REST, RECOVER & SUMMING UP

I took a little leave of absence to rest up. It felt so good that I took a little longer to come back. My battery can only go so far. Then I have to recharge. I’m back to sum up for the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. This last week of October has been beautiful. I took time to appreciate the sunshine and warm temperatures by a daily walk after lunch. It’s a wonderful way to chase away the after dinner sag and spend time with myself. It is relaxing and restful while I am getting exercised as well. I am making a few killings with one stone.

That’s the thing. Sometimes by changing my pace and schedule of doing, I am easing my pressure I put upon myself of doing, of having to, of musts. I am still keeping up on my list of things – giving gratitude, doing a few items of the 21 tiny habits, practicing piano….I did skip writing a post for the last 2 days. Sometimes I have to take off a thing or two instead of add on. It’s called the real life of not able to do everything. But I did make the ackee & salted fish rice on Saturday. It wasn’t as spicy as I would like it but it was still delicious. When it comes to cooking and most things, there really is no failing. The outcome is just different. Even when I kill the dough in bread making and it doesn’t rise, I can make flat bread or pizza crust with it. It can still be delicious. You don’t have to be brave to try something new. Just try and see what results from your effort.

I missed a few days in this writing challenge. I’m ok with it. I don’t consider it a failure. I did the best I can. Some days it does take considerable psychological energy to put thoughts into words onto the page. I had to decide where it is most wise to put my energy. I’m really admire those who can show up every day with their post and then offering kind comments on others, too. It all takes time and energy. But it is also community building. I appreciate that very much. And I so much appreciate Paul Taubman, our digital maestro for leading us each and every day.

One new thing I learned this time was Tarot cards. Oh, I have heard of them before but that was all. I was rather dismissive of them really but someone’s post caught my interest. I said why not and took the auther’s advice. I bought a book and a deck of cards she had recommended. I am fascinated with the history and the cards as an art. Who knew, eh? I’m glad I took the plunge. Yes, I will return for the January challenge. The discipline of showing up every day and writing the best as I can is very helpful for my brain and mental health. There was no hassle, not when I focus on just what I am doing.

CHALLENGES AND ADD-ONS

Day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am grateful that I have this platform to work from. It’s proving to be a valuable tool for me to get my thoughts organized and to get things done. I like to start off with my gratitude list.

  1. I am grateful for another sunny October day. Today I rode in the truck with the guy to this workshop and walked home. I had my exercise and 20 minutes with myself.
  2. I am grateful that I finally can finally play the C Major scale with both hands individually and together fairly smoothly.
  3. I am grateful I received my Rider Tarot deck today.

My day was busier than I planned but it was all good. I had wanted to make Ackee and salted fish rice this morning but upon reviewing the steps on the YouTube video, I rescheduled it for another day.

—————————————

October 28th, Day 28 of the Ultimate Blog Challlenge. I didn’t finish yesterday’s post. It got too late and I was tired. So I am doing an add-on. It’s what I am trying to do each day, adding on more good habits till I feel it’s ENOUGH! already. What have I been adding on? Ok. First it’s writing every day. Then adding on daily piano practice. Add on 3 things I’m grateful for. Add on 3 other things from my 21 tiny habits list. Add on a daily walk. Yesterday I added on clearing and cleaning one section of my linen closet and 2 sections of my own closet. That was plenty. Funny how dust gets in closed doors. I took all the towels and put them through the air cycle on the dryer to get them dusted. I did the same for my clothes. It took a few cycles and going up and down the stairs to and from the dryer.

I’ve reached my limit! No add-ons for today. I suppose I could count going to the library as an add-on. I surely didn’t feel like it after my walk. But it was on my to-do list. I wanted the books waiting there for me. That was enough to push me forward but this is it. I am done. Tomorrow I am going to make the Ackee and salted fish rice. It made me think of Harry Belafonte singing Jamaica Farewell. It’s a good way to end. He can sing and move.

GRATITUDE, LEARNING AND A WALK

Day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. 6 more posts to write. I hope for no writer’s block or stumbling and falling off my keyboard till after they’re all written. Let me start by offering my 3 gratitude for the day.

