Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A refusal

I’ve washed the once possibly pink mate-less sock a hundred times because somehow, it keeps finding its way back into the washing machine.  Not only is the sock too small for anyone in my house, I don’t remember ever putting it on a little foot.  So it’s either a ghost sock which drifted through the walls and decided to stay permanently, or, in the ensuing years since it originally came into our possession in some unremembered way, and as a product of far too many washings, it is now so far removed from what it once was it is simply a shell of itself.  And maybe now the only thing to do with this sock is throw it away.  But the sock, for all its faults, is still whole so, instead of becoming fodder for the garbage truck to digest on Thursday morning, perhaps a person craftier than I might turn it into a little stuffed animal and give it new life? 
How about my old tee shirt?  At one point, this shirt was a deep, bluish purple.  Since it originally came into my possession (probably from Wal-Mart) it’s been bleached, painted in, stepped on, slept in, used as a swim top, and much more.  It’s been used, abused, well-loved.  These days, after being washed out, wrung out, and dried out hundreds of times, it’s holey, paint-stained, and thoroughly faded to a color not recognized on a standard color wheel though is probably closer to periwinkle.  And soft.  So very, very soft.  Therefore, while it might not be much to look at, it’s my favorite shirt.  It’s certainly not fit for public consumption anymore, and I even think twice about wearing it to run a bag of trash to the curb, but I love it.
Um, Jen?  What’s your point?
Perhaps I’m thinking about worn out, well-used things and things which are maybe a little frayed around the edges, because they are a good metaphor for how I’ve been feeling lately.  Further, there’s a good possibility I’m trying to climb my way out of this depressive hole I’ve dug for myself by trying to find the good in things…including myself and the world around me.  
Right now, however, I would very much like to stay in my deep, dark, temperature-controlled hidey-hole.  One thing after another, after another, after another is piling on top of me until I’m feeling somewhat crushed.  Except there’s this spark.  It’s small right now, but it’s there.  And for whatever reason it’s preventing me from retreating into my self-made safe place.
I think of this spark not so much as a light, or fire, but as a refusal to let life beat me.  I may not always be conscious of it.  I may try hard sometimes to ignore its existence.  But it's always there, like a little voice.  Yelling at me to get out of bed.  Admonishing me when I consider hitting the snooze button.  Metaphorically shoving me toward the shower and reminding me where the soap is.  (Ah...shower.  Our hot water heater just died, which is one of those aforementioned "things" piling on me at the moment.  Which is another story for another time.)  Cheering me on as I find a suitable outfit for work.  Hollering at me to pay attention to my surroundings, for goodness sake!  Reminding me constantly, if a bit annoyingly, about the little things I might otherwise forget, like eating or brushing my teeth. 
I feel quiet right now.  Quiet in my body.  Quiet in my soul.  Quiet in my mind.  But for me, quiet is not necessarily a good thing.  This spark - whatever it is - is the voice ensuring I don't become quiet permanently.  Somewhere, deep inside of me, I'm like the old sock, or the faded tee shirt: still whole; still useful.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I suppose I should begin this post with another disclaimer to let you know this is soul-bearing, raw, and completely honest.  It's somewhat cathartic, although I know it really won't fix anything.  And I know this is a side of things some people will say shouldn't be shown to the public, but...

I sat on the floor in the bathroom last night at 11 o’clock and leaned against the bathroom sink and just cried.  Sobbed, really.  I think I need a break.  A real one.  One where I'm not worrying about my kids and if they're okay or what they’re thinking, doing, saying, eating, if they’re warm and comfortable or need me.  One where I’m not worrying about cleaning my house or figuring out what to put into a yard sale or about keeping up appearances or saying the right thing.  One where I can have the squishy floor in the bathroom fixed without breaking a sweat over finances.  One where I don’t have to worry about money or how I’m going to put gas in my car so I can get to work or where I don’t have to scrounge around for something to take for my own lunch so the kids can have a decent lunch at school.  One where I wish I could be truly selfish, just for once.  One where I don't have to worry about getting up if I'd rather sleep until noon.  One where no friends are dying and where people aren't saying or doing hurtful things.  One where if I ask someone to do something they'll do it, with no questions asked and I won't have to repeat myself.  One where when I say something, it will actually be heard and no one will later say, “You never told me that!”

I guess I'm just tired in my body and in my soul.

