Thursday, November 29, 2012

Huston

I have one gratitude this morning but it will encompass not only the three I promised to post but even more. My gratitude today is for my friend, my mentor, Huston Jenkins. It was a year ago that Huston had the first stroke that greatly altered his life. Up until then, my friend was still training and riding horses at eighty-seven, still traveling alone across country whenever the whim hit him, and still imparting his wisdom and humor and friendship to me. Exactly a week before his stroke last year, I had just jumped an emotional hurdle and overcome a long standing feud with a fear that had been winning up until then. It was a total knockout though, I beat that fear to a pulp and the first person I called was Huston. He listened patiently as I went on and on about how ecstatic I was. I could feel his smile across the miles and through the phone. When I finally paused, he said something to me that touched me more than anything anyone has ever said to me. He said, "I'm proud of you. I always knew you could do it. I believed in you when you didn't believe in yourself." It still makes me cry to think of that. I've been blessed with a lot of wonderful people in my life, people who have loved and supported me but until that day, I'd never really felt that someone believed in me and I don't think I ever believed in myself. Today, Huston's kids, who take such wonderful care of him, are picking him up at rehab to bring him home. He broke a hip a few weeks ago and had to endure yet another surgery and then over two weeks of rehab. He and they have been through so much this past year but they stick by him and he keeps fighting. Every time I've had the opportunity to talk to him again (the first time I heard his voice on the phone after his stroke, I felt pure joy), he always tells me he's doing great whether that's true or not. He won't give up and that is another lesson he's taught me. I use to tease him by saying that when he sold me a horse eight years ago, he had no idea that he was taking on a fifty year old to raise. Oddly, at fifty-seven, I do feel as if I'm finally growing up, like I've learned so much over the last decade, and so much of that new knowledge, so many life lessons came from my friend, Huston. I miss my friend, we use to talk several times a week and for hours at a time. He always use to say that he wished that we weren't separated by so many miles and I told him that I don't know if us being neighbors would be such a good thing because neither of us would get anything done but riding and talking horses. Then again, what would be wrong with that? I'm grateful to my friend Fran Forester for introducing me to Huston. I'm grateful to Steve who bought me that horse. I'm grateful to Huston for selling me that horse because he only sells his horses to people he likes and people he knows will love and care for them just like he does. In fact, he was offered five times what we paid for Mouse by an interested buyer in Europe and he refused them. They might have gone higher in price but Huston stopped them and told them that it didn't matter how much they offered because he had already promised the horse to me. Of course, I also remember the sadness in his voice when I called to tell him that I was coming by to pick up my horse. "You're taking her?" he asked and he wasn't happy. I later asked him about those buyers in Europe with the deep pockets that Huston was unwilling to delve into. We were sitting at his kitchen table and I'd just told him that I was leaving Mouse with him for the summer so that he could breed her for us. I really didn't want to breed her although I am quite happy with the results. I was leaving her with him because I knew he needed her. His beloved wife, Patty, had passed away the previous June. I knew that nothing could take away that pain but I thought Mouse would distract him. I asked him that day something I'd been wondering about for years. I told him that his niece had told me about the European buyers and how much money they'd offered for his little gray mare. I asked him, "You used me as an excuse but you wouldn't have sold to them even if I hadn't been in the picture, would you?" He dropped his head and said very quietly, "They would have mistreated her. They wouldn't love her like you do." And like he did. He is an incredible horseman, he is an incredible man. I am lastly grateful to God for bringing him into my life. What he's given to me through his friendship, through his wisdom, and through the kindness of his heart, I can't even begin to measure and I'll never be able to repay. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mama

I know that I've missed posting my gratitudes here so often this month but today's thanksgiving is close to heart.

I'm grateful today for my mother. She's been gone twenty-two years and I still miss her every single day. I wish I could hear her voice, I wish I could feel her arms around me hugging me. She had the biggest, most loving heart of anyone I've ever known. You've heard the saying, "They don't have an unkind bone in their body?" Well, I think that saying was written for Mama. She took care of my bedri
dden father for the last ten years of her life. It was not easy, Daddy could be a difficult man. But she remained patient and kind and did what had to be done day after day, what she considered her duty for those vows she'd taken years earlier, "for better, for worse; in sickness and in health." I sometimes think that all that Mama got was the worst part of that agreement but the minister who preached her funeral, a long time friend, wept as he recalled her love for her children and her devotion to us. We four were her life, her everything. She extended her love to others, people who by either fact or circumstance were orphans like her. She'd had a difficult life. Her mother died when she was only five. Until the day she died, she recalled that heartache of sitting by the fire in her little rocking chair and clutching a beloved doll while she said it felt as if her little heart would split in two with the pain. Her father passed just nine years later. She nursed him in his final days and then was left on her own at fourteen. I hear people constantly making excuses for crimes and mistakes and even poor decisions by saying they've had a hard life. My mother's life was extremely difficult almost from her beginning but she never become bitter or hard. Instead, every hardship that she went through in her life made her more understanding of pain and want in others. She told me, not long before her death, that she'd stayed trapped in that house for so many years caring for Daddy that when she died, there would be no one to attend her funeral, no friends left outside of her kids' friends who would come to pay their respect to them not her. I hope she was looking on at her funeral because it was a packed house and the majority of the people there were there because she'd touched their loves in some way. So many told me that day that she had touched them with her kindness, generosity and love. One of my friends told me that she'd never seen so many tears outside of the family section at any funeral. Grown men were weeping with abandon after telling me that when they were children my mother had shown them the only kindness and love they'd every known. My mother didn't think that her life mattered beyond her kids. She was the wisest person I've ever known but that was one time she was very wrong. I know how very, very blessed I was to have had her in my life for thirty-five years and to have known not only her all encompassing love but her friendship as well. She always told me that we were more than mother and daughter, we were buddies, best friends, pals. She was the best friend I've ever had and I'm so very thankful today to have known her.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Month of Thanksgiving

Gratitude for November 12, 2012:

I have several dear friends who are going through struggles at the moment and need your prayers. Each of these people have given me so much and added so much to my life whether they know it or not. I truly believe that everyone who enters or touches our lives is given to us for a purpose. There have been times that I almost selfishly believed that I was the gift to these friends, that it was my pu
rpose being fulfilled by what I could add to their lives, how I could help them but I was wrong. I am the one who has been blessed by each of these friendships by the gift of the inclusion of each of these amazing people in my life. One has taught me about strength, one about sacrifice, one about extreme faith, one about courage, one about acceptance and one about love and friendship and in turn, they've each taught me all of these lessons because they all possess these traits, these gifts, these talents. 
One of them in particular has been like a father to me and yet he has given me love and acceptance and support and encouragement that I never knew from my own father. We've only known each other for eight years and only became the closest of friends during the last four years but it feels as if we've always known each other. I am so grateful for the gift of him and all of his friendship and wisdom. 
Life is odd and as I look back over my 57 years on this earth, I'm amazed by how large my learning curve has been at times but when you're young, you're not even aware that you're being tutored with life's experiences much less by the people you share that life with.
First Corinthians 13:11-12, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 
I use to think about those two verses a lot when I was young and ponder their meaning. Now, I am older and do understand. I know who I am now, I know who my friends are, and I know and am so grateful for everything they add to my life. Life isn't always pretty, it isn't always sunny and happy. The glass clouds over a lot more as you age. There is more loss, there is more pain but somehow both make the times of joy sweeter, your appreciation stronger for all of the blessings and people in your life. 
I pray to God each morning for each of my friends. For those in need and pain, whether it's physical or emotional, I pray for healing, I pray for strength, I pray for courage, I pray for comfort, I pray for acceptance for them and for me. I also start my morning prayer by thanking God each day for each and every one of the people who have made my life fuller and better by their presence in it. They are my gratitude for today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gratitude