  1. I’m grateful for another beautiful sunny day. The greenhouse got up to a high of 21.4℃ in the afternoon. There’s hope of the baby bitter melons maturing. I harvested 4 small ones to give my mother. It’s enough for a meal for her and my father.
  2. I’m grateful Zoom was working for my online class from our university. We had 2 very interesting speakers on the post pandemic world. One spoke on the politics before, during and now. The other speaker was a nursing faculty. He spoke on nursing education, nursing and the pandemic. I am a retired nurse so it was of special interest. I was in it for over 30 years and retired 9 years ago. I loved my job but I never defined myself as a nurse. Curious. One day I will give it some thought.
  3. I am grateful for my walk this afternoon to the guy’s boat workshop. I haven’t gone for many walks since we’ve lost our dog, Sheba. It was a 20 minute walk along the same route Sheba and I walked many times. I caught a ride home. I think it would be another good daily habit. I greatly enjoyed the exercise, fresh air and scenery along the way.

I’m looking through my list of 21 tiny habits. I think it’s a good habit to do it daily if I can.

  • I did exercise upon waking. I go through my c.a.r.s daily. I feel, move and sleep the better for it. It takes just minutes in the morning while I wait for the kettle to boil. I like to do a longer version in the evening while watching television.
  • Discover one thing a month. I discovered Tarot cards from another blogger in the UBC. I’m surprised it’s so interesting. I am reading The New Tarot Handbook by Rachel Pollack now and hope to get my cards soon, like tonight or tomorrow.
  • I have and tried to throw out one or 2 no longer needed things. I’ve trashed some obsolete photos from my desktop.

I think I’m doing pretty hunky dory for old gal. I’m still plunking away on the piano, making small progress. It is very small progress with the scales in my Brown Scale Book. I’m still working on the first 2 sets of C Major. But I’ve added Lavender’s Blue to my repertoire. It’s helping me make videos and it does help my playing hearing myself. My timing isn’t terrible but I’m too slow and I hesitate.

COUNTING MY BLESSINGS

I’m trying to make counting my blessings a daily habit. It’s been a nice day. I had friends over for brunch this morning. So that’s gratitude number 1), that I do have friends, not many but they are very good friends. Gratitude 2) That we can always have a good time together. We don’t worry much about the state of our house or whether what we serve is good enough. Gratitude 3) Even though I don’t worry too much about what I offer, I am still grateful my very first quiche turned out well and my left over Jamie Oliver pumpkin, chickpea and coconut curry from Thanksgiving was delicious as a soup. It wasn’t supposed to be soup but you know how these things can happen. I love the golden orange colour of these 2 dishes. So nourishing and warming on a cool October morning.

I do believe that we can decide how we feel and therefore direct the course of our daily life. First we have to know what it is that we want and how we want to feel. Then we have to figure out the steps to achieve it. Having done that, we must do the action. Sometimes I can do the first two and then fail on the action. It is easy to stumble and get discouraged. It is easy to hesitate, procrastinate and not start at all. I’ve been there and have done all that. It is not easy to see and understand that it is the first and last steps are the hardest. I see and understand that now. It’s a good reason for me to put in a good effort and push towards the finish line of this Ultimate Blog Challenge. I like to finish what I have started.

GRATITUDE AND FORTITUDE

It’s day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. 7 more days to go after today. Since I’ve started it I want to finish it as best as I can. It’s a cloudy damp day. I’m as sleepy as I can be. It would be easy to throw in the towel and say, Good enough! I like to think I’m made of sterner stuff though. So I’m saying, No way, José! I hope I can live up to my own expectations. I hate to disappoint myself.

The 21 tiny habits is still fresh in my mind. So let me go through them. I’m always stumped on doing the grateful things. What 3 things am I grateful for today? We-e-l-l …..

  • I’m grateful we had the furnace fixed, cleaned and tuned in the summer. It’s getting colder and it snowed yesterday.
  • I’m grateful for our greenhouse. It’s still warm enough to keep it going, hopefully for a few more weeks into November. I can go in and harvest a few things to make a stirfry or a salad and to cheer myself up. The dahlia is still in bloom. There’s still tomatoes and bitter melons on the vine. There’s still a few peppers, too, as well as celery and Swiss Chard.
  • I’m grateful that I went to my exercise class this morning. I felt least likely wanting to but I did. Movement and engagement with others is good for body and mind.

Writing this post is the last must-do on my list today. It helps to have a list and a challlenge. Somehow I feel more accountable. I’ve been keeping up with my piano practice. I had a small chunk of time this morning before heading out to the gym. 20 minutes gives me enought time to practice my scales. I’m not progressing very fast and it is hard to co-ordinate both hands at the same time. I had to break it up in small sections, play right hand, then left hand and then both together. I bet I drove somebody around the bend. I can play a few simple tunes. Here’s a short little clip of Down In The Valley. I’m better than I thought! My timing is not too terrible and I’m not sounding that mechanical. Ok, enough now. I am done!

