Be an Ocean, not a Puddle

30 06 2020

Weather: Ugh. Hot. Humid. My perfect definition of gross. Upper 80s low 90s all week. Add in occasional rain to make it swampy as hell…just. UGH.

The title for today’s write up comes from a meme image I stumbled across a few years ago:

It’s hanging over my desk so I see it everyday when I sit down to do my online stuff or sew. It’s a constant reminder to me that action is important, not intentions.

I mean, intentions are a great starting point, but let’s be honest. We all have a huge barrel of good intentions sitting around that we constantly fill and then shove the lid on it as best we can, without much further attention. Eventually the older intentions get crushed by the newer ones, and turn to dust and disappear.

These days with all the worries – about Covid, the simmering anger at the status quo, the collapsing of an already rickety set of systems that make up our safety net- everyone is voicing their opinions in one way or another, and for once, a lot of them are following it up with action. Things are starting to change. It’s always contentious when you try to change the status quo. A lot of people love their familiar comforts, even though in their hearts they know they are not sustainable, or worse, are bad for others. The devil you know, and all that comes with it.

For me on a personal level, I’ve been trying to find the happy medium between raising my voice and doing what I can to push the changes that are needed. (I’ve been sick for going on 4 weeks now, and with Covid and a mom going through chemo, the available energy to spare on big efforts has been sadly scarce). I applied for mail in ballots here in Michigan. I’ve been sharing good well researched info for public health info, and for social justice issues. I’m making masks to give out (though my rusty sewing skills need a LOT OF WORK. Oy. )

Now, all this external change is important, but I’ve been neglecting the internal and personal work that needs to be done as well. My health is not great, and in the middle of a badly handled pandemic, that’s not a great situation to be in. Also, our financial situation, like a lot of other people, isn’t the greatest. Hours are limited for the husbeast, who is working under contract. I’m unemployed, and haven’t been productive on that front at all. Getting things up for sale on our website is kind of fruitless as most people are strapped for cash. And looking for a job right now? You can stop laughing any time. So…what to do? Well, unfortunately I’ve spent 4 months doing the absolute minimum to keep busy, none of which is helpful on the increased revenue front.

Puddling is not moving the needle on anything, and, in fact, is making things actively more tenuous. So, time to stand up and get my ocean action going. I’ve been doing some online training and classes. I’m actively looking for work that I can do from home (Not a choice. I have to help take care of my mom and risking any infection is a non starter. Have to work from home.)
I am also actively working out, stretching and trying to get my stamina back up to something resembling a normal human. That’s the practical stuff addressing the physical.

The mental and emotional stuff is trickier, but I’ve added in a daily block of meditation and I’m forcing myself to take time away from social media. I’d like to start taking full days to unplug and get my focus back where it needs to be: on the here and now. The virtual world is an evil temptress, but lately it is holding less and less joy for me. It’s a trade off. I unfortunately will interact with friends and family less frequently, but on the plus side, I will also not get mired down in the daily outrage shitstorm. The news is just enraging lately, but I don’t need to monitor it ALL DAY to know what’s going on. Being informed and drowning are two entirely different things.

Something dawned on me recently and it kind of put me back on my heels a bit. I have always tried to be an informed person. Reasonably knowledgeable on a lot of topics so I can at least understand a conversation. I was also so on top of all things geek and sci fi and music and … suddenly I found myself not caring that I didn’t know everything. I literally didn’t care. I’m still following franchises I enjoy, but not looking up every damn thing about them. I stopped following fandom drama. I stopped worrying about being the person who broke the news about something coming out or the first one to post a new trailer or video or interview. I…hung up my zealous fan cape. And truth be told? I don’t really miss it. I’ve just started enjoying my favorites. If I miss the ep or movie live or opening day, I do not feel any rush to catch up. The appeal of focusing on more mundane calming things has filled that brain space. I’m finding I’m back to enjoying music again. And creating art. And learning new skills. Things that are not necessarily group oriented or public facing. I’m not seeking validation anymore. Or praise. Or trying to be the “expert” on all the things. My anxiety has let up a lot as a result. This may sound like I’ve let a lot of “enjoying things” go, but that is not the case. I’m just enjoying things on a simple practical level. I feel no need to deep dive, or over analyze or seek the metaphor…I just enjoy something. Crazy, huh?

The Ocean has depths and waves and power. I want that back. I want to get up each day and feel that I have a measure of control over my life and that I’m able to direct my energy in a focused way to get things accomplished. I need to set aside distractions that are merely entertaining and not helpful. There are so many things in flux these days, in the world, in our community, in our homes. Pick your battles. You can support others efforts and take action where you can. I’m choosing to narrow my focus and strengthen the force to get things done.

I may not be able to fix everything, but I can fix SOMEthing.

Oceans, not puddles.





Time moves on, whether you’re ready or not!

26 05 2020

Weather: Been an arc of warm weather lately. Mid to upper 80s, with varying amounts of humidity. Not ready for it to be summer yet, so hoping for a curve back to normal-ish temps. 

There have been a number of changes fluttering through Castle Ellis this week. Some expected, some not so much. 