Well, I missed posting about my birthday on this blog. I will have to backtrack in a few days. I wanted to say something about gratitude and blessings though. I try to start each day with gratitude. It just makes you a happier person to consider how blessed you are at the start to each day....and cuts down a lot on griping and complaining about little bothers. November is the month of thanks because it is the month that the USA day of Thanksgiving falls in. On Facebook, many of my friends and I are listing something that we're grateful for each day of this month. You'd think that would be hard but the more you think about what you are grateful for the more blessed you realize you are. I will come back and catch up to this tenth day of the month but for today, this is my gratitude:

Today, I'm thankful for Steve, my husband of thirty-seven years, my best friend and confidant. He still makes me laugh, he still calls me at odd times just to talk, the twinkle in his beautiful eyes when he smiles still makes my heart flutter, he still gets me better than anyone and loves me despite myself. We were discussing last night what bad patients husbands make. A friend is currently nursing her husband and I told Steve that I sympathize. I've stood in line at the pharmacy when I had the flu and could barely stand just so I could pick up his meds when he threw out his back. Then I waited on him for days afterwards, cooking everything he wanted and letting him choose what to watch on TV (that was the major sacrifice.) I didn't mind doing these things but as I pointed out last night, he never returns the favor. He's a loving guy but a terrible care giver. He says that he doesn't like to see me in pain so when something happens like my fall from the horse a few years ago that left me with broken bones and barely able to get around, Steve just disappears. I appreciate his empathy but leaving me to fend for myself is not the best course, ha. Now, I know you're asking why I'm complaining about the man who is the object of today's gratitude? Here's the reason, my truck is torn up, will not run and Steve, who has other things he needs to be doing today, got up early so that he could fix it. He may not be the best nurse in the world but he does take care of me. He just likes things he knows how to fix and a hurting me, is not one of those. Oddly, that really does touch my heart, too because he loves me so much, he can't stand to see me hurt but he does make his sacrifices in other ways and I do know that I am loved and cherished and that is a blessing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gratitude

I've talked a lot about gratitude on this blog. The DHC challenge for today was to express your gratitude to someone whom you've taken for granted. I shared this saying that I know I've shared before but it bears repeating, my mom use to tell me, "Give your flowers to the living because the dead can't appreciated them." We all need to know that we're appreciated, loved and accepted for the unique and special people we are. I tried to always tell my mom what she meant to me, how much I loved her, how grateful I was for all she gave and sacrificed for me, how I admired her, how special she was but looking back, I wish I'd told her more. I can't do that now but I can try my best never to take anyone for granted. I try to always show my gratitude to others especially those who do what they do out of love and expecting nothing in return, not even a thanks. I also try to always start my day with a prayer of gratitude because it makes me realize how blessed I am and how small my problems really are. All of that being said, I have a friend who posted something on FB today that I really needed to hear/read. I think I need to tell her just how much her wise words helped me with something I've been struggling with. I know it makes me feel wonderful when someone tells me that I helped them without even knowing I had. So, that's my gratitude for today.

I also want to share the saying my friend posted that I'm so grateful for. I've been struggling for a long time with someone who is a continual thorn in my side. I try to forgive her every time she says or does something to hurt me but as a friend recently told me, forgiving might be possible but I'll never forget. Perhaps, I can't forget because she continually points out my flaws and I am all too aware of them myself and see her constant verbal jabbings as confirmation. I was thinking just last night that maybe I need to forgive myself and accept myself warts and all and then perhaps her constant criticism won't be so hurtful. Then I saw the post from my friend this morning and felt it was written just for me, "Weak people seek revenge. Strong people forgive. Wise people ignore." I never knew that ignoring her was even an option, haha, but I think that will be my course from now on. Something else my mother use to tell me that her dad told her, "You can't beat a bully with your fists but you can defeat them with a smile. When someone is cruel to you, just smile at them and turn and walk away." Works for me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

 Spent the first part of today, de-burring and braiding. I managed to easily get Mouse and Danny's mane done but Riley and Django were not as cooperative and Django has a proper mess of burrs tangled in his locks. I still worked with him until he grew impatient, I grew tired and my fingers grew sore. That will be a job for another day. The in-line braids that I did here, will help to keep the burrs at bay.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sensory Challenge


I've neglected this blog lately. I've had a lot going on personally for the last two months and I'm afraid that I've neglected my horses, too. They are still cared for, fed and watered, but the neglect has come from how little time I have to spend with them. They are fine but I know they miss me as much as I miss them. When I do have a few minutes to spend with them, they fight over my attention as if it was a sweet delectable treat. They do need that attention now. The cockle burrs are out and clinging to every bit of mane and tail. I spent hours one day last week picking them out but it was a futile effort. They seemed to have acquired twice as many the next day. But I will keep trying and hopefully Steve will get his bushhog back on the farm and cut those demon weed down, ha.

Danny is growing ever taller and it does seem, ever sweeter. He is the gentlest, calmest little guy and he ran with me yesterday, me huffing along with my overweight body and him, doing the smoothest, sharpest fox trot you'd ever want to see. I need new photos of him. I also need to start working with him, preparing him to go under saddle by Spring I hope. Also,hopefully, I can film a lot along the way of that training so that I can share this with my friend, Huston Jenkins, in Missouri.

I was reminded today of a small part of why I love horses so much. The DHC challenge for today was to use your 5 senses to describe a memory involving nature. Not surprising is the fact that my memory involved horses. What is surprising is how my earliest tactile memory is of a horse but it took me 49 years to get one of my own. I don't know how I lived so long without a horse in my life. There's so much to remember and cherish, the sweet aroma of burying your nose in the horse's mane and taking in an odor that is a mix of sweet hay, flowers and sunshine, the coarse feel of the mane against your face and in your hand as you mount, the squeak of the leather and smell of saddle soap and leather, the soft nicker of the horse and its even softer nuzzle, the feel of a tender breeze caressing your skin and the gentle rays of sunshine warming it, feeling the horse move underneath you, connecting with the horse and appreciating how it responds to even subtle cues and soft hands, looking around at this beautiful country we live in and seeing so much green, so green that you can actually smell it, almost feel it and a blue sky above that dazzles, and finally, looking into those soft brown eyes and having them look back at you, whispering softly and knowing as a child or an adult and, even when others scoff, that the horse understands, on some level, it always understands.

And now, I think I'll take the time or make the time to go and visit for a while with my horses. I'll breath in their sweet odor, caress those gentle muzzles, and obediently scratch the itchy spots they point out.....they have me so well trained. :)


Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Web Site!