WISH LIST

October 20th and day 20 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I did not write yesterday. It’ll be 4 days that I have missed so far but who’s counting, eh? I’ve been juicing our Concorde grapes. We had a big harvest. Last year I got only 2 glasses. This year 5 one-liter bottles so far. I’m a tuckered little homemaker. I wanted to rest yesterday but the grapes were getting ripe and riper, falling out of their skins. I had to finish processing them. I juiced 2 bottles and froze the rest. My fingertips are still bluish and achy from all the squishing and washing.

I had no spare energy at the end of the day but I did practice my piano. Knowing how to play one was one of my top wants on my wish when I was growing up in Maidstone, Saskatchewan. We were poor and couldn’t afford such luxuries. When we did get an old rinky dinky one, we couldn’t afford lessons. It made a nice piece of furniture and we played it however we could. It was a big deal when I finally fulfilled this wish in my late 40s. I can read music enough to play very basic piano even though I’ve taken lessons on classical piano up to Grade 3. I even enjoyed practicing scales. However, I did drop the lessons and playing. It happened. Now I’m getting back to it. I will never be a good pianist but I enjoy the exercise. It’s what counts – joy in playing.

I’ve talked about the other items on wishlist before – learning to ride a bike and learning to swim. I never had the opportunity to do either when I was young for the same reason. We were poor. I can do both now but I am not skilled in either. It’s harder to master those skills when you are an adult. As an adult, I am full with fear of failing, falling and drowning. I worked long and hard at both to overcome my fears. I am proficient enough to enjoy both activities. Now I am hampered by the closing of the pool where I have been swimming. I will have to find another where I will be comfortable. My neighbourhood is high in traffic so I didn’t even get my bike out this summer. I will do better next year.

I still have fears. Though we’ve had exceptional sunny warm October days, they are shorter. The mornings are dark until 7 before it starts to light up. I feel twinges of my seasonal affectiveness then and in late afternoon, especially when I am tired. I close my eyes and try to picture all the gold and oranges of autumn. Somehow they help to dispel some of the cold goose bumpy feelings. And a cuppa and adding to my wish list always help.

WHY I’M NEVER BORED

It’s true that I’m seldom bored. I don’t think I’m an exciting person or that my life is exciting. But I find life very exciting. Our universe is a wondrous thing. To wake up each morning to a new day is magical. I look forward to it before I go to bed each night. What will the day hold? What new things will I learn? I try not to think about how much I can accomplish. Being somewhat type A, I do – want to squeeze in as much as I can. I have learned to ease off and relax when I start feeling a bit squeezed.

So I am in my Ease Spot in this moment with my fingers on my keyboard. My morning was busy tackling my grapes. I had one pail separated from the stems last evening while watching a movie. They are now washed. I made a start of squeezing them out of their skins first before I steam juice them. It was a difficult task of separating them and the pulp through the food mill other day. I got distracted from that task. We’re down to our last loaf of bread, so I got the dough started. It is now proofing in the oven. The yeast is very active as we have another warm October day. I will do the loafing and baking after lunch. The dough is very resilient. I will punch it down and stick it in the fridge till I’m ready. It is hitting the roof of the oven.

Now it is after lunch. The bread is in the oven. Dishes, pots and pans washed. No further progress with the grapes. I’m a little tired. Time for a rest and a stretch after the bread comes out of the oven. The thing with getting older is, my mind is still willing but my body says no. It needs some TLC. I will now do my daily C.A.R.S. No, I’m not talking about driving a car but doing exercises to improve/keep my mobility. It stands for Controlled Articular Rotations. I was introduced to it by our exercise instructor at the YWCA. I always felt so relaxed after each class- as if I’ve had a massage. This video is excellent showing how each exercise is done.

MY WHOLE PICTURE

Day’s end. I am again struggling to write today’s post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Funny how some days the words just flow. Then I have these days. I am stuck at START with no forward movement. I guess I will have to work for each word and sentence until I have a paragraph, then another and another. So rather than being stuck, bored and restless I scroll through social media. I have just scrolled through Esme Weijun Wang’s Intagram. I’ve been following her for a few years. I find Esme very interesting and inspiring as she is Asian, a writer, has a schizoaffective disorder and suffers from chronic lyme disease. She has so many physical and mental challenges and yet she is very successful. It makes me try a little harder to push through my own little trials.