Still grinding through the weeks of chemo for my mum. I don’t envy a second of what she’s having to endure, but the alternative is much much worse. She’ll be having her last dose of the aggressive chemo next week, then she’s onto the maintenance level stuff, which purportedly will be much milder on her system. I hope so. She’s miserable and in pain. Hate seeing her like this, and I’m doing what I can to be positive and supportive for her. We’ve had  number of really good conversations, some deep, some silly, but all really helpful to both of us. Love her so much. 💞 Keeping our eyes on the end of August when this all is done and then we move on to the healing. Fingers crossed and candles lit.

On the home front here at Castle Ellis, the husbeast is back actively working from home after a second week of furlough. So we are back to our “work schedule,” which I have zero problem with. The fact the calendar shows we’re just about to stumble into June tells me half the year has been stuck in sludge trying to “make the best of a bad situation”. Kinda tired of that. I’ve made previous proclamations with great intent to get things going again, and to be bluntly honest, I haven’t really made good on.

This week a few things changed on that front. I ordered myself a rug for my craft room/office, which may not seem like much, but it forced me to get the room decluttered and reorganized to get the rug laid down. I also ordered a pair of proper dance slippers from Bloch (a dance shoe resource of some good repute). They arrived today and I slipped them on (and they FIT! WOO!). I teared up for a brief moment because now I had no excuse.

I have been aching to get back to doing barre work and ballet proper, and in my current shape that is not going to happen right away. SO…I’m starting with barre stretches and Pilates to get my flexibility back and some stamina. I danced for a good 16 years (from 6-22 years old) until my damn ankles and knees gave up the ghost. I miss it.  Like an ache in my bones. So. I’m in no way trying to get back up En Pointe, but I can at least try to get in shape and get back to moving. Get my flexibility and some grace back. Slow the toll that arthritis and being overweight is taking on me. But I have to start NOW. Not when it’s convenient. Not when “things get back to normal.”

Our little glass and crafts business is starting to finally get off the ground again and I’m finding that I’m enjoying working on projects again and even love working on the website (Einini Craftworks if you didn’t know). It feels like spring awakening, albeit with less actual running around outside because….well Covid 19.  We’re lucky to have a side-gig that doesn’t really require much in the way of in-person contact.

We’ve been baking and cooking a lot (Please refer to my need to move because….oy.) So weirdly, in the middle of all this stress and worry, between the virus crap, my mum’s cancer and other minor financial bumps in the road, Bri and I are finding that thin silver lining to hold onto and it’s kinda pulling us through with it. My anxiety hasn’t really been too bad, which is crazy considering the circumstances. I just seem to be able to distract myself enough to not obsess over things. 🤷‍♀️

Ultimately what kinda dawned on me today was that no matter what stupidity is happening around me, (and oh, boy the stupidity!) and no matter what minor inconveniences or changes in plans happen, life is gonna continue to shamble forward regardless. There’s no real pause button or reverse. You just have to adjust and keep going with the flow. For the past week or so, that’s what I’ve done and I’ve been pretty content. Doesn’t mean small disappointments or bits of annoyance don’t happen. It’s just I’ve stopped letting myself jump into my cranky pants and join the pity party. Time is a commodity I can’t waste any longer. I can’t get it back and I need to make better choices with how I spend that particular coin.

Life is too goddamn short to spend it on things that don’t make me happy.

 

 

 

 

 





The New Normal Roller Coaster

5 05 2020

Weather: Some hints of Summer in the midst of Spring…warm temps scattered among the cooler. Great weather for sitting out on the deck or taking an evening walk. 

Still adjusting to the upheaval of my usual schedule due to the stay at home orders.  Truth be told, and if I’m being totally honest with myself, I really have let a lot slide that didn’t need to be let go. 

My morning and evening routines are sort of still in place (the mundane set ups and chores that exist regardless). But there are others that have shifted and they have in fact derailed other things, like a series of dominoes tipped over when you jar the table they’re set up on.

Visited the doctor for a long  postponed wellness check up yesterday. (The original had been cancelled and rescheduled due to the Covid crisis). My health was good, no surprises there. But in discussions with my doctors and looking at the symptoms I’ve been having with my joints and other body complaints, it was suggested that I get screened for Rheumatoid Arthritis. This was a bit of a body blow, because I had been getting treated for possible osteoarthritis in my hands. But there is a ton of evidence that it might be exhibiting one thing, with a different cause. If it’s osteo, it was treatable with surgery eventually. If it turns out to be RA, there are treatments available, but they’ll only serve to slow the damage down. The idea of possibly having an auto immune disease, kind of took the wind out of my sails a bit, because it has put a shorter timeline on my ability to do a lot of things I love. Most of my creative output involves some agility in my hands. If my joints are starting to deteriorate, that’s going to impact these abilities. It’s not a thing yet, but the prospect kinda stuck a big gray cloud on me for the rest of the day. We’ll see what happens and then deal with it. ::shrugs::  What else can I do?

Wasted time has been a recurring self-inflicted injury for me for a while now. I am trying to get better at shortening the time between “I really need to do this” and ACTUALLY doing it, but it’s an ongoing struggle. It helps that I occasionally see the mechanism that causes me to procrastinate or delay, because then I can eliminate that mechanism. But sometimes it’s just laziness, or exhaustion, or fear that puts the brakes on whatever I’m wanting to accomplish. Excuses show up in all formats. “I don’t have enough supplies” or “I should be doing X other thing” or my usual go-to, “I’ll take care of that as soon as I do X thing”. And all those excuses seem totally rational on the surface but the truth is they’re just plug and play excuses.