Ta Da! It's finally done. I found a new web host that is only costing me 129 dollars for two years. I changed the name of my domain to Sande Elkins Art and I finally stopped trying to learn Dreamweaver in a day's time....the manual is over 1000 pages long! What was I thinking???....and I used the web host's simple, drag and drop technology to build my site. At first, I was disappointed because it wasn't as "pretty" as the site I'd planned but I thought, I need a web presence now and this will do. Then I discovered that they offered slide shows...whoohoo...and I was in heaven. So here is the link to my new website; check it out and tell me what you think. http://sandeelkinsart.com

Serenity and Acceptance

Everything we own seems to breaking and needing to be replaced at the moment...or if not replaced at least hefty and expensive repairs, the front porch (of course that one is a long story), the washer, the dryer, the frig, Steve's car, various farm equipment, the lawn mower, and now the well pump. I also thought that my modem or computer was getting ready to die but that turned out to be AT&T's problem which of course they'll never admit to. At the same time, we've had a lot of good things happen to us in the last few weeks. So, I'm beginning to feel a whole lot like Job weighing my blessings against my problems. Except I keep reminding myself that I am blessed and all we have are problems, not real troubles, so I should stop complaining for sure, just keep counting my blessings and try to stop worrying about how we're going to pay for all of this and what's going to break next, sheesh, ha.
I don't think I've ever read or heard this prayer in its entirety, just that first, famous verse. When I read the entire prayer, I thought of how much it speaks to me. I'm nearly 57 years old but I still have a problem discerning what I can control and what I can't. And worry seems my constant companion. I think that the problems of the last two months, the deadlines that we still haven't met, and all of the minor crisis have actually been good for me. I'm not talking about the twenty pounds I've sweated off with stress...although that was one of those added blessings,ha. No, I'm talking about the fact that I'm learning to control what I can, my own actions and energies and accept what I can't change, like Steve's direction, priorities, and the jobs he chooses to apply his effort and energies to when we may be looking for homeowner's insurance once again when the porch isn't finished next week. For several, frustrating weeks, I kept pointing out as gently as I could that the work had to be done by next week and Steve would reply, "Well, surely they will understand that I've not only had acres of hay that needed to be cut, baled and either transported or put in the barn and that I've had to work weekends and late at work for the last month. And now, I need to get the seed planted for next year. Surely, they will take all of that into consideration along with the fact that I'm obviously working on the porch and it will be finished." I kept telling him that we were talking about a big business not an individual and that big business does not have the ability to understand or reason, they only have rules to follow and deadlines to meet. He never seemed to understand and I kept losing sleep until I finally realized, I can do nothing about this. Sure, the porch will not be done on time and we will again be trying to find someone to offer us insurance coverage that we can afford but I can do nothing about that. I can do what I can do. I can clean and paint the house and furniture, straighten out my studio and workshop and prepare to start working again, I can create my art and hope it sells to make some money to pay for all of the expenses that have racked up over the last two months, all of the debt we already had and all of the added debt to come from the increase in our insurance premiums (they've already more than doubled and I'm dreading what the next quote will be when we have to find new coverage.) These are things I can do and can control. The stress and worry over the things I can't control are just wasted energy and that energy is needed elsewhere. So, I think that I will print this prayer out and post it where I see it and repeat it every morning and every night and then, maybe I can cope with and accept the things I can not change. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Made a Sale, Opened a Shop and Shook Things UP

If you follow this blog, you know that I've been wanting to start carving again for a while. In fact, I didn't realize how long until I finally put some new items in my S. Elkins-Folk Art Etsy store and saw that it had been nearly two years since I put the first and last two pieces on there for sale. They were two Santas and they sold almost instantly. I hope I have as much luck with the pieces on there now, which are older pieces that I dug out of storage, and the new pieces to come. I have been making plans and progress with my new studio space and workshop but all of the other stuff going on in my life and the work we had to do on the house put all of that on the back burner. I realized today that I've missed the Halloween train. There's no way that I can get any new witches done before the holiday and that makes me sad because I love creating wickedly funny witches, sharp toothed cats, spooky ghosts and leering Jack-o-lanterns. The good news is, Christmas is just around the corner and soon I'll be putting up lots of new jolly St Nicks, heavenly angels, and scores of whimsical animals. And of course, there will be horses, lots and lots of horses.

Two other pieces of good news especially considering how much I've been doubting myself lately and wondering if it is wise to put time, work and money into yet another venture that might and might not pay in this sickly economy. Let's face it, on paper, the odds are against me but considering my equally sickly bank account, I have to do something. I've been looking into getting a job in retail even though I've never worked in that area. I wanted though to find a security I've never had. As I told someone once who asked me if I could make a living as an artists, "Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't." It was always feast or famine but I have to admit that I did quite well up until that last year when whether it was poor decisions to choose the shows to do that I did or the wrong markets, I did not do good at all and that pushed me into quitting entirely. So, I've been both eager and scared to jump into this medium again even though it was very good to me for way more years than it wasn't.

So, that was my mindset this week when I received a surprising text from an old customer. She and her mother had purchased several of my pieces years ago. I remember them well, especially her mom. She asked if I was still carving and I told her that coincidentally, I was seriously considering starting again after a seven year hiatus. She said that her mom's birthday was next week and was there any possibility at all that I had something she could buy for her. I told her that I did have a few older pieces that were packed away. I thought at the time there were only four but it turned out that there was actually eleven pieces. I spent the better part of the day yesterday going through all of the containers that I'd so badly labeled, ha, several years ago. Of course, they weren't all in the crates they were supposed to be in but eventually I located them all. I didn't locate the birds that went with the Bird Angel so she is staying with me. I'm also not selling my Jug Seller. She's currently sitting on my bedside table and looking at home there. I'll take photos later. I fell in love with the scaredy cat when I pulled him out and I priced him accordingly. I put such a high price tag on him that I know whom ever is willing to pay it will love him as much as I do and give him a good home. Chances are, he's staying with me. I took photos of all of the pieces and put together detailed descriptions and then emailed all of the info to the prospective buyer. She immediately bought the Harvest Maiden! I'll be shipping her next week. I took all of the other photos and posted them on Etsy. There have been no more sales but certainly lots of interest. In fact, Scaredy Cat was featured in an Etsy treasury on his very first day! I'm hoping that today's events and the response of my friends to the new, "old" work are a good omen or a sign from God that I'm on the right path. Time will tell.

Monday, September 17, 2012

 I painted the chair yesterday along with an old (not antique, just old) pharmacy lamp. Both are bright cherry red and both have the lovely flaws which come with being older and well used. The pharmacy lamp actually is pretty rough looking. I did sand off the rust but it still shows in a rough texture. Honestly though, I think I like it like that just as I like the stain showing through in spots on this chair.

