Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 16.... Sick

 A little germ has taken hold

and my own worry and Christmas junk food excess has allowed it.

I mean - I know people with good attitudes do get sick - but I also know that, for me, I get more sick... feel bad longer.. when I worry or get upset about it.

Just a head cold - but a reminder!

So I've spent the last few days - alternating between napping... and chafing to get things done.  Being able to stay home is encouraging me to make lists....  [and even do some of the things on the lists!]

My craft storage... what a mess!  All the traveling in October & November... choosing portable projects and supplies.... has left me with assorted mixed bags of yarn and unfinished projects...  Time to get that all straightened out again and set up January's work!

And the fabric!  Again with the traveling... not really time for machine piecing or quilting.. so things are stacking up.. projects I want to do.. projects I need to finish...  plus my own personal habit of - end of month (NO new projects, only work on things already started)

But I am tired.  So a little putzing and sorting is good - but too much leaves me overwhelmed... so I am grateful for feeling well enough to do just a little.

I am grateful to be able to stay home at all (thanks to friends at church who filled in for me today!)

A little online banking and reconciling... (end of year coming up fast!)... and more reading...

And pretty enough weather to stroll a bit outside....

Yep.... sick....

but a good day!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Day 14....

Family gatherings are often


Stress is high,

tempers flare,
and when you can't be honest with yourself

you invariably hurt others.

Such a burst happened at our holiday gathering

and was enough to shut it down

Polite murmurings and goodbyes....

the party was over.

It happens.

But through it all, I was proud of my children.

Each of them

made decisions to nurture and protect their own family unit
and their personal family holiday.

I have made many mistakes as a parent.... but today I saw good fruit.

My kids can take care of their own home, hearth and spirit.

And in the midst of the emotional turmoil, this brought me JOY

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Day 12 - Christmas Day

Christmas Day..... in a changing life

looks like most other days

except for a whirlwind of cooking and preparation for the afternoon ahead.

I spend the time in gratitude

for a warm home and people who love me.
for memories of Christmas past - and fond thoughts for my children and their children this special morning

And a hope that I do not let my life run away with me

That I can

each day

enjoy the little things that make life special

That I can do a little

each day

to prepare a little 'specialness' for tomorrow

That I can be eternally grateful

and joyful

for the opportunity to be present in the world.

I have JOY now

and am ready for MORE!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Gifter vs Scrooge

One of my biggest gripes about Christmas is all this giving......

This ONE time of the year when one is expected to give, give, give....

Not that I mind giving.. [though I look like Scrooge on Christmas Day!]

I am a gifter.

All year long.

I love to give things to people and make them smile.

I do NOT like to be told when to give and what to give.  I do NOT like the cultural judgment when I choose not to.

And somehow we have created a time where we have to give to everyone.  And we are judged by what that is.

I DO LIKE the annual reminder to think about those who serve us....  the nail tech, the hairdresser, the UPS person...

But how many times has MY UPS gift gone to a sub?

And how many boxes of candy does ONE nail tech need in December?

And I hold my stance.

I give all year...  I will prepare cards for my favorite service people and give them out in January or February (Valentines is good, don't you think?)

Even Christmas cards are really annual greetings - who says they have to come at Christmas? 

I may show up at your holiday party with just myself... or I may not come at all - as I simplify my life.

Why must this be a time of excess?  Doesn't that miss the point?

Where is the JOY in excess?

I have specific things I give my family on THE day.
Every year. 

I usually choose a specific item as my random giveaway as I travel through the season..  candy canes, homemade ornaments... this year I learned to make jelly so I have a million little jars of treasure that I will be giving away for a while...

It simplifies my holiday season.

And I give homemade and sale bought things all year long. 

So I think I am a gifter - just not a Christmas gifter....

At Christmas, I am more like Scrooge.