Honestly, I always feel a surge of relief and victory when I get something done that’s been hanging for a while. The worst feeling is the sense of spinning in place because I can’t just pick something to work on, whether creative or domestic, and then NOTHING gets done. This stuck at home situation seems to be perfect for the “I have all the time in the world to get all the things done I’ve EVER wanted to do!!” mentality, but here we are, 7 weeks in our lock-down/WFH sitch, and…..NADA. I’ve gotten a few things done, and my craft room is finally coming together, but yeah.

I have barely read, hardly written, watched little to no television. I finally deleted a game off my phone because my wellness tracker showed I was spending 3-4 hours a DAY on it. 😱 So time sink was evicted from my hand held distraction machine. I’m still spending way too much surfing the net, which is just mental comfort food (or maybe just paranoia food, considering the ongoing shit show that is our political news). And let’s not get started on how frickking out of shape I’ve become without my usual 3-4 days a week at the gym.

So I keep making plans to change up my routine, and they keep dying on the vine. Welp.

Good news is, I saw a short news piece this morning where a self-help writer made a few suggestions for re-establishing a routine while stuck at home. A couple of things he suggested was to 1) stack your habits– which is to put the new thing you want to do right after something you already are doing. His example was, if you wanted to add meditation to your schedule, do a 60 second meditation right after your morning coffee that you already do same time every morning.  The second suggestion that I snagged from him, was to not let it be a Zero Day. If you’re beating yourself up over not writing 1200 words, write one sentence. If you used to work out 45 minutes, do one push up. In other words, don’t let the inability to work at the same level keep you from working at all.

Both these bits of advice made me want to get back to work. And it also gave me a path to forgive myself for not being 100% Productive as Normal. Because nothing is normal right now. And the so-called “New Normal” is not yet set in place. So I guess the lesson for today, is to have a hand in shaping YOUR new normal. And accept that it doesn’t have to be the same as the OLD normal, or even at the same expectation level. Create your new normal to fit your current status and energy levels. Be kind to yourself, but also, don’t let your fears and guilt grind you to a halt. Figure out what the minimal effort you can get yourself to do, hit that benchmark, then build on it. Your New Normal doesn’t have to break any records, it just has to be good enough to give you some satisfaction and keep you moving forward.

Time to claw back a little stability, even if it’s gonna change again. Smooth sailing, my friends!





The Only Way Out is Through

1 05 2020

Weather: Mostly intermittent rain with smatterings of warmer temps- Mostly averaging in the 50s

We’re an interesting species. We’re all for proving how resilient we are, how strong we are….yet some people can’t handle being stuck at home for a month or so. Mum was right, no-one under 50 would have done well under War or Depression conditions. Sigh. 

Still….not going to compare apples and oranges. War and Depression didn’t mean we’d get sick and die if we left the house without precautions. We’re not in short supply of things, we’re just panicking. I saw someone comment that our system is not very sturdy if losing two weeks pay is enough to collapse our whole way of life, but there it is. We’ve become way too reliant on convenience, and any disruption seems to be nigh unto world ending. That’s kinda sad, to be honest. I get the worry about finances cratering, but…Let’s just hope this is a wake up call to everyone that what seemed stable was an illusion, and what seemed to be preparedness was in fact wishful thinking.

But let’s not dwell on the negatives. There have been a lot of positives this week. Mom made it through her first round of chemo, and seems to be doing well so far. I accompanied her to chemo and sat with her as we went through all the expectations with the oncologist. My fam is taking good advantage of Zoom and chat and phone calls to keep her spirits up. We get good advice from the medical professionals in our family and with the warm and extensive support from the community and family,  I have great hope she’ll get through all her treatments with the best safety net. Time will tell.

Bri is on “furlough” this week, so we’ve been attacking the yard, and we’re both working on getting our house the thorough spring cleaning it needs. Dust is ridiculous and clutter is getting to the “Honey, get the flamethrower” level.

The first two months of lock down have been bogged down in worry and anxiety, but a few things have been replaced by relief and a better perspective. Creativity is coming back and I’m finding I’m actually getting annoyed with the news and politics (I’m staying informed, I’m just not letting it bog me down.). I’ve got my emotions running a roller coaster as it is, so I’m doing my damnedest not to let anything make that worse.

There will be plenty of time for rage and repercussions later. PLENTY of Time. For now, I want to focus on keeping my little corner of the world safe and at peace. Mental health isn’t set aside because there is a physical health threat. Trying to keep the perspective of controlling what I can, and doing what can be done today as my guidelines. The rest can fall away.

Entertainment is fine, but spending the whole day scrolling or watching TV is almost more depressing than dealing with the realities. (I realize people’s mileage may vary on that, depending on where you live and how well you’re dealing with things, but I need to move more and get my focus back out instead of in. “In” is kinda of a black hole right now.)

If I’m online, I’m trying to utilize the time getting educated about something or learning a new skill. If I’m watching TV , I’m trying to stick to shows I’m actually interested in seeing, not just mindless channel switching. I don’t have the patience to binge anything, apparently. I’ve tried. Can’t do it.