The second photo shows my metal plate rack and the hand thrown plates which will sit in it as it hangs above this chair. I hope it looks okay because it will be hanging quite high. If I hang it at "eye level," we won't be able to reach the light switch for the closets. The closets are shallow and I'd be perfectly okay with not using the light inside them but Steve insisted so this may look a bit different and take some getting used to. I'll post the two artists that these belong to later since it's been so long since I acquired them that the names have slipped my mind. I'm thinking that the middle one, the red ware charger/platter is by Steve Knutt. I will be looking at the backs of both of them for the signatures though and get back to you on that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bedroom Art Work

These are the two front runners for hanging above the bedroom chair. The one on top is a pastel which was a gift from extremely talented artist, Linda Woolford. It is a portrait of Danny and I really want to hang it in the entrance to the living/great room of our house so that it's the first thing that guests see when they enter. Of course, if I hang it in the bedroom, it will be the first thing I see every morning which is even better. Second choice is the large photo of Mouse and Danny. What do you all think?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The New Bedroom Progresses

No curtains yet but I did paint a small lamp for the bedside table and I did a bit of decorating today with accessories. And no, there isn't a photo in that frame yet but I know the one that I'm going to use, an old one of Steve that I love. Hopefully, over the next few weeks, I'll be adding wall decorations not only in the form of photos and art but also a black metal rack with three large, hand thrown plates on it that I got when I was doing shows (this will hang between the two closets), curtains made from green pin striped material and perhaps some roman shades, and a large easy chair that use to belong to my mom from the old bedroom that I plan to slip cover using canvas drop clothes so that it blends into this room since it does have the same greens and golds but a rust accent instead of the red used in this room.

Oh, and that large "pillow" on the bed?....That's actually an old bean sack, Sandy Beans that is:) It was a gift from my friend, Valarie Rogers who is an antique dealer based in Loudon.

I'm still not entirely happy with the lamp base which was originally rust colored and then off white and is now green but I may just live with it a while until I can paint the one that I intended to use in this room. Who knows, I might eventually fall in love with it and decide to use the other lamp in the living room instead.
I was telling my sister how many things in this room were gifts from friends and loved ones and they all hold so many memories. That terrarium sitting under the lamp on the bedside table was a gift from Steve on our first Valentine's day when we were dating. It use to have a lid; in fact, it's had two but both were broken so I eventually decided to just let the plants grow out of it instead of in it. The Sandy Beans sack "pillow" of course came from my pal, Valarie and the pretty, delft (?) blue container sitting on the chest-of-drawers was a gift from my Chicago friend, Cher Lemmel. My bestus friend, Pamie Haythorn, made many contributions to this room with gifts she's given me over the years. Namely, the wreath over the bed, the nightlight, the salt glazed dish on the bedside table, a candle which sits on the painted chest which isn't shown in any of these shots and even the lamp shade, which was actually more of a discard than a gift but I takes 'em where I finds 'em. My sister, Yvonne, gave me the salt glazed crock which holds the tulips on the chest-of-drawers. And finally, the chair, that will be sitting in the corner eventually and offering a warm and inviting place to curl up and read or "just sits and thinks," has been through many incarnations but it started its life sitting in my mother's living room. It was her chair and I can still see her sitting by the window with her glasses on the tip of her cute little nose reading in that chair. Even though I've had it recovered and will eventually slip cover it again for this room, I still feel my mama's hug when I sit in it. I still feel like a little bit of her is always here with me to offer me comfort and love and isn't that what the basis of any home should be?

New Beginnings

Okay, what have I been up to over the last month?....work, work, work....progress, progress, progress.....worry, worry, worry.....stress, stress, stress.....weight loss, weight loss, weight loss....satisfaction, satisfaction, satisfaction.

Alright, our troubles aren't entirely over. In order to meet the deadline for the reinstated insurance, we worked on other projects besides the porch. The good news, our house looks better than it has in twenty years and we are both house proud now and eager to work on each new project. The bad news, our insurance premium went up by 1,300 dollars a year! That means a little over a hundred dollars increase in our monthly mortgage payment because of escrow. The other bad news, the porch has to be finished within the next week and Steve has been "in hay" so it isn't even ready for Alfred to bring his crew in and pour and work the concrete. The good news, we might just be able to actually, finally, after over thirty years, get a REAL patio! What fun it will be grilling and eating out there or sitting in the rocker reading or watching our mischievous squirrels playing in the trees. I'm already giddy with anticipation and planning my back gardens. The front garden is coming along nicely and I do promise some before and after pictures...or at least after since I'm proud of that but ashamed of the before... still....it would be nice to show just how far we've come in a very short month.

More bad news, there will be another insurance inspection within the next week to three weeks and I'm not certain that they won't come inside. So, I'm now working feverishly to whip the house into shape and planning and thinking so that I can hopefully do it without much expenditure. I know we can't afford the new beadboard wainscot that we want eventually. So, I plan to paint the entire walls with the tan/taupe paint in the hallway, foyer, living and dining rooms that are all open to each other. There is still the old, dark, heavy wainscoting that we haven't removed in the kitchen and laundry. I plan to prime it and paint it and the woodwork trim a nice soft white and the wall above a lovely blue that I found which should compliment all of my salt glaze pottery. Here is the big project that I hope, hope, hope I can pull of in time, I plan to paint my kitchen vinyl floor. Here is a link to a blog where I found very detailed instructions on how another crafty lady did this. Her finished kitchen looks great and the transformation is incredible. I will try and be brave and take at least before and after photos if not step by step. Still, you never know because since we can't afford the hard wood flooring that we also want at this current time, I'm painting all of the subfloors through out the house. I still have to pull the carpet and nails in my future studio but I plan on painting it and the kitchen floor in a fun checkerboard. This is all a very ambitious undertaking especially considering my time restraints but I'm hoping (and praying) that with proper planning and lots of sleep to give me energy, ha, I'll be able to pull it off. The problem I'm running into, the planning takes almost as much time as the doing. I'm cleaning out, hauling off and taking to storage things that won't be used in the immediate future. This week there was more sorting and repacking going on than there was actual cleaning but I hope to make up for that this weekend. Still, it's loads of fun going through boxes that have been packed for a while. It felt like Christmas discovering wonderful items that I'd forgotten. Oh, almost forgot...I did paint an old lamp and put a shade on it. I wasn't quite pleased with the color so I'm repainting today. It's not the lamp that I really want in our bedroom where I put it on the bedside table but the other one will require more work to get what I want and this one just required a can of spray paint....well, now two, ha. So, I'm off to re-paint my lamp and I'll post photos as soon as it's done!:)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

We have a saying in East Tenn., if you don't like the weather today, just wait until tomorrow. Less than two weeks ago, it felt like Fall had arrived early. The days were cool and the nights downright chilly plus the humidity was wonderfully low. Now, it is so humid that my glasses fog up just standing outside. The temps are in the high 80's and low 90's which, once you add in that outrageous humidity, feels like you're standing in the middle of a pizza oven. We're already getting remnant showers from Isaac but we've been dry so I won't complain about a little rain. 

I was working in the yard yesterday, digging up lenten roses to transplant. It was physical work but not really hard work since the soil was soft from the rain and I was able to just use a shovel and not have to use a pick to loosen it first. Still, I nearly over heated and within fifteen minutes, I looked as if I'd been caught in a downpour. My hair was sticking to my head and my clothes were drenched. Not a pretty picture but certainly one that convinced me that, even though I'll be working outside again today, I'll choose something much less strenuous, ha. 