Wed. Jan. 1 – 3 Mega Miles!
(OR walk for 45 mins. / OR count 6,000 steps)
Thurs. Jan. 2 – Walk It Off in 30 Days (Burn 30 segment)
(OR walk for 30 mins. / OR count 4,000 steps)
Fri. Jan. 3 – Walk It Off in 30 Days (Firm 30 segment)
(OR strength train Lower Body)
Sat. Jan. 4 – Belly Blasting Walk
+ Healthy Abs & Back segments
(OR walk 30 mins. OR count 4,000 steps)
(ADD Core exercise)
Sun. Jan. 5 – Walk after Sunday Dinner with family or friends … don’t count minutes, miles or steps …. Just walk, talk, enjoy your loved ones! Ok … let’s “count” only our blessings!
- See more at:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 8

Gray, cold, wet.....

No one home but me

Why, oh WHY can't I stay home and putz... getting ready for the next few hectic days?

But I can't

I promised to work
I need to go to the store for the LAST last time before Christmas.


I left late - and muddled through

the store was crowded..
work took longer than I expected
and I had another errand to do before I could go home

But there were smiles along the way - and hugs - and the expectation of being able to stay home for the next few days and get things together.

One of the factors in my life that I need to work on is the way I structure my life on days I go into town.  I have an hour commute each way... and, somehow.. on those days I go.. for however long... the day is shot.  I am absolutely WHUPPED when I get home.

So I will work on strategies this year to minimize the anxiety of days away.

But for today..  I will be grateful for the friends and family I encountered today

for the chance to brighten their day and have them brighten mine

and head home to figure out how to muddle through the next few days.

How's your Christmas Day prep coming along?


        Boundaries...  I struggle so with boundaries!  How much or little to do with or for others!
I have spent my life saying 'yes, of course I can help'!       

And that is good.

Except when I no longer even know what my own plans are

Except when people call me first before they even try to do it themselves

Except when I can't please everyone and I lose my peace.

I found that I became a person who continually disrupted my own life in order to fix others' problems.

And most times, I don't mind, really.

BUT then your life goes smoothly and mine doesn't....  and you aren't worrying about that.   And, that is okay too.   I probably shouldn't have spent so much time worrying about YOUR problems.

But when it becomes a pattern....  twenty years later....  I have trouble putting my plans over yours.

And, even if you don't validate me... I need to be able to validate myself.

My plans are my plans.  And they are valid.  They are not - should not - be subject to your judgment.  My need to have my life in some kind of order and my method of thinking things through and determining how to help is just as important as the current need you want filled.  And "I" need to be the one to recognize this.

And when it becomes a pattern....  twenty years later....  sometimes I have hampered you.

I can't always rescue you.  And I should not be expected to.   I am lecturing MYSELF more than you... because I am MOM, WIFE, ASSISTANT, VOLUNTEER...  all things to all people.  I have the need inside myself for everyone around me to be happy - and, somehow, I feel responsibility for this.

As a person with a gift of service, I have served too much.  Service is comfortable to me.  NOT serving feels wrong.

But how often has MY service hampered YOUR growth?
MY inability to say NO
MY worrying about you being upset or angry or inconvenienced

I want to be an unselfish person.

And I am.

But it doesn't feel that way when I say NO.

Even saying, please call someone else FIRST feels selfish.  But it isn't.   It is truth.

I want to help.  I want to make sure you have what you need.

But I need to be clear that this is inconvenient at this time.  That it will cause a problem for me.  That if you can find someone else, it would truly help me.

AND in the interest of truth

IF it is ME and not just my service that you want or need,  you need to tell me.

Because if you don't tell me this, I won't know.

Without the words, we both blunder in the dark and do not have truth or peace.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 7 / 365

Today I write about determination.

The Sunday before Christmas...  first the service....

   then hurry to get people out so decorating can happen
                   and the children can practice singing...

I leave quickly so they can get to it... and I can go about my own grocery shopping..  trying to get home to spend a little time with my family.

Myself?   I am tired too.  The events of the last 2 days have been exhausting....  personal victories... looking back, there are things I could have done better.  But getting through the social events without a shutdown OR a meltdown is huge!

The result is exhaustion today.  And the sugar / salt "food' readily available isn't helping me or anyone else!  So I am determined...

to come home

and eat a piece of fruit...

or cut veggies

or something that will help me feel better.

And the mood at home is down,


Do you ever walk in the door at home... that place where you have spent the whole day longing to be..  and the atmosphere of discontent smacks you in the face?


TRUTH:  I am responsible for my own feelings and actions.

And in this 60th year of my life, I accept that responsibility.  And I will find JOY!