The title I chose for today’s blog is something my mum and I have been using lately. Sometimes when you have to deal with something unpleasant, you look for alternative paths that can make the experience quicker or at least less painful. But sometimes there is only one path, and it will be painful for a short duration. Thus the statement, “The only way out, is through.” It means, get your armor on, gird your loins and grit your teeth. Focus on what life will be like on the other side of the unpleasantness. Deal with it. And just get on with it. It works best in situations where you know there is an end or a resolution. If it’s uncertain, that can make plowing through more difficult.

I have a bad habit of believing that there’s always another way, that there’s a backup plan, that things will work out. Sometimes that’s not true, and it’s a bitter pill for me to swallow. I’m always the problem solver, or at least solution seeker. I don’t just look for the easy and comfortable ways, but I do try to minimize the pain. I don’t like question marks, or maybes, or “let’s wait and see”. I’m not a “by the seat of my pants” person. Boring, I know, but I want structure and routine and a damn plan. I’m not averse to spontaneity or taking risks, but I want a little calculation and common sense involved. (Yes…BORING.) I’ve made some decisions and taken actions that people questioned at first, not seeing the short term gain. In the long run, they were proven to be prudent decisions and we were okay where others sank. This is how I’ve avoided several catastrophes in my life. Mind you, some calculated risks don’t pan out. Those are the lovely “Learning Experiences” we hear about. (Yeah, I hate those damn things too. )

So in the middle of this current shit-show, I’m doing what the data and evidence dictates, what science advises and what my common sense says is the best route to the quickest, SAFEST resolution. That doesn’t mean it won’t require sacrifice, pain and possibly inconvenience. But what in life doesn’t have a little of each of those? Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something or has an agenda.

It’s far past time for people to understand that our entire system is not robust and efficient. It’s bogged down by shortcuts, and inequality, and bad decisions made by people with profit driven agendas. There are things that should have been changed to absorb some of this current damage, but the short term dictated money was more important, and the long term came along and smacked the shit out of companies and people for their lack of action. Until this changes, we’re going to keep running into these kind of scenarios.

We’re two generations removed from actual historical catastrophes (World Wars and the Great Depression). We hear the stories, but we gloss over the day to day things that were necessary to get people through them. (And some didn’t get through, even if they did try). We are a society of people pre-disposed to avoid discomfort at any cost.

Practicality is what is going to get us through. Along with some much needed innovation and the will to change things to fit what our world is today, not what the world was 20+ years ago. For an adaptable species, we are stubbornly resistant to adjust to the way things ARE.

It’s fine to be aspirational, because that drives creative solutions. But if you pair it with impatience or greed? Things get stopped before they get started. Shoot for the moon, but understand that it takes steps and sometimes, a few failures, to get there.

It’s fine to be nostalgic for the comforts of the past, but if you use that nostalgia to keep applying the old standards to new situations that don’t fit? You perpetuate and accelerate the rate of decline.

At some point, we are all going to have to accept that the world is changing, and much more rapidly than we’d like. And yes, things are going to have to change if we’re to survive the challenges ahead. Some things we take for granted are going to go away, and stomping your feet will not make the transition any easier. Some things are going to be BETTER, but you have to give them time to get there. We’ve been lulled into complacency to the point that just getting by is seen as sufficient, and demanding more than that is seen as greedy. All this while the world rots around us, sacrificed on a pile of greedy ambitions and ego driven decisions.

No one has concrete answers, but if we don’t even try, nothing will change. And IF we don’t change, at least to match the way the world is changing, or at minimum try to balance the damage with some balm, the world is going to move on without us, and trust me…it won’t lose sleep over that fact. Harsh truth is, we are only passengers here. And the transport system really doesn’t give a shit if we’re riding along or not.

 

 

 

 





Pandemic reboot in progress (Only took 5 weeks! 🙄)

20 04 2020

Weather: After 2 days of bloody SNOOOOOWWWWW!!!! 🤬🤬🤬, we finally got back up into the 50s and it’s a beauty of a sunny day out. 

So we’re still working our way through the raw and tender emotions of losing our feline friend to cancer, but the husbeast and I are trying our best to feel the feels, but not get drowned by them. Not an easy balancing act. We’re spoiling the hell out of Lady Fern, our remaining cat. She’s not quite sure what’s going on but she seems to find it all equally enjoyable and unseemly. (She is the Dowager Duchess of Castle Ellis)

As for the day to day, I’ve been suddenly showered with an excess of self- focused annoyance that I’ve been wasting a lot of time with my nose in my phone with only smatterings of small projects getting accomplished. Mind you, I’m not beating myself up for not having mastered quantum physics, or writing a novel or crocheting an entire wardrobe. (I STILL HAVE TIME!!!) But there is a notable sluggishness that has started to take over on both the physical and mental front that is of concern.

I’m starting a new regimen of physical activity now that the snow has finally buggered off and I have cleared space in my Craft Room to do some yoga and pilates. There’s plenty of space on our deck & back yard to do any exercises that require jumping or kicking. No more excuses. I’m sure the neighbors will get some humor out of watching me bounce around while swearing. (Being out of shape at 53 is not for the faint hearted!)

I have created a spreadsheet (because OF COURSE I DID!) to track projects that I’m working on and will keep them going though the end of the year.