The good news is, the work on the house is coming along. We met a wonderful man named Alfred who will be doing the new concrete on the porch and walkway. He explained to us that who ever poured our porch 35 years ago, cheated us badly. They cut corners to make themselves more money and didn't reinforce the foundation and also capped off the blocks that concrete should have been poured in to make the entire porch and our house foundation more stable. Thanks to their dishonest and shoddy work, we are now without homeowners insurance (Farm Bureau Insurance canceled on us after seeing the damage...most likely before we could file a claim. If we filed a claim now, we'd never get anyone else to pick us up for a reasonable rate. At the moment, we're working with a great insurance broker, Ed Brooks, who is monitoring our progress on the repairs and then will broker new insurance for us, hopefully, at an affordable rate.) So, we are not only rebuilding the porch and sidewalk but also, I'm working at getting all of the windows and trim cleaned and painted. We've also removed all of the ivy from around the house. Evidently, insurance companies (and I've recently learned the entire state of Washington which has banned the plant and will fine you if they find you growing it on your property!) don't like English Ivy. 
I have to admit, after trying to eradicate the hateful and prolific stuff from not only our yard but the remnants it has left on our brick and window frames, I'm not terribly fond of it myself. A window usually takes about an hour to thoroughly clean and prep for painting; I spent three hours scrubbing one of our garage windows which had been blanketed with ivy and I'm still not totally satisfied with it.....but I am done with it!


More good news, in the last month and thanks most likely to my greatly increased level of physical activity, I've lost around fifteen pounds! I'd say that stress added to that loss as well but I'm still not complaining. A month ago, I was beside myself with worry. I was so upset over FB dropping our home owners insurance and fearful that our premiums on any new policy would be so high that we couldn't afford it. There are always silver linings though and this storm cloud had a bunch of them. Not only did God point out to me rather vividly how blessed I truly am especially in comparison to several friends who contacted me earlier this month with REAL problems that made mine look like the whine fest it was but Steve is finally working enthusiastically on our house again and turning it back into a home. We've been working together more than we have in twenty years! And I have to say (although maybe I shouldn't) that I don't know if it is the progress on the house making me feel much better or just the constant close proximity to each other but we've been acting like newlyweds again! That's quite an accomplishment and blessing for an old, 37 years married couple like us. Yes, we also celebrated our anniversary this past month on August 22nd! I think I will be remembering the month of August, 2012 for a long time for many reasons but I'm still happy to see September 1st arrive! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Eating Out

It's very difficult to find a local restaurant that serves the gluten free food I can eat but the nearby Chinese restaurant will fix my food to order. There are only two dishes that don't include soy sauce (contains wheat), a seafood combo which is very good but does contain what I believe is artificial crab meat which does include gluten but doesn't appear to bother me that much and moo goo gai pan which is gluten free. I have them add broccoli, lots of broccoli, to the moo goo gai pan and it is delicious and healthy. I've also discovered that our local Mexican restaurant offers several dishes made with corn tortillas instead of the usual flour ones. I know Mexican food isn't usually considered as extremely healthy but there are a few healthier choices on the menu and it's great for an occasional treat. There is also a restaurant on the lake that offers some great gluten free fare, Calhoun's.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sensory Sensations

Today's Daily Health Challenge was to think of a smell that brings back happy memories. I've experienced the ability of certain smells to conjure up pleasant memories often and especially at this time of year. The smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the odor inside a new book....or even an old one...., the smell of peanut butter cookies baking in the cafeteria, the earthy smell of a pile of fallen Autumn leaves all remind me of my first years in grammar school and bring back not only a flood of memories but other sensory sensations, the sound of a hallway full of chattering children, the squeak of a tennis shoe on the gym floor, the static of the loudspeaker as the principal made his daily announcements and then led us all in the pledge of allegiance. I think that we are just more aware of both our senses and all that is around us when we are young. Each new experience brings us a plethora of new sensations and when we're reminded of them, even fifty years later, it takes us right back to that school room or play ground and we remember not only the experience but also all of the sights, smells and sounds around us at the time. I wish that I paid that much attention to my daily life now. There are far fewer new experiences to excite me but I think we tend to sleep walk through so much of our lives. I think this challenge might just help to wake me up a bit. I think about my sweet, old horse, Brandy. Every day, when I feed her, I bury my nose in her mane and inhale deeply. She always smells so sweet, like a combo of honey, flowers and new mown hay with the warmth of sunshine mixed in. I know that I might not have her much longer and I want to remember that smell and the touch of her soft, shiny coat and coarse mane. If I live to be an old woman, I hope I can recall how Brandy smelled and how it felt to lay my head against her warm neck and feel her gentle muzzle and know that peace and contentment that the experience and she gives to me.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Once in a Blue Moon

There will be a blue moon this month on the 31st! That means that we'll have two full moons this month, one occurred last night (in honor of my good friend, Jacki's birthday in my opinion:) and the other, the blue moon, on the 31st! It seems everyone I know has been having bad luck lately. I'm hoping that this blue moon is a sign that our luck is about to change for the better. And now, I'm going to start singing so you might want to leave the room......Blue moon, you saw me standing alone...dododododo.....or am I more in the mood for....Blue moon of Kentucky keep on shinin'; shine on the one that's gone and left me blue......naaah, both of those are too melancholy and sad. I think I'll just go out on the 31st and howl at the moon:D

Monday, July 23, 2012

Heaven knows that I've put off starting a new exercise regime long enough. Each new week, I think, this is the one where I get more active, where I start to regain my energy, my fitness, my new/old body but then life intervenes and so it has again. There's a lot going on with me right now. I may explain that later but because of unforeseen circumstances, the repairs and maintenance that have long been neglected on the outside of our house that we'd planned to do after the weather cooled a bit, has to be done now, immediately. We started working on all of those chores on Friday and I was so pleased and encouraged by our progress and then on Sunday morning, well.....I suffered a bit of a setback which also keeps me from completing today's DHC challenge: 
morning

Do a Pilates-inspired exercise by lying on your back and rolling up to a seated position 3 times.
A nice start to my new exercise resolution but I'm taking a raincheck on this one because I got myself into a bit of trouble with a nest of angry yellow jackets yesterday. I've done this before but never had the number swarm me or sting me as did yesterday. Three or Four of them got into my hair and I couldn't get them out, they were stinging me in the head and about my face over and over. Their friends took care of the rest of my body. I ran in the house, thinking I'd shake them but they hung on and then I jumped in the shower still wearing my clothes and muddy boots thinking I'd get immediate relief but no. Eventually, I washed them all off of me but they still managed to sting on their way down to the drain. I learned a lot yesterday, for one, unlike bees that have one sting in them and then they die, yellow jackets can each sting up to fifty times. I think some of them were trying to break a record with me yesterday and so far, I've swept and picked up at least 20 of the evil little things. Thankfully, I am not allergic but I plan on putting together a first aid kit for my house, the truck, car and barn that contains both antihistamine and an epi pen because I was so scared during what can only be described as a vicious attack by these mean and determined little creatures that I thought I was having a reaction because I was hyperventilating.