So..... with my college boy heading back to school tomorrow... and my spouse struggling in his own way with the holiday happenings....  I made my son's favorite chex mix snacks for him to take back with him.

Making this for him brought me JOY!

I still find myself paralyzed with the cards and chores - but that is probably because I am still kind of tired.   I have done a good job of preparing.. and bought enough food to be able to pitch in where needed with no extra hassle on my part.  I am good.  I am ready. 

Tomorrow is another day with its own challenges and tonight - with the making of the first batch of chex mix under my belt - I will be happy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 6/365

Waking to the sounds of my 4 & 5 year old grandgirls whispering in the dark morning hours... cousin pillow talk

What a sense of.... 'All's Right with the World'!

I smiled even as I fumbled out of bed to find coffee and the energy to keep up with them today :-)  which truly isn't hard because the TRUTH is that their sleepovers with me are as much about their time with each other as it is time with me.

But what a joy-filled... AND anxiety-filled day!

First off, I want to say that I have the bestest, kindest family ever.  I have an indulgent husband and a great life.

And I hesitate to be open about my fears and worries because I do not want any of my nearest and dearest - family and/or friends - to feel in any way responsible for MY struggles in the past few years.

But I hope - with my honesty - that my children can perhaps spot their own problems before they begin in earnest....  or perhaps they will have compassion and understanding when they recognize similar behaviors in others...  or perhaps they will read a story of healing and know that they are indeed in charge of their lives and feelings.

It is no one's FAULT.... it is a part of me.  AND, thus is up to me to HEAL because I do not wish to be paralyzed so completely

ever again. 

Back to my day, I had the grands overnight and had invited my children to come to my little town Christmas celebration.   And I had offered to read a story to the children at the party.

And this after the party last night. 

I did plan this.  I planned the most LOW STRESS 9for me) events imaginable to step back out and navigate.  BUT

my day was overshadowed by a stomachache and headache that nagged me.... not enough to debilitate - but close!

I was unsure of how many people I would be feeding - though I was close - AND prepared enough.  The dish I planned to prepare - well, I forgot to buy an ingredient so had to pull a switch.  Fortunately, a dish with pasta, sauce and cheese is easy to re-frame!  And I baked bread - which made me feel accomplished...   and kept me busy...

I worried about what to read at the celebration... and how many people would be there... and... and....  I practiced with the girls and the book I had chosen was too long.... BUT I had checked out others so it was all good...  But it didn't FEEL good!  I had plans to "accidentally" leave the book behind... 'forget' my glasses...  in case I didn't feel up to doing it..

Can you see?  I had back-up plans all along....   It is easy to see when I write it down - but can you see how busy my worrying little brain was?

The headache and stomachache didn't help..... but I did have the girls to play with and enjoy (the ULTIMATE in JOY) .... and I did not shut down.

and I am here.... the day after... writing about the experience... pain free :-)

So I am PROUD of me.  And this brings me JOY.

I not only chose to step back into the world.... I chose HOW. 

I invited the family down for a town celebration.... an informal meal and an evening of small town activity.  Easy...
And I participated in the public event doing something I am really good at and love doing.

AND got to be part of some JOY and excitement of others.

Day 5/365

A quiet day to begin....

cooking breakfast for my guys....

doing a bit of paperwork....

and some major victories this evening...

This is my year for finding JOY
    but it's hard sometimes when life is full of minefields.
                and at 59, I have learned that while JOY is around every corner... almost everything in life has a reminder of a minefield as well.
    mixed blessings always.

Some know - most don't - but much of my determination this year is the result of several years of depression.
   where I shut down and could not function in the world

parties and celebrations - well.. they weren't celebrations at all
        they have been fraught with anxiety and fear of not being enough

Even my relations with my own family
           I come up short
                             and much of the breakdown is a result of my taking charge of my health a few years ago... losing a lot of weight... and not being mentally prepared for all the life changes that entailed.
          But the stress of a group gathering - even my own children and husband - has been overwhelming.

Sometimes finding JOY is a simple matter of recognizing a VICTORY.

This is an explanation.. not a complaint.  I have not had the words for years to explain.