It took a few weeks to realize what’s been blocking me for a while has been a whole bagload of uncertainty. With Snoots, with my mom, with other unfolding events that are too lengthy to go into- I’ve let waiting for the other shoe to drop to stop me cold in my tracks. So, I’m just letting out a breath and gonna start doing things. Pause things when there are other things that take priority, then go right back to them. I have am unreasonably deep need to dwell on things, instead of just taking care of business and moving on. Yes, when things have an emotional impact, you take the time with them (See Snoots). But life moves on regardless of what your dealing with. The stupid virus hasn’t really stopped the world from spinning or time from moving forward. It’s definitely thrown a number of spanners into the machinery, granted, but we can either stare at the chaos, or sigh and fix it to be more resilient and better functioning this go around.

On that note, I’m becoming very impatient with people who have the means to do things and are settling for complaining or making the situation worse. (I understand that there are plenty of people without those means — money, health or circumstances– but they are doing their best to keep going. I’m talking about people who do not lack those means. Innovation is SORELY lacking these days.)

Waiting for the politicians to sort their shit is a fool’s errand. Do what you can, no matter how small, to help those in your community. Be safe, and be smart. But it’s time for us to stop wasting time waiting for others to do their job. Enough. (I’m just salty because I want to do more, but I’m limited by some of those means.)

Anyway. I did some small things to improve my odds of moving and reduce my tendency to fall into the distraction rabbit hole. I deleted a game on my phone that had been sucking up a lot of my time. (It’s puzzle based and that’s like bloody crack-flavored catnip for my stupid brain). My phone has one of those “wellness” trackers that shows how much time you spend on individual apps. That was a bit of a kick in the teeth. 🙄😣 So, phone is getting set aside far more often and I’m doing my best to utilize the web for more self-improvement and writing.

Here’s to scraping off the ennui and getting my prodigious ass back in gear. No more flimsy whiny excuses. Time to start checking off the ticky boxes!

 





When the rain just won’t stop…the flood comes knocking.

16 04 2020

Weather: Winter was warmer than usual and now, we’re on a rollercoaster of warm and snow, back and forth….

I’ve fallen off blogging, with no real excuse other than ::widely gestures around me:: SHENANIGANS.

The plague has come a knockin’ and we’ve been under “Work From Home and Hunker the Fuck Down” orders for going on 5 weeks now. Michigan is doing the best it can, but we’re ranked 4th in the nation for confirmed cases, and that is without much active testing. The country is a mess, the feds are doing a shit job and we’re going to be lucky to hobble our way out of this. Still, life goes on, even in spite of this shitstorm.

Bri is working, thank goodness, but spends the bulk of his day on his work laptop at our dining room table, having numerous online meetings through the day, much to my amusement. We’re keeping in good humor and giving each other space, since we have the privilege of a house that has the room to do so. Still, there are moments where we start snipping at each other. Cabin fever is no joke.

I’ve been mostly sequestering myself in my office upstairs, though it’s in the process of being converted to a craft room. (I have more yarn and cross stitch thread than I can store right now. When did this happen?? I guess I’m a thread obsessive now. ) I’ve started re-working a manuscript, taken some courses on MasterClass (Neil Gaiman  & Doris Kearnes Goodwin so far), updated our website with new product, photo edited images of said products (hand made necklaces), and done my best to scale back my news and social media intake. Been only partially successful on that front. 😒

The title to this ramble is not about the Covid-19 running rampant through the country (and world) but is in reference to the hearty joke the universe has decided to play on me and mine. It’s not hard enough that we’re dealing with social distancing and grocery shortages and maddening levels of hand washing. Nope, the universe has deemed it perfect time to saddle my mom with breast cancer (thank goodness, caught early) and to call “times up” for my poor cancer ridden cat, Snoots.

Today we said goodbye to him, 6 months after his diagnosis of metastatic cancer. His quality of life had taken a sharp downturn in the last few weeks and finally, we realized he was just existing, and in pain.  We realized it was time to stop the suffering. We’re heart broken and are going to miss the big grey boy. He was well loved, but Bast has him now, and he is at peace. Our second cat Fern is pushing 15 but is in pretty good shape all things considered.

My mom will be starting chemo soon, then she has surgery lined up to remove the tumors. Her prognosis is good, but this is the worst timing for her to be immuno-compromised. My sister is having to do most of the heavy lifting there, since she lives closer and can get mom to her appointments. We’re trying to work out a scenario, with the doctor’s input, so I can go stay with her on some days through her treatment. We’ll see how it works out. Last thing I want to do is get her sick.

As someone who is dealing with a panic disorder, you’d think I’d be melting down at every turn through this. I’ve been weirdly calm for the most part, though I’ve had a couple anxiety attacks a few weeks ago. I don’t know if I’m just using my coping techniques well, or if I’m just so numb I can’t react to things anymore. For the sake of my sanity, I’ve been trimming way back on social media and news. Should’ve done this sooner. I feel better and lighter for it.

Starting this weekend, Bri and I are trying to get ourselves moving more. We haven’t been at the gym in a couple months now, and it’s showing. We try to workout at home, but we literally have so little space to do so. (Prompting us into rethinking the layout of our downstairs, complete with new furniture etc).

It’s long past time for getting back up and running on the creative front, and long past time to start a new outlook.

It’s sad that it takes a compounded tragedy and train wreck to jolt you into action, but there it is.

