LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT

February 7, 9:15 am. Cloudy with sun. -6℃ outside, -7.4℃ in the greenhouse. I got my 8 hours of sleep last night. We were in bed by 10 pm. I have to admit I was feeling out-of-sorts watching the National about the freedom convoy situation in Ottawa. I wonder how they can call their mission freedom when they holding and subjecting a city and their citizens to their rude and unlawful behaviour. It is hard not to fall into the pits of depression when your country seems to be following in the footsteps of our southern neighbour. It is indeed hard and depressing when you hear the American Republicans applauding the convoy. But then I read this opinion piece in MacLean’s and my spirit rose a little.

It is after 3 pm. Very sunny. 3℃ outside and 8.6℃ in the greenhouse. This week promises warm weather. If the sun comes out every day, there’s hope that the greenhouse beds may be workable to sow some spinach seeds. So far I see only cloudy days ahead. We had our ski this morning. The sky was a work of art. You will have to take my word for it as I forgot to take my iPhone with me. No photos taken except those with my naked eyes. It was good that I got to enjoy the scenes before me without interruption. It’s part of my problem. I always want to capture those moments. I need to relax and just enjoy the view.

I am struggling a bit here. The cursor likes to jump around the screen. I’ve wasted time and energy finding a fix but I’ve succeeded – I think. It’s a reminder that things don’t always go smoothly or the way we want. Sometimes life sucks. It’s ok to feel badly. It’s not a time to feel glad. I don’t have to pretend. I can let it all hang out. No one can see me. It’s healthy to acknowledge our feelings. I didn’t let those feelings go to waste. They pushed me into tackling those hard to do chores – those hard to get at corners and closets. How the dust like to hide in and among all the clutter.

Nothing gets done by themselves, no matter how hard I’ve been wishing upon a star. It has to be hands on, getting down and dirty. It’s good at ridding of those nasty thoughts and feelings in my head and soul. I’ve worked up a sweat and a sugar low. I didn’t feel guilty at all having a big snack so close to supper time. I feel replenished.

THE NEXT 90 DAYS

Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Tomorrow is the last day. I’ve had a full day baking bread and doing laundry. Baking bread always seems like a simple thing when I start out in the morning. You add, mix, let it sit, knead, yada yada. The steps and stages add up before you can get the loaves in the oven. By the time I’m finished everything, I felt like I’ve washed everything twice over. The loaves are chilling on the rack. I have yet to bag them and take them down to the freezer. I am feeling a little fatigued. Do I have it in me to talk about what where I’m heading after this challenge?

Since I don’t have a business to promote, I will take a rest from my daily tapping. I’ve had a good run this November. I’ve missed 2 or 3 days. It’s good to be flexible and not to be obsessive. When the going gets tough, it is ok to step off. There is no point in forcing. This is not a race. I am learning a bunch of stuff this month and that is one of them. We have a wealth of knowledge among the group. Mary Elizabeth O’Tool’s posts on minimalism gave me a push to get started. Florence Callender’s posts on dyslexia are a great help and encouragement. I’m working better at slowing down and concentrating. So I will probably be back on my keyboard in January.

December is a good month to slow the pace and hunker down. I am looking forward to joining in Susannah Conways’s December Reflection on Instagram. It’s right up my alley, posting a photo/day to a word prompt. It’s how a see things – words and pictures. It’s a wonderful way of easing into the holidays. It’s probably not a popular thing to say but I don’t do Christmas. It doesn’t work for me anymore. Not that it did before but now I’ve dropped the facade. I don’t miss the rushing around looking for perfect gifts Christmas Eve. And I am not so sure about the meaning and spirit of Christmas. Shouldn’t it be like that all year long – the kindness, generosity, celebrations, family time, friendships, goodwill to all men..?

In January I’m taking an in person watercolour art class. That will give me something to write about. I hope I won’t get too frustrated listening to directions and taking steps on how to’s. Mostly I’ve been winging it. Sometimes I don’t even use a palette. I took a quilt class a long time ago. The instructor was very fussy. You had to cut, sew and iron precisely. I found it quite stressful and had to do some yoga before I went. But I did end up with a beautiful sampler quilt. I’m hoping I’ll paint some beautiful watercolours. I think the class goes into February. By then the days will be getting longer. The greenhouse will be warming up. I’ll be starting seedlings and maybe planting. I won’t be lacking for things to do. I’m also hoping for lots of snow so we can cross country ski all winter long into March.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…

February 26th, day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Our administrator suggests the topic of a day in the life of..YOU! He makes it sound exciting and since it is what I do anyways, I will carry on. It is my genre. My life does not seem exciting to me. I am bored though I am interested in many things. Can this be possible. This last stretch of February is for the birds. I’ve said this of other months also.

