I want to hit him with a spoon, but I far prefer he ask than ignore or not understand the fact that I have limited spoons every day and that means I have to make the hard choices every minute of every day on how I am going to spend those spoons. Because they don't renew until the next day. And sometimes, not even then.

Thank you, Jenny "Dangerously Cool" Lawson. Thank you! And if you ever want to hang out and discuss the merits of taxidermy animal rodeos, I'm here for you! As long as I have the spoons.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

In Which Self Doubt is Kicked in the Balls

  1. Train. Just because. 
  2. My friend's daughters. They are true joy and I love being a part of their lives. 
  3. Grape chia kombucha. Don't judge.
In addition to fibromyalgia (FM) and a recent diagnosis of chronic migraines, I also have insomnia. It's not chronic, even when it feels like it. My particular brand of insomnia is likely a co-morbid condition linked to the FM. I'm in pain, so I can't sleep. I don't sleep well, so I'm in pain. And so on. Most nights I can sleep. It's not the best sleep on the planet, but it's still sleep. Then there are nights like tonight. 

I went to bed with Hubs at the regular time. Played a little Angry Birds Pop, read a little, then turned on the classical music and turned out the lights. 

Hubs was snoring within five minutes. Me? Tossing. Turning. Closing my eyes. Doing relaxation breathing. Tossing some more. Then finally getting out of bed after ninety minutes of doing everything I could think of to will myself to sleep. 

I wish I was sleeping like the dog. 

We have these lovely reclining Mission style chairs in the great room. It's pretty much the only good furniture we own. When I can't sleep and I don't want to stare at any type of screen (phone, tablet, computer, tv. You get the idea), I go to my reclining chair. I may bring a book. Or my journal. Or I may just converse with, well, whatever it is I figure I need to converse with. God. The characters in my head. Myself. 

Tonight I had no desire to journal and I couldn't locate the fiction novel I just started reading, so I went with door number three and conversed with what felt like every self doubt I have ever had. Or rather, self doubt decided to talk to me.  Loudly. In Surround Sound.

Yesterday, since it's now tomorrow, Twitter served up something very timely. Almost prophetic.  

Jeri Ryan, of Star Trek: Voyager fame, posted the above on Twitter and Facebook as her Monday Mantra. I happened to see, thought, "Hells, yeah! Let's kick self doubt in the balls!" and went about the rest of my day. I didn't really think anything about self doubt, kicking it in said balls, or how to keep going.  Then midnight comes. And goes. And I'm tired yet awake and frustrated because AWAKE! And that background noise that is made up of accusations and self doubt goes through an audio filter and the tracks clean up until I can hear with the clarity of Dolby Surround Sound all the accusations and doubts and fears. And I'm tired and vulnerable and start to argue. Even though my arguments are nonsensical because TIRED! 

And then in frustration and resignation I turn on my phone to check I don't even know what. And there it is. Twitter. Open to Ms. Ryan's tweet. My respite from the crazy making. 

And I kick that self doubt in the balls. Really fucking hard. I stand my ground. I remind myself of all the things I have going for me. All the affirmations anyone has ever shared with me. I open the email thread from 2008 when I was laid off from a job I kinda enjoyed working with people I really loved and admired and reread all the positive things they told me about me. And I drank it in like a fine wine. And I kicked that self doubt where it would hurt the most. 

I am. 

That's it. I. Am. 

As long as I exist, there is the potential of doing better. Of overcoming. Of moving forward instead of backward. I. Am. 

The commentary, it's background noise again. I remain awake, and am now staring at a screen writing this post and then potentially writing more on my WIP. Or I may try for a couple of hours sleep before I head out to breakfast and super fun time shopping with a friend. 

Doesn't matter. I'll take being exhausted over being a puddle of self doubt and misery any day. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Awesome Books Hangover

  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.

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


  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.


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!


  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

  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

  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

  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


  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! 

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. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Relationships Are Hard, Man


  1. Health care insurance. I have been recently diagnosed with chronic migraines. I have suspected this for a while but didn't want yet another co-morbid diagnosis. That said, I'm very thankful for our insurance. I can get the meds and the PT I need.
  2. Knitting. If you knit, you understand.
  3. Gluten free ginger cookies. Sometimes tea isn't the same without the ginger cookies.
Heart in child's hand

It's Valentine's Day today. My Facebook feed is full of pictures of wonderful gifts and touching sentiments. And babies. All the precious, perfect babies. 

We don't celebrate Valentine's. Hubs isn't that type of romantic and I've gotten tired of trying to show him in material ways that I love him. Cook him dinner, have some good to great sex and we're good, you know? Of course, this happens all the time since I generally cook dinner and we do enjoy sex. 

In fact, if it hadn't been for a few texts from family and friends, I would have have totally spaced on Valentine's Day at all. So thank you, friends and family, for the reminders. :) 

Relationships are hard. They take work. Give and take. Patience. Compassion. A willingness to know who you are and learn about who your partner is in this moment, instead of living in the past or rushing headlong into the future. Ours has been stretched in the last few years. Renovations alone can destroy a marriage. Add to that work disatisfaction, higher education, health issues, extended family drama, and you have quite the recipe for disaster. 

I won't say we are special, because we aren't. We wake up every day and no matter how angry we may be with the other, we choose in that moment to stay. And in staying, we choose to figure out how to make things work. And whether the expectations we held are worth holding. And that, I think, is the key. As soon as someone stops trying, it's time to ask the really hard questions. One person can pull all the weight for only so long before the self is completely lost. 