Flood waters are rising, but thankfully, we’re building a boat. Hope we can ride the waves and get back to land safely.


RIP Lord Snooty of Booty.  2007-2020

 

 





2019 IS DONE. Time to get on with the ’20s!!

11 01 2020

Weather: It’s been weirdly, unseasonably warm the past few weeks, albeit a dip into proper winter for the New Year. 

Sooooooo….I just realized I haven’t posted one damn thing in the entirety of 2019. Let’s just say I got distracted early…and let it go.

2019 started off really really rife with uncertainty. The husbeast had gotten laid off from his job, I was unemployed (by choice) and we were without income and insurance and things did not seem great. Weirdly we were both very zen. Bri was lucky. Since he had fostered really good working relationships with his clients, specifically with Whirlpool (the company that pretty much architecturally supports our town), he was able to obtain a contract job within a couple of months. It pays to make the effort to be indispensable sometimes. (Plus if people like you, they’re more inclined to go to bat for you!)

So by March, we were at least back above water. I had in that time started a whole slew of new creative outlets: Jewelry making, crocheting, cross stitching…And found I loved all of it. I started producing pieces at a ridiculous rate, although in the end, I have slowed down a bit to increase the quality rather than the quantity. Bri spent a lot of time in those first 3 months making candles, so we have a surplus of them at the moment. (Available for sale at our site, listed below)

We decided with all the expansion of different areas we were making things, that Einini Glassworks didn’t exactly reflect the variety of our items. So we became Einini Craftworks. We overhauled our website, closed our Etsy store, and added a shopping option on our website. There was a lot of work put into re-design and changing the branding. (New Business cards as well!) We started an Instagram account ,  and have been updating it sporadically. (New Year’s promise is to get back to more steady updates.)

Unfortunately, the year was also peppered with anxiety attacks and colds and pet related bad news (Snoots has late stage cancer, and while he’s still around with us now, it’s only a matter of time for him. 😿) My anxiety…I finally have reasonably under control, though it took doing some serious detachment to get to that point. (I tried meds, and my body was like Mega Nope.) I’m still under the thumb of an awful cold (going on 4 weeks now) but I know it will be better soon.

So that’s been our year for the most part. Family stuff kinda went the way we’d expect. We lost some family members (they are starting to hit that age) and we’re trying to connect when we can.

For 2020, I decided against making any resolutions, and just decided to keep my focus on saying “yes” more to opportunities, and “no” to anything that steals or wastes time. (That is a big variable list, BTW).

Social media is going to be scaled way back. And, although I’ve pretty much made my mind up who I’m voting for in the primaries (Nunya Business), I’ll be voting Dem in the general. This administration is a MF Train wreck and it needs to be shown the door. And no, I’m not going to debate you on the reasons why. See the “Saying ‘no’ to things that waste my time”. I don’t owe anyone a debate. I’m not trying to change your opinion or your preferences. So, no. I’m not required to defend or explain a GD thing. Go sulk somewhere else.  (Hitting my 50s has made that statement so much easier to say. 😁)

I’m In the process of turning my erstwhile office into a crafting room, which is gonna require losing some furniture, gaining some storage and creating some space that is conducive to creativity without being too distracting to get work done. I’m at that age where the thought of trying to re-enter the work force in the traditional sense gives me angina and trying to cobble together a new stream of revenue is a challenge. But I’m determined to make it work. The time for talking is well past over and the time for doing is yesterday. So there it is. The No Excuses, Suck It up Buttercup train is heading out of the station for 2020. Per the astrology sites, this is a year of great opportunity for my sign. Doesn’t matter if I believe in Astrology or not, it’s a motivating thing to see nonetheless. Opportunity is helpful, but it doesn’t turn into actual success if you don’t make the effort to go after it. So this is me, at (almost) 53, hunting the elusive opportunity with club in hand. Wish me luck, and I’m off to change my circumstances. Hopefully for the better.

BTW- I have a series of blog posts planned out already. On various topics. Check back in periodically. I promise to be much more prolific than last year. (Anything over zero is prolific, right? 😉 )





Time to stick a fork in 2018

29 12 2018

Weather: Cold but not normal cold. Upper 30s with a light dusting of snow.

It’s that time of year…the end, at least chronologically speaking, of 2018.

It’s been a bear of a year for many reasons, most of which I will mention but not dwell on. Mostly because I am bone-level weary and the year seems bound and determined to get a last boot in right at the end, as expected.

The last couple of years have been, to put it lightly, CHALLENGING. Health matters, politics, the weather, family trauma, finances… everything has been dialed up to 100,  with a baseball bat.

I was diagnosed with panic disorder this year, and have been in therapy to work on coping with it. I developed Gastritis this summer and ended up on a very restricted diet until it was under control. (Luckily caught it before it became an ulcer).

Bri and I both lost family members, and our aging relatives suffered a number of health setbacks this year, which was a constant source of concern.  

Now, at the end of the year, we have found ourselves facing some financial challenges that were unanticipated and we are scrambling to keep the boat afloat, so to speak. 

Still, even after all this shitstorm of shenanigans, I find myself facing the upcoming year with a weird sense of calm and – prepare yourself- Positive Outlook.  

I KNOW! 