Today is March 1, 2021. As you can see I have bombed out of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I could not stretch myself to the finish line. I gave in to binging on Netflix. It was on a good series, Shetland. I fell in love with the characters, the Shetland Islands, Scotland and the stories of Ann Cleeve. I was hooked and could not help myself. Every day, after lunch and after my afternoon cross country ski, I would plop myself in front of my iMac with a cup of tea and a slice of Swedish thin bread. It was my matinee hour. It was ALL very addicting.

All that binging has made me feel very terrible because there was no possible end to it. That is until I came to the end of Season 3. That’s it. No more seasons of Shetland on Netflix Canada anyways. Now I’m in front of my keyboard with just a cup of tea, trying to tap away the angst of my withdrawal. I’ve still kept up with the100dayproject. I’m still sewing a logcabin quilt square a day. I have 30 squares now. I have also finished my cross stitch of Jesus I started many years ago. My fingers weren’t idle while watching Shetland. They were busy weaving in and out of those little squares. I can feel good about that.

I am happy, too, that I’ve kept up with the daily cross country skiing. Exercise and the great outdoors are good addictions. Otherwise, I don’t know what shape my head would be in. We went out to the Wildwood Golf Course this afternoon. I set my timer for a 20 minute ski out and then 20 minutes to get back. Having a set time gave me a sense of security that I can make it back to the parking lot.

I’m glad that I can wrap up the end of February and the Ultimate Blog Challenge with a final post, even if I’m a day late. I hate leaving things unfinished. It’s as if I don’t care and have given up. It is always good to care and give a damn. Things can get better. They can’t if we don’t care.

THE HEART OF ME

It’s February 8, 2021. Almost 5:30. Yet the sun is still present in the livingroom. It will vanish in a minute or two but I love this almost perfect beautiful golden moment. Everything, including myself, is in alignment from head to toe. I am so happy we went out for our ski, despite the frigid temperature. The sun was brilliant. It is the kind of weather that agrees with me the most. I feel energized, without my aches and pains. The snow was the best, too. It didn’t stick to the bottom of my skis and I felt the glide. The mask was perfect keeping my lungs from the cold air. I didn’t have to taste the wool of a scarf.

Chinese New Year will arrive on February 12. It is the year of the ox. I don’t know what it means. I take it that we all must be strong, like the ox, and do our best to keep safe and do the utmost not to spread the Coronavirus. We must, like good citizens of the earth, do our part to help regreen the planet. This is my hope for this year of the ox. February is also heart month. The heart needs exercise as much as the rest of our body.

I like to stretch my heart muscles by being kinder, more loving and understanding of others. I know that sometimes I think I am all of those things. I know I over estimate and give myself too much credit. It is hard to take myself out of me and look at things and others dispassionately, without prejudice and preconceived ideas. It is a good thing to remember. I would like to spend time to observe and explore how I can change and be more heartful through this Ultimate Blog Challenge.

WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE?

So yesterday was Valentines Day, the day of hearts and flowers. As with all other special occasions, I’m slightly out of step. Perhaps I’ve been looking at my half empty glass instead of the half full one. Let’s face it, no matter how you look at it, the glass is only half of what it could be. No matter how many cute quotes you come up with or how positive you are, there must have been times when you’ve felt half empty, haven’t there?

Oh, I know. I had an intention of changing my voice for this heart month of February. I still have that intention but I want to rid the narratives in my head and the questions in my heart. It is really hard to be not who I am. Maybe I should give up trying to sound like someone else. I am who I am, of Asian flavour – the sum total of my heritage, upbringing and western influence. I should examine how all these influences have affected who I am and how I have felt about myself.

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So it is three days post Valentines Day. I’m more out of step than I realize but I want to finish my conversation here. Life happens as they say. It’s gotten the best of me for now. I’m tired and lacking energy and drive. The well is dry. All I want to do the last couple of days is curl up with my blanket and watch Downton Abby on Netflix. Right now I want to fall asleep. I’ve lost heart in February. Ah! Sometimes the best laid plans do not work. I will throw up my hands and say, oh well and go to bed. Tomorrow is another day.