So, long story cut short, I will do this exercise in a few days when my body isn't covered in itchy, painful welts. Otherwise, it's Monday again?....Aaah, it's the start of a brand new week full of possibilities!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sign on the Dotted Line

Today's DHC challenge was to make a contract with yourself concerning one of your goals. The idea is that you'll be more committed to accomplishing your goals. I need this motivation on several goals. I feel as if this past week has been one major back slide, little if any progress on any of my goals, lots of just sitting or lying around doing nothing and eating everything while I hold a one person pity party. I know we all have those times in our lives and perhaps it's our bodies or a higher power telling us to regroup and rethink the way we attack those goals because the old way isn't working any longer. A written contract might allow me to refocus. I've always said that I solve more problems by writing about them than I do just thinking about them and I think the focus is the key. It really does clarify your thought process and helps you to organize your thoughts and plans if you see your ideas written on a piece of paper or even a computer screen. So, today I will not only do a little written brainstorming but I'll also truly commit to my goals again by developing the best plan for accomplishing them. Once I develop my plan or "contract," I'll post it here so I'll have even more motivation to accomplish those goals and stick with the plan.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Picking up Trash and Drunken Dogs

Well, yesterday went off without incident. Thank goodness! So, I hope my streak of bad luck has ended. I was seriously getting scared to step out my backdoor for fear of what was coming next after last week!

Today's DHC challenge was to pick up trash. This is an easy one since I always do this because unfortunately people are always tossing their trash out their car windows out here in the country. But I do have a funny story!


 We had a dog once for an unfortunately brief time because he got out and was hit by a car when he was just six months old. He was already huge by the time he was six months and he left a huge imprint in our hearts and lives, too. He did the funniest things but perhaps the most amusing and aggravating at the same time was his love of beer. Especially on the weekends, beer bottles would be scattered on the roads and ditches of the rural area where we live. While we had Bear living with us, we'd get up and find all of those bottles in our front yard. I said that it looked as if we'd had a party and had been sitting on our front porch chugging and chucking all night long. We finally discovered Bear carrying a bottle up from the road, sitting it on the edge of the porch and tipping it so he could drink the last drops out of it, ha...He was one smart pup even if he was a bit of a drunk!

Steve's Uncle John didn't believe us until the day we were cutting hay and Bear came up carrying a big quart size bottle and laid it on the side of the wagon to tip it into his mouth. Then there was the fellow who worked for John who liked his more than occasional nip. We were riding our bikes along the trail between the farms one day with the two dogs, Bear and Sidney, running along beside us when we suddenly realized Bear wasn't with us. "Where is Bear?" I asked and Steve says, "Oh, no!" And he points down the hill to a spot in the shade of the barn. There laid that fellow peacefully "sleeping one off" and Bear was standing directly over him with his feet to either side of him and his big ol' head (I did say how big he was didn't I) right in the guy's face while he smelled the fellow's boozy breath. Just as we noticed them, the fellow woke up and in a quivering voice, he says as he raises his shaking hand to pat the dog's head, "Niiiccee Dooogggy."

It was okay because Bear just looked frightening, he was the sweetest, most gentle dog we've ever had....of course he could have been so mellow because of all of the beer in his system.

Friday, July 13, 2012

FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH!!!

Friday The Th Picture Cards
Friday The Th Pictures @ dazzlejunction.com
Well, I couldn't let this day pass without talking about my week. I've dealt with poachers....men with guns who stood stock still and defiantly glared at me and my cell phone for over twenty minutes after my "horse" cover very inconveniently moved...., a horse (yes, the same one that moved) slipping in all of the mud and nearly falling on me, a company secretly adding on unauthorized charges to my credit card without my knowledge, and someone blatantly infringing on my intellectual property rights and copyrights by using my photos not only without my knowledge but without giving me any credit for them. Incase you didn't count, that's exactly one for each day this week and today, is Friday the thirteenth. I'm thinking of staying inside and in my pajamas all day long.  

Movin' That Body

I miss exercise. I once did it religiously, my day was not complete without my regular routines and that usually meant at least three hours out of each day devoted to movin' that body. Then I had a bad bike accident that was like the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back because it awakened a fear in me that eventually left me virtually immobile. That was over ten years ago  and looking back it is obvious to me now, even if it wasn't so clear at the time, that was also the moment that marked the rest of my life and my body starting on a downward and very physically inactive slide. First, I stopped caring what I ate. When I was physically active, I was cognizant of every bite of food that entered my body. I was a walking encyclopedia of nutrition knowledge and knew the calorie, fat, nutrient and fiber content of every thing I ate. There were no wasted calories and certainly no junk food. But, after the accident, I stopped caring. It was as if I'd looked death in the face and instead of making me relish life all the more, it had made me hide myself away in fear because I realized that no matter how well I armored myself with good health, it could all be gone in a matter of seconds because of the accidental incidents of life I could not control. The inactivity and bad diet eventually caught up with me not only physically but emotionally. I kept plugging along at life, I kept trying to push myself even reinvent myself numerous times but the enthusiasm just wasn't there. I became sluggish and depressed and my once seemingly wonderful life, now, felt hopeless. You might ask how I let this happen or how I sat back and let life happen to me? Well, I did fight at first. It was just that the wreck wasn't the only thing that went wrong at the time. My career was at a crossroads which should have meant blessings and profits and it did for a moment. I was doing freelance design for a gift and homewares company and was very successful at it...for a while. Then the company changed the art director that I was dealing with and the person now in charge of me was a bit unscrupulous. After I missed a deadline and turned in the wrong assignment because of misinformation from him, my contract was canceled because, obviously to defend himself, he blamed the entire incident on me and when I argued, he told them that I was becoming difficult to deal with. It didn't help that I was in the process of renegotiating my contract and asking for more money at the time. I later discovered that the entire line I'd just designed for them which was at first accepted enthusiastically and then rejected, was "reinvented" in full by their in house artists. Basically, it was my concept and design, tweaked by another hand but it was still obvious to me that it was mine. I also had a surprising diagnosis of skin cancer around that time, malignant melanoma stage 3. I was lucky because the growth was lateral and only surface and just subsurface skin was involved, no lymph nodes but still, it threw me for a loop after the fact when the word CANCER finally sunk in. I'd also just lost my father after a lengthy illness that was trying and difficult for all involved because both my relationship with my father and our family dynamics were trying and difficult to begin with. My doctor sent me to see a therapist because I was having severe insomnia and night terrors that were wreaking havoc with my life even before the bike accident. After the accident, I said to the therapist, "It feels as if I'm losing control of my life, like it is spinning out of control and I've lost both my steering and brakes." She answered, "Any concept you've ever had of control was just an illusion anyway. We have no control over our lives." True as that statement might be, it did not help. So, I find myself these many years later and I'm finally starting to feel in control of my life again, even if it is an illusion, ha. This extremely long hiatus has served a purpose because it has made me deal with the underlying problems that I think I was covering up with all of my exercise, diet and work regimes and all of that supposed control. As I've said so many times before, I'm working on my long neglected career, house, and emotional and physical health but I am having difficulty getting back into exercise. It isn't that I don't want to. All of the DHC challenges that involve little, easy exercises just remind me how good being so active made me feel because even with these simple moves, I feel my muscles start to warm, strengthen and stretch. I just can't seem to get through my head that I'm not young and fit any longer and I'm going to have to start at a pace that my head at least is not accustom to-SLOW. I started walking several months ago and at first, that was going great. I started slow and gradually I felt myself getting stronger and I quickly seemed to pick up my pace and lengthen my time. Then, I fell out of the trailer where we store our hay for the horses, four feet, backwards onto the ground, and I hurt my ankle of all things. I never went to the doctor about it...of course, because stubborn me never does.....and so, it has taken several months to heal. The ankle still has a twinge of pain occasionally but it's much better. Yet, my walking is still not back on track (so to speak;-). Now, I find myself hindered by the weather, it's too hot, it's too wet, etc. but I've got to stop making excuses. I have to get myself back in shape NOW because I know too well from experience that it is only going to get harder as time goes on. So here is the plan that today's simple little challenge of exercising those glutes has prompted: I will start going to bed earlier so that I feel like getting out of bed at the crack of dawn to go over and take care of my horses and to walk around either the field or the arena depending on the weather because the heat is bearable that early in the morning and if it has cooled enough (the temps here were over a 100 for over a week before all of this wonderful [not being ironic, we desperately needed this rain] rain started.), I'll walk again in the evening after the horses are fed again. And then, I will get my exercise equipment out of storage (I literally have enough to start my own gym!) and start working out with weights and resistance again. I have thought this out because, after that, I plan to dust off that huge stack of exercise dvds and tapes and start using them again (or, in many cases, for the first time.) I'm planning on doing this all gradually and will do my best to listen to my body and let it tell me when it's time to move forward to another exercise or more effort. I've got a little less than six months left in this year but I'm hoping that by December 31, I will both look and feel like a new woman....or at least a little bit like the woman I use to be only better this time because the woman I am today is far more emotional stable and knows more who she is. I think even before the physical transformation I hope to perform that I like this mature lady much more than "the kid" (That's what all of my friends use to call me because I was the "young one." And it was a rude awakening the day I realized that I was no longer "the kid" but that is another story for another time ;-). One thing I'm going to do soon is put up both a photo of me now and one of me in my "better days" physically.....and younger, ha....here on this blog soon. That will take courage but I hope that soon afterwards, I will have some new photos of a healthier, fitter me NOW to add as well. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It is odd how the DHC challenges seem to mirror my own life. Today's challenge was intended to make us all more organized by making lists of our possessions and where they are all located. It seems to me that it would be much easier to simplify our lives which is what I've been trying to do lately. I told this and the story related in my last post of moving our bedroom to a smaller space and how happy I am with the change because the new space is neat and organized and place where we can truly find peace and contented rest.