Here’s the rub:  After 2 years of worrying about the worse case scenario, we’ve kind of had it happen in a number of ways.  We’ve managed to survive it all. And even though we’re ending the year in a rather precarious position, the prospects of it getting better are at a higher probability that we could have expected. Is it a certainty? Hell no. But having palatable options is a damn near sight better than having no options at all. 

On top of it, even with the health issues? We both got trainers and have been steady at getting to the gym, and we have improved our diets, so both of us have lost weight and are in better shape than we’ve been in for YEARS. I consider that a BIG positive. 

Mentally, I’m in a better head-space than I’ve been in a long while. It took a lot of work and I am fully aware that I am not cured, but the bouts of anxiety I have are becoming less and less frequent, and when I have one, it is not nearly as debilitating. Another BIG positive. 

The finances are what they are. Weirdly that’s never really been a source of anxiety. Money is a calculable issue that I can resolve with logic, math and spreadsheets. Boring but doable. It’s not an abstract concept to me so I feel it’s always fixable. It helps to have resources and alternate streams of income. (Selling items, making things to sell, online surveys, gifts from relatives etc). Also, I am an obsessive accountant and budget maker. I will squeeze pennies from places that others might miss and have no qualms sacrificing services to pay for necessary things. 

All in all , the only quandary that has me  a little nervous is the rust on my creativity.  This year has not been kind to my artistic outlets. Writing has all but ground to a halt, and although I’ve been much more busy the latter half of this year, the first half saw zero progress on any mosaics.  I have started to feel the tentative tendrils of motivation reaching out again, and have dug out my stitch-work and knitting to add it to the creative outlet stream. So now I have a few different things to focus on if I hit a wall. More is better in this area.  I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that my lack of patience is something that has inevitably hamstrung me for a while now. So patience and paring down my focus to what I’m working on at the moment is my new goal for the next year. 

In general, that’s what 2019 is going to be about- not creating new goals or setting new benchmarks, but keeping the momentum going, and herding all the cats into a more manageable line. Already in the process of getting healthy, so keep it going. Already in the process of making things, so keep it going. Already in the process of simplifying, and purging, and expanding my creative output….so just keep that shit going! 

Getting started is always the exciting part, but it’s also the most daunting. Keeping something moving once you’ve gotten it started is easier, especially if you can level the road and move carefully enough to sidestep the obstacles. 

I’m going to be focusing on slowing things down a little. Some of that has to do with physical limitations- My arthritis is making handwriting and working on mosaics difficult, but not impossible. I just need to be patient with my progress.  I’m also going to be focusing on quality and not quantity. With the insanely fast paced nature of our media/internet driven world, there is always a fear that you will miss out on an opportunity, or that you have to cater to the expected (insane!) time expectations of the convenience hungry consumers. I’m no longer going to worry about that. I will make things and they will be completed in the time it takes to complete them to my satisfaction. An item is only as valuable as the time and care put into it. Maybe I’ll only make 5 pieces of art in the time others could crank out 10. And I’m okay with that. 

Anyway. I realize this has turned into a bit of navel gazing, but that is what end of year blog posts tend to  do.

Here’s to 2019. I’m hoping to make it a very productive year, and to get my perspective back where it needs to be– on creating things and exploring this world we have, without the filter of a screen or others’ interpretations. 

Let’s all try to be more compassionate, and help others a little more. Let’s be kinder to ourselves. Let’s be the people Mr. Rogers wanted us to be. You can be angry for others and defend the more vulnerable, but leave space and time for peace and for gratitude for those who do the right things and contribute as well. 

Maybe it’s an idealistic way to live, but cynicism only gets you so far. 

DmWIDiCU4AASpIm





Shaking off the rust

6 09 2018

Weather- overcast and rainy. Upper 60s/low 70s. Early fall weather – HUZZAH!

So- first week off the beaten track of daily job and I’m a little wobbly on the path less traveled. 

Good news is I have been able to get some structures in place, and have started a habit of morning planning & making to do lists–which I have been accomplishing  with regularity. Checking things off the list bolsters my motivation a ton.

Yesterday, Husbeast & I got the basement studio finally cleaned up enough so I have space to work on my mosaics. It’s nowhere near perfect yet, but I have space to get things done, or at least started. The rest will come as needed. Felt good to sit at a table with some projects set out to be worked on today. Still need to get a glass cutting station set up (I can clip tile at the table), and we need to get the workbench cleaned off to set up the grinder and the soldering station for the Husbeast. (He’s itching to get back to his glasswork as well. Now if I can just do something about all the blasted spiders. Sigh. (Spider Bros and I have a compact to just studiously ignore each other but sometimes they get a little too curious and come visit. Double sigh.)

Also, I took some time and got all my Scrivener files backed up to the cloud, got an “edit” copy of my first book partially printed out to start line editing it (the first 100 pages at least- It’s 300 pages total- NEEDS EDITING!),  and spent time meticulously outlining the story arc for the three books I’m currently working on.  The story arc is more clearly defined now and I made sure to solidify some of the rules that govern my story-verse. It’s much more solid in my head and now I can shore up the story line in Book 1 and finish Books 2 & 3.
There are at least 4 other books that have been started or partially outlined, so I have a lot of things to work on going  forward. They will be spin-offs of the initial trilogy, with related story lines and some possible recurring characters. I’ve conjured up a big universe and there are a lot of stories to be told within it. 🙂

I’ve kept the television off, for the most part. I’ve tried to minimize my social media immersion (Still working on that).  The only distractions I’ve allowed myself have been music and the occasional podcasts. I’m making time to read as well. My to-be-read pile is ridiculous at this point. I think I have at least 20 unread books stacked next to my bed and on my desk. :Facepalm:

Most helpful thing yesterday was getting together a whiteboard with goals for the month that will allow me to visually track what I want to get done, what I’m working on and what I’ve accomplished. (Keeps me focused and not overwhelmed.)
Thanks to Sarra Cannon over at Heart Breathings on youtube for the idea!