 

I’VE FALLEN INTO THAT DAMN HOLE AGAIN

I’m repeating myself, but February is heart month. To have heart is to have courage. Sometimes Many times I feel such a lacking in myself. I have not taken the helm. I’m blown hither and thither in the winds of life. I have been so disengaged, living in my head mostly. I haven’t even noticed. I’ve said so many “it doesn’t matter” and “good enough”. Suddenly I woke up today to find that it does matter. I matter and I won’t settle for good enough. Things have to be better or I will not be able to move forward. I shall be forever walking down the same f**ing street in Portia Nelson’s poem.

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

I am very disappointed and angry with myself. I have been lazy. There’s no other reason. It’s hard work to have a life. I have gotten up, dressed up and shown up every day. But I have not put in the effort to do the hard work. I thought I have but I hadn’t. How the view changes as I wake up from my sleep. I have found some courage on the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. I have to work and strengthen my heart and keep my brain clear not to regress and fall into the same frigging hole. I will avoid those 2 idiot phrases from my speech as much as possible. No, I must delete them completely.

Now if I was to fall into the rabbit hole with Alice, it might be more fun, revealing and helpful.

 

 

I GOTTA HAVE HEART

February – you are the heart month but you are also the coldest month so far. How am I suppose to keep heart? My fingertips are cracked and bleeding from the chill. That will teach me to take my gloves off to capture your icy beauty with my camera. I wince with each tap on the keyboard. It is worth it though. It all helps to give me heart, to keep it beating, to perfuse me with a creative force. It helps to have added purpose for Sheba’s and mine daily walks.

Keeping heart is sometimes hard for me. I feel things deeply – the highs and the lows. I bounce around like a rubber ball. I can run hot and cold at the same time. You might call me a HSP, a highly sensitive person. I fit the descriptions very well. I have all the 21 signs, most notably the need for alone time and absorbing other people’s feelings. Hell, all 21 points are strong in me.

I’ve never really checked into it before now. Maybe understanding myself better will help me to navigate life better. I hope it will lead to having an easier time relating to others and managing my emotions. Dang, life is frigging hard! There’s still things to learn no matter how old I am. I’m all for it. Bring it on.

I wonder why I have such a hard time. I guess it’s that HSP part in me. I feel too much. Why must I? I don’t like it one bit. Too bad, says the big guy in the sky. That’s who you are. Live with it. And so I must. Everything, no matter how small, that I can do for myself will help. At the end of it, they will be monumental, the very things that can tip an iceberg. So I gotta have heart, keep plugging away and put one foot in front of the other. I’m on the Yellow Brick Road. I want to find the Land of Oz and the Emerald City. I will follow Dorothy and her motley crew- the Scarecrow, The Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. Onward ho!

GOOD MEDICINE

January is over. I’ve finished posting for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Now I like to write for the Heart Month of February. Writing, photography and posting them are my therapy. I am not a good or professional writer and photographer but I love the practices. I hope I am improving in both as I go along. Like my Bernina sewing machine, I’m made to create. I rid my stress and distress through these expressions. It is better than exploding and imploding.

I woke up last night with a mini panic attack. I had this feeling of breathlessness. My mouth was so dry and my throat tight. I could not take a deep breath. I tried to shrug and laugh it off, rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. It didn’t work. Fear started to creep in. Thoughts of all my COPD patients flashed instantly through my mind. I wondered if I was an empathetic nurse to them. I know that I offered treatment – inhalers, nebulizers, more oxygen. I would call the doctor if all failed. But was I understanding? Was I kind?

Now the shoe is on my foot. I am the patient panicking in the night. I had experienced it once before. It was much worse then. Experience does help. I comforted myself, got up and walked to the kitchen. I put the kettle on for some hot water. I wondered if it could be my sinuses. I looked for my saline mist and my nasonex. I am a patient and a nurse all in one. I slowly walked my kitchen, drinking my hot water. It was calming.

I knew better than trying to go back to sleep right away. I sat up in bed with two pillows behind my back and read. It was a journal from years past. I was always thinking and scribbling, especially when I’m not feeling good. Whether those scribblings of feelings were true or not is debatable. It tells me 2006 was really a hard, hard year. I was coming off celexa and using natural remedies. I’ve forgotten about the St. John’s Worts and 5-HTP.

I can understand why I had stopped reading my journals. I wrote mostly when I was feeling bad. Reading it now, I would say I must have been damned depressed all the time. That is if I didn’t know me. But I do. What I know for sure is that yes, I fucking sure struggled alot. It was worth my while. I remember remarking to a counsellor that every time I filled one of those psychological assessment forms, I feel that I don’t need counselling. I have never felt hopeless. Her observation was it’s a good thing.