I have recently said that it’s not good for me to look at the big picture when I’m tackling a big job. It overwhelms me before I can get started. There are always exceptions to the rule. If I want to have a successful day/life, I have to look at the whole picture. What is it that I want for the day/life? After I have identified my goal, I then break down the steps to get there. I guess it’s called planning. It’s something I haven’t consciously done or thought to do – until now. So what was my whole picture for the day?

  • Writing this post.
  • Juicing one ice cream pail of grapes.
  • Finish reading Explain Pain.

How did I do? I’ve juiced two ice cream pails of grapes for 3 bottles of juice. I’ve cleaned up after myself, too. I have 20 pages in Explain Pain to read. I still have time tonight. I want to return it to our exercise guru at our gym tomorrow. And my post is finished. How about that, eh?

THE IMPORTANCE OF EARNEST

Oh dear, the day got away on me! It is already 7pm on this 14th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I had intentions of being here earlier but I got distracted and delayed. It was for a good reason so I shan’t complain. I was out in the yard, taking some buckets of water for the greenhouse. My neighbour across the back alley saw me and came across for a visit. She was having some trouble with her neighbour and just needed a shoulder to cry on. I know what that feels like. We had a nice and very long visit. When I came into the house, it was 5 pm. Time to have a sit down and have a cuppa to warm and relax a bit before supper.

Earlier in the day, I read someone’s post on consistency. She shared Marie Forleo YouTube video on How To Be Consistent: 5 Steps To Get Things Done, All The Time. I thought it was pretty good and jotted down the 5 steps for myself. You can watch the video for a full explanation but here are the main points.

  1. Keep an eye on why. I tend to forget my goal after awhile.
  2. Pick your battle.
  3. Schedule it.
  4. Ignore your feelings. Quite often I don’t feel like doing anything but I try hard do it anyways.
  5. Catch that wagon. I fell off my writing for 3 days over Thanksgiving. I’m back on now.

Seeing these steps and writing about them keeps me motivated. My eye is on the why I want to complete the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is important for me to do the best I can but to enjoy and have fun also. Though I’m short of time and it is late, I can still put in an earnest if not long effort. As it is getting late, I will not put it in the daily thread. I don’t have time to read 2 posts and comment on them. I am picking my battle – writing my piece and posting it. Tomorrow I will do the second part. I like following the rules. I am an earnest person. I’ll have fun later.

I AM READY

Sometimes magic happens when you just start – anything. And contrary to popular belief, don’t look at the whole picture. When I do, I’m often overwhelmed with the impossibility of it and I don’t start. I was pushed forward by the fact that every time I look out my sunroom, my view was obscured by dusty windows. I felt disgusted and shameful. I thought I could wash some if not all of them. I ended washing all but 3. Motivated I did the bedroom and bathroom windows the next day. The following day after that, I did the kitchen ones. Each time I marvelled that I can see and smell clean and it felt wonderful.

Now I have just the livingroom left and all the windows in the basement. There’s LOTS of windows down there. That’s why it’s best not to think of the big picture. But it did lead me to think about my mother and her house. My 90 year old parents are still living on their own. We help with the grocery shopping, the lawn and snow shovelling in winter. She didn’t want help with the house. Seeing how much hard it was for myself, I asked her if she needed help with washing the windows and the dusting. Oh, I washed all the windows already, she told me. I do one a day. It takes me a couple of months but they’re done. I use a stick with a cloth to dust those hard to reach things so I’m good.

I’ve always admired my mother but now even more. She has always been my source of inspiration. While I’m still on this motivation high, I tackled putting all the garden stuff away in the garage today. I tried to do it properly by finding a place for everything. It’s a bit of a job but I made a start. It’s been a long time since I worked in the garage. 9 years exactly, the number of years since I’ve retired. I cleared a few shelves of dust, dirt and cobwebs for my plant trays. A few pots were broken that got accidentally knocked down. I pulled out totes to see what they held. I found 2 of Sheba’s beds in one. Even though they had been washed before being stored, they stank. I was ready to let them go now. She has been gone for 2½ years. It is time.

I’m feeling surprised by my get up and go. I have been so languid for so long. I felt as if I have just woke from a deep slumber. I think it is my 90 year old mother jolting me awake. If she can still keep her house spic and span, I could at least try for just spic to start. Being able to still keep her house clean gives her so much pleasure along with walking in her garden and seeing her flowers. I can learn alot from her. I have a long way to go and lots to do. I am ready.