On the non- creative endeavor side, I’m making sure I’m carving out time to exercise, meditate and keep up my 6 small meals a day eating plan. I’m determined to make sure my health doesn’t get sidelined because I’m scheduling myself so firmly with other things.

All in all, the structure seems to be solid, and the framework I’ve set up for myself on the daily seems to be flexible enough that I am not getting overwhelmed by the routine. I’m also making sure to get out of the house when I can. Isolation can start feeding depression and anxiety if I’m not careful.

In a month’s time, there will  be a better view of how things are going.  My updates will be a little more detailed going forward as projects start coming to fruition.

Reminder: Our Etsy shop (Einini Glassworks)  is up and running, and we still have a number of items available. The items list is about to get much longer so please come back periodically to see the new offerings.  You can follow our facebook page for updates as well. We can be found on Twitter here: Einini_Mosaics and Einini_Glass
My personal Twitter is here: Raven1967. There you’ll get more random things, but I’ll be updating writing & photography projects there. Be forwarned, I do post political stuff there, and cat pictures…so tread carefully. 😀

Going to keep moving forward.  A stroll will get you to the finish line as well as a sprint, and you can enjoy the scenery a bit more. 🙂

neil-gaiman-quote-1

 

 





Endings and beginnings

4 09 2018

Weather: Summer has been weird. September is no different. In the upper 80s today, and sticky. Hope we get a fall this year, and not a trip-over-autumn-and-squarely-in-Winter again. 

So. A lot has happened since my last blog post. A lot has happened in the past week. And that’s just talking about my personal life 

As you can probably tell from the title, change has been the rule rather than the exception.

The endings part has been bitter sweet.  We lost 2 major big names recently- Sen. John McCain and Aretha Franklin (RIP Queen!). And I lost two people close to me- My uncle Dan and my husband’s Aunt Kathleen. Both had been ill a while, but the end, when it comes is never welcome, though there is a small tinge of relief that they are no longer in pain. That relief comes wrapped in guilt, because you exhale and cry in the same breath.

Another ending, which is not so much a death, but an farewell nonetheless, is I left my job. I had given 3 weeks notice so there wouldn’t be too much of a gap in coverage. But it was time. Over the past year, after being diagnosed with anxiety/panic disorder, I was suddenly hit a series of related health issues, ending my summer with a nice hearty case of Gastritis. (Thankfully caught before it turned into a full blown ulcer.) I’ve lost a bunch of weight due to being on an insanely restricted diet, so silver lining I suppose.

Stress is an unrelenting bitch of a thing to deal with.

After a very brief, ugly, UNSUCCESSFUL flirtation with anxiety meds, I, (and my doctor,) made an executive decision to stick with a therapy focused process. Therapy has been  amazingly helpful for me, mostly in that I’ve managed to unburden some long forgotten baggage. I have new coping methods and the anxiety, while never gone, is less frequent.

In addition, I really had to face the fact that I was going to have to quickly and definitively remove the main sources of stress from my life. My job, while surrounding me with good and supportive people, was not mentally or emotionally healthy for me. The job itself had morphed from something I enjoyed and could handle, to something much more complicated that required a level of commitment and energy I couldn’t honestly give it. This was not fair to me or to my coworkers, so I discussed with the husbeast and my managers, and it was pretty much unanimous what was the best course of action.

This particular ending was much more in my control, albeit still a difficult decision. There were financial and insurance related things to consider, so we crunched numbers and realized that it was workable, given some changes and some reasonable efforts to be made on my part.

So, back to the art, writing and photography mines for me. I’m taking this a lot more seriously than I did before. There’s more at stake this time. Weirdly, I’m not stressed out by it. I’m taking the tact of flipping a negative (lack of income) into a challenge (make more stuff, sell more stuff, HUSTLE!).

I work better with a challenge I can tackle than getting stuck brooding over the negatives of a situation. Yes it’s a concern, but it’s a workable concern. My actual goal is to generate income without having to hold down another job. The income won’t be as stable as a job would be, but we can accommodate and set the surplus aside for a rainy day. I have three main areas I can produce creative output- Mosaics, photography and writing. There are a number of subsets under those three areas, so opportunity abounds. I also know there are numerous outlets I can approach to sell these various creative outputs. But, as time and experience tells you, you can’t sell what you haven’t made.

The next three weeks are going to be work intensive. A lot of editing, a lot of planning, a lot of jumping in the car with my camera and taking some time to explore. Taking assessments of resources. Reaching out to vendors and doing the promo work.

I’m excited. And motivated. And for now that is all I need to get started.

Beginnings can be glorious, and sometimes made better by having a clean slate to start with in the first place. Changes are on the near horizon and I am eager to embrace them.