One of the other DHC members commented that I'm her hero and inspiration. I assured her that I was certainly neither of these. I told her how out of control my house, my career, my life have all been for the last ten years. I related how this new found optimism and progress are both very new to me but I also told her how they came about. It took changing my attitude which started with my daily positive affirmations. Basically, whatever you want to change about yourself, you need to change your mind first. Each morning for a month (and I'm truly considering making this a daily habit), the first thing I did after waking was look in the mirror and tell myself not what I believed about myself but what I wanted to be true: I am competent, I am energetic, I am enthusiastic, I am ambitious, I will accomplish something today, I will take another step towards my goals. The theory is, once you've said this for twenty-eight days, your mind starts to believe it and it works, I'm proof.

The second thing that I changed was trying my best to accomplish one thing each day. It didn't have to be a huge thing. It didn't even have to be everything that I'd put on my mental list to be done that day. It just had to be something, started and finished.

The third thing was a change in the way I looked at my problems and it is perhaps the biggest change I've made. Before, I'd want to do something, I'd want to make a change but I was so overwhelmed when I looked at the size of the task at hand that I didn't even know where to start. If I did do anything, it felt like I was using a pocket knife to chip away at a mountain. I never felt like I accomplished anything, I felt like my head was spinning whenever I'd try. I was becoming more depressed and more overwhelmed instead of making any progress at all towards solving my problems. I started trying to divide the work into doable tasks but I was always way too ambitious with my plans. Finally I realized, I had to stop looking at the big picture, I couldn't even narrow it down to a medium picture. No, I had to look at this as a jar of marbles but I could only deal with one marble at a time. One tiny bit of the problem solved and put away doesn't seem like much but it works because once I stopped feeling so terribly outnumbered and overwhelmed, once I realized that I might be buried under a lot of difficulties but I wasn't going to solve the problem from there but from the top working my way down, suddenly, my path seemed not only clear but doable!

So, if I feel myself getting depressed or overwhelmed, I just pick out a marble, one small doable task that I can do and then put neatly away. It might be a drawer that needs sorting, or something long neglected that I can clean and straighten, something I can mend or a project I can finish. It doesn't really matter what it is just that it's manageable....just like my life now. I've stopped looking at the forest or even the trees and I'm just gathering up the leaves, one by one.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Progress, Glorious Progress!!



The small TV works perfectly in this small room.
There will soon be another comfy chair and a large
photo portrait of Mouse and Danny hanging over it
replacing this chair which will move between the closets.
And the painted chest under the window is empty now
but will soon be filled to the brim with linens and blankets.

There will be a gorgeous portrait of Danny
by artist, Linda Woolford,
hanging over the bed soon and
I'll be sure to add a photograph.
There will also be a lamp sitting on the bedside table.
I'm currently working on the base
which is wooden and will have a worn white finish over
red and will be wearing a bright red cloth shade.

We haven't rehung the closet doors yet but the closets are
neat and organized.

If you've been following this blog from its beginnings, you know that it's not just about remaking me but also my home and career. Well, progress on both of those fronts yesterday when we finally got our bedroom moved from the large master bedroom space, which will soon be my studio and exercise space...so I guess it's really progress on all three categories of self improvement:),.....and into the much smaller guest bedroom space. You might think I'd be complaining about the small size of the room but I actually find it cozy and just big enough for a bed room. There is still plenty of decorating and improvement to be done on this room but I'm very, very happy with its beginnings. 

Chew, chew, chew your food

The DHC challenge for today was to chew your food twenty times with each bite. That does seem a bit excessive to me especially if you're eating mashed potatoes or ice cream both of which are already "chewed" but then, a health challenge probably isn't going to suggest eating either of those luscious but fattening foods anyway.....bummer.

This is probably another good exercise for me though since I really need to work on chewing my food longer and being more aware of what I'm eating. I honestly wonder if my current state of obesity isn't directly related to how I eat not what I eat. Really, I don't eat a lot of fatty, unhealthy food or junk. My diet is usually balanced and very healthy (The gluten free brownies that we had last night topped with delicious, cooling Mayfield's "the best ever" ice cream were a rare if yummy exception.:) but I do tend to eat as if someone is holding a gun to my head and usually I'm totally oblivious to what I'm doing. Our dining room is still an "under construction zone." So, we end up eating from trays, inclined on pillows in our bed and watching TV.....in other words, after the first bite or so, we no longer even taste the food much less keep track of how many times we're chewing it. The dining room won't be functioning again for a while but my new studio space, complete with a lovely pub table, should be finished within the next two weeks. We plan to start having our meals there. I won't guarantee that the TV in the room won't be turned on but maybe, at least during meals, I can keep it tuned to Pandora for some digestively soothing tunes.