It is a good thing, all my struggles. I don’t regret anything. I do feel like a failure at time. Failing is not a bad thing. It gives me a chance to do better. I’ve never been ashamed of my depression. I’ve never hid it. I do talk about it. I’m not being brave. I’m seeking a solution. For the month of February, I’m writing for my heart and brain. I can see from the now vantage point, I have come a long way. I have been off all medications prescribed and natural for depression since 2006. Instead I got Sheba. She is good medicine. But she was hard to raise from 2 months. It took years. Now she is perfect.

DARNING AND MENDING MY WAYS

This is definitely not my best time of day! I am not feeling fresh or friendly. I’ve declared February as the feel good month, of cosying up to the hearth, drinking hot chocolate and darning socks. It is what I am aiming for. So far I’m feeling a bit frustrated. I am set to darn my Linda Lundstrom parka. The old zipper is removed. A new one bought. I’ve just returned with right colour thread and material to reinforced the lower worn corner. I turn on my Bernina, ready to tackle threading the top and the bobbin. I find that the thread I bought is heavy, meant for top stitching. And I don’t have the right needle. Darn! Have to go back to the store – maybe tomorrow.

I suppose it’s not a bad thing. It slows me down. I have a tendency to rush at things, not taking care of doing a proper job. I was almost tempted to use use the all purpose black thread. But it would really stand out against all the purple. It is a nice coat so I refrained. Instead I took the time to read about what had happened to Linda Lundstrom. She seemed to have disappeared from the Canadian fashion scene. Interesting to learn that she had gone bankrupt and ended living in a cabin in the woods and working out of a shed. The article (dated 2014) said she is making a comeback. Further google search turned up that she has a new Nordic-inspired luxury outerwear line, Therma Kōta, created with her two daughters. Fortunes made, lost and made again. A nice story for the hearth.

Tomorrow I will shop for proper thread again. I’m re-training my brain to work in sequential steps. I feel dyslexic sometimes, unable to focus and follow the proper order of things. If there are 3 steps, I go from 1 directly to 3, bypassing 2. When it doesn’t pan out, I would have to back track. My brain seems irritated by more than 2 items. It gets all aggitated and haywire. That is why I can never follow verbal directions. After the first 2 turns, my brain can’t follow anything. I will probably have to do much deep breathing and practicing at not jumping the gun and corners. Well, a cold February is a good time for the practice of mending my ways.

WET NOODLE DAYS

Moments by their definition are fleeting. So I am not disappointed, disillusioned or any other dis words at all that my moments of perfect alignment are over. Most happy of all that I am not diseased as being downed by the flu bug. I hear it’s a bad strain this year. It lingers and lingers. I’m feeling slow but not ‘bad’ that I am a wet noodle again. I can still noodle on. I’m more of a tortoise than the hare by nature anyways. I will get there, wherever there is, eventually.

 

As it is, the day turned out well. It was cold as hell to start with. Such days are good for simmering soup on the stove. It humifies the air and soothes my irritated sinuses. The soup is nourishing and healing. The bones are treats for Sheba. She is kept busy gnawing and cleaning her teeth at the same time. It’s a good time to bake bread, too, especially since we’re down to the last loaf. Fresh bread with butter and jam is delicious. You guess it. I am still snacking. It boosts my serotonin level. I’m not feeling as much of a wet noodle after. The house is warmer from the baking. Now the pork roast in the oven is adding aroma and more heat to the air. This is how to raise the temperature and feel good stuff in cold February.

I think winter is meant for slowing down, nesting and mending ‘stuff’ and ourselves. It’s a good idea to heed Nature. When spring comes, we will be well prepared. I really like that idea. It will stop my incessant need for doing and feeling guilty for not accomplishing. It will be a challenge for me. I’ve already signed up for the online Peak Work Performance Summit. I am not working any more but it is free. What does it hurt to sign up, I ask myself. I’m not committed to watch. But just in case. The title words by themselves – peak performance -are enticing to me. I’m easily hooked. They can perk the wet noodle in me. That’s not bad, is it?

I’m aware now. I will intend more mending on wet noodle days. I have another jacket that needs a new zipper. The old one is removed. Now I can baste the new one on first before sewing it on. The coat is purple so I need to change the black thread that’s on the Bernina now. My eyes glaze over at the thought because the machine is very new and unfamiliar to me. I will have to change the bobbin thread, too. Now my eyes are crossing over. I will have to review the whole procedure again. Very heavy sigh. It has to/will be done. It doesn’t have to be today. I’m thinking of ‘slowing down, nesting and mending.