I wish I didn't have to be ON all the time.  That I didn't have to force myself not to cry at work when my "upset" has nothing to do with work.

I don't think the tears are done yet.

Bear with me.


Friday, May 15, 2015

We insignificant humans

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A RANT.  A smart, witty, well-worded rant to be sure, but a rant none-the-less.  You may choose to stop reading at this point.  I will not hold it against you. 


I'm pretty sure someone must have taken a hit out on me, considering I was nearly killed (literally or figuratively) no less than three times on a simple outing to the grocery store yesterday.  Thankfully, I managed to maneuver my way out of certain death (or jail time) by being awake, aware and involved. 

Might I impart the following pieces of wisdom? 

1) If you cannot drive it, then don't.  Perhaps you are driving a large vehicle and can barely see over the steering wheel or perhaps you are simply unaware of just how large said vehicle is.  Either way, I suggest you seriously reconsider your form of transportation.  Walking or riding a bicycle both tend to be less injurious to others…like me, for example. 

2) When you back out of a parking space – no matter where you are or what vehicle you are driving – LOOK FIRST!  Whipping out in a heavyweight implement of murderous destruction on wheels and obliviously going on your merry way is unacceptable.  Period.  Inattention to what is going on around (or behind) you tends to get you in trouble when you run someone over…like me, for example.  

3) If you are walking merrily, (merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream) down the street, and suddenly decide you must be on the other side of said street, DO NOT walk out between parked cars and into oncoming traffic.  Not only are you risking your own life and limb, which is just stupid, but you are risking pinning a murder charge on an unsuspecting, law-abiding vehicle operator and sending them away for life…like me, for example.

Not only did I have to endure possible death or dismemberment, but the discourtesy and inconsideration of the prodigious public within the store was simply astounding.  As one small example: I pulled my shopping cart over so I could stand back, out of the way, and politely peruse the selection of granola bars.  A woman barreled through, stopped, stood, looked, found, thought, rethought, and selected – apparently completely unaware she was standing directly in front of me, obstructing my own view and similar (though significantly more considerate) process of selection.  She never gave any indication she even knew I was there, though I suspect she knew exactly what she was doing.  I suppose she and her errands, just in case you were wondering, were infinitely more important than I and mine.

Must I continue to remind you that the world does not revolve around you?  It does, in fact, revolve around the sun, which is far and away more vital than we insignificant humans.  Let's remember our small existence the next time we stray into the disillusion of a greater importance.

That is all.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Not just a house...

I tend to spend quite a bit of time thinking things over before I do anything about them, especially if those things are important.  I like spontaneity, but I’m a better planner.  Having said as much, I explained to my family the other evening about how I have spent several days ruminating on multiple things and arrived at a conclusion: these several things all stem from one, single thing.

Allow me to explain.

I am not a neat freak.  I prefer things to be neat and tidy, and I am a little (ha ha) obsessive about organization, but unfortunately, my house has never, ever reflected these tendencies.   If I was on my own, I would most likely have no problem making sure my living space…well…lived up to my particular standards.  But I am not on my own.  I have a husband and two children.  Let me just say: it's hard to be two adults raising two children in a barely-over-1000-square-foot home with one potty.

Anyone with children understands no matter how old those children are, you always seem to be cleaning up after them in one way or another.  They also tend to go right behind you to wreak havoc on any spot you just cleaned.  It is their way.  Up until now, I've barely kept my head above water when it comes to the state of my house.  Ok, who am I kidding?  My house is a DISASTER AREA!  No, really – it is.  I could make the full-time job excuse, but said excuse would be labeled avoidance

Boxes are stacked in the living room due to items we have no place to store, yet, for whatever reason, refuse to get rid of.  We are not hoarders by any stretch of the imagination, but to the innocent bystander it may easily be misinterpreted.  With regard to clothes, we lack storage of the closet kind and of the dresser kind, too.  Granted, we desperately need to go through our clothes (all of us) and reduce, reuse, recycle.  Kids grow.  Clothes simply stop fitting.  Why, please tell me, do we need to keep the ones which no longer fit? You get the picture.

The washing machine complains about every load we feed it and expresses its displeasure by leaking water all over the kitchen floor.  The dryer sneakily vents warm air around the seams at the door and in other places it thinks we don't know about.  The refrigerator is cracked and broken in several places.  Who can afford to replace three major appliances at once, might I ask?  Certainly not I. (Sorry – just needed one small paragraph to whine a little bit.  I’m done now.)