And today I want to talk about VICTORIES
   and JOY

Tonight I negotiated a Christmas party without a breakdown.  Other than a little pre-party anxiety... which is nervous butterflies and should be NORMAL....  I didn't have that horrible rise of fear and emotion that blocks my ability to function.  I actually enjoyed conversation and did not feel out of place.   I did not second guess every word and thought - and I did NOT replay the party in my head for hours and hours afterward wishing I had said or done something different.

And, in the midst of the party, I had made arrangements with my husband to drive and pick up grandgirls for a sleepover.... and I did not spend time worrying about or second-guessing that either....

so....  while it sounds quite small when I put it in words....
       that I had a good time.... and got to play with my girls worry-free

is HUGE! 

It is healing.. and I found joy
   [which is really good.. because I have another event tomorrow night!]

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 4/365...

What a mixed bag of a day!!

A good day overall... but difficult to maneuver.

The people around me are struggling with emotions....  not hard to understand this time of year.  Me too.  Life is uncertain.

But I want to find the JOY.

Every day.

Hence - my two HUGE joy moments today [besides the beautiful clear blue sky and reasonably chilly temperature!]

My handwork group had a luncheon today - for Christmas... I brought a selection of the jams and pickles I made last summer as gifts.  What a wonderful group of supportive people!  Selfishly.. they make me feel good.  I like to be with them and it was a great couple of hours.  Better yet that I didn't know it was a celebration and I just showed up!  I didn't have time to stress over a holiday function.... only the gift - and I already decided NOT to stress over that :-)  Whatever I canned is good enough!

I hate that I worry so much about not being good enough - BUT no more!  Not this year!

And my other HUGE JOY is my son coming home from college.  He won't be here long - because he has another life that he is living - and I remember how that is :-)  I will just enjoy him while he is here and be happy for him when he goes.

Life is good!

What were your JOY moments today?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 3.....

The joy of ordinary days.....

Staying at home today, I got to putter around in my own world

Nothing magic to report.... Beautiful weather in the morning... oppressive cold gray rain in the afternoon and evening.  I had an agenda - as usual...

a list to follow [or NOT follow - as is often the case]

I am building a life.... trying to live my days the way I want my life to go

I take walks and enjoy my surroundings....

handle my household chores.... [always a challenge to stay focused!]

got the tree finished :-)

..and try to keep my own emotional self in hand while those in my house swirl in their own turmoil.

My intent is to be sympathetic.. to help where I can...  but NOT to let their mental state drive me to the same location!

Isn't that always the challenge?  To keep your own self above water?

 And I did .  Life is good.

For me, it's the small things.

Getting the sheets changes - is there anything nicer than fresh sheets when you get into bed at night?

A crockpot of food for tomorrow (I will be running around during the day)

a couple of quilt blocks pieced for a class that I am behind in...

just a day of lovely catching up in my own space.

and a new project to dream over..

I took pictures of some of the ornaments as I finished the tree....  these particular ornaments have stories and I will write them.  [of course, at this point, I sort of regret giving all the kids' childhood ornaments back to them as they moved out because I probably should have written the stories first.. BUT... time will tell of the importance or not :-)]  Anyway - I have some to play with - and thinking about it made me smile.

It was a good day for me.....

How was your day?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Be nice ..

... to yourSELF!!

Holidays are so very very stressful - and many times that stress is totally self-generated!

I hear Christmas carols about family gatherings and joy and peace.

 I see the lovely "Norman Rockwell" prints depicting beautiful snows....  loving groups of people.. and family traditions.

I am surrounded by reminders that I should be happy and jolly and full of excitement.

I FEEL pressure... to buy the right gifts
                             to attend the parties
                             to send enough cards
                              to decorate the most beautifully
                             to schedule in all the appropriate obligatory family gatherings
                AND to be HAPPY doing it....

But where is TRUTH?

TRUTH IS that life doesn't always give you the time to carefully prepare.

TRUTH IS that more often than not, I wake up at Thanksgiving and say WHOA!  How am I going to fit all these expectations in?

TRUTH is that I spend WAY too much time being dissatisfied.... being unhappy.... wishing for MORE at this time of year...