I'm not trying to be a downer. I actually feel really positive about what I just wrote. I'm with someone who chooses to get in there and be present in the messiness of our relationship. I'm right there with him. Who carries the most will change from season to season, and we're at a point where once we realize what we're carrying for the other, we talk about it and attempt to work it out, make reparations if necessary, change course if needed. It's hard work. But I wouldn't be anywhere else.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Flowers are a Girl's Best Friend

  1. My husband because he shovels the driveway and never asks me to help.
  2. Chocolate mint rooibos tea. 
  3. Tulips in February.
It was difficult for Hubs to shop for me for Christmas this past year. I didn't want much, and what I wanted was out of our budget. He would have spent the money, but I would have felt bad every time I looked at or used said gift. 

So instead of asking for anything off my someday/maybe list, I asked for a bouquet of flowers once a month for the next twelve months. This month, I got tulips. Beautiful purple tulips. 

February's Christmas flowers

They have lasted about a week, though they haven't opened up completely. I blame this on user error. As in my user error. Perhaps the vase wasn't clean enough. Or perhaps I didn't cut the stems in water to ensure air didn't make it's way up the stems, thus blocking water. Either way, the leaves that weren't in the water yellowed and died and the flowers haven't opened. they are still very pretty and I'm thankful for my man every time I look at them. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Into Every Winter, A Little Snow Must Fall


  1. Aveda Hand Relief lotion, where have you been all my life? My hands have been in the best shape they have ever been during winter. 
  2. Friends.  Especially the friends who pick up where we left off after I've been in my hole of non-communication.
  3. Velcro Dog's continued insistence that I walk him every day or else he may do more than threaten to eat the furniture. 
It snowed yesterday. Over a foot of light, fluffy snow fell yesterday afternoon through the evening and caused havoc for drivers everywhere. For a few hours, anyway. The roads were all cleared overnight and it was a winter wonderland while I drove Hubs to work and then the dog to the park this morning. We've had so little snow this winter that I was beginning to think we wouldn't see any accumulation at all. 

I didn't take any photos of the snow last night as it was falling, but this is the yard today. The snow is almost pristine and when the moonlight hits it, it's magical. Sorry the picture isn't of the snow at night. My flash washes out the magic. 

Velcro Dog enjoying the snow

Velcro Dog couldn't wait to get out and play in it. I was far less sanguine.  Mostly because snow = cold and I'm not a fan of cold. Or hot. I like it nice and temperate. I continue to think moving to Hawaii may just be the best move for me. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Of Winter and Books


  1. Dunn Bros coffee. 
  2. Kindles & Wine book blog - if I have no idea what to read next, I check out this amazing blog! I feel like I'm sitting around a table at a coffee shop chatting books with my besties. 
  3. Brené Brown because her books on shame, courage, and resiliency are full of awesome. 
I've been rather quiet here and on social media because this winter hasn't been good to me so far. Hubs wants to move to somewhere with less extreme weather, believing this will help my fibro. Honestly, from what I experience, read, and research, if there are barometric shifts in weather, there can be flares. If there is stress, there can be flares. If you move and eat and breathe, there can be flares. Sure, moving somewhere else might help. But it might not. I know what I'm in for here. I have a good support team here. My doctors are here.

In other words, I'm not ready to move and the simple (or complex) act of moving may cause enough stress that I will flare and be in an entrenched state for some time. Life holds no guarantees. I'll stick with where I am for now. Unless I win the lottery. Then I'll move somewhere and bring my people with me. :) 

An upside to not doing so well is that I have a lot of time to read. I think I've read twenty books in January alone. Some of that was rereading. And not all of it was fiction. Sadly, I didn't keep a good list so I have to go back through my notes and update my lists. A problem I have is that I have paper books and e-books. My paperbacks I can scan the barcode and upload to my tracking sheet. The ebooks, not so much. Especially when some of them are library books and some are from Amazon, others from Smashwords, and yet others from Barnes and Noble. I've been thinking about a system that will easily allow me to track all these books and honestly, I'm back to a spreadsheet. It's a bit tedious but it works. I can upload the spreadsheet to my iPad or my phone when I'm shopping and quickly see which books I've already read. I can add books I want to buy or read and sort it by that. I can even add the books I'm waiting to be released. If I adopt the GoodReads spreadsheet upload procall I can even use the spreadsheet to update that internet based database. 

Now I just need to remember to update the darn spreadsheet when I read a book. 

A few notable books I've read this month are:
  • I Thought it Was Just Me by Brené Brown
  • The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  • Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
  • The Survivor by Vince Flynn and Kyle Mills (Vince started this book before his death in 2014. He left us too soon, but the series is in the capable hands of Kyle Mills so Mitch Rapp will live on)
  • The Bourbon Kings by J. R. Ward
  • My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis
  • Face of Danger by Roxanne St. Claire
  • The New Testament: Methods and Meanings by Carter Warren and Amy-Jill Levine
I found the two nonfiction books I read fascinating and thought provoking. I will need to read them both again as they are packed full of great information and one can only absorb so much on a first pass through. I was reminded how much I loved reading research articles and books for papers in college, even if I didn't love writing the papers that often went with the reading. It almost, but not quite, made me want to sign up for classes somewhere. 

Hopefully the winter will decide whether it wants to be cold or mild and I can get back to cleaning and organizing the house. And walking the dog with regularity. Velcro Dog says hi, but the way.