Anyway – last night I read aloud a letter I had written to my family about some desperately needed changes within our family and with our daily routine.  Up until now, we have been inconsistent with our kids about chores they are responsible for.  Those inconsistencies ended last night.  Each kid (adult kids included) now has a clearly-defined list of expectations.  Mommy (that’s me) also made it clear there would be no more excuses allowed.  This sounds harsh, but it was presented in a positive light; the best way I knew how: by writing it out.  Here's just one small portion of the letter, shown to you as an example:

"I am sorry, but I will no longer be OK with complaining or excuses.  This is our family.  This is our home.  We are all responsible.  We are a team.  I would be perfectly happy to get rid of it all and start from scratch, but I don’t think that will be necessary.  I think we can do it!"

We'll see how well this goes over, but I know very well I made an impression on everyone.  I am hoping 2015 can be a year of good, positive changes, and one of those changes will be making our home into a place not just where we sleep, but where we live.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thoughts on a personal weight loss journey

By now I'm sure most of you know, at least in a very general way, about my slow trudge toward a significant weight loss.  I'm making progress, and it is most definitely rewarding to see how far I've come from where I started, but I'm not there yet.  The progress is slowing down too, which admittedly irritates me though is not any cause for concern.  I am told slower weight loss is more conducive to success, and so I will continue to believe.  (I'll ask you, most kindly, to not shatter the illusion, please?) 

Careful!  Weight loss can sometimes have unintended consequences!

A few weeks ago, I was noticing a continuing tremor in my hands.  Putting it a little more bluntly, I was constantly shaking like a leaf.  My heart was racing to an unseen finish-line and sometimes I felt as if I were gasping for breath just to get it to settle down.  I felt wired all the time and my usual caffeine intake (which has not been any sort of issue) was suddenly too much.  Those of you who know me well understand how cutting back on coffee was…challenging…to say the least.

One sunny day, while sitting at my desk cursing silently at my violently shaking hands, telling them most cruelly how useless they were as they clumsily pounded out more typos and nonsense in one short paragraph than my poor ergonomic keyboard typically sees in a year, I had an epiphany:  No more thyroid equals daily maintenance medication carefully considered and prescribed by my doctor for a person nearly 23 pounds lighter (at the time) than the person the medication was calibrated for.  So, I made a call to the endocrinologist to schedule an appointment. 

The following week, blood-work complete, results in!  What do you know?  Just as I suspected; I was over-medicated!  After the appointment, a prescription for a lower-dose of thyroid medication, and a couple of weeks for my body to adjust, I feel human again.  I have to go back in two months for a follow-up, but so far so good.

Healthier doesn't always mean happier!

Hubby is a massage therapist.  One of the things he must do in order to keep his license in good standing is to have a certain amount of continuing education each year.  Not quite two weeks ago, he attended a seminar called What Is In Our Food.  It was a six-hour seminar for health professionals and came to a town nearby.

I knew (knew!) when he came home from this class his head would be teeming with information and he would immediately dump out everything in our refrigerator.  (Ok, not quite everything – but pretty close.)  We are now both actively trying to make better food choices, and let me tell you, it isn't easy.  Not only is it difficult, but it's expensive and lacks any kind of palatable taste.  It's boring!

As an example, I'm trying very hard to acquire a taste for plain, Greek yogurt.  I think it's going to take a lot of acquiring.  After the first couple of shudder-inducing, taste bud mishaps, a fair amount of grumbling on my part, and some well-placed advice from Hubby as to how to (healthfully) enhance the flavor of the thick, sour cream-like substance, I have discovered a tolerable level of edibility.

I don’t believe I will ever be a health-food nut.  (Another kind of nut, absolutely, but not the health-food kind.)  My love for all things pizza negates just about any possibility of my becoming someone who pours soy milk on her organic kamut flakes in the morning.  But I do think I can continue to make a conscious effort toward making better food choices.  I can just about guarantee you there will be grumbling; I’ll complain about it, a lot.  However if my own personal better choices can make a difference for me, imagine what my children might learn by proxy?

Win-win, right?


Friday, May 08, 2015

Observations and such

The gray and charcoal colored, dense nap, industrial carpet in my office is in desperate need of being vacuumed.  I could do it.  I know where the machine is.  I don't want to interrupt folks trying to work.


