Category Archives: Life Lessons

So

This is Monday, the day I’m supposed to do 6 areas of my house (it’s 5 Tues – Fri). I don’t know if I’ll make it back into this, but the chaos created by the oncoming winter, DH’s injury, visitors, etc. means that I need some kind of plan.

And since I spent a long time devising that one, I think I’ll try and pick it up again.

We’ll see how it works?

One thing really did come of the 90 challenge I set myself and that was the end (apparently) of the panic attacks. If that’s true? I can’t tell you what a relief it is!

J

Not All Revolutions Need Guns

Some are just heralded by phone calls.

Today my life programming got turned on its head. This has happened to me once before, with DH and my therapist. But I thought, “Both of them have a huge amount of time and energy invested in my well being,” and although what happened was revolutionary,  I couldn’t ignore it, but it didn’t cause a sesimic shift.

Today just might.

At one point or the other we had 4 neighbors here, raking, etc. and keeping DH company.

One neighbor’s son split and restacked the 8′ wood pile which had fallen last winter. His dad dismantled the rack and told me what I needed to buy so it could be used again. I was offered cabbage salad (good, even though cabbage is NOT my fave). And, and….

One neighbor asked me to call and asked how I was and I said, “Near tears.” and it wasn’t because anything was bad, it was because there had been people here, almost all day, doing things for us.

Frankly, yes, I was worried how we’d get through winter with DH partially disabled. He’s fine, he stopped taking anything that wasn’t over the counter when he left the hospital > a week ago now, but he’s not his normal self, yet.

And here were all these people, raking, helping me move boxes, splitting and stacking wood, etc.

A part of me went numb. That same part had the past two days been looking for the “gotcha,” the catch, because there had to be one, right?

Except there isn’t.

We’ve been here for 25 years+. I try hard to be the neighbor I’d want to have. And I realized today that I discount all of that, because I do it without thinking about it most of the time. But I guess it does count.

The echo from my past is several things:

“No one who really gets to know you will want to admit it.”

“No man will ever love you.”

Whenever anyone is nice to you, they’re just being polite.”

etc. etc. ad nauseum.

 

And today cried BULLSHIT to all of that!!!

Not all revolutions have guns.

mohamed-nohassi-odxB5oIG_iA-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

I changed the image, this one seems to work much better!

The Plan

The plan now is not just a mini-split and general culling; it’s a final culling, mini-split prep and a major reorganization.

I have been in contact with my friend authors whose books I still have and asked if they’d like copies of their books? And explained. So far 3 of 3 have said yes. Nice!

I made a list of the various things set aside for people that need to be mailed. Many of them are ready to go, tomorrow. Two sets were mailed today: some books sent out for resale and other books sent as a donation to a conference organizer.

But there are other packages too: many of them. Art work going to family, heirlooms to same, I figure there’s about 8 more packages I’ll mail away in the next week or so. That will help. Will it solve the problem? No, of course not. But it’s a step in the right direction.

I made a 2nd list of things waiting to be hung up: mostly art work, of course.

We figure that we’ll take pictures, maybe, to document the big steps in the culling. Then maybe do the same for the reorganization/rehab. We may have access to a tiny grant. Not enough to do a lot with, but it should be enough to replace the ramp outside one door — the current version isn’t wide enough  for a wheelchair or walker and it doesn’t have hand rails.

Last night, I went to sleep thinking about free resources we could tap into: aging councils, AARP, Home Depot’s kitchen designers, etc.

So, this blog will still for the immediate future be about culling stuff, but then is slated to make a major shift.

Also, an announcement I’ve been putting off for some time. The memoir has sold. If/when I have a publication release date, I’ll post it here.

But in the meantime, this blog is going to go into high gear and then change directions!

street signs

 

 

(I have no idea where I got the image from. I’ve used it before. it is NOT mine!)

I Did This Thing…

I made myself a 90 day challenge. Starting 7/1 and ending the end of September. I wanted to try and clean the house, every day, to some extent or the other. I wanted to try and use the fact that I know that it takes 90 days to create habits or change them.

Well, it worked, and it didn’t. It worked in that I got used to cleaning every day and these days I seem to be able to do it without panic attacks. Removing the panic attacks was my personal, unstated goal.

I was inconsistent. There are days where I never assigned the tasks to do, where I didn’t do anything on the lists, etc. Sometimes there are several days. I didn’t let myself let it go. I didn’t beat myself up when life got in the way, either. I just pushed on the next time I could.

So, I wrote (nearly a week late) the summary, for myself of the effort. I will do a more detailed one later, but in general, I’m not unhappy with what I did. My stated goal was to clean the house almost entirely. My unstated goal was to habitualize the cleaning so that I could clean WITHOUT panic attacks.

And that seems to have worked!

You can find my summary post here.

Progress! But . . .

I sold more than 30 boxes of books at the book sale last weekend. Great! I’m getting rid of books and other items, daily. Also great!

But the progress is still not really discernible, which is NOT great.

I have taken boxes of books and stuff to the dump’s swap shop. I have boxed up items for future flea markets. I have gone through all the boxes in various stacks and removed the obvious culls, labelled and then restacked tidily, the remainder. Does it look better? Yes.

But it’s still a mess.