I know that this is my first post in a very long time. I might offer an explanation later but for now, I'm baaaaack. Sorry for the silly mood which is actually a really great mood for me on a Monday. We finally got our bedroom moved into the guest bedroom yesterday. It was a lot more work than I'd anticipated but well worth it since the guest bedroom has functioning ac where our former bedroom (soon to be my studio and quasi exercise room at least on the far end...which explains the need for a TV) did not. Our temps....heck, nearly the entire U.S.'s temps!....have been over 100 degrees since last Thursday. That scorching heat and high humidity explains my lack of activity both on and off of this computer. I've truly felt as if I was melting and when I go each day to cool the horse off by wetting them down with a bucket of water and sponge, they aren't the only ones who end up soaked but mine comes not from a bucket but out of my pores....yuck. So, that formerly promised explanation, it's just been too damned hot for doing anything......but aaaah, how well I slept last night all cuddled up in my blankets to keep the chill at bay:))).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


lack·a·dai·si·cal/ˌlakəˈdāzikəl/

Adjective:
Lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy.
Synonyms:listless - apathetic - languid - apathetical

I
sn't that such a fun word to mean such an awful thing? As an
adjective, it has certainly been a great describer of me lately. My life has lacked luster. I can't seem to motivate myself to even start
my regular daily tasks until around noon each day. I've lost my
motivation and it seems my direction as I wander listlessly through
my life.

The DHC today was to think before you reach for an empty calorie
junk food snack and consider if you're actually hungry or just eating to fill an emotional void. That struck home for me, too. I've
been eating poorly lately, I've stopped keeping my food diary because I'm ashamed to admit all of the junk that I'm putting into
my body. This isn't new for me. It's something that I have to continually work on. I am definitely a stress eater. That worry monster begs to be fed and I'm usually quick to oblige but I have begun to ask myself if I'm really hungry and if I am, is there a healthier choice to the chocolate kisses, brownies or cheese coated tortilla chips that I usually reach for automatically. At least, those are the limits these days. My junk food menu use to be far more extensive but the Celiacs disease has drastically limited my junk food choices. So many of the things, both good and bad, that I once ate on a regular basis are now off limits because they either contain gluten or the gluten free alternative doesn't even come close to tasting like real food much less satisfying my hunger whether it's physical or emotional.  Still, those King Arthur gluten free brownies are the absolute best packaged mix I've ever tried. I made some for desert a few nights ago and I did show some restraint in that I ate just one at a time instead of gobbling up the entire pan before they even cooled.

Today, in response to my posting about my struggles with emotional eating, a DHC friend named Carol D. offered the very good suggestion that I not just keep a food diary but an emotions diary which describes just what I'm feeling when I reach for something sugary or salty. I think that's an excellent idea. Just this morning, I was wondering why I've been feeling so: 

lack·a·dai·si·cal/ˌlakəˈdāzikəl/

Adjective:
Lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy.
Synonyms:listless - apathetic - languid - apathetical 
Writing down exactly how I'm feeling especially when I'm blue might just be the key to solving this mystery and getting me back on track, making progress and accomplishing something every day which was my goal on January 1st of this year. Now, 2012 is half over and I still feel like I'm chipping away at a mountain trying to carve a cup to hold my life and joy. This morning, when I was wondering, where my enthusiasm has gone, I thought, "I'm scared." At first, I was wondering what exactly I'm scared of but I think I know, I think I'm scared of change. I desperately want change in my life. My ideal life would be me working on my art every day, riding my horses every day, working out and being slim and fit and energetic and living in a house that instead of being a piled up, falling apart mess, is finished, polished and guest ready so that I can entertain our friends again. I really want that life and I believe it is attainable. After all, it is a life I've lived before and all are realistic goals. So, why do I retreat every time I start moving forward toward those goals? Why am I so scared of change? I'm hoping that I can answer that question soon so that I can get on with my life and my dreams.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Note to Future Self...

Today's DHC challenge:


morning
Write a note from your future self to your current self, and describe what you've accomplished.
How to do it
Take a few moments to write yourself a quick note or email as if you-of-five-years-from-now were writing to you-of-today. Tell yourself about all of your accomplishments. Do you play a new instrument or have a special skill? Work a different job? Live in a new place?
Why it matters
Research has shown that positive thinking leads to positive results, and that just thinking about success can make success happen! It's easy to think something is out of reach, but telling yourself you've already succeeded at something makes it feel real before you begin. Positive thinking has shown to increase a person's life span, give people better coping skills in times of stress, and even give them more resistance to the common cold.
Okay, I don't know if this is the best challenge for me because it just reinforces my terrible habit of over planning. I have goals, I make plans that are probably impossible to achieve (at least at this age when I not only seem to be moving slower but also have a difficult time concentrating on the task at hand), and then I feel discouraged and like a failure when I don't accomplish what I expect myself to. This is especially true when I look at my past self, over the last few years, and realize how few of my dreams and goals I've actually accomplished and tasks that I thought would take a few months that I'm still working on. I have to admit that I might be being a bit hard on myself considering that I was having a few health problems during those two years that are now resolved and I am at least making some progress now just not as quickly as I want to. 


So, I guess I need to be more patient with my current self and say to my future self, "I'm proud of all that you've accomplished in the past year both personally and with your career. It was a great idea to start working on your art again and you've really made a lot of progress on your home. Your riding and your confidence in the saddle have improved immensely and your colt, Danny, is really coming along in his training. And, I must say darling, you look marvelous doing all of that! You've lost so much weight and you're fit and in such great health. I think all of that added energy is what's helped you to accomplish so much in all of the areas of your life. And good for you at becoming more active socially as well. It's wonderful that you make time to share time with your friends and cultivate those friendships. The fact that your home is now "guest worthy" once again is great; all of that effort and elbow grease have really paid off. You are truly following your friend's advice and living the life you imagine and life is good." 
Now, I have this in print on my blog so a year from now (I'll make a note in my calendar and hope that I remember it better than the Chris Isaak concert on PBS last night that was half over before Steve chanced upon it and asked, "Didn't you want to see this?"), I can see if I stuck to my guns and accomplished my goals. The daily affirmations are helping but after getting off to such a good start, I've suffered through a week of terrible insomnia and I'm just now getting back on track. I did say, I'm gong to be more patient with myself and more supportive...no more negative thoughts! So, I'll just say that I made lots of progress yesterday and I'm that much closer to accomplishing my current goal, the next step toward my dream life: I'm cleaning out closets and drawers, packing away things we aren't currently using, making a box for give aways and one for possible eBay merchandise and I'm getting closer to moving our bedroom to the guest room so that I can turn our bedroom into a temporary studio/exercise room. I long term dream is that, by this time next year, I'll at least be close to making a bright, clean room in the basement for exercise and transforming the garage into a bonus room that can be a family room if we ever sell the house and a studio for me for as long as we live here. Those changes will take money though which I currently don't have so changing our large master bedroom into a studio seems a very good solution for the moment and hopefully will get me moving forward again with my art. So, I'm very pleased with myself for what I accomplished yesterday and I hope that I get much more done today!

I need to be proud of myself for every little accomplishment. I think those daily positive affirmations I've been saying are really helping because they've made me realize that all of the discouraging, negative thoughts that I don't even realize that I have are a major roadblock to me moving ahead and achieving my goals. It's hard to succeed when you think you're bound for failure before you even start. I was nostalgic yesterday and missing my mom and other loved ones I've lost and I thought, "I miss the old me, too." I suddenly realized that the old me is still here. She's just been covered up by all of the junk, both physical and emotional, that I've piled on top of her for the last fifteen years or so. I've just got to keep digging until I uncover her.