Girl-child woke up happy this morning.  Apparently the cheerfulness was directly related to a much-anticipated field trip.  She should have a field trip every day, if it means she's going to wake up with a smile on her face.  (Note to self: Coffee is, unfortunately, still not an option for her.  She’s only 8.)


I have a bright orange, squishy, stress-relief ball on my desk.  It has a black smiley face wearing sunglasses printed on it.  While I appreciate the squishiness, and the stress-relieving qualities it possesses, I am slightly put off by the smiley face.  It taunts me.  It seems in direct opposition to the purpose of the object itself.


Did you know the word "that" is overused?  I've been consciously aware of my own personal overuse of this particular word and have been making a concerted effort to eliminate it, except where absolutely necessary.  Trust me…it's not as easy as it sounds.


Many people spent the last months complaining about the cold and lamenting a lack of warm weather.  The cold doesn't bother me much, unless I'm cold when I should be warm.  (This makes sense, if you think about it.)  During the winter months I'm usually okay.  Spring is a wonderful time of awakening and greening and chirping birds and new life and growth.  It's quickly becoming one of my favorite times of year.  I've always been fond of autumn.  I still am fond of autumn.  I don't think spring will ever overshadow my love of autumn, but it's running a very close second right now.  Here's the problem, though.  This year, spring flew by too quickly.  Granted, technically we're still in spring, calendar-wise, but now we're dealing with eighty degree days and frankly, I'm just not ready for that kind of heat yet.  I will take the cooler, dryer weather over the heat and humidity any day.


I have officially lost twenty six pounds.  Not really an observation so much as a fact, I suppose, but one I'm glad to be able to share.  I still have just over seventeen pounds to go in order to reach my goal weight, but this is big.  This is huge.  No, I was.  Now I'm…not.  Or, at least, I'm getting there.  And that's a good thing. 


Thursday, May 07, 2015

The What If Game

I've never been one for games.  Not really.  I’ve enjoyed a good game of Solitaire on occasion.  I think crossword puzzles are jolly good fun.  I like Monopoly, as long as I don’t have to be the banker and I can use either the shoe or the dog.  Jenga is fun with multiple people and with two stacks of bricks on top of one another, both on an exploding base.  I've enjoyed a few rousing games of Cards Against Humanity (I will not apologize!  I have never laughed harder!  It's good to be rude, occasionally, and among trusted friends!).  I've never been one for sports, to play them or to watch them, though I enjoy men’s college basketball.  Golf, tennis and baseball are, to me, like watching paint dry.  But there is one game I hate, loathe and despise.  My children, especially boy-child, like to play this game often.  It is called The What If Game.

Here’s how it works:
  • What if I didn't brush my teeth?
  • What if I just picked out my clothes in the morning?
  • What if the sky wasn't blue?
  • What if I just read for ten more minutes?
  • What if that cloud over there was over our heads right now and we were the only ones getting rained on?
  • What if I slept with my feet where my head usually is?
  • What if I didn't do my homework?

Alright, I know.  Those are probably not the greatest examples, but I think you get the picture.  What if this?  What if that?  And this game has no rules, per se.  Mostly, in the mind of boy-child, the point of The What If Game is to extend an argument or not do what he has been asked to do. 

So, What If I just walked away and didn't play the game? 


(Oh, the humanity!)  Usually, at this point, there are tears already on the verge of spilling.  I understand he’s frustrated.  I truly do.  The problem here is he tends to talk so much at home without getting to the point, I tend find myself drifting to other things in my head rather than listening to him with 100% of my attention.  This is my failure, too, I know.  Eventually, I have to ask him to please stop, take a breath for goodness sake, and to simply do what I've asked him to do.  This is the point where The What If Game begins, extending his not-complying-with-mom’s-edict, culminating in “MO-OM! CAN I FINISH WHAT I WAS SAYING?” when I simply walk away, refusing to argue anymore.

The What If Game is endless and always (always) leaves all players frustrated and upset.  It’s a worthless, unproductive waste of time and I loathe it.  A much more creative, pleasant and surprising game for all involved is The Yes Ma’am/Sir Game.  I think we could save a lot of time playing this game instead of that game.


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

A small job well done

I whined a lot yesterday, didn't I?  I guess I should feel the need to apologize, but I'm not going to.  Well…okay, I guess maybe I will – just a teensy bit – because I certainly wouldn't want you to be uncomfortable and decide never to return.  It felt good, though, to get those feelings off my chest.  Thank you for allowing me to vent.