And it isn’t that I’m so tired of owning all this stuff, it’s that I’m tired of spending all my time dealing with stuff or ignoring the mess.

I want to do other things. I have acquired some new work gigs, which are going to obviously take some time. The memoir probably needs revision and I’m in the midst of an edit of that manuscript anyway. And so on. All I need is a month of 100 hour days, and we’re all set!

The biggest issue of course really is the PTSD. If I push much harder than I am, I’m pretty sure it will jump down my throat.  Panic attacks are not fun. These days they seem to show up in the middle of the night most of the time. I’d really like to avoid that, if at all possible.

And aside from just pitching everything in a dumpster, there is no other solution. It takes time, that’s all.

 

A Life List

I wondered what had happened to all my “life lists.” The Life List is a technique I used for many years to help me figure out who I was, without the overlay of abuse, the abuser, and others’ opinions.

I found one this morning in a box of papers. This list is over 30 years old. I quit smoking in my 20s. My current reactions are in bold below.

Much of this list, 4 pages, were pictures of china from the Sunday newspaper’s magazine. The patterns are mostly pastel, stylized flowers on white backgrounds.  I still like the china patterns, although of the seven I cut out, only one is something I still really like. It’s yellow spider mums on a white background, called “Dreaming” by Denby. I’d include an image but can’t find one to copy, sorry!

Aside from the china, the list says:

…herbs hanging by a string, I do this.

an orange/clove pomander in every closet, I don’t do this.

growing vegetables in pots, I don’t do this.

a fave radio station’s call letters I’d probably still listen to that station, if we didn’t live on the other side of the country!

small white ashtrays at pier 1 I don’t smoke any more.

The white German china which was my Mom’s and the Corning Centuraware my Dad used as everyday. I have some of each, so they’re still “me.”

A list of flowers: columbine, lily of the valley, miniature roses, daffs, vinca, Icelandic poppies I still like all of these, but don’t grow many flowers.

Linen placemats/table cloths, Definite change here: I have cloth placemats, but rarely use a table cloth.

Berries for breakfast.  Yum!

I thrive on change – a man who can rest but not stop. Not the way I see my former self. I don’t think I  really thrived on change, but I desperately wanted it since this is from the time in my life when the emotional pain was constant. 

Not interested in a man who rests but doesn’t stop — in some ways. In others? Yes, this is still true. 

Wrap around skirts, bell sleeves, capes. I still like these, but don’t wear them. I’m pear shaped, so they’re not flattering any more.

A plain shoe doesn’t drown out you! Who cares? But I still wear shoes which are pretty simple.

Lastly: Perky, smart, happy, pretty … such are dreams. I find this sad.


Some of this is taste, obviously. Some of it’s who I wanted to be or how I wanted to be seen.

It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t understand the need for this how much these lists meant. They were affirmation, vindication, and hope all in one.


I threw the pages out after I wrote this. Interesting? Yes. Do I want to keep it?

No.

Books & Reading: Legacy & Healing

My parents met because of books. Mom was a bookseller, Dad a book collector.

Books saved my life. For decades, I read compulsively first thing in the morning and last thing at night. They were my only constant: no matter how bad or good the day was, the words on the page remained the same.

The abused, wounded little girl I was to the young woman I became, desperately needed a constant. God had been blocked from me, as had any belief system or group of people — as part of that abuse.

Then I met this quiet 6’1 man who decided he was going to take the person he said was, “the most cynical person I’ve ever known,” and be the rock she needed. It worked, but it took years.

During those years, I still read compulsively. I opened the shop, in part to thank the literary world for saving my sanity/life. Then, at 45, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and the therapist, DH and I slowly but steadily unpicked the knot of my abuse and traumas.

My therapist said that when people get PTSD, the first thing which eases the pain becomes the addiction. In my case, I was 3 and it was books and reading.

stack-of-books

(Not sure where I got the image, I’ve used it before, sorry!)

More years, more books, more healing. The store closed in 2005. Sometime afterwards, about the time I started knitting (2015), I stopped reading compulsively first and last thing every day.

I’d gotten to where I almost resented books. I had too many, they cluttered up my life and were a continual reminder of how wounded I’d been.

I count people who write, illustrate, publish and edit as some of my dearest friends. There are 6 books with my name on the cover, and two more scheduled to come out late this year or early next.

One of the future books is the memoir and that’s the period, for me, on the end of the abuse/PTSD sentence. If one person, just one, doesn’t commit suicide or tries to find another way — just once — the ten years it took me to write will be worthwhile.

Behind that 10 years are hundreds of hours of therapy, both effective and not. Also behind it are thousands of hours of reading: recharging my batteries, giving me hope, giving me respite, and telling me to try again and again.

Recently, I plucked a copy of Helene Hanff’s Q’s Legacy from a box. I was completely prepared to get rid of it, and will, but I hadn’t read it. I’ve read everything else she wrote, except her text books, and I skimmed those! So I picked it up and started.

In the course of reading about how she became the person associated with the Marks & Co. bookshop and all that happened to her because of that association, I found a new way to adjust for my past. Having books and reading is fine. It’s no longer my refuge, safety and salvation, it’s a pleasant way to spend some time.

I still have way too many books — but somehow, it’s hard to resent it.