TRUTH IS that most of the expectations are MINE!
              Who really cares if I don't make the no-bake cookies I usually make (TRUTH is that ONE of my children will miss them and the rest of my kids will way "Oh jeez, mom ALWAYS makes those stupid cookies!  Why can't she make anything GOOD?")

              Who really cares if they hear from me between Dec 1 and Dec 31?   (TRUTH is that an annual  greeting can happen ANY time!  TRUTH is that the cards DO get jumbled together.. and a January greeting or Valentine greeting make a bigger memory without an obligation)

            Who cares about the decorations?   Or when they go up or down?   (TRUTH is that it's YOUR house and what is IN IT should bring you JOY.  Period)

           And the appropriate gifts?  What does that mean?  (TRUTH is that if you have a giving spirit - and you give all year long - there is nothing exceptional about being a giving person during a specific calendar time)  

So - may I suggest..... that you protect your spirit - your joyful HOLIDAY spirit - but carefully questioning your TO DO list this season?  Your "OUGHT's".... your "SHOULD'S"....   IS there an unreasonable expectation?    CAN you choose carefully the things you most want to do this year?  The events, dishes, gatherings, traditions... that fill your heart with happiness?

    Can you deal with your "Christmas card" list at a more leisurely pace at another time?  And actually enjoy contacting your friends?

     Can you schedule one-on-one meetings with special friends during the year instead of "having' to get together during the craziest time of the year?  Maybe the 'perfect gift' is a coupon for a February lunch date!

      Can you eliminate half of your decorations?  Just for this year - if you aren't decorated yet....  why not put up the one or two things that make you happy?

Can you reach outside yourself to quietly, anonymously, do for someone else?

What fills your heart with JOY?  Can you create that for yourself this year?

Trust me - creating it for YOURSELF will give it to others around you!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 2.....

And more magic for Day 2....

I woke up grumpy - you know those days where the tears are right behind your eyes?

I refuse to give my days to that emotion any more.  Not this year - not again.

Mind you, I have no problem recognizing, expressing, and dealing with emotions.  I DO need to FEEL them rather than EAT them or DRINK them or SPEW them out on the people around me... but that is another story.  I am choosing to sit with my discomfort until I sort it out - so.. the tears were behind my eyes for no good reason that I could discern.    Just there.  And I had a choice....

Move forward into the day's plans

or stay home and hide.

The sun is out, I have no obvious crisis... and my life would be complicated if I stayed home.

So I went


But I did get an hour's work done on my church project.  Me, by myself, working to Christmas carols.  Okay, I skipped church but God was with me so I am good.

AND I got to meet with my daughter and granddaughter who brought me birthday greetings and a HUGE labor of love!  My 4 year old granddaughter had made me several gifts...... wrapped them herself..... and my daughter had patiently allowed all that use of paper and tape... and brought her to meet me!

How magic is that?

Sometimes the tears are just THERE.  All that love, more Vitamin D, a walk in the fresh air when I got home, some affirmations from a coach, all things I did for ME to make me feel better - and I still managed to get on with my life yesterday.

Holidays just hurt.  They are frenetic times of expectations and emotions.  Sometimes just skating through whole is the biggest goal.  There have been a few time in my life when the planets align and a moment is 'just right' during the holidays.  But usually, they are a complete terror for me and I am OH SO GLAD when they are over.

THIS year... I will work every day - to find the magic.  To be good to ME.  To do what I can to keep my peace of mind.  Deadlines for holiday chores.... simplify gifting..... use what I want of the decorations and GET RID OF THE EXCESS....  [I DO have a plan - I simply cannot toss much while I am doing my annual reminiscing.... so I am packing what I am not using separately and marking it to review during the summer!]

AND I keep seeing the MAGIC smiles on my daughter's and granddaughter's faces when I saw them today.

Life is good. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy New Year, oops!

.. I mean Birthday!

To me! 

So - it IS a new year.... today I turn 59 - I begin my 60th year on the planet.  It seems important somehow...... and I want to totally mark this year.

Will I write more?

Will I lose more weight?

Will I finally get rid of the clutter in my house?

What is certain is that I live

I breathe

and I impact others.

What I WILL do this year is keep plugging along with the projects - but also

work to ensure that my impact is


so....  my readers...... if you are out there.....  how can I serve YOU?