My girl-child had some trouble with her homework the other night.  It wasn't as if she couldn't do the work, she simply didn't want to do the work.  Apparently it was different than her regular homework and she chose to complain about it (speaking of whining) rather than doing the work.  She wanted to go outside to play.  She was hungry.  She wanted to watch television.   She was just humming a song, mo-om!  Sheesh!  She had to use the bathroom probably more times than was really necessary.  There were tears.  She was a mess!

Meanwhile (recall my previous post about anger management issues) I was doing laundry and trying to figure out supper and from her all I continued to hear was grumbling.  I mentioned I was making a concerted effort to speak kindly, or at least politely, and my patience was being tried – but I pushed through it and managed not to holler at her.  

Then I decided to paint my toes.  (My toes said they wanted to be blue, so they are now blue.)  I figured I could flop on the bed, toes in the air, and “help” girl-child with her homework.   Which is exactly what I did.

At this point, she'd been “doing” her homework for well over an hour, when typically she can fly through it in twenty minutes or less.  This kind of delay is very unusual for her so I figured there was something more going on than her just not wanting to do the work, but really – I think she was bored with it.  Somehow, I managed to con her into to not only finishing the first page of her math homework but the second page as well.  There was giggling involved…so I guess whatever I did was successful.

So, not only did I find a tiny spark of happiness in painting my toenails blue, but I found a small flame of joy when girl-child responded positively to my assistance.  Unfortunately, there was no television and no outside, because by the time she'd finished her work and eaten her supper, it was already very close to bedtime.  But she went to bed happy, which made me happy.  I guess I need to consider it a small job well done.


Monday, May 04, 2015

Random Rant *or* Angry At The World

I know when someone is mad at me.  I may not always understand the reasons why, but I have no doubt I messed up somewhere.  I just wish, when I've hurt or offended someone in some way, they’d tell me what I've done.  If I don’t know what I’ve done to hurt you, I can’t make it right.  It bothers me deeply to know I've hurt someone, but not know how or why.  I dislike hurting people, immensely, and I certainly don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Hm…who can I mess with today?”  And please don’t tell me, “You know what you did!” expecting me to know, because half the time I can’t remember my own name and the other half I can’t remember what I had for dinner the night before.  I’m not trying to be flippant, or glib, but I think we’d all be much better off if we communicated with one another; especially when an offense is involved.

Hubby seems to think I worry too much about people being mad at me.  When I ask, “Are you mad at me?” he gets upset and says, “Why do you always think you’re the one I’m upset with?” Mainly because he’s always mad at me for one thing or another (that's marriage, I guess) but also because body language speaks volumes and the silent treatment doesn't usually happen unless there’s an issue.

But here's the current issue that's plaguing me: I don’t understand all this anger I've got within myself right now.  I’m FURIOUS AT EVERYTHING!  I’m trying not to be.  I’m making a concerted effort to speak kindly or at least politely.  Counting to ten when I feel myself on auto-response and leaning toward pissed off.  I’m trying to temper…uh…my temper.  I’m trying to clear my mind of all the nasty things rolling around inside of me, without much luck. 

The other day, I was drinking a nice glass of white wine from a lovely winery in Townsend, TN (Cades Cove Winery).  I don’t remember exactly what else I was doing – cleaning, I think – but I was so angry!  Everything I saw, everything I touched just made me mad.  I was slamming around and snapping at everyone.  My poor family was hiding from me.  Eventually, hubby confiscated my glass of wine (which made me mad) and replaced it with a large mug of freshly-brewed chamomile tea (which confused me, and pleased me all at the same time).  I guess it was bedtime for Bonzo.  

I’m still mad.  I still want to lash out.  I don’t feel like being pleasant and friendly.  I want to rail against the universe and I can’t understand why.  Folks may say it's grief talking, which is a possibility, though I think probably unlikely.  Or the depression which has been setting in for a while now and which I’m fighting tooth and nail.  Which is probably why I’m angry.  But it doesn't matter.

And, since we were just discussing cleaning while angry, I need to say I would very much like to get one of those small bobcat bulldozer thingies and ‘doze everything (EVERYTHING) out of my house and start over.


Sunday, May 03, 2015

Writer's Block

Yeah - this about sums it up.

Sorry for the drought.  I'll be back up to form soon.